The future of Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin and City Attorney Tom Warner is now in the hands of the City Council. Mayor Bill Gluba on Thursday called for a special meeting of the council to vote on the ouster of Malin and Warner. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at City Hall.
"They have fractured my faith that I must always have in them to conduct the city's business fairly and with confidence," Gluba told reporters in his office Thursday, visibly upset.
The mayor based his decision on actions from a year ago that have come to light only recently. He said the two "failed" to advise aldermen on all the details of a vote to fund development work around the future Rhythm City Casino, which is being built at the interchange of Interstates 80 and 74.
"I don't believe there was malicious intent but was an overstretch of authority given by the City Council that cannot be tolerated," Gluba said. "Policy making is the job of elected officials in Davenport, not staff."
Malin, who was in his office just steps away from Gluba's during the mayor's announcement, told the Quad-City Times he won't resign.
"I have no intention to resign to account for a faulty legal opinion of the Legal Department," Malin said in a statement he handed the Times.
Warner could not be reached for comment.
Gluba said Warner also has declined to resign.
Over the past week, a majority of City Council members have told the Quad-City Times they were misled about the city's obligations under a development agreement with the casino owners. Those council members said they thought the city was paying for an extension of Elmore Avenue to the casino site. Instead, the development agreement also calls for the city to pay for grading work on the 40-acre site where the casino will be built, according to multiple sources.
"I'm unhappy by the fact we were not made aware of this," Alderman Barney Barnhill, 5th Ward, said following Thursday's announcement.
Gluba cited city code in calling for dismissal of Malin and Warner. He said the mayor or any two council members may initiate resolutions to dismiss the city administrator and city attorney. A two-thirds majority vote of the council is required to pass the resolution.
Barnhill said he would vote to dismiss Malin but thinks Warner has enough support from the council to stay.
"There's solid support in our corporate counsel," Barnhill said.
Aldermen Rick Dunn, 1st Ward; Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward; Bill Boom, 3rd Ward; Jeff Justin, 6th Ward; and Gene Meeker, at large, declined to comment on Thursday's developments. Aldermen Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward; Mike Matson, 7th Ward; Kerri Tompkins, 8th Ward; and Jason Gordon, at large, could not be reached for comment.
The council is also expected to take up a resolution appointing Corri Spiegel, who is assistant to the city administrator, as interim city administrator.
Malin became Davenport city administrator in 2001. He replaced Jim Pierce, who resigned under pressure from the mayor and a majority of aldermen who had become dissatisfied with his job performance and leadership of city staff at the time.
Malin previously was assistant city manager in Vernon Hills, Ill., and then county administrator in Douglas County, Wis. He received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Illinois.
Malin was hired in Davenport for an annual salary of $116,000. As of Thursday, he was being paid an annual base salary of $210,000 plus a car allowance of $7,056 and deferred compensation of $12,600 for a total package of $229,656.
Malin often touted transparency as one of his important initiatives and spearheaded a city information website that has been in existence for about a year. From the site, he links to city documents, employee salaries and many of his own work emails.
"Craig Malin has been a competent, dedicated public servant to the citizens of Davenport," Gluba said Thursday. He added Malin "jump-started" the renovation of Modern Woodmen Park and launched RiverVision.
Gluba went on to say that Malin's list of accomplishments "is long and his thumbprint is on many projects." But with the casino development, Gluba said that Malin and Warner "overstepped their authority by acting on their own and in effect creating policy without the input of City Council."
Warner has been an attorney with the city for nearly 20 years. A graduate of the University of Iowa School of Law, he was appointed as corporate counsel in 2007.
Malin told the Times earlier in the week and again Thursday that Warner "signed off" on the casino agreement last summer and referenced a series of emails among city staff in which Malin asked them for any concerns about the contract.
Malin insists he did not agree to the city paying to grade the casino site.
"In the worst case, it appears there was an internal communication breakdown on the final draft, which still led to a tremendous economic development project for the community," Malin said Thursday in an email. "The short answer is the mayor and council weren’t told we would be paying for grading on the casino site because I understood Corp Counsel Warner’s e-mail sign off to be that his earlier concerns were addressed in the final draft."
Malin said Warner "sat silently" as the City Council adopted the agreement unanimously on June 25, 2014. Malin did not attend that meeting because he was at a family event, he said.
"The only grading that I agreed to in practice or in writing was utilizing 'cut' from the road extension for 'fill' on the casino site," Malin said. "This coordinated engineering and construction was in the mutual interest of the city and casino operator, as it reduced costs for both."
Gluba closed his announcement saying he would not answer any questions. But when he was asked when he found out about the issue, he said, "Two days ago."
The Times had interviewed Gluba a week ago about the city's casino deal, specifically asking about the site grading.
"As far as I know that was not the agreement, according to the way we do streets," Gluba said then. "Aldermen passed it. I understood it to be appropriate whatever the arrangement was.
"We don’t pay for grading on private property that I know of."