Council chambers of the Muscatine City Hall were full on Thursday evening. Dozens of Muscatine area residents were in attendance to witness the proceedings.
One particular item on the agenda was the reason for the crowd. The fourth item on the agenda read “Request to Authorize and Instruct City Attorney to File Written Charges of Removal Pursuant to Iowa Code, Chapter 66 and Section 1-7-6 of the Muscatine City Code.”
The vote on Thursday was not to remove Mayor Broderson from office, but rather a vote to determine that the council would like to hold a hearing. At that hearing evidence will be presented on which code violations the mayor potentially violated or did not violate. A future date will eventually be set to hold the hearing.
According to Iowa Code Chapter 66.29 “Any city officer elected by the people may be removed from office, after hearing on written charges filed with the council of such city for any cause which would be ground for an equitable action for removal in the district court, but such removal can only be made by a two-thirds vote of the entire council.”
The Muscatine City Code section 1-7-6 states that at mayor may be removed from office for any of the following reasons: willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of his or her office,willful misconduct or maladministration in office, corruption, extortion, upon conviction of a felony, intoxication, or upon conviction of being intoxicated, or for possession of any illegal substances, upon conviction of violating the provisions of Chapter 6 8 A , Code of Iowa.
At the hearing, Mayor Broderson would be able to have personal legal representation.
The outcome of the hearing will depend on the evidence that is presented from each side.
Iowa state code state, “such removal shall be only after a hearing before the City Council based on written charges prepared and filed by the City Attorney, which removal can only be made by a two-thirds vote of the entire Council. Notice of such hearing shall be by personal service on the Mayor whose removal is being sought not less than ten (10) days before the date of such hearing.”
The city council did not present evidence at the meeting on Thursday.
Several Muscatine residents addressed the council and members of the audience. The majority who spoke showed support for Mayor Broderson.
Ann Brumback addressed the council, requesting accountability and openness. Speaking with the Voice of Muscatine following the meeting, Brumback stated, “It is a matter of respect, not for her personally, but for the office. The council does not have enough respect for the office to even make her aware of what she is accused of.”
Brumback maintains that the council itself has in fact acted illegally, by holding closed sessions that exclude the mayor.
Taylor Williams of Muscatine took the podium and after acknowledging the physical challenges of the speaker before him, asked the council to “Please vote your conscience, and in return, we [the public] will vote ours.”
Muscatine resident Andy Foster addressed the council and audience, saying “Do not speak as if you have wisdom if you do not have all the facts. You really don’t know what you are talking about. Details will be revealed at the proper time, but it is a legal process, that must be followed.”
At the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting, councilman Santos Saucedo was the only council member to voice a final comment on the issue saying, “There is no ‘Good-ole-Boy’ system. You are looking at one page out of a book; you cannot judge an entire book by one page.” Saucedo urged residents to be patient, saying all information will be provided to the public at the appropriate and legal time in the process. Calling back to Williams comment, Saucedo ensured attendees that he would “vote his conscience.”
During her final comments, Mayor Broderson made no mention of the earlier decision, in favor of thanking residents for their support during her term, and inviting everyone to the next “Coffee with the Mayor” on January 21.
All seven council members, Mayor Broderson, and City Administrator Gregg Mandsager each declined comment on the issue at this time.