Judge says council wrongly removed Muscatine mayor
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ruled that the Muscatine City Council wrongly removed the mayor from office and has overturned the council vote.
Judge Mark Cleve said in his ruling Tuesday that the removal violated Mayor Diana Broderson’s right to due process, according to the Muscatine Journal . He also ordered the city to pay her legal fees.
Broderson said she was gratified by the ruling.
“The people are not pleased at the expense that has been spent of the taxpayers’ money to go through all of this, and even so there’s only two weeks left to the election, so this was a lot of money spent for nothing really,” said Broderson, who is running for a second term.
It’s not clear whether the legal fight against Broderson will continue. The city attorney and none of the city council members immediately replied to messages Wednesday from The Associated Press.
The city council cited “willful misconduct” in its May 11 decision to remove Broderson after 20 hours of removal hearings over several days. A statement of charges said Broderson’s actions created unnecessary legal and staff costs and potential liability. The council alleged that Broderson contacted city staff without permission of the city administrator, violating a city code.
The mayor said in her defense that she was just doing her job. She appealed the council removal vote in district court, arguing the council violated her right to a fair trial by overseeing the removal proceedings and not taking the case to court immediately.
Judge Cleve agreed, saying among other things that the council violated Broderson’s rights by mingling the functions of investigator, prosecutor and judge.
Information from: Muscatine Journal, http://www.muscatinejournal.com