MUSCATINE, Iowa – At the Jan. 2 Muscatine City Council meeting, the Muscatine City Council continued their search for a new city administrator. A motion to reinstate Gregg Mandsager, the previous city administrator, failed when no council member would second it.
As part of the process of finding a new city administrator, the Council moved forward in seeking independent legal counsel. This attorney would assist them in any legal proceedings that may come with removing Mandsager and appointing a new city administrator. Interim City Administrator Greg Jenkins shared that he had reached out to the City’s insurance company and the Iowa League of Cities and found two candidates. However, their legal fees proved higher than those of the current city attorney, Brick and Gentry. Jenkins received consensus from the council to seek more recommendations from other sources and present them at the Jan. 9 meeting.
While the City of Muscatine looks for temporary legal counsel, Council Member Oz Malcom requested the Council consider hiring a new city attorney all together. “Moving forward, I think we would be best served if we looked to get a new city attorney in place for the City of Muscatine,” he said. Malcom made it clear he did not think ill of the current city attorney. He simply wished to give the City a new start with a different firm. “I just think that sometimes, it’s good to get a new breath of fresh air and it might help moving forward,” he clarified.
Council Member Kelcey Brackett suggested city staff members put together an RFP to make available to different firms. By taking this step, Brackett believed attorneys interested in helping with the city administrator proceedings might lower their prices if they could get a long-term contract. Brackett also believed Brick and Gentry should have a chance to respond to the RFP as well in case they do have the lowest rates available. Mayor Diana Broderson agreed with his line of thinking.
While discussing potentially replacing the city attorney, Council Member Nadine Brockert expressed interest in hiring a more local firm. “Personally, I have nothing against Brick and Gentry. They’ve probably done us as well as anyone else could have, but I’d like to see someone, a firm closer to home, that could get back the city business that has been farmed out to the County Attorney and thereby save some money. It also would make sure the tax dollars that our citizens are paying are spent in our community rather than 150 miles away,” she elaborated. Broderson shared that she had received several phone calls from residents over the last several months expressing similar requests.
After Council Member Peggy Gordon inquired of Jenkins how the City should proceed with changing attorneys, the Council consented to letting Jenkins investigate on procedures and report back at the Jan. 16 meeting.