On Thursday, December 5th at a regular meeting of the Muscatine City Council (the Council) Council Member Kelcey Brackett reintroduced a motion, “to immediately terminate the City Administrator’s contract.” Brackett had introduced a similar motion at the November 7th Council meeting but tabled it in hopes that results from the City Administrator, Gregg Mandsager’s, annual review would have come in by that time.
After Brackett reintroduced the motion, Council Member Tom Spread expressed concerns with it on several fronts. First, Spread felt that the Council should wait until Mandsager’s review had finished completely, especially since the City purchased a new evaluation tool to do it with. For undisclosed reasons, the Council has not received the full report yet. He also felt that past tension between Council members and Mandsager could affect the decision to remove him and he disliked this possibility. Spread stated that Mandsager was placed on administrative leave for a time two years ago as evidence of past tensions.
Brackett added context to the event to try to lessen concern. He explained the Council voted to put Mandsager on leave because of an active lawsuit he initiated.
Council Member Allen Harvey interjected at this point, requesting specific reasons for terminating Mandsager’s contract. He shared Spread’s concern that Mandsager’s termination could result in a lawsuit.
City Attorney Matt Brick clarified that to terminate Mandsager’s contract, the Council did not have to provide a reason. However, to remove him from office, they would need to give a reason and present it to him in a letter. Mandsager would then have thirty days to appeal.
Following Brick’s clarification, Harvey and Council Member Phillip Fitzgerald voiced their opposition to removing Mandsager again, saying they thought Mandsager had done his job well over the past ten years.
That said, Council Member Santos Saucedo found the number of additional meetings the Council had held about Mandsager’s evaluations indicative of a problem.
Eventually, the Council brought Brackett’s motion to a vote. It passed four to three, terminating Mandsager’s contract immediately.
Following that vote, Brackett introduced a second motion to appoint Rick Klimes as Interim City Administrator and as an assistant to any future hires. The motion passed five to two.
After some discussion, the Council decided to review appointing Mark Aaron as Interim City Administrator at their in-depth meeting on December 12th.
Brick then requested an official reason for removing Mandsager from office so he could begin the process by sending the required letter to Mandsager. Brackett provided one stating, “lack of confidence, in his ability to do his duties.” The Council voted to accept this reason four to three.
Finally, Brackett asked that the Council wait to give Mandsager his severance pay until after the Council received a summary of the money due to him and he returned all City property in his possession. The Council agreed to discuss this item at the in-depth session.