(Audubon) A large crowd packed into Audubon City Hall at Monday nights’ City Council meeting largely in support of longtime City Clerk Lora Hansen who has served for close to 33-years.
Jason Hocker, a new member to the council made a motion at the January 13 council meeting to appoint a new city clerk replacing Hansen with Janet Nelson. Councilman John Whetzal seconded the motion and it passed 4-1 with council members Hocker, Whetzal, Teresa Murray and Tom Nielsen voting for the motion. Council member Bob Jacobsen voted against it. City code states that a city clerk has to be appointed every two years.
The vote stirred up many community members who appeared at Monday night’s council meeting questioning the decision and whether or not the council was in violation of the open meetings law.
Andy Griffith asked the question about an alleged interview Hocker had with Janet Nelson.
“That interview was not for city clerk,” stated Councilman Whetzal.
Griffith claimed the city obtained a resume’ from Nelsen and wondered how that could have been done without talking to her.
City council members stated that their city attorney advised them not to answer any questions from the public in regards to this matter. Meanwhile, Nelson has has told the council she is no longer interested in the job.
Dawn Rohe claims the appointment of a new city clerk was not placed on the agenda soon enough.
“There are a number of legal things that were broken is why I asked to be on the open meetings, open records part of the agenda,” explained Rohe. “Number one, unless it’s an emergency it has to be on the agenda 24 hours in advance.”
“Mr. Mayor, you talked about your oath of office and your number one oath is upholding the constitution of the United States of America and the state of Iowa, which gives you grounds to veto this. And very simply you need to write on a piece of paper that you veto it because it was in violation of section 21.4, stated Rohe. And by doing this it would force the council to take an action in front of the public within 24 hours notice on reappointment of the clerk. And then they would be able to hear from all these people that have worked with Lora for the last three decades and then make an informed decision, rather that a split decision. So that is why I am here tonight. Veto it and don’t let it go into a legal battle where some attorney could enforce this code.”
Many others spoke in support of Lora Hansen during the meeting and when the dust cleared, the council voted unanimously to table the appointment of an Interim City Clerk.
The council did not go into specifics on why they did not vote to reappoint Hansen.
In the meantime while this is all getting sorted out, Hansen says she will continue to serve as city clerk.
In other business the Council appointed David Wiederstein to serve as interim city attorney, replacing Lance Levis. Wiederstein currently serves as the city attorney for Atlantic and Griswold.
January 28, 2014