Daniel G. Clark, a former journalist who covered Muscatine city government, reports on the latest developments in the power struggle between Mayor Diana Broderson and the city council that unanimously voted to remove her from office. -promoted by desmoinesdem
The never-ending tale of Iowa's first impeached mayor inched forward in front of a new judge this morning.
In a proceeding lasting five minutes, District Court Judge Mark D. Cleve granted a motion by Mayor Diana Broderson’s lawyers to “compel discovery of about seven closed meetings” and announced that transcriptions will be prepared by a court reporter.
The judge ordered briefs from both sides summarizing their arguments to date. He set a July 20 deadline for the defendants--i.e., the City of Muscatine because this is Broderson’s suit contesting her removal--response to the charges. Then the plaintiff--Broderson--will have until August 1 to respond. (Broderson charges that the city council's decision was "improper, arbitrary, and capricious," and that the city government removed her illegally, acting "in a manner contrary to the standards set forth in Iowa law." Her initial court filing is here.)
The short proceeding began after a 15-minute late start due to lawyers for both sides meeting with the judge in chambers. At his prompting, both sides confirmed and agreed that “a complete record” has been submitted, evidently detailing the two days of hearings conducted by the council. Judge Cleve said he will keep the record open for additional evidence he might request.
No new court dates were announced, and I heard no end-game predictions offered by players on either side.
This was not the “final” hearing predicted in today’s edition of the Muscatine Journal.
Broderson may still use her title and continue presiding at meetings of the city council, which in May voted unanimously for her removal. She has been back on the job this month since District Court Judge Mark Smith granted a stay in her favor, pending the outcome of the trial commenced today. (That ruling is here, beginning on page 9.)
The mayor told reporters she was pleased the process is moving forward “in a real court.”
She said she is enjoying broad support and is happy to be serving the people of Muscatine again. And, she added, she has a re-election campaign to get on with.
UPDATE: Sometime after August 1, Judge Cleve will rule on the constitutionality of Mayor Broderson’s removal. Sarah Ritter reported for the Muscatine Journal on July 20, “The judge will review the transcripts of the closed sessions before deciding whether they are relevant. He could decide to submit none, all, or a portion of the transcripts as evidence.”
Daniel G. Clark reported on city government for the Muscatine Journal in 2001-2002. For background on the Broderson story, read the Bleeding Heartland posts by Tracy Leone. See also the many documents linked at this page on the City of Muscatine's website.
Clark took the top photo of Mayor Diana Broderson speaking to reporters after the July 17 court hearing, as well as this picture of Broderson with her attorney, William Sueppel.