Iowa House district 91 preview: Gary Carlson vs. Kelcey Brackett

UPDATE: Carlson announced on February 26 that he will not seek re-election. Original post follows.

Democrats have a solid recruit in one of the Iowa House seats on the second tier of the party’s target list for 2020. Muscatine City Council member Kelcey Brackett announced on December 13 that he will run for House district 91, now represented by three-term Republican Gary Carlson.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2017 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland published 140 guest posts by 81 authors in 2016, a record since the blog’s creation in 2007.

I’m happy to report that the bar has been raised: 83 authors contributed 164 guest posts to this website during 2017. Their work covered an incredible range of local, statewide, and national topics.

Some contributors drew on their professional expertise and research, writing in a detached and analytical style. Others produced passionate and intensely personal commentaries, sometimes drawing on painful memories or family history.

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Muscatine official hides cost of crusade against mayor

Going into tomorrow’s mayoral and city council elections, citizens of Muscatine have no idea how much city leaders spent on the unsuccessful and unconstitutional attempt to remove Mayor Diana Broderson from office. Key internal correspondence related to the long-running power struggle and “kangaroo court” removal proceeding has also been shielded from public view.

City administrator Gregg Mandsager has thwarted records requests from local media by charging outrageous fees for obtaining documents or by redacting information from records provided.

Mandsager’s approach has subverted the spirit of the open records law, raising more questions about the advice Muscatine officials have received from city attorney Matthew Brick.

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Court vacates "fundamentally unfair" removal of Muscatine mayor

“Due process requires a fair trial before a fair tribunal, not simply the empty appearance of fairness,” declared District Court Judge Mark Cleve in a ruling that threw out the removal of Mayor Diana Broderson in May. Cleve found that the Muscatine City Council’s “fundamentally unfair” actions violated Broderson’s due process rights in two ways: by in effect having council members act as investigators, prosecutors, and judges; and by “having an interest in the outcome of the removal proceeding.”

The October 24 decision (enclosed in full below) drew heavily on what happened during five closed meetings between February 2016 and January 2017. During those sessions, council members discussed with city attorney Matthew Brick their grievances against the mayor and various options for dealing with her.

The city of Muscatine had unsuccessfully appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, hoping to prevent the District Court from considering transcripts of those closed sessions. And no wonder: Cleve found “the record clearly demonstrates that the Council had prejudged the issues,” and that “the Mayor’s removal was a foregone conclusion.”

Although Cleve did not directly address Brick’s conduct, his decision raises questions about the legal advice council members received from a partner in Iowa’s top law firm for representing municipalities.

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