Council scraps proposal to change meetings
May 13, 2014
A push by some Audubon City Council members to scale back their bimonthly meetings to one Wednesday each month at 5:30 p.m. - which some residents said would erode their ability to attend and hold their elected officials accountable - is dead for now, interim City Attorney David Wiederstein confirmed this morning.
The council was set to vote on the issue Monday night but didn't, Mayor Sam Kauffman said that night, because the meeting's agenda "was worded wrong." The agenda and ordinance conflicted on whether the new proposed meeting dates would be the second or third Wednesday of each month.
But Wiederstein told the Daily Times Herald in an interview today that it was Councilman Jason Hocker who requested the meeting schedule to remain unchanged.
"Because the city clerk will be starting on May 19, they felt and I felt that it would be ideal for the council to still have two meetings a month, at least during this initial period," Wiederstein said.
The Council on Wednesday fired their longtime city clerk and agreed to offer her job to resident Joe Foran. Foran said today in an email that he has not received a formal job offer - with an expected $45,000 salary and undisclosed vacation and insurance benefits - but expects to accept the job this week.
The council's original reason for changing its regular meeting time and date was to make it more convenient for Wiederstein to attend. Wiederstein lives in Atlantic and is also city attorney for that town. Further, he is a candidate for Cass County attorney, an elected position. Wiederstein, a Republican, seeks to oust current Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner, also a Republican, in a primary election set for June 3.
"I am currently researching the law to determine if I can continue doing city attorney work if elected as Cass County attorney," Wiederstein said today. "I would like to continue as the city attorney for Audubon because I grew up in Audubon, and I enjoy working with this particular council."
Wiederstein initially agreed to be Audubon's city attorney on an temporary basis - to replace former City Attorney Lance Levis, who resigned in January when the council initially tried to oust then-City Clerk Lora Hansen - but Wiederstein said today he prefers to be Levis' permanent replacement.
Audubon resident and former City Councilman Andy Griffith said the potential meeting time and date change would limit resident participation in the meetings. Iowa law requires City Council meetings to be "held at a place reasonably accessible to the public, and at a time reasonably convenient to the public."
"This is an agricultural community - 5:30 p.m. just does not work for a lot of people," Griffith said. "There are a lot of people who are still working at that time, and I just get off work at 5:30 p.m.
"When people signed up for this job, they signed up for the second and fourth Monday of the month, same with the city attorney. I just wish they would listen to the citizens of the town and the taxpayers, instead of listening to the interim city attorney from Atlantic who does not live here, does not pay taxes here, does not do anything here but collect a paycheck from the city."
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