The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 19, 2013

Incoming council questions Farwell resignation

Members don't agree with 6-month severance

CLINTON — The new Clinton City Council members should have legal representation of their choice, outgoing at-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf said last week when she asked for City Attorney Jeff Farwell’s resignation.

If that’s the case, some incoming council members want to know, why is the current council voting on Farwell’s resignation and offering him a $56,000 severance package?  

All four of the incoming council members said this week that they were caught off guard on Dec. 10 when a Committee of the Whole agenda item listed as “city attorney performance evaluation” turned into Farwell agreeing to resign and the council offering him six months of severance pay and health insurance benefits, double what his contract stipulates.  

During the Dec. 10 meeting, Graf made the motion asking for Farwell’s resignation, which current Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Allesee (who will start serving Ward 1 in January) quickly seconded. All council members forwarded the motion, except for Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman, who is staying on the council.   

Farwell agreed with the sentiment that with four new members, the new council should have the attorney it wants.

“I was surprised at the action,” At-large Councilman-elect Grant Wilke said. “If this is something the council has been thinking about why did this come to the very last meeting of the year and their tenure?”  

A review of Farwell’s latest performance evaluation showed a council with mixed feelings. On a one-to-five scale, Farwell garnered scores of three and above in all but one of 37 performance measures.

Comments, which are not associated with specific members, ranged from applauding Farwell’s work with the council, mayor and two different city managers to criticizing him for the amount of lawsuits the city faced and lost.

“This has been a difficult time period, and you have been our rock,” one council member wrote.

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