The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 13, 2012

Former Councilman wants changes at City Hall

CLINTON — When you are done reading this editorial: the first thing you should do is to pick up the phone and call John Rowland and Paul Gassman and thank them for requesting the audit from the state of the city’s financial records.

Thank them for having the leadership, backbone and responsibility to move on their own to try and save this city form financial collapse and additional embarrassment.

Two major stories over the past weeks have angered even the most forgiving of our citizens.

The first is the settlement of the lawsuit brought by David Geisler, as a prime example of how this city administration has recklessly made bad decisions; followed by untruths and misleading statements; then coupled with denial of any wrongdoing.

These denials of any wrongdoing or any accountability coming from Council person Klaes; right up to the City Administrator and city attorney; echoing the claims of no responsibility we heard months before over the EMS scandal.

This most recent denial of any wrongdoing comes in spite of the fact that the judge in the Geisler case told the City Council that they not only violated Mr. Geisler’s rights, but violated the state’s “open meeting law, not only were they told once, but twice, after they tried to appeal the judge’s decision and he declined their appeal.

At this point they decided to settle out of court and let the citizens of Clinton pick up the cost of the $200,000 settlement.”

The second story was the combination knock out punch that the sewer rates will increase to an outrageous average of $90 per month, in order to cover the cost of the financially bankrupt sewer project, that the administration has misled us about over the past years; on top of that they now want to discuss a new laboratory to the tune of $3 million...yeah really.

Can you believe it? “It is a state of the art,” this administration has taken $64 million in debt for 20 years and borrowed and extended the city long-term debt to nearly $100 million for the next 30 years. (If you have young grandchildren, you need to explain this to them, because they are going to have to pay it off.)

In an editorial in the Clinton Herald on Oct. 4, Mr. Medinger asked “how did we get to this point,” answer, the city administration failed to do their jobs, they listened to consultants, lawyers and department heads instead of you and I — the taxpayers. They didn’t listen to the warnings and objections raised during the “public input” sessions of the council meetings. They didn’t listen to or respond to e-mails sent by the hundreds. They ignored the polls done by the Herald, and comments made at public input meetings; remember the selling of the municipal dock for a paltry $6 million, and now the city is in the hole $4 million.

So what do we do now? The mayor needs to resign, immediately. He has been involved with this fiasco as a council member for four years and now as mayor. He has not taken a leadership role to solve these problems, has not lived up to his campaign promises of “transparency” and “open government” (sounds familiar); instead he added to and compounded the problems.

Next the remainder of the council needs to terminate the city administrator. Over the past years he has given bad advice, promoted bad ideas, and has come up with some of the most reckless and irresponsible solutions to the problems of the past, i.e. municipal dock, David Geisler’s termination, the EMS scandal, the financial meltdown of the city’s budget and the arrogant violation of the state open meetings laws.

Our form of city government is set up for weak mayoral powers, and total power to the City Council, look it up. They have total control of the power and decision-making; not the mayor, city attorney, consultants or department heads: only the Council has the power and the responsibility: start doing your job; for God’s sake you took an oath.

Accountability starts at the top and these two individuals have failed to protect our best interests, and have betrayed our trust. As for the rest of the Council, they need to start working for us, and stop listening to every consultant, lawyer and start asking the hard and obvious questions. How are we going to pay for, and where is the money coming from?

After the “special election” for a new mayor, five of the council people will be up for re-election; hold them accountable at the ballot box for their decisions and actions. Make them earn back your respect and trust.

Edward O’Neill,

Clinton

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