A standing-room only crowd attending Monday night’s meeting of the Audubon City Council, hoping to get answers to questions they had about the Council’s decision not to re-appoint Lora Hansen as City Clerk during their meeting on January 13th, but they received very few answers that weren’t hidden behind the cloak of the law. After a lengthy and sometimes contentious session, the Council tabled action on appointing an interim City Clerk, pending talks with interim City Attorney David Wiederstein, who was appointed to fill the position of Lance Levis. Levis turned in his resignation last Thursday. Hansen has agreed to remain City Clerk in the interim, until the matter is taken up again in two weeks.
During the session, it was pointed out the Council may have broken the law with regard to what transpired during the last session and the events which led up to it. Dawn Rohe, a citizen of Audubon and City Administrator in Manning, said they violated Iowa Code at the previous meeting by not having the appointment of a City Clerk on the agenda 24-hours in advance of the meeting. She said each member of the Council could face financial damages for knowingly violating the rule. She said Mayor Clark “Sam” Kauffman could have vetoed the Council’s vote not to re-appoint Hansen, but he chose not to do so.
Rohe also made a request under the Iowa Open Records law, for documents pertaining to actions leading up to the Jan. 13th meeting, and any other pertinent information. The main question the 100 or so people who were in attendance at the meeting had, was why the Council thought it was necessary to replace Hansen — who has served the City for more than 30-years — with Janet Nelson (who subsequently withdrew her name from consideration). Councilman John Wetzel said that was something they couldn’t discuss. He said that was one the advice of the City Attorney. He did say Hansen was supposed to be on a two-year appointment, and it was not performance-based. Wetzel says “If some day, if we can talk about more things, then we will.”
Wetzel also denied allegations Nelson was chosen in behind the scenes activities that would have been illegal under the Iowa Code. He said there was no interview. Instead, she was referred to him by a citizen. He saw Nelson and examined her resumed, but he denied he had an interview with her. Newly elected Councilman Jason Hocker was asked why, since he’d never worked with Hansen, would he make a motion to “get rid of her.” Hocker side-stepped the answer by saying he’s already spoken about the matter in area newspapers. That didn’t sit well with the man who asked the question. He said he the citizens would never have voted for Hocker they knew he intended to make a motion not to re-appoint Hansen.