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Marquardt questions legality of mayor in meddling with City employees

City Administrator Brent Trout is supposed to oversee and manage employees of the City.  Can the mayor meddle in their daily activities?
City Administrator Brent Trout is supposed to oversee and manage employees of the City. Can the mayor meddle in their daily activities?

MASON CITY – Fourth Ward City Council Candidate Matt Marquardt today questioned City code which forbids the City Council from interfering with the jobs and duties of City employees but neglects to mention the office of mayor.

In an email to City Administrator Brent Trout requesting clarification on the code (1-8C-4: COUNCIL NOT TO INTERFERE WITH APPOINTMENTS OR REMOVALS), Marquardt questioned if the office of mayor in Mason City has the ability or is allowed to meddle in the duties and daily tasks of City employees since the mayor is not directly forbidden from doing so in City code. While City code does not allow the mayor the direct ability to “give orders to” City employees, there is also no provision that directly forbids the mayor from doing so.  City code gives the City Administrator supervisory powers over City employees and department heads as well as the police and fire departments.

According to City code in Mason City, the office of mayor is generally allowed to make appointments to 16 boards and commissions, while the City Council exercises general authority over the Civil Service Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission and may remove board members of most of the 16 boards with a two-thirds vote (4-2 minimum). City code does not seem to articulate who “supervises” or watches the conduct of the board members.

In one exception, the mayor is allowed to remove from office a Human Rights Commissioner for cause.  The council is not mentioned as having this ability for that board.

“I really question why City code does not explicitly forbid the mayor, along with the City Council, from interfering with the daily tasks of our City employees,” Mr. Marquardt stated Sunday.  “Our current Mayor Eric Bookmeyer is notorious for bothering and in some cases making threats to City employees at City Hall.  This lead to more than one complaint being filed against him when he took office (hostile work environment).  As we are on the eve of Labor Day, I think of our City staff and their daily tasks and work environment and I am concerned.  I think this code should be modified to include the office of mayor so our City staff can be rest-assured that they have one overall boss, the City Administrator, and not fear the Council and the Mayor.”



from: Matt Marquardt <>
to: Brent Trout <>,
Eric Bookmeyer <>,,,
Council Member John Lee <>,,, (JANET SOLBERG)
date: Sun, Sep 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM
subject: CITY CODE

Brent can you explain this city code (pasted below) to me, please? Reading it closely, the code seems to forbid the council from meddling in the affairs of city employees and anyone appointed to a board or commission. As this is the city administrator’s job to supervise employees and watch over (most) boards and commissions, I agree with the code. However, I am left wondering 1) if the mayor of the city is then allowed to subjugate or go around the city administrator and directly interfere with city employees and 2) why the mayor of the city is not also included in this code? 3) Unless I am missing something, the council could then amend this code to include the office mayor, am I correct?

Thanks for your perspective.

Matt Marquardt


Neither the council nor any of its members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or removal from, office by the city administrator/city clerk or any of the administrator’s/clerk’s subordinates, or in any manner take part in the appointment or removal of officials and employees in the administrative services of the city. Except for the purpose of inquiry, the city council and its members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the city administrator/city clerk and neither the council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the city administrator/city clerk, either publicly or privately. (Ord. 93-28, 9-7-1993; Ord. 97-29, 11-18-1997)

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