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Founded October 1, 2010


Bookmeyer, Trout, city council, others sued by Lionel Foster



This news story was published on June 11, 2014.
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IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR CERRO GORDO COUNTY

LIONEL FOSTER

Plaintiff, MASON CITY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, CITY OF MASON CITY, ERIC BOOKMEYER, BRENT TROUT, JEAN E MARINOS, JOHN LEE, ALEX KUHN, SCOTT TOURNQUIST, STEPHEN PALMER, JANET SOLBERG, TRAVIS HICKEY, MARK STANTON, and BRIAN MCNAMARA

Defendants.

No. _____________ PETITION AND

JURY DEMAND

COMES NOW, the Plaintiff Lionel Foster, by and through counsel, and states for his causes of action against the Defendants as follows:

INTRODUCTION

  1. This is an action under and pursuant to the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Chapter 216, Iowa Code Chapter 729.4, and the Iowa Constitution.
  2. At all times material hereto, Plaintiff Lionel Foster was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  3. Plaintiff is protected from discriminatory practices based on race and age pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 216.

PARTIES

  1. At all times material hereto, Defendant City of Mason City was a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of Iowa with its principal place of business at 10 First Street NW, Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  2. At all times material hereto, Defendant Mason City Human Rights Commission was a municipal commission organized and existing under the laws of Iowa and functioning as an integrated enterprise with Defendant City of Mason City, with its principal place of business at 10 First Street NW, Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  3. At all times material hereto, Defendant Eric Bookmeyer (“Bookmeyer”) was the Mayor of Mason City and a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  4. At all times material hereto, Defendant Brent Trout was the City Administrator of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  5. At all times material hereto, Defendant Jean E. Marinos was a City Councilmember of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  6. At all times material hereto, Defendant John Lee was a City Councilmember of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  7. At all times material hereto, Defendant Alex Kuhn was a City Councilmember of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  8. At all times material hereto, Defendant Janet Solberg was a City Councilmember of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  9. At all times material hereto, Defendant Travis Hickey was a City Councilmember of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  10. At all times material hereto, Defendant Scott Tornquist was a City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem of Mason City and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  11. At all times material hereto, Defendant Stephen Palmer was a Mason City Human Rights Commissioner and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
  12. At all times material hereto, Defendant Brian McNamara was a Mason City Human Rights Commissioner and was a citizen and resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.

PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS

  1. On September 16, 2013, within 300 days of the acts of which he complains, Plaintiff filed charges of employment discrimination with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission against the above named Defendants.
  2. On April 16, 2014, less than ninety (90) days prior to the filing of this Complaint, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission issued to Plaintiff, pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 216.16, a notice of right to sue with respect to such charges of discrimination.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  1. In March of 1972, Defendant Mason City hired Plaintiff as a part-time Community Aide, moved him to full-time employment in March of 1973, and appointed him Affirmative Action Officer in May of 1974.
  2. In August 1978, Plaintiff was designated the Human Rights Director for the Mason City Human Rights Commission (MCHRC) / Defendant City of Mason City.
  3. In 1989, IC. System, Inc. (ICSI) opened in Mason City with eight employees. By 2002, ICSI had grown to 125 employees.
  4. In October 2005, the City Council approved an agreement with ICSI for a $370,000 economic development grant. The agreement stipulated that ICSI would remain in Mason City and increase its staffing level by July 1, 2008. ICSI also agreed that should it fail to meet its targeted goal by that time, it would refund the money to the city.
  5. Since its inception, many ICSI employees have filed employment discrimination complaints against the company with the MCHRC.
  6. On July 29, 2008 ICSI’s Financial Officer, Kurt Heinbigner, requested a five-year extension of the agreement because ICSI was 96 positions short of their employment goal, falsely stating that complaints made by employees to the MCHRC were a major reason for the shortfall.
  7. On September 16, 2008, Scott Bultje, Division Vice President and Mason City Site Manager of ICSI, reprimanded the City Council for denying ICSI’s request and handed them a check for $177,600.00.
  8. On June 28, 2012, a housing complaint was filed by a tenant against Defendant Jean Marinos through the MCHRC. Marinos owns a major real estate firm.
  9. On November 4, 2009, Bookmeyer was elected mayor. His campaign committee had included Cohl Bultje, the son of Scott Bultje.
  10. On November 4, 2009, Janet Solberg was elected to the city council. She had filed two unsuccessful complaints with MCHRC in November of 2004. Travis Hickey was elected and he works for Federal Express Services (FedEx), which has a history of litigation with the MCHRC.
  11. Defendants Solberg and Hickey then joined Max Weaver, Don Nelson, Scott Tornquist, and Jeff Marsters on the City Council.
  12. The Mayor has no authority over any entity in city government, except the police department. Nonetheless, Defendant Bookmeyer has continuously attempted to control the MCHRC and to belittle and harass Plaintiff. Defendant Bookmeyer frequently told Plaintiff that he needed to make the MCHRC more “transparent,” even though production with regard to complaints are completely confidential by law.
  13. In early January of 2010, Defendant Bookmeyer told Councilman Hickey that he wanted to cut $50,000 from the MCHRC’s budget, a cut that would have terminated Plaintiff’s position.
  14. On January 28, 2010, the City Council conducted a budget workshop. Defendant MCHRC had moved the full amount of Plaintiff’s salary to Defendant Mason City’s ledger instead of splitting it between city and federal funds.
  15. Defendant Tornquist mischaracterized this bookkeeping change as a $20,000 budget increase, and said, “I can’t imagine not having the Human Rights Commission, but we’re doing it the most expensive way.”
  16. On January 30, 2010, Defendant Tornquist falsely said, “The Mason City Human Rights Commission handles cases from outside of Mason City. It serves regionally. Mason City taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for that.”
  17. In December of 2010, Plaintiff asked Defendant Bookmeyer to re-appoint three commissioners to the MCHRC, including Kathy Loeckle. Defendant Bookmeyer refused and told Loeckle that he wanted younger commissioners with fresher perspectives, direct evidence of his discriminatory mindset.
  18. In February of 2011, Defendant Bookmeyer once again told Plaintiff that the MCHRC needed to be more transparent. Plaintiff, who had explained this to Bookmeyer countless times, said that the MCHRC is contractually barred from publicizing the parties involved in the civil rights complaints. Loeckle entered Bookmeyer’s office at the end of this explanation. Bookmeyer told her that the MCHRC was not transparent enough, moments after hearing Plaintiff’s explanation.
  19. Throughout Plaintiff’s employment, Defendant Bookmeyer refused to appoint the commissioners who Plaintiff recommended, even though that was typically the process for selecting new members. Additionally, Defendant Bookmeyer purposefully delayed appointing MCHRC commissioners.
  20. On February 15, 2011, the City Council discussed MCHRC’s appointments. Three positions became vacant in January 2011 and it was Defendant Bookmeyer’s job to appoint new members and he had failed to do so. He said that the MCHRC needs “oversight and accountability.” Defendant Bookmeyer said that “more cases had been pursued by the city’s commission than comparable commissions in peer cities” and many of the cases were frivolous.
  21. The City Council voted to force Defendant Bookmeyer to nominate three new members by March 1, 2011.
  22. Defendant Bookmeyer nominated Defendant Brian McNamara to the MCHRC in April 2011.
  23. On April 8, 2011, the MCHRC unanimously voted to deny Defendant McNamara’s appointment to the commission because he had absolutely no experience in Civil Rights.
  24. The MCHRC suggested that Defendant Bookmeyer nominate Sandy Servantez, who had been volunteering as a friend of the commission for 2-years, which is the standard process for training new commissioners. Defendant Bookmeyer refused.
  25. In June 2011, Bookmeyer appointed Defendant Stephen Palmer as a Commissioner for the MCHRC. Defendant Palmer, almost every month after his nomination, asked Plaintiff what they could do to make Defendant MCHRC more “transparent.” Plaintiff explained that this was impossible, in the same way he had frequently explained this to Defendant Bookmeyer. Both Defendants continued to ask Plaintiff about “transparency.”
  26. On December 21, 2011, Councilmembers Marsters, Nelson and Weaver departed from Defendant’s City Council. Elected in their stead were Defendants Jean Marinos, John Lee, and Alex Kuhn, all of whom were supportive of Defendant Bookmeyer’s agenda. Defendant Marinos was the mayor of Mason City in 2004 and she signed a 28E Agreement between the MCHRC and Cerro Gordo County.
  27. In early 2012, Defendant Bookmeyer appointed Defendant McNamara to be a MCHRC commissioner. Almost every month after his appointment, Defendant McNamara asked Plaintiff what they could do to make the MCHRC more “transparent.” Plaintiff explained the impossibilities of that request, as he had been doing with Defendants Bookmeyer and Palmer.
  28. On November 6, 2012, Defendant Trout sent MCHRC a memo asking for information for the city council, including annual mediation resolutions in favor of the complainant vs. respondent, annual commission hearings in favor of the complainant vs. respondent, and annual court cases in favor of the complainant vs. the respondent.
  29. On December 10, 2012, MCHRC Chairperson Kathye Gaines emailed Defendants Bookmeyer and Tornquist the finance information, including the MCHRC’s three funding sources: HUD, EEOC and city funds.
  30. On December 12, 2012, Defendant Tornquist sent Gaines an extensive list of follow-up questions and asked about the impact of a $50,000 cut to Defendant Mason City’s investment of $143,199 and a “workforce reduction.” Defendant Tornquist knew exactly what a $50,000 budget cut would do.
  31. On December 20, 2012, Defendant Bookmeyer refused to reappoint Gaines, the only commissioner who had graduated from the National Fair Housing Training Academy and who was certified as a HUD housing counselor..
  32. On January 3, 2013, Defendant Bookmeyer is paraphrased in a Mason City Globe Gazette article, stating that he refused to reappoint Gaines because she did not “streamline” the operation as he had requested.
  33. Defendant Bookmeyer did not have authority to oversee the MCHRC’s activities, nor to command that the MCHRC change its operating procedures.
  34. On January 17, 2013, Cameron Sarjeant, the MCHRC’s new chairperson, submitted answers to Tornquist’s memo dated December 12, 2012.
  35. In his report, Sarjeant explained that a $50,000 cut in the MCHRC’s budget would damage the MCHRC’s contractual relationships with HUD and EEOC and would “substantially impact the staffing arrangement and would devastate the Commission’s ability to operate, and lead to the elimination of our entire staff.”
  36. On February 7, 2013, the City Council held a budget workshop and Defendant Tornquist proposed cutting funding to the MCHRC from $143,000 to $15,000. Defendant Bookmeyer led the meeting and the City Council, including Defendants agreed to cut the MCHRC budget to $15,000 as proposed.
  37. On March 20, 2013, Defendant Tornquist interviewed with a radio station, KGLO. He claimed they cut the MCHRC budget because the city had to deal with complaints from all over the state. This is false and Defendant Tornquist knew it was false. In fact, only a few cases processed by the MCHRC come from outside of city limits and they are paid for by Federal funding, and not by “MC taxpayers.”
  38. On March 20, 2013, Defendant Tornquist said that Plaintiff had been around “for a long time…none of us are going to live forever. He’s [Lionel Foster] on the tail end of his career, if for no other reason, because of his age. None of us are going to live forever.” He said that Plaintiff was “an issue” and that Plaintiff needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later.”
  39. As of July 1, 2013, Plaintiff, the only African American and oldest director of city government for Defendant City of Mason City, was terminated, after 41 years of service to Defendants Mason City and MCHRC.

COUNT — I

VIOLATION OF IOWA CODE CHAPTER 216 — RACE AND AGE DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS

 

  1. Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff with respect to the terms and conditions of his employment on the basis of his age and race, and retaliated against Plaintiff, created a hostile work environment through racial harassment, and terminated Plaintiff in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
  2. Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff by harassing and terminating Plaintiff after he participated in numerous civil rights investigations as the Director of the Mason City Human Rights Commission, in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Ch. 216.
  3. Defendants engaged in a continuing pattern and practice of age discrimination, and race discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Ch. 216.6.
  4. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ acts aforesaid, Plaintiff has in the past and will in the future suffer mental and emotional harm, anguish, and disability, and has in the past and will in the future suffer loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, benefits, and other emoluments of employment.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants, jointly and severally, in an amount that will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, for attorney’s fees, for the costs of this action, for appropriate equitable and injunctive relief, and for such other relief as may be just in the circumstances and consistent with the purposes of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

 

COUNT — II

INTERFERENCE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER THE IOWA CONSTITUTION AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS

 

  1. Defendants have deprived Plaintiff of his rights under and pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the State of Iowa.
  2. Defendants interfered with Plaintiff’s civil rights by discriminating against him on the basis of his race as set forth above.
  3. Defendant Mason City was acting in its official capacity.
  4. Defendants Bookmeyer, Trout, Marinos, Lee, Kuhn, Tornquist, Palmer, Soldberg, Hickey, Stanton, and McNamara were acting in their official and individual capacities at all times material hereto. Defendant Mason City is also liable for the acts of its agents, servants, and employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
  5. Each individual Defendant acted under color of state law.
  6. Defendants’ acts and omissions were the proximate cause of injury and damage to Plaintiff.
  7. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ acts aforesaid, Plaintiff has in the past and will in the future suffer mental and emotional harm, anguish, and disability, and has in the past and will in the future suffer loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, benefits, and other emoluments of employment.
  8. Defendants’ interference with the civil rights of Plaintiff was willful and wanton, and done with malice or in reckless disregard of the rights of Plaintiff, entitling him to punitive damages.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Lionel Foster requests judgment against Defendants in an amount which will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, and for punitive damages against the individual defendants in an amount sufficient to punish the Defendants and deter the Defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct, and for interest, attorney’s fees and costs as allowed by law.

COUNT — III

VIOLATION OF ARTICLE I, SECTION 6 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF IOWA

 

  1. Lionel Foster is afforded equal protection of the laws under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa whereby, all laws of a general nature must have uniform operation and the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.
  2. Defendants City of Mason City, Mason City Human Rights Commission, Bookmeyer, Marinos, Lee, Kuhn, Tornquist, Palmer, Soldberg, Hickey, and McNamara, under color of law, prevented Plaintiff from securing equal protection of the laws afforded him under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa, based on their termination of Plaintiff’s job, the only African American City Director, while white and younger individuals with equal or lesser job duties were retained.
  3. Defendants City of Mason City, Mason City Human Rights Commission, Bookmeyer, Trout, Marinos, Lee, Kuhn, Tornquist, Palmer, Soldberg, Hickey, Stanton, and McNamara, under color of law, prevented Plaintiff from securing equal protection of the laws afforded him under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa, based on Plaintiff’s termination on the basis of his race.
  4. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ acts aforesaid, Plaintiff has in the past and will in the future suffer mental and emotional harm, anguish, and disability, and has in the past and will in the future suffer loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, benefits, and other emoluments of employment.
  5. Defendants’ interference with the civil rights of Plaintiff was willful and wanton, and done with malice or in reckless disregard of the rights of Plaintiff, entitling him to punitive damages from the individual Defendants.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Lionel Foster requests judgment against Defendants in an amount which will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, and for punitive damages against the individual Defendants in an amount sufficient to punish the Defendants and deter the Defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct, and for interest, attorney’s fees and costs as allowed by law.

COUNT IV

DENIAL OF EQUAL PROTECTION-ARTICLE I, § 6 OF THE IOWA CONSTITUTION

 

  1. The Iowa Constitution guarantees all persons equal protection of the laws.
  2. Defendants, through its agents, servants and employees, in their individual and official capacities, allowed retaliation against Plaintiff for participating in and investigating civil rights claims.
  3. The policy practice or custom of Defendants allowed its agents, servants and employees to retaliate against Plaintiff secure in the knowledge that they would not be punished.
  4. Defendants deprived Plaintiff of equal protection of the laws, by establishing, maintaining, and/or enforcing policies that allowed Defendants to retaliate against Plaintiff, and to terminate his employment.
  5. The deprivation of Plaintiff’s Equal Protection guarantee found in the Iowa Constitution was the direct result of the policy, practice or custom of the Defendants.
  6. Discrimination based on race is subject to strict scrutiny under the Iowa Constitution and therefore is not permitted.
  7. Defendant’s decision to retaliate against and to terminate Plaintiff had a disparate impact on Plaintiff, who was the only African American director who worked for Defendants City of Mason City and MCHRC.
  8. The course of conduct taken by or attributable to Defendants is not tailored to further any substantial or compelling interest. Accordingly, their conduct violates the Equal Protection guarantee found in the Iowa Constitution.
  9. As a proximate result of Defendants’ acts aforesaid, the Plaintiff has in the past and will in the future suffer mental and emotional harm and anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, fear, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, despair, dejection, discouragement, degradation, disgrace, aggravation, uncertainty, apprehensiveness, exasperation, grief, despondency, restlessness, confusion, dismay, tension, and unease, and has in the past and will in the future suffer loss of wages and benefits, incur medical/counseling/drug costs, loss of earning capacity, benefits, and other emoluments of employment.
  10. Defendants’ denial of Plaintiff’s rights under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa was willful and wanton, and done with malice or in reckless disregard of the rights of Plaintiff, entitling him to punitive damages.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests judgment against Defendants in an amount that will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, and for punitive damages against the individual Defendant’s in an amount sufficient to punish the Defendants and deter the Defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct, and for interest, attorney’s fees and costs as allowed by law.

 

COUNT V

DENIAL OF RIGHT TO PROCEDURAL AND SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS-IOWA STATE CONSTITUTION ARTICLE I, § 9

  1. The Iowa Constitution guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
  2. Defendants, through its agents, servants and employees, allowed officers with apparent legal authority to retaliate against Plaintiff for investigating civil rights claims to protect others from racial harassment.
  3. The policy practice or custom of Defendants allowed its agents, servants and employees to retaliate against Plaintiff secure in the knowledge that they would not be punished.
  4. Plaintiff was denied the right to continue to work as a city director in retaliation because of his investigations of civil rights claims.
  5. The deprivation of Plaintiff’s fundamental rights was the direct result of the policy, practice or custom of the Defendants.
  6. Defendants deprived Plaintiff of rights to which he was entitled under the Due Process clause of the Constitution of the State of Iowa.
  7. As a proximate result of Defendants’ acts aforesaid, the Plaintiff has in the past and will in the future suffer mental and emotional harm and anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, fear, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, despair, deject ion, discouragement, degradation, disgrace, aggravation, uncertainty, apprehensiveness, exasperation, grief, despondency, restlessness, confusion, dismay, tension, and unease, and has in the past and will in the future suffer loss of wages and benefits, incur medical/counseling/drug costs, loss of earning capacity, benefits, and other emoluments of employment.
  8. Defendants’ denial of Plaintiff’s rights under the Constitution of the United States was willful and wanton, and done with malice or in reckless disregard of the rights of Plaintiff, entitling him to punitive damages.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests judgment against Defendants in an amount which will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, and for punitive damages against the individual Defendant’s in an amount sufficient to punish the Defendants and deter the Defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct, and for interest, attorney’s fees and costs as allowed by law.

JURY DEMAND

COMES NOW, Plaintiff Lionel Foster, and demands trial by jury as to all counts.

_________________________________

ROXANNE BARTON CONLIN

ROXANNE CONLIN & ASSOCIATES, P.C.

The Griffin Building

319 Seventh Street, Suite 600

Des Moines, IA 50309

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

 

————–

SUED:

Eric Bookmeyer

Eric Bookmeyer

Kuhn, Tornquist, Lee

Alex Kuhn, Scott Tornquist, John Lee

Janet Solberg

Janet Solberg

Jean Marinos

Jean Marinos

Council member Travis Hickey: "I'm privy to inside information" but refuses to release to press

Travis Hickey

brent trout

Brent Trout

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer

Brian McNamara

Brian McNamara

Mark Stanton

Mark Stanton

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54 Responses to Bookmeyer, Trout, city council, others sued by Lionel Foster

  1. popeye Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    The headline should read entire town of white people get together and fire the only African American in a senior position in City hall.

  2. servantez55 Reply Report comment

    June 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    To Iowa Sucks, You seem to not know what you are talking about, yes they were from other communities, but hundreds of workers work in Mason City, of which this is the Jurisdiction of the Human Rights, I was a commissioner on the Human Rights, and not that many were from out of town, and the ones that were, worked in the workforce in Mason City, And secondly, not only did the Human Rights help the employess and landlords, it helped employers. Saved them lots of money in legal fees. Just sayin.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      June 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      @servantez55-do not pay any attention to SUCKs who is probably stoned again or at the very least is the biggest liar on here next to Philly. OlD SUCKS makes up stories faster than anyone else.

    • Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

      June 18, 2014 at 9:34 am

      What are you talking about, are you retarded?

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        June 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

        @SUCKS-Not retarded at all. I remember every damn lie you have put on here. How was your airline trip when you were delivering illegal drugs? How soon can we count on you leaving the state like you promised you would do. It is a toss up between you and Philly on who makes up the most story’s and lies the most. You are a pathetic liar who spend most of your time stoned out of your mind.

        • MC 83 Reply Report comment

          June 22, 2014 at 2:13 am

          #*^%#¥?’}%^|\_€£¥+{?’j. This makes about as much sence as most of your post.

  3. Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    June 16, 2014 at 8:03 am

    “the only problem that I ever had with the HRC was that folks from other communities accessed Lionels services and those communities never paid a dime”

    Hrmmm, so you bought the lies hook line and sinker, right?

  4. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    June 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    We have only the voters to blame.

    Depressing to thing the people in Mason City truly don’t give a sh*t.

  5. Mother Nature Reply Report comment

    June 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Matt, your post is absolutely right on. I would like to add that from a MC taxpayer perspective, the only problem that I ever had with the HRC was that folks from other communities accessed Lionels services and those communities never paid a dime. They got a free ride and I felt that there was an unfair burden assumed by MC ppl. But that was a different issue and could have been addressed in ways other than political revenge and elite payback.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      June 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      To clarify my point and respond to your points, I have never said that the MC Human Rights agency was perfect. I’m sure Lionel Foster would agree, we can all do better. Just wanted to put that out there. Instead of working in harmony with the agency, however, the elites simply want it gone for good so business is not interrupted again. The vulnerable in our community are road apples to the big landlords and some business owners. They do not want to be bothered with the pettiness of someone’s Constitutional rights; that might interfere with the little fiefdoms they have created. I have heard the horror stories from renters who have been subjected to some of the antics of the landlords, for example. Despicable behavior. Who can these single mothers, these elderly persons, turn to now? The elites would say “If you don’t like it, move, or quit. Or, get an attorney.” Spoken like a true blue blood whose nose is pointed into the sky. They know – but conveniently fail to recognize – that most of these people lack the resources to stick up for themselves. So, the downtrodden will go away, and meanwhile, the landlord or boss gets away with treating people as if they are sub-human, scott-free, no consequences, only to offend over and over. This is Eric Bookmeyer’s dream society. He wants to run Mason City like a corporation; his council is his corporate board, he is CEO, and the bottom-line and the “stockholders” (the elite who got him elected) are all that matters in his sick, twisted vision of society. People and their rights are an annoyance to this man. I truly feel sorry for the people of Mason City.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        June 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm

        @Matt-Excellent post and so very, very true. Now that they have gotten rid of Lionel and the Human Rights they can run roughshod over anyone they want. You can already see it in the rental property around town. The inspectors do their job and notify the slumlords but they just ignore them and nothing is done to correct the problem’s. The downtown area is starting to look like a war zone with all of the abandoned and boarded up houses. Those used to be great homes but not now.

  6. Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

    June 15, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Here’s the truth, as I see it. The elites wanted Lionel out. But none of them had the balls or the courage to do it (Define “elites”: See anyone on the North Iowa Corridor board or anyone who is a dues-paying member). So, they found a little snake of a man named Eric Bookmeyer to do the job, but he was supposed do it as quietly as possible. The elites got him elected – with the help of IC System, who was getting pummeled by the HRC because they treated their employees (and anyone they called on the phone) like crap. Once in office, Eric Bookmeyer went about his task of poisoning the HRC and aligning a council that would back him in crushing Human Rights. The elites lined up in 2009 and 2013 to make sure the council was in place and Bookmeyer stayed in office to see the job through. He appointed people to the HR Commission with dubious motives and some with a nasty past of tangling with the HRC. Big landlords, business owners and Human Resources people who work for large employers who hate it when employees or tenants go to Lionel’s office and talk about how they are mis-treated. The council finally defunded and fired LF, and what is left of the HRC meets and does absolutely nothing except pick the bones dry of what’s left of the Human Rights Office. Eric’s city clerk takes phone calls from people who claim their Human Rights are violated, fills out a form and sends it to Des Moines where the Republican Governor’s cronies mostly sweep the complaints under the rug. Business can now be done in Mason City without the fly in the ointment that was the former Human Rights Office (which is now cleaned out, mostly, and filled with Blue Zones stuff). What we learned about Eric Bookmeyer is his stupidity, arrogance and pompousness knows absolutely now boundaries. The truth is, all he had to do was announce from the beginning (really, in 2011, once he got his council in place) that the city was no longer interested in having a Human Rights Department as it existed and that he and the council would be moving in a new direction. He had the excuses in line that he could have used: Population is too low now in Mason City and the law no longer required a HRC; budget issues; a difference in philosophies; anything EXCEPT using deceit, lies, and subterfuge (which his character is mostly composed of). Instead, starting in 2010 after he was sworn-in, he lied about being a proponent of Human Rights and the well-being of the most-vulnerable citizens; he poisoned Human Rights from the inside with his appointments; and he made disgusting remarks to volunteers that he has a problem with older people. In the end, he killed the HRC, but his reputation may not survive simply due to his own antics and behavior.

  7. Realist Reply Report comment

    June 15, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Human Rights in Mason City aren’t worth much!

    $50,000 of property taxes each year cost the citizens of Mason City $.006 per thousand of taxation. On a $100,000 house that is only 37 cents.

    Of all our services we want, HUMAN RIGHTS, the most important service, was the least costly for the taxpayers and this is where the Defendants choose to cut the budget.

    Why would the Defendants decide the most important service we want, “Human Rights” be reduced to a shell organization and a…

    • Realist Reply Report comment

      June 15, 2014 at 4:58 am

      This lawsuit explains it all. Only a fool will deny the obvious.

  8. Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    June 14, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Tornquist made some very incriminating and false statements. His arse is toast. I hope he has to pay for his defense out of pocket.

    • Another Brick in the Mall Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I hope sweater boy Tornquist has to spend all his sweater money!

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I pity the people served by this department but fosters greed taking 120 k a year for his salary was a large part of the problem. As for the law suit just another in a long line of fosters antics.

    • Nature Boy Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      People who were discriminated against do not need your pity.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      He didn’t make $120,000. That figure was his salary and Amy Simpson’s combined. Lionel made less than most other department heads in City Hall.

    • Marybeth Greenan Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      He did not make $ 120,000 Check the records with the city– The entire department budget was $ 143,000. That included his salary — in the 70′ and Amy’s in the 40’s, plus office expenses.. supplies, software etc…..

      After 40 years in a position of that nature, if he was in the private sector- he would have been making in the mid 6 figures…

      Lionel has a case and it will be interesting to see how a few of these defendants squirm and try to recant everything they have said and done.

      • shake the cobwebs Reply Report comment

        June 15, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        Truth is, LF was still one of the lowest paid city “department managers” Mason City had on its payroll. Maybe he should sue for race and age discrimination related to his low pay. Marinos was mayor for 4 years and didn’t try to align his pay with other managers. Could be more evidence that she was against him all along.

  10. Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    June 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Bookmeyer and Cohl Bultje fist bumping while drinking like a bunch of teenagers is all you need to see to read the writing on the wall. Move out of Iowa and do it as soon as possible. Everyone else has.

  11. Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    June 13, 2014 at 9:58 am

    The city is already considering a hefty settlement. Seriously, it’s not like it comes out of their pockets, it comes out of yours. You elected them so you get to pay. Dat’s how it works. Dig deep, Lionel needs to get payed.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      June 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      @SUCKS-I would not blame Lionel for this. The fault lies with the mayor and his henchmen.

  12. What! Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Ya they are just saying F ! Another pain in my huge ass. A pesky little problem, but we don’t worry about little things like this we know how to get around everything. Cuz we rule the world.

    Scanks every last one of them. I hope it hurts some where though, of course NOT being good honorable humans it won’t.

    I have to say this, that thing solberg is one nasty beast! Wooooh, hideous. They say you are what you look like. Y I K E S !

    Good job Lionel ! One righteous man!

  13. Big Joe Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I don’t see Foster has a leg to stand on. Council had every right to eliminate his department. I hope the council will fight this and let the insurance company settle just because it’s the cheapest route.

    • ? Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

      They do have the right, but if it’s not done properly, you leave yourself, and the city, open to lawsuits, like this one.

  14. Mother Nature Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Fosters recollection of the facts in count after count of the specific allegations is impressive. But then again he was in this business for years and his performance was outstanding. A state official once told me that Lionel had a better grasp of civil rights law than most general practice attorneys. Hes got the best of the best in Conlin, her track record for wins can be measured in the hundreds of millions. But juries have a mind of their own and time will tell.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      @Mother-Old Lionel knows the law as well as anyone and one of the things he excelled in was documentation. He knows the importance of it and documented everything said to and about him. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with age discrimination. This is going to end up costing us some money but do not blame Lionel. Blame the jerks that did this to him.

  15. Not a lawyer Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I am not a lawyer but when you read this it appears he is suing each person not the City of Mason City… so I wonder if the insurance coverage for this will be limited and each person will have to pay out of pocket if Mr. Foster is awarded a judgement against each of the people listed in his complaint.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 14, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      He’s sueing each in their official capacity so the city and its insurance company will pay if he wins.

  16. Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks Lionel doesn’t have a case? This was a large budget savings for the city, and it just follows along with what most other cities our size are doing when it comes to human rights. It’s not as if he was out of a job at 50 yrs old. I shudder to think what THIS will cost our city.

    What if Mason City were to eliminate the City Administrator job? Would Mr. Trout have a discrimination case? I don’t think so.

    • Mrs. Opinion Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      It doesn’t matter what his age is. They can not get rid of him because of it.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        June 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        @Mrs. Opinion-You are correct. Age discrimination is against the law and there is no limit on it. The Federal government is now pushing people to work until they are at least 70, not 62.

  17. s. coolidge Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Solberg should feel right at home inside a courtroom during a lawsuit. I heard she sued her own daughter over some beenie babies. Or maybe it was because she was dating a black guy. Either way, the woman is a piece of work. She was going to sue her neighbors because the kids were outside her house waiting for the school bus and they were too loud. Karma?

  18. Philosophus Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

    So does Dean Genth have a lawsuit ready against the City for what happened to him? He sent an email and he was fired for it. If anyone has a lawsuit that contains merit it’s me, against the city of Clear Lake for allowing audio harassment against the people, in violation of Iowa Code 321.436.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Lawyer up or stop whining.

    • anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

      This article has nothing to do with your hatred of motorcycles. Move along.

  19. Annie Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Enlighten me please. I see all the 62 yr olds clamoring for the door and they don’t let it hit their behind to retire with Social Security. AT 62!!! Here we have a 75 yr old suing because he lost a job that MOST people would have given up 10 to 13 yrs earlier??? What am I missing here?

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 9:54 am

      So in your world, older folks should just give up, right? Sounds a lot like Mr. Bookmeyer when he told an older lady that he wouldn’t appoint her to the HRC because he wanted “younger people with fresh ideas”. I guess the elites simply reach into the hat and pick any reason to discriminate. Sound accurate?

      • Annie Reply Report comment

        June 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

        Elites at 62? I don’t know, most old people move over and the the younger set who needs the money more have at their positions. No, not elite at all. Older people are made to feel like why are you taking a job away from someone who needs it? Oh well……

    • anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 10:56 am

      The age for social security is no longer 62. The age has gone up. And someone can’t live on social security alone. And there’s nothing wrong with working at his age. He was good at his job, and had a passion for his job. There’s many people that continue to work into their 70’s.
      Go get ’em Lionel!

  20. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I didn’t see anything specific in the filing regarding what Mark Stanton did to be included in the case. Can someone enlighten me?

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

      NIT was told by a credible source that Mark Stanton was at a local bar, bragging that “we got him” etc etc regarding Mr. Foster. The source called the NIT newsroom literally as this was happening. The incident the source described took place soon after Stanton was appointed to the HRC by Bookmeyer, as the commission and council moved to oust Foster via funding cuts and elimination of his position. In fact, the incident (allegedly) took place within hours of Stanton attending his very first HRC meeting. The source said that Mark Stanton was so drunk he was mistakenly picking up other people’s drinks and drinking from them. Just relaying what I was told here; I believe the source, but I didn’t witness it. Perhaps Stanton will be called to testify about his whereabouts and activities that evening.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        June 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

        Thank you. It struck me as odd that everyone else named in the suit was called out with an offensive act but Mr. Stanton was not. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

  21. :o) Reply Report comment

    June 12, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Glad to see you are suing Mr. Foster.

    Roxanne Conlin was the right choice; glad you found your way to her!

  22. EVIDENCE? Reply Report comment

    June 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm


    Bookmeyer, Cohl Bultje and Jean Marinos celebrate in 2009.

    • Mahoney Reply Report comment

      June 11, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Evidence that these two probably did more than just fist bump if you know what I mean wink wink.

  23. Cornfed Iowa Lawman Reply Report comment

    June 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Good God what a scary group of freaks you have up there. You elected these people? No wonder the rest of the state makes fun of Mason.

  24. Berkah Reply Report comment

    June 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I hope the defendants really take it in the shorts!!!

  25. Buzz Crumcutter Reply Report comment

    June 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    @LVS….I’m not sure, but I would guess the city has insurance for this type of thing. Of course, the way they operate, maybe there isn’t a company who would want to carry them either.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      June 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

      @Buzz-I am sure you are right, but, we pay the for the insurance and I am sure we have a lawyer on retainer as well. But, that still comes out of taxpayers pockets. We will probably end up paying for everyone named in the suit as well as time off from their jobs. If not, they will probably sue the city as well. Just because a slimeball was paying off a political favor to his buddy.

  26. LVS Reply Report comment

    June 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    You just knew this was going to happen. It is to bad our tax money will go to defend these people because of the mayor getting even.