A district judge has ordered Ottumwa Mayor Van Gates to sign a seven-and-a-half million dollar Vision Iowa contract. District Court judge James -P- Riley handed down the ruling today after a three-hour hearing Monday in Wappello County District Court. During a special city council meeting August 27, Mayor Gates refused to sign the contract, saying a resolution, not a motion, was required for him to sign. In his ruling, Judge Riley said Gates’ position was without merit and said the proceedings of August 29 were proper and the motion passed by a roll-call vote did authorize the mayor to sign the contract. In a statement signed this afternoon, Mayor Gates said he’s consulting with his attorney and has issues about the basic fairness of the ruling. The mayor’s quoted as saying “it seems unfair someone can make you sign something that goes against your belief.” Today’s district judge ruling may put Ottumwa’s Mayor at risk of a contempt-of-court charge if he still refuses to sign the funding contract negotiated with Vision Iowa.
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