A Mason City leader says toxic conflicts are cropping up in city hall after a city council member got in a spat with a city employee. Councilwoman Janet Solberg says she asked the city worker to resolve an issue in her neighborhood and claims the employee was insubordinate to her. It’s prompted an investigation.
Another councilman, Max Weaver, says the fracas is part of a growing problem inside city government. “We have a situation that I’ve never seen the likes of before,” Weaver says. “The responsibility here for this hostile working environment that’s been created in City Hall is the work of Mayor (Eric) Bookmeyer with the help of a Fourth Ward councilperson.
Together, they have created a hostile situation.” Weaver says the whole thing has gotten out of hand, due to these two city leaders. “It’s not their job to threaten employees or to demand employees do certain things or see it their way,” Weaver says. “It’s not their job to want to terminate or give employees time off. That job lies with the City Administrator Brent Trout.”
The details of an e-mail exchange between Solberg and another council member were read into the record at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Weaver says the whole discussion about alleged insubordination is creating a poisonous situation.
“The morale at City Hall is the lowest I’ve ever seen it and the responsibility lies with these two characters,” Weaver says. “Something has to be done because it cannot continue. People are afraid to talk to people and that’s why I’ve mentioned communication several times at the last couple of meetings. We need to keep communicating even though there is that hostile environment and people are out to get people.”
Councilwoman Solberg declined to reveal the identity of the city employee, since the matter is still under investigation. She’s also not discussing details of what led to the confrontation.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City