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McIntosh v. City of Riverdale

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 5, 2018

PAULA DAWN MCINTOSH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF RIVERDALE and SONYA PADDOCK, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark J. Smith, Judge.

         Paula McIntosh appeals the district court's annulment of a writ of certiorari. AFFIRMED.

          Michael J. Meloy of Meloy Law Office, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Michael C. Walker and Paul L. Macek of Hopkins & Huebner, P.C., Davenport, for appellees.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         On February 6, 2017, the city council of the City of Riverdale unanimously voted to remove Paula McIntosh from her position as city clerk "for inattention to detail and lack of effective communication and cooperation with City Officials." The next day, Riverdale, by certified mail, sent a written order of removal advising McIntosh of the council's decision and of her right to file a request for a public hearing before the council. See Iowa Code § 372.15 (2017). On February 13, McIntosh requested such a public hearing. On both February 15 and 23, Riverdale, through counsel, advised McIntosh by letter that the public hearing would take place at the city council meeting on March 7.[1] On March 1, the minutes of the February 21 city council meeting were published in the Quad City Times. This publication noted the council's approval of a motion "to schedule Public Hearing on March 7, 2017, during regular Council Meeting pursuant to Iowa Code 372.15 Regarding The Removal of an Appointee following all business." On March 2, Riverdale posted an agenda for the upcoming March 7 council meeting outside of city hall which noted McIntosh's removal would be considered at the meeting. McIntosh ultimately attended the March 7 council meeting, in which she was represented by counsel and she and several others spoke on her behalf, after which the council voted unanimously to confirm the removal of McIntosh as the city clerk.

         On April 5, McIntosh filed a petition for a writ of certiorari alleging (1) Riverdale violated Iowa Code section 362.3 and Riverdale Municipal Code section 18.05 by failing to properly publish notice of the public removal hearing and (2) such improper notice violated her due process rights under the Iowa Constitution. Following the district court's issuance of a writ of certiorari, Riverdale moved to quash the writ. Following a hearing, the district court granted Riverdale's motion to quash and annulled the writ of certiorari, concluding Iowa Code section 372.15 and its counterpart in the Riverdale Municipal Code do not require notice of a removal hearing and McIntosh's due process rights were not violated.

         McIntosh appeals, contending the district court erred in concluding Riverdale was not required to publish notice of the hearing and her due process rights were not violated. We review certiorari actions and issues of statutory interpretation for correction of errors at law. Burroughs v. City of Davenport Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, __ N.W.2d__, __, 2018 WL 2372570, at *4 (Iowa 2018) (certiorari); Jahnke v. Deere & Co., 912 N.W.2d 136, 141 (Iowa 2018) (statutory interpretation). Our review of the constitutional due process claim is de novo. See City of Des Moines v. Ogden, 909 N.W.2d 417, 422 (Iowa 2018).

         First, McIntosh argues the district court erred in concluding Riverdale was not required to publish notice of the public hearing before the city council. Specifically, she contends the correct statutory interpretation of Iowa Code section 372.15 and its counterpart in the municipal code[2] requires formal publication of notice of the public hearing. Her position is that the use of the term "public hearing" in these provisions "infers" a requirement that notice of the hearing be formally published. As such, McIntosh argues Iowa Code section 362.3 and its counterpart in the municipal code[3] require publication be made in accordance with those provisions.

         Iowa Code section 372.15, which concerns "removal of appointees," provides the following:

Except as otherwise provided by state or city law, all persons appointed to city office may be removed by the officer or body making the appointment, but every such removal shall be by written order. The order shall give the reasons, be filed in the office of the city clerk, and a copy shall be sent by certified mail to the person removed who, upon request filed with the clerk within thirty days of the date of mailing the copy, shall be granted a public hearing before the council on all issues connected with the removal. The hearing shall be held within thirty days of the date the request is filed, unless the person removed requests a later date.

(Emphasis added.) Iowa Code section 362.3, which governs "publication of notices," in relevant ...


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