UPDATE — This story has been updated to say Mandsager received a merit raise, not a cost of living raise, which was originally reported due to a source error.
MUSCATINE — A few days after Muscatine City Administrator Gregg Mandsager filed a defamation lawsuit against Mayor Diana Broderson and the city of Muscatine, the city council voted to increase Mandsager’s salary by 2 percent.
Mandsager filed a lawsuit Friday against Broderson for defamation during her first term and removal from office. Tuesday night, the city council held a closed session meeting for Mandsager’s annual evaluation, according to the agenda.
After emerging from the closed session, council members voted to increase Mandsager’s pay by 2 percent, based on merit. Saucedo said the raise would increase Mandsager’s annual salary to around $157,000.
Around a dozen residents gathered Tuesday night at City Hall to support the mayor and see the outcome of the closed session. Several residents asked council members to table the vote on Mandsager’s salary until Thursday’s regular meeting, so more residents could have an opportunity to speak.
“You want to give a man a raise who wants to sue the city,” business owner Shelly Servadio said. “We want you to table the decision so you can listen to the voting public and give them their voice so you can make a more informed decision.”
Council members then unanimously voted to increase Mandsager’s pay.
The city administrator accuses Broderson of five charges in the petition: defamation, infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, intentional interference with contract and respondeat superior or municipality liability.
He is requesting Broderson provide compensation for "injuries" and cost of legal action.
Broderson, who won re-election last week, was removed from office by a unanimous city council vote in May. Last month, a Muscatine County District Court judge ruled the removal of Broderson was vacated because council members violated her right to due process and had an interest in her impeachment.
The council claimed Broderson, during her first term, overstepped her authority as mayor and made accusations against council members and the city administrator.
After Broderson's win in court, Mandsager issued a statement saying he intended to sue the mayor for defamation, and following her election win last week, he officially filed a lawsuit Friday, that includes the mayor and the city of Muscatine, according to court documents.
In an interview Oct. 26, Mandsager said he is including the city in the lawsuit because it is the "primary insurance holder." In the petition, Mandsager requested a jury trial.
He also told the Muscatine Journal he would prefer not to file the lawsuit, and was hoping to reach an agreement with Broderson. He requested Broderson issue an apology and retract statements she has said about their first meeting, in which she claimed Mandsager told her that he runs the town and makes the decisions in the community.
On Tuesday, Broderson said Mandsager never approached her to discuss the potential lawsuit and never directly asked her to issue an apology or retraction. Broderson said she was not aware the city administrator had already filed the lawsuit.
Tuesday in an email, Mandsager said he never received a response to his letter dated Oct. 19, so “we were left with little recourse, but to file the lawsuit.”
“I remain hopeful that we can reach a mutually agreeable and respectable resolution to the matter and then redirect our energies to the many positive things going on in Muscatine,” Mandsager said.
In his petition, Mandsager lists dozens of instances in which Broderson allegedly committed slander or libel, injured the city administrator's reputation or caused damages, such as mental pain and suffering and loss in employment opportunities.
Among the allegations in the petition, Mandsager claims in February 2016, Broderson "asserted ... she is being undermined in her position by the city administrator," that the city administrator subjected her to a hostile work environment and that her position has been undermined due to gender discrimination.
In addition, at a Coffee with the Mayor session in May 2016, Mandsager claims Broderson made "numerous false ... and slanderous statements," including that the city administrator was the reason city employees were afraid for the jobs and Mandsager was the "root cause of her problems."
Broderson said Tuesday she hopes to move past the contention and focus on starting a new term as mayor.
"We're just really hoping to move on in a positive way for the community," Broderson said.