Santa Claus banned from Muscatine city council meetings

News

The Muscatine City Council is currently looking into who has the power to maintain order at their meetings.

It comes after City Administrator Gregg Mandsager banned one jolly character for six months. 
Days before Christmas, Muscatine resident and Vietnam veteran Max Kauffman showed up to the meeting dressed as Santa. 

Kauffman gave Mayor Broderson candy, for the way she handled the accusations of the council. 
Two members got a piece of coal, but City Administrator Gregg Mandsager got 4 lbs. of coal. 
Kauffman says that’s a deserving gift for anyone who sues the only city that would hire him. 
Before Kauffman finished his bit, Mandsager had him removed from the meeting and banned from city hall for six months. 

Kauffman questions whether Mandsager even had the authority to remove him. 
He says Mandsager’s actions show how he and some council members continue to walk over the rights he fought so hard for as a veteran. 

“Not one of them has a background of fighting for our country, not one, and they feel free to walk on our constitution without malice. That really bothers me a lot, and that is another reason why I felt that they were deserving of a piece of coal from Santa,” says Vietnam veteran Max Kauffman.  
Kauffman says he’s proud to have stood up to the council and says he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from neighbors. 

He says he has high hopes for the new council members to move Muscatine forward. 

Local 4 News reached out to City of Muscatine communications manager Kevin Jenison, who said a presentation on the matter will be made at the council’s next meeting January 18.    

Jenison said the Santa episode was just the latest in a long streak of council appearances at which Kauffman addressed the council on various issues. He said during the Santa incident, Kauffman broke the rules by directly approaching the mayor and city administrator. The rules require him to remain behind the podium.  

In this day and age where incidents of violence against public officials is not unprecedented, the city opted to err on the side of caution. Jenison said the city has extended an offer to Kauffman to appeal the six-month council ban to request that it be reduced, but they have not heard back from Kauffman.

Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson said the council is looking into what constitutes appropriate actions in council chambers as well as who is responsible for maintaining order. City administrator Gregg Mandsager intervened and imposed the ban. City code says it is the mayor who maintains order at council meetings.

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