CEDAR FALLS -- The mayor of Cedar Falls will ask the City Council to consider removing an appointed planning and zoning commissioner for a post she made on Facebook that the mayor claims contains "false charges."
Mayor Rob Green added a recommendation for the council to consider removing LeaAnn Saul, one of the nine members of Planning and Zoning Commission, to the agenda for Tuesday night's regular council meeting.
Green said in his memo to the council that the reason was "just cause, specifically for making public false statements regarding an elected official and city operations."
Saul's term on the commission is otherwise scheduled to end Nov. 1, 2021. Each commission member is appointed to a five-year term.
In an email before Tuesday's meeting, Saul referred questions to her attorney, Corey Lorenzen, of Lorenzen Law Firm in Cedar Falls.
"The only comment I would have is that we have also been informed that the public will not be allowed to weigh in on this agenda item tonight," Saul said.
Green took issue with a post made to the Facebook page, "LeaAnn for Cedar Falls," on Aug. 24. The entire page has since been deactivated, Saul confirmed, but both Green and Saul's attorney agree on the timing and wording of the post.
"FYI, the CF mask mandate is trying to get pushed through by Mayor Green, Joyce Coil and Dee Vandeventer -- who are sending out a petition via Facebook," Saul wrote in the post. "The CFPD was asked to go out and take photos of youth sports practices and churches to prove, or disprove, they weren't wearing masks with the goal of shutting them down.
"Privately, the head of Public Safety is not happy about it, and doesn't want to be put in the position to enforce it," she added.
Green said both he and Cedar Falls Police Chief Craig Berte have received "numerous phone calls and emails" about the post, and said the information about a petition as well as surveillance of events by police were "false" and "unfounded."
The statements, Green said, "unquestionably violate the spirit of the city's Standards of Conduct," though he acknowledged that code of conduct wasn't required of elected or appointed officials.
"While a private resident may make false statements with impunity, elected and appointed officials can (and must) be held to a higher standard," Green wrote. "If public officials violate commonly accepted standards of ethics and integrity, then appropriate consequences must be meted out to preserve the public trust."
Lorenzen, Saul's attorney, sent a letter responding to the recommendation last week, saying the statements were "provided from a credible source" to Saul and she "is prepared to present evidence that these statements are, indeed, true."
Lorenzen also disputed that Saul's comments rose to the level of "just cause," said a removal would be "unconstitutional," and said Green and the council would have to be "politically motivated" to remove her from the commission.
"Ms. Saul wants to be clear that she denies that the allegations are false, and that she intends to exercise all remedies available to her if any adverse action is taken against her," Lorenzen wrote.
The Cedar Falls City Council meets via Zoom at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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