Davenport Alderman Mike Matson, a mayoral candidate, sent an email in April to outgoing Mayor Frank Klipsch saying his signature was added without his approval to a disciplinary letter that forcibly removed four city commissioners from their volunteer posts, a recent court filing shows.
The accusation is tied to an ongoing lawsuit involving the city and its Civil Rights Commission, which oversees the Civil Rights Office. Former Commissioner Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger, one of the four removed by Klipsch, has filed a lawsuit in Scott County District Court challenging the mayor’s decision.
Filed as an exhibit in Scott County court, Matson sent Klipsch an email on April 15 complaining that he had not seen the mayor’s disciplinary letter before it was publicly shared. “I request any future correspondence, letters of actions, or written action items with my signature is first drafted and sent out for comment before official publishing,” Matson, a longtime 7th Ward alderman, wrote.
But Klipsch says Matson’s claim isn’t true. In a statement Friday, the mayor said he was “surprised” to hear Matson would say he hadn’t seen the letter, saying he sought and obtained Matson’s approval before sending the message out.
On Friday night, Matson said by phone that he "did not see the letter" before it went public, adding: "I did not give approval."
He says he had a conversation with Klipsch about the matter where he expressed concerns, but repeatedly denied ever seeing or signing it.
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Four months ago, Klipsch removed four members from the panel through a mayoral action currently under review in Scott County District Court over a dispute about the commission’s membership. Former commissioners have openly clashed with the mayor, calling his actions unjust and politically motivated.
The removal process was a mayoral action. But in defending his decision to remove the commissioners, the mayor asked aldermen to sign their names to the letter as a display of unity in City Hall.
It remained unclear Friday whether any of the other nine council members experienced what Matson claims to have.
Some aldermen either declined to comment citing the pending lawsuit or did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. But three council members who spoke to the Times – Aldermen Kyle Gripp, at-large, Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, Alderwomen Kerri Tomkins, 8th Ward – said they saw the letter ahead of time, discussed the matter with the mayor and authorized their digital signatures to be used.
Council members also said digital signatures are commonly applied on their behalf but always with their permission.