Maxwell's fate in judge's hands

No decision after 70-minute hearing today


A Scott County District Court judge heard 70 minutes of legal arguments that will determine John Maxwell’s continued Scott County board and North Scott school board service.

John Maxwell’s attorney, Alan Ostergren, asked Judge Patrick McElyea for a quick decision to fix an administerial, not substantive conflict claimed by petitioners.

Ostergren urged the judge to listen to voters who elected Maxwell, and state legislators who altered Iowa law days after the conflict was contested.

At the same time, petitioners invoked an Iowa law that requires a panel of elected county office holders to rule on the conflict. That panel on March 17 agreed and voted to end Maxwell’s supervisor service.

He immediately appealed and Judge McElyea heard arguments today, but did not make a decision.

The conflict involves Maxwell’s work on a city assessor conference board for both elected posts.

Attorney John Larew, for petitioners, said the work of the conference board is a substantive conflict, big enough Maxwell avoided participating on the Davenport city assessor conference board for two years until this year.

Larew said Iowa legislators thought it substantive enough to fix it quickly.

Ostergren called assessor conference board work, “purely administerial. I cannot identify a situation where someone wins and someone loses in a conference board in fight between county and school board representatives,” he said.

Maxwell, watched from his Cinnamon Ridge farm as Judge McElyea questioned lawyers in depth about legislative history and intent.

Larew opened the hearing asking the judge if vacancy panel members should have a role and representation at this hearing. He noted it was the panel’s decision, not the petition, that actually created the vacancy.

Ostergren disagreed. “I don’t see the panel itself has a role as a party, no more than the district court would be represented on appeal if we appealed something to the Iowa Supreme Court.”

John Maxwell, Scott County Board of Supervisors, North Scot School Board, Alan Ostergren, Patrick McElyea, John Larew