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Local News

February 14, 2013

Who knew and when did they know it?

“The contract between the city of Centerville and Kevin Stocker regarding interim city administrator services has been terminated as of February 12th, 2013,” according to an email sent on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6:57 a.m. by Councilman Edwin Brand to the Daily Iowegian. “The City Council has no further comment regarding this personnel issue.”

CENTERVILLE — The termination of the contract between the city of Centerville and Kevin Wade Stocker raises some questions, like who knew about his criminal background status and when did they know it?

According to the open letter from Centerville Mayor Jim Senior, on Friday, Feb. 8 Police Chief Tom Demry was contacted by a city staff member with a concern that Stocker might have a criminal background.

The open letter states, and Chief Demry confirmed it during a telephone interview with the Daily Iowegian on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 13, that he was asked to look into Stocker's background. Chief Demry said he found Stocker listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry and Iowa Courts Online web sites and confirmed Stocker's criminal conviction in Black Hawk County for the attempt to entice a minor charge.

Chief Demry said he then contacted Centerville's city attorney, Mike Craver, on Friday, Feb. 8 with the information.

According to the open letter, Craver then "contacted all council members to inform them of the issue and discuss the next steps in dealing with the matter."

City Councilman Rob Lind, by telephone Wednesday afternoon, said Craver informed all five city councilmen about Stocker's criminal status Monday afternoon, Feb. 11. Lind said Craver told him the city had a problem that needed action.

Lind said he might have voted differently at their Monday, Feb. 4 council meeting had he known about Stocker's criminal background.

"I would have to say that it would have been a pretty slim thing that I would have supported him if that had been known," Lind said.

"I think that the way we handled it has been proper and fair to the city and fair to Kevin," Lind said. "All I can say is its sad that everything worked out like this."

Lind said doing a background check was made more difficult because they were hiring a consultant and not a regular employee.

Craver, by telephone Wednesday afternoon, said Chief Demry told him late Friday, Feb. 8 about Stocker's criminal background. Craver said before he could tell the council members he had to review the contract and research the information he was given to make sure it was accurate.

"I had to research the information that was provided to me and review the contract before I contacted them," Craver said. "In addition, I had several other things going on."

Craver said he was tied up in a meeting all of Monday morning and wasn't able to inform the city council members until Monday afternoon.

"I don't think that they knew," Craver said. "I believe that everyone was informed when I contacted them."

Craver said Stocker offered on Tuesday to have his contract with the city terminated. Craver said it was finalized Tuesday, Feb. 12 at approximately 6:30 p.m.

"I think it all happened very quickly when the information came to light," Craver said.

The city only owes Stocker for five days of work, Craver said.

City Councilman Randy J. Marcussen, by telephone Wednesday afternoon, said couldn't recall when Craver told him about Stocker's criminal background.

"I don't recall," he said. "I just know it was taken care of rather quickly."

In the mayor's open letter, Senior states he did not have prior knowledge of Stocker's criminal history before finalizing the contract on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Senior, during a meeting Wednesday morning at City Hall, said it wouldn't have mattered to him, he still would have signed the contract to hire Stocker.

"I would have still signed it after I found out," Senior said. "But I didn't. But I would have."

Senior said Stocker and the city council agreed to allow his contract to be voided.

"And I tried to talk him out of it," Senior said. "He got more done for the city of Centerville, for City Hall, then we were able to accomplish in the last two months he got it done in a week-and-a-half."

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

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