Iowa City Council unanimously agreed to fire city manager Michael Lombardo yesterday less than a year after they hired him. Whether he was deserving of firing or an unwilling pawn in a game between the city council members themselves is open to wide speculation at this point. The one truth is that the city is in the market for a new city manager at a time when stability is most needed. Fortunately assistant Dale Helling is on hand yet again to lend his years of experience as acting city manager.
With a difficult vote ahead pertaining to the local option sales tax, it is puzzling why the city council might choose this moment to remove the city manager. Was it a difference between city prioritization, personality conflict, or a need to remove public glare from a council that has had difficulties seeing eye to eye behind the scenes? In a story in the Press-Citizen, council members chose to say it was a personnel decision and that the public wouldn't hear why from them. As for Lombardo, he is quoted in the Gazette as saying "“I think it came down to a difference in philosophy and understanding roles and expectations.”
Lombardo was unceremoniously escorted out of City Hall yesterday by an Iowa City police officer and will receive six months severance.