SIOUX CITY | Mayor Bob Scott said Friday the City Council will not vote on whether to remove a newly appointed human rights commissioner because the member has done nothing as a commissioner that would warrant removal.
The Rev. Cary Gordon has called for businessman Scott Raasch's removal from the Human Rights Commission because of comments Raasch posted on Gordon's Facebook page in December 2010.
The council has not had an opportunity to vote on the matter since it came up in mid-July, and on Friday, Scott said the council did not have grounds to remove Raasch because Raasch was not on the commission when he posted the comments. He has since apologized to Gordon.
"We have no cause to remove him as a commission member," Scott said. "The city attorney said that without cause, we don't have the right to remove any member of any board. That's probably the way it should be. ... Once appointed, we have an obligation to allow them to serve. We obviously are going to watch all our members."
City Attorney Nicole Jensen-Harris told the council July 22 that state law allows for the council to remove an appointee by a written order. The order must list the reasons for the person's removal from office and be filed with the city clerk. The appointee then could request a public hearing before the council.
Jensen-Harris was on vacation Friday and could not be reached for further comment.
No committee or board member has been removed for cause in recent memory, although councils have declined to reappoint people to serve additional terms.
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The council voted unanimously July 8 to appoint Raasch to the 11-member rights commission for a three-year term. The panel enforces anti-discrimination laws and works to prevent bias in the community.
The next week, Gordon, executive pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach, urged the council in a letter to remove him because of Raasch's Facebook comments, some of which were critical of Gordon's role in urging voters to remove three state Supreme Court justices over the high court's unanimous ruling legalizing gay marriage. Raasch is gay.
In one comment, Raasch called Cornerstone members "haters and bigots." Although Raasch made the comments privately, Gordon made the comments available for others to read. He has questioned Raasch’s ability to make impartial rulings on discrimination cases the commission hears involving religious issues.
Councilman John Fitch said Friday he had asked that the issue of Raasch's removal be placed on a council agenda. He and Councilman Keith Radig said earlier they would vote to remove him, but Councilman Tom Padgett and Councilwoman Rhonda Capron said they would not. Scott has not indicated how he would have voted.
"I was told if there are not three 'no' votes, it wouldn't be put on," Fitch said. "If the votes are not there to remove him, it's not worth upsetting a lot of people, in my opinion."
Raasch has attended one commission meeting -- the annual joint meeting of the City Council and the commission on July 30. The commission's Aug. 1 meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum. Its next scheduled monthly meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at City Hall, at 405 Sixth St.