McCoy asks to join Nahas suit against other supervisors.9/29/2021
In passing, he says Hilton Hotel will lose $8 million this year.
It alleges libel, wrongful discharge, extortion and violation of the Iowa open-meetings and open-records law. It implies that Nahas, who was hired as county human-resources director in 2014, was being used as a pawn by four supervisors — Democrats Tom Hockensmith and Angela Connolly and Republicans Bob Brownell and Steve Van Oort — to force out the fifth, Democrat McCoy.
And it paints a picture of a dysfunctional board, of an office of secretly taped conversations, obscene shouting matches and regular violations of county policy.
It alleges that the board — and it excludes McCoy from this picture — “lacks cohesion, is run by fear, intimidation, and is a good example of substantial organizational dysfunction,” adding “back-biting, turf-protection, and dysfunction run rampant.”
The lawsuit singles out Hockensmith for particular criticism. Nahas, the suit says, for six years was “subject to consistent harassment, vulgarities, threats regarding his employment, and the like at the hands of various members of the board, and specifically Tom Hockensmith, all for simply doing his job.”
It also depicts the board office on the third floor of the county office building downtown as a place echoing of vile language.
Asked if he or the supervisors or the county had any comment on the lawsuit, Norris said: “No.”
The suit says that in an exit interview with Nahas and McCoy, an unnamed employee — “Employee C” — said she “regularly witnessed other Supervisors and the then County Administrator yelling in anger and frustration regularly using profanity, including the words ‘fuck,’ ‘fucking bitch,’ ‘mother-fucker,’ ‘fucking cunt,’ ‘asshole,’ ‘shit,’ ‘damn,’ ‘son-of-a-bitch,’ and ‘god-dammit.’ ”
Nahas was fired earlier this year after the board said he had given inconsistent answers in two secretly taped interviews by county investigators concerning a discussion in a meeting with McCoy and county employee Frank Marasco, who had lost out to Norris in his bid to succeed Mark Wandro as county administrator. The meeting apparently veered off into a range of topics, some perhaps involving county employee Sarah Boese, who apparently heard some of the discussion.
According to the lawsuit, Boese then met with Hockensmith and Connolly, who then “plotted a course of action they felt would result in maximum political damage to McCoy and ultimately result in his removal from the board.”
The plan involved sending a lengthy termination letter to Nahas that had damaging statements about McCoy. The letter became public, but the ploy didn’t work. Nahas lost his job; McCoy kept his.
Nahas’s lawsuit accuses the four supervisors and Norris of libel, saying the termination letter maliciously contained false statements, was “intended to injure Nahas’s reputation, intended to expose Nahas to public contempt and ridicule, and to further damage his ability to obtain further employment.”
It also accuses the four of them and Norris of extortion, using the county’s complaint and interview process “to intimidate and coerce Nahas to implicate McCoy as having allegedly made a profane statement apparently about another supervisor.” It alleges that the defendants, through their agents, “repeatedly warned and threatened Nahas that all he had to do to protect his employment was to implicate McCoy as having made the alleged statements.” They also threatened him with public humiliation and embarrassment…as a means to getting him to change his story.”
The suit also alleges that the board illegally met in secret to fire Nahas and illegally released the letter of termination.
Nahas is seeking damages to cover loss of past income, loss of future income, severe emotional distress, severe future emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. He has asked for a jury trial. …
The building that formerly housed the Des Moines Social Club, located at 900 Mulberry St. in Des Moines, has been shut down since September of 2019, but it will soon be sold. Terms of the deal were approved at the Des Moines City Council’s Sept. 13 meeting. According to Council documents, the Social Club bought the building from the City of Des Moines in 2013 for $600,000 and invested more than $6.9 million into making renovations. The fundraising total was $4.3 million. The $2.6 million shortfall led to constant pressure on operating funds and, ultimately, at least in part, to its closing. The property is being acquired by Abbott Properties for $3.1 million, and Abbott says it will invest an additional $3.5 million into renovations. Abbott Properties is based in Kansas City and has a portfolio of properties valued at more than $200 million. According to city documents, the courtyard at the real estate will be utilized as an outdoor gathering and performing space. The main building’s first floor will have commercial space, and the restaurant, Malo, will remain while a coffee shop will be added. The second floor is being designed for several uses that have not been identified. …
Polk County will soon purchase Des Moines’ east-side recreational complex known as Sleepy Hollow Sports Park. The sale price is set at $1.75 million for nearly 50 acres. Polk County had previously purchased approximately 27 acres of the park in February. The park’s current owners — Rick and Mary Flatt — will continue running all on-site operations through the end of 2022. Then, beginning in 2023, Polk County Conservation will take over the winter sports facility while the Flatts continue the camping operations and special events, including the Kosmic Kingdom music festival, Sleepy Hollow Renaissance Faires and the Sleepy Hollow Scream Park. In 2024, Polk County Conservation will run all the park’s operations with exception of the special events listed above. Sleepy Hollow is located at 4051 Dean Ave. …
Much has been written about the sparkling new Hy-Vee store in Grimes. The 93,000-square-foot facility opened to rave reviews, but also in September, the grocery store chain announced that its downtown Des Moines location at Fourth Street and Court Avenue will close after being open less than five years, to the dismay of some downtown residents and to the joy of some downtown restaurant owners. It will be converted into a HealthMarket, according to a company spokesperson. ♦