- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (AP) - Two former municipal officials have sued Nebraska City and some members of its city council, saying the council illegally ousted them.

Former city administrator Joe Johnson and former clerk-treasurer Arnold Ehlers say in their jointly filed lawsuit that the council exceeded its authority in December when it considered the appointments of Johnson and Ehlers “to city employee positions they already held, and which were not vacant at the time.”

They filed the lawsuit late last month in Otoe County District Court, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1a95IIL ).

“We deny anything was illegal,” City Attorney David Partsch told The Associated Press on Thursday, declining to elaborate. The city has 30 days from the date of the filing to respond, he said. No court date has been set for any hearings.

Johnson and Ehlers say in their lawsuit that they weren’t informed before the Dec. 1 meeting that the council would go into closed session to discuss matters related to their employment. They are asking the court to void the council’s actions and award them “further relief as the court may find proper.”

The two remained on the job while Jack Hobbie, who was mayor at the time, tried to work out the situation with the council. Johnson left in February to start a private consulting business, and Ehlers’ last day was March 5.

Hobbie, who had voted to reappoint both men, quit his post on Feb. 26, saying his resignation was “primarily due to a lack of respect and communication with me as the mayor.” He complained that he was blindsided when the council decided not to retain Johnson and Ehlers.

In Nebraska City, the mayor and commissioners of finance, public works, streets and parks act as the five-member council.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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