Female Peosta City Councilmembers Retain Posts Following Local Businessman's Expletive-Filled Rant

Oct 24, 2019

This story contains language that may be offensive.

A powerful businessman in an eastern Iowa community called on three female councilmembers to resign in an expletive-filled rant. But the officials are holding on to their posts. 

The rant came from local manufacturer and real estate developer AJ Spiegel at a Peosta City Council meeting earlier this month.

In a recording first obtained by the Telegraph Herald, Spiegel berated the female officials for not supporting an effort he wanted done.

“I’ve done a lot in this goddamn town and this is the thanks I’m getting? Bullshit! Why should I take this bullshit? Because you don’t want to do something? Because somebody said you should not do nothing?Bullshit!" Spiegel said. "Then you oughta resign! Resign! Get the hell out of here!”

Spiegel's comments were directed to Peosta City Councilmembers Karen Lyons, Kathy Orr and Carla Reuter.

As the founder of the Mi-T-M company, Spiegel is Peosta's largest taxpayer and largest employer and has played a central role in the city's development in recent decades. City officials describe him as being instrumental in attracting a Fareway and a Casey's to the city of about 1,700, as well as developing subdivisions and an industrial park for major local employers.

Since 2000, the Peosta has become one of the fastest growing cities in the state.

The conflict at issue is where Peosta City Hall should be located. In a three to two vote, the council had previously tabled a proposal to commission a study analyzing whether city offices should be moved to a new location.

Currently housed in the community center that Spiegel built and donated to the city, the proposal was to instead move the offices to a recently-constructed police department.

In the October 8th meeting, Councilmember Kathy Orr told Spiegel it didn't seem prudent to move City Hall to the Police Department because the building was not constructed with that intent, and further renovations would be needed.

"The people in this town do not want to hear that we're going to spend another how many hundreds of thousands of dollars to either add on or gut the building and start over," Orr said. "If there's other options I want to hear what they are."

The council's two male members voted to initiate the study, which was estimated to cost $3,000.

“I don’t need to lose sleep over you three women saying no, because you don’t want to spend three thousand bucks. Gimme a break!" he said. "What did you do for this town? Not a goddamn thing! And you want to tell us what to do? Not going to work ladies, not going to work.”

Spiegel cursed at the councilmembers dozens of times, repeatedly referring to them as “you ladies."

The female members pushed back against the businessman's rant, saying he should not tell them to resign and that the town has other priorities to focus on.

Peosta’s mayor has since resigned, but not the three female councilmembers. 

The board will have to decide whether to appoint a new mayor or to hold a special election. Officials say they'll address the issue after the November 5th local elections