An Oelwein doctor is to be reappointed to the Fayette County Board of Health in January says an agreement approved Monday by the Board of Supervisors.
Dr. Anthony Leo, who was removed on Aug. 30 from the Board of Health by a 2-1 vote of the supervisors, will be reappointed on Jan. 1, 2022, to a three-year term.
In exchange, Leo waived his right to the removal hearing that was scheduled for Monday’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting. He also agreed not to seek damages against Fayette County parties arising from the ouster.
Dr. Leo’s attorney commented on the settlement to the Daily Register.
“The settlement agreement speaks for itself. Dr. Leo is pleased to continue his three decades of public service on the Fayette County Board of Health,” said attorney Chip Baltimore. “Dr. Leo and I are happy to put this unfortunate situation behind us and move forward in a productive and positive manner, which was the motivation behind Dr. Leo’s offer to resolve this matter in the manner reflected by the settlement agreement.”
During Monday’s meeting, Supervisors Chair Jeanine Tellin said the County Board “admits no wrongdoing.”
She also said before casting her vote on the agreement: “I know you guys want to get it over and done with, but the press has made it into a deal where we have been after Dr. Leo for — other items, which is wrong; it’s his behavior. I guess it can be noted in the minutes it was about his behavior.”
Tellin had led the effort to have Leo removed from the Board of Health. At the Aug. 30 meeting she accused Leo of going on a solo crusade against the Fayette County Fair after the Board of Health voted to support its COVID-19 mitigation plan. He denied that, noting he stepped up to help Fayette County Public Health staff with their concerns about the fair.
At that time, Oelwein Police Chief Jeremy Logan, Fayette County Attorney Wayne Saur and Fayette County Public Health issued statements in support of Leo.
Text of the settlement approved by a 3-0 vote was made available Monday afternoon by Auditor Lori Moellers, clerk to the board. Except for the opening paragraphs naming the parties (three board members and Leo), it reads in full:
“2. This Agreement is written to fully, formally and finally resolve all disagreements between the parties beginning in July 1, 2020, through the present by which Dr. Leo was ultimately removed from the Fayette County Board of Health on about August 30,  and the litigation threatened between the parties arising therefrom.
“3. It is agreed and understood that :
a. Dr. Leo denies the assertions made against him which purportedly formed the basis for the Board of Supervisors’ action in removing him as a member of the Fayette County Board of Health on August 30, 2021, and this agreement constitutes no admission concerning any of the said assertions;
“b. Dr. Leo will be reappointed by the Fayette County Board of Supervisors to the Fayette County Board of Health on or about January 1, 2022 for a three (3) year term on that Board;
“c. Dr. Leo agrees he will not commence any form or type of litigation for damages or otherwise against the Fayette County Parties arising from his removal from the Fayette County Board of Health on August 30, 2021, or the actions and/or statements of the Fayette County Parties that occurred between July 1, 2020, and the date of this Agreement;
“d. Dr. Leo hereby waives his right to a post removal hearing before the Fayette County Board of Supervisors presently scheduled for November 29, 2021;
“e. Dr. Leo acknowledges that this Agreement is supported only by the mutual promises and understandings recited herein and that no monetary compensation is made between the parties under this Agreement; and
“f. The Fayette County Parties acknowledge that this Agreement is supported only by the mutual promises and understandings recited herein and that this Agreement pertains only to the dealings of the parties concerning Dr. Leo’s membership on and removal from the Fayette County Board of Health.
“4. It is agreed between the parties that the foregoing terms of this Agreement are the only terms of this Agreement and that no other terms, conditions or promises pre-existing this Agreement survive this Agreement.”
At the Aug. 30 Board of Supervisors meeting, members voted 2-1 to remove Leo from the Board of Health because of his actions regarding COVID-19 mitigation plans for the Fayette County Fair. Tellin and Marty Stanbrough voted for the ouster. Janell Bradley voted against.
On Nov. 15 the County Board met in closed session to discuss strategy with counsel for a “threatened lawsuit by Dr. Anthony Leo” under Iowa Code 21.5(1)c.
“Motion was made by Stanbrough and seconded by Bradley to authorize Attorney Carlton Salmons to have further discussion with Attorney Baltimore regarding the threatened lawsuit by Dr. Leo. On a roll call, all voted aye, none nay, and the motion was carried,” per Nov. 15 minutes for publication.
On Nov. 22 the County Board emerged from a similar closed session. “Motion was made by Bradley and seconded by Stanbrough to respond to communications from Dr. Anthony Leo’s attorney,” Nov. 22 minutes state. “In an effort of compromise, the Board only authorizes Dr. Anthony Leo’s reappointment to the Fayette County Board of Health on or shortly after January 1, 2022, for a three-year term. On roll call, Bradley, Stanbrough and Tellin voted aye, none nay, and the motion was carried.”
No legal action has been filed in Fayette County by Leo against the supervisors.
AT MONDAY’S MEETING
During its regular meeting on Monday, the Board of Supervisors had scheduled a “post removal hearing” for Dr. Leo at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s 9:30-ish, and we’re here to approve this agreement today — that we have read through,” Tellin said.
Salmons was on the phone to advise the supervisors in open session. Tellin advised him a reporter was there.
Salmons advised the board to make a motion “for good cause” to approve adding the settlement agreement to the meeting agenda as soon as possible. Salmons explained that although he attempted to do so Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 24, the auditor was on vacation (Thanksgiving week), causing the 24-hours notice Iowa Code requires to amend the agenda to be missed.
Good cause was used as an exception to add an emergency agenda item at Salmons’ recommendation, which carried.
“The Iowa Code requires an agenda item scheduled. You know, within the 24 hours, you have to find good cause, and make a motion finding good cause to proceed,” Salmons said.
“My opponent Mr. Baltimore, Dr. Leo’s attorney, made a filing to change consensus on the terms of the settlement agreement,” Salmons said.
“It is of the essence that the settlement agreement be confirmed as soon as possible,” Salmons said. “I would ask you find good cause and make a motion to do that as I have presented.”
The supervisors voted 3-0 that the good cause was because the settlement was reached on Nov. 24 when the auditor was gone and the agenda was already posted.
“On to the next item, that is to agree or disagree with this agreement that has been put before us,” Tellin said. “You had a chance to look over it. Any discussion?
“I do want you to know, and I also want the press to know,” Tellin continued; “that by signing this agreement, we as a Board of Supervisors admit no wrongdoing in this whole — actions, because the Iowa Code does allow us to appoint, and also remove, any board member, without cause.
“If I understand right, Carl, we all have to approve this, nobody can say no?” Tellin asked.
“You’re going to have to vote to approve or reject the agreement,” Salmons said.
“Somebody can make a motion to that effect. The chair’s going to sign twice, once for the Board of Supervisors and once for the chair herself.”
Bradley said, “I make a motion to approve the agreement as proposed.”
“It’s been moved and seconded,” Moellers said. “Roll call. Jeanine (Yes) Marty (Yes).”
“I know you guys want to get it over and done with,” Tellin said. “But the press has made it into a deal where we have been after Dr. Leo for — other items, which is wrong; it’s his behavior. I guess it can be noted in the minutes it was about his behavior.
“I will vote to approve it then. All in favor,” Tellin said. “Motion carried.”
“Very good,” Salmons said. “It’s public record, to disseminate.”