BLOOMFIELD — The former director of Bloomfield’s public works department is suing the city and mayor, saying he was wrongfully fired after being subject to “threats, coercion, harassment and retaliation.”
The suit, filed by Danny Simonson, says his removal came after he questioned Mayor Daniel Wiegand’s use of city tools and equipment for work contracted to Wiggy Electrical, LLC, Wiegand’s business, and other “actions … that benefited Defendant Wiegand personally at the expense of the City.”
When Simonson challenged the use of city equipment, the suit said Wiegand said, “You try to bill me for that and we will see what happens to you,” which Simonson took as a threat.
On another occasion, the suit said Wiegand “broke a pair of bolt cutters owned by the City when he was using them for his private business matters. The bolt cutters were later replaced using City funds.”
Simonson was fired on a 3-2 vote by the city council on Oct. 24, 2019. Simonson’s suit said that vote was retaliation for instances in which he tried to voice concerns about misuse of public funds and resisted efforts by Wiegand to take actions that benefited him or his company: “Danny objected to and reported the misuse of public funds, and as a result, Defendants fired Danny.”
The city’s response to the suit denied the accusations and said Simonson was fired “for cause or for reasons which do not violate public policy or Iowa laws.”
On Tuesday, the state auditor’s office released a report that criticized Bloomfield’s financial practices and raised questions about whether the city was following its own ordinances for how spending should be handled.
That report uncovered more than $660,000 in spending that was paid before the city council approved it. The city also failed to approve other purchases by motion or resolution, as required.
Simonson’s filing is not the only one involving Wiggy Electrical. In January, the IRS filed a federal tax lien against the company. The lien cited an unpaid balance of more than $69,000 in taxes. It was one of seven separate federal liens filed against Daniel and Traci Wiegand and their companies, Wiggy Electrical and Wigwam Daycare and Preschool, LLC, between October 2019 and February 2020.
In all, the liens came to slightly more than $315,000.
Simonson’s suit is seeking compensation, civil damages of up to three times his annual wages and benefits, attorney fees, and reinstatement or front pay.