HILLSBORO, N.D. — A feud between Hillsboro City Commissioner Levi Reese and City Auditor Matt Mutzenberger appears to be on hold until Tuesday, June 23, when the full commission is expected to talk about whether the auditor will keep his job.
Hard feelings between Mutzenberger and the commission's vice president, Reese, were evident during a special meeting of the City Commission on Monday night, June 15.
At one point, Reese asked for a vote to fire Mutzenberger, but that effort failed because the proposed action was not on the agenda for the special meeting.
At the same meeting, Terry Sando, the commission's president, asked for a vote calling for Reese to resign, but that move, too, went nowhere.
Sando said he was upset over a move Reese took June 10 when he made public a letter critical of Mutzenberger. The letter, which Reese emailed on June 8 to fellow commissioners, accused Mutzenberger, among other things, of being verbally abusive to others and of bringing a handgun to City Hall.
Mutzenberger said in a phone interview prior to Monday's meeting that he and Reese have been on the outs since he began criticizing Reese for not staying in "his lane" when it came to his commission portfolio.
In the email he sent to fellow commissioners and later to media outlets, Reese outlined what he said were examples of Mutzenberger's disregard for the city employee handbook, state law, city commissioners and the general public.
The email included an allegation that Mutzenberger, who was hired in 2018, brought a handgun to City Hall contrary to rules.
In addition, Reese said in a phone interview that he personally heard Mutzenberger use vulgar language during an argument with a city commissioner, an argument Reese said stemmed from new carpeting at City Hall.
Mutzenberger confirmed in his phone interview that he brought a handgun to the office in the summer of 2019. He said he did so after receiving a threatening phone call from an individual who was upset with actions Mutzenberger had taken as part of his job.
Mutzenberger said the call sent him into "self-preservation mode" and he said he later apologized to a city employee who was alarmed by the presence of a handgun at work.
Mutzenberger said he received a letter of counsel from Sando following that incident.
Mutzenberger maintained that he did not know about Reese's June 8 email to city commissioners until a reporter asked him about it last week.
According to Mutzenberger, there are a number of problems with Reese's email, including that it contains things that were taken out of context, or are untrue.
Commissioners voted at Monday's meeting to put Mutzenberger on paid administrative leave and it is anticipated the commission will discuss his employment at its June 23 meeting.
Mutzenberger said Tuesday, June 16, that he has consulted an attorney and he maintained that by making his email to commissioners public Reese may have created a potential liability for the city.