Massage therapy ordinance tabled

Special election for 2nd ward seat

The Marshalltown City Council tabled action on one controversial ordinance proposal but passed a resolution calling for special election to fill the vacancy of second ward councilor at Monday night’s council meeting.

A proposed ordinance to establish the licensing of massage therapy businesses was tabled indefinitely by 6-0 vote of councilors. The measure was listed on the agenda as a follow-up to similar item on the Jan. 8 meeting. At that meeting, a significant number of comments were received from legitimate massage therapy-and related businesses who objected to language in the ordinance and who were concerned being “lumped in” with illicit massage businesses. Conversely, a number of residents voiced support of the ordinance.

Chief of Police Mike Tupper had asked the council in 2017 to consider, and act on an ordinance, which, in his opinion, would restrict illicit massage businesses but not legitimate massage businesses. Tupper said establishment of such an ordinance would be a proactive measure, and prevent the establishment of illicit businesses, which he said were fronts for prostitution, sex trafficking, and other illegal activity.

Tupper said he had examples of several ordinances from other communities, which, in his opinion, had acted proactively.

City attorney Roger Schoell was directed to draft the ordinance in 2017.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Joel Greer asked councilors if one of them wished to make a motion to remove the “tabled” designation as voted on at the Jan. 8 meeting.

No one did.

The action lacked for a motion, so Greer said the ordinance would be tabled indefinitely.

“With this endeavor to look at the massage ordinance, I believe it is proactive in its feeling and intent,” said At-Large Councilor Bill Martin. “I was hopeful at the outset for this (ordinance) to be a win-win-win for law enforcement, the public, and for licensed massage therapists. We have been all over the board with this as a council. There are strong cases for each side. I would hope discussion on this will continue in the future in a positive sense, and some resolution or at least progress be made. We would like to be proactive.”

Shortly after Martin’s remarks, about one-third of the audience present departed.

In other action, councilors unanimously passed a resolution calling for special election to fill the vacant second ward seat.

The election will be held on the earliest practical date selected by the Marshall County Auditor/Elections Commissioner.

That seat was officially vacated Jan. 2, when second ward councilor Joel Greer, who was in the middle of his second four-year term, was sworn in as mayor, as a result of his election in November.

In an effort to fill the seat, the council called for interested second ward residents to submit letters of interest to the city.

Four residents – F. Leigh Bauder, Jay Carollo, Brittany O’Shea, and Bob Untiedt submitted letters outlining their qualifications.

On Jan. 5, the council interviews the four, with all required to answer a variety of questions.

However, at the Jan. 8 council meeting, none of the four received a three vote majority to be selected.

All four individually received four no, and two yes votes.

Bauder later addressed the council under the public comment section of the agenda.

She announced her candidacy for the second ward seat, saying she was frustrated with an alleged lack of transparency by the council on budget matters, specifically relating to the establishment of Splash Pads and other issues.

Bauder and another resident have worked for several years attempting to raise funds for the pads at public events while applying for grants and unsuccessfully, for city funds.

If installed, the pads would be installed throughout the city and would be free-of-charge for youths.

Their efforts were generated from the tragic drownings of several youths in the Iowa River several years ago.

The next city council meeting is a special budget meeting noon, Jan. 29, in city council chambers. The next regular city council meeting is 5:30 p.m., Feb. 12, in council chambers. For complete agenda packets and to subscribe to agenda notices and department news, visit www.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611, or