Cedar Rapids city employee seeks restraining order against Kuzela

City government critic says officials are trying to silence her investigative work

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sandi Fowler, special assistant to the Cedar Rapids city manager, is asking a Linn County judge to issue a temporary restraining order against City Hall critic Lisa Kuzela, who has been charged with assaulting Fowler in June.

In a court document, Fowler states that she is seeking the temporary restraining order because Kuzela makes her fear for her safety and well-being.

Kuzela, 49, of 341 Carter St. NW, is resisting the imposition of a restraining order. In a court hearing Tuesday morning, Kuzela testified that she and Fowler, 46, have had political differences but that it had “not crossed my mind” to threaten or harm her.

Kuzela’s attorney, Robert Wilson of Cedar Rapids, told Magistrate Robin O’Brien Licht that Fowler’s request for a temporary restraining order is intended to deny Kuzela access to meetings in City Hall. Officials want to keep her out of meetings so she can’t criticize the city, Wilson said, calling the request for a restraining order a “constitutional issue.”

Kuzela, a former a member of the city’s Local-Option Sales Tax Oversight Committee, has accused city officials of wrongdoing and was a visible opponent of a recent effort to extend the local-option sales tax to help pay for a flood-protection system.

If a restraining order is granted, assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Nerhus said after the hearing, the judge may order that Kuzela stay away from Fowler’s place of employment and her home.

The misdemeanor assault charge stems from an incident at City Hall on June 26 when Kuzela was accused of striking Fowler in the face. Trial had been slated for next week but has since been pushed back to Oct. 29, according to court records.

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