Julie Schwering / City of Moorland - Chapter 22 - City Records
January 2, 2014
220 Main Street
Moorland, IA 50566
RE: Formal complaint 13FC:0036, concerning the Moorland, Iowa, Park Board
Dear Ms. Schwering:
The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) received your complaint dated November 19, 2013, alleging a violation of Iowa Code Section 22 (public records) by the City of Moorland Park Board. Specifically, you noted that the Park Board record custodian had not responded to your request for public records dated October 29, 2013.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Code Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the Executive Director. The decision of the Executive Director is subject to review by the Board.
Upon receipt of your complaint, this office contacted the City of Moorland and the city attorney. In connection with a companion complaint (13FC:0035) involving the City of Moorland, you were able to access the city records. However, the request to the Park Board was still not resolved.
As a member of the Moorland City Council, it would appear that you should not be required to file a Chapter 22 records request to have access to city records. The records you requested were public records, however, and should have been released regardless of your position with city government.
When you still had not received the Park Board records by December 10, 2013, another email was sent from this office to the City Attorney inquiring as to the reason for this delay. The City Attorney responded that same day, stating that he thought all records had been released. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the records you requested (insurance documentations) do not exist, even though your city policy requires such.
It is concerning that the City of Moorland and the Park Board were unable to release public records without the involvement of the IPIB and your City Attorney. However, you requested that this matter be dismissed as involving harmless error, since you will be available to assist the City on this issue in the future. There are certainly challenges for small towns such as Moorland (population 160), without even a town hall or a city office, to comply with all the laws and regulations. Should you have any future questions, please contact this office for assistance.
Iowa Code Section 23.8 provides two options for action by the IPIB upon receipt of a complaint, the second of which states:
“Determine that, on its face, the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, is legally insufficient, is frivolous, is without merit, involves harmless error, or relates to a specific incident that has previously been finally disposed of on its merits by the board or a court. In such a case the board shall decline to accept the complaint. If the board refuses to accept a complaint, the board shall provide the complainant with a written order explaining its reasons for the action.”
Upon your request, it is therefore ordered that the complaint is dismissed on the grounds that the alleged violations of Chapter 22 constitute harmless error.
A copy of this Order is being forwarded to the Iowa Public Information Board for review at its next scheduled meeting on January 16, 2014.
cc. Moorland City Government
Mark Crimmins, city attorney