Tom McLaughlin / City of Riverside Iowa, City Council / Chapter 22-information request
April 21, 2014
RE: Iowa Code Chapter 22: Does a city policy which reads, in part – “All requests for information shall be made during City Council meetings by a motion and voted upon by the Council” – violate the Iowa Open Records laws? ANSWER: When reviewed in its totality, the city policy of the Riverside, Iowa, city government does not violate Section 22.2 of the Iowa Code. The policy outlines procedures for the city council members to direct the activities of city staff and does not apply to requests for public records from the general public.
Tom McLaughlin BY EMAIL ONLY
191 E. 1st St.
Riverside, IA 52327
Dear Mr. McLaughlin:
On April 10, 2104, you filed a complaint concerning a recent action by the City Council of Riverside, IA. Specifically, you alleged that the council adopted Policy Number: ADM 42104-2, which reads, in part:
“All requests for information shall be made during the City Council meetings by a motion and voted upon by the council. Individual council persons can have their requests added to the agenda or make a motion during council comments section of the agenda, which will include the ability to discuss and take action.”
Upon receipt of your complaint, the city administration was contacted for more information. The city administrator provided a copy of the entire policy:
A RESOLUTION ADOPTING AN ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY CONCERNING COUNCIL PERSONS REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION
WHEREAS, the City of Riverside in an effort to best utilize the staff resources at City Hall has established an Administrative Policy outlining the procedures for Council Persons making request for information.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE, IOWA TO ADOPT City Policy ADM 42014-1 entitled Council Members Requests for Information.
POLICY NUMBER: ADM 42104-2 EFFECTIVE DATE:
SUBJECT: Council Members Request for Information RESOLUTION:
The purpose of this Administrative Policy is to set forth the City’s Policies and Procedures for obtaining information to be used by the City Council. The policy will insure that City Hall employees are utilizing their time appropriately in researching and presenting information to the Council.
SCOPE: This administrative policy applies to the City Council.
All requests for information shall be made during City Council meetings by a motion and voted upon by the Council. Individual Council Persons can have their requests added to the agenda or make a motion during the Council Comments section of the agenda, which will include the ability to discuss and take action.
City Hall staff will inform the Council when a request is approved approximately when the information will be available for their review. The review can be placed on the agenda or shared with all Council Persons as strictly informational in scope.
IT WAS MOVED BY Sexton seconded by Schnoebelen that the foregoing resolution be adopted.
Roll Call: Kasdorf, Kirkwood, Sexton, Schneider, Schnoebelen
Ayes: Sexton, Schneider, Schnoebelen
Nays: Kasdorf, Kirkwood
Passed by the City Council of the City of Riverside, Iowa on this 7th day of April, 2014.
According to the City Administrator, the purpose of the policy is to require council discussion and decisions on research tasks presented to the city staff. Individual requests for open records, whether from an elected official or from a member of the general public, would continue to be handled under the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 22.
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.
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.”
For the reasons set forth above, it is therefore ordered that the complaint is dismissed on the grounds that the alleged violation of Chapter 22 is legally insufficient.
A copy of this Order is being forwarded to the Iowa Public Information Board for review at its next scheduled meeting on May 15, 2014.
Rusty Rogerson, city administrator
Bill Sueppel, city attorney