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Formal Complaints


Theresa Callahan / Strawberry Point City Council - Chapter 21


                                         Iowa Public Information Board


In re the Matter of:

Theresa Callahan, complainant

And concerning:

Strawberry Point City Council


Case Number: 14FC:0068





RE:  Formal Complaint 14FC:0068, filed by Theresa Callahan and concerning the Strawberry Point City Council (City).  The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the complaint on September 8, 2014, and assigned this case to staff for informal resolution pursuant to Iowa Code Section 23.9.  The IPIB approved the remedial plan on October 16, 2014.  The City successfully completed the terms of the remedial plan and filed documentation of that.  Recommend case closed as resolved.

The following remediation plan was approved by all members of the Strawberry Point City Council (City) on October 1, 2104.  The complainant, Theresa Callahan approved the plan by email on September 23, 2014.  The plan reads as follows:

Strawberry Point City Council

Remediation Plan


On August 26, 2014, a formal complaint was filed with the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) alleging that the Strawberry Point City Council (City) held an illegally closed session at their meeting on August 25, 2014.  Specifically, the City voted to go into closed session, but only three of the five members voted in favor of the closed session, rather than the four required by  law.  Iowa Code Section 21.5(1) reads: β€œA governmental body may hold a closed session only by affirmative vote of either two-thirds of the members of the body or all of the members present at the meeting.”  Since the City has five council members, the affirmative vote of four would be required.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the City attorney was contacted.  He checked into the allegation and confirmed that there was an insufficient vote.  He acknowledged that the closed session did violate Iowa Code section 21.5(1).  The attorney notified the city clerk that the minutes from August 25, 2014, must include the closed session and that the tape recording of the closed session is a public record and subject to release upon request.  These minutes were posted on the City website and published. 

The City quickly and properly addressed the violation.  Iowa Code section 23.9 requires the IPIB to β€œpromptly work with the parties, through employees of the board, to reach an informal, expeditious resolution of the complaint.”  Therefore, the parties agree that the following remediation plan is appropriate:

1.        The City acknowledges that the closed session on August 25, 2014, was improper and violated Iowa Code section 21.5(1).

2.       The minutes of the August 25, 2014, open meeting shall include the closed session minutes.

3.       Intelligible copies of the closed session audio recording shall be available upon request, without cost, as a public record.

4.       City council members, the mayor and all city staff shall review the training PowerPoint on the IPIB website (

The above provisions shall be completed by November 1, 2014.  Upon successful completion of the remediation plan, the IPIB shall dismiss the complaint as resolved with no additional sanctions.

By documentation dated October 21, 2014, the attorney for the City, Timothy Schloss certified that all provisions of the plan were successfully completed.


I recommend that the IPIB close this matter as successfully resolved.

Respectfully submitted this 28th day of October, 2014. 


Margaret E. Johnson, JD

Deputy Director

Iowa Public Information Board

Cc:           IPIB

                Theresa Callahan

                Tim Schloss, city attorney