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Formal Complaints


Anthony Schrad/City of Eldora - Dismissal Order


The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Anthony Schrad, Complainant

And Concerning:

City of Eldora,  Respondent


                     Case Number: 17FC:0086                                 

                         DISMISSAL ORDER


COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order:

On November 28, 2017, Anthony Schrad filed formal complaint 17FC:0086 against the City of Eldora (City).  He alleged that the City violated Iowa Code chapter 21 when three council members communicated by email outside a scheduled meeting.

On November 29, 2017, Mr. Schrad requested copies of email communications between council members concerning his employment.  Mr. Schrad requested that the IPIB review a series of emails he received that were sent from October 1 to 31, 2017. He alleged that the emails showed a majority of the five member city council were deliberating electronically concerning his employment termination.  The emails from three council members were provided for staff review.

The records consisted primarily of emails authored by the chief of police and sent to council members:

1. October 12, 2017:  Sent from police chief to three council members.  No response from council members.

2. October 13, 2017:  Sent from police chief to all five council members.  No response from council members.

3. October 17, 2017:  Sent from police chief to city attorney, with comment that police chief has the “backing” of council members, but no indication how he arrived at this conclusion.

All communications contained statements made by the police chief about Mr. Schrad.  The IPIB cannot address the accuracy of the statements or whether Mr. Schrad was properly terminated from employment.

Mr. Schrad later provided additional public records with more emails from council members’ email accounts.

Iowa Code section 21.2(2) defines a meeting:

2. “Meeting” means a gathering in person or by electronic means, formal or informal, of a majority of the members of a governmental body where there is deliberation or action upon any matter within the scope of the governmental body’s policy-making duties. Meetings shall not include a gathering of members of a governmental body for purely ministerial or social purposes when there is no discussion of policy or no intent to avoid the purposes of this chapter.

The emails provided do not indicate that a majority of the council members were deliberating about this issue at any time.  The majority of the emails were initiated by the police chief. There were only a few responses to the emails; none of which contained any communication discussing the merits.

Iowa Code section 21.8 allows a governmental body to engage in an electronic meeting.  In order to do that, the governmental body must follow specific procedures. There is no evidence in the emails of an electronic meeting, so section 21.8 would not apply.

At the time of the issuance of this Order, Mr. Schrad was still waiting for the emails from two council members.  Since the emails of a majority of the council have been received, there is no reason to delay this Order to review the remainder.

There are not sufficient facts to believe that a violation of Chapter 21 occurred.  However, the City is cautioned to avoid sending mass communications to all council members and to avoid using the ‘reply all’ feature to emails.  Utilizing the ‘bcc’ feature for addressing emails to all council members is considered the best practice.

Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint.  This complaint does not fulfill those requirements.


IT IS SO ORDERED:  Formal complaint 17FC:0086 is dismissed as legally insufficient  pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).

Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.”  The IPIB will review this Order on March 15, 2018. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.


By the IPIB Executive Director


Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.                                                 

Dated this _____ day of _______, 2018.


Cc:  Anthony Schrad

       Martin Petersen, city attorney