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Formal Complaints


Sam Cain/City of Sheffield - Acceptance Order


The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Sam Cain, Complainant

And Concerning:

City of Sheffield,  Respondent


                     Case Number: 17FC:0088


                          Acceptance Order

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


On December 1, 2017, Sam Cain filed formal complaint 17FC:0088, concerning the City of Sheffield (City).  He alleged that the City violated Iowa Code chapter 21 by conducting an unlawful meeting on November 27, 2017.  Mr. Cain is the police chief for the City.  He attended the November 27, 2017, meeting, during which the City council held a closed session pursuant to Iowa Code section 21.5(1)(i).  Following the closed session, the council approved disciplinary action concerning him.  He was not asked to agree to the closed session or invited to attend it.


The November 27, 2017, agenda noted that a closed session would be conducted pursuant to Iowa Code section 21.5(1)(i):  “To evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance, or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session.”


The minutes for the meeting indicate that the closed session was requested by the City clerk.  However, the formal action after the closed session was directed toward Mr. Cain’s competency or performance.  


In addition, the minutes of this meeting do not indicate the necessary vote to hold a closed session.  Iowa Code section 21.5(2) requires a public announcement of the reason for the closed session, as well as the vote of each member.  This information is also required to be entered into the minutes.


This code section prohibits any discussion during the closed session other than the stated reason for holding the closed session.  Because of the final action taken after the closed session, it appears that Mr. Cain’s competency may have been discussed.


The minutes also note that the agenda was modified at the meeting with no record of what that amendment was.


Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and could have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint.  This complaint meets those requirements.


IT IS SO ORDERED:  Formal complaint 17FC:0088 is accepted pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(1) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(a).  Parties are directed to engage in reaching an informal resolution, with the assistance of IPIB staff, pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9.


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 January 18, 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


Dated this ____ day of _________, 2018.




This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of January, 2018, to:


Sam Cain

City of Sheffield

Megan Rosenberg, city attorney