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Formal Complaints


John Ralls/City of Martensdale - Dismissal Order


The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

John Ralls, Complainant

And Concerning:

City of Martensdale,  Respondent


                     Case Number: 18FC:0012                                 

                         DISMISSAL ORDER


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

On January 29, 2018, John Ralls filed formal complaint 18FC:0012 against the City of Martensdale (City).  He alleged that the City violated Iowa Code chapter 22 when the Fire Chief and the city attorney failed to release public records.  Specifically, he alleged that he submitted a records request on January 8, 2018, to the Fire Chief for the City. The city attorney contacted him on January 11, 2018, and informed him that his office was compiling the requested records.

On January 25, 2018, the city attorney notified Mr. Ralls that the requested records should be ready for his review after the February 1, 2018, city council meeting.  He was contacted on that date and advised that the records were ready for him. On February 15, 2018, Mr. Ralls reported that his health was preventing him from reviewing the records and that he might be indisposed for some time.  

Mr. Ralls voiced a concern that the City was using the city attorney to retrieve and release public records.  Iowa Code section 22.1(2) allows a government body to appoint a lawful custodian and does not prohibit the City from deciding to have an attorney review a record request.  

There do not appear to be sufficient facts to believe that a violation of Chapter 22 has occurred.

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 18FC:0012 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 β€œdelegate 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:  John Ralls

       Robert Stuyvesant, city attorney