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Formal Complaints


Karen Borchers/City of Orange City - Dismissal Order


The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Karen Borchers, Complainant

And Concerning:

City of Orange City,  Respondent


                     Case Number: 18FC:0018                               

                         DISMISSAL ORDER


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

On March 7, 2018,  Karen Borchers filed formal complaint 18FC:0018 against the City of Orange City (City).  She alleged that the City violated numerous sections of Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22.

Ms. Borchers submitted over 50 pages of documents with handwritten notations outlining what she alleged are 41 violations of Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22.

Twenty-one (21) of the alleged violations were noted to have occurred more than 60 days prior to the filing of the complaint.  Iowa Code section 23.7(1) limits IPIB jurisdiction to matters that have occurred within the 60 days prior to the filing of the complaint.  Therefore, the IPIB does not have jurisdiction over these matters.

The remaining complaints are summarized and dismissed as either legally insufficient, without merit, or harmless error:

  1. A records request made on February 20, 2018, was received on March 7, 2018.  This is not a violation as the records totaled 788 pages and received within 11 business and 15 calendar days.  The records were provided within a reasonable period of time.

  2. Some records were redacted or withheld as confidential pursuant to Iowa Code section 22.7(4).  The City noted that the reference to Iowa Code 22.7(3) in the response to Ms. Borchers was actually a typographical error.  There is no evidence to indicate that the records were not properly redacted or withheld.

  3. Ms. Borchers reported that on at least three occasions she did not receive meetings documents prior to meetings.  Chapter 21 does not require advance distribution of meeting materials. She did receive materials at meetings or soon after when requested.  Since October 2017, the City has tried to send meetings materials to her prior to meetings, but may have missed doing that at times.

  4. Ms. Borchers raised concerns about the sufficiency of five City agendas.  The agendas questioned do not violate Iowa Code.

  5. Ms. Borchers complained that on four occasions the city administrator provided his notes on agenda items to the council members.  This is not a violation of Chapter 21. The notes are also made available to anyone who requests them as a public record and are included with the City agenda packet.

  6. Ms. Borchers complained that the minutes of three meetings did not include documentation of comments made by the public.  This is not required by Iowa Code section 21.3.

  7. Ms. Borchers was quoted a fee of $417.76 for some records she requested.  The City set that amount based upon the advice of IPIB staff that Iowa Code section 22.3 does not allow employee benefits to be included in determining staff expense.  The fee quoted did not violate Iowa law.

  8. Three of the complaints concerned closed sessions at City council meetings, however, no specific information was provided as to the nature of the alleged violation.  Ms. Borcher is concerned that because no formal action arose from recent closed sessions concerning real estate purchases or sales, there must be violations that are occurring.

  9. The City has a public records policy that Ms. Borchers alleged is β€˜unclear’.  This is not a violation of Iowa Code chapter 22.


These complaints are either legally insufficient, without merit, or considered harmless error (such as numbers β€˜2’ and β€˜7’).   

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:0018 is dismissed as legally insufficient, without merit, or harmless error 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 April 19, 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:  Karen Borchers

       City of Orange City