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19FC:0148

Date: 
06/18/2020
Subject: 
Darran Sellers/Vinton City Council - Final Order
Opinion: 

The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Darran Sellers,   Complainant

and Concerning:

Vinton City Council, Respondent

 

          Case Number 19FC:0148

 

                              Final Order         

 

THIS MATTER comes before the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) this 18th day of June, 2020, to consider a final report concerning the informal resolution.


On December 31, 2019, Darran Sellers filed formal complaint 19FC:0148 alleging that the Vinton City Council (Council) violated Iowa Code chapter 21.

  
The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the complaint on February 20, 2020, as to the alleged violation concerning the vote by ballot.  Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution.  The IPIB approved the informal resolution on April 16, 2020.

 

The terms of the informal resolution have been successfully completed.  Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB agreed to dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

 

THEREFORE, formal complaint 19FC:0148 is dismissed as successfully resolved.

 

SO ORDERED this 18th day of June, 2020.


 

________________________________

Chair

 

CERTIFICATE OF MAILING

 

                                                                                              

A copy of this document was sent via email on the ________ day of June, 2020, to:

 

Darran Sellers

Robert Fischer, city attorney

 

 

 

Darran Sellers, Complainant

And

Vinton City Council, Respondent

Case Number: 19FC:0148


On December 31, 2019, Darran Sellers filed formal complaint 19FC:0148, alleging that the Vinton City Council (Council) violated Iowa Code chapter 21 at a Council meeting on December 12, 2019.

At the December 12, 2019, Council meeting, council members took action to fill a vacant council seat by offering the seat to the top write-in candidate.  When that candidate declined the offer, the council members voted by ballot to choose between two others who received write-in votes at a later meeting.

At a December 30, 2019, meeting, the Council voted to appoint a new council member, with five members approving and one member abstaining.  Mr. Sellers requested that the IPIB void this appointment.

Legal counsel responded to the complaint on January 10, 2019, stating that the Council did not vote on the appointment at the December 12, 2019, meeting.  He stated that the Council decided to name two possible candidates for the position and set the final decision for the December 30, 2019, meeting. He noted that the December 30, 2019, appointment was later set aside because the appointment could not be made until the position officially became vacant on January 1, 2020.

The Council’s attorney provided copies of the agendas for meetings held on December 12, December 26, and December 30, 2019, all of which properly noticed the discussion of the vacancy matter.

In his reply, Mr. Sellers provided a copy of the December 12, 2019, meeting minutes, which read, in part:  “Ballots were collected from the council members, excluding Ron Elwick, for their selection.  Andrew Elwick was selected. He will be sworn into office in January.”

These minutes appeared to confirm that a vote was conducted using ballots rather than as required by Iowa Code section 21.3:  “The minutes shall show the results of each vote taken and information sufficient to indicate the vote of each member present.  The vote of each member present shall be made public at the open session.”

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the formal complaint on February 20, 2020 as to the violation of Iowa Code section 21.3 for holding a vote by ballot without making the vote of each member public at the open meeting.

Pursuant to Iowa Code 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution.

The parties agreed to the following terms:

  1. The Council will acknowledge that the described actions occurred.
  2. The Council will acknowledge that on December 12, 2019, the Council held a vote by ballot without making the vote of each member public at the open meeting.
  3. The Council shall conduct training for all Council members on Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 (Sunshine Laws).  The Council may utilize the powerpoint training available on the IPIB website. The City Attorney or designee may conduct the training.
  4. The Council shall evaluate all written procedures/ordinances/resolutions outlining the use of secret ballots and rescind any such procedure/ordinance/resolution.
  5. The Council shall approve this resolution during an open meeting and include the full text in the minutes of said meeting.  Said minutes shall be provided to the IPIB.

The City Council approved the informal resolution at a meeting on March 26, 2020.  Mr. Sellers approved the informal resolution on March 25, 2020. The IPIB approved the informal resolution on April 16, 2020.

The terms of this informal resolution have been completed within 60 days of acceptance by all parties.  The Vinton City Council acknowledged it held a vote by ballot without making the vote of each member public at the open meeting.  It approved the informal resolution at its March 26, 2020, Council meeting and included the full text in its minutes.  On May 14, 2020, the Council conducted training for four Council members and the mayor, and for the remaining two members on June 10, 2020.  The Council evaluated all written procedures/ordinances/resolutions outlining the use of secret ballots on April 23, 2020 and rescinded any such procedure/ordinance/resolution.

The proof of compliance has been provided. Therefore, the IPIB should dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

By the IPIB Deputy Director

_________________________________

Brett J. Toresdahl

 

 

Printed from the website on July 13, 2020 at 1:14pm.