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Toni Cooling/Oxford City Council - Acceptance Order

The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Toni Cooling, Complainant

And Concerning:

Oxford City Council, Respondent


                      Case Number: 20FC:0058


                              Acceptance Order


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

On June 10, 2020, Toni Cooling filed formal complaint 20FC:0058, alleging that the Oxford City Council (Council) violated Iowa Code chapter 21 at a meeting on May 15, 2020.  She stated that the Council held a closed session without complying with Iowa Code section 21.5.

A review of the minutes shows that the Council agenda listed “#3.  According to Iowa Code 2001:  Section 21.5 Council will be going into closed session.”  The unapproved minutes from the meeting indicate that a closed session was held, but does not provide the reason for the closed session.  The Council’s response to the complaint is that the closed session was to discuss a law enforcement issue.

Iowa Code section 21.4(1)(a) requires that the agenda for a meeting be “reasonably calculated to apprise the public” of the items to be discussed at the meeting.  Iowa Code section 21.5(2) requires that “the reason for holding the closed session by reference to a specific exemption under this section shall be announced publicly at the open session and entered into the minutes.”

The Council did not follow the requirements of Iowa Code chapter 21 when holding the May 15, 2020, closed session.

Iowa Code section 23.8(1) 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 20FC:058 is accepted pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(1) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(a).  Parties are directed to work with IPIB staff to negotiate an informal resolution to the complaint.

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 July 16, 2020.  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.

1. Legal counsel for the Council indicated that it may have been a closed session pursuant to Iowa Code section 21.5(1)(g) or 21.5(1)(h).




This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of July, 2020, to:


Toni Cooling

Crystal Raiber, legal counsel for the Oxford City Council

Printed from the website on June 13, 2021 at 9:07pm.