The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Acceptance Order.
On October 20, 2020, John Choate filed formal complaint 20FC:0108, alleging that the Manly City Council (Council) violated Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22.
Mr. Choate described three complaints:
On October 5, 2020, the Mayor disconnected telephone access to the Council meeting about 30 minutes prior to the end of the meeting.
On October 12, the Council met without posting notice at 5 p.m.
On October 19, the Mayor announced a closed session and disconnected access prior to the motion and vote to enter closed session. In addition, the closed session was not audio recorded.
Counsel for the Council responded to the complaint and stated that the Council did not meet until 7 p.m. on October 12, 2020. Prior to that meeting, the city clerk was working, and the Mayor met with two out of five council members to interview candidates for an open position. He provided proper notice of the meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.
Counsel agreed that the Mayor did disconnect meeting access on October 5, 2020, and that the Mayor inadvertently disconnected meeting access while the Council was still in open session on October 19, 2020. He noted that Council staff realized that the recording device would not work at the beginning of the closed session, but that the city clerk took minutes of the closed session.
Iowa Code section 21.3 requires open meetings:
Meetings of governmental bodies shall be preceded by public notice as provided in section 21.4 and shall be held in open session unless closed sessions are expressly permitted by law. Except as provided in section 21.5, all actions and discussions at meetings of governmental bodies, whether formal or informal, shall be conducted and executed in open session.
Iowa Code section 21.5(2) requires that the votes to enter a closed session be “announced publicly at the open session….” Section 21.5(5)(a) requires a governmental body to audio record the closed session.
Governor Kim Reynolds, by proclamation, has temporarily modified Chapter 21 to allow for electronic meetings pursuant to Iowa Code section 21.8 be held “provided that the governmental body provides a means for the public to participate by telephone or electronically as provided in this section.”
Public access was not properly provided to the October 5 and October 19, 2020, meetings.
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 20FC:0108 is accepted as legally sufficient 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 reach an informal resolution 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 November 19, 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. See section 113 of the Governor’s Proclamation dated September 18, 2020, and section 109 of the Proclamation dated October 16, 2020.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of November, 2020, to:
Tom Meyer, attorney for the Manly City Council