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20FC:0108

Date: 
01/21/2021
Subject: 
John Choate/Manly City Council - Informal Resolution Report & Order
Opinion: 

The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

John Choate, Complainant

And Concerning:

Manly City Council, Respondent

 

                      Case Number: 20FC:0108

                                  

                     Informal Resolution Order

              

This matter comes before the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) this 21st day of January, 2021, to consider the Acceptance of an Informal Resolution.

The IPIB accepted the complaint against the Manly City Council on November 19, 2020.  Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached a proposed Informal Resolution.

The Board has reviewed the informal resolution and approves it pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.4(3).  The IPIB chair is directed to sign the Informal Resolution on behalf of the IPIB.

The parties have 90 days to complete the proposed terms from today’s date.  If the terms of the Informal Resolution are completed, the IPIB will dismiss the complaint.

 

_______________________________

IPIB Chair

 
 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

This document was sent by electronic mail on the _________ day of ___________, 2021, to:

 

John Choate

Tom Meyer, legal counsel for the Manly City Council

 

 

Before The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

John Choate, Complainant

And Concerning:

Manly City Council, Respondent

 

                      Case Number: 20FC:0108

                                  

                     Informal Resolution Report

              

COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and respectfully submits this Informal Resolution Report:


On October 20, 2020, John Choate filed formal complaint 20FC:0108, alleging that the Manly City Council violated Iowa Code chapter 21.

The IPIB accepted the complaint on November 19, 2020, and directed IPIB staff to assist the parties in adopting an informal resolution.  The parties have approved an informal resolution as described in the attached report by Brett Toresdahl, IPIB deputy director.


The terms of the informal resolution are to be completed within 90 days of acceptance by all parties.  Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB shall dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

It is recommended that the IPIB approve the proposed informal resolution, direct the IPIB chair to sign the informal resolution, and set the matter for compliance review in accordance with the terms of the informal resolution.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.

Executive Director

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

This document was sent by electronic mail on the _________ day of ___________, 2020, to:

 

John Choate

Tom Meyer, legal counsel for the Manly City Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Choate, Complainant

And

Manly City Council, Respondent

Case Number: 20FC:0108

Informal Resolution Report

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:

  1. On October 5, 2020, the Mayor disconnected telephone access to the Council meeting about 30 minutes prior to the end of the meeting.
  2. On October 12, the Council met without posting notice at 5 p.m.
  3. 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.

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the formal complaint on November 19, 2020, as to the violation of Iowa Code section 21 and specifically 21.3, violation of the requirements to provide public access to an open meeting.  

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

The parties agree to the following terms:

  1. The Council will acknowledge during an open meeting that the requirements for public access to an open meeting was not met, and this acknowledgement be recorded in the minutes of said meeting.
  2. The Mayor and City Clerk shall create a checklist for providing electronic access to the public at all open meetings.
  3. The Council shall conduct training during an open meeting for all council members, mayor, and city clerk on Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 (Sunshine Laws).  The Council may utilize the powerpoint training available on the IPIB website. The Council shall work with the city attorney or the Iowa League of Cities to provide the training to the council, mayor, and clerk.
  4. 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 terms of this informal resolution will be completed within 90 days of acceptance by all parties.  Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB shall dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

The Manly City Council is anticipated to approve the informal resolution on January 18, 2021 at their meeting.

Mr. Choate approved the informal resolution on January 6, 2021.

The IPIB Deputy Director recommends that the IPIB approve the informal resolution and authorize the IPIB Chair to sign the informal resolution on behalf of the IPIB.

By the IPIB Deputy Director

_________________________________

Brett J. Toresdahl

 

Printed from the website on May 18, 2021 at 11:42am.