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 February 22, 2021, Steven Watson filed formal complaint 21FC:0011, alleging that the Indiana Township Board of Trustees (Trustees) violated Iowa Code chapter 21.
Mr. Watson alleged that on January 26, 2021, the Trustees held a meeting without providing proper notice as required by Iowa Code chapter 21.
On March 3, 2021, the clerk for the Trustees sent a copy of the agenda and minutes for the Trustees’ meeting. She noted that the meeting was open, but that there was no public posting. She also noted that it has not been common practice to post public notice of every Trustees meeting.
All township boards of trustees are governmental bodies as defined by Iowa Code section 21.2(1), and, therefore, required to follow the open meetings law. This includes properly posted notice and agenda, and proper minutes for every meeting. It appears that has not been consistently occurring with Indiana Township and, possibly, with other Marion County townships as well.
The Iowa State University Extension publishes a handbook for trustees and can provide training on open meetings and public records laws, as well as on other trustees’ duties and responsibilities.
It appears that the Trustees would benefit from IPIB assistance to ensure complete compliance with Iowa Code chapter 21.
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 meets those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 21FC:0011 is accepted pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(1) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(a). Parties shall cooperate with IPIB staff to reach an informal resolution as provided in 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 March 18, 2021. 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.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of March, 2021, to:
Indiana Township Board of Trustees
Ed Bull, Marion County Attorney