The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order:
On June 28, 2021, Latrice Lacey, Director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC), filed formal complaint 21FC:0056, alleging that the City of Davenport (City) violated Iowa Code chapter 22.
Ms. Lacey alleged that she submitted a records request to assistant city attorney Mallory Hoyt on June 1, 2021, as part of a response given to Ms. Hoyt’s request to her for records from the DCRC. As of the date of the filing of the complaint, she had not received the requested records.1
In a July 1, 2021, response to the complaint, legal counsel for the City stated that the June 1, 2021, letter was not considered to be a request for records. Counsel added that Ms. Lacey, as director of a city department, was aware of the City’s process for submitting a record request through the online portal, “Just FOIA.”
Ms. Lacey replied, stating that Iowa Code allows a person to submit a record request by email, in writing, by telephone, or in person and does not require the use of an online portal.
The June 1, 2021, document is a six-page document, with over 90 pages of attachments, addressing Ms. Lacey’s ongoing conflicts with Ms. Hoyt and does not appear on first read to be a public records request.2
When advised by IPIB staff that the two statements could be interpreted to be a public records request, the City provided the records to Ms. Lacey on August 3, 2021, using the online portal to retrieve the communications.
Legal counsel informed IPIB staff that “Just FOIA” is the City’s software program used to track and process records requests, especially for records involving electronic communications. He confirmed that the City does not require citizens to use the portal for record requests and does accept requests submitted “in writing, by telephone, or by electronic means” as required by Iowa Code section 22.3(1). If needed, City staff can enter the records request into the software program to initiate and track the collection and release of records that are not readily available.
Any error by the City in failing to respond promptly to Ms. Lacey’s apparent record request was properly resolved. The other inter-departmental matters raised in Ms. Lacey’s June 1, 2021, letter and attachments are not issues arising under Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 and are therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the IPIB.
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 does not fulfill those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 21FC:0056 is dismissed as harmless error pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).
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 August 19, 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
1. Ms. Hoyt filed formal complaint 21FC:0045 on June 4, 2021, alleging that the DCRC improperly denied the release of records she requested. In support of that complaint, she included the June 1, 2021, letter from Ms. Lacey.
2. In the second paragraph of page one, the second sentence reads, “Please send me an official copy of the policy.” The last sentence on page two includes a request for copies of correspondence between Ms. Hoyt and a member of the DCRC from January 2021 through May 29, 2021, as well any notes taken during any in-person meetings.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of August, 2021, to:
Brian Heyer, assistant city attorney