County Attorney Colin Johnson visited the Crawford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to discuss organizing a training session about Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22, which are the state’s open meetings/open records laws.
The training session is in response to a complaint filed against the Crawford County Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Advisory Board by former Denison Mayor Jared Beymer and accepted in January by the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB).
“It (the training session) would be in reference to that IPIB complaint as it relates to the LMR in that a potential resolution to that complaint is to conduct a training for the LMR board,” Colin Johnson told the Bulletin and Review.
He said that the members of the board of supervisors also want to take the opportunity to make the meeting available to department heads and other county employees.
The LMR board was created by the supervisors in April 2019 to help manage the county’s new radio communications system, which is in the process of being built.
According to IPIB documents, Beymer filed a formal complaint against the LMR board on November 10, 2019, alleging a violation of Iowa Code chapter 21.
Beymer claimed that the LMR board conducted a meeting on September 17, 2019, without posting a proper agenda; he provided a copy of an agenda and the minutes of the meeting in question.
“The agenda pictured in his photograph did not accurately reflect the action taken according to the minutes,” the IPIB document states.
Roger Sailer, then the Crawford County Attorney, responded that Beymer’s photograph was of the advance notice of the meeting.
Sailer “provided a copy of an agenda that he was told was posted on the morning of September 16, 2019,” according to the IPIB document.
The agenda provided by Sailer did accurately reflect the action noted in the minutes, the document states.
During discussion at an open meeting of the IPIB on December 19, 2019, a witness alleged that she had firsthand knowledge that the second agenda was not properly posted, according to IPIB.
“Beymer also provided date and time information of the photos taken on the afternoon of December 16, 2019, with the insufficient agenda still posted,” the informal resolution document states.
The LMR board is a governmental body as defined by Iowa Code section 21.2(1) and the Crawford County Board of Supervisors “specifically said that the (LMR) Board should be subject to Chapter 21” in the resolution that created the board, according to IPIB.
“We’re in the process of trying to work out an informal resolution,” IPIB Executive Director Margaret E. Johnson told the Bulletin and Review.
IPIB accepted the complaint on January 16; an attempt to reach an informal resolution is the next step in the process.
Margaret Johnson said progress has been positive; she believes an informal resolution could be reached in time for the March meeting of IPIB.
Training to make sure the LMR board doesn’t have the same problem in the future would be an acceptable informal resolution, she said.
Colin Johnson said the LMR board had discussed the training session proposal.
“The impression I get is that, regardless of the IPIB, there is a lot of interest in this open records/open meetings training,” he said.
He told the supervisors on Tuesday that he thought it would be a good idea for anyone who is subject to the open records/open meetings laws to sit in on the training session, which would likely take about an hour.
Several members of the board of supervisors had question about which boards and committees are subject to the open meetings/open records laws.
Colin Johnson said whether a board must comply is dependent on how the board is classified.
Advisory boards are subject to the laws, he said.
Board Chairman Cecil Blum asked if the supervisors had been posting their agendas in an appropriate place.
Iowa Code requires that an agenda be posted 24 hours in advance in a location that is easily accessible to the public, the county attorney responded.
Amy Pieper, deputy Crawford County auditor, said that the agendas for supervisors meetings are posted on a board on the ground floor of the courthouse on Friday afternoon prior to the Tuesday meeting.
Blum encouraged Colin Johnson to set up the training session for an evening so anyone could attend.
Text of informal resolution
The following is the text of the proposed informal resolution to former Denison Mayor Jared Beymer’s complaint against the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Advisory Board; as of Thursday afternoon, Beymer had accepted the terms, but the LMR had not, according to Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) Executive Director Margaret E. Johnson.
The IPIB accepted the complaint on January 16, 2020. Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution. The terms of the informal resolution are as follows:
1. The Crawford County Land Mobile Radio Advisory Board will acknowledge that the described actions occurred.
2. The Crawford County Land Mobile Radio Advisory Board will acknowledge that an agenda and notice must include all items for deliberation and action in a manner reasonably calculated to apprise the public of that information, at least twenty four hours in advance as Iowa Code sections 21.4(1)(a), 21.4(2)(a), and 21.4(2)(b) require.
3. The Crawford County Land Mobile Radio Advisory Board shall conduct training for all board members on Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 (Sunshine Laws). They may utilize the powerpoint training available on the IPIB website as a group at a properly noticed meeting or schedule a similar training through the Iowa State Association of Counties or the County Attorney’s Office.
4. The Crawford County Land Mobile Radio Advisory Board 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 60 days of acceptance by all parties. Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB shall dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.