Supreme Court hands down UERPC-Postville ruling

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Supreme Court hands down UERPC-Postville ruling

By Mike Van Sickle
Contributing editor

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld two of the three rulings by the District Court in Allamakee County in regard to a lawsuit filed by the City of Postville and City Councilman Jason Meyer against Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC).

The suit was originally filed in October 2010 after the UERPC Board voted by secret ballot Sept. 23 to enter into a contract to purchase property in Decorah for the purpose of relocating UERPC’s central office from Postville. 

In their petition, Meyer and the City of Postville asked the court to fine each individual defendant up to $500 and have them pay court costs and attorney fees, to void the secret ballot vote, and to remove from office defendants Kathy Campbell, Ray Whalen, Leon Griebenow, Andrew Wenthe, Karla Organist, Michael Kennedy, Warren Steffen, Janet McGovern, Dean Darling, Les Askelson and Randy Uhl (members of the UERPC board who voted in favor of the relocation).

Postville City Attorney Anne Loomis then argued that UERPC violated Iowa’s open meetings law by allowing board members to vote on the issue by secret ballot and that the meeting at which the vote was held was improperly posted.

According to the Iowa Supreme Court ruling filed on Friday, June 7, the state’s high court affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment that there was no finding as to whether the UERPC members’ actions involved intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law.

In addition, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the District Court’s summary judgment on the status of the Oelwein Daily Register as “one of general circulation.”

On the notice issue, the Court found that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether placing the notices of public meetings on the bulletin board in the hallway of its (UERPC) offices complied with the Iowa Open Meetings Act.

In returning the latter issue to District Court, the lower court has been directed to determine if the City of Postville is entitled to any attorney fees and costs for the appeal.

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