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Dear Editor,
I requested some information under the Freedom of Information Act or Sunshine Law regarding our City Attorney from the acting City Clerk, Ward. I wanted the resolution number that establishes city Attorney Fischer's compensation as stated in Vinton's Ordinance chapter 20, section 20.01. Or if the Ordinance is not correct a copy of a contract or agreement that declares his compensation.

The Sunshine Law is an attempt to ensure that Iowa government at ALL levels is as transparent and accountable to the public as possible.
I am sure that legally, we, as citizens, should be privy to that information.Now, this was not the 1st time I asked for that information and didn't receive it. And then, unfortunately, life happened! I had something else to attend to.
So now I am back to it, and as I said at the beginning, I requested information about the City Attorney. And again I didn't receive it! So this time I filed a complaint with the IPIB, Iowa Public Information Board.
Now I did receive a copy of the 2018 audit which had the total paid to Fischer for the fiscal year but that isn't what I asked for. And I was told he charges $150 or $200 an hour. Still not what I asked for. Where did those numbers come from?
Ward passed the complaint to Fischer. His answer was "the City Attorney's compensation is not required to be in a Resolution since the City Attorney is not an employee, but rather an independent contractor".
That is not what the Ordinance says, and he is responsible for the Ordinances, so that answer is odd to me! So back to the topic, the City Attorney's fees! So let's agree he is an independent contractor, wouldn't the City have a contract or agreement, written, on his fees? Or does the City hire independent contractors and allow them to charge whatever they choose? But wait, he was appointed! It says so in the Ordinance chapter 20, which also says his compensation is rstablished by resolution.
So the answer I received from the IPIB is "The Iowa Public Information Board is restricted by Iowa Code section 23.7(1) to a 60 day jurisdictional limitation that runs from the first time you request and are illegally denied the records."
So they agree we were illegally denied but you might as well stick it where the sun doesn't shine because you are too late!
So I don't think the City of Vinton has a written agreement with Fischer. He just submits a bill each month and they write him a check. No checks or balances, just write the check. Wonder how many other "independent contractors" are on the good ole boy agreement?
Does that promote transparency in our local government?
Jane Osborn

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Gerald Bates October 19, 2020, 11:36 pm Keep at it with the open record requests. Keep printing the story.. Accountability is everything. Benton County residents deserve to know..
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