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"There are no secrets that time does not reveal." Jean Racine

Did you know the Vinton City Council has been keeping a dirty little secret since March 26th?

Did you know that on December 12, 2019, the Vinton City Council violated Iowa Law and even admitted it?

You didn't? Well, I did because I caught them and turned them in on December 31, 2019. In fact, the Iowa Public Information Board agreed with me and accepted my formal complaint on February 20, 2020. The Vinton City Council agreed they messed up and approved an informal resolution admitting their mistake. In case you were wondering, that was the IPIB resolution that was voted on and approved during the City Council meeting held on March 26, 2019. More on that later.

Do you want to know what was in the informal resolution? I am attaching the full resolution if you care to read it. In the meantime, I want to highlight the terms of our agreement. These are the things the Vinton City Council agreed to do:

The parties agree to the following terms:

1. The Council will acknowledge that the described actions occurred.2. The Council will acknowledge that on December 12, 2019, the Council held a vote by ballot without making the vote of each member public at the open meeting.3. The Board shall conduct training for all Board members on Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 (Sunshine Laws). The Board may utilize the powerpoint training available on the IPIB website. The City Attorney or designee may conduct the training.4. The Board shall evaluate all written procedures/ordinances/resolutions outlining the use of secret ballots and rescind any such procedure/ordinance/resolution. 5. The 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.(emphasis by me)

Now, let me ask you some questions:

1. Have you heard or read where the Council acknowledged what they did wrong? I haven't.2. Did all Council members attend the required training? No. Mr. Hessenius and Mr. Parr did not attend the training on May 21, 2020, and there have been no reports that they have since then.3. Did the Council evaluate procedures? I believe they did during the April 23, 2020 meeting. However, has anyone seen those new procedures? I haven't.4. Have you seen in any of the Council meeting minutes where the full text of the informal resolution has been printed? I certainly haven't and that is the focal point of this letter and why that particular item was in bold and underlined type.

People and organizations make mistakes. I fully understand that. After all, it's not the mistakes you make buy how you correct them that really matters. Was it an honest mistake? Well, that is where it gets a little sticky. I don't know about you, but when I make an honest mistake, I apologize and promise I won't do it again. Has anyone on the Vinton City Council acknowledged they made a mistake and apologized to the Citizens or even to me personally? No, they have not. Why not? Anyway, it doesn't matter because the IPIB has closed this complaint as being satisfied. Since the Vinton City Council refused to print the full text of our informal resolution, I decided to do it for them.

Why did I do this? Because what they did was wrong. I have served on public boards and I know the difference between right and wrong in open meetings. As we all witnessed, there were a lot of things done by the Mayor and Vinton City Council in December and January that were contrary to Iowa law, not to mention the whole Vinton Precinct election fiasco that was so deftly swept under the rug. I brought those items to their attention as well.

Openness is such a subjective term. Technically, doors can be called open whether you are slipping a piece of paper through a narrow opening on the side or wide enough to let many people through. My question to you is "How open is the Vinton City Council?" I can say personally that I haven't gotten much more than a slip of paper from them.

Darran Sellers

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Jennifer Parr June 23, 2020, 1:52 pm Just a quick note to say that Mr. Parr and Mr. Hessenius have completed the required training.
Darran Sellers June 23, 2020, 10:51 pm Thank you. At the time this was written I had not seen a public statement to that fact. I'm glad they went through the training.
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