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Iowa Public Information Board still investigating secret budget meetings held by Mason City council and mayor

If the mayor and other officials do not want you at a meeting, they will either throw you out or just make them secret altogether.
If Mayor Eric Bookmeyer (left) and other officials do not want you at a meeting, they will either physically remove/intimidate you or – as in this latest case – just make the meeting secret altogether.

DES MOINES – Calling the matter an “extremely important issue”, the Iowa Public Information Board continues to investigate secret, closed door budget meetings perpetrated by the Mason City council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer.

A Mason City man, Michael Servantez, filed a complaint against the mayor and council for holding secret budget hearings as they struggled to put together a budget for 2016. The elected officials eventually had to ask the public for guidance on at least one issue – sanitation rates – and resorted to closed door meetings to patch together the next city budget.

The city fell back on the “legal advice” of its hourly-paid attorney, Randy Nielsen, who “ruled” that the secret meetings which barred the public were fine to proceed with. Nielsen also “ruled” that hiding information from emails sent to city officials was just fine, as well.

The board has now deferred the issue for a second time as it investigates and ponders an outcome.  In a document provided to NorthIowaToday.com, the board says that the legal issues in this case “impact all levels of government”.

The complaint has been deferred until the board’s May meeting, in order to “give additional thought and input on this extremely important issue”.

“This case involves very complex issues that impact state, city, and school boards and needs to be handled in a deliberative manner,” said Charlie Smithson, Executive Director of the Iowa Public Information Board.

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