Founded in 2010

News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region

Mason City has turned its back on protecting Human Rights of its citizens

MASON CITY – January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month – and the glaring reality here in town is that the City of Mason City has essentially turned its back on upholding Human Rights.

Through its deeds, actions and defunding, the City of Mason City no longer pursues the preservation of Human Rights as it once did over the course of decades, but merely appears to be going through the motions until the entire enterprise can be quietly swept under the rug.

Case in point, the total dismantling of the Human Rights Department and the near obliteration of the Human Rights Commission – institutions that served the down-trodden in Mason City since the 1960’s. Citizens with interest and passion in making sure the powerless were not victimized by members of the infamous “Good Old Boys Club” here in town were appointed to the Human Rights Commission by elected leaders under the stewardship of Lionel Foster. The Commission met regularly to investigate incidents in which landlords, business owners, elected officials and others took advantage of citizens who didn’t have means to protect themselves. Many, many cases were investigated and resolved – and the Good Old Boys were kept on a leash.  The City pursued large federal grants and chipped in some dollars to keep the operation in motion.

Lionel Foster:
Under attack for decades,
was finally ousted and Human Rights
in Mason City no longer protected.

But after years of hard work, the Human Rights “agency” in Mason City made enemies with powerful, nasty, vindictive personalities.  These folks over many years fought back through plotting, planning and attacks.  The Good Old Boys finally got their people into office in 2009 who would begin to take down this institution and make sure it never interfered with their fun and games ever again.

A plan was hatched back in 2009 to fire Lionel Foster, install into the Human Rights Commission folks who – let’s put this delicately – may not have been Champions of Human Rights and saw things the way their mayor and council did (who were and remain stooges of the Good Old Boys), and then to nearly totally de-fund what was left and send all cases to the state of Iowa to be handled there.  Mason City would go out of the business of protecting the Human Rights of citizens.

Human Rights offices permanently
closed in Mason City.

The outcome of this blitzkrieg on Human Rights in Mason City has been a smashing success for the Good Old Boys Club. The Human Rights Department as it once was is pretty much totally gone. No more employees and very little funding. Citizens are not even really informed of their rights or options if they are victimized.  As one human rights advocate tells it, citizens “are left flapping in the breeze as offenders and wrongdoers gleefully prance to the next victim without a worry in the world.”  The Human Rights Commission – once stocked with many folks who cared about the welfare of their fellow citizens and who relentlessly took offenders to task – is almost caput. It is now down to a board of only 5 members, and there are only 3 persons placed on the board at this time. The Commission used to meet at least once a month.  That was officially pared down to four times a year and by 2016, the Commission met twice. In 2017, it met once. The City displays no meeting minutes for these latest meetings on its website.

Bookmeyer and others led the charge to
eradicate Human Rights in Mason City.
Will that trend continue?

Who is to blame?

1) Mostly former elected leaders like Eric Bookmeyer, Jean Marinos, Travis Hickey, Janet Solberg, and Scott Tornquist, who plotted to destroy the Human Rights Department and Commission at the behest of those who put them in office.

2) Meanwhile, other current elected leaders have been complacent or signed off on this chain of events through budget approvals that nearly took away all City dollars toward the cause (which, in turn chased away federal grants), notably John Lee who has served the longest on the current city council and Bill Schickel, now mayor.

This first group began in 2009 with a plan to fire former Human Rights Department head Lionel Foster, instill into the Commission persons who may not have been Human Rights champions, and then dramatically reduce funding to the department and the Commission. They accomplished this, then got sued by Mr. Foster and settled for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The next group remains complicit by continuing to de-fund what is left of the department and Commission, by leaving the Commission only 60% filled with volunteers, and by not even forcing what is left of the Commission to meet regularly or to maintain meeting minutes on the rare occasions they do meet.  According to the City’s website, meetings are typically scheduled the first Thursday of January.  No meeting ever took place this month, to the public’s knowledge, as no meeting agenda was ever posted.

Does Mayor Bill Schickel –
who takes a paycheck from
a non-profit Christian radio station –
care about Human Rights
or just fancy new hotels?

January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.  Even President Donald Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds – Republicans – made the proclamation to mark this important event.  However, in January, the City of Mason City did not recognize Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.  Mayor Bill Schickel made no mention of Human Rights in his opening speech this month when he took office.  The Human Rights Commission never met nor made a proclamation.  NIT asked the City’s current crop of elected persons a few questions about the current status and future plans for protecting Human Rights of citizens in Mason City.  If any of these persons cares to submit an answer, NIT will report.


EMAIL from NIT Publisher Matt Marquardt to Mayor Bill Schickel and the City Council:

from: Matt Marquardt <>
to: Council Member Bill Schickel <>,
Council Member Paul Adams <>,,
“Kevin E. Jacobson” <>,
Council Member John Lee <>,,,

date: Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 12:14 PM


January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.

Did the City in any way mark this event?

Why are there only 3 members of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) when there should be 5? Does the mayor and council plan to fill this board with volunteers anytime in the near future? Has anyone placed applications to be a board member?

Why did the HRC meet only TWICE in 2016 and ONCE in 2017? (See City website showing detail for only these three meetings.) Why are no meeting minutes for these meetings posted to the City’s website?

Do you foresee the City, as part of the so-called “new beginning” proclaimed by Mayor Bill Schickel, placing some emphasis in any way toward making the Mason City Human Rights Commission a real, functioning board and department, or will this body continue to essentially, do nothing but defer to the state?

City records show the City has spent declining amounts on the Human Rights Commission (department?) since 2010 – peaking in 2012 at about $159,800. In 2017, the City spent only about $3,900. Is it the City’s ultimate goal to spend $0 on Human Rights and dis-band the Commission altogether?

Why does Mason City place such a low priority on our Human Rights Commission?

City of Mason City budget for Human Rights, since 2010:

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Lionel was lauded by his contemporaries….he got more done and the services he provided left a crater in North Iowa.

“the services he provided left a crater in North Iowa”This I certainly agree with. Mr. Foster left a lot of craters all over town.

^^^^ looks like someone got turned in lol

Reggie (red) is a Chamber of Commerce Shill.

Can someone please list the accomplishments of Mr. Foster in his position as the Human Rights Messiah? Please don’t include helping family members (if there are any) as you know how people tend to stretch things.

Lionel’s budget was one of the highest in the state. It was higher than cities with a much higher population than MC.

sound like the man can fundraise and his bosses wanted human rights protected as it was important to them———- now all we got are hotel chasers

You have the ‘resources’ literally right at your fingertips. Your hands are hardwired directly to your brain. Pick up a book. Learn to read. This will teach you to think for yourself. Acting on impulse is like a dog chasing it’s tail. And playing video games does not count. Free handouts should always be appreciated but not expected. As for these religious comments there is absolutely zero connection when it’s comes to money and Jesus. Who do you follow? The choice is yours in the land of the law abiding, free, and the brave.

the only person Lional helped was himself

I’m so glad Mason City is saving money finally on getting rid of expensive office that can be handled elsewhere

Was the MCHRC Office located on the West side of town as that is where he spent most of the working day? This article should be moved to the Whiners Den.

He continues to have regular office hours there day. Usually over lunch and into the afternoon hours.

Why do YOU permit racial slurs to be posted on YOUR site? Trying to grab a headline again and make a few bucks perhaps? Looser!

If you are going to posts lies at least learn how to spell.

OMG is that your best defense of the hatefull comments that Matt allows on this site?

I haven’t seen any racist comments. Only the truth. If you can’t stand it, don’t read it. Damn whiners.

I haven’t seen any racist comments. Only the truth. If you can’t stand it, don’t read it. Damn whiners.

The real Racist and Bigots in this world are the idiots like you who call people racist just because you disagree with them.

I am going to leave your dumb ass comment up just so everyone can see how terrible stupid you really are.

If you are in prison then you are a slave. Otherwise your free.

Money, funding, dollars or whatever you call it or not, it is abhorrent and embarrassing this human right commission never even made a peep about slavery and trafficking. Just show how little they truly care and proves they don’t put any thought into their roles in the commission. NIT is right, the whole thing is now a sham and they want to ease the commission OUT of commission.

Bill Schickel should do what Jesus would do (work at the non-profit radio staton for free – no, just kidding) he should fully reinstate the human rights department and commission and then root out all the nasty evil-doers in town who pick on people.

Lionel helped so many people. I am so ashamed of Mason City for dismantling its human rights. How many victims will be hurt now.

There are still avenues for human rights. They just don’t need to cost the MC taxpayers $160,000. Even Alex Kuhn realized this who voted yes for the change. Even though Nit conveniently forgot to mention that in this article.

Sure, they can go to Des Moines and get in line with all the complaints there. The people who need these services do not have the resources to do that.

Every group has their day in the sun, so to speak, in the land of the free and brave. Whether it’s Obama’s black pride, the #metoo peeps, motorcycle mania, etc, etc. And when the spotlight shifts to another cause there always seems to be a lot of whining. The biggest mistake people make is to sue others cause they’re butt hurt. This will never be forgiving in the long run. You made your bed now lie in it.

A city human rights department?!?! How many cities the size of Mason City have such a thing? Even better, how many cities the size of Mason City have paid full time city staff for such a pointless function? Can you tell all the taxpaying citizens of Mason City the job functions of someone in such a position? Sounds like Bookmeyer did right by eliminating this obvious government waste.

Unless you have suffered discrimination you can’t compare it to dollars. Do we need a $145,000.00 City Administrator? Of course not. The fact that we had that agency operating here whereas larger cities did not means we care and they don’t.

Now, you kinda proved my point in your post. Lot’s of city’s the size of Mason City have City Administrators because a town of 30K has many city employees and lots of municipal functions that really can’t be managed by part time volunteers.

I really don’t see how a paid, full-time department dedicated to human rights is needed in a town of 30K . There are numerous avenues a person can take if they feel their human rights have been violated – the court system to name just one of the many.

You fellas area strange enigma. You piss and moan about a one-time $400K expenditure (used to leverage millions of dollars in taxable improvements), but you’re all for spending $200K annually in perpetuity for a position that is complete and utter non-sense?!?!

“The fact that we had that agency operating here whereas larger cities did not means we care and they don’t.”

Or….it could mean they didn’t feel the need to spend that kind of money. Nice to see you are out of hiding. Welcome back.

Thanks for the laugh Pete. Like a silver spoon fed lily white geriatric who’s never left Iowa would have any clue about human rights violations

Why do you think we even need a MCHRC when you outline alternative remedies in this publication?

If you feel your Human Rights have been violated, you may contact the IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION. You may also contact We would be interested to know about your situation, and possibly report on it after our own investigation.

Truthfully refreshing

Something tells me Bookie ate every flapjack on that griddle and just might have dribbled luscious buttery syrup on his finely-knit, tailored pink farmer shirt.

Slimeballs !

Pretty good article Matt. It has some very good questions and I hope that Mayor Schickel and other council persons will find some time in their busy schedules to answer you. I find it interesting that one of the pictures you used has Representative Steckman and Senator Ragan along with Lionel Foster. I wonder how those who trash both of these women continuously and call them the “spend sisters” feel about the abandoning of human rights in Mason City and their (Steckman and Ragan) role in supporting it.

No one ever said the Spend Sisters didn’t know how to play politics. The old bags have been around long enough. Just because you use a photo op does not mean you believe in anything.

Great article and a great loss.

A recycled “news and entertainment” thats been repackaged with the same Marquardt spin. Hey Matt how can you preach your phoney sensitivity when in fact you permit disparaging posts about persons of color every day.?

Cue Looney tunes theme, tha tha tha that’s all folks!

Time to drain the swap

Even more news:

Copyright 2024 – Internet Marketing Pros. of Iowa, Inc.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x