YOU LIKED THE NIXON WHITE HOUSE.
Read the letters below. Faced with an open meetings lawsuit, the City comes up with a workable defense -- THE MAYOR LIED. (Because the City Manager actually makes all these decisions. The Council only considers what he wants them to pass.)
Anyone Really Buy This Stuff?
The reason I made the presentation to the City Council on February 19 (first local government meeting I had ever attended) was because the Mayor told me to. (During our lunch on January 19.). Why would he tell me to do that if the City Manager actually makes those decisions? And why would he tell me at that Council meeting (Feb. 19) when I made the presentation that the Council members would consider it that wasn’t the case. Especially since most issues that are turned over to staff are done so directly and openly in those meetings by the Mayor and documented as such in typical Council minutes? Further to the Manager’s dismissive attitude towards my request because they get so many, this was not some guy calling city hall. This request was made at the Mayor’s specific advice, I called the Mayor ahead of time to set it up for Feb. 19 as he suggested, and .
If they never discussed it and asked the Mayor to respond as he said, how did the Mayor get a copy of my April 10 letter in the first place? Because I never sent it to the Mayor or the City Manager. I mailed it to each Council member’s home address, addressed to each of them individually. Are we really to believe that my letters of April 10 sat for a week with each and every Council member without response or discussion, then when the Council was together before, during, and after their regular meeting the evening of April 16 it is mere coincidence that the mayor magically found himself in possession of a copy and responded the following day, April 17, claiming that the Council members had asked him to respond, if none of that were true?
And, if so, are we to believe that there was no agreement to defer a decision on the status of my letter until their meeting of April 16 as it appears, and yet not one council member responded to my April 10 letter addressed specifically to them by name? Even when my first-ever letter written to Councilperson Gary Welch and copied to the others on November 3, 2006 resulted in nearly an immediate phone call from him shortly after 8:00 a.m. the following Monday? And even though this letter was far more serious?
And, further, since the Mayor’s April 17 letter to me was cc’ed to Council members, are we really supposed to believe that it was completely made up as the Manger now claims and yet not one Council member got that letter and said, “Hey, I know nothing about this, but I do know THAT never happened!”? Or, since it was also copied to the City Manager -- who also, therefore, wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about since I didn't copy him on the letter and since they claim the the issue hadn't been raised or discussed in any way since he makes those decisions anyway -- that he wouldn’t say, "Hey, wait a minute, this isn't true!" Especially since he claims to be very much aware of the open meeting laws, careful to follow them, and by his own admission, this letter seems to document such a violation?
In fact, there is little about the Mayor’s letter that doesn’t make perfect sense. And there is little in the Manager’s explanation -- other than his description of Ankeny being nearly a puppet government run by the City Manager -- that does, once you know all the facts.
April 17, 2007
David A Sanderson
Dear Mr. Sanderson,
I am in receipt of your letter dated April 10, 2007 sent to Ankeny city council members. They have asked me to respond on behalf of the City of Ankeny.
You appeared before the Ankeny city council on February seeking remedy to a series of issues and specifically requesting a revision to City code section 8.08.190. At that time, I stated that the city council would evaluate your request and advise you as to the outcome.
After discussions with city management staff, as well as our city attorney, . the city council is not recommending revisions to the code or remedial action to the other points outlined in the February 19, correspondence.
The city council is elected to serve you and the 40,000 residents who call Ankeny home. We take this responsibility and the trust bestowed upon us by the public seriously. Our decisions do not always reflect the answer one individual is seeking; however they are made in the best interests of the Ankeny community.
Thank you for your commitment to Ankeny and for bringing these concerns forward for our consideration.
Steven D. Van Oort
cc: City Council
The letter lost between Ankeny City Hall and ... Ankeny.
Shared with me by the Assistant County Attorney.
David A. Sanderson
Re: Christmas Light Display/222 N.E. 16th Street
Dear Mr. Sanderson:
The City Clerk has provided to me your email of May 14, 2007, wherein you request a copy of the minutes indicating the City Council formally rejected your proposal presented at the Council's February 19th meeting.
I understand that your request has arisen because of the wording in Mayor Steven Van Oort's letter to you dated April 17, 2007. I have received a copy of the Mayor's letter referred to by you. I acknowledge that the letter implies the City Council took formal action on your request to revise or repeal certain City ordinances. We regret the confusion that the Mayor's choice of words may have caused; His words were not even mildly confusing. but, no council action was required or taken.
The City of Ankeny receives many requests from citizens. These requests are referred to the City staff, and where warranted, to the City attorney for review and recommendation. In the event that the City staff or attorney recommend action be taken on a request, that item will then be presented to the City Council, discussed by it in an open meeting, and a decision made by the Council. If a recommendation is made by the City staff or attorney reviewing it that no action is warranted, what you are describing is a puppet government communication is usually made with the requesting party and no formal action is required or taken by the Council.
This same procedure was used in the review of your February 19th request. As is the City's procedure, your request was reviewed by the appropriate City staff and in this case also the City attorney. So the City Attorney makes policy decision about Christmas lights? No change is recommended to be made to the ordinance. Therefore, the matter does not go back to the City Council, as no action is warranted. In the event that they recommendation had been made to change the ordinance, an ordinance revision would have gone before the City Council for discussion and subsequent action.
The City Council of the City of Ankeny is very much aware of and careful to follow the requirements of the Iowa law and its own policies concerning open meetings. As no action was warranted on this matter, the City Council has not discussed it and will not discuss it.