MEETING WITH COUNCILPERSON WELCH (Dismissed during a phone call on August 13)
I called the councilperson to set up the meeting he had promised following SummerFest. He said there is no point in meeting as he heard part of my last appearance on the WHO Radio show "Deace In The Afternoon" and was offended (presumably by the Public Service Quiz). Ironically, he also said he has never been to this site. Which means he took offense without actually knowing what I was talking about and without taking a look at the documentation that proves it's true. He only knows what City staff tell him. So he wasn't aware that the police received only ONE complaint, he didn't know or care about the standing orders to shut me down, and he pretty much dismissed any possibility that I was being singled out or treated unfairly. Why? Because 'he has worked with the police department for 20-some years, he trusts the City staff implicitly,' and they're telling him they are doing nothing wrong.
He did admit to me that council members had discussed my letter (corroborating this letter by the mayor documenting that they violated Iowa's open meetings laws). I asked again for the minutes to that meeting (which don't exist, as they have now affirmed) but will likely leave it at that. Because if the City Manager was willing to say the mayor lied, he would surely be willing to throw Councilperson Welch under the bus as well if I pursued it further.
Getting back to the issue at hand, there was nothing in my conversation with Councilperson Welch that would dissuade anyone from believing the City Manager's description of Ankeny as pretty much a puppet government run by his office. (See additional commentary here.)
DES MOINES REGISTER (Ankeny) (August 7)
EARLY AUGUST UPDATE AND STATUS REPORT (Early August)
KCCI-TV NEWS AT 5:00 (July 26)
I was glad that you can't fool a KCCI reporter. The City had to be glad that it was a balanced and fair story that included a couple of terrific neighbors, one who loves it (especially the message, which is why we do it) and one who doesn't (actually, their kids sure do) living right across the street where there is always somebody parked in front of their drive and people standing on their sidewalk and drive watching the show.
WHO-TV NEWS AT 6:00 (July 25)
Apparently there is some kind of hazing ritual within the Ankeny City administration that you're required to go on TV and lie about something that is easily discredited by the City's own public records. This time it's the Police Chief's turn, who claims I want special treatment - an exemption from the nuisance ordinance only for me. Which, of course, these Council Minutes and accompanying public record request made by me expose as a lie. But I suppose it's a good trade to learn the secret handshake ... or at least get a nice raise come annual review time.
WHO-RADIO, "DEACE IN THE AFTERNOON" (July 20)
I was the guest from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. for an update on the issue.To be fair, I received permission and invited the City Manager, the Mayor, and Ankeny's Public Relations Officer to join me if they wanted. They weren't interested. I gave the host the Ankeny Public Service Quiz. But he's a man with some common sense and considerable grasp of reality so he did rather poorly trying to think like an Ankeny official. You can hear the program by clicking on the link above, then scrolling down to "Deace 07-20 Christmas in July" then "Deace 07-20 Christmas in July Pt. 2)."
ANKENY SUMMERFEST PARADE (July 14)
We decorated my wife's Mustang Cobra convertible with strobe lights for the Ankeny SummerFest Parade and handed out 1800 candy canes for the kids (and cards for adults asking them to visit this site to help us -- unfortunately the petition link was not working for the week following). The person largely in charge of the parade was Ankeny Councilperson Gary Welch who promised to meet with me at some point upcoming about the issue.
When the Assistant County Attorney investigated my open meetings law complaint below, the City Manager sent a letter to the Assistant County Attorney claiming, essentially, that there was no violation because what the Mayor said in his letter wasn't true. He went on to describe what sounds a great deal like a puppet government where the City Manager's office sets the policy and makes the decisions in Ankeny, only involving the Council when it's required to keep things legal.
Since I received this letter from the mayor stating that the Council had discussed my Feb. 19 proposal and made a decision to reject it completely, I requested the minutes from the meeting where that decision was made. Those minutes don't exist. So I filed a complaint with the County Attorney's office.
At the time of this story I still haven't contacted the media. The mayor goes on record that he loves Christmas. He did not continue on the record to call for a change to the public nuisance ordinance they are using to hold my display hostage. Nor to reverse the City's refusal to participate in developing a simple, workable traffic plan for increased 2007 traffic. Other than the one they had for 2006 -- wait for traffic then shut him down.
I make my case that the ordinance is being illegally applied only to me. The mayor tries to convince the audience that the City welcomes my display. As long as it doesn't violate the ordinance they're illegally applying to me, that is. Watch him apply a new, and even more outrageous, twist to that ordinance.
Marketing communications columnist Drew McLellan points to this Web site as an example of how technology today allows regular people to tell their story and expose problems.
I was the guest as this issue took center stage from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. on the #1 afternoon drive time radio show in the market. You can hear the program by clicking on the link above, then scrolling down to "Deace 5/3/07: Light Display."
The city is responding to complaints with this e-mail. It was also posted by a brand new poster by the name of "ANKENY1" (I'll let you decide who that might have been and if tax dollars were involved) in a thread on a Christmas lighting message board, causing the administrators to delete the thread for fear things would turn ugly. (The second generation includes a couple of pretty dishonest mischaracterizations that are answered elsewhere on this site.)
Meanwhile, e-mails began to be shared urging people to sign the petition and to contact these three Ankeny city officials:
Will they even be
ONLINE PETITION (April 25)
A gentleman I don't know from New Zealand conceived of an online petition, and a woman I don't know from California posted this one on a popular online petition site.