Michael J. Merritt
PO BOX 187
Newton, IA 50208
IOWA PUBLIC INFORMATION BOARD
Michael J. Merritt/City of Ames, IA
Formal Complaint 22FC:0020
Requests for records in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 22 were sent to the City of Ames, IA, through USPS First Class Mail in December 2020 and electronically in February 2021. The City of Ames, IA, failed to respond to these requests for records and has resisted releasing requested records in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 22. Regarding requested Iowa Incident Reports, the City of Ames, IA, failed to release or communicate the availability of memorandums provided by their Records Clerk upon additional requests made on 31 MAR 2022. However, the documents provided by the City of Ames, IA Police Department Records Clerk, are not records as defined by Iowa Code Chapter 22.1(3.)(a.). They are not an instrument of historical record that has been “stored or preserved” recording a historical event. The City of Ames, IA, has provided a perversion of Iowa Code Chapter 22 in the form of a device used to masquerade in the place of a record while giving the City of Ames, IA the ability to release desired information while concealing the original record from the public. This device, in the form of a memorandum for the record, shows the testimony of an employee of the City of Ames, IA, not the original record that has been “stored or preserved .” The City of Ames, IA execution of releasing memorandums communicating information not protected by Iowa Code Chapter 22.7(5) (i.e., date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident) violates Iowa Code Chapter 22.2(1.) because it denies citizens of Iowa “the right to examine and copy a public record and to publish or otherwise disseminate a public record or the information contained in a public record.” that has been “stored or preserved.”
The spirit of Iowa Code Chapter 22 communicates, “Every person shall have the right to examine and copy a public record” that has been “stored or preserved” including “the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident” that has been documented by an Iowa Peace Officer. “The right to copy a public record shall include the right to make photographs or photographic copies while the public record is in the possession of the custodian of the public record.”
The City of Ames, IA has shown resistance to Iowa Code Chapter 22 by providing nothing regarding the original request or response to the 14 FEB 2022 status request until after the filing of this complaint. They have further shown evidence of resistance to the release of requested records showing “the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident” by not offering copies of the memorandum for the record documenting requested information provided to the plaintiff by the Ames, IA Police Department Records Department over 100 days after the original request was sent to the City of Ames, IA. However, these provided memorandums do not satisfy the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 22 because they deny citizens of Iowa “the right to examine and copy a public record” that has been “stored or preserved.” This execution of Iowa Code Chapter 22 by the City of Ames, IA contradicts what the Iowa Supreme Court has communicated is the purpose and spirit of the Iowa Open Records Act.
2. The Spirit and Purpose of Iowa Code Chapter 22
In Gabrilson v. Flynn 554 N.W.2d 267 (1996) the Iowa Supreme Court “found the purpose of this statute to be “to open the doors of government to public scrutiny to prevent government from secreting its decision-making activities from the public, on whose behalf it is its duty to act.” Iowa Civil Rights Comm’n v. City of Des Moines, 313 N.W.2d 491, 495 (Iowa 1981). Similarly, chapter 22 “establishe[s] a liberal policy of access from which departures are to be made only under discrete circumstances.” City of Dubuque v. Telegraph Herald, Inc., 297 N.W.2d 523, 526 (Iowa 1980). Accordingly, there is a presumption of openness and disclosure under this chapter. Id. at 527.”
“The purpose of chapter 22 is to remedy unnecessary secrecy in conducting the public’s business. City of Dubuque v. Telegraph Herald, Inc., 297 N.W.2d 523, 527 (Iowa 1980).” US West v. Consumer Advocate 498 N.W.2d 711 (1993). “There is a presumption of disclosure of records under the statute and exceptions to this rule are to be narrowly construed. Northeast Council, 513 N.W.2d at 759. The right of persons to view public records is to be interpreted liberally to provide broad public access to public records. Howard v. Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., 283 N.W.2d 289, 299 (Iowa 1979).” Rathmann v. Board of Directors, 580 N.W.2d 773 (Iowa 1998).
“Section 22.7 provides specific exceptions to the otherwise liberal policy of access. This court has held these exceptions are to be construed narrowly, subject to two caveats. Id. First, the “narrow construction” principle should not be over utilized such that its use frustrates legislative intent. Id. Second, where the expressed exception is broadly inclusive, the narrow construction principle will not aid in the determination of legislative intent. Northeast Council on Substance Abuse, Inc. v. Department of Pub. Health, 513 N.W.2d 757, 759 (Iowa 1994); City of Sioux City v. Greater Sioux City Press Club, 421 N.W.2d 895, 897 (Iowa 1988).” Gabrilson v. Flynn 554 N.W.2d 267 (1996).
“There is a presumption in favor of disclosure” and “a liberal policy in favor of access to public records.” Hall v. Broadlawns Med. Ctr., 811 N.W.2d 478, 485 (Iowa 2012). “Disclosure is the rule, and one seeking the protection of one of the statute’s exemptions bears the burden of demonstrating the exemption’s applicability.” Diercks, 806 N.W.2d at 652 (quoting Clymer v. City of Cedar Rapids, 601 N.W.2d 42, 45 (Iowa 1999)).
“In State ex rel. Shanahan v. Iowa District Court, 356 N.W.2d 523, 528 (Iowa 1984), we observed that these two statutory provisions express essentially the same legislative purpose with respect to DCI files: assurance to all persons upon whom law enforcement officials rely that “official confidentiality attends their conversations and may protect from public access the officers’ reports of what they have said.” Id. The privilege cloaking these communications, however, is qualified, not absolute. Id. at 527. An official claiming the privilege must satisfy a three-part test: (1) a public officer is being examined, (2) the communication was made in official confidence, and (3) the public interest would suffer by disclosure. Id. at 527; accord Shannon v. Hansen, 469 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Iowa 1991).” Hawk Eye v. Jackson, 521 N.W.2d 750 (1994).
3. Civil Enforcement
“Civil enforcement of Iowa’s Open Records Act initially places the burden of showing three things on the party seeking enforcement (Horsfield). That party must “demonstrate[ ] to the court that the defendant is subject to the requirements of this chapter, that the records in question are government records, and that the defendant refused to make those government records available for examination and copying by the plaintiff.” Iowa Code § 22.10(2). Once a party makes these showings, the defendant has the burden to show compliance, and the court must issue an injunction if it finds the defendant has not complied by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. § 22.10(3)(a); see also Diercks, 806 N.W.2d at 653 (“Once the citizen shows the city denied his or her request to access government records, the burden shifts to the city to demonstrate it complied with the chapter’s requirements.”).” Horsfield Materials, Inc. v. City of Dyersville, 834 N.W.2d 444 (Iowa 2013).
The plaintiff reports the following damages regarding the City of Ames, IA failure to respond to a request for records in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 22 and release of available records during December 2021 – 04 APR 2022 in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 22.10(3.)(b.)
Hourly Rate: $25.00 – Rate based on 08 APR 2019 San Diego East County Superior Court case: ED100465 court documents showing the monthly income of the plaintiff established for payments in accordance with Title IV of the Social Security Act.
Freedom of Information Status Request to the City of Ames, IA – #001, 14 FEB 2022 – 4 Hours
Iowa Public Information Board – Alleged Violation of Iowa Code Chapter 22 – City of Ames, IA – #001, 01 MAR 2022 – 2 Hours
Iowa Open Records Request – City of Ames, IA – The Elimination of The Fog of War, 18 MAR 2022 – 5 Hours
Formal Complaint 22FC:0020 – Final Declaration, 04 APR 2022 – 5 Hours
Total Damages: $400
The Constitution of the State of Iowa Article 1 Section 2 states, “Political power. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.” The City of Ames, IA’s alleged failure to adhere to Iowa Code Chapter 22 has violated the plaintiff’s rights in accordance with Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa. The City of Ames, IA has abridged and damaged the plaintiff’s political power, and ability to provide records and evidence to the Governor of the State of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Justice, and the Iowa Legislature regarding the City of Ames, IA Police Department’s handling of an investigation regarding children concealed in the City of Ames, IA from San Diego, CA East County Superior Court Department 5, court-appointed Minor’s Counsel Meredith Levin (The State Bar of California #226437), court-ordered FCS Child Interviews to provide testimony regarding the allegations of sexual abuse used to conceal these children San Diego East County Superior Court Department 5 documented on 16 SEP 2021 there is no evidence to support, and these children’s father they were denied having a relationship with while conspirators profited off of the child support acquired while concealing these children. The City of Ames, IA has abridged and damaged the plaintiff’s political power and ability to speak on this issue with evidence of their handling of an incident in the City of Ames, IA reported to the Ames, IA Police Department in December 2020 (Incident #20005368) involving the concealment of children while they were abused, with allegations of sexual abuse first documented in San Diego East County Superior Court on Claudia J. Bergman’s FL-300 requesting child support. At the same time, these children were denied their rights in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 598.1 to “Best interest of the child” includes but is not limited to the opportunity for maximum continuous physical and emotional contact possible with both parents, unless direct physical or significant emotional harm to the child may result from this contact. Refusal by one parent to provide this opportunity without just cause shall be considered harmful to the best interest of the child.” What does the evidence communicate about the City of Ames, IA, and our society when we obsess over the abortion rights of the Mother while we as a society do not give a damn or do enough to protect the rights of children after they are born. The City of Ames, IA has abridged the plaintiff’s political power and efforts to protect future children and their parents from the atrocity of injustice multiple municipal agencies within the City of Ames, IA allowed.
The logical solution allowing the City of Ames, IA, to properly adhere to Iowa Code Chapter 22 is for this agency to not include information it views as protected by Iowa Code Chapter 22.5 on the same record, including information this section of Iowa Code Chapter 22 articulates shall not be kept confidential. The City of Ames, IA’s inability to properly compartmentalize information it classifies as investigative records protected by Iowa Code Chapter 22.7(5) from information not allowed to be kept confidential by this section does not give the City of Ames, IA the right to deny Iowa citizen’s “the right to examine and copy a public record and to publish or otherwise disseminate a public record or the information contained in a public record.” If the City of Ames, IA is allowed to continue this execution of releasing the information they desire on a memorandum for the record while concealing the original records, they will be successful in devolving the spirit of the “Iowa Open Records Act” to the “Memorandum for the Record Act”
The plaintiff has ownership, copyright, and publishing rights to all evidence involved in the City of Ames, IA Incident Reports 20005016, 20005368, 21005052. It is a distinct possibility the only variable in this matter the City of Ames, IA desires to keep confidential is the records showing how this agency handled an Iowa Incident Report involving interstate child concealment involving allegations of sexual abuse from the court having jurisdiction, court-appointed Minor’s Counsel, and court-ordered FCS Child Interviews in the state of California while these children were concealed and abused with allegations of sexual abuse in their jurisdiction involving a 24 page sworn statement articulating evidence of violations of Iowa Code 598.1, 706.1, 710.6, 720.4, 726.6.
The light of truth will eternally permeate through the cracks of deceit. The City of Ames, IA, has accomplished nothing with its failure to provide records and transparency. Those who conceal the truth provide evidence of a motive to conceal until the light of truth shines through the clouds covering a republic and its united states.
Dated this 4th day of April 2022.
Michael J. Merritt
PO BOX 187
Newton, IA 50208