Commissioners' Meeting "Approved" Minutes - January 30, 2015

Document Text Content: 


(Approved 4/24/15)


Iowa Civil Rights Commission

1:00 pm Friday, January 30, 2015

Edna Griffin Offices, Grimes State Office Building




1.                  Roll Call – 1:05 pm

Commissioners Oelschlaeger, Conley, and Williams attended in person.

Commissioners Lipski and Cunningham attended via phone.

Also in attendance: Katie Fiala (Assistant Attorney General), Diana Sisler (Office Manager, ICRC), Margaret Johnson (Deputy Director, Iowa Public Information Board), and Don Grove (Acting Director, ICRC).


2.                  Recognition of Public and Press

No public other than Ms. Johnson, and no press attended.


3.                  Approval of November 7, 2014 Meeting Minutes

Date in Item II from July “75” to “25,” then unanimously approved. 


4.                  Commissioners’ Reports

·         Commissioner Angela Williams – Attended several civil rights related events since last meeting, including the NAACP Banquet, “I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa” (IMMAWII) Gala, MLK Banquet, and ICRC’s  second annual “Be the Change” Symposium on November 14.  She is planning to attend a special Black History event at the Jordan House on February 1.

·         Commissioner Patricia Lipski – Attended the Be the Change Symposium. 

·         Commissioner Lawrence Cunningham – Has been serving on the Iowa State University (ISU) Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which at this point is focused on ensuring that programming related to ISU and ISU Alumni Association is as diverse and inclusive as possible.  The task force is identifying benchmarks as metrics to determine or measure the success of those programs.  The task force is also consulting on the hiring for the new Chief Diversity Officer position at ISU.

·         Commissioner Doug Oelschlaeger – Noted the appeal on the Odgaard case had been dismissed.  Attended four or five of the workshops at the Be the Change Symposium.  He thought they were “very well done” and “very well received by the audience.” Commission staff presenters were “insightful” and the written materials were very good.  It was “high quality legal education.”  Commissioners Lipski and Williams stated they agreed with Commissioner Oelschlaeger’s assessment of the symposium. Sisler added, “150 persons attended.”

·         Commissioner Tom Conley – Did an interview related to the Odgaard case for KCCI-TV.  He hoped the interview gave exposure to the ICRC complaint process.  Has been involved in a community conversation or forum involving the Des Moines Human Rights Commission, ACLU, community and religious leaders, FBI, Polk County Attorney, and local law enforcement officials.  One of the items discussed at the third meeting in December was the use of body cameras by police officers.  In his opinion, cameras can help provide accountability, but their use can present confidentiality and storage/retention issues.  He suggested a “Commissioners’ Panel” be added as a workshop to the 2015 Be the Change Symposium.  Commissioner Williams agreed.


5.                  Acting Director’s Report

·         Complaint Processing Numbers – Intake and Resolutions

ICRC’s 2014 Annual Report can be found on our website, under “ICRC News & Events/Headline.”  In her transmittal letter to the Governor, Ms. Townsend reported:

o   “The ICRC investigated all cases in a timely manner and maintained no backlog.”

o   “The ICRC had 38 cases that resulted in a probable cause finding. The ICRC successfully conciliated 14 of those 38 cases.”

o   “The ICRC received 1,540 complaints of discrimination. Of those 30 were determined not to be jurisdictional. The Commission [received and accepted as timely and otherwise jurisdictional] 1510 cases, 40 [fewer than the year before].”

o   “A credible ICRC that enforces the ICRA ensures that Iowa has a diverse and inclusive workforce and a more welcoming business environment as well as ensuring that all Iowans have equal access to housing and services.”

Our reports of “Monthly Work Production” for FYs 2011 thru 2014 and from 7/1/14 thru 12/31/14 can also be found on our website, under “Quick Links.”

o   For period, 7/1 thru 12/31, for 2012 – We received 780 new complaints.

o   For same six-month period in 2013 – We received 752.

o   For same period in 2014 – We received 809.

Training Announcement – ICRC, Iowa Association of Building Officials, American Institute of Architects, and Des Moines Home Builders Association are working with Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST to provide an all-day, no-charge “design and construction” training on May 21 for architects, civil engineers, landscape architects, contractors, developers, builders, building officials, and human/civil rights agency staff.  We have not yet secured the place.


6.                  Public Comment

Ms. Johnson reported her office received a call questioning whether the tentative agenda described each subject listed in sufficient detail to provide the public adequate notice of what would be discussed, as required by Iowa’s “Open Meetings Law,” Iowa Code Chapter 21.  Her office assisted in ensuring the final agenda provided sufficient detail or clarity.  Ms. Johnson gave each commissioner a handbook published by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.  It is titled, “Iowa Open Meetings, Open Records Handbook.”  She directed the commissioners to the sections in the handbook called, “Questions About Chapter 22 (Iowa’s Public Records Law),” to help answer some questions or issues presented by Commissioner Conley regarding the custody and confidentiality of recordings produced by body cameras worn by police officers.  She concluded by inviting anyone with questions regarding Iowa’s open meetings and public records laws to her office, the Iowa Public Information Board.  She noted the Board’s website address --


7.                  Next Meeting

Friday, April 17, 2015, in Burlington, Iowa.

In addition to the regular meeting, there will be time for two public training sessions – one on “How to File a Complaint” and the other on “Fair Housing.”  Commissioner Williams stated she would work with Grove to get the meeting/training space reserved and the training advertised.  The meeting will begin at 1:00 pm.  The training sessions will follow the meeting.  Commissioner Williams noted 2015 is the 50th Anniversary of the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) and suggested. “How We Should Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the ICRA” be added as an agenda item. All agreed.  Commissioner Conley state he would donate a big 50th Anniversary Cake at the third annual Be the Change Symposium.  Grove suggested another agenda item, “The Duties and Responsibilities of a Commissioner.”  Commissioner Oelschlaeger suggested Ms. Fiala and Grove assemble and send applicable statute and rule sections, court decisions, AG Opinions, or other relevant materials or law outlines to the commissioners beforehand, before he agrees this proposed item should be added.  Commissioner Williams agreed.  Commissioner Oelschlaeger stated he would really be interested in materials specific to ICRC.  Grove stated he would collect and send such materials along with the tentative agenda at least two weeks prior to the scheduled April 17 meeting.  Ms. Johnson suggested AAG Pamela Griebel as a resource person for helping the commissioners better understand/appreciate their duties and responsibilities.


8.                  Adjournment – 2:00 pm