Unapproved Minutes – Meeting of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission,
February 18, 2022
I. Roll Call –
Commissioners: Gina Battani, Justin Johnston, Sam Kooiker, Dennis Mandsager, Marcelena Ordaz, Holly White.
II. Commissioner Ordaz indicated on the record that she was unable to attend the Commission meeting in person due illness.
III. Recognition of Staff, Public, and Press –
Staff: Stan Thompson, Katie Fiala, Erica McQuerry, Charles Hill, Kaitlin Smith, Sierra Walker, Austin Moore, Anne Johnson, Mat Gore, Amy Quail, Brenna Bormann, Jacob Bennington, Fred Sinkevich, Mikayla Bennett, Roberto Rodriguez Peterson.
IV. Approval of Minutes –
Minutesfrom meetings on January 21, 2022, were presented.A motion to postpone the approval of the minutes until the next meeting wasmadebyCommissioner Kooiker,secondedbyCommissioner Battani, and opened up for discussion. Commissioner Kooiker presented several corrections/addendums he wished to be made to the minutes, and Commissioner Mandsager presented one correction. Approved by vote. Motion carried.
V. Public Comment – None.
VI. IPIB Presentation-Executive Director Margaret Johnson
a. Director Johnson provided an overview of the Iowa Public Information Board and the Iowa code sections it enforces, best practices regarding open meetings and public information retention, and responded to questions from Director Thompson and the commissioners.
VII. Update on ICRC procedures-Anne Johnson, Sierra Walker, Austin Moore
a. The Civil Rights Specialists provided a brief overview on the ICRC complaint process, primarily discussing the intake and screening process, and addressed questions regarding the process from the commissioners.
b. Direction on review, extension, and appeal processes – Commissioners Gina Battani & Sam Kooiker –
i. Commissioner Battani put forth a motion to ask that the ICRC website reflects what the code states regarding extensions, which states that parties can be given up to 30 days for extension, but are strongly encouraged to have their documentation in with the next 14 days. In addition, she also proposed that the ICRC send paperwork to such parties on day 14 to remind them that the only have until the remainder of the 30-day extended deadline to provide their response. Director Thompson provided information regarding the Iowa Administrative Code, which states that in light of the encouraged screening process deadline set by the Iowa legislature, requests for extensions are strongly discouraged. The Commissioners asked that further information regarding the current extension process by provided from ICRC staff before a final vote on the motion. Commissioner Mandsager moved that the motion be postponed, seconded by Commissioner White. Approved by vote. Motion carried.
ii. Commissioner Battani put forth a motion to ask that an internal policy/checklist be compiled of all the efforts to contact non-responsive parties before a complaint is closed for failure to cooperate. Commissioner White seconded the motion. Approved by vote. Motion carried. In the interest of having time to prepare such a policy, Director Thompson did ask that the final draft of such a policy not be presented and reported on until the next meeting.
iii. Commissioner Battani also discussed the usage of volunteers and interns in screening complaints.
VIII. Finances – Director Thompson presented the monthly financial report, which he received from the CFO Marie Agey every month. He stated he planned to present the financial report at every Commission meeting going forward.
IX. Report on Case Filings/Closures – Director Thompson presented a new report, a monthly case processing breakdown. He stated he planned to present the case processing report at every meeting going forward, and addressed questions from Commissioners Battani and White regarding information contained in the report. Director Thompson also discussed an upcoming project to have Grinnell College students perform data research for us regarding case closures.
X. Legislative Update – Director Thompson provided a synopsis to the Commissioners summarizing all of the bills that had requested fiscal notes from the ICRC, and have made it through the funnel stage. The Commissioners asked questions regarding several of the bills, which Director Thompson addressed.
XI. Final Subcommittee Reports – Commissioner Kooiker discussed the possibility of having a closed session to further discussion employee retention. Commissioners Ordaz, was not in favor of having a closed session, stating that the day to day function of the office should be in the purview of Director Thompson. Commissioners White and Mandsager agreed.
XII. Tabled Motion – Commissioner Kooiker made a motion to continue the discussion regarding further budget discussions to the next meeting, seconded by Commissioner Battani. After discussion, it was decided that the matter did not need to be voted on, and would be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
XIII. Director’s report
a. Employee Updates – The ICRC currently has two open positions that he would like to fill. Also, currently in the process of hiring summer interns.
b. Pay/Promotion/Training - Formal request forms regarding retention bonuses have been submitted to DAS but there has not been a response yet. Also, all staff will be receiving training regarding bias from the instructor at the Law Enforcement Academy on 3/2/22. Director Thompson also recently sat in on the public accommodation training given by ICRC staff to new Civil Rights Specialists.
i. Website/social media/outreach update-Task Force on Communications - Proposed the formation of a task force comprised of Commissioners and ICRC employees to discuss and address any issues with the ICRC’s online presence with the website and social media, and any current or potential outreach. Commissioner Mandsager moved that the motion be postponed, seconded by Commissioner White. Approved by vote. Motion carried.
XIV. Litigation Update – AAG Katie Fiala reported on two newly filed statements of charges. A hearing was recently held regarding a judicial review action and we are waiting for a decision. Two housing cases and one judicial review are still pending.
XV. Commissioners’ Reports
a. Commissioner Gina Battani – Nothing to report.
b. Commissioner Justin Johnston – Nothing to report.
c. Commissioner Sam Kooiker – Asked Katie Fiala to provide a presentation at the next meeting regarding this issue of potential attorney’s fees that could be awarded to the commission when a complaint goes to a hearing.
d. Commissioner Dennis Mandsager – Reported that he will be attending the bias training at the Law Enforcement Agency with ICRC staff and encouraged everyone to visit the museum next to the Law Enforcement Academy. He also brought up the training of the impact of the civil rights movement on law enforcement and asked if that was something the Commission was interested in attending as well.
e. Commissioner Marcelena Ordaz – Reported that she has been participating in courses and seminars on DEI and intention to pick up some literature from the ICRC so she can distribute it at meetings that she attended in the Quad City area.
f. Commissioner Holly White – Nothing to report.
XVI. Commissioner Kooiker indicated on the record that he was unable to attend the Commission meeting in person due to scheduling conflicts.
XVII. Next Meeting(s) 3/18/22 @ 2:00
Meeting adjourned by Commissioner Ordaz at 5:05 pm.