The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 13, 2014

Council redefines its role with Humane Society

By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Should city leaders have a say in private Clinton Humane Society matters? On Tuesday, seven council members thought not.

When faced with a decision to appoint one of its own to the Humane Society’s board of directors, the Clinton City Council decided such a move would grant more power than necessary to the appointee.

Many council members said they didn’t know the recently approved contract between both agencies granted so much authority, including Lynn McGraw, the appointee in question.

“I would prefer to be the liaison instead,” McGraw said.

Acting City Attorney John Frey said that by making a council member part of the board, that person would have authority to look at fine details of the Humane Society, as well as make financial and employment decisions. Since it’s a private agency, Frey said the current contract allows the council to step well beyond an intended oversight capacity.

“If we’re trying to accomplish oversight, we can do that with language that allows us to ask for information,” Frey said. “We need to weigh the potential ramifications for having a council member serving on the board. There are issues that are not city related that that organization will be dealing with.

“There could be opportunities for criticism and even potential liability if a council member is sitting as a director of the organization.”

Council members unanimously agreed to change wording, specifying that McGraw and successors would serve in a liaison capacity. The appointee would attend Humane Society meetings in an effort to enhance communication between the two parties.

Frey has been directed to change the wording, which will be presented at the council’s next regular meeting.