The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 25, 2014

UPDATE: Council won't appeal open records ruling



O’Neill said he resigned from CFOG in January prior to assuming his current role with the city and stood no gain from the ruling. Likewise, Rowland contacted the Iowa American Civil Liberties Union and received a letter confirming he had no conflict of interest. Letter in hand, he pointedly asked for evidence otherwise.

“I would certainly like to see any information attorney Chambers has relating to any conflict of interest I have especially when the Iowa ACLU statement is that I do not have a conflict of interest with the open records case,” he said.

Both councilmen said after the meeting they took offense to being named in the memo, and considered the document “an attack.”

“We raised hell and stood up for ourselves,” O’Neill said. “I don’t need Drew Chambers, (city attorney) John Frey or anyone else telling me if I’ve got a conflict of interest. There’s no gain in this for me.”

Sueppel, who was appointed by the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool (Clinton’s insurance provider) to represent the city in the CFOG case, was on hand to answer questions. She refuted Rowland and O’Neill’s claims that she was recommending the city appeal Tabor’s ruling or that she alleged their conflicts of interest.

“I was asked to come here to provide information to give you options, not to make the decision,” Sueppel said. “That is for you to make... My role is simply that I represented you in the CFOG case and to give information. It is not my role whatsoever to address whether there’s a conflict of interest. That is far beyond what my role is in this case.”

She added the city is faced with three options: appeal the judgment, pursue a lower settlement or accept the decision.

A formal resolution against pursuing appeal will appear before the council during its next regular meeting on March 11. The city has until March 17 to file an appeal if the council reverses its decision.

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