Board policies are not laws and most of the time, nobody cares

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (5th edition), a policy is a general principle by which a government is guided in its management of public affairs.  An ordinance is a rule established by authority – a law or statute.  What’s the biggest difference between a county ordinance and a county policy?  The penalty for disobedience.

Violate an ordinance and you could be hit with a civil or criminal penalty.  Violate a policy – even when it does not apply to you – and you could end up on the front page of The Gazette two days in a row – see May 8th and 9th editions.

Board of Supervisor policies are not laws.  If the Board wanted them to be laws, they would enact them as ordinances.  If they enacted them as ordinances, then they would have to obey them, too.

I have posted the Board’s policies among other documents on scribd.   You can find Linn County ordinances here.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has been known to ignore it’s own policies as former Supervisor Jim Houser did when he submitted a claim for expenses not incurred – see 1 September 2010 Board of Supervisor minutes.   Houser submitted a claim his fellow Board members dismissed and he was offered a do-over.  I comply with Iowa Code Chapter 22.8(4), which says that a good faith reasonable delay in permitting the examination or copying of a government record is not a violation of the law and I am criticized by people who should know that county policies and county ordinances DO NOT supercede State law.

In The Gazette, I made the claim that the recent “fraud investigation” was politically motivated.  What do you call it when experts mislead the public by inferring that Board policy is law?

A county computer – of any kind – is not a public record.  The data on it is a public record, but some data on it may be a confidential public record.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the Linn County Attorney for a copy of all of his emails in the last 30 days and see what you receive and why you didn’t receive every email.

Today (9 May 2012), the Board will consider issuing a letter to me pursuant to Iowa Code 331.323(2).  I don’t know what the letter will contain; however, the law indicates I need to make a report under oath to the Board within 20 days or else they can remove me from office by a majority vote.  The fact that I did not handover a laptop computer to them seems to be what prompted the letter, but I plan to handover over the laptop this evening – after I make a copy of the hard drive – if anyone representing the Board is present.

I think the Board is going down a slippery slope in using 331.323(2).  For example, they schedule monthly meetings with the Attorney, Sheriff, Recorder, Treasurer, and me.  They expect us to provide them with reports on our offices and activites.  My fellow non-Board member electeds rarely show up and when they do, they do, they report little of substance.  Check the Elected Official Updates and see for yourself.

The Iowa Constitution contains a Bill of Rights.  Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution states, “All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.”

In my opinion, Houser and many other County elected officials are granted privileges and immunities that I do not enjoy.  Could it be because I have an election in less than four weeks?  Could it be because I hold them accountable?

One Response to “Board policies are not laws and most of the time, nobody cares”

  1. iowahawkeyenatioan Says:

    I agree with your statements. If the supervisors were so quick to act on their own daily job responsibilities as they have been during this “investigation” , something might get done in Linn County. It seems they have been watching a lot of CNN lately, and have taken up the same role as our current Congress with an 8% approval rating. I find it even more interesting that no one else ever runs against the supervisors especially when unemployment is so high. I’m excited to see how much more time this “investigation” wastes of all of these county employees. Maybe we should keep a record of everyones time cards throughout this “investigation” I’m sure Linn County taxpayers will be excited to know how much money is being spent on this!


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