City Council Minutes-April 16, 2018

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Madrid City Council
Regular Meeting
April 16, 2018
5:30 p.m.

The City Council meeting was called to order at 5:30 p.m. with Mayor Pro Tem Kurt Kruse presiding. This meeting was held in the Community Room due to the size of the audience expected. Over the last week rumors were spread over social media regarding the resignation of Dirk Ringgenberg as Mayor, and the possible elimination of the Madrid Police Department.

Present at Roll Call: Nate Samples, Val Chapman, Dave Cook and Lane Shaver.

Other City Officials Present: City Clerk Mary Jo Reese, Deputy City Clerk Deb Biegger, Public Works/Parks Director Scott Church, Public Safety Director Rick Tasler, Fire Chief Jim Murry, Library Director Angie Strong, Madrid Labor Day Committee member Chuck Rigby, Park Board members Dualla Carlson and Jolynne Carlson, and City Attorney John Jordan.

Motion by Councilperson Shaver, seconded by Councilperson Chapman to approve the agenda for April 16, 2018.
Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Motion by Councilperson Cook, seconded by Councilperson Samples to approve the City Council Meeting Minutes of April 2, 2018 and the Library Meeting Minutes of March 12, 2018.
Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Motion by Councilperson Chapman, seconded by Councilperson Cook to approve the claims for April 16, 2018 in the amount of $ 114,176.92.
Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Mayor Pro Tem Kruse addressed the audience by reading an official statement. “Citizens, as you know there have been discussions and rumors throughout the community about out police department. I would like to give some clarity and hope this provides comfort to everyone. I want to be perfectly clear and assure our community that at no time did anyone on the council, including our now former mayor, discuss the possibility of dissolving the police department. The council believes it is in the City’s best interest to have a police department in our city. We believe it adds a level of safety and security to our residents and provides a great service to our city. To set the record straight, you have probably seen or heard in the news that the City of Madrid has already been sued once, because of allegations brought forth upon our police department and now we’re being sued a second time, again because of allegations brought forth upon our police department. What does a lawsuit mean it you lose, or settle out of court? It means that our insurance company pays. Now after being sued once, twice, in a relatively short period of time, any insurance company having to face several lawsuits would want to see changes made to prevent further lawsuits from occurring in the future. The former mayor, myself, the council, our city attorney, others, we care about the city as much as you guys do.”

Kruse also read from an official statement from Boone County Sheriff Greg Elsberry which stated, “The former mayor, Dirk Ringgenberg, is not to blame. He truly cares. During my conversation with Dirk, he told me he knew about the 28E Agreement and contract that the Boone County Sheriff has with Ogden for patrolling, responding to calls, and code enforcement for the third full time position.” Elsberry stated in the statement that he was the one that mentioned coverage by Boone County above what the then Mayor Ringgenberg was inquiring. He also stated there have been no back and forth negotiations and no discussion of a 28E Agreement between Boone County and Madrid. Kruse went on to mention that public safety is the number one priority of the Council. No action regarding a change to the department could come about without the approval of the Council. No discussion regarding that matter is on the agenda for this council meeting. The Council has taken no steps to disband the police department at this time.

City Attorney John Jordan stated there have been no discussions by the Mayor or the Council about doing anything with the Police Department. He advised the city has been the subject of a settled lawsuit, another one has been filed and more are pending. He feels many are frivolous in nature and may not have been filed except for past conduct by the police department. He advised the City is now dealing with insurance coverage issues. He feels that 90% of what the public has heard is only rumors.

Police Chief Rick Tasler also read a statement. “Hello citizens and thank you for taking the time out of your day to come out and listen to the information given at this meeting. Along with those that are going to give opinions on any topic tonight. I ask that you all please be professional and respectful and keep them as brief as possible. There is no reason to speak negative about any past or present city employees, county employees, or anyone that has a different opinion than yours. We are a strong community and we need to stay strong and back each other at times like this. This is a very small incident that has been blown up by social media and the news media. Please trust in your great council and your police department and know that we are all here to help you and keep building our great city and keep it safe. From all of us at the Madrid Police Department, thank you for your recent kind words, but our jobs were never in jeopardy, and are not now. A civil lawsuit that was released on the news cannot be spoken about tonight because it’s in litigation. But I can confirm the news report that both the Department of Criminal Investigation and Boone County Attorney’s office did an investigation after the Boone County Sheriff reported the incident. And both investigations showed nothing illegal was done and that reasonable force was used by the Madrid Police Department. My door is always open to any Madrid resident that has any questions or comments. “

Boone County Sheriff Greg Elsberry addressed the Council and citizens and stated he feels the city should retain Dirk Ringgenberg as Mayor. Ringgenberg did approach him regarding the 28E agreement with Ogden. Riggenberg asked Elsberry if down the road he would be interested in administration of the Madrid Police Department. Elsberry stated he has no interest in that idea. There have been no negotiations or 28E agreement made. Tasler asked Elsberry how many civil lawsuits Boone County has been named in. Elsberry advised all cases and call in Boone County are open record. Tasler stated that the calls that his department “beat” the county to are also a matter of public record.

Kirsten Raymond of 304 North State Street addressed the Council to express his appreciation for the quick response time by the Madrid Police Department. She feels the County could not respond as quickly.

Aaron Cronk of 110 Jonathan Drive approached the podium to ask what changes the insurance company is asking the Police Department to make considering the recent lawsuits. John Jordan stated they were not able to discuss this information because of pending litigation.

Jake Vaughn of 510 South Market Street again asked what insurance companies are wanting and again Kruse stated it could not be discussed because of pending litigation.

Steve Burich of 605 South State Street approached the Council to remind them that the idea of bringing in Boone County to police the city is not a new one. He feels the Police Department and law enforcement in general is under fire with lawsuits. He asked that the Council continue to share any information they can with the public.

Jolynne Carlson of rural Madrid stated she is saddened by the recent upheaval in the community. She is a business owner in Madrid and supports former Mayor Ringgenberg and the Madrid Police Department. She feels everyone makes mistakes and needs to be given a second chance. She also supports keeping a local police department.

Lee Barkley of 504 Milwaukee Street expressed his support of former Mayor Ringgenberg. He supports county law enforcement to save money for the community.

Tony Ortiz of 403 South Market Street agrees that county law enforcement will save the city money, however, he feels that any city that disbands their police force does not grow, and you will never get back a police department that has been disbanded. Councilperson Chapman reiterated that it has never been discussed to disband the police department. Mr. Ortiz continued to sight grievances against the police department, and the resignation of the Mayor. He asked that it be made clear that because someone is civilly liable, does not make them guilty of a crime. He feels the Council should have done more to squelch the outbreak on social media that occurred recently. He feels the public is not being made aware of what is going on in the city. Councilperson Samples stated it is the responsibility of each citizen to be informed about what is happened in their community. They should feel free to contact the councilperson from their ward at any time. Any changes made to the police department would take time and would not happen at one meeting. Councilperson Cook commented that as the Public Safety chairperson for the council, he would know if the police department was being dissolved. Councilperson Chapman asked that anyone with questions concerning recent rumors to please contact their ward councilperson.

Steve Burich approached the podium again to comment that perhaps MADTAP could have been used to squelch the recent rumors and inform the public of the social media comments.

Alyssa Denning of 213 East 21st Street asked why the Boone County Sheriff’s office was at the meeting. Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse stated he asked them to be at the meeting so that citizens could hear first-hand from the Sheriff what was discussed.

Linda Evans of 213 West 22nd Street read a short message she posted on social media supporting the Madrid police department. Kruse stated that all civil servants have his utmost respect.

Barbara Burich of 605 South State Street asked the Council to promise that the police department will never be dissolved. Kruse stated that he cannot promise what will happen in the future. Burich feels something must have happened for these discussions to take place. Councilperson Cook stated it is the result of pending lawsuits. Cook said the former Mayor was only looking for ideas and options from the Boone County Sheriff’s office. Councilperson Chapman reminded her that the city is currently just looking for knowledge and gathering ideas.

Matt Plueger of 248 Southern Prairie Drive expressed his support of Mayor Ringgenberg and suggested that many in the room owed him an apology for their negative comments on social media.

Marlene Mathewson of 111 Peterson Parkway stated her respect for everyone on the City Council and the Police Department. She asked why the courts are dismissing so many cases. Kruse stated there is no one here to speak to that question. He stated that all court cases are public information which can be found on line. Tasler commented it would be the County Attorney who dismisses cases and reminded the group that it is election year.

Alex Wibe of 2310 Pear Lane approached to state that while he is not a citizen of Madrid, he is volunteering on several committees for the city and the Madrid Area Chamber of Commerce. He feels it is harder to bring business to a city if it is in a period of unrest. He feels it is unreasonable to expect the insurance company to give a list of reasons for raising rates or cancelling insurance. He applauded the Council for taking steps to keep that from happening.

Chuck Rigby of 106 North Main Street asked for volunteers for help with the Labor Day Celebration and to support and volunteer for Bingo which is held on Saturday evenings.

Jeremy Walters of 516 West 4th Street asked that the Council to make wise decisions regarding the matter discussed during this meeting.

Mary Holmes of the Madrid Area Chamber of Commerce expressed her excitement at seeing so many faces at City Hall for the meeting. She suggested that many people in the audience could join MAC and volunteer for various committees. She applauded Dirk Ringgenberg for having a vision for the city of Madrid.

Holmes reported the city-wide garage sale will be held on May 5th. Anyone interested in holding a garage sale can sign up at Wilcox Printing. She also thanked Public Works for their hard work in maintaining the streets.

Motion by Councilperson Chapman, seconded by Councilperson Samples to approve a contract and request for payment to Koester Inflatables in the amount of $2,300 to supply the inflatables for the Madrid Labor Day Celebration.

Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Chuck Rigby of the Madrid Labor Day Committee advised approximately 50% of the schedule for the Madrid Labor Day Celebration is complete. Plans include civil war re-enactments and a truck and tractor pull. The next Labor Day meeting will be held on April 24th at 6:30 p.m. Kruse commented that the committee is always looking for volunteers to help with the event.

Library Director Angie Strong reported the library received $650.00 from Community Chest to be used for the summer reading program. The library also received a donation of 67 award books from an anonymous patron. Last week was National Library Week, forty-four children attended the Gross Out program, 29 attendees for game night. Weekly story time is over for season. She will release the schedule for the summer reading program soon. Upcoming programs include book discussion, mini robotics class, adult coloring, and an early out obstacle course.

Jolynne Carlson of the Park Board advised the Save the Cabin project has raised over $13,000 to date. The board has chosen Frank Manning to dismantle the cabin. Carlson and Manning walked through the cabin and discussed ways to save parts of the existing structure for use in the new park cabin. She reported that Eric Ort has joined the Park Board. She is currently looking for more volunteers.

Fire Chief Jim Murry reported there are four AED units that need to be recertified. The fire department has one unit, and the police department has three units. The cost to recertify each unit is between $60 and $200. Murry asked to table the Automatic Mutual Aide discussion which was included on the agenda. He hopes to reintroduce the issue at the next meeting.

Motion by Councilperson Samples, seconded by Councilperson Chapman to approve Brandon Thacker as a probationary member of the Madrid Fire Department.

Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Police Chief Rick Tasler read from prepared commentary and reported Officer Mackey was involved in a foot chase on April 2, 2018 which concluded with a suspect taken into custody and transported to Boone County. Also, on April 2,2018, Chief Tasler was called to Git-n-Go to handle a stolen vehicle case. The case was resolved when the person reporting the theft was charged with filing a false report. On April 3, 2018 Chief Tasler arrested a suspect and charged him with sexual abuse. The suspect was transported to Boone County. Tasler reported Officer Olmstead’s vehicle had a starter problem which has been repaired. Tasler is currently working with Lexipol to update the police department’s policy manual. He advised of a communication problem between Boone County and the Madrid police department which involved a secure email system. At some point, Madrid’s secure email was discontinued. Tasler reported his two full time officers have decided to re-join the union. The Madrid police department will be participating in the DEA Drug Drop off on April 28th.

Public Works Director Scott Church expressed his support of former Mayor Ringgenberg and thanked him and the Council for the changes being made in public works. Church also advised the IDOT will be coming into Madrid to conduct a speed study on Southern Prairie Drive.

Eric Ort of 400 Southern Prairie Drive asked that residents slow down when driving on Southern Prairie Drive.

Motion by Councilperson Chapman, seconded by Councilperson Cook to refuse the resignation submitted by Dirk Ringgenberg for the position of Mayor of Madrid.

Ayes: Chapman, Kruse, Cook         Nays: Samples, Shaver

Motion by Councilperson Shaver, seconded by Councilperson Samples to approve a request for renewal of liquor licenses from Flat Tire Lounge and Git-n-Go Convenience Store by consent agenda.

Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse advised he has contacted several food vendors to town on Friday nights. The goal is to bring people together in the downtown area. He asked that the Council waive any vendor fees for the first year. Motion by Councilperson Shaver, seconded by Councilperson Chapman to approve the fee waiver for 2018.

Ayes: All Present                                                                 Motion Carried

Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse advised the Council of upcoming changes to the city email accounts. Many companies are blocking g-mail accounts, which are currently being used by city officials. The city has entered into an agreement with the web provider to switch all g-mail accounts to @madridiowa.org accounts.

Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse read a Mayoral Proclamation to Keep Iowa Beautiful.

City Attorney John Jordan advised legal paperwork has been completed, and the Pizza Palace property on Highway 17 is now owned by the City of Madrid.

Councilperson Samples again stated he is against disbanding the police department.

Councilperson Kruse thanked Pubic Works for patching potholes.

Councilperson Chapman wanted to inform everyone in her ward that her only agenda is to improve the quality of life in Madrid. She would like anyone who wishes to speak with her to call the number posted on the website.

Councilperson Cook advised he spent many hours and days answering questions from constituents regarding the latest Facebook posting regarding the police department.

Councilperson Shaver also thanked the Public Works department for street patching and snow removal. He also stated he supports the Police Chief and his staff.

Justin Owen of 1650 329th Lane asked for clarification on the earlier vote to turn down the resignation of the Mayor. Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse advised that the vote was symbolic in nature. Dirk Ringgenberg resigned his position and is no longer the Mayor of Madrid. Owen stated he believes that Ringgenberg did go behind everyone’s back and speak to the Sheriff of Boone County in November 2017.

Chuck Rigby of 106 North Main Street asked Sheriff Elsberry when Mayor Ringgenberg met with him. Elsberry advised it was early November 2017. Rigby asked if anyone on the Council was aware that Ringgenberg was aware of the meeting with Elsberry in 2017. Cook and Kruse advised no. Chapman stated she would need to review her notes to answer the question.

Matt Plueger of 248 Southern Prairie Drive approached the Council again to comment he feels Ringgenberg was the voice of the community. Since Madrid is in Boone County he feels he would not have been doing his job unless he had communication with Boone County to make it as safe as it can be. He stated that because Ringgenberg spoke with the Boone County Sheriff, it does not mean that he intends to dissolve the police department.

Chief Tasler wanted it to be know that his department tried to communicate several times with the Boone County Sheriff and he refused to talk to them in email.

Scott Henry of 610 West 5th Street stated he feels Ringgenberg walked out on the City when there was a bump in the road. Mayor Pro-Tem Kruse stated again, he does not know why Ringgenberg resigned when he did.

Barb Burch spoke to remind the group that bingo takes place every Saturday night at 5:30. She asked for help with the bingo operations and asked for community support.

Melanie Samples of 917 South Kennedy Avenue Lot 105 asked that the Council consider changing the meeting minute time until later in the evening to allow working people to attend.

Lee Barkley of 504 Milwaukee Street also asked that the Council meeting be moved to a later time.

Dennis Young of 610 West North Street complimented the police and fire departments. He asked that the Council be truthful and transparent to the public.

Councilperson Chapman reminded the public that meeting minutes are posted in the Madrid Register News and on the city website at Madridiowa.org.

Motion by Councilperson Shaver, seconded by Councilperson Chapman to adjourn the City Council Meeting at 7:34 p.m.