Boards Reaffirm 2015 28E Vote

Mahaska County E911 Service Board met on August 22nd, 2019 to reaffirm the 2015 28A agreement with Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Members of the Mahaska County E911 Service Board and members of the Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission each held a meeting on Thursday night.

The E911 Service Board is comprised of representatives from the various emergency departments that serve within the Mahaska County area.

The Emergency Management Commission is made up of elected officials and representatives of political entities such as towns, while other representatives represent either the elected official or are state-authorized, such as the sheriff’s office.

In separate meetings, each board went into a closed session with their legal counsel.

The controversy has stemmed from Mahaska County Supervisors filing suit against E911 and Emergency Management stating they believe the 28E agreement between the two entities isn’t legal.

Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk also serves on the E911 Service Board and the Emergency Management Commission.

Groenendyk took part in each closed session as the boards spoke with their counsel in their defense against the Supervisors.

When returning to open session, each board, at their own meeting, held a vote to reaffirm the vote taken in 2015 to partner in the 28E agreement that has now been in place for the past four years.

The vote to reaffirm the 2015 28E agreement was done to help satisfy one of the reasons the Supervisors say the agreement isn’t valid. In their lawsuit, they claim that the E911 (Service Board) didn’t properly approve the 2015 Agreement.

Other points the Supervisors and their legal counsel say the agreement is invalid is that “The 2015 Agreement violates the voting requirements of Chapter 34A”.

Other reasons include that “the agreement unlawfully delegates authority to the courts.” They also contend that the agreement is void as ultra vires [acting or done beyond one’s legal power or authority].

During the discussion before the E911 Service Board voted to reaffirm the 2015 board vote, Groenendyk asked the board members if they knew “What responsibilities you’re voting yourself out of maybe legally or illegally?”

“Everyone had a chance to look at the Supervisors brief?” asked Groenendyk.

The “Supervisors brief,” is a document that the legal counsel for the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors has filed with District Court as to why they believe the agreement is illegal. “You understand the arguments in it?”

“I encouraged the Chairman and Jamey Robinson to forward it to everybody,” Groenendyk added.

The recently filed brief hasn’t yet been responded to by the E911 Board in the ongoing legal battle. Their response is expected within the week.

E911 Service Board Chairman Russ Van Renterghem said that on the advice of counsel, the Supervisors brief was not forwarded on to E911 Service Board members.

E911 Service Board Legal Counsel Nicholas Maxwell told Groenendyk that if he wanted to present the brief, he could do so, but it wasn’t included in the packet.

Some E911 Service Board members already had their own copy of the Supervisors brief they had brought to the meeting.

Loren Bolkema, Clay Township representative on the E911 Service Board, said that he had trouble revoting for something that causes a rift with the Supervisors. He said he believes that something causing a rift needs to be worked at, “and maybe it will be by the judge.”

“Passing this resolution is saying the vote was illegal back in 2015,” Gorenendyk said to the E911 Service Board. “Basically that’s what this resolution is saying, we don’t trust that vote.”

“And Mark, I’d have to disagree with you on that,” said New Sharon Mayor Keri Lamberson. “It’s not that we’re saying it was illegal, we’re saying that we agree with how Jamey and the EMA have run the 911 Center and managed it over the last four years.”

“I’m for re-ratifying this agreement, correcting the problem that everyone seems to acknowledge has changed. Then we’re going to go to the judge and let them decide,” added Oskaloosa Councilman Tom Walling before the vote was taken.

Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky told Groenendyk, “There’s two issues here, and Mark, you’re trying to keep one on the table, and that is, was the vote legal or not. We’re trying to fix that right here before it goes to trial and concentrate on the other issue, is the merging legal. That’s where the heart of this is. Can we do this, can we have the right to do that, and it is just muddying the water. We’re trying to remove the mud so we can have clear water, so the judge can rule on the issue at hand.”

“Yet you’re trying to keep it alive, keep the mud in the water,” added Bokinsky. “That’s the way it comes across to me.”

“Actually, I think this is clearing up the water for me,” added Groenendyk. “I’ve talked about this for a year-and-a-half, two years, and everybody’s talked about, no you’re wrong Mark. Mr. Mahaffey said, no you’re wrong Mark. Now you come to a meeting and say hey, umm, you know what Mark, you might be right cause there might be some illegal voting, some improper voting going on and we should clear it up.”

“And so this is just the first step of the slide,” added Groenendyk. “Actually it benefits my position.”

“So be it,” responded Bokinsky to Groenendyk.

The E911 Service Board passed the measure with dissenting votes from Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk and Clay Township representative Loren Bolkema.

Next, the Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission met.

The Commission also went into a closed session to discuss legal matters with their representative Michael Mahaffey.

After coming out of closed session, Groenendyk asked the EMC’s legal representative about the original 28E agreement from the late 80s was still in effect. No answer was given to Groenendyk in regards to his question.
All members of the Emergency Management Commission voted in favor of reaffirming the 2015 28E agreement with the exception of Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk.

Posted by on Aug 25 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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