Barbs tossed at What Cheer City Council meeting

A packed house greeted the What Cheer City Council

What Cheer, Iowa- What Cheer, Iowa- Serious allegations of misconduct among members of the What Cheer City Council were raised at their regular meeting on July 10. At issue was the actions of the Council at their June meeting. City Clerk Melanie Vermillion was not at June’s meeting, due to a previously approved absence. City Council minutes from the June meeting were a key part of Tuesday’s meeting, as several members of the public accused the council of voting on items that were not on the agenda. A review of the minutes of the June meeting, as well as the agenda, confirmed that three items, including a motion for a city audit, a motion to tape record all city council meetings, and a motion to have the city clerk itemize all bills, were unanimously approved by the council, despite not being listed on the agenda. Sandy Van Patten spoke to the council and expressed outrage at the events of the June meeting.

“I was very disappointed and embarrassed in the council last month,” Van Patten said.

Van Patten reminded the council that it is illegal to vote on an item not listed on the agenda. She also added outrage that the council had voted to approve asking for an audit to be done.

“Do you have any idea what it costs to do a full audit?” Van Patten asked. “We had a mini audit done a few years ago and they didn’t find anything wrong,” she added.

According to city council minutes, at the June 12 council meeting, the council voted 5-0 to have an audit performed on What Cheer. The item was not listed on the agenda ahead of time and was brought up for the first time in new business, a potentially illegal action taken by the City Council.

According to records on the State Auditor’s website, What Cheer recently had a state required procedures engagement for the period from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014. The engagement was performed by Faller, Kincheloe & Co, PLC of Des Moines. The report itself did not review the city’s financial procedures in depth, however it reviewed other portions of the city’s financial and nonfinancial operations to ensure compliance. State law mandates that the report be done every eight years. The report found no major deficiencies with the city’s operations.

“Unless reported in the Detailed Recommendations, items of non-compliance were not noted during the performance of the specific procedures listed above,” states the report.

Another issue brought up was that of the treatment of City Clerk Melanie Vermillion. Van Patten said that comments were made about Vermillion’s work performance that she found “outrageous”.

“Do not talk about employees work performances unless they’re present and they always have the option to a closed session if they choose to do that. Melanie was not here but you chose to continue to talk about things that she’s in charge of. Wasn’t right,” Van Patten said. “If you have on your agenda a vendetta for somebody you shouldn’t be on this council. You should resign and let somebody that cares about the community do it,” she added.

Vermillion added during the meeting that she had heard a recording of the June meeting and found comments made about her to be disheartening.

“I heard the things that were said about me. I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes,” she said.

Vermillion added that the comments had originated from Councilor Jeff Ferns. She added that she believes he has a vendetta against her.

For more on this story and others, catch the July 18 edition of the News-Review.