Restraining order denied, but warning given former IHGID trustee

A former trustee with the Indian Hills General Improvement District was chastised by a judge Monday over an apparent "obsession."

But he denied the temporary restraining order sought by the district against district trustee Joanne Riekenberg of Indian Hills.

East Fork Justice Court Judge Jim EnEarl said Riekenberg's behavior did not "stretch the fine line of the newly created (restraining order) law," which requires that bodily harm or damage to property be proven.

"You are absolutely obsessed with the district," EnEarl said. "Your conduct has been disruptive and disorderly, and you are fortunate you haven't been arrested.

"There may be a conspiracy, but there are proper ways (to address alleged district wrongdoing) and you're not doing it. ... You're out of line."

The district sought a temporary order for protection against harassment in the workplace against Riekenberg, claiming she harassed employees at the district office on March 28.

Employees testified that Riekenberg yelled, threatened, and intimidated them while asking for public records.

One employee testified she vomits when faced with dealing with Riekenberg. District Manager Jim Bentley testified he has a responsibility to his employees to keep them safe from such harassment.

EnEarl concurred and cautioned Riekenberg about her behavior.

"There are some hostilities. You don't like each other," EnEarl said to Riekenberg and Bentley.

Both sides have until Friday at noon to draft an amicable agreement as to their "expectations," EnEarl ordered.

It may include a stipulation that Riekenberg make her requests in writing, and the district has 72 hours to provide information.

The district, meanwhile, was not pleased with the results of Monday's hearing.

"I guess we wait and see what the agreement looks like," Bentley said. "She never abided by the rules of decorum in the past, and it will be interesting to see if she goes by this one."

Trustee Diane Humble-Fournier wanted EnEarl to set a precedent with this case on the new restraining order law.

Riekenberg "was chastised by the judge, but I felt he could have set a precedent," she said. "I am very sorry our employees have to go through this."

Riekenberg was recalled in July 2000. She claims the district has violated open-meeting laws and has filed a complaint with the state attorney general.

"There was no clear winner here," Riekenberg said. "I am willing to abide by what the judge said ... and hope (the district) would comply" with the 72-hour deadline for her written requests.


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