Do As I Say…Not As I Do!

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, after ...

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From Iowa, a fresh helping of FOI hypocrisy:

Lawmakers are considering creation of a new board to better enforce Iowa’s open records and meetings laws, but there’s a notable exemption from the board’s oversight: the governor and his office.

The board’s oversight also would not extend to operations of the legislative and judicial branches, reflecting current open records and meetings laws. But it’s the governor’s exemption that is raising eyebrows.

“We believe, and this is where the anger comes in, that this is a very cynical bill,” said Larry Pope of the Iowa League of Cities. “We have had the governor’s office staff lobbying the bill, pushing the bill, but at the same time lobbying to get out of it.”

Not only the governor — who fears his office would be drowned by FOI complaints (hint: comply with the law and that problem tends to sort itself out, governor…) — but the usual foes of sunlight have emerged:

The seven-member Iowa Public Information Board created by Senate File 430 would cost taxpayers $155,000 a year, starting in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Most of those costs are associated with salaries for an attorney and an administrative assistant.

“That’s what we’re doing here, is we’re cutting education and growing state government,” said Iowa Association of School Boards attorney Mary Gannon.

No, that’s not even close to what you’re doing here, and you bloody well know it. What Iowa is quite wisely thinking about doing is investing a modicum in seeing that all citizens in the state have some basic rights of access to information, and more importantly, some recourse when they are met with a stonewalling attempt by, well, just to pick a random example…a school board.

The Senate passed the bill without any no votes earlier this month. The House State Government Committee approved the bill Wednesday, meaning it met a legislative deadline this week and remains alive for further consideration. This is smart legislation, a bill that really would make a huge difference in Iowa.

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