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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  also support for some specific exemptions similar to those in the current Iowa law.” 71 There is later, indirect evidence that indicates several of the legislators on the subcommittee balked at such a blanket approach, adjuring that such a formulation would “hamper efficiency in government.” 72 In conjunction with the November 14 hearing at which Strentz and others presented their ideas and proposals, the subcommittee also reported that “a survey was conducted of several state boards and commissions to obtain an indication of the frequency of use of the exceptions to the open meetings law.” 73 In addition, less than a month later, on December 6, the FOI Council “organiz(ed) an informal, non- partisan workshop. . . to address mutual concerns about the law”—a meeting to which the governor of Iowa was expressly invited, along with members of the subcommittee. 74 Several telling commentaries emerged from this convocation. For one, it appears that the FOI Council was now unified in its support of an “unqualified ban on closed meetings by public agencies.” 75 That the Council likely expected this to be an extremely tough sell, however, is indicated by the admission of Steve Weinberg, a reporter with The Des Moines Register & Tribune and head of the FOI committee that drafted the proposal, that it was “not drafted with political practicality in mind.” 76 However, he said that the proposal was written in full knowledge that “legislators would dilute it if necessary.” 77 In addition to eliminating exceptions under which a closed meeting could be held, other changes advocated by the Council included allowing “any action by a public body in an illegal closed session could be voided in court (and) (c)riminal penalties are also included.” 78 It did not take long for the battle to be joined at the workshop, as Professor Arthur Bonfield of the University of Iowa College of Law assailed the likes of the FOI Council’s position as being an 71 Ibid. 72 “Meetings,” Fort Dodge Messenger, 5 December 1977, 3A. 73 Open Meetings Law Subcommittee Of The Standing Committee On State Government , 1 . 74 Charles Harpster, “Information Panel Endorses Open Meetings Law Change,” The Des Moines Register, 2 December 1977, 12B. 75 “Meetings,” Fort Dodge Messenger. 76 Charles Harpster, “Information Panel." 77 Ibid. 78 Ibid.

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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also support for some specific exemptions similar to those in the current Iowa law.
  There is later, 
indirect evidence that indicates several of the legislators on the subcommittee balked at such a blanket 
approach, adjuring that such a formulation would “hamper efficiency in government.
In conjunction with the November 14 hearing at which Strentz and others presented their ideas 
and proposals, the subcommittee also reported that “a survey was conducted of several state boards and 
commissions to obtain an indication of the frequency of use of the exceptions to the open meetings law.”
In addition, less than a month later, on December 6, the FOI Council “organiz(ed) an informal, non-
partisan workshop. . . to address mutual concerns about the law”—a meeting to which the governor of 
Iowa was expressly invited, along with members of the subcommittee.
  Several telling commentaries 
emerged from this convocation.
For one, it appears that the FOI Council was now unified in its support of an “unqualified ban on 
closed meetings by public agencies.
  That the Council likely expected this to be an extremely tough 
sell, however, is indicated by the admission of Steve Weinberg, a reporter with The Des Moines Register 
& Tribune and head of the FOI committee that drafted the proposal, that it was “not drafted with political 
practicality in mind.
  However, he said that the proposal was written in full knowledge that “legislators 
would dilute it if necessary.
  In addition to eliminating exceptions under which a closed meeting could 
be held, other changes advocated by the Council included allowing “any action by a public body in an 
illegal closed session could be voided in court (and) (c)riminal  penalties are also included.
It did not take long for the battle to be joined at the workshop, as Professor Arthur Bonfield of the 
University of Iowa College of Law assailed the likes of the FOI Council’s position as being an 
71
 Ibid.
72
 “Meetings,” Fort Dodge Messenger, 5 December 1977, 3A.
73
 Open Meetings Law Subcommittee Of The Standing Committee On State Government
1
.
74
 Charles Harpster, “Information Panel Endorses Open Meetings Law Change,” The Des Moines Register, 2 
December 1977, 12B.
75
 “Meetings,” Fort Dodge Messenger.
76
 Charles Harpster, “Information Panel."
77
 Ibid.
78
 Ibid.


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