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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  The present (1967-era) law permits secrecy “to prevent premature disclosure of information on real estate proposed to be purchased.” The House State Government Committee wisely omitted this exception from the new open meetings bill . . . (u)nfortunately, House members do not appear to be inclined to go along with this decision. . . . While the owner of property desired by some private business might be in a position to jack up the price unreasonably, public bodies face no such threat. The power of eminent domain enables them to compel the owner to sell at a value established by independent appraisal . . . . What is the point of secret discussion? Public discussion is more likely to benefit the taxpayer than to cost him. If a board discusses the possibility of renting an office suite for $15,000 a year, the news might prompt an offer of equal space for $12,000 from a different landlord. While a city council might be besieged with complaints if it publicizes the three locations it is considering for a new fire station, those complaints could point the way to a more informed decision than the council could have made through secret discussion. The potential for private shenanigans in property transactions is great. The House amendment would keep the public in the dark, but insiders could tip off speculators. Publicity and openness are the best disinfectants. 133 From The Register’s mouth to the representatives’ ears. The following Monday, January 30, 1978, the House finally approved—on a 70 to 15 vote—its “complete revision of the Iowa Open Meetings Law,” 134 and one of the major last-minute changes involved the exemption dealing with real estate transactions: In Monday’s action, the House tightened up one of the exceptions that was added to the measure last Tuesday night. That exception, before rewording, would have allowed closed meetings “to discuss the purchase, sale, leasing or renting of real estate.” Representative Carroll Perkins (D-Jefferson) said that language was too broad. “We feel we may have gone too far,” said Perkins. The House agreed to narrow the exemption so it allows closed meetings “to discuss the purchase of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property. 133 Ibid. 134 Charles Bullard, “Iowa House Revises Law on Meetings,” The Des Moines Register, 31 January 1978, 1A.

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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The   present   (1967-era)   law   permits   secrecy   “to   prevent   premature   disclosure   of 
information on real estate proposed to be purchased.”  The House State Government Committee 
wisely   omitted   this   exception   from   the   new   open   meetings   bill   .   .   .   (u)nfortunately,   House 
members do not appear to be inclined to go along with this decision. . . .
While the owner of property desired by some private business might be in a position to 
jack up the price unreasonably, public bodies face no such threat.  The power of eminent domain 
enables them to compel the owner to sell at a value established by independent appraisal .  .  .  . 
What is the point of secret discussion?
Public discussion is more likely to benefit the taxpayer than to cost him.   If a board 
discusses the possibility of renting an office suite for $15,000 a year, the news might prompt an 
offer of equal space for $12,000 from a different landlord.
While a city council might be besieged with complaints if it publicizes the three locations 
it is considering for a new fire station, those complaints could point the way to a more informed 
decision than the council could have made through secret discussion.
The   potential   for   private   shenanigans   in   property   transactions   is   great.     The   House 
amendment would keep the public in the dark, but insiders could tip off speculators.  Publicity 
and openness are the best disinfectants.
From The Register’s mouth to the representatives’ ears.  The following Monday, January 30, 
1978, the House finally approved—on a 70 to 15 vote—its “complete revision of the Iowa Open Meetings 
 and one of the major last-minute changes involved the exemption dealing with real estate 
In Monday’s action, the House tightened up one of the exceptions that was added to the 
measure   last   Tuesday   night.     That   exception,   before   rewording,   would   have   allowed   closed 
meetings “to discuss the purchase, sale, leasing or renting of real estate.”
Representative Carroll Perkins (D-Jefferson) said that language was too broad.  “We feel 
we may have gone too far,” said Perkins.
The House agreed to narrow the exemption so it allows closed meetings “to discuss the 
purchase of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected 
to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property.
Charles Bullard, “Iowa House Revises Law on Meetings,” The Des Moines Register, 31 January 1978, 1A.

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