Thursday Reads — Who’s Side Are They On?

In some instances, politicians/elected officials are sort of like whitetail deer. When a threat to the herd appears on the horizon, they flash a warning sign and bound for safety. It’s instinct. They stick together. Safety first.

So it wasn’t surprising Wednesday when a legislative subcommittee shot down a bill that would have given voters the power to remove local government officials through recall. The Gazette/Lee’s James Lynch reports that the bill fell after lawmakers heard from groups representing local government officials. Stunning.

…bad policy decisions shouldn’t be enough to get local elected officials thrown out of office between scheduled elections, representatives of the Iowa State Association of Counties, its county supervisor association and the League of Cities said.

They said voters can remove elected official at elections and allowing recall would lead to more elections at a significant cost to taxpayers.

 Yes, of course. We don’t want to give taxpayers more power because we care about them so much.

Elsewhere in the Capitol, lawmakers are reviving pieces of a bill killed last year by the same groups representing local governments. Rod Boshsart reports that lawmakers are taking another stab at toughening the state’s open meetings/open records laws. Last year, legislators delivered a last-minute punt to a bill that would have set up a new enforcement arm to handle citizen complaints. Local government groups lobbied hard against the bill, arguing that transparency is just so hard.

Well, you can forget about the enforcement panel. Instead, we might get an “advisory panel” that would be dominated by, you guessed it, government officials. Swell.

The bill is probably worth salvaging as an incremental step. It toughens definitions of open meetings and strikes at “walking quorums” where small groups of officials huddle in an attempt to skirt the law. But you have to wonder why local governments are so adamant that these laws aren’t rigorously enforced.

Actually, it’s no secret. It’s the same as recall. They want to do whatever they want and not get in trouble. Same with my three-year-old. But you can’t take away a county supervisor’s binky.

At least they’re not going to raise the beer tax. Several other states are, Iowa isn’t, according to The Gazette.

And just when you thought the Atalissa bunkhouse story couldn’t get any more troubling, The Des Moines Register’s Clark Kaufman reports  that mentally retarded plant workers “allegedly had sex with or were physically abused by their caretakers, company officials have told state investigators.”

Dru Neubauer, employed by Henry’s Turkey Service as one of the primary caregivers at the 106-year-old bunkhouse where the men lived, told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday that in 2005, the company fired a female caretaker after one of the bunkhouse residents alleged he was paying the woman for sex.

 Unbelieveable. What will they dig up next?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Thursday Reads — Who’s Side Are They On?

  1. James Hagen

    Well said. I love your articles and perspective. Please keep up the good work.

  2. Mahan

    It appears you are a journalist of some sort. Not to be a pedant, but should the headline not read “Whose Side Are They On?”, as the possessive case is desired?

  3. tdorman

    Some sort is right. And you are right. At 6 a.m., obvious things can escape me.

  4. Pingback: Best of the FOIASphere: Weekly round-up « Open Records

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