Too much sunshine?

Iowa’s politicians and media have been bouncing ideas around this year about improving the strength of their open records legislation.

Over the weekend, the Des Moines Business Record published FOIA zeal can foul decision-making by Mary Gottschalk, a non-profit consultant.

I recommend reading her short piece in its entirety.

One of three main claims is:

The FOIA is particularly problematic where personnel matters are concerned. There is a silly-season quality to the debate in which the press demands to know “why” a personnel meeting is closed, when the purpose of a closed meeting is to protect the privacy, dignity and effectiveness of individuals under discussion. I observed this firsthand at the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium, when the press demanded access to personnel meetings in which individual personnel matters were likely to be discussed. I see it now in the Iowa Board of Regents’ search for a new University of Iowa president, where the press is demanding access to candidates who are unlikely to be appointed to the post, but whose effectiveness in their current roles could be compromised.

Open access is a critical element of public process, but current FOIA legislation has become increasingly intrusive.

Here’s some background on the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium.

Here’s significant additional background on the CEITC scandal. It was only recently that Iowa agencies like the CEITC were added to the list of FOIAable groups.

My take: The problem here was way too little sunshine when it might have mattered.

Also: A whistle-blowing hero.


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