At the Lucy Burns Institute, it has been our privilege since July 2007 to award the Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week award to deserving recipients from around the country. The award goes to ordinary citizens who fight the good fight, often at considerable cost.
We are proud to give the 18th STOTW to Allen Diercks, of Riverdale, Iowa.
Diercks has sued Riverdale (population 656) twice since 2005 over open government issues, at a personal cost of nearly $250,000. According to this account, Diercks and Tammie Picton wanted information about spending at the town’s volunteer fire department:
Two citizens — an interior designer and a chiropractor — became suspicious of spending in the department, spurred by what they said were drunken come-ons at a Christmas party and the purchase of several ladder trucks in a town with no high-rise buildings. They asked for information. They didn’t get it.
They got it after they won their lawsuit.
The Riverdale cases are one reason that Sen. Mike Connolly, D-Dubuque, is sponsoring a new law to put enforcement teeth into Iowa’s open records laws.
Riverdale is in Scott County. Bill Davis was the Scott County attorney in 2005 when our troublemaker, Allen Diercks, sought–but did not receive–help from Davis in enforcing Iowa’s openness laws. Davis now says, “The case should have been handled in a less adversarial manner.”
Easy for him to say. Drunken come-ons at Christmas parties combined with stonewalling and obstruction over open records requests, combined with the local county attorney washing his hands of the matter, tend to ratchet up the adversarial nature of the proceedings.
Diercks says, “It’s all about the arrogance of government. They try to bully those of us who want to hold them accountable into a corner so we’ll go away. ” Exactly.
Mr. Diercks, we feel privileged to welcome you to the storied ranks of the STOTWs.