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August 16, 2012
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When will spending madness stop?

Is it just me, or does the legislature’s 2012 creation of The Iowa Public Information Board sound like yet another taxpayer-funded “committee” whose sole purpose is to duplicate what existing committees simply refuse to do? (“GuestView,” Aug. 9.)

First of all, Herb Strentz says the Information Board will not become operational for a year, needing time to hire staff, get a budget together, etc. Really? That will take a year?

Nothing against Mr. Strentz, who clearly supports the new board, but any taxpayer — and person working in the private sector — after reading this article has got to shake his or her head in disbelief at some of the justifications for its need. He clearly states, “It would not be needed if public agencies followed the spirit of the Iowa laws on open meetings and access to public records. Instead, public agencies exploit the discretion granted them under those laws.”

OK — why is this allowed in the first place? Is anyone in charge at the state house?

“The Board will have an impact when it comes to egregious violations of the law; perhaps that’s the most we can hope for.”

That’s it? They are simply the public agency “police” — paid for by the tax-payers?

“It will still be up to the public and the press to demand openness. They can’t pass the buck to the Information Board.”

So again, why are they needed? What is their function? What are they accountable for, and how will their effectiveness be measured? Oh, wait, I know…they’ll have to create ANOTHER board to police this one and figure all that out.

Mr. Strentz says Connecticut has had a similar board since the mid-70s with annual budgets of up to $3 million — about 10 times what Iowa will spend. So we’re going to spend $300,000 to create another government board, with ZERO accountability? And, of course, we know — being a government operation — that $300,000 will increase on an annual basis simply because it’s a government operation.

How many times have we done this before? Does anyone remember CIETC? Or the recent Iowa film tax credit scandal? How many governments “boards” are we going to allow that run with ZERO oversight and spend taxpayer funds like it’s Monopoly money?

When are we going to learn from our mistakes? Obviously, $300,000 is chickenfeed to our government, but when is this spending madness going to stop?

“…the public needed some way to resolve questions of openness in a more efficient and less expensive fashion.”

Come on, really?

Dave Hallin


GOP protests too much

Like most rational people, I, too, was unsettled by the Super Pac commercial that implied Mitt Romney was responsible for the cancer death on Joe Soptic’s wife, but I was amused at the outrage displayed by the Republican talking heads and bloggers. These same people created and fed into the rumors that Bill and Hillary Clinton were somehow responsible for the murder of Vince Foster and then conspired to make it look like a suicide.

Greg Cunningham

West Des Moines

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