Property owners, beware. A bill headed for the Iowa Senate would close the proceedings of local boards which decide whether land should be condemned for development or roads. Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Herb Strentz says those meetings are open to the public today. He says even if you aren’t a property owner you want to know what’s going on to prevent any “Sweetheart Deals” or to ensure that no one’s being discriminated against. Strentz says there’s no good reason to close the condemnation commission meetings. He says the hearings have been open for the last year and he isn’t aware of any problems. Strentz says the only reason for the change is some people don’t want to stand up for whatthey believe in. Legislators who back the idea of closing meetings where officials decide whether to condemn land say those who serve on the commission face shame or embarassment if the meetings continue to be open to the public. Strentz says that speaks directly to the public records law which says records should be open even if access is inconveniant or an embarrassment to public officials or others. He says it flies in the face of what the current law says. The secrecy move was endorsed last night by the Iowa House on a voice vote — that means it wasn’t recorded so the public can’t find out who voted yes and who voted no. The proposal must also be endorsed by the Senate and approved by the Governor before it becomes law.
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