Why wasn’t this ruling unanimous?
We congratulate the Iowa Supreme Court for ruling that governmental boards could not hold meetings via proxy. This they said violated the the open meetings provision of Iowa law.
If a majority of a board conveys communication on policy matters back and forth and in some way seeks to do this in a way that blocks the public from from these discussions it definitely violates the spirit of the law that sought to stop the practices of secret meetings with policy made in secret and without public input.
Briefly, the three members of the Warren County board of supervisors held individual meetings with the county administrator concerning downsizing. The county administrator then relayed information from those individual meetings to the other members. Thus he acted almost as a meeting facilitator even though there technically was not a meeting. Very sneaky and at that time technically not illegal, but certainly seemed on the edge.
America moved away from decisions made in back rooms long ago, or so they thought. Any attempt to circumvent the open meeting rules should be viewed as an egregious betrayal of the public trust. These supervisors were not elected to ignore the public input and purview.
It is strange that there was even a dissent let alone three. When lawmakers draw up laws they can’t possibly think of every conceivable way to get around a law. It is hard to believe that an Iowa Supreme Court justice could say “this specific instance isn’t listed in the law, so therefore meetings held this way are legal.’
Thank you, Justices, for a decision that keeps the public from being shut out of its right know what goes on in their government.