Minutes from the 2013 Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting 2013
Thursday, Oct. 3

Iowa Theater, Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, IA

Presiding: Dave Vickers, KROS Clinton, president

Attending: Sara Konrad Baranowski, Iowa Falls Times Citizen; Kia Breaux, Associated Press; Randy Brubaker, The Des Moines Register; Brian Cooper, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Iowa Newspaper Association; Anthony Gaughan, Iowa Public Information Board; Shawn Harmsen, University of Iowa student; Jenn Hemmings, Cedar Rapids Gazette; Sheila Koppin, Iowa Board of Regents; Rox Laird, The Des Moines Register; Jo Martin, Iowa Public Information Board; Scott McFetridge, Associated Press; Andrew Mertens, Iowa Association for Justice; Bill Monroe, Iowa Public Information Board; Adam Sullivan, Iowa City Press-Citizen

Recording Secretary: Kathleen Richardson, IFOIC executive secretary, Drake University.

Financial report (Richardson):

  • The 2014 budget will be finalized and approved at the first meeting of the executive committee in 2014. Richardson reported that it looks like the Council will be running in the red this year and will run a deficit next year as well unless dues are increased or additional revenue sources are found. This is due to the fact that the executive committee decided to give Richardson a salary increase (from $500/month to $1,100/month). Membership has also fallen over the past five years or so. The Council has been reporting a revenue surplus every year during that same time, however, so there is no immediate problem, plus there is approximately $35,000 in the Council’s general fund. A subcommittee (Laird, Mudge, Work-MaKinne and Richardson) is examining the bylaws and dues structure will bring a recommendation to the membership on how to deal with the financial situation.

Report on activities of 2013 and continuing projects (Richardson):

  • Open Meetings, Open Records Handbook, 15h edition: Booklet was updated and printed early in 2013, and for the first time includes the text and Q&A on the Iowa Public Information Board Act.
  • Expanded Media Coverage: Iowa Supreme Court committee has completed its work on suggested amendments to the EMC Rules to reflect changes in news-gathering techniques and technology. The recommendations will be posted for public comment. Richardson will alert the IFOIC membership when the recommendations become public.
  • Electronic court records: Discussion of whether IFOIC should ask the Iowa judiciary to allow journalists expanded access to online court records, much as attorneys and abstractors have. Laird will draft a proposal; Council will approach the Iowa Supreme Court to see if judiciary would be receptive.
  • FOI workshop for citizens: The Council collaborated with the Iowa Newspaper Foundation in September for a traveling FOI workshop aimed at citizens. The sites this year were Ames, Burlington and Council Bluffs. Attendance was much below 2013. There was initial agreement that the workshops are worth continuing, even to small crowds, though organizers will discuss how to increase attendance. It was proposed that workshops perhaps be targeted toward select audiences, such as college students, or be offered via webinar.
  • Richardson also conducted an open meetings seminar this year for the Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and will do sessions for an Iowa Newspaper Foundation “boot camp” and for new legislators later in October.

Discussion of goals for 2014: The Council bylaws require the trustees to annually adopt goals for the upcoming year. The following goals were drafted for adoption at the first meeting of 2014:

  • To approach the Iowa judiciary to propose widening access to online court records to journalists.
  • To continue as the Iowa Supreme-court designated coordinator for Expanded Media Coverage in the Iowa courts.
  • To assist with communications and education about any amendments to the Expanded Media Coverage Rule.
  • To update the Council’s forms and booklet material to reflect any new EMC rules.
  • To remain active in the discussions of Chapters 21 and 22 in the Iowa Legislature.
  • To protect against erosion of access to currently available government information.
  • To undertake other projects and activities as needed

Introduction of officers for 2014:

  • Rick GreenThe Des Moines Register,moving to president from first vice president.
  • Brian Cooper, Woodward Communications, representing the Iowa Newspaper Association, moving to first vice president from second vice president.
  • Iowa Broadcasters Associationrepresentative to be named prior to the winter meeting.
  • Kia Breaux, Associated Press, continuing as Working Press Trustee.
  • Jared Strong, Carroll Daily Times Herald, continuing as Working Press Trustee.

Thank you to departing president Dave Vickers.

Skip Weber Award: The Council’s annual Skip Weber Award, which recognizes “individual contributions to government openness, access and accountability to Iowans,” was awarded at an Oct. 3 banquet hosted by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. The 2013 “Friend of the First Amendment” awards were given to Professor Arthur Bonfield of the University of Iowa law school, for his work over the years on Iowa open meetings and records laws, and to former Iowa Public Television general manager Dan Miller for his career championing open government and free press issues.