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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - November 7, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                No voter-clearance for more spending Editorial Page Thuudoy, November 7, 1974 Uncalled-for criticism Should the Iowa Federation of Labor's voter registration arm have reported an expenditure of for voter-registration lists of several counties, which it received with the help of the Iowa Democratic party's Voter Infor- mation Program Or should the expenditure have been reported by VIP itself? That's what a representative of Iowa Common Cause, citizens' lobby, wanted to know of the new state campaign disclosure com- mission. Betty Kitzman, CC's representative, posed the ques- tions to the commission at its Oct. 24 meeting. Background: The federation's voter registration arm reportedly had some difficulty getting the lists, which any legitimate or- ganization can have by paying the cost. However, auditors of coun- ties involved told Mrs. Kitzman they had not received requests from the federation. Requests were received from VIP. When the lists were made available, the federation paid for them with a check given to the Story county auditor, acting as a receiving agent for auditors of all counties involved. After taking the matter under consideration and then hearing an explanation by Phil Sasich, VIP director, the commission held that there was no need for either VIP or the federation to report the purchase of the lists. Then Charles Rehling, commis- sion chairman, and former Atty. Gen. Larry Scalise, a commission member, were critical of Mrs. Kitzman for taking up two hours of the commission's time with the matter. What, pray tell, is the commis- sion in part-time business for if not to provide answers to ques- tions like these? Why are its members being paid per day plus expenses, when in session, if citizens can't come in with legi- timate questions about whether the campaign disclosure laws are being properly observed and en- forced? Those are further questions that deserve considered answers from the campaign disclosure commis- sion minus criticism for their having been asked. By Louis Morris The Hatrit Survey Although Hit' Democrats made gains In Ihis off-year election, there was nn man- date from I lie electorate to increase federal spending. On the contrary, a public still hard-pressed by rising prices views federal spending as "a major cause" of inflation by 76 percent, higher than any other factor tested. However, business has taken much more of the blame for the current state of the U.S. economy than previously. Seventy-four percent, up 10 points from 1973. cited "business raising prices" as a major cause of inflation, and percent, up .nine points since last year, believe that "business profits" are also a primary culprit. A substantial, 72 percent of the public feel that "the Republicans are too close to big business." Undoubtedly, the inability of the GOP to shake its historic lies to big business, and growing anti- business feeling over high prices and profits caused some Republican losses last Tuesday. Public complaints against "union wage demands" as a major cause of inflation have diminished in the last few years, down from 59 percent in 1972 lo 51 per- cent today. The vast bulk of organized labor support went lo the Democrats this year, as it lias often done in the past. Since demands of organized labor were not an issue this year, the Democrats were not placed on the defensive as much as the Republicans were for their primary political support group. The Harris Survey recently asked a cross-section of 1.527 households: "Do you fool that (read list) is a cause of inflation, a minor cause or hardly a cause at IW2 Major Fedural Business raising Business Middlemen price Shortages of and Defense High cost of Union wage Welfare and relief Spending by the Farm products, such as gasoline and fuel oil. II is precisely in Ihese two areas that cuts in public consumption can have an im- portant impact oil rising prices. But a majority of people do not yet feel that their own spending is a major cause of inflation, although the IK) percent who feel that way is a seven-point rise since 1972. The public lias consistently Imlicaled a willingness lo make sacrifices In con- serving energy and to forego pay increases if inflation could be brought under control, lint recurring complaint is "oiimtllty of .sacrlilco, and until there are signs of less lederal spending, the chances of Americans cut- ling back their own budgets voluntarily are somewhat slim. Clilcnuo Irllmnp-Ncw York Hem SvmJICillo It doesn't pay Burglars In Chicago got away with in cash from an armored car company. Big deal. At today's prices that's not much more than the take from a 193-1 liquor store hold-up. -Omohu Not asked The public's disenchantment with our high defense budget is immediately ap- parent in the 58 percent who feel it is a major cause of inflation, up nine points in the last year. No more than a minority of 43 percent feels that welfare and relief payments are a prime contributor to higher prices. It is likely that the new Democratic congress will be more inclined to cut military spending than social spending in the next two years. People's forum Snap the purse Insights Isn't it the truth? By Carl Riblet, jr. The dictionaries define politics as the science of political government. The I rouble with the definition is that it does noi place the blame where it belongs on the Republicans and the Democrats. "Politics is not an exact science. von Bismarck 9 What to do in a youth-oriented so- ciety whose industry and commerce place a premium on (he unwiped nose? Teach 'em first to blow it; then to inhale the wisdom of their ciders. In short, don't worry about today, retirement is inevitable, one way or another. "Youth is a wonderful what a crime to waste it on children. Bernard Shaw When a couple marries, neither is certain what the other's attitude toward money may turn out lo be, except to be forewarned that if a woman enjoys spending money, then her husband had better enjoy earning it. "Nothing but money is sweeter than honey." Franklin A truth that -disheartens be- cause it is true is of far more value than the most stimulating falsehoods. Maurice McteferlWt- There is also a powerful message lo the Democrats from the people who feel lhal federal spending ought to be pared. The tendency of Democratic congresses in the past has been to counter economic slumps with increased government spending. One of the tesls of the new Democratic majority in congress will be the degree to which it can help ease the recession and al the same lime not fuel inflation with a bloated federal budget. Although a majority of the public does not view farm prices as a major cause of inflation, the currenl 37 percent who do represents a sharp rise of 15 points in the past two years. Agricultural payments still make up a substantial part of the federal budget, and, while thought lo be untouchable in the past, may be a target for budget cuts. Tighfen One of the distinguishing marks of Ihe current recession-inflation economy, of course, is Ihe shortage of resources and To the Editor: If for no other reason, God's teaching in Genesis that "Woman was to be man's helpmate" not playmate and bed-partner for two of the same sex should be revered. Homosexuality has gone on rampage. Some of our uni- versity dormitories are similar to the "red light" districts of yesteryear. 1 was distressed to learn of the par- ticipation of our own Iowa Citian, State Sen. Minnetle Doderer, as a speaker al the Memorial Union for the Gay Libera- tion Midwest Conference some time ago. Surely she must be aware she was elected for a different purpose, includ- ing service to all the people. Our Memorial Union was erected for educational purposes. Animals need no conventions; they don'l practice homo- sexuality. Concerning reports of homosexuals "feeling a mistrust for a mentally stable person need feel no fear of an examination. Maybe law enforce- ment officers SHOULD "hang around the latrines" to clean things up a bit. More power to the stale of Iowa in DCS Mollies, if the legislature keeps a firm grip and gels our standards back to decency. Bertha Isosaki Route 3, Iowa City LETTERS The Gozetfe's editorial page welcomes readers' opinions, subject to these guidelines: Length limit; 400 words. One letter per writer every 30 days. All may be condensed and edited without changing meaning. None published anonymously. Writer's iuiuphone number (not printed) should follow name, address and reodablo handwritten .signature to help authenticate. Contents deal more with issues and events than per- sonalities. No poetry. Wrist-slap To the Editor: In the case of my son-in-law (Edward Sweeny, killed in a ditch the maximum the law allows for negligence to an individual by a corporation in its safety standard is a thousand-dollar fine. The stale of Iowa demands a stiff penally from its citizens convicted of manslaughter. Surely this is a law which needs re- viewing, with some teeth put into it, in- stead of a slap on the wrist. .1. W. Vos lilH Twenty-first' avenue SVV Should congress undo the President's veto of freedom-of-information amendments? f The j From Public Citizen President Ford vetoed the amend- ments to the freedom of information act hut pledged support this session for the bill if two aspects dealing with national security and administrative burden were changed. The White House is now seeking total emasculation of the bill passed overwhelmingly by congress and in lurn of the people's right to know. Congress has established the public's right to know, but the White House wants lo sell lhat right on its own terms. The proposed change that tells most about the altitude of the White House is the proposal that citizens pay all expenses in excess of for reviewing a request. Exorbitant The bill as passed by congress explicitly gave agencies the authority to for the cost of copying and search :time in locating records. This was a reasonable provision which would not make the taxpayers pay for unlimited land overbroad requests. The White House demand to be repaid for review and examination time in excess of however, means that a citizen must pay Tor agency lawyers, public information and management to determine '.whether a document is public informa- tion. A citizen would have to pay even if information was ever released. During the Nixon years lhat was an lactic to stymie citizen access. Ford now wants to institu- il. Another tacllc lo avoid disclosure, .which the White House is attempting to Institutionalize, is time delay. Delays in granting access to otherwise public documents has often been used to stymie meaningful review of government action. The vetoed bill allowed up to two months for agency responses. It certainly should not lake over three months as suggested by President Ford. 1 However, in addition to this three- inonlh period he has suggested a totally Unique procedure where agencies can go to court prior lo any litigation being filed to obtain an open ended extension. The very questionable judicial propriety of this suggestion aside, 11. would allow in effect no limit on the time an agency would have lo respond lo a request for information. This is again an obvious at- lempl lo block meaningful access to government information. The oilier (wo suggestions of the President relating to classified documents and investigatory files are an attempt to place almost (olally unbridled discrelion in the hands of government officials concerning release of documents. Under the Presidenl's proposed language, classified documents may be disclosed only if the agency had no reasonable basis pursuant to execu- tive order to classify the documents. The standards under which documents are classified are set by executive order and not by statute. At best those stan- dards allow very broad discretion in their applicalion. The executive may at any time change those standards lo an even broader extent. In all practicality, tinder such loose standards a judge will almost never come across a situation where an agency had no reasonable basis. Heart of matter As with oilier documents review-able under the freedom of information act, a court should be able to decide whether or not to disclose pursuant to a de novn review. That means a judge has to de- termine if the classification was right or wrong, not whether it was reasonable. As (o investigatory files, the White House wants lo give almost full discre- tion, without the need to review, lo all agencies lo withhold access to anything tjiat can be called investigatory. The question raised is a simple one. How many Watergates do we have lo suffer until the occupant of the Oval Of- fice lakes seriously the public's right to know? Congress with the overwhelming passage of the amendments to the freedom of information act attempted to broaden and strenglhen the public's right lo know. Presidenl Ford vetoed such an effort and now presents alterna- livc language which would cripple congressional intent. After the freedom of information acl took effect in 19B6, several major problems developed in ils operation toward providing easier public access to federal documents for which there was no legitimate secrecy need. Bureaucratic delay was one of the problems. The cost of bring- ing suit to force disclosure was another. Some agencies levied excessive charges for finding and providing the requested infor- mation. A 1973 supreme court decision also limited the courts' power to go behind a "classified" stamp on citizen-requested in- formation. To deal with these problems, congress passed the amendments which President Ford; in turn, vetoed last month. A congressional response to lhat is pending now. The White House side on Ihis issue takes the form of a release put out by Paul. A. Miltich, special assistant to the President for public affairs. The opposing views have been condensed from a statement by Public Citizen, the public-interest lobby organized by Ralph Nader. The Arguments The Gazette's opinion Strengthening still needed Neither congress nor must of the people trying to pry loose government records under the freedom of infor- mation act have the slightest wish to compromise security, upset diplomacy or otherwise damage the national interest. Both the original act and its amendments maintain limits on outsiders' access to legitimately confidential material. President Ford's veto apparently followed, in part, from faulty advice as to danger in federal courts' reviewing the "classified" nature of hold-back material when there are serious Questions about the need or reason for that. There is little difference between a responsible judge's role in looking at. this matter and his role in judging wiretaps' propriety, before the act, in criminal investigative work. If the judicial branch can not be trusted in such functions, why should the executive branch be so trusted, alone? This procedural change in the law, along with others as to timing and expense, came into being simply because loo much of Ihe bureaucracy persisted in its old ways of bobbing, weaving, hiding and obstruction in spite of the information-freedom law's attempt to change those ways. Not security, not diplomacy but an urge lo dodge embarrassment or disadvantage mo- tivated much of that obstructionism, as it always has. The new procedure called for information-yielding responses by an agency in what amounts to two full months a more-than-reasotiable deadline even by Washington standards. II established equally reasonable limits on expense to the asker. Butler serving of the public interest would have been its main effect. In dealing with a need the veto has not altered or reduced, congress should see to it lhal the means lo reach those ends remain esseulially inlact Ihe nesl time around. From the White House President Ford is hoping that when congress returns lo Capitol Hill after the election the lawmakers will produce freedom of information act legislation he can sign. The existing freedom of Information act went on the books in 1966. It gives the public greater access to government documents. It empowers the federal courts to review agency decisions to withhold information and places on the government the burden of providing lhat the withholding was proper. The President recently vetoed a hill aimed at strengthening the 1966 freedom of information act by providing for more prompt, efficient and complete disclosure of information. The President favored the legislalion in principle, but he found certain provisions in the bill unreasonable. In vetoing the bill, the President urged congress to modify it along lines he was recommending and (hen return it lo him for his signature. The President wants stronger freedom of information legislation but he wants legislalion which is workable. Critics of the President's veto have taken the attitude thai rejection of Ihe congressionally-passcd freedom of infor- mation bill is unthinkable. Well, it's true that "freedom of information" is a catch phrase. Who in a democracy is opposed to freedom of information? Better you should be against motherhood. Let's take a good look at the President's reasons for vetoing the freedom of information bill sent him by the congress. He took the action reluc- tantly. The President found three provisions of the bill objectionable. One would authorize any federal judge to examine agency records privately to determine whether those records can be properly withheld under the freedom of information act. This provision would reverse a 11173 supreme court ruling which held that judicial review of clas- sified documents should be limited to determining whether the document was, in fact, classified. It precluded private review by Hie judge focused on (he reasonableness of the classificalion. Under the new provision, Ihe judge could overturn the agency's classifica- tion simply because he found the plain- tiff's position just as reasonable. The President fell lhal Ihis provision endan- gered our diplomatic relations and our military and intelligence secrets. He said he could accept court review of classification except that courts should not he forced lo make what amounts to the initial classificalion decision in sensitive and complex areas where they have no particular exper- tise." As the provision now reads the President said, agency decisions dealing with classification of documents would be given less weight in the courts than agency determinations involving routine regulatory mailers. The President therefore proposes that courts be given review authority over classification of documents but thai Ihey be required to uphold the agency das- sification "if (here is a reasonable basis to support it." I 0hiL'ction ln lllc ve- "ed bill was that it would permit access n additional law enforcement invcstiga- ry files. The President objected to an invasion of the confidentiality of FBI Hies He also noted lhal our already overburdened law enforcement agencies noi have the numbers of me hat would be needed lo make a line.by- >nt of each individual public request for such information. fJlTi more ex Mr criteria govern such infonna.ion requests, so thai responding to the would noi so heavy a burden se unreasonable time limits Provide more latitude. ,vh congress."   

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