Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 7, 1974, Page 6

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette November 7, 1974

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - November 7, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Editorial Page Thursday, November 7, J 974 Uncalled-for criticism Should tho Iowa Federation of Labor’s voter registration arni have reported an expenditure of $880 for voter-registration lists of several counties, which it received with the help of the Iowa Democratic party’s Voter Information Program (VIP)? 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 commission. Betty Kitzman, ('C’s representative, posed the questions 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 organization can have by paying the cost. However, auditors of counties 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 XvXvXvXvIvXv;;;;.;.;.;Isn't it the truth? By Carl Riblet, jr. The dictionaries define politics as the science of political government. The trouble with the definition is that it does not place the blame where it belongs — on the Republicans and the Democrats. ‘ Politics is not an exact science." —Otto von Bismarck • What to do in a youth-oriented society whose' industry and commerce place a premium on the unwiped nose*? Teach em first to blow it; then to inhale 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, commission chairman, and former Atty. Gen. Larry Sealise, 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 commission in part-time business for if not to provide answers to questions like these? Why are its members being paid $40 per day plus expenses, when in session, if citizens can’t come in with legitimate questions about whether the campaign disclosure laws are being properly observed and enforced9 Those are further questions that deserve considered answers from the campaign disclosure commission — minus criticism for their having been asked. the wisdom of their elders. In short. don’t worry about today, retirement is inevitable, one way or another. “ Voufh is a wonderful thing; what a crime to waste it on children. " —George Bernard Shaw • When a couple marries, neither is certain what the other’s attitude toward money may turn out to 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. " —Beniamin Franklin No voter-dearance for more spending By Louis Harris The Ham* Survey Although the Democrats made gains in this off-year election, there was no mandate from the 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 TH 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 IO points from 1973. cited “business raising prices" as a major cause of inflation, and H5 percent, up nine points since last year, believe that “business profits” are also a primary culprit. Bedfellows A substantial, 72 percent of the public feel that “the Republicans are too close to big business.” Undoubtedly, the inability of the (JOI’ to shake its historic ties to big business, and growing antibusiness 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 to 51 percent today. Tile vast bulk of organized labor support went to the Democrats this year, as it has often done in the pastInsights f tx A truth that disheartens because it is true is of far more value than the most stimulating falsehoods. Maurice Maeterhnck Since demands of organized labor were not an issue this year. the' Democrats wore 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 feel that (reod list) is a ma|or cause ot inflation, a minor cause or hardly a cause at all5 197? 1973 1974 Mojor couse 0 Federal spending 76 68 72 Business raising prices 54 64 66 Business profits 65 56 60 Middlemen price increases 65 60 58 Shortages of resources and products 58 X X Defense spending 58 49 56 High cost of natural resources 57 X X Union wage demands 51 57 59 Welfare and relief payments 54 X X Spending by the public 39 35 32 Farm prices 37 25 22 x — Not asked The public’s disenchantment with our high defense budget is immediately apparent 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 Snap the purse There is also a powerful message to the Democrats from the people who feel that 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 tests of the new Democratic majority in congress will be* the degree to which it can help ease the recession and at the same time 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 current 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, anil, while thought to Im* untouchable in the past. may be a target for budget cuts. Tighten belts products, such as gasoline and fuel oil It is precisely in these two areas that cuts in public consumption can have an important impact on rising prices. But a majority of people do not yet tee! that their own spending is a major cause of inflation, although the 39 percent who feel that way is a seven-po int rise since 1972. The public has consistently indicated a Willingness to make sacrifices in conserving energy and to forego pay increases if inflation could be brought Ull(it,r control. Hut the recurring complaint is “equality of sacrifice, aru nut ii there are signs of less federal spending, the chances of Americans cutting bac k their own budgets voluntarily are somewhat slim. CbKOUO Tribune Ne* Vork Ne** Syndirot# It doesn t pay Burglars in Chicago got away with $3,931,452 in cash from an armored car company. Big deal At today s prices that’s not much more than the take from a 1934 liquor store hold-up. Omaha World Herald ...................... II    H    fl    llfl ti »f]ti P IM ............... One of the distinguishing marks of the current recession-mflation economy, of course, is the shortage of resources andPeople's forum Indecency To the Editor: ... If for no other reason. Gods 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 university dormitories are similar to the “red light” districts of yesteryear I was distressed to learn of the participation of our own Iowa Titian. State Sen. Minnette Doderer, as a speaker at the Memorial Union for the Gay Liberation Midwest Conference some time ago LETTERS The Gazette’s editorial page welcomes readers' opinions, subject to these guidelines: Length limit: 400 words. One letter per water every 30 day* All may be condensed and edited without changing meaning. None published anonymously. Writer s telephone number (not printed) should follow name, address and readable handwritten signature to help authenticate Contents deal more with issues and events than personalities No poetry Surely she must be aware she was elected for a different purpose, including service to all the people Our Memorial Union was erected for educational purposes Animals need no conventions; they don't practice homosexuality Concerning reports of homosexuals “feeling a mistrust for psychiatrists,” a mentally stable person need f<*el no fear of an examination. Maybe law enforcement officers SHOt LI) “hang around the latrines” bi clean things nj) a bit. More power to the state of Iowa in Des Moines, if the legislature keeps a firm grip and gets our standards back to decency. Bertha Isosaki Route 3, Iowa CityWrist-slap To the Editor: In the case of my son-in-law (Edward Sweeny, killed iii a ditch collapse), the maximum the law allows for negligence to an individual by a corporation in its safety standard is a thousand-dollar fine The state of Iowa demands a stiff penalty from its citizens convicted of manslaughter Surely this is a law which needs reviewing. with some teeth put into it, instead of a slap on the wrist. .I VV Vos HIM Twenty-first avenue SW Should congress undo the President’s veto of freedom-of-information amendments?The ArgumentsYES From Public Citizen President Ford vetoed the amendments to the freedom of information act but 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 turn of the people’s right to know Congress has established the public’s right to know, but the White House wants to sell that right on its own terms. The proposed change that tells most about the attitude of the White House is the proposal that citizens pay all expenses in excess of HOO for reviewing a request. Exorbitant The bill as passed by congress explicitly gave agencies the authority to charge 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 and overbroad requests. The White House demand to bt* repaid for review and examination time in excess of SKN), however, means that a citizen must pay for agency lawyers, public information -people and management to determine whether a document is public information A citizen would have to pay even if no information was ever released. ! During the Nixon years that was an occasional tactic to stymie citizen access. -President Ford now wants lo institutionalize it » Another tactic to 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 riot take over three months as suggested by President Ford • However, in addition to this three- month period he has suggested a totally Unique procedure where agencies can go to court prior to any litigation being filed to obtain an open ended extension. The very questionable judicial propriety of this suggestion aside, it would allow rn effect no limit on the time an agency would have to respond to a request for information. This is again an obvious attempt to block meaningful access to government information. The other two suggestions of the President relating to classified documents and investigatory files are an attempt to place almost totally unbridled discretion in the hands of government officials concerning release of documents. Under the President’s proposed language, classified documents may be disclosed only if the agency had no reasonable basis pursuant to executive order to classify the documents. The standards under which documents are classified are set by executive order and not by statute. At best those standards allow very broad discretion in their application. The executive may at any time change those standards to an even broader extent. In all practicality, under such loose standards a judge will almost never come across a situation where an agency had no reasonable basis. Heart of matter As with other documents reviewable under the freedom of information act, a court should be able to decide whether or not to disclose pursuant to a de novo review. That means a judge has to determine if the classification was right or wrong, not whether it was reasonable As to investigatory files, the White House wants to give almost full discretion. without the need to review, lo all agencies to withhold access to anything tjiat can In* called investigatory. The question raised is a simple one. How many Watergates do we have to suffer until the occupant of the Oval Office takes 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 strengthen the public’s right to know. President Ford vetoed such an effort and now presents alternative language which would cripple congressional intent. After the freedom of information act took effect in 19H8, several major problems developed in its 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 bringing suit to force disclosure was another. Some agencies levied excessive charges for finding and providing the requested information A 1973 supreme court decision also limited the courts’ power to go behind a “classified” stamp on citizen-requested information. To deal with these problems, congress passed the amendments which President Ford, in turn, vetoed last month A congressional response to that is pending now The White House side on this issue takes the form id 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 C itizen, the public-interest lobby organized by Ralph NaderThe    Gazette's opinion Strengthening still needed Neither congress nor most of the people trying to pry loose government records under the freedom of information 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 held-baek 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 Ik* so trusted, alone? This procedural change in the law . along with others as to timing and expense, came into lieing simply because too much ol the 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 to dodge embarrassment or disadvantage motivated much of that obstructionism, as it always bas. The new procedure called for information-yielding responses by an agency in what amounts to two full months — a morc-than-reasonable deadline even by Washington standards. It established equally reasonable limits on expense to the asker. Better serving of the public interest would have Ikmti its main effect. In dealing with a need the veto has not altered or reduced, congress should see to it that the means to reach those ends remain essentially intact the next time around.The ArgumentsNO From the White House President Ford is hoping that when congress returns to Capitol Hill after the election the lawmakers will produce fr«*edom of information act legislation he can sign. The existing freedom of information act went on the books in 196H. 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 that the withholding was proper The President recently vetoed a bill aimed at strengthening the 19tW> freedom of information act by providing for more prompt, efficient and complete disclosure of information The President favored the legislation in principle, but he found certain provisions in the hill unreasonable. In vetoing the bill, the President urged congress to modify it along lines he was recommending and then return it to him for his signature The President wants stronger freedom of information legislation — hut he wants legislation which is workable Critics of the President’s veto have taken the attitude that rejection of the congressionally-passed fre«*dom of information bill is unthinkable. Well, it s true that “freedom of information” is a catch phrase*. Who in a democracy bs 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 bv the congress. He took the action reluctantly. 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 Im* properly withheld under the freedom of information act. This provision would reverse a 1973 supreme court ruling which held that judicial review of classified documents should be limited to determining whether the document was. in fact, classified It precluded private review by the judge focused on the reasonableness of the classification. Under the new provision, the judge could overturn the agency’s classifica tion simply because he found the pla tiff s position just as reasonable. T President felt that this provision end* gored our diplomatic relations and ii military and intelligence secrets. He said he could accept court review classification except that “the com should not be forced to make wh amounts to the initial classificati decision in sensitive and complex art where they have no particular ex pi fist*. As the provision now reads, t President said. agency decisions deaii with classification of documents woi be given less weight in the courts th agency determinations involving rout! regulatory matters The President therefore proposes ti courts be given review authority 01 classification of documents but that ti be required to uphold the agency cl sification “if there is a reasonable ba to support it.” Mr Ford s second objection to the t<M*d bill was that it would permit acc bi additional law enforcement invest! lory fib's. The President objected to invasion of the confidentiality of F files He also noted that our aire* overburdened law enforcement agene do not have the numbers of person hat would be net*ded to make a lim*. line examination of each individi public request for such information The President proposed that mi flexible criteria govern such informal requests, so that responding to requests would not be so heavy a burd F 'bolly .the President objected that 'Hoed bill set unreasonable time Im for agencies to n-spond to requests documents ~ m days to decide whet lo furnish the document, and 2(1 days eliminations on appeal The ti provision. Mr Ford asserted shn provide more latitude   ,h“< »>- d l" Nm by th,- cornin*, *as i 'institutional and unworkable Hut '•"Horsed it, maln objective* Fully Jo, ? in hi* veto iiuwoai* whih hi*. ,h"P" ,ha‘ lhl* * , ,ds ‘"'ne so (ar toward real! Is laudable xoals. wall be reenacted i he chanco I prut*,*, and returned to signature during this sesstoi congress ”    ®*»»iot t 4 ;

  • A. Miltich
  • Beniamin Franklin
  • Betty Kitzman
  • Carl Riblet
  • Charles Rehling
  • Edward Sweeny
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Larry Sealise
  • Louis Harris
  • Minnette Doderer
  • Otto Von Bismarck
  • Phil Sasich

Share Page

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Issue Date: November 7, 1974

RealCheck