Evansville Redevelopment Commission Restricts Access to Public Information




Password Now Required to View Minutes of Public Meetings: City Councilman Denied Access


In an unexpected and astonishing move the agendas and minutes of the Evansville Redevelopment Commission have be password protected. This action had to have taken place between Sunday July 17, 2011 and Tuesday July 19, 2011. This fact was made known to the City County Observer by through a comment placed under our article regarding the Executive Inn Dilemma. Upon notification, we tried to access the minutes of the May 4, 2011 meeting as we always do and were denied access because we do not have a password.

We contacted Evansville City Councilman John Friend by telephone regarding the password protection option that has been enabled. Councilman Friend then attempted to access the same information and was also denied access. Councilman Friend was somewhat astonished that such an action had been taken and committed to contact both Matt Arvay, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Evansville and Mayor Weinzapfel about the situation.

We have also confirmed the password protection as being applied to over a dozen of our Moles, friends, and candidates for office that no one is being granted access. No one has expressed any reaction other than outrage and amazement that such a move was taken.

Minutes taken at public meetings are public property. If redactions are necessary to protect any personal information then there is a period of time after the minutes are approved and before they are posted to the web or otherwise made available to the public for redactions to be completed.

As the Federal Reserve Board reported to Congress in the context of financial information: “[I]t is the freedom to speak, supported by the availability of information and the free-flow of data, that is the cornerstone of a democratic society and market economy.”

Indiana University Professor of Law Fred Cate and Richard J. Varn, the Chief Information Officer of the State of Iowa wrote in a paper titled The Public Record: Information Privacy and Access,

“The law has traditionally balanced access and data privacy by providing for disclosure of all information held by the government, except where such disclosure would offend a specific, enumerated privacy interest.”

The most recent minutes of the Evansville Redevelopment Commission that are posted are for the May 4, 2011 meeting. That is a full 10 weeks ago. This is too long for the posted minutes to languish while waiting for someone to spend 3 minutes and post them. Deliberate restriction of public information from the public is oppression of information and undermines the spirit of the Constitution of the United States. There is no place for oppressive policy in local government. This is bad public policy and quite possibly unconstitutional.

The City County Observer in the name of transparency and constitutionality demands that the City of Evansville and the Evansville Redevelopment Commission remove the password protection from a requirement to view published public records. We furthermore invite the other members of the media to join with us in this demand.

The dark days of elected members of the Evansville City Council having to file Freedom of Information Act requests to be given financial documents and the people of Evansville having to be granted passwords to access information that they paid for must come to an end. This is not acceptable.

Here is a link to the access page, click on any date and you can see for yourself that the password restriction is still in place. If you find this offensive please contact the Mayor, your City Council member, and the Redevelopment Commission.


Link to Professor Fred Cate and Richard Varn’s paper:



  1. The State of Indiana’s ‘Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws’, pg. 9 states as follows:

    Must a governing body keep minutes of its meetings ?

    Minutes of a meeting, if any, are to be open for public inspection and copying. A public agency may not deny access to minutes of a meeting simply because they are still in “draft” form or have not yet been approved. Such records are disclosable public records under the Access to Public Records Act.

    CCO: I applaud your stand on this important topic. You may sign my John Hancock to the Declaration !

  2. Muncie used to be called “magic town” because its demographics were,supposedly,an exact mirror for the rest of the country.

    Perhaps Evansville could try to capitalize on being a “magic town”,but in reverse.

    Instead of researching and polling and travelling all over the US, scientists and crime writers and think tanks could come here.
    In one little town they could see all the causes and results of corruption,small-mindedness,haste,waste,blah blah and et al.

    Surely we could make some dough off of this.Maybe they could all stay at the new hotel.

  3. At a time in nation’s history when we are finally getting long overdue, deep insights into the process of governmental revenue and spending details on all levels (Google the Association of Govermental Accountability (AGA) of which I am a member), we need and should demand more clarity in reporting and less, not more, hoops to go through to get it. It just does not make common sense nor lend credence to the ERC’s continued existence as a commission that spends millions of tax dollars w/o close oversight by an elected group of officials. The minutes are surely spun for consumption so what is there to hide ? It is just not good public policy. See my website, hdanadams.com for a classic example of a city transparancy report. The ERC should follow it. H. Dan Adams, MD MBA, Evansville City Councilman At-Large

    • We’re learning how far people can be pushed, till they start do “do” something… ?

      In Congress, we’re seeing how easily progressives blame Republicans in general for stonewalling the debt ceiling debate. Then when Republicans do pass a plan, they get sideswiped by media spin and men armed with “statistics”.

      Mr. Adams, don’t you owe us answers, to why this happened?

      When you say, “The minutes are surely spun for consumption so what is there to hide ?”… Aren’t you at least partially responsible for this “spin” if any? When you say, “The ERC should follow it.”, don’t you have some responsibility to tell us what they do follow, why they follow it, WHO made it so, and what VOTERS should/could do about it if they don’t like it?

      I don’t want a transparency report. I don’t want to be told how un-transparent something is, when it obviously is. I don’t want to be told how nice it is that for some reason or another an unexplained wrong was righted. We’d like a little ACCOUNTABILITY, with our “TRANSPARENCY”.

      I don’t want to hear what the AGA is doing for you, I want to hear what you are doing for us.

      For what it’s worth, I largely agree with you. But aren’t you one of the few, tasked with the opportunity to act? Spewing the generic concerns as if you’re a common resident sounds like you’re twiddling our thumbs, whistling dixie, to me.

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