Community Activist Sued for Speaking Out At City Council Meeting

DES MOINES -- Protecting the right to speak out at public meetings, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa today announced that it has joined the legal team in defense of Alice Rodine, one of the city's most respected neighborhood activists.

In December of 1998, Rodine was sued for defamation in response to remarks she made in front of the Des Moines City Council about a closely held corporation which buys, rents and sells properties in her neighborhood.

The ACLU said it views Rodine's defense as critical in its mission to preserve public input and debate within Iowa's political arenas.

"We can think of few places where it would be more important for citizens to be comfortable in speaking their minds than when they are responding to an invitation for public comment at council meetings," said Ben Stone, Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa. "We cannot allow Alice Rodine and other important voices to be silenced through the expense, intimidation and prolonged harassment of anti-speech lawsuits."

At the Council meeting, Rodine cautioned against rewarding Imperial Properties with an overly generous city offer to purchase two of its properties. She reminded the Council that the two properties under consideration had previously been allowed to deteriorate to the point of demolition. Rodine also called attention to Imperial's official record of non-compliance and violations of city property codes, and their apparent disregard for the North Central Community neighborhood plan.

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