Iowa insurance pool leader defends Michigan resort meetings

Associated Press

Iowa City, Iowa – The chairman of an Iowa government insurance program is defending its long practice of holding public meetings at resorts in Michigan and Florida and private clubs in Iowa.

Jody Smith, board chairman of the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool since 1992, addressed the board’s meeting practices in a letter to its roughly 800 local government members.

The board is facing scrutiny after an Associated Press review found that its meetings were sometimes costly and not always accessible to the public as required by the open meetings law.

Smith’s letter claimed the board doesn’t travel to Michigan for meetings every year. Records show it has met in Michigan in 9 of the last 11 Augusts and is planning to do so next year. Instead of Michigan, the board went to Lake Okoboji resorts for its 2010 and 2016 meetings.

Smith said the meetings are in Michigan so that employees of York Risk Services, the pool administrator, can “work in-person with the board.” Its Farmington Hills office is often three hours or farther from the resorts where the board meets in places like Mackinac Island.

Smith says its Iowa meetings are always open to the public even when held at suburban Des Moines clubs that require membership. He says the Florida meetings coincide with an annual reinsurance conference.