March 8, 2018 - 4:52 pm - Posted in News

Josh Harms

Sibley, Iowa (Radio Iowa) —┬áThe A-C-L-U of Iowa has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Sibley web developer after city officials threatened a lawsuit for his criticism of their handling of a smelly situation.

Josh Harms create the website “Should You Move to Sibley, Iowa?” which is critical of the way the city has handled odors created by the Iowa Drying and Processing company. A-C-L-U Legal Director, Rita Bettis, says the website was up for a couple of years before an attorney sent Harms a letter threatening him.

She says Harms created a website in 2015 and didn’t hear anything until 2017 when the city threatened him if he didn’t alter the site or take it down. Bettis says he at first altered the website out of fear of a lawsuit, but kept up the complaints as the city’s efforts to improve the smell weren’t effective.

She says the city tried to keep Harms from exercising his right to criticize its actions. That included being told by the city attorney that he shouldn’t talk to a local reporter about the issue.

Bettis says they’ve asked the court for a temporary injunction against any legal action by the city.

Bettis says they have not yet decided on an amount they will ask for punitive damages. She says there’s no excuse for the Sibley government to try and silence a critic.

Iowa Drying and Processing began operating in the town of Sibley about five years ago.


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