To the editor,
On 12/16/2016, The Des Moines Register reported that the Iowa Public Information Board had ruled that Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino was not a “government body” according to their rules and, therefore, was not required to follow open records laws, and not required to provide the Register with records pertaining contracts of its top executives. (See link below.)
The Register can appeal the decision, and has some good arguments why Prairie Meadow should be subject to open records laws. But even if Prairie Meadows is not required to follow open records laws, they could still release the records voluntarily. Just because it is legal to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do. Prairie Meadows would not exist if not for the original support of Polk County taxpayers. The board claims that Prairie Meadows is a not-for-profit organization, (even though the IRS disagrees). I don’t understand why any board member would want to be anything other than completely transparent about the operations of Prairie Meadows? I presume that none of them feel they have anything to hide.
I appeal to the board members of Prairie Meadows to simply do the right thing, and voluntarily open their records to the public, and the Des Moines Register.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/government/2016/12/15/iowa-board-says-prairie-meadows-records-can-secret/95492840/
The prosecutor and the police depend on having a trusting and friendly relationship. Because of this relationship, the prosecutor clearly has conflict of interest . The prosecutor could quite easily have a significant bias towards not indicting police officers. Actually, that is why we have the grand jury system – to have the decision whether or not to indict be made by unbiased citizens. But the system is flawed. The entire process is secret, and is led by the prosecutor. It is not difficult to imagine that the prosecutor could exert significant influence on the grand jury to not indict, and then be off the hook politically because he did not make the decision. Did that happen in this case? We will never know because of the secrecy of the process.
In The Des Moines Register story, “11 things to know about the proposed convention center hotel,” (see link below), Number 9 was, “Consultants say it will help other downtown hotels.” The consultants reported that the proposed hotel will, “…bring an estimated 3 million additional visitors to the city… during the first 20 years.” 3 million divided by 20 years equals 150,000 per year. Divided by 52 weeks = 1,442 people each week, every week for 20 years, who, the consultant says, will not be coming to Des Moines if we don’t have this new conventions center hotel. I don’t believe it. I also don’t believe the consultant’s report that, “other downtown hotels will book an additional 3,200 room-nights per year as a result of the convention hotel.” Sure, there will be some new conventions that will come to Des Moines only because of the convenient location of the new convention center hotel. But, there will also be other conventions that will come to Des Moines with or without the new hotel, just as they have in the past, and some of those will no longer use the existing downtown hotels.
One of the few proper roles of our government is to operate a civil and criminal justice system. In a civil society, crimes must be adjudicated impartially and disputes must be resolved peacefully. In Polk County, over the past decades, we have cobbled together the building space used to support our court system. The current space is crowded, unsafe, and inefficient. Detainees, judges, jurors, and the public cannot be properly segregated to ensure proper safety for all.
Five years ago, Polk County voters rejected as too expensive the then proposed $127 million bond referendum that included the construction of a new court building. Now, the County and other interested parties have brought forth a significantly less expensive proposal that achieves the same goals.
On November 5th, Polk County voters are being asked to approve an $81 million bond issue that, if approved, will add $12 – $13 per year to the property tax on a $100,000 house. The money will be used to renovate our existing historical Courthouse, convert the JC Penny/Wellmark building immediately North of the Courthouse into a “Justice Center Annex”, and convert the Old Main Jail immediately East of the Courthouse into a “Criminal Court Annex.” These changes will provide for a much safer and more efficient court system.
Those promoting this project have have responded thoughtfully to the objections made by voters five years ago, and have made sensible changes to reduce costs while achieving important goals. Polk County voters should vote YES on this “Public Measure A” on November 5th.
See the following link for more information: http://www.safepolk.com/