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/
Today, the Des Moines Register reported on the decision by the grand jury in Polk County to not indict the Des Moines police officer who shot an unarmed man. (8/27/2015 – “No charges against D.M. officer” – see link below) You reported that the prosecutor, Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, said, “This was the eighth fatal police shooting reviewed by a Polk County grand jury since 2007, all of which ended with jurors choosing not to indict.”
Since the grand jury process is highly secret, we don’t know what facts or arguments were presented to the grand jury. With what we do know, it is hard to imagine that there should be no charges whatsoever brought against the officer.
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.
We should either make the process public and transparent, or get rid of the grand jury system for police shootings.
Thanks to The Des Moines Register for exposing the unconstitutional and abusive use of civil asset forfeiture laws against U.S. citizens by the Iowa State Patrol, county attorneys, and the Iowa Attorney General. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to take people’s cash (and other property) without charging them with a crime! Then, citizens must prove they are innocent in order to get their money back.
Most amazing is the fact that the three law enforcement agencies that are involved get to split the money! Whatever they can keep becomes a slush fund they can use to expand their budgets without legislative approval. The conflict of interest is clear. As a result, rather than arresting people and charging them with a crimes, our law enforcement officials make getting cash and other assets an end unto itself.
This is another example of how the failed drug wars have gotten out of control. Our police have become militarized trying to fight the drug wars. People who have never been violent or used any force against anyone have been made into criminals. Then, because of their “criminal record”, they can’t get jobs and are prohibited from participating in benefits of our society.
We need to put a complete halt to civil asset forfeiture and we need to stop making criminals out of people who do no harm to others. Ask candidates if they will help put an end to this travesty of justice.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/09/30/iowa-state-patrol-cash-seizure-illegal-gamblers-say/16511135/
Iowa Senator Jeff Danielson, in his Iowa View commentary in the Des Moines Register on 3/6/2014 wrote that the bill he introduced (S.F. 2235) would improve transparency, oversight and accountability of government outsourcing agreements so that taxpayers won’t be, “…left holding the bag when the promise of savings is unfulfilled.”
He failed to mention that his bill requires that all government outsourcing contracts include, “A requirement that the compensation paid to employees of a recipient entity pursuant to the service contract shall be comparable to the compensation paid to public employees performing similar work or the average private sector wage for similar work, whichever is less.”
It appears that Senator Danielson was being less than fully transparent by not disclosing in his commentary that a key provision of the bill would protect state worker pay levels at a higher cost to taxpayers.
What do we have to hide? Why would we object to letting international election observers watch our voting process? It doesn’t matter whether they are trying to learn what they can to take home to help in their own elections, or watching for fraud. We support sending these kinds of groups to other countries. We should freely allow them in the U.S. and in Iowa. I understand that there must be limits on the number of observers and where they are allowed to be in the polling places so that voters are not hindered or intimidated by the observers. It is possible that “observers” might have actually intend to disrupt the voting process, so there is a need for laws to stop any such disruptions if they occur. Iowa law does allow for specified observers, but does not allow for general observers. It should. We need to change Iowa law to allow at least a few general observers in our polling places.