Evans: Something for Legislature’s ‘to do’ list

There is a retired businessman in western Iowa who bristles every time he reads a newspaper article from somewhere in our state about government officials who have misused their government credit cards for unauthorized purchases. This man is worried such abuses could be happening at the local county hospital since top administrators were given credit cards to use. His concern grew when he learned the hospital’s board of directors does not see an itemized bill from the credit card company with each of the month’s transactions listed. Instead, board members only see a lump sum total they are asked to approve for payment. Randy Evans
STRAY THOUGHTS
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

Evans: A Teacher Has A Lesson From The ER For All Of Us

Schools across Iowa have been dark for more than a week because of winter vacation. But a Des Moines teacher still managed to teach a very important lesson during that time – but this lesson wasn’t aimed at the kids she normally works with. It was intended for adults. Laura’s lesson is one more people should learn from, because the discussions in Washington, D.C., and at the Capitol in Des Moines would benefit from a wider appreciation and understanding of what she was telling us. Randy Evans
STRAY THOUGHTS
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

Missing DNA evidence hampers wrongful conviction fight in Iowa

In June, William Beeman, who is serving a life sentence in the Iowa Department of Corrections for a 1980 murder, asked a judge to order a DNA evidence test that he contends could prove his innocence. But police agencies involved in the case say they still can’t find the evidence to test. The missing items include a rape kit recovered from the body of the victim, 22-year-old Michiel Winkel, and bloody clothes from the state park where authorities found her dead. Beeman was a local DJ in rural Muscatine County, on the state’s eastern border, when police arrested him for murdering Winkel, who had been an acquaintance. Beeman’s attorneys argue that DNA evidence could shed more light on a crime with multiple suspects, no eyewitnesses, and a confession Beeman claims was coerced by police.

Evans: University of Iowa Utility Secrecy a Blow to Public Accountability

The Iowa Board of Regents is being asked this week to consider a complex proposal to turn the operation of the University of Iowa’s utility system over to an unnamed business that will be paid to operate it for the next 50 years. The business will make a cash payment of an undisclosed size to the university up front in return for the privilege of managing the coal-burning power plant, water treatment plant and the infrastructure for distributing electricity, steam and water across the sprawling campus and hospital complex. In return, the business is guaranteed a 50-year stream of revenue from its one customer. University officials see the public-private deal as a win-win for everyone. That may be true.

Meet IowaWatch’s newest staff writer, Drake student Marie Nalan

IowaWatch is delighted to introduce you to our latest staff member, Marie Nalan of Drake University. Here she shares a little about herself. You’ll see her byline soon. My name is Marie Nalan, a soon-to-be professional reporter from Grand Rapids, Minn. While I grew up in Minnesota close to the Canadian border, I have family roots in both Mason City and Clinton, Iowa.

Evans: Stadium Project Harms Credibility of Educators

Credibility is oh so fragile, and officials in Iowa’s largest school district dented theirs last week. Even people who don’t live in Des Moines should be troubled by what occurred, because there is a good chance, come January, the Iowa Legislature will respond in ways that could affect every other school district in the state. Here’s why:

In the Nov. 5 school election, the Des Moines school district asked voters to approve a higher property tax levy for the district’s building and equipment needs. The higher physical plant and equipment levy will bring in an additional $6.5 million a year.