Richard Lindgren

Ethics, legality and Iowa's governor

Richard Lindgren critiques the way ethics boards dominated by lawyers, such as Iowa’s campaign regulator, typically analyze controversial actions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

A recent Associated Press news story parsed through the repeated practice of Kim Reynolds, current governor of Iowa, of taking trips using planes owned by businessmen who do substantial business with the state. The most recent incident, involving a vendor handling state workers’ compensation claims, was approved by the executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, so it must be ethical, right?

The reality is that ethics boards dominated by lawyers, such as Iowa’s board (the executive director and the board chair are both lawyers), tend to slip into a very bad habit of equating whether an action is ethical based on whether or not it is legal. To use another Iowa example from another agency, there are many hog lots now in rural Iowa that have met the “legality” tests on their placement and practices, but if you ask any adjacent neighbor, the smell is overpowering and undeniable.

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Is Iowa government decentralization a fantasy?

A provocative idea from Richard Lindgren, emeritus Professor of Business at Graceland University and a past president of the Lamoni Development Corporation in Decatur County. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I have lived in Iowa for almost 20 years of my life in total, over several tenures, and for the life of me, I still can’t understand why the voters of the state allow the degree of governmental centralization that exists in the Des Moines area while so many smaller towns in the state continue to experience demographic and economic decline.

Humor me for a bit and engage with me in a “What If?” exercise. What if all the jobs involved in running the Iowa state government were more equally distributed around the state, say on a per capita basis, or better, weighted to local economic need? In this world of high-tech communication, why does Des Moines, already awash in private and public economic development dollars, continue to hold such a disproportionate share of the jobs required to run the state government? We’ll look at the obstacles in a bit, but we first may need some “whack on the side of the head” re-imagining here.

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