# Transparency



Court rejects governor's motion to dismiss open records lawsuit

A Polk County District Court has rejected Governor Kim Reynolds’ attempt to have an open records lawsuit tossed without being considered on the merits. It was the third time in the past five months that a court denied the state’s motion to dismiss a suit claiming the Reynolds administration violated Iowa’s open records law.

I am among the plaintiffs who sued the governor and some of her staff in December over five unfulfilled requests I had submitted to her office, two requests submitted by Clark Kauffman of Iowa Capital Dispatch, and one request submitted by Randy Evans of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

About three weeks after the ACLU of Iowa filed the lawsuit on our behalf, the governor’s office provided most of the records we had requested (in some cases more than a year earlier). The state’s attorneys then sought to have the case dismissed as moot.

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George Flagg Parkway must be renamed

The Des Moines Black Liberation Movement and Des Moines People’s Town Hall co-authored this piece. Des Moines BLM can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, or email: contact@desmoinesblm.org. Des Moines People’s Town Hall can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, or the group’s website.

The City of Des Moines will soon begin plans to make major alterations to George Flagg Parkway on the south side. The road grade will be raised several feet above the floodplain. Part of the road will also be realigned to connect to SW 30th St to avoid flooding on this heavily-used truck route.

The investment of millions of taxpayer dollars into this project should not happen without conversation around the road’s current namesake. We created our petition to showcase public support for changing the name.

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Federal auditors reviewing CARES Act funds for governor's staff salaries

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing documentation provided to justify Governor Kim Reynolds’ use of federal COVID-19 relief funds to compensate staff in her office, Deputy Inspector General Richard Delmar told Bleeding Heartland on March 14.

The State Auditor’s office concluded in November and reaffirmed this month that Reynolds used $448,449 in CARES Act funds to pay part of the salaries and benefits of 21 permanent staffers between March and June 2020 in order to “cover a budget shortfall that was not a result of the pandemic.” State Auditor Rob Sand called on Reynolds to return the money to Iowa’s Coronavirus Relief Fund before the end of 2021. The governor’s office has insisted its use of COVID-19 relief funds for staff salaries was justified.

When the State Auditor’s office published its findings in November, Delmar told Bleeding Heartland his office “has not initiated an audit of the Governor’s Office salaries and awaits resolution of this matter between the Iowa State Auditor and the Governor’s Office.”

Asked this week about the impasse between Reynolds and state auditors, Delmar confirmed via email, “We have requested documentation of the uses from the State Auditor’s Office and are in the process of reviewing it.”

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School teaches taxpayers an expensive lesson

Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans kicks off Sunshine Week by sharing details the Des Moines school district didn’t disclose when announcing Dr. Tom Ahart’s resignation.

Des Moines Superintendent Thomas Ahart has been a lightning rod during the past three years over the way Iowa’s public schools have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahart announced last week that he is leaving, effective June 30. But the Des Moines school board ensured that Ahart will continue to carry that lightning rod for a little longer.

His contract runs for another year, until June 30, 2023. So, you might think he is forgoing his $306,193 salary, his $7,200 annual allowance for a car and cell phone, and his $84,019 taxpayer-provided retirement annuity.

But you would be wrong, wrong, and wrong.

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Analysis: Five years of maternal health data in Iowa

Rachel Bruns is a volunteer advocate for quality maternal health care in Iowa.

I recently recounted how it took the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) 170 days to respond to my request for information on the total births, primary cesareans, total cesareans, and vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs) at Iowa hospitals. I eventually received aggregated five-year totals (2016 through 2020) for each birthing hospital in Iowa.

The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) of Central Iowa, where I serve as a volunteer chapter leader, has made the data available on our website. You can see it in table form below as Appendix 1. 

While I would have preferred for IDPH to provide the figures for a single year, as I requested, the compiled data still tells us a lot about the overuse of cesareans at several Iowa hospitals and the lack of VBAC access across much of the state.

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Iowa's annual financial report late again; agencies mum on why

For the second straight year, the state of Iowa missed a deadline for releasing a detailed report on state finances. Officials publicly acknowledged the delay last week but have not explained why the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for fiscal year 2021 is not complete.

Staff at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, which compiles this report, have not responded to five inquiries from Bleeding Heartland about the matter over the past two weeks. Staff at the Iowa Department of Management, which prepared a public notice about the late report, likewise ignored three attempts to clarify the source of the problem.

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