The Board of Regents neglected its duty to Iowans

With virtually no public discussion and no opportunity for independent analysis of the complicated financials, the Iowa Board of Regents on December 10 approved a plan to lease the University of Iowa’s utilities for 50 years in exchange for an up-front payment of $1.165 billion.

Governor Kim Reynolds hailed the “historic day for higher education in Iowa.” In an official news release, Regents President Michael Richards praised what he called an “open, inclusive process leading to this agreement.”

Orwellian spin won’t fool anyone. A government board charged with managing public institutions should not have committed the university to such a far-reaching and costly deal without a full airing of the risks and benefits.

Continue Reading...

University of Iowa utility secrecy: A blow to public accountability

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He can be reached at IowaFOICouncil@gmail.com. -promoted by Laura Belin

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 a business that will be paid to operate it for the next 50 years.

The business will make a cash payment of 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.

Continue Reading...

Iowa governor, Republicans wrong to back billion-dollar borrowing scheme

State Senator Joe Bolkcom makes the case against a deal to lease the University of Iowa utility system for 50 years. The Iowa Board of Regents are scheduled to vote on the plan on December 10, but important details have been kept from the public. -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ support of an exotic and risky funding scheme is an admission of her failure to support our public universities. GOP tax cuts for wealthy Iowans have led to a dramatic decline in support for our public universities.

It’s hard to believe that Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans think it makes sense to borrow more than $1 billion dollars to pay for on-going programs at the University of Iowa over the next 50 years.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Regents didn't bargain in good faith with UNI faculty, UI grad students

The state broke Iowa law by refusing to negotiate in good faith when the Iowa Board of Regents delayed contract talks with unions representing University of Northern Iowa faculty and University of Iowa graduate students in late 2016 and early 2017, the Public Employee Relations Board determined in separate rulings last week.

Following the 2016 election, when it was clear Republicans would have total control of state government, United Faculty and the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS) attempted to negotiate new contracts for their members, following a bargaining schedule used in previous years.

But the governing body for Iowa’s state universities instructed its attorney not to engage in such talks until after GOP lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad had eliminated most public employee bargaining rights under Iowa Code Chapter 20. Bruce Rastetter was the Regents president at the time. He didn’t seek reappointment by Branstad in 2017, as it was clear Iowa Senate Democrats would have blocked his confirmation.

Continue Reading...
View More...