Public Information

Check out these 2023 MLK Day events around Iowa

BY: - January 15, 2023

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a state and federal holiday that will be observed Monday. Here are some ways Iowans can celebrate this week: The Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Office on the Status of African Americans will host its 34th annual celebration honoring King’s life and legacy at 10:45 a.m. Monday. The virtual […]

COMMENTARY

When ‘reasonable’ costs for public records become unreasonable

BY: - January 11, 2023

The Legislature wrote Iowa’s public records law 55 years ago, and one of the tenets of the statute was the belief people deserve to know how state and local governments spend their tax money. Another important concept in the law is that fees for copies of government records must be reasonable and cannot exceed the […]

Iowans give millions to sheriffs’ group that spends only 34% on charity

BY: - January 9, 2023

Less than 34% of the $2.6 million Iowans have donated to an Iowa sheriffs’ group in recent years has been used for the stated purpose of training officers and helping underprivileged children. Newly disclosed tax filings by the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association Institute indicate the organization raised more money in 2021 than at […]

Iowa counties’ records inaccessible in wake of suspected cyberattack

BY: - January 6, 2023

A computer system used by some of Iowa’s county recorders appears to have been hacked over the holidays and has yet to be restored to full operational status. Iowa’s county recorders maintain land records, issue marriage licenses and register births and deaths. They also issue titles and liens on boats, snowmobiles and ATVs. The biggest […]

Iowa Supreme Court sides with county in Open Records Law lawsuit

BY: - December 19, 2022

The Iowa Supreme Court says a Polk County judge erred in ordering a sheriff’s department to release investigative material related to a fatal accident. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Michelle Vaccaro in an attempt to obtain government records dealing with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and its investigation into a 2019 motorcycle […]

Cedar Falls won’t charge twice for access to officers’ body-cam video

BY: - December 9, 2022

The city of Cedar Falls has reversed its decision to charge the Iowa Capital Dispatch $700 for body-cam video of police officers clashing with an EMT on an emergency call. The reason: The EMT involved in the call has already paid the $700. Last week, the Capital Dispatch requested a copy of the video, noting […]

Citing prison-rape law, county says video of fired jailer is confidential

BY: - December 7, 2022

An Iowa County that is refusing to make public video of a jailer physically abusing an inmate is relying on a federal law that pertains to prison rape. State records show that Stephanie Cox worked for Pottawattamie County as a full-time detention officer until she was fired in September. On Aug. 8, Cox allegedly was […]

City wants $700 to disclose video of officers clashing with EMT

BY: - December 3, 2022

The city of Cedar Falls is charging $700 for public access to police body-camera footage that was provided to an area hospital at no cost. The video, shot on Aug. 3, allegedly shows police officers interacting with William Abernathey, who was then a critical-care paramedic for Sartori Memorial Hospital. Abernathey and the officers were at […]

COMMENTARY

Reynolds tries to dodge responsibility by arguing she lacks authority

BY: - November 21, 2022

Former President Harry S. Truman famously displayed a sign on his desk in the White House that proclaimed: “The buck stops here.” The sign was a notice that Truman was responsible for the decisions made in his administration – he wasn’t “passing the buck” to someone else. The buck is a hot potato in Gov. […]

Supreme Court hears arguments in wrongful-firing case against Reynolds

BY: - November 16, 2022

Lawyers for the state told the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday that it should reverse a lower court’s refusal to dismiss an alleged whistleblower’s wrongful-termination lawsuit against the governor. The lawsuit involves Polly Carver-Kimm, the former spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health. Carver-Kimm was fired in 2020, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against […]

COMMENTARY

Secrecy isn’t how police build trust and respect

BY: - October 19, 2022

Middle ground is not something that often is seen nowadays in Iowa government or our politics. These days, candidates, elected officials and community members often are seen as flawed if they speak in favor of the middle ground. Case in point: Too many people have staked out extreme positions on one of the most important […]

COMMENTARY

Yearlong banishment from a public meeting isn’t ‘reasonable’

BY: - October 7, 2022

“Reasonable” is a word that is used often in Iowa’s laws. Reasonable fees. Reasonable rules. Reasonable efforts. Reasonable force. But events in recent weeks show government officials are not always following what many Iowans would think the term means. And when government officials deviate from “reasonable,” they should not be surprised if their standing or […]