Public Information

State agency falsely claimed to have complied with public-records request

BY: - May 27, 2021

After taking one month to respond to a request for public documents, Iowa Workforce Development recently turned over what it falsely claimed were all of the requested records. As part of that same process, the state agency mistakenly disclosed the personal tax returns of a Des Moines couple that runs an art studio. The agency’s […]

Reynolds’ staff silent on document request related to Iowa Veterans Home

BY: - May 24, 2021

After two weeks, Gov. Kim Reynolds has yet to acknowledge a request for records related to the sudden, unexplained departure of the head of the Iowa Veterans Home. On May 10, the governor’s office announced Commandant Timon Oujiri had been relieved of his duties the previous week. The governor’s spokesman, Pat Garrett, said the office […]

Accused of an open-meetings violation, county board stops recording its meetings

BY: - May 21, 2021

In response to residents “bashing” the Kossuth County Board of Supervisors, the board has opted to stop recording its public meetings. The action was taken March 16 in the wake of a county resident filing a formal complaint against the board for allegedly violating the Iowa Open Meetings Law by meeting in secret. County supervisor […]

State agency refuses to answer questions about unemployment fraud

BY: - May 20, 2021

Iowa Workforce Development is not answering questions about alleged unemployment fraud in the state, and its attorneys have suggested the agency will respond only to requests for specific documents. In April, the Iowa Capital Dispatch asked IWD for information on unemployment fraud related to identity theft. The agency refused a request for an interview with […]

‘Total retaliation:’ City council curtails public notice of meetings, eliminates public forum

BY: - May 12, 2021

The small Iowa town that underwent legal training after violating Iowa’s public records law has now curtailed public access to city council agendas and meeting notices, and eliminated the public forum from its council meetings. The actions by the Otho city council come one month after council member Jimmy Beekman told city residents they “can […]

Governor’s office doesn’t respond to question about auction of Terrace Hill dinner

BY: - May 5, 2021

The office of Gov. Kim Reynolds has not responded to three written requests for information related to the auction of a dinner at the governor’s official residence to benefit a Christian school. The Iowa Department of Public Health, meanwhile, has indicated it is still unable to respond to an April 3 request for one day’s […]

City council member: ‘You can stick that Sunshine Law where the sun don’t shine’

BY: - April 30, 2021

A council member in a tiny Iowa town that admitted violating Iowa’s public records law has told townspeople they can “stick that Sunshine Law where the sun don’t shine.” The comments, by Otho council member Jimmy Beekman, were made at an April 13 council meeting, one month after the council agreed to undergo training in […]

Judge allows lawsuit against Iowa Voter Registration Commission to proceed

BY: - April 29, 2021

An Iowa judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that is tied to concerns over the state’s actions on voter registration in the months before the 2020 election. In July 2019, Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, a Democrat, filed a public-records request with Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican. Miller noted that in […]

COMMENTARY

Charter schools must have sunshine, too

BY: - April 20, 2021

The 2021 session of the Iowa Legislature will end in a few weeks, and one big issue moving toward a final vote would make charter schools easier to create as an alternative to the traditional K-12 public schools. Others can debate the pros and cons of charter schools and House File 813, the bill that […]

State agencies keep two sets of inspectors’ reports — one public, one confidential

BY: - April 5, 2021

Last September, a state restaurant inspector named Samuel Pang responded to a complaint about Kelly’s Little Nipper, a bar and grill on Des Moines’ Grand Avenue that was allegedly violating the governor’s order on COVID-19 mitigation. At the time, the order prohibited establishments from serving alcohol to people not eating food and from allowing patrons […]

State discloses long-withheld data showing it miscalculated nursing home infections

BY: - April 2, 2021

Newly disclosed COVID-19 data shows the state of Iowa has retroactively reduced the number of nursing home infections that it publicly reported last year. The data identifies the privately run nursing homes that have had the most infections among residents and staff, the most outbreaks, and those that have spent much of the past year […]

State withholds nursing home outbreak data while asking that open-records complaint be dismissed

BY: - March 29, 2021

In response to a formal open-records complaint, the Iowa Department of Public Health is continuing to withhold data regarding COVID-19 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes. In December 2020, the Iowa Capital Dispatch requested an updated version of the spreadsheet the department maintains on COVID-19 outbreaks in Iowa’s 440 licensed nursing homes. That spreadsheet, which the […]