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Scott County Board of Supervisors Agenda PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Chris Berge   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:26
SCOTT COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

TENTATIVE AGENDA

February 13 - 17, 2012

Committee of the Whole - 8:00 am
Board Room, 1st Floor, Administrative Center

1. Roll Call: Cusack, Earnhardt, Hancock, Minard, Sunderbruch

2. Discussion of Public Hearing on the Construction Permit Application of Thomas
Dittmer, dba Grandview Farms, Inc in the SW¼SW¼ Section 7, T79N, R3E
(Sheridan Township) for the expansion of a confined animal feeding operation
located at 12090 240th Street. (Item 2)

3. Discussion of Public Hearing and presentation of Planning Commission’s
recommendation on application to rezone 15 acres (more or less) from A-G to R-1
located west of Great River Rd, south of Olethea Golf Course in the SW¼ of the SW
¼ of Section 14, LeClaire Township. (Item 3)

4. Presentation by Councilman Eddie Spengler of New Liberty.

5. Update on MH/DD FY12 Fund by Lori Elam.

6. Approval of Final Plat of Charles Brozovich Subdivision, a two lot residential and
agricultural subdivision located east of 100th Avenue, south of 12705 and 12581
100th Avenue in the part of the south 35 acres of the west 70 acres in the NW ¼ of
Section 11, Buffalo Township. (Item 6)

7. Approval of property tax abatement on County Tax Deed properties (Item 7).

8. Discussion of strategy of upcoming labor negotiations with the County's organized
employees pursuant to Iowa Code Section 20.17(3). - CLOSED SESSION

9. Approval of appointment of Assistant County Attorney at 94% of midpoint of salary in
the Attorney's Office. (Item 9)

10. Approval of appointment of Shop Supervisor at 91% of midpoint of salary in the
Secondary Roads' Office. (Item 10)

11. Approval of personnel actions. (Item 11)

12. Discussion of quarterly financial summary report. (Item 12)

13. Approval of quarterly financial reports from various county offices. (Item 13)

14. Discussion of Board Members annual visits with County Departments. (Item 14)

Regular Board Meeting - 5:30 pm
Board Room, 1st Floor, Administrative Center

 
Cameras in the SCOTUS, Distrust of Justice Department PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:18

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Executive Business Meeting

Thursday, February 9, 2012

 

With regard to the nominations, there are four nominations on the agenda for the first time.  There is a request on our side for these nominations to be held over for a week.

 

Today, the only bill on the agenda is S. 1945- The Cameras in the Courtroom Act.  It would allow all Americans to have the opportunity to watch Supreme Court proceedings.  This bill is not new.  It has been before the committee on several occasions.  Each time, it was reported out favorably with bi-partisan support.

I am a cosponsor of this legislation and strongly believe it will help educate millions of Americans who do not know or understand how the Supreme Court works.

Before we move to S.1945, I want to take a minute and talk about an important issue that relates to the transparency of court proceedings that members of the committee should be aware of.

Yesterday, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion ordering the public release of a 500 page report outlining serious misconduct by Justice Department attorneys from the Public Integrity Section during the prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens.

 

In the opinion, Judge Sullivan discussed the tortured history of the Stevens prosecution.  Specifically, he noted that after a public indictment, a public trial, a public conviction, and a press conference celebrating the guilty verdict, evidence of prosecutorial misconduct arose.

He also noted that only as the evidence of misconduct became clearer, and harder to refute, did the Justice Department dismiss the indictment and vacate the verdict.  However, the Justice Department also stepped in to protect the prosecutors.

The Justice Department initially sought to prevent any misconduct review by the court arguing instead for an internal review the prosecutors conduct via the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  To his credit, Judge Sullivan did not allow this and instead appointed a special investigator to investigate and prosecute the Justice Department attorneys responsible for the prosecution of Senator Stevens.

Following the completion of this investigation, the special investigator produced a 500 page report that found, “the investigation and prosecution of Senator Stevens were permeated by the systemic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated [his] defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”  This is an incredible finding and one that as Judge Sullivan puts it, has “led to a continuing national public discourse on prosecutorial misconduct and whether and what steps should be taken to prevent it.”

I agree with Judge Sullivan, the public has a right to know what the special investigator found and how pervasive the misconduct was inside the Public Integrity Unit at the Justice Department.  The American people need to hear the truth about what happened, not simply trust the Justice Department’s internal Office of Professional Responsibility review process.

In addition to Judge Sullivan’s decision to release the independent report, the Justice Department should follow and publicly release the final report issued by Office of Professional Responsibility.

At our oversight hearing in November, Attorney General Holder stated in response to a request from Senator Hatch calling for the release of the final Office of Professional Responsibility report, “That is up to the people at OPR…what I have indicated was that I want to share as much of that as we possibly can, given the very public nature of that matter, and the very public decision that I made to dismiss the case.”

Despite the Attorney General’s purported desire to make this information public, his initial comment that it is “up to the people at OPR” to make that decision, leads me to believe we aren’t likely to ever see that report.

The Justice Department has routinely blocked the release of Office of Professional Responsibility investigations citing privacy laws and employee rights of the attorneys and agents guilty of misconduct.  The Attorney General ultimately oversees the Office of Professional Responsibility and if he truly wants that information made public, he should order it released upon the conclusion of the investigation.

Between the misconduct in the Stevens case and the notorious Operation Fast & Furious, where the Justice Department knowingly walked guns to Mexican drug cartels which may have led to the death of a federal agent, it’s easy to see why so many elected officials and the American people have lost faith in the leadership at the Justice Department under the Obama Administration.

These public failures paint a picture of a department where bad decision-making rules the day -- A department where attorneys prosecuting a sitting U.S. Senator systemically conceal “significant exculpatory evidence” that would have damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.

A department where whistleblowers, who don’t go along, are sure to face retaliation from supervisors and then are forced into bureaucratic limbo to adjudicate their cases.

A department where one Assistant Attorney General prepares a letter to a Senator saying that ATF doesn’t allow guns to cross the border, while another Assistant Attorney General is in Mexico the same day advocating a plan to let guns cross the border as an investigative strategy—which was explicitly forbidden by the Deputy Attorney General a month later.

Something is wrong here and it’s easy to see why the public is outraged.

Further, the overreaching by the Obama Administration’s Justice Department impacts us here in Congress, Republican and Democrat.  For example, legislation addressing online infringement hit a massive roadblock on the floor in part because the public doesn’t trust the current Justice Department to do the right thing. Instead, and I heard from many constituents about this point, the American people are worried the Attorney General will use his power for political censorship.  That’s the kind of impact the distrust has had and it affects us all.

The Stevens prosecution and these other examples are all serious problems that need to be addressed.  Not to mention the fact that the failed prosecution cost the taxpayers three-fold. First, the cost to investigate and prosecute; second, the cost of the special investigator; and third, the defense attorneys paid to defend the prosecutors from the contempt charge.  The defense attorneys alone cost taxpayers $1.8 million.

The cost alone is reason enough for us to discuss these cases in this committee and hold a hearing to get to the bottom of what is going on at the Justice Department.  The public’s confidence in the department is shaken and rightfully so.

The best thing the department can do is be transparent and accountable, something that was promised, not only by the President, but also at many confirmation hearings.  The transparency promised has yet to be realized.

S. 1945–Cameras in the Courtroom Act

My interest in expanding the people’s access to the Supreme Court increased eleven years ago when the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments on the Florida recount during the 2000 Presidential Election.  Senator Schumer and I urged the Supreme Court to open the arguments to live broadcast.  In response, the Supreme Court took the then unprecedented step of releasing an audio recording of their arguments shortly after they occurred.  It was a sign of progress that gave the entire country the opportunity to experience what so few get to: the Supreme Court at work.

In 2010, the Supreme Court began releasing audio recordings of its proceedings at the end of each week.  This was another step in the right direction and I applaud the court for increasing its transparency and access.  But it’s not enough.  I believe that the nature of our government and the fundamental principles upon which it was built require more.

As President Lincoln said, ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Our Constitution divides power.  It creates a system of checks and balances.  But most importantly, it makes the government accountable to the people.  The best way we can ensure that the federal government is accountable is to create transparency, openness, and access.

 

That’s why this bill is necessary: it offers Americans access to the highest court in the land.  According to a poll released last year, 62 percent of Americans believe that they hear too little about the workings of the Supreme Court.  Two-thirds of Americans want to know more.  What could be a better source of the workings of the Supreme Court than the Supreme Court itself?

In 1947, the Supreme Court stated, “what transpires in the courtroom is public property.”  Well, if its public property, then it belongs to the whole public, not just the 200 people who can fit inside the public gallery.  With today’s technology, there’s no reason why arguments could not be broadcast in an easy, unobtrusive, and respectful manner that would preserve the dignity of the Supreme Court’s work and grant access to the millions of Americans wishing to know more.

My state knows something about this.  For over 30 years, Iowa has permitted the broadcast of its trial and appellate courts.  In fact a few weeks ago, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady testified before this committee about his unique experience sitting on a bench that regularly broadcast its proceedings.  It’s important to note that he was the only witness with this experience.

Because of his unique perspective, I urge my colleagues to give special weight to his testimony, especially to three things he emphasized.

First, Chief Justice Cady explained that broadcasting the court’s proceedings had NO negative effect.  He was asked about the effects cameras had on case preparation, on the attorneys before the court, and on the judges themselves and their deliberations.  In each instance, he reported that there was NO effect.

Second, he and his fellow justices did not anticipate the great interest their proceedings drew.  In 2006, the court began webcasting its arguments.  That year, the 40 arguments the court webcast were viewed a modest 5,000 times.  The following year, however, court arguments were viewed over 75,000 times.  I believe that when the Supreme Court begins broadcasting their proceedings, they too will be pleasantly surprised by the large numbers of Americans interested in the work they do.

Third and last, Chief Justice Cady told us that he and his fellow justices have noted how creating an open, transparent, and accessible Supreme Court has increased Iowans’ understanding and trust of the court’s role.  I believe that once the American people are able to see and observe their Supreme Court in action, they too will gain a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the court.

For those reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill.

Thank you.

 
In Phone Conversation, Braley Pushes FEMA Administrator to Fulfill Promises to Cedar Rapids PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 14:53

Braley talked today with FEMA Administrator Fugate on outstanding flood recovery issues  

 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) spoke with Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate about ongoing flood recovery issues still affecting Cedar Rapids years after the 2008 floods.  The call focused on FEMA’s indecision in providing promised support for several flood recovery projects – indecision that could cost the city and taxpayers millions of dollars in lost funding for projects that were initially approved by FEMA but were later cut after work had started.

Braley also pressed Fugate on FEMA’s inaction in processing several project funding appeals filed by the city of Cedar Rapids – which the city has been waiting for answers on for nearly a year.

“I had a productive conversation with Administrator Fugate today.  I made clear he was aware that Congressman Loebsack and I had discussed this issue with President Obama on Air Force One two weeks ago, and he assured me that FEMA is getting close to making final decisions on these critical flood recovery projects.  Without making any specific commitments, Administrator Fugate painted an encouraging picture for the city of Cedar Rapids.

 

“I’m cautiously optimistic.  Good news is long overdue, especially considering that four years after this disaster Cedar Rapids is still waiting for answers.  I’ll continue working as long as it takes to make sure FEMA keeps their promises.”

 

Braley inquired about FEMA decisions regarding debris removal at the Sinclair site and repairs to the city’s Water Pollution Control facility.  Both sites initially received funding commitments from FEMA only to have the funding de-obligated after recovery work had begun.  Braley also raised concerns over outstanding program appeals the city had submitted close to a year before.

Braley’s efforts follow the long work of Cedar Rapids city officials in engaging FEMA officials with their concerns.  Braley wrote letters to FEMA Administrator Fugate in November and December of last year pressing for answers on these issues, and spoke to President Obama with Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-02) regarding the issues on Air Force One in late January after the State of the Union.

 
Olson's Observations PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steven Olson   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 14:46

Currently there are a slew of Iowa gun bills pending in the House and Senate. I supported the stand your ground bill, HF 573 and would like you all to know I have serious concerns about some of the other gun rights bills that have been filed. Some of the bills pertain to banning guns in proprietary places, lead shot ban, optional permits, and carrying on the Fairgrounds. Thank you for your emails expressing
your views on all this legislation as I look to my constituents for guidance on this and all issues.

We’ve talked about property tax before and there were two similar proposals between the Governor’s office and House Ways and Means committee. As of now they are being consolidated into one bill. I’ll keep you informed on its future in the House.

As all of you are aware, the Chinese delegation is coming to Iowa next week including China’s Vice President Xi Jinping who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as president of China. The visit will begin in Muscatine where Xi began his friendship with many Iowans. As expected, things are hectic here over the security and organizational aspect in anticipation of their arrival. Topics of discussion will be focused on trade relations and the substantial benefits of those relations to Iowa’s economy. Iowa’s exports to China have jumped 1,300% over the past ten years a direct result of our corn and soybeans selling so high.

Numeric standards for nitrogen levels in water won’t be imposed according to the regional EPA director. This means that for now, Iowa farmers won’t be affected when using nitrogen fertilizers.

Earlier the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent the EPA from imposing anti-dust rules amid fears they would deny our farmers the use of farm equipment that kicks up dust.

As always you can reach me at the capitol building by visiting, emailing, or calling. Thank you all for sharing your views with me.

 
Harkin Announces $420,000 for Fair Housing in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 13:39
February 7, 2012 - WASHINGTON D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) has awarded $422,622 to seven Iowa cities. FHAP aims to assist state and local agencies that administer fair housing laws. The assistance includes support for complaint processing, training, technical assistance, data and information systems, and other fair housing projects. The program is also designed to provide incentives for states and localities to assume a greater share of the responsibility for administering fair housing laws. Senator Harkin is a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds HUD.

“Quality, affordable housing is one of our most basic needs,” said Harkin.  “I am pleased the federal government is providing funding to Iowa cities that will allow each of them to take responsibility for fair housing laws and projects in their communities.”

Details of the funding are as followings:
Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission-$100,000
Davenport Civil Rights Commission-$64,285
Des Moines Human Rights Department-$44,680
Iowa Civil Rights Commission-$37,200
Mason City Human Rights Commission-$86,802
Sioux City Human Rights Commission-$23,655
Waterloo Commission on Human Rights-$66,000

 
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