Civic News & Info
Grassley works to determine how local housing authority spent tax dollars to settle lawsuits PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:51
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked 20 law firms in Philadelphia for information about their billing of the Philadelphia Public Housing Authority as part of a larger review of how the housing authority has misused federal tax dollars.  Grassley said he is going directly to the firms for information about the amount billed and the kind of work performed because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which awards federal funds to local housing authorities, has told him it doesn’t maintain records about such legal payments and, in the case of the Philadelphia Public Housing Authority, news organizations have reported how the housing authority structured settlements in at least four sexual harassment cases and one case where the failure to inspect a building before demolition resulted in the death of a resident.

“The local housing authority reportedly has a record of trying to cover its tracks where it’s spent tax dollars either inappropriately or in a way that would embarrass its leadership.  And, the federal agency that provides most of the money that local housing authorities have to spend has continued to provide tax dollars even after it’s clear that there’s not responsible stewardship of those dollars,” Grassley said.  “Both situations are an affront to taxpayers, and taxpayers deserve an accounting of what’s gone on so that it can be stopped.”

Grassley’s review of abusive spending of federal housing dollars was prompted by the dramatic increase in federal funds going to local housing authorities, even those with histories of mismanagement, by way of the federal government’s economic  stimulus program.

A copy of the letter Grassley sent today is available by clicking here.  The same letter went to the following Philadelphia law firms:  Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP; Cozen O’Connor; Duane Morris LLP; Fox Rothschild; Buchanon, Ingersol & Rooney PC; Blank Rome LLP ; Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellot, LLC; Bowman Kavulich; Archer & Greiner; Margolis Edelstein; Reed Smith LLP; Haines & Associates; Kolber & Freiman; Flaster/Greenberg; Cohen & Grigsby; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin; Kelly, Monaco & Naples; and Smyler & Gentile.  Previous letters from Grassley regarding the expenditures of the Philadelphia Housing Authority are available by clicking here.

Last week, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that in September 2009, the then-executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority had spent $15,920 on expensive bags from Nordstrom for himself and 19 other executives of the housing authority.

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Iowa State Trooper Funding & Staffing Levels PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Robert Haus   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:45

Ensuring Iowa’s Safety: A Plan to Rebuild the Ranks of the Iowa State Patrol

I have been fortunate to be a member of the Iowa State Patrol for over twenty years.  I work alongside dedicated and professional public servants, my fellow Iowa State Troopers. My colleagues have honored me by electing me the President of the Iowa State Troopers Association, a volunteer position I undertake in addition to my official duties.

In the capacity as ISTA President, I speak with many of my public safety colleagues around the state.  There is a growing awareness that recent state budget cuts have been so severe that the safety of Iowans is on the verge of being critically compromised.

Today, there are 371 troopers in the Patrol - a forty-five year low. A lot has changed on Iowa’s roadways in those 45 years. There are more cars, more trucks, and a more sophisticated, organized contraband trafficking network on our highways.

Our Troopers today are some of the most technologically proficient law officers in the field. Working in concert with the Department of Public Safety, the Patrol utilizes systems that stretch the reach and effectiveness of each and every Trooper. There is, however, a limit to our effectiveness at today’s Trooper strength levels. The number of Troopers has dwindled to a dangerously low level, and action is needed in the 2011 legislative session.

It is not uncommon these days for one Trooper to be responsible for covering a three to four county area.  The coverage area increases during evening shifts or when there is a special event requiring State Patrol resources. During the most recent winter storm, troopers handled nearly 2,543 emergency calls and investigated 64 personal injury and property-related accidents in a two-day period.  Given existing Trooper levels, the State Patrol was stretched to respond in a timely manner to everyone needing help in poor winter conditions.

The Iowa State Troopers Association hopes to work with Governor-elect Branstad and legislative leaders on a specific two-pronged strategy to ensure Iowan’s safety on the road:

  • Working to secure funding for 45 Troopers that were paid for by one-time federal stimulus dollars in the last State fiscal year. Given the present strength levels, it is absolutely imperative we keep these 45 Troopers on the road.

  • Starting a planned, and reasonable, program to rebuild Trooper strength to 455, a level we last saw in the 2000 budget year. This can be accomplished by adding 20 new Troopers per year for the next four years. Taking into account retirements and separations, Director of Public Safety Meyers has indicated the number may need to be closer to 30-35 per year for a period of 8 years.
  • While there are no easy answers for Iowa’s budget challenges, we have been encouraged by comments from Governor-elect Branstad and other elected officials about the priority of public safety. As the 2011 legislative session begins in earnest, we look forward to working together to determine the best options to fund these shared priorities.

    Working together, we can ensure that Iowa’s roadways are the safest in the nation. That has been, and will continue to be, the most important mission of your Iowa State Troopers.

     
    Pilot Club of Moline Seeking Community Input for 2011-2012 Contributions PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Civic News & Info
    Written by Carol Triebel   
    Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:17

    The Pilot Club of Moline is seeking input from organizations and agencies located in the Illinois Quad Cities relating to community needs for promotng the awareness and prevention of brain-related disorders, and improving the lives of those affected by such disorders through education, volunteerism, financial support and research.

    The Pilot Club of Moline is a chapter of Pilot Club International - a global organization of executive, business, and professional leaders working together to improve the quality of life in local communities and throughout the world.

    Each July, the members select a project or agency to support through its fund-raising activities.  Additionally, a matching grant from the Pilot International Foundation, if awarded, can provide up to $2,500 making a possible donation of up to $5,000.

    If your agency or organization is interested in being considered for a donation by the Pilot Club of Moline, please send a written proposal to the Pilot Club of Moline, P. O. Box 1171, Moline, IL 61265 prior to March 1, 2011.

    If you have questions, please contact Carol Triebel at 309-764-0198.

     
    Grassley To Begin Annual 99 County Tour PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Civic News & Info
    Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
    Tuesday, 11 January 2011 08:39

    January 7, 2011

    WASHINGTON – In his continued commitment to keep in touch with Iowans, Senator Chuck Grassley will begin his annual meetings with his constituents in each of the state’s 99 counties.  Grassley has held a constituent meeting in all 99 Iowa counties since he was first elected to the United States Senate.  He will speak at service clubs, tour manufacturing facilities and other businesses and speak with employees, and meet with junior and senior high school students. 

    Grassley’s schedule will take him to Grinnell, Traer, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Coralville, Independence, Waterloo, Waverly, Parkersburg, Reinbeck, Nevada, Webster City, Iowa Falls, Jefferson, Madrid, Greenfield, Guthrie Center, Perry, Winterset, Pleasant Hill, Lynnville, Knoxville, Osceola, Afton and New Virginia.

    “These face-to-face meetings give me a chance to answer questions, and get information, feedback and comments from a wide cross-section of Iowans.  Whether it’s on the factory floor, at a local school or in a service club, each Iowan I speak with provides invaluable input for my work on their behalf.  I take those common sense solutions I hear in Iowa to Washington,” Grassley said

    Details of the events are below:

     

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    9:30 – 11:30 p.m.        Tour and meet with employees at Jeld-Wen, Door Systems Division, 820 Industrial Avenue, Grinnell

    1:15 – 2:15 p.m.          Speak with students and staff at North Tama High School, 605 Walnut Street, Traer

     

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    8 – 9 a.m.                    Speak with students and staff at Isaac Newton Christian Academy, 1635 Linmar Drive NE, Cedar Rapids

    10 – 11 a.m.                Meet with employees at ITC Midwest Holdings, 123 Fifth Street SE, Cedar Rapids

    1:30 – 3 p.m.               Speak with students and staff at Iowa City West High School, Little Theatre, 2901 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City

    4 – 5 p.m.                    Tour and meet with employees at Vangent, 2450 Oakdale Boulevard, Coralville

     

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    10 – 11 a.m.                Speak with students and staff at Independence High School, 514 Fifth Ave. S.E., Independence

    Noon – 1 p.m.             Speak with the Waterloo Rotary Club,  Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 West Fourth Street, Waterloo

    2:30 – 3:30 p.m.          Meet with Bremer County residents, Bremer County Town Meeting, Waverly Public Library, 1500 West Bremer Avenue, Waverly

    4:45 – 5:45 p.m.          Meet with Butler County residents, Butler County Town Meeting, Parkersburg Civic Center, 502 Third Street, Parkersburg

    6:45 – 7:45 p.m.          Speak with the Reinbeck Lions Club, Reinbeck Memorial Building, 208 Broad Street, Reinbeck

     

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    6:20 – 7:30 a.m.          Speak with the Nevada Kiwanis, Gates Memorial Hall, 825 15th Street, Nevada

    9 – 10 a.m.                  Speak with the Webster City Diamond K Kiwanis Club, Windsor Manor, 4101 Wall Street, Webster City

    12:10 – 1:10 p.m.        Speak with the Iowa Falls Lions Club, Camp David Restaurant, 119 Main Street, Iowa Falls

    3:30 – 4:30 p.m.          Meet with Greene County residents, Greene County Town Meeting, Greene County Community Center, 204 West Harrison Street, Jefferson

    6:30 – 7:30 p.m.          Speak with the Madrid Lions Club, Madrid Homes Communities, Main Campus Dining Room, 613 West North Street, Madrid

     

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    8 – 9 a.m.                    Meet with Adair County residents, Adair County Town Meeting, Andrews Memorial Adair County Health & Fitness Center, Meeting Room, 202 North Townline Road, Greenfield

    10 – 11 a.m.                Speak with students and staff at Guthrie Center High School, 900 School Street, Guthrie Center

    12:10 – 1:15 p.m.        Speak with the Perry Rotary Club, Hotel Pattee, 1112 Willis Avenue, Perry

    2:45 – 3:45 p.m.          Meet with Madison County residents, Madison County Town Meeting, Winterset Public Library, Meeting Room, 123 North Second Street, Winterset

    5:15 – 6:16 p.m.          Speak with the East Polk Chamber, Southeast Polk High School, Auditorium, 7945 NE University Avenue, Pleasant Hill

     

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    9 – 10:30 a.m.             Tour and meet with employees at Co-Line Welding, 1041 Cordova Avenue, Lynnville

    Noon – 1 p.m.             Speak with the Knoxville Noon Kiwanis Club, Swamp Fox, Lower Level, 116 North 2nd Street, Knoxville

    2:30 – 3:30 p.m.          Meet with Clarke County residents, Clarke County Town Meeting, Clarke County Courthouse, Old Probation Room, 100 South Main Street, Osceola

    4:30 – 5:30 p.m.          Meet with Union County residents, Union County Town Meeting, Afton City Hall, 115 East Kansas Street, Afton

    7 – 8 p.m.                    Speak with the New Virginia Lions Club, Lions Hall, 503 West Street, New Virginia

     

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    Work for Iowans Continues in 112th Congress PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Civic News & Info
    Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
    Tuesday, 11 January 2011 08:31

    by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    The 112th Congress convened in January, with newly elected and reelected lawmakers taking the oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution.”  It was an honor to reaffirm my allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and pledge to faithfully uphold my duties as a U.S. senator for Iowa for another term.

    In a new congress, committee compositions change to reflect the new ratio of the majority to minority members of the U.S. Senate.  Each party sets its own rules to determine committee assignments.  Over the years, I’ve worked to secure key committee assignments.  Building seniority from these various posts provides a platform to work for a more accountable government and to make Iowans’ voices heard on issues that hit close to home, especially those that impact working families, students, veterans, small business owners, family farmers and retirees.

    In addition to the legislative and oversight responsibilities, the U.S. Senate also has the Constitutional authority of “advice and consent” and must approve nominations and treaties submitted by the President.  To gain a more thorough understanding of the issues -- from taxes, to transportation, national security, energy, agriculture, education, health care, banking, immigration and trade -- the Senate divides its work into 20 standing committees, 68 subcommittees and four joint committees which review and research policy proposals, convene hearings to field input from policy experts on pending bills, conduct fact-finding investigations and fine-tune legislation for consideration by the full Senate.

    More than 3,000 bills are introduced each Congress and referred to the respective committee of jurisdiction for scrutiny.  The committee system allows lawmakers to develop expertise and specialize in specific issues.

    In the last decade, I used my leadership position (alternating between Chairman and Ranking Member) on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee to advance the landmark 2001/2003 tax relief laws that lowered the federal tax rates on wages and investment.  Before the lame-duck session of Congress adjourned in December, I successfully pushed to extend these tax breaks for another two years.  Separately in that legislation, I won extension through 2011 of provisions for ethanol and biodiesel that are so important to domestically produced renewable energy and national security.

    In other examples, I’ve used my assignment on the Senate Budget Committee to tighten the federal purse strings and urge big spenders to end the cycle of deficit spending.  Both on and off the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, as one of only two working family farmers in the Senate, I’ve championed the interests of the nation’s producers to earn a good living and provide for the nation’s food and energy security.

    I will continue to serve as a senior member of the Finance Committee, but because of Republican Caucus term limits on committee leadership positions, I’m moving from the position of Ranking Member of the Finance Committee to Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.  Since taking my first oath of office in the Senate, I’ve been able to serve on the influential Judiciary Committee.  It’s where I launched my crusade to empower whistleblowers to expose fraud against the taxpayers.  My 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act (a Civil-War era law) have helped the U.S. government recover more than $25 billion that otherwise would be lost to fraud.  The U.S. Justice Department also credits my updates to the False Claims Act with deterring untold billions more that otherwise would have been lost to fraud.  Most recently, I strengthened additional whistleblower tools that were included in the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act of 2009 to help plug legal loopholes used in court to escape accountability.  I’m keeping the heat on the federal bureaucracy to fight fraud with criminal prosecutions right now, too, asking both the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to account for stagnant prosecution numbers despite increased federal spending to target health care fraud.

    I also intend to continue scrutinizing concentration in the agricultural industry.  It seems to get continually more difficult for the independent producer to capture a fair share of the food dollar due to consolidation.

    I also will continue to work to reduce the cost of pharmaceutical drugs with pro-consumer legislation to make generic options available as quickly as possible.  And, the Ranking Member position on the Senate Judiciary Committee is responsible for rigorous review of lifetime appointments to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

    As Congress gets down to the people’s business in the New Year, I encourage Iowans to keep in touch.  21st century technology gives democracy even more opportunities to keep our two lanes of communication well traveled, from e-mail to interactive webcasts.  I also hope to see many of you face-to-face in 2011 during my constituent meetings.

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