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Posted August 20, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Drunk teacher wins unemployment benefits; gets to keep license

DES MOINES, Iowa — If Dennis Pagel had taken a box of school supplies while working as a teacher at Dallas-Center Grimes Middle School, he could have gotten in serious trouble. Luckily for Pagel, he just showed up for work drunk and on OxyContin. For lighting up a breath test at three times

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Posted August 15, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

850 days of ‘the grossest incompetence:’ How the IRS botched a case of identity theft

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Jason Dinesen smiled politely and shook his head when asked about a new bill in the U.S. Senate that aims to improve how the IRS handles cases of identity theft by assigning one agent to deal with each individual case. “I’m skeptical about the bill. Having an

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Posted August 13, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Give me shelter: Josue and other border kids go to court

OMAHA, Neb. — In an office building near Omaha’s airport, stern-faced, gray-haired Immigration Judge Jack Anderson presides over removal hearings Tuesday in a courtroom filled with juveniles, most of them from Central America, all of them hoping to be allowed to stay in the United States. Josue, 13, sits in the

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Posted August 12, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

In Iowa, stay away from stopping school buses or temporarily lose your license

DES MOINES, Iowa — Kayden’s Law seemed like a “no-brainer” when it was passed in 2012. Named for a 7-year-old girl who was killed in 2011 by a speeding motorist, the law imposed mandatory penalties for anyone not stopping at least 150 feet from a school bus when the bus’

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Posted August 11, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

No receipts, no problem: Consulting firm paid $200K for undocumented expenses

DES MOINES, Iowa — They say college is nothing like the real world. The state university system’s Board of Regents is proving that lack of realism isn’t confined to undergraduates. The board is paying over $200,000 in undocumented expenses to a consulting firm it hired to help it save money.

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Posted August 06, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Raises for everyone, just don’t ask how

DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley knew he was on safe ground when he made a campaign stop at La Querica in Norwalk, where he promoted his plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The company, which produces “unique dry cured meats of the finest

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Posted August 06, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Shirts or shoes? Iowa’s sales tax holiday wrapped in confusion

DES MOINES, Iowa — People can now buy a bowling shirt in Iowa without paying sales tax. But if you want to buy tax-free bowling shoes to go with that shirt, you’re out of luck. Taxes still apply. That’s just part of the confusion built into Iowa’s annual sales tax holiday “on

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Posted August 06, 2014in Iowa Watchdog
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State budget review points out pension problem

DES MOINES, Iowa — There’s good news and bad news in the new state budget. First, the new state budget spends $171 million more than it takes in during the coming year. Weirdly, that’s the good news. “This is a sustainable budget. This is a budget making good progress,” State

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Posted August 01, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Sioux City tries to steer around anti-speed camera law

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Sioux City Police Department’s attempt to squeeze every dollar out of the city’s speed cameras may cause it to lose access to important information on a national law enforcement database. The controversial mobile speed cameras on Interstate 29 inspired a new law in neighboring South

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Posted July 25, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Federal officials won’t answer questions about immigrant children in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — An irked Gov. Terry Branstad and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are still waiting to learn the whereabouts of 139 immigrant children placed without notice by federal immigration officials somewhere in the state. On Tuesday, top state officials learned of the number of minors from reporters

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