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Posted July 24, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Iowa county’s voter rolls filled with deceased residents

DES MOINES, Iowa — Betty Ellis doesn’t know why 100 dead people were registered to vote in Wright County. That’s a problem. Ellis is the county auditor and in charge of elections there. Wright County’s number of registered dead came to light last week when Secretary of State Matt Schultz

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Posted July 22, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Snake handler can’t charm fearful neighbors, who shut down his business

AMES, Iowa — The door to the small room at the back of Kyle Thompson’s basement is locked. A sign on the door warns visitors what’s inside — snakes, more than 40 of them. Stepping inside, the eye is automatically drawn to three massive Burmese pythons in long enclosures with

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Posted July 18, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

MN commissioner’s moonlighting raises conflict of interest questions

ST. PAUL, Minn. — His resume posted on the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board website stands out: “Conducted hundreds of grievance hearings and mediation sessions.” So does his  daily fee: $1,200 per day, plus “actual costs for meals, lodging and miscellaneous; IRS rate for mileage.” But what most distinguishes Josh

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Posted July 11, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Tax mistake leads to sale of half a church

DES MOINES, Iowa — Pastor Robert Garcia has half a church. The rear half of Iglesia Emanuel Independiete in Muscatine is now owned by Oak Helm Partners, a real estate investment group from Davenport, and no one is quite sure why they want part of a church. Garcia isn’t quite sure

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Posted July 10, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Gas prices will climb, and you can blame corn

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Most of what Tim Maher knew about the renewable fuel standard came from TV commercials. “They all talk about how it’s good for the environment and good for the country because we won’t have to import so much oil from the Middle East,” Maher said as he was

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Posted July 03, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Iowa ‘celebrates’ another Fourth without legal fireworks

Jerri Andersen wasn’t impressed by the Fourth of July fireworks display at her local Hy-Vee in Urbandale. “Of course, it’s not their fault,” she said. And it isn’t. The supermarket was displaying the only types of fireworks people can buy or possess in Iowa without a special permit: sparklers and snakes.

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Posted July 02, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Board to spend $927,000 for a road to almost nowhere

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors voted to borrow $927,000 for a road project which, the county engineer says, will be little used after 2016. CF Industries, which is expanding its Port Neal fertilizer plant, asked the county to extend 240th Street to provide another route for trucks

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Posted June 27, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

School employees earn ‘wellness’ dollars without a breaking a sweat

DES MOINES, Iowa — Employees of the Des Moines Public Schools can forget about “no pain, no gain” when it comes to working out. Next school year, both the fit and flabby will be eligible to receive a Fitbit, one of the trendiest pieces of workout gear, and the only

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Posted June 20, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

The Postal Service delivers the fail, audit shows

DES MOINES, Iowa — When it comes to incompetence, losing money and union muscle-flexing, the U.S. Postal Service always delivers. A recently released audit by the USPS Office of Inspector General shows Postal Service officials failed to follow proper procedures and wildly overestimated potential savings when it awarded a contract for

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Posted June 17, 2014in Iowa Watchdog

Small-town clerk helps herself to $80,000, auditor says

DES MOINES, Iowa — The way they tell it at Judy’s Country Curl, Brenda Simmons was nice enough, but she hadn’t done much in her 22 years as city clerk of Menlo, Iowa. The Country Curl crowd couldn’t have known how wrong they were. From 2001 through 2013, Simmons spent

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