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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
  • Comments Off on State budget review points out pension problem

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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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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