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Civic Skinny

Feds sent in big gun to prosecute abusive ex-cop.

3/18/2015

The government wasn’t taking any chances in the second — and successful — trial of former Des Moines cop Colin Boone last week.

The feds sent in Barbara (Bobbi) Bernstein to argue the case in senior judge Robert Pratt’s courtroom. She’s the deputy chief of the criminal section of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice in Washington, and court watchers were awed by her skills. She’s no slouch: She led the successful prosecution in the police brutality cases in New Orleans following Katrina. (That conviction was thrown out because of misconduct by some prosecutors — but not her — and that will be argued on appeal next month.)

Boone, once a decorated cop in Des Moines, was accused of viciously kicking Orville Hill while he was being held face down by three officers after a traffic stop in Des Moines on Feb. 19, 2013. Boone kicked out Hill’s front teeth and broke his nose. Fellow officers testified against him. The first trial had ended in a hung jury on the charge of “unreasonable use of force.” Boone can be fined up to $250,000 and sent to prison for up to 10 years.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Boone had earlier used unreasonable force in 2009 but that Boone and a fellow officer had covered it up. Bernstein got the other officer — Christopher Latchem — to change his mind about that incident. (That victim, Dawn Dooley, later sued, and Des Moines paid her $52,500 in a settlement of the civil suit. That was not part of the evidence in last week’s trial.)

A Justice Department spokesman told Cityview the agency was “clearly very pleased” with the verdict and was “particularly proud to stand behind the four upstanding DMPD police officers who, despite systemic pressures to look the other way, came forward to report” Boone’s criminal actions.

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Pratt has not yet set a date for sentencing. …

Things are getting testy between the folks at the Des Moines Water Works and the Governor’s office.

People on every side of the dispute about the nitrates that water districts in northern Iowa are sending into the Des Moines system say they think it sure would be nice if it could be worked out by talking rather than suing — though, in fact, that is probably impossible at this point.

On Feb. 6, the Water Works people met with Gov. Terry Branstad’s staff to talk, hoping the meeting could be “the first part of a valuable conversation we all agree needs to occur regarding Iowa’s water.” The Water Works people expected the Governor’s staff would later meet and consider “how best to initiate a substantive next step,” according to a letter from Water Works chairman Graham Gillette to Branstad’s chief of staff Matt Hinch.

Instead, Hinch wrote back, avoided the specific issue and instead talked about Iowans’ “strong work ethic and ‘can-do’ spirit in collaborating with their neighbors” — implying that the Water Works people had neither that ethic nor that spirit. (Earlier, the governor had said the Water Works plan to sue was “un-Iowan.”) So Gillette wrote back saying Hinch was avoiding the issue at hand and adding that it “is unproductive to suggest a person is less than Iowan because he voices what he sees as the shortcomings” of a broader strategy the governor backs. For good measure, Gillette added that the people at the Water Works do indeed “have the strong Iowa work ethic and embody the ‘can-do’ spirit you cite.”

Meantime, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has weighed in with a letter to Gillette saying in effect the Water Works people don’t know what they’re talking about and that the threat to sue and “related public comments” have contributed to “a negative and unproductive environment.”

He added: “The uncertain path to regulation via litigation is a long and costly road.”

But everyone is lawyering up, and in fact the suit against the boards of supervisors of Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties was filed in federal district court in Sioux City on Monday morning. The Water Works will be represented by the Dickinson law firm, and at least one defendant by the Belin firm. …

Some well-known Des Moines Democrats — Fred and Charlotte Hubbell and Tim and Toni Urban among them — are among the backers of the new Iowa Daily Democrat, a blog that started up last week.

Mike Glover, the longtime and widely respected Associated Press political reporter in Des Moines who is listed as managing editor, says the Web publication is aimed at presenting “a progressive view.”

Jack Hatch, who got swamped by Terry Branstad in the gubernatorial election in November, is the registered agent for Clarion News Service, which is the limited-liability company that owns The Daily Democrat, according to a filing in the office of the Secretary of State. It has no official affiliation with the party.

There are a lot of Republican blogs and newsletters out there, one top Democrat told Cityview, but not many Democratic ones. Thus: The Iowa Daily Democrat. Glover, who turns 67 this week, says he’ll write three times a week. “They told me they’d pay me,” he said last week, and he’s awaiting his first check. Another retired journalist says he was asked to write for it as a volunteer.

After retiring from the AP two years ago, Glover spent a summer mowing fairways at Waveland Golf Course. Asked whether he liked that more than reporting, he said: “I’m good at both.”

The Iowa Daily Democrat joins a growing list of political blogs in the state. Iowa Starting Line was launched by former Democratic campaign staffer Pay Rynard in January. (Sample story: “Ten Iowa Democrats Who Can Lead the Party Back to Power.”) The most well-known and most comprehensive Democratic blog is Bleeding Heartland, a fact-filled and opinion-laden blog by Laurie Belin. She closely follows the Legislature — the people and the issues. And John Deeth of Iowa City puts out a blog of liberal opinion.

The most closely watched Republic blog is The Iowa Republican (“News for Republicans, by Republicans”), which is run by Craig Robinson, a former political director of the party. The blog is more or less mainstream — whatever mainstream Republicanism is these days — as compared to Steve Deace’s blog (named, of course, “Steve Deace”). Deace, sprinkles his blog with equal parts nastiness and equal parts of Christian-right thinking (poll question: “Is President Obama a Christian?”), railing against gay marriages and abortion (“Is protecting life as important to Paulsen as raising the gas tax?”) and Hillary (“Killary”) Clinton.

The Iowa Daily Democrat is not to be confused with the Unterrified Democrat of Osage County, a newspaper in Missouri. It lists its politics as Republican. CV

 

Memo: Back to the ’50s

Channel 8 reported last week that Dowling Catholic High School sent a dress-code memo to students invited to a scholastic-achievement assembly next month. It has created a bit of a stir: Some think it sexist, some appropriate, some outrageous and some just goofy. You decide.

Here it is:

“Gentlemen: Dress pants, dress shoes, shirts, ties (jackets optional). No facial hair, no earrings. Be classy.

“Ladies: Think modesty. Your outfit should attract attention to your achievements, not your body. Choose an outfit that is pretty enough to show you are a woman and covered enough to show you are a lady.

“Skirts and dresses should be no shorter than your fingertips when your arms are at your sides. Check for modesty in your skirt both standing and sitting. If your hemline draws towards your waist when you sit down, it may not be modest in a sitting position. If in question, wear tights or leggings underneath.

“Tops: Shirts should draw attention to your face, not your chest. No tops that are strapless or have spaghetti straps. Your shoulders must be covered. If your top has straps, wear a sweater or shrug over the top.

“Shoes: Dress shoes. If you would wear them to the beach they are not dress shoes. Be cautious of high heels as you will need to process in to the gym.” CV

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