Friday, December 1, 2023

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Civic Skinny

The resume inflation of the Regents’ Bob Donley.


Bob Donley, the executive director of the Board of Regents, is a finalist to be chancellor of the North Dakota University system. The list of eight finalists was pared from 21 last month and will be cut further this week.

Donley’s letter of application says he is “chief executive officer” of the Regents “enterprise,” including the three universities, the University of Iowa Hospital, and the two special schools for the deaf and the blind. He also says he is the “Chief Higher Education Executive Officer” for the Regents, whatever that means.

That CEO claim seems like title inflation. The policy manual of the Board of Regents says the executive director is the chief operating officer of the board, responsible for the administration of the board office and certain budgetary, planning, legislative and communications duties. In fact, each university president is the chief executive of his university, and each reports to the nine-person Board of Regents. There is no system or “enterprise” in Iowa.

Cityview emailed Donley on Friday asking about the discrepancy. As of Monday morning, he hadn’t replied. Bob Downer, an Iowa City lawyer who is just wrapping up 12 years as a Regent, said Donley’s self-described title is news to him.

Donley, who recently earned his doctorate in higher education from Northeastern University in Boston, was a candidate for the North Dakota chancellorship three years ago but missed the second cut because, according to North Dakota board minutes, he didn’t have a doctorate. His letterhead now says “Dr. Robert Donley,” and in at least one Web posting he refers to himself as “Dr. Bob.”

Iowa paid $21,673.04 to help cover Donley’s tuition at Northeastern, according to Vanessa Miller of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. He’ll have to repay $5,164 of that if he gets the North Dakota job, Miller reported.

Donley earns around $160,000 in Iowa. The North Dakota job will pay “not less” than $360,773, which is what the highest-paid president in the system makes. The system encompasses 11 colleges and universities and has a budget of around $1.2 billion. …

The exit door: Christopher Pratt has left The Des Moines Register newsroom for a job in New York State. Photographers Andrea Melendez and Charlie Litchfield also are leaving, Cityview is told — Melendez to Florida, Litchfield to Oregon. …

Polk County has grown by 8,040 people in the past year, according to new estimates from the United States Census Bureau. That accounts for more than half of the 14,785 increase in estimated population for the entire state. The county population now is 459,862, and it remains the fastest-growing county in the state. Dallas, with 2,673 new residents and a population of 77,400, is the second-fastest growing. The next three are Johnson, Linn and Scott.

Polk has grown by nearly 30,000 people since the official 2010 census and by 156,692 since the 1980 census. The entire state has grown by 193,318 since 1980.

Year-old figures say the county is 87 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 6.5 percent African-American and 3.9 percent Asian — compared to statewide figures of 92.5 percent white, 5.5 percent Hispanic or Latino, 3.3 percent black and 2 percent Asian.

The median household income averaged over five years is $59,018 in Polk County, and 11.8 percent of the residents are living below the poverty level. About 92 percent of the residents are high-school graduates, and nearly 35 percent are college graduates.

New figures for Iowa cities and towns have not yet been released. …

News stories didn’t mention it over the weekend, but the suspension of the law license of Democratic political operative John Hedgecoth was his second. On Friday, the Supreme Court took away for at least three months his license to practice law, saying Hedgecoth neglected his clients, missed court deadlines, was dilatory in failing to appear in court, disobeyed court orders, and ignored letters sent by the Attorney Disciplinary Board.

In 2006, Hedgecoth’s license was suspended for six months for failing to respond to inquiries from the board, the Court noted Friday. And, it wrote, “In July 2007, he was publicly reprimanded for failing to file timely briefs in an appeal. In November 2007, he was suspended for failing to fulfill client-security commission and [continuing legal education] requirements. And in 2013 and 2014, he was suspended twice for a total of eight days” for failing to respond to the Board.

Hedgecoth most recently worked for the failed gubernatorial campaign of Jack Hatch, but he is most closely associated with Chet Culver. He was deputy secretary of state when Culver was Secretary of State, and he was a policy advisor and speech writer for Gov. Culver. He also worked for a bit for the state Democratic Party.

Footnote: The Supreme Court noted that for six years Hedgecoth taught legal ethics and professional responsibility.

“One who teaches ethics should be well aware of his responsibilities,” Justice Daryl Hecht wrote in the unanimous opinion. …

Iowa’s nonfarm employment totaled 1,537,000 for the month of February, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency reported the other day. It was 1,498,700 when Terry Branstad became governor four years ago and promised to create 200,000 jobs in five years. With less than a year to go, he is short 161,700.

In case you were wondering. CV


Comment: Bruce Braley

I was at Baratta’s restaurant the other day, waiting to meet some other old guys for lunch, when Neal Smith walked in. We chatted about the world and politics for a few minutes, then he went off to his lunch meeting. Right after that, Leonard Boswell walked in, and, again, we had a few friendly words about the world and politics.

The two former Congressmen — both defeated after strong careers — settled back in Iowa after their long years in Washington, and Iowa is much the better for that. The two — especially the 95-year-old Smith — are walking encyclopedias of Iowa politics and Iowa history. Indeed, much of what is history to most Iowans is simply memory to them.

Later that day, a friend noted that Bruce Braley, another defeated Iowa politician, was moving to Denver to practice law there.

That might be a good thing for Braley, but it’s a bad thing for Iowa. Braley is a smart and honest man, an accomplished lawyer and a fine Iowan. He could add a lot to this state over the next couple of decades — the populist voice here is not very strong these days — and both the state and the Democratic Party would be much better off if he stayed.

His absence might not be noted. But his presence would have been. CV

— Michael Gartner

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