Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Category

Election advisory panel meets again

September 6, 2019

On 9/5/2019, the Linn County Auditor’s Office Election Advisory Panel met for a second time this year. The mission of the Panel is to improve anything and everything associated with elections in Linn County that falls under the purview of the Office of Linn County Auditor.

Representatives of the Linn County Democratic and Libertarian parties attended, as well as, the League of Women Voters. Hopefully, we can meet with the representatives of the Linn County Republican Party in the near future. The agenda for yesterday’s meeting is attached.

Have an elections related question or concern? Contact us at mailto:elections – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Elections Advisory Mtg 9.4.19.docx

Statement by Auditor Weipert upon the passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

April 13, 2017

I agree with the Johnson County Auditor’s press release – see below; especially his comment that “None of these provisions does (sic) anything to help people vote”.

Whenever I ask the question: Will this bill increase voter turnout in our elections? No one has answered YES. One person responded with, “Why should I care?”

I will tell you why we should care. We should care because our right to vote is a fundamental building block in our democracy. Voting is how we choose civil leaders; it’s how we peacefully transition power from one elected leader to the next. It’s the one right we exercise that is equal to, but not greater than anyone’s else right to vote. Voting is the easiest way to participate – to engage – in our democracy.

Yes, I would like to see every voter make an informed choice, but that’s not a requirement. And from what I have observed, most voters only vote in races and/or for candidates they know something about. For instance, another law that will combine city elections with school elections is stoking fear that the voters will vote on races they know nothing about. Do you do that?

There is nothing in HF516 that leads me to believe it will increase voter turnout. And if you dare to call me, I will tell you why I think it will increase the opportunity for impostors to illegally cast ballots. In my ten years as Auditor, one impostor ballot has been cast amongst over one million ballots cast in Linn County. That is 1 ballot in over 1,000,000 ballots.

I will honor my oath of office and administer elections per the requirements of the law. I will also work as hard and smart as possible to ensure no voter is disenfranchised by HF516 or any other laws. And when and where I find wannabe voters who have been disenfranchised by our laws, I will yell and scream in the most civil of ways and work to dismantle the barriers to voting. That is not an option for me! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor – Vision: Every person engaged in local government.

From: Travis Weipert [mailto:tweipert@co.johnson.ia.us]
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Subject: FW: Statement by Travis Weipert on Passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert issued the following statement on passage of the final version of House File 516, the voter ID bill (full text at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HF516&ga=87 )

“I am disappointed that the Legislature has taken this big step backward on voting rights. The only type of ‘fraud’ that a photo ID can address, voter impersonation, is simply non-existent.

This bill singles out voters who do not have Iowa drivers licenses. They will have to show a visibly different card in line. This calls attention to them and makes them more vulnerable to having their vote challenged. It also gets rid of the traditional voter card that gets sent to everyone, which many voters value and carry.

The voter ID bill also includes many unrelated items that do nothing to increase the integrity of elections:

· It shortens the time available for in person early voting. This forces voters who have made up their minds to wait, which makes the line longer for everyone.

· It shortens the window for mailing ballots to just 19 days, which decreases the chances that voters who have to send ballots a long distance will see their vote counted

· The bill eliminates the popular straight ticket option that nearly a third of Johnson County voters used last fall. This lengthens the voting process and as a result makes the lines longer.

· Poll workers with no professional training in handwriting analysis are forced to make judgements about signatures which may have changed over time.

· None of these provisions does anything to help people vote. The process will be longer and more difficult, and there’s no question that some people who were able to vote under previous laws will be unable to vote.

Nevertheless, this will be the law, and we will follow and enforce it. We urge voters to be cooperative with our staff and poll workers and respectful of the people behind you in line. We are not happy with this law, but the election process is the only way to change it.

The final paragraph of HF516 says that the Secretary of State, in consultation with county auditors and the public, “shall develop and implement a comprehensive and statewide public education plan.” I look forward to working with the Secretary of State’s office on this plan, and urge the Legislature and governor to fully fund it.” ###

Working together: Examples of partnerships occurring under my leadership

April 24, 2012

My opponents allege that I do not work well with other County offices and departments. I say to them, where is your proof?

Under my leadership:

Clerk to the Board of Supervisors: First Deputy Auditor Becky Shoop continues to take the minutes of the Board meetings as she has done since I was elected Auditor. I think the Board members would agree that Becky is an asset to the Board with her institutional knowledge of County operations. Becky is meticulous in recording the minutes and maintaining the Board’s official files.

Elections Services: We have continued an informal arrangement with Story and Black Hawk counties which gave us volume discount pricing on our last voting machine purchases and which will likely give us some leverage in future negotiations for voting machines.

We provided mapping support to the Linn County Temporary Redistricting Commission at no additional cost to the County and worked closely with the Linn County Attorney and the Board’s Director of Policy & Administration to create the five supervisor districts.  In addition, we supported the cities of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion with their redistricting/reprecincting.

We provided GIS/Mapping support to the Iowa Secretary of State when his office needed help in creating a statewide precinct map, which benefited the Iowa Caucuses and continues to benefit the political parties. We are negotiating an agreement with the Secretary of State to provide on-going GIS/Mapping support for the state-wide precinct map.

We work closely with each of the seventeen (17) cities and twelve (12) school districts in Linn County to support their regular and special elections.

We provided technical/contract support to several Linn County labor unions by assisting them with six (6) union elections from 2008 through 2011.

GIS/Mapping/Real Estate Services: We continue to support the Linn County Sheriff’s Sex Offender Map and have done so since I became Auditor.

We are presently supporting the Sheriff’s, Cedar Rapids Police Department’s, and Marion Police Department’s E911 (enhanced 911)/CAD (computer aided dispatch) project – basically, an upgrade of the CRPD’s existing CAD system and a complete overhaul of the Sheriff’s CAD system.

We support the County and City Assessors by providing owner information and real property legal descriptions. We support the backend system that provides the County Assessor with the CSR (corn suitability rating) used to value agricultural property.

We supported Linn County Conservation by hiring a summer intern who mapped out trails, campsites, and Conservation owned infrastructure.

We supported Linn County Public Health when they mapped out tobacco outlets, STD incidents, and lead poisoning incidents as part of the Linn Healthy Behaviors grant.

We continue to support the Public Health’s Air Quality Division by providing mapping services that support the open burn permitting process.

We provide as-needed support for the Linn County Emergency Management Agency chaired by Sheriff Brian Gardner. We provided massive mapping support for the Agency, its members, and State and federal agencies during the Flood of 2008.

We support Linn County Planning & Development by proofing new subdivisions prior to them being recorded and helped them create their LESA (land evaluation & site assessment) tool, which assists them with land use and zoning.

We (GIS, Deputy Auditor Gordon Thomson, and Property Tax Manager John Adams) have teamed up with the County Assessor, County Treasurer, and IT Department to create the new Linn County Land Management System aka the Manatron/GRM Project – a system that will replace a 30 year old costly, mainframe computer system.

Property Tax and Valuation Services: We work with every taxing entity in Linn County, i.e., every city, school district, fire district, and township on their budgets or bond issues. John Adams, Gordon Thompson, and select IT personnel create an annual valuation report which is used by every taxing entity in Linn County.

Accounting Services: Daily, we work with every office and department in Linn County government to get invoices and employees paid accurately and on-time.

Facilities Services: Daily, we provide custodial and maintenance services for each of the County’s major buildings. We operate a help desk for internal customers which has tracked and closed 24,090 requests for service since its inception on 4/29/2009.

We have partnered with Cedar Rapids Public Works to acquire brine solution for treating sidewalks in the winter months. We have partnered with the City of Cedar Rapids Facilities Department to piggyback onto their energy monitoring system.

Under my leadership, the Office of Auditor has formed partnerships which have produced results in the past, are producing results in the present, and will continue to produce results in the future.

We are professionals and we realize disagreements will occur. We work together … as a team … for the benefit of Linn County and the taxpayers. We get work done … every day.

To my opponents I say again, “Where is your proof?”

Nice meeting you may I use your credit card

July 8, 2010

On May 28th, I indicated the “City and County (Supervisors) can’t seem to work together on anything of significance”.

On July 6th, the City of Cedar Rapids (5 of 9 Councilors) and the Supervisors (5 of 5) came together at City Hall North to discuss what appeared to be a variety of topics; however, the underlying theme seemed to be:  you (the Supervisors) have a line of credit you are not using, more than half the population of the County lives in Cedar Rapids – you (the Supervisors) should tap your line of credit to help the City on several projects.

Councilor Shields asked if the supervisors could support the City’s animal control project, the multi-generational/recreation center, and/or the amphitheater.  He sounded frustrated.  He seemed to be searching for some level of commitment from the Supervisors, but he never mentioned a number or a percentage.  Supervisor Houser correctly pointed out to the councilors that the County could not throw money at City projects without taking an ownership interest.  I didn’t hear the supervisors say NO to helping or YES to helping.  It was more of a MAYBE, but we want details.

I’m unsure what the councilors expected.  Did they think the Supervisors were going to show up, say “Here’s $10M – let us know what you’re going to spend it on?”  Why didn’t the councilors have something specific in mind before the meeting started?  Do they want $10M?  Or $1M?  Or 5% of the cost of a project?  Or 10%?  Or 50%?  What do they want?  And I’m not saying the Supervisors should give them anything.

If you’re going to take the time to have a joint official meeting with the public watching and minutes being taken, and this is the first time you’ve met in 2010 and you are the City and you want something from County, why wouldn’t you be prepared to ask for something specific?  Better yet, tell the Supervisors before the meeting what you are going to ask for so they can do their homework and be ready to make a decision when the meeting convenes.

I’ve heard from a councilor or two that the supervisors are not interested in helping the City – that they’ve said NO.  Maybe they have said NO in private, but anyone can say anything in private.  What matters the most when legislative bodies meet is who voted for what and why.  That means decisions were made.  That means they’re on the record standing for or against something.  That didn’t happen on Tuesday.  It was “nice”, but I was expecting something more than nice.

Watching Tuesday’s meeting makes me wonder … again.  Can the City and County work together on anything of significance?  If YES, when?

Out of sight AND out of mind

May 28, 2010

First, it was the decision by the Board of Supervisors to return to the Administrative Office Building which is hidden from view except for those traveling northbound on I-380.  Would the City of Cedar Rapids locate their City Hall in the same place?  Which company aside from Penford would locate their headquarters building in the same place?

Next, it was The Gazette Companies pulling their beat reporter from the County.  Although I didn’t appreciate some of the news stories about me, I think the public is still interested in how $120M of their money is being spent.

And yesterday, it was the realization after talking to a CR City Council member that the City and County (Supervisors) can’t seem to work together on anything of significance.  The County Sheriff and the CR Police Chief are teaming up on building a radio dispatch system with full interoperability; yet, we’re almost half way through the year and the Board and Council have not had one joint meeting.  I know, I know, they’re been meeting 1:1, 2:1, 3:2, 3:4 – it doesn’t matter.  No joint, binding decisions have been made at a public meeting.

Yes, I know the County is ahead of the City when measured by building construction in progress, but what are we going to do for an encore when all of the construction is complete?  Maybe all of the County electeds can stand on the streets of Mays Island and handout out Where is Waldo maps for the newly remodeled AOB … because that’s the one County building that’s still going to be hard to find when the construction dust clears.

We’ve been minimized!  We did it to ourselves.  And I don’t like it!

We’re out of sight and out of mind.

Recorder Auditor consolidation – it’s not my battle

May 26, 2010

On March 30th, Adam Belz reported that Paul Pelletier, if elected County Recorder, wants to abolish the Office of Recorder and consolidate it with the County Auditor and County Treasurer.  When I read the comments attached to the story, I noticed I was being mentioned – sometimes in an unkind manner.

For the record:  I had nothing to do with Mr. Pelletier running for Recorder.  My first face-to-face meeting with him was at a Metro North Rotary meeting.  I am a member and now Paul is a member.  He was recruited by the president of our club.

For the record:  I don’t recall when I first met Joan McCalmant, the current Recorder, but it was likely at a Linn County Democratic Central Committee meeting in 1998 or thereabouts.  She’s a Democrat; I’m a Democrat.

I have a conflict of interest in the matter of consolidating the Recorder’s Office with the Auditor’s Office.  If consolidated, I would likely seek an increase in my salary based upon the reassignment of duties and personnel from the Recorder to the Auditor.  For this reason and others, I am NOT advocating the consolidation of the offices nor am I opposing it.  It’s not my battle.

If Mr. Pelletier wants to advocate for consolidation – that’s his prerogative.  If the Board of Supervisors wants to advocate consolidation between the Recorder, Auditor, and other offices – then that’s their prerogative.  If a group of citizens forms a committee to force a vote on the consolidation – then that’s their prerogative.  It’s not my battle.

But let’s do a reality check!  The facts are that Linn County’s voters have expanded government in recent times.  The Board of Supervisors went from three to five members.  The Cedar Rapids City Council went from five members to nine members.  We have eighteen cities and fifteen school districts in Linn County.  Where is the outcry to consolidate anything?  And how much savings should be achieved in order to proceed with a consolidation:  $50K/year?  $100K/year?  $1Million/year?  What’s your number?

To view the 88 pages of documentation I collected on the subject of Recorder Auditor consolidation, click here.  The collection is from Woodbury County, Linn County, Johnson County, and includes my recent fact finding report.

Good luck Paul!  Good luck Joan!  It’s not my battle.  It’s all yours!

Board decides to lead

February 21, 2009

One of the biggest criticisms leveled against the City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County is a lack of leadership.  Buttry, Dorman, and the Gazette’s editorial writers have recently been taking aim with increasing frequency at CR and County leadership.  And I agree with Buttry et al:  The County and CR need to do a better job of leading.

 

Yesterday (2/20), the Board of Supervisors (BOS) demonstrated they can lead.  While the BOS voted 3-2 not to join the co-location study, the fact that each of the five shared their reasons for voting in the manner they were going to vote AND then actually voted to do something was refreshing. 

 

The Board decided to lead.  And I view their decision as a landmark event because it was a decision to control their (and my/our) destiny when it seemed our destiny was at the mercy of CR.

 

While CR Councilor Pozimek didn’t like the Board’s decision, he never addressed – at least at the BOS meeting – the timeline challenges the County, CR, and CR Schools are facing. 

 

The timeline for completing repairs on our buildings is 36 months from the start of the Presidential Disaster Declaration.  The public tends to forget that the Declaration began with the tornado that hit Parkersburg, which means we’ve already chewed up nine plus months of a 36 month timeline.  And while we have restored the Elections Depot and we’re back in the Courthouse and we’re working on the Correctional Center, we’ve made little progress on the AOB, Witwer, Youth Shelter, and Options buildings.

 

The second item no one has addressed is how would the County, CR, or CR Schools pay for co-location?  I do NOT believe anyone intends to use the local option sales tax (if approved) for new government buildings.  That leaves the County, CR, and CR Schools with one source of revenue – property taxes – to supplement their reimbursements from FEMA.  Do we really want to saddle the taxpayers with an increase in property taxes at this point in time?  Or over the next few years?  For government buildings?

A majority of the BOS already recognized that the County is short of time and short of funds to participate in co-location with CR and the CR Schools.  If you already know on February 20, 2009, that you are short on both of those key ingredients, why would you proceed with the study?

 

The Board made the correct decision for Linn County yesterday.  And to top it off, the Board decided to lead.


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