Posts Tagged ‘ben rogers’

Fake news and a kangaroo court

October 24, 2018

You may wonder why I did not attend today’s Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Here are some of my reasons:

  • I anticipated it was going to be kangaroo court.  And after viewing the video recording of the meeting, there is no doubt it was indeed a kangaroo court. I am thankful I did not attend.  I have no doubt Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson would have piled on more fake news if I had been present.
  • I provided an update to the Board last week; however, only Supervisors Houser, Harris, and Rogers bothered to show up for that meeting. Then today, they pretend I deprived them of details.  They have the details.  Supervisor Rogers has asked for and received details on an almost daily basis.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to continue his witch-hunt.
  • Electioneering is the act of saying anything negative or positive about a candidate on the ballot in a polling place. I am a candidate on November 6th. For some reason, the Supervisors think their public Board meeting room is immune from the legal requirements of Iowa law Chapters 39A.4 and 53.10.  I cannot control what they do, but I control what I do; hence, I did not attend their meeting today in a building designated as a polling place.

After watching the video, it is clear that Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson are masters of fake news.  For example,

  • Rogers says, “The Secretary of State said in an email to Auditor Miller that he has not done enough to address this issue”.  Fake news:  I have not received any emails from Secretary of State Paul Pate. 
  • Walker said, “It’s almost criminal” what Miller has done.  Fake news:  There is nothing criminal about the sample ballot mailer.  Its purpose was to increase voter turnout, and inform and educate voters on election law changes, and allow them time to be informed about candidates on the ballot prior to Election Day.
  • Oleson said, “Some people have been disenfranchised from the vote”.  Fake news:  No proof exists that anyone has been disenfranchised. 
  • Oleson said, “Auditor Miller is personally, I mean he has never before personally collected the mail, and he’s going in and then personally collecting the mail, and then reviewing the allocation of votes on the sample ballots form, and then shredding them”.  Fake news and AN OUTRIGHT LIE:  I don’t touch the mail nor have I viewed any voted sample ballots or official ballots.  A team of Republican and Democrat election officials shred the sample ballots mistakenly returned to our office.
  • Oleson said, I bullied and stopped March for Our Lives students from registering voters. Fake news:  Students had set up a table to register voters within the confines of a polling place, i.e., within 300’ of the NewBo City Market satellite voting on 10/13/2018.  State law prohibits electioneering within 300’ and; unfortunately, someone told the students it was permissible to display photos of the Republican and Democratic candidates on the November 6th ballot along with information on those candidates.  Fortunately, no one who cared about the unfairness of this situation contacted my office to complain about the lack of Libertarian and other third-party candidates missing from the display photos and information.  I advised the students that they needed to display all of the candidates on the ballot or none of the candidates on the ballot.  The students rolled up the tablecloth and removed the entire display.  I told them, “I appreciated their efforts, but they needed to be fair to all candidates”; and they were not being fair.  Reminder:  Iowa ballots contain three major parties. 
  • Oleson said, “You are allowed to have forums within voting places”. Fake news from a fake lawyer:  The purpose of candidate forums is for candidates to answer questions and give their positions on issues.  As such, the candidates attending those forums are advocating for themselves or against their opponents – that is electioneering. 
  • Rogers said, no one has seen the letter sent to the voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots. Fake news:  The letter was provided to Noah Tabor, Esq. – Voter Protection Director, Campaign for Iowa (Democratic Party), and to Deputy Iowa Secretary of State Ken Kline on 10/2/2018.
  • Rogers said, if we directed staff not to answer him, there would be a big stink.  Fake news:  Actually, the Board did direct its staff not to answer my questions regarding the Harris Building.  No stink – no news story. 
  • Walker said, “The Auditor had instructed the staff member to tell me to leave because of electioneering”. Fake news:  I never talked to my staff member about Stacey Walker being in the Library.  My staff member knows the law and the law states:  Loitering by candidates and others is prohibited in a polling place and the Cedar Rapids Public Library was a polling place.  Supervisor Walker appears to believe he is above the law.
  • Walker said, “The Commissioner of Elections is waltzing around this community acting as if he has the right to arrest people” and “telling citizens where they can and cannot be.”  Fake news:  I do not have the right to arrest anyone – that is law enforcement’s job.  I do not tell anyone where they can or cannot be.  I inform people what the law is and they decide what they should do.  The NAACP decided to relocate after being informed of the law.  In fact, Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg called me about the NAACP forum to ask if it complied with the law.  I told him that the NAACP had already decided to move.  

The Board spent about 22 minutes of their 26 minute meeting discussing the sample ballot mailing.  Imagine how long the meeting would have been if I had attended?

If I had attended the meeting, I have no doubt the meeting would have crossed the line from fact-finding to character assassination in seconds.  Even in my absence, my behavior was referred to as being “criminal” (Walker) and I was guilty of “malfeasance” (Oleson).  Those are not kind words to say about someone – that is electioneering.

Today’s meeting was a kangaroo court with Supervisor Rogers presiding, and Supervisors Walker and Oleson taking their turns at me.

The biggest disappointment is the ease with which Rogers, Walker, and Oleson spread fake news or outright lies, and this is but one 26 minute meeting.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time nor the last time they will spread fake news.

Thirteen days and counting.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

$103K per year for 3 hours per week

June 16, 2017

OK, that headline is not fair. But the purpose of a headline is to get you to read the story. And the story here is about whether the Linn County Board of Supervisors (BOS) needs to meet three times per week.

From time to time over my past ten years as Auditor, I have asked the BOS to consider scheduling less public meetings. I usually bring it up when they complain about the cost of publishing their meeting minutes in the County’s four official newspapers. Why does the BOS need to meet three times per week? Maybe they could get their public work done in two meetings per week? And in some weeks, they could get their work done in one meeting per week. In fact, in one week earlier this year, they had one meeting via telephone that lasted five (5) minutes.

If you review the attachment, you will see that the BOS met publicly an average of just over three hours per week over the first 24 weeks of 2017. That tells me that they could get their work done in one meeting per week the majority of the time. Now, I am not advocating for less meetings because I want the BOS to work less, but preparing, holding, and reporting on three meetings per week takes up more staff time per week than meeting once per week. And it would likely reduce the length of the meeting minutes published in the newspapers.

As for the individual BOS members attendance records, they range from a low of 76% attendance to a high of 89% attendance for the first 24 weeks of 2017. Seems like their attendance could be higher if the members cooperated with each other and scheduled their official meetings around vacations and other county business. The BOS’s three meetings per week ritual seems to be carved in stone … except when it’s not. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

BOS Attendance week ending 6-16-2017.xlsx

Related party transactions – part 2

February 23, 2016

As I indicated on 2/22, I reported several other business transactions (BT) to EideBailly LLP (EB) and Linn County’s Office of Finance & Budget (F&B). After talking with a CPA at EB, at F&B, and at the Auditor of State’s Office, I concluded that an additional twenty-two (22) BTs should have been included in the County’s 2015 Compliance Report.

I choose to err on the side of disclosing too many BTs rather than too few BTs.  Further, I do not wish to disincentivize the employees who had the courage to self-report real or perceived related-party-transactions (BTs) or conflicts of interest.

Please be advised that the disclosure of these BTs does NOT imply any wrongdoing of any kind. The purpose of these disclosures is to illustrate to the public and taxpayers that Linn County is transparent in spending its tax dollars.

In addition, you will find that I did not disclose employee and contractor names; however, those names are available upon request. I did disclose elected officials names as we have the highest fiduciary responsibility to the County.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor (LCA) 

Linn County Auditor’s referral case # – County employee’s organization in FY2015 – Relationship – Website- Description – Amount spent in FY2015

FY15-001     Board of Supervisor’s (BOS) IT employee – SPOUSE was executive director of Grace C Mae Advocate Center, Inc. – – Services – $200

FY15-002     BOS Options employee – SPOUSE was owner of TJ Support Services LLC – no website – Services – $9,664

FY15-005     BOS Facilities employee – EMPLOYEE & SPOUSE were co-owners of Blakley Properties – no website – Rented housing to County client – $875

FY15-007     Medical Examiner employees – EMPLOYEES own Weber Specialty Transport Company – no website – Services – $10,734

FY15-008     Supervisor John Harris – ELECTED OFFICIAL was board member of Area Ambulance Authority – – Services – $15,853

FY15-009     Supervisor Ben Rogers – ELECTED OFFICIAL was board member of The Arc of East Central Iowa – – Services – $14,847

FY15-010     BOS Veteran Affairs employee – EMPLOYEE was president & board member of Valor, Inc. – no website – Services (Valor received grant funds from County for purpose of providing services) – $2,196

FY15-011     Attorney’s Office employee – SPOUSE was president & board member of CR IV Service, Inc. dba CarePro Home Medical AND president & board member of CR Pharmacy Service, Inc. dba A Avenue Pharmacy – – Services & Supplies – $1,057

FY15-013     Supervisor John Harris – ELECTED OFFICIAL’S SON-IN-LAW was employed by Foundation 2, Inc. – – Services – $111,139

FY15-014     BOS contractor (paid $45,600 in FY15) – CONTRACTOR was board member of Prospect Meadows, Inc. (PMI) – – County leased office space and farmland to PMI – $2,401

FY15-015     Supervisor John Harris – ELECTED OFFICIAL was board member of Area Substance Abuse Council, Inc. – – Services – $62,122

FY15-016     BOS LCCS employee – EMPLOYEE was board member of Community Corrections Improvement Association – no website – Services – $19,754

FY15-017     Supervisor Brent Oleson – ELECTED OFFICIAL was board member of Trees Forever, Inc. – – Services (symposium sponsorships) – $3,500

FY15-018     Sheriff’s Office employee – EMPLOYEE’S BROTHER-IN-LAW was employed by Rapids Wholesale Equipment Company – – Supplies – $7,240

FY15-020     Supervisor Brent Oleson – ELECTED OFFICIAL was ex-officio board member of Prospect Meadows, Inc. – – County leased office space and farmland to PMI – $2,401

FY15-022     BOS Purchasing employee – EMPLOYEE’S BROTHER was employed by Pat McGrath Chevyland – – Service & Supplies – $8,982

FY15-023     BOS Purchasing employee – EMPLOYEE’S BROTHER-IN-LAW was employed by Bromo Inc. dba The 380 Companies or Reconstruction 380 – – Services – $3,210

FY15-024     BOS Purchasing employee – EMPLOYEE’S SISTER-IN-LAW was employed by Altorfer, Inc. – Services – $19,470

FY15-025     BOS Purchasing employee – EMPLOYEE’S UNCLE owns Neal’s Water Conditioning – Services – $1,725

FY15-026     Recorder’s Office employee – SPOUSE owns DF Jones Enterprises, LLC – no website – Rented housing to County client – $12,725

FY15-027     Supervisor Lu Barron – ELECTED OFFICIAL (1st half of FY15) – SPOUSE was president of Barron Motor Inc. – no website – Supplies – $1,134

FY15-029     BOS LCCS employee and Sheriff’s Office employee – EMPLOYEES own rental property – no website – Rented housing to County client – $1,700

Sources:  FY2015 Vendor Payments, employee self disclosures, tips, and LCA initiated audits.   ###

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