The Iowa State Patrol released a report today on an 18-month self study of traffic stops designed to determine if race matters when troopers pull you over. Dick Moore, the director of the Iowa Division of Criminal & Juvenile Justice Planning, compiled the report that included over 600-thousand traffic stops.He says the indications are that troopers are not stopping people based on race, though he says once stopped, there are indications that people who aren’t caucasion are more likely to be searched. Moore says fewer searches of caucasions, does not indicate a pattern of profiling. He says additional information would be needed to make a link between the search and racial profiling, such as outstanding warrants against the individual and the reaction of the people in the car before and during the stop. Moore says traffic violations were the number one reason troopers made traffic stops. He says the information also raises a question about the penalties given after the stops. He says the data may indicate that white people are more likely to get a warning and are the least likely to be arrested. He says the data may also indicate that African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans were more likely to be arrested. Moore says you can’t make any concrete assessments of the data, because officers weren’t able to identify the race of over four percent of the drivers who were stopped. He says there was also a lot of other unknowns. He says the data doesn’t indicate if the people arrested had outstanding warrants, and it doesn’t indicate if one person was stopped for going 75 miles-an-hour, and another one was stopped doing 125 miles-an-hour. Moore says it’s hard to make such surveys 100 percent accurate, because there’s no way to absolutely determine everyone’s race. He says you can’t ask a person about their race, driver’s licenses don’t include the information, so he says you have to be very careful about any conclusion you draw from the information. Without all the information needed, Moore says you can only draw a general conclusion.The man who leads the Patrol, Colonel Robert Garrison, says he doesn’t know if the data point to a serious concern because there are too many unknowns. He says he is “not immediately alarmed though.” Garrison says he’s confident his troopers are doing the right thing, and cites the data on arrests as an example.While the data shows that African-Americans, Lations and Native Americans are arrested more than caucasions, he says those arrests have to be made with a warrant that can’t be manipulated. Garrison says the Patrol instituted the study to ensure it’s doing the best job that it can, and says they’ll be talking with various groups in the state to address any concerns.
Archives for April 2003
A long-time Florida Senator who’s making his first trip to Iowa discounts the idea he’s getting a late start in the campaign for the presidency. Sixty-six-year-old Bob Graham is one of a growing list of Democrats who’re competing for their party’s 2004 presidential nomination.Graham says it’s easier to play catch-up in fundraising and organization than in amassing the credentials which show you’re ready to be president. Graham says he’ll quickly “close the gap” with his competitors. Graham, who had heart valve surgery in January, says he has the “fire in the belly” and the resume that’re necessary for success. Graham says he’s the only candidate of a “major” state. Graham was Florida’s Governor for eight years, and he says there were a million new jobs created during his tenure. Howard Dean, one of Graham’s competitors, was Vermont’s Governor.
A liberal think tank says there’s no evidence cuts in Iowa’s income tax will spur business growth. Peter Fisher, a University of Iowa professor who’s part of the “Iowa Policy Project,” says individual income taxes are not a direct cost to the business, they’re a cost to their employees. Fisher says it’s only a factor if workers demand to be paid more or refuse to work in the state because of the income taxes. Fisher says Iowa’s income taxes are average when compared to the other 50 states, and below average when compared to other states in the Midwest. Fisher says a state’s income tax is just not a large factor in business decisions. Fisher says access to airports and Interstates, wage rates and utility costs are the things that really matter to businesses.Fisher says a small difference in the income taxes paid by employees is just a tiny factor that’s overweighed by those other considerations. A key Republican Senator disputes Fisher’s conclusions.Senator Larry McKibben of Marshalltown, the chairman of the Senate’s tax-writing committee, says Fisher’s “just wrong.” McKibben says Iowa’s income taxes are not average. With nine brackets and a top rate of nearly nine percent, McKibben says “high-end” wage earners make the calculation and avoid Iowa because of that high rate.McKibben and other legislators are still noodling around ideas for re-working Iowa’s income tax, but no deals have been struck.
State officials and Iowa’s race track casinos have struck a deal on taxes, the same day Attorney General Tom Miller appeared before the U-S Supreme Court to argue for keeping state taxes intact. The tracks will drop their lawsuit, and have settled for a 30 percent tax rate with the promise that they’ll get rebates from the state if gambling taxes grow. The ultimate goal, according to Republican Representative Brad Hansen of Carter Lake, is for those rebates to lower the tax rate for the tracks to 20 percent — equal to the state tax on riverboats. He says there’s concern on both sides over the possibility of losing the case. He says the state could lose 150 million dollars if it loses the case. Iowa’s race tracks sued the state, arguing it was unfair to tax the tracks at a rate that’ll climb to 36 percent while taxing the riverboats at just 20 percent. The tracks won at the State Supreme Court, which ruled the state owed the tracks million in back taxes. The bill resolves that legal conflict, so the state doesn’t have to pay. The House is scheduled to debate the bill this evening.
When and if Americans will get a federal tax cut has yet to be seen. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, one of the key negotiators in the congressional battle, says “it’s been going on for three weeks and absolutely no sign of success.” Grassley said over the weekend he hopes President Bush can convince resistent Republicans to change their views and adopt his desired higher amount of tax cuts.Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committeee, says there’s no specific time frame for the lobbying effort — he just hopes the President is able to sway a few more members of his own party into seeing the benefits of a larger tax cut. He says a larger tax cut is in order to eliminate the marriage penalty and child credit and so marginal rates can be reduced.Grassley, a republican, says the Senate budget is set at a 350-billion dollar tax cut, while the House version is more like 550-billion. Grassley has been vilified by many in his own party, including Jim Nussle of Iowa, chair of the House Budget Committee, for pushing for the smaller tax cut. Grassley says the lesser cut is better than no cut at all.
Federal investigators will soon travel to Maynard in northeast Iowa to investigate apparent vandalism to the city’s water supply earlier this month. Kathy Lee, of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’s emergency response team, says the the state’s initial investigation indicates it’s an act of vandalism by local pranksters. She says the vandal or vandals entered a well house and released a chemical chlorine solution, and she says the state investigation was to determine that there was no impact on the water supply. Lee says E-P-A investigators want to send a message about the vandalism. She says they’re taking vandalisms and potential terrorism directed toward water systems very seriously these days, and she says they’re going to investigate to see if criminal charges might be warranted. Lee says they don’t have any suspects that she knows about. Lee says these incidents are treated a lot differently now.Lee says the awareness of water security has been raised since 9-11 and vandals face severe fines. The Bioterrorism Act increased penalties for tampering or threatening to tamper with a water supply to a maximum of one million dollars for actual tampering and up to 100-thousand dollars for threatened or attempted tampering. The maximum prison time increased to 20 years for tampering and to 10 years for threatening to tamper. Lee’s not sure when the investigation will begin and how long it will take.She says this is a new process for them and she’s not sure how long it will take. The Fayette County sheriff’s office has not completed its investigation of the incident but has indicated youths may have broken into the facility since a nearby park was also vandalized.
Legislation that would tighten restrictions on pharmaceutical companies that “exploit the law” is being introduced today by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. He says the bill’s objective is to bring drug costs down for everyone instead of breaking sick people’s budgets. Grassley says his bill “will close a loophole for secret anti-competitive agreements between brand names and generic drug manufacturers.” He says drugs can be a lifesaver and also a budget buster. Grassley says generic drug makers sometimes make unscrupulous pacts with brand-name companies to hold off marketing generic versions of drugs for certain periods of time in exchange for cash to give the brand-name makers market control.
State tax officials say there aren’t too many procrastinating Iowa taxpayers who’re waiting ’til tomorrow’s deadline to file their state income taxes. Renee Mulvey says most Iowans filed their Iowa taxes when they submitted their federal returns, and state officials estimate just 215-thousand Iowans will submit their income taxes to the state between April 15th and April 30th. Iowans have already submitted about one-point-two million state income tax returns, and Mulvey says the majority were submitted electronically.Mulvey says 730-thousand returns have been transmitted electronically — a 17 percent increase over last year. Iowa led the nation last year, with 46 percent of returns filed by electronic means. To date, the average refund on state income taxes is four-hundred-51 dollars. The state has paid out three-hundred-44 million dollars in refunds so far.
Seven University of Iowa students leave tomorrow for Tennessee to take part in a three-day think tank as part of what’s dubbed a “national creativity effort.” Jesse Elliott, a senior at the U-of-I, says they’ll be among one-hundred people from across the U-S who’ll help create what’s to be called the Memphis Manifesto. Creation of the document will bring together people from all sorts of communities — bankers, journalists, artists, politicians — to talk about economic development and the role of creativity in its success. Elliott says the manifesto, which will be sent out to cities across the nation, will be a declaration of steps that need to be taken to build communities for members of the “creative class.”After this week’s three-day summit in Memphis, the manifesto will be posted on numerous websites and will be distributed to mayors, congressional leaders, business leaders and key influencers across the U-S. Elliott is from Elgin, Illinois, and he’s triple-majoring in political science, film and Spanish. He’s not sure what sort of role he’ll play in creating the maifesto, but he’ll be one of one-hundred voices brainstorming on the effort.Four Iowans are among the other six U-of-I students on the trip: Jacek Pruski of Ames, Amanda Styron of Mount Pleasant and Mike Brooks and Spencer Griffin, both of West Des Moines. For more information, surf to “www.memphismanifesto.com”.
Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley is optimistic about the upcoming season. The Panthers closed out spring drills by drafting two teams to make it an even matchup and it was with the White squad defeating the Purple squad 7-0.Farley says they need to improve the kicking game and develope depth at wide receiver but he feels good about the situation at runningback.UNI opens the season August 30th at Iowa State