A legislator from Des Moines who’s also running for governor is asking the Iowa Attorney General to look into dealings by developers and the former director of the Department of Transportation for a new driver’s license station.
Ed Fallon, a democrat, says an investigative series by the Des Moines Register has uncovered several questions about the decision to move the station from Des Moines to an area near Ankeny. Fallon says he wants the state’s top lawyer to review those questions.
Fallon says he wants to know whether the whole thing is “free of taint.” He says, “And I really have my doubts about that, and I think the investigation shows some real concerns. And I believe if we had the Attorney General’s office digging into it in deep detail, we might see some problems that hopefully would cause the legislature to respond differently than it did this past legislative session.” The legislature approved some nine million dollars in funding after grilling then-D-0-T head Mark Wandro about the deal.
Fallon says the deal was not a slam dunk when it passed the legislature. Fallon says there were a lot of people asking tough questions and he says the vote to appropriate the money was very close. He says if more of the information was available at the time, then they likely would’ve defeated the issue. Fallon is also asking Governor Vilsack to stop construction on the new station until the Attorney General has a chance to review the issue.
Fallon says the governor has the authority to say with all the questions, it’s time to put it on hold and see how the legislature wants to respond. Critics might say stopping the project would cost more money, but Fallon says it’s important to be sure things were handled properly. He says, “It’s hard to say whether we’d save money or lose money by doing that (stopping the project). At any rate it’s the right thing to do, because what has happened is terrible.” Fallon says many people will have to travel a longer distance to get their driver’s license and he says the new station is in an environment that’s unfriendly to older people who don’t like to drive on a busy freeway.
Fallon says it’s gone beyond an issue of money.
Fallon says there’s a lot of issues that go beyond the issue of cost. Fallon says the state could have saved a lot of money if they’d done things right in the first place. Fallon says “I think some of these state officials and private developers need to be held accountable.”
The Register investigation questions whether developers including Bill Knapp of Des Moines benefited by their association with the former D-O-T director, and whether the site for the new driver’s license station was chosen because of that relationship. Fallon says he intends to speak with other lawmakers in hopes of halting the construction.