The Legislative Oversight Committee failed to convene this (Thursday) morning even as a witness sat waiting to testify about her role in the saga surrounding a central Iowa job training agency which had managers making six-figure incomes. Republicans on the panel, like Representative Dwayne Alons of Hull, accused Democrats of dragging their feet because Democrats in the House failed to attend the meeting and it had to be canceled. “The other side appears to want to stall and delay,” Alons says.
Alons says Democrats seem hesitant to confront some of the problems unveiled when a whistleblower stepped forward to alert federal authorities that funds were being misspent. Many of the prominent players in this on-going saga at the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium are prominent Polk County Democrats, or linked to them.
But Senator Mike Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque, says the idea statehouse Democrats are trying to block the investigation is ridiculous. Connolly says Democrats on the Legislative Oversight Committee have asked some of the toughest questions of CIETC players. For example, Connolly is the one who repeatedly asked former CIETC C-O-O John Bargman to admit his salary was unreasonable. “But I think we’re getting dangerously close to this devolving into a dog and pony show,” Connolly says. “Our job is to craft legislation.”
Connolly says Democrats in both the House and the Senate have wanted to “vigorously” pursue answers, but he says there’s been enough testimony and it’s time for lawmakers to pass some bills to make sure this kind of abuse doesn’t happen again. House Democrats failed to attend the last two Legislative Oversight Committee meetings because they were talking privately among themselves about overall state budget issues.
Two committee hearings are scheduled next week, and panel chairmen say they’ve invited back the woman who was prepared to testify today — the Iowa Workforce Development secretary who was caught tossing documents in a dumpster the day after her boss resigned over the pay scandal.