November 26, 2015

Iowa City man accused of multiple assaults

Police-lightsUniversity of Iowa Police have arrested the person suspected of multiple assaults earlier this month.

U-I Police arrested 32-year-old Adam Weinstein of Iowa City following his release from University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, where he was involuntarily committed after police took him into custody.

Weinstein has been charged with one count of third-degree sexual abuse, four counts of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, and three counts of third-degree harassment following a series of physical and verbal attacks on campus November 10th. The attacks prompted a campus-wide Hawk Alert.


Appeals Court upholds Cambridge man’s murder conviction

GavelThe Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Cambridge man who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife. A jury found Jeremy Cory guilty shooting his wife Vallerie to death in their home in 2014.

The evidence showed Cory remained at home with his wife’s decomposing body for at least four days and lied about her whereabouts when a friend and then a police officer checked on her welfare.

Cory appealed verdict, claiming the district court hurt his defense by not allowing him to present evidence of his alcoholism and by limiting questions to potential jurors about alcohol abuse. He also claimed evidence of a burglary at his house two weeks after his arrest should have been allowed.

The Appeals Court ruled that prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence that Cory had an explosive temper and an unstable marriage and used his own rifle to shoot his wife eighteen times. The Appeals Court says the district court abused its discretion in excluding the evidence of Cory’s alcoholism, as evidence of his history of alcohol abuse would have provided a larger context for his unusual decision to remain in the home and drink beer for several days after he allegedly found his wife dead. But, the court ruled the exclusion of the evidence was harmless as the jury would have still found the him guilty.

The court ruled the evidence of the break in at the home should have been included, but also found the exclusion of that evidence was not enough to reverse the jury verdict. The Appeals Court did not rule on Cory’s claim that his attorney was ineffective for not trying to suppress statements he made to police. The court says the record needs to be more fully developed on the issue and left it open for Cory to make another appeal on the claim.

Here’s the full ruling: Cory ruling PDF


New art at Iowa Lotttery headquarters features clovers

T.J. Moberg and Dennis Reynolds. (L-R)

T.J. Moberg and Dennis Reynolds. (L-R)

The Iowa Lottery showed off the new art outside its building in Clive Tuesday.

Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich talked about the metal pieces now in place at the entrance of the building.

“There are 15 sculptures in all, most of them are four-leaf clovers — but there is one five-leaf Vets-cloverclover — which makes it unique. That’s the one that represents the five branches of the U.S. military and shows the logo of the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, which receives a portion of Iowa Lottery proceeds each year,” Rich explained.

The other clovers each have a theme too. “Our clovers represent education, recyling, agriculture, the arts and our ever-changing world,” Rich says. “We hope the result ultimately is fun, reative, it has depth and meaning that people can discover as they go from clover to clover.”


School bus clover.

The Iowa Lottery was required by state to spend one-half of one percent of its budget for the building it purchased on public art. That amounted to around $31,000 dollars for the clovers.

Dennis Reynolds created the clovers along with fellow artist T.J. Moberg. “They say a good indication of the quality of art is how it reflects the context of its location and the people who will be interacting with it,” Reynolds says.”And we really enjoyed this project especially because it was so much fun. And that’s really a reflection of the Iowa Lottery team and what it means to people.”

Clover featuring lottery winners.

Clover featuring lottery winners.

Reynold says it’s exciting to have the art at a high-profile site where people are visiting every day.

“We really are looking forward to people, the public as well as employees, coming to site and exploring and discovering these clovers, determining what they mean for them and having fun while they do it,” Reynolds says.

One of the clovers has photos on it of past lottery winners, and another is a traditional green clover that is near the enterance of the facility. That clover is expected to be one that people will rub for luck.

Hawkeyes move to 4th in football playoff rankings

Hawkeye players celebrate their win and share of Big 10 West title. Photo from @IowaFBLive.

Hawkeye players celebrate their Big 10 West title. Photo from @IowaFBLive.

The Iowa Hawkeyes moved up to number 4 in the new College Football Playoff Rankings announced Tuesday.

The 11-0 Hawkeyes were ranked fifth last week. They would be in the playoff for the national title if the season were over now.

Clemson remains in the top spot at 11-0, followed by Alabama at number 2, and Oklahoma jumped over Iowa into the number 3 spot. Both Alabama and Oklahoma have one loss.

Michigan State is in the number 5 spot and Notre Dame dropped from fourth to sixth.

Iowa finishes the regular season at Nebraska Friday, and then will play in the Big 10 Title game on December 5th as the Big Ten West Division champion.

Des Moines man charged with OWI in fatal accident

Police car lightsA Des Moines man is now facing several charges in connection with a fatal accident.

Des Moines police have charged 24-year-old Troy Lee Mure Junior with vehicular homicide by reckless driving, vehicular homicide by operating while intoxicated and first offense operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Police say Mure was behind the wheel Monday when the car he was driving hit a utility pole. Twenty-two-year-old passenger, Scalicity Boyd, died in the accident. Officers who first arrived on the scene reported the car was so badly damaged they couldn’t tell what model it was.

Mure was taken to the hospital for treatment after the accident and was arrested after being released today.


ISU economist expects shopping season similar to last year

Dave Swenson

Dave Swenson

An Iowa State University economist says the signs are pointing to an average holiday season for retailers this year. Dave Swenson says all of the analysis he’s seen doesn’t predict any big swings in shopping.

“Most people who are looking at the Iowa economy say it’s looking steady and a lot like last year,” Swenson says, “we continue to improve and incomes have gone up, and by all measures then you should expect a conventional holiday season.”

The good news is the economy hasn’t gotten worse compared to last year, but the improvement isn’t setting any records. “There’s not part of the Iowa economy that’s booming. There’s no special part that is really showing well. Because of that, there’s really not a lot of expectation for there to be a strong growth in holiday spending beyond the growth in just regular household income,” according to Swenson.

Swenson says it does appear though that the urban areas have an edge over rural areas economically. “The farm sector is weaker because of low crop prices and the multiplied through consequences of that might mean that there are parts of the economy that aren’t doing as well,” Swenson explains. “We know that communities that depend on manufacturing jobs and those types of things aren’t doing quite as well metropolitan areas which are enjoying consistent, both employment, population and income growth.”

One thing that is making an impact across the economy in the state is the drop in gas prices. He says the savings at the pump translates into a pay increase for households. “Compared to a year ago, it’s significant,” Swenson says. “Now, how much that increase is as a fraction of your household income — it isn’t that much — gas prices have more of a psychological than a significant effect for most families. But it will put more money in our pockets and more disposable income and greater opportunities for purchases. We can afford to do just a little bit more at the holiday season, but not that much more,” Swenson says.

Milder temperatures and lower heating fuel costs have also save Iowans some money on utility bills. “Every little piece on energy savings — whether its in your utility bill or if it’s gas being pumped into your car — every little savings is a boost to your household income. And it’s one of the few boosts to income we’re getting,” Swenson says. He says that boost helps in a time when wages have stay pretty flat.


Overall Community College enrollment drops slightly this fall

Ed-departmentThe number of students taking courses at Iowa’s community colleges this fall is down. The Department of Education’s Community College administrator Jeremy Varner says this report gives a quick look at what’s happening at the school’s.

“This is really just a slice of those credit students who are enrolled in fall. And essentially what we’re seeing, is that at Iowa’s 15 community colleges, enrollment this fall has slipped about point-six percent, to just over 93,000 students statewide,” Varner says. He says the next report that they’ll put out  will look at the entire school year enrollment, but this gives an early look of what is happening.

“Iowa’s community college enrollment throughout its history is generally a history of growth. There aren’t too many years where we’ve seen declines,” Varner explains. “We had such tremendous growth during the recession we’re seeing that correction — and now it appears to be sort of leveling off.” Varner says the overall drop in the fall came as there has been an increase in high school students taking community college courses.

“That was up over five percent. Over the past several years we continue to see year-over-year growth in that area. Students graduating from high school today have many more opportunities to pursue college credit course work than students did ten years ago,” Varner says. Varner says you need to look at the individual community colleges to get a clearer picture of the enrollment.

“We had about six see enrollment gains, while eight saw declines this past year. And there is a variety of different factors and you have to kind of look at the trend lines to really see what is going on there,” according to Varner. “You know there is a lot of different reasons for that variability, but some saw declines as much as eight percent this fall, and some saw growth as much as eight percent.”

He says keeping enrollment steady is important to these schools. “Community colleges are more tuition dependent than they were 15 years ago. So, when institutions see declines in enrollment, they really feel it,” Varner says. Iowa Valley saw the largest drop in fall enrollment at 6.6 percent, Des Moines Area Community College dropped 5.2 percent, Western Iowa Tech last 3.8 percent, Northeast Iowa 1.4 percent, Iowa Lakes lost one percent of its enrollment, while Iowa Central and Iowa Western lost nine-tenths of a percent. North Iowa Area lost one-tenth of one percent.

Indian Hills Community College saw the biggest gain of 8.2 percent, followed by Kirkwood at 3.8 percent, Southwestern was up 3.5, Northwest was up 3.1, Eastern Iowa had a 3 percent increase and Hawkeye Community College saw a 1.5 percent increase.

Varner says each school has some key things that impact their enrollment. “Each institution has its own context, it has its own labor market conditions, they have their own recruitment efforts, they have their own competitors, all these things sort of bleed over each other,” he says. The community college enrollment is made up of 90 percent Iowans, and around 40 percent are full time students.