Five Democrats in the Iowa House are calling for the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee to investigate how state funds were used by the “Rock in Prevention” program.
Representative Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City, says recent news stories have raised concerns about the salary and royalties paid to the program’s manager — money that came from Iowa taxpayers. “I don’t know if (financial) reports have been filed on this or not, or if anybody’s looked at them, but it kind of raised a red flag,” Lensing says. “What we’re doing with CIETC we should be doing (with Rock in Prevention) or making sure that there’s accountability for all taxpayer dollars that are spent.”
CIETC, as you may recall, is the central Iowa job training agency where now-fired top managers earned what legislators have called “extravagant” salaries and benefits. Pat McManus, the executive director of Rock in Prevention, was paid over 315-thousand dollars last year — over one-third of the program’s total spending. McManus performs free concerts at Iowa schools, singing songs which spread an anti-drug message.
There’s controversy as well over an Iowa State University study to determine the effectiveness of the Rock in Prevention program as all three researchers had personal links to the program. Lensing says somebody needs to pay attention to this. “All the dollars may be going where they’re supposed to, but — if not — maybe somebody should take a look at it,” Lensing says.
Rock in Prevention was created in 1990 by McManus, who’s a former drug addiction counselor. The program’s website claims McManus has performed in front of a million children, pushing his anti-drug message.
State legislators directly contributed 600-thousand taxpayer dollars in the last budgeting year to Rock in Prevention. “If there is a report somewhere, if there is data that supports all of this — fine, and if not, maybe we need to scrutinize a little bit and find out where those dollars are going.” Rock in Prevention president McManus did not respond to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview.
The other Democrats who have called for an investigation of McManus’ program are House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque and Representatives Roger Thomas of Elkader, Wes Whitead of Sioux City and Cindy Winckler of Davenport.