The annual report of state Ombudsman William Angrick is now out in print and posted on the internet. Angrick says 2007 saw a slight drop in complaints. Angrick says the overall number of complaints was a little over 4,500, although he says it appears the complexity and difficulty of the problems is heightened.
Angrick says he’s already seeing a higher number of cases this year than last year. He says the highest number of complaints involved Iowa’s prisons — which has been the historical trend. Angrick says prison-related issues made up 20% of the complaints, while human services issues were at a "high 10%," while issues involving municipalities and counties was next. He says open records complaints across government continue to grow.
Angrick says the concerns about open records shows him something. He says there definitely is a better understanding of citizens’ rights and there are some issues that won’t go away in terms of what can be charged for records and how quickly you need to respond, and the type of information that is subject to open records laws.
Angrick says the state legislature took a look at the issue and that may’ve also helped raise the public perception. Angrick says they try to resolve most issues before they lead to legal or other action. Angrick says they approach things initially on an informal basis, unless it involves something very serious, such as a death in a prison. Angrick says so far this year the concerns are coming in top categories as last year.
"Obviously the summer is going to change a lot of that dynamic with the floods and the various types of challenges and tragedies that occurred across the state," Angrick says. He expects his office to get more involved in flood and recovery issues as the various recovery programs are implemented. You can find out more about the Ombudsman’s office by calling 515-281-3592, or by visiting the Ombudsman’s website .