Regents want more oversight on payments to cities IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Agreements by Iowa's three public universities to make voluntary payments to cities instead of property taxes would receive closer scrutiny under a policy recommended Wednesday. The policy backed by an Iowa Board of Regents committee comes after the University of Iowa faced criticism over a $1 million annual payment to the city of Coralville for a tax-exempt medical clinic. The regents agreed to the payment in 2010 as part of a plan for a $73 million University of Iowa ambulatory care clinic at Coralville's Iowa River Landing development. Critics have called it overly generous. A report by Iowa City suggested it was out of step with the payments that other college towns receive. The new policy would require universities to justify such agreements and how the payments are calculated.
Republicans hope for congressional sweep in Iowa CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — The politically savvy state of Iowa prides itself on purple voting, boasting a congressional delegation evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. But this year, with a closely matched Senate race and three competitive House seats, the GOP sees an opportunity to turn the state a vibrant shade of red. Big bucks and big-name politicians are helping. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was in Cedar Falls Wednesday, stumping for Republican businessman Rod Blum, who is running against longtime Democratic state lawmaker Pat Murphy in the 1st Congressional District. The seat is open because Democrat Bruce Braley is running for Senate. Republicans are also spending heavily in the state's 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts. But Democrats questioned how good the GOP chances really were of securing all four House seats.
First lady gets Braley right; email has new error DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The official transcript of a speech Michelle Obama made Tuesday on behalf of Senate candidate Bruce Braley mistakenly referred to him as a candidate for governor in the email subject line. The transcript was sent by the White House Tuesday night after Obama appeared at a rally in Iowa City. The transcript accurately says Braley is running for Senate, and Obama got it right in her remarks, but the subject line of the email says Obama was at an event for "Democratic Candidate for Governor Bruce Braley." The White House later sent a corrected email. Two weeks ago, Obama visited Des Moines for Braley and repeatedly got his name wrong, calling him "Bruce Bailey." Braley, a four-term congressman, is in a close race against Republican Joni Ernst, a state lawmaker.
Small fire contained at Iowa middle school EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) — A small fire at a middle school in northeast Iowa has led to an early dismissal for students and staff. The Waterloo Community School District says the fire was reported Wednesday morning at Bunger Middle School in Evansdale. No injuries were reported. The fire began in a bathroom and was quickly contained by responding fire departments. Students and staff were evacuated to a nearby church and dismissed a short time later. District spokeswoman Tara Thomas says students and staff were sent home so the building can be cleared of any smoke residue.
School bus in Fort Madison collides with SUV FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — Officials say a Fort Madison school bus carrying dozens of schoolchildren has collided with an SUV, but there are no serious injuries. The Fort Madison Community School District says the crash happened Wednesday morning as the bus was headed to an elementary school. Nearly 40 schoolchildren were onboard at the time. Fort Madison police say the driver of the SUV, 30-year-old Kaylynn Kruger, failed to stop at a stop sign before the crash. She was issued several citations, including not having a valid driver's license. District spokeswoman Nicole Baker says students were picked up in a separate bus and taken to school. One student complained of minor aches, and the school bus driver later went to the hospital to be monitored for shoulder pain.
Eastern Iowa telecom gets federal loan to expand DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa telephone cooperative is getting a guaranteed loan from the federal government to increase its fiber optics network and make system improvements. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in a statement released Wednesday it has approved more than $190 million in loans and grants for broadband and other improvements in rural areas in 19 states. North Liberty-based South Slope Cooperative Telephone Company is getting a loan of nearly $14.7 million from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program, which makes long-term direct and guaranteed loans. The company's service area includes Amana, North Liberty, West and South Cedar Rapids, and parts of Coralville. Last year the company says it added more than 200 miles of fiber optic cable to homes and businesses in its communities.
New U. Iowa art museum would be near music school IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa says its new art museum will be located in downtown Iowa City across from the new music school. The university announced Wednesday that it has selected a local development group to build the museum in a public-private partnership. A 2008 flood of the Iowa River severely damaged the old museum, which featured one of the nation's largest collections of art. The Federal Emergency Management Agency ruled that it would not be eligible to be replaced with federal money because it was less than 50 percent damaged. The university's collection has been displayed at various locations since then. University Provost Barry Butler says the museum will be located on Clinton and Burlington Streets, near where construction of the new Voxman School of Music has started.
Feds search for couple in Iowa drug, gambling case CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Federal authorities are searching for a husband and wife accused of running synthetic drug and gambling operations in Cedar Rapids. The U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday that Melissa and Mohamad Al Sharairei didn't show up to a court hearing in Cedar Rapids on Monday. Court records show the two planned to plead guilty to charges of running an illegal gambling business involving video slot machines and money laundering. Investigators have said the couple owned Puff N'Stuff Two, a tobacco shop in Cedar Rapids that once had a lucrative synthetic drug business. The government has already seized properties in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids that investigators say were purchased with proceeds from $1.3 million in sales. The two were arrested in May in Pueblo, Colorado, which was their last known address.
Iowa pharmacy owner to plead guilty in deal DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The owner of a popular Des Moines pharmacy will likely serve up to 37 months in prison for illegally selling tens of thousands of addictive painkillers to drug abusers. An attorney representing Mark Graziano said Tuesday that his client plans to plead guilty to two of the 18 federal charges filed against him as part of a deal with prosecutors. The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1t3YYmm ) he is expected to plead guilty on Nov. 6 to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of tax evasion. Graziano, owner of Bauder Pharmacy, is accused of selling about 700,000 hydrocodone pills from the pharmacy. He originally faced more than 15 years in prison. The pharmacy, which is known for its soda fountain that serves homemade ice cream, could remain open if Graziano sells his share within 30 days.
Iowa man warned to stop saying he's a doctor DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Health officials are telling a Des Moines man to stop telling people he's a doctor or he could face jail time. The Iowa Board of Medicine sent a cease and desist letter to 60-year-old Jorrion Belinsky following an incident in June where he told a West Des Moines police officer that he was a psychiatrist whose public argument with a woman was a doctor and patient interaction. The Des Moines Register reports police reported the incident to the medical board. Their letter states Belinsky has not graduated from an accredited medical school and does not hold an Iowa medical license. The letter also says a civil injunction or felony charge is possible if he doesn't stop portraying himself as a doctor. A public number was not listed for Belinsky.
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