Corruption From The White House To The Courthouse

I often feel like I am at the end of my rope with the combination of monumental corruption by the current presidential administration, the horribly handled response to the corona virus especially at the national level, but also at the state level. The constant lying and manipulation of data by what appears to be most every Republican in a leadership role wears a person out trying to find the truth.

Add to that what appears to be a nearly impenetrable force field covering these folks. Now it appears the Supreme Court is also going to add itself to the protection surrounding the president. After the current president was basically to be the only man in American history to be above the law by his Republican lapdogs in the senate – and that definitely includes Ernst and Grassley. If I have it right that means Trump is a king.

With the Senate Republicans having declared him King, Trump has spent much of his time since then ignoring one of the worst challenges this country has ever gone through while spending his time going after his enemies. Using his top henchman Attorney General William Barr, Trump is now pursuing enemies vigorously while overturning the rule of law to suit his whims. Of course what he sees as enemies are people who make him look like the chump that he is – Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

While our eyes are glued on the monumental mess in Washington we are missing much of the Kim Reynolds film-flam at the state level. Reynolds pretty much told us all you ever need to know about her and her regime in this state when she declared that if you place of business reopens and you do not return to work then you have quit your job, even if fear of the corona virus is keeping you wanting to stay off work. If you “quit” your job then you are no longer eligible for unemployment insurance. 

Thus your choice is return to work and maybe die or starve. Great choices, Kim. For Reynolds its a win-win. If you quit the unemployment number goes down and the cost to the state goes down. 

Meanwhile down at the county level, Muscatine County has been getting its name in the news recently in some interesting ways. Many read about the head jailer for the county who had a history of posting racist commentary on YouTube.com. The Muscatine County jail has been a major parking place for Johnson County inmates in recent years. In fact the Muscatine County jail was built with the idea that Johnson County would be footing much of the bill by paying Muscatine County to hold its prisoners.

After Johnson County began to look for other accommodations for their inmates, Muscatine County finally took some action. The head jailer has been relieved of his duties.

Now there is a bit of a new controversy down Muscatine way. The county attorney, Alan Ostegren decided on May 1st that he was done as county attorney and it was time to move on. So he resigned. Thus the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors needed to replace Ostegren. This is where it gets interesting. 

At this point I will use some excerpts from a campaign newsletter from Henry Marquard, who is a Democratic candidate for supervisor in Muscatine County this year:

On May 11, the Muscatine County Board appointed a County Attorney who had been removed from previous office by court order over bar association and public objections. James Barry, the former Cass County Attorney was appointed by our Board to serve as interim county attorney until a successor is elected in November. Ed Askew (ed. Note – another Democratic candidate for county supervisor)  and I spoke against the appointment at the meeting.  A highly respected local attorney called him “dangerous”.  In a process staged managed by Nathan Mather, the Board ignored any meaningful selection process, prevented any reasonable public or press inquiry, ran roughshod over public comment including objections from the Muscatine County Bar Association and voted in the only county attorney ever removed from office by the District Court. In short, Nathan Mather at his best!

A deeply flawed selection process has produced a flawed result. Yesterday,  over objections brought by Ed Askew and myself the Board appointed James Barry interim county attorney.  A review of the public records points out that Mr. Barry is one of and maybe the only county attorney ever removed by an Iowa Court for malfeasance.

<<snip>>

I stated last week that the process was deeply flawed. If you put in only minimal effort you get a minimal result and I’m not sure that this process and result  even met the minimal level. The only advertisement was buried in the legal notices of the local papers with the highway bids and other legal documents. Neither the Muscatine County Bar Association nor State Bar Association were ever contacted to advertise the position  The Muscatine County Bar Association’s representative objected to the process at yesterday’s meeting. At a time when attorney wanted advertisements produce many attorney resumes the Board came up with a process that produced only one response and that is from someone I would not consider qualified.

As bad as this process as, Mather’s plan for this yesterday’s meeting was even worse. The agenda simply listed that the Board intended to discuss and possibly make an appointment butt did not list the name of the person. We only knew about it because the County sends Ed the agenda packets pursuant to his FOIA request. The process for today’s meeting, springing the actual identity of the person and voting on it is the very antithesis of open and transparent government. The Board voted on a very public position without the chance for the public to have made meaningful comments and the press to do its duty. At a minimum, appointments like this should be announced at least a week prior to the Board’s voting to allow public investigation and educated comment.

<<snip>>

BUT CAN THEY GO ANY LOWER? YES SAYS MR MATHER.

Just when you thought that our Board’s leadership hit rock bottom, Nathan Mather got a bigger shovel.  They awarded our departed  county attorney Alan Ostegren a $4000/month contract going through the swearing in of the elected county attorney in December.. Despite being the greatest county attorney (ever suspended) according to Nathan, Mr. Barry will need Ostegren’s’s help for the next 6 months. Taxpayers- we get one county attorney for the price of two- what a deal. While its true that Barry can cancel the contract, Ostegren was instrumental in getting him the job- do you really think  Barry will now fire Ostegren. When I brought up the possibility that deal violated Iowa Attorney Ethic Rules, Lawyer Mather said that would be Alan’s problem (Alan with friends like this…) One  County Attorney for the price of two.! What a deal- for them.

A check with other news sources confirms Mr. Marquard’s story. From iowacapitaldispatch.com we have a description of the activity that caused Barry to lose his license:

Barry was forced from the Cass County Attorney’s Office in 2004 after the Des Moines Register published a series of stories about his office fabricating tickets for equipment violations to generate revenue for the county.

As Cass County attorney, Barry had a practice of dismissing speeding tickets in return for the drivers’ written agreement to plead guilty to numerous, fictitious vehicle-equipment violations. Those “violations” didn’t count against the motorists’ driving record, but generated revenue for the county, which was then routed to a safe in the sheriff’s office.

Barry also was found to have traded property seized from criminal defendants for “donations” to the sheriff’s office. In one case, he held a drug defendant’s truck until the individual agreed to make a $500 donation to the sheriff’s office.

At the time, Barry admitted he knew that the money derived from the fictitious tickets and the property seizures should not have been retained by the county.

From the White House to the courthouse we have Republicans ignoring laws, rules and process to achieve their goals. 

This will be the most important election in the nation’s history. Be sure to vote! Your life depends on it.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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