Tuesday Afternoon News, June 16
Ernst Votes Against Bill To Have Military Commanders Not Dealing With Sexual Assault Cases
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sen. Joni Ernst has voted against a measure that would leave military commanders out of the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases in the military.
The vote on the defense policy bill amendment came Tuesday. Sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, believes recent reforms have not been enough to improve the way sexual assault cases are handled by the military.
While the vote was 50 to 49 in favor, the amendment needed 60 votes to pass.
Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, said during her campaign that she would work with Gillibrand on this issue.
In a statement, Ernst said more time is needed to see how recent reforms are working. She said she would continue to work on this with Gillibrand and others.
USDA Monthly Poultry Report Shows Lower Prices For Chicken Meat, But Higher Egg Prices
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bird flu outbreak in the Midwest has actually resulted in cheaper chicken meat in the U.S. because exports have been restricted, leaving a plentiful domestic supply.
In a monthly poultry market report published Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says importers halted shipments even though chickens remain unaffected by bird flu. Wholesale prices in the Northeast are 32 percent lower than a year earlier. Drumsticks are down 33 percent.
The bird flu outbreak did cause egg prices to increase.
Egg prices more than doubled from pre-bird flu prices but in recent days have fallen. Roasting turkey prices are 3 percent higher than a year ago and may increase a little more toward Thanksgiving.
Wright County Has Another Bird Flu Case
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - After a six-day break with no new bird flu cases, the Iowa Department of Agriculture says another egg-laying chicken farm has tested positive.
A farm in Wright County with 1 million chickens has experienced increased deaths among the flock and a preliminary test indicates the presence of the bird flu virus.
The frequency of new cases has slowed dramatically with no new cases in Minnesota in 11 days. Iowa's last reported case was June 9. The bird flu has cost Minnesota, the leading turkey producer, 9 million birds. Egg farms in Iowa, the nation's leading producer, have lost over 25 million laying hens.
State officials say all 76 previously affected farms have removed the 32 million birds that already died or were euthanized. Disposal of the dead birds continues.
Auditor's Investigation Shows City Of Garwin Has $500,000 In Unsupported Spending
GARWIN, Iowa (AP) - An investigation by the state auditor has found more than $500,000 in improper and unsupported spending by the eastern Iowa city of Garwin.
Auditor Mary Mosiman announced Tuesday that an audit requested by city officials found $562,089 of improper and unsupported spending. That includes 203 payments traced by credit card statements to former City Clerk Anna Lori Leytham.
Payments on those credit card accounts date from December 2000 to September 2013.
Mosiman says there likely were additional payments but records before Jan. 1, 2001, weren't available.
Mosiman noted other improper payments, including $145,224 that Leytham issued to herself.
The auditor's report was forwarded to state authorities and the Tama County Attorney's Office.
Two Additional Workers At Sioux City Waste Water Plant Are Dismissed
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two workers at Sioux City's wastewater treatment plant are no longer employed by the city.
Human Resources Director Bridey Hayes confirmed to KTIV-TV that superintendent Jay Niday and operations supervisor Pat Schwarte no longer work for the city. Hayes said she couldn't comment further about their departure.
Attempts to contact Niday by the Sioux City Journal weren't immediately successful. An email seeking comment from Schwarte was left Tuesday.
It's unclear if the employees' departure is connected to an ongoing investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The agency is investigating whether an employee changed chlorine levels in wastewater samples to meet standards outlined in a state-issued permit that allows treated wastewater to be discharged into the Missouri River.
City officials have said they are cooperating with the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.