Civil Rights

Iowa Civil Rights Commission Shakes Down Landlords for 'Voluntary Contributions'

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The Des Moines Register reports that for five years ending in February 2011, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission shook down landlords for "voluntary contributions" in exchange for dropping discrimination complaints. The Register obtained copies of 27 settlement agreements involving about $20,000 in contributions. Unlike money from fines, which end up in the state's general fund, the donations went directly to the commission, creating "the impression that justice is for sale," as state court administrator David Boyd puts it. The commission ended the practice after Winterset attorney Mark Smith questioned its propriety.

Smith tells the Register that a landlord he represented was the target of a sting operation in which a commission employee posed as a tenant who needed a "service dog" for anxiety and asked whether a pet deposit would be required. Evidently the landlord said yes, because the commission later sent him a transcript of the telephone conversation along with a proposed settlement agreement calling for "a voluntary contribution to the commission in the amount of $500."

"In my opinion," Smith says, "their conduct was grossly unethical." The Register reports that the Iowa Attorney General's Office initially "agreed that soliciting donations in lieu of fines was acceptable under Iowa law" but "revisited the issue early last year [i.e., after Smith's complaint] and concluded the practice is not appropriate."

[Thanks to Mark Lambert for the tip.]

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  1. Westies are great varmint dogs. If you have moles / gophers / squirrels, they’ll get them. They’ll dig up half your yard, but they’ll get them.

    1. Medium sized terriers, Carins, Westies, Scotties and such are just generally great dogs. They are small but they are sterdy. They are such tough and couragous little bastards you have to respect them.

    2. If you would like a pet, on the other hand…

  2. …but “revisited the issue early last year [i.e., after Smith’s complaint] and concluded the practice is not appropriate.”

    The commission gave up too easily. They just needed to get the A.G. to come up with yet another revision.

  3. http://www.washingtontimes.com…..periments/

    At least they weren’t running human experiments.

    1. At least they weren’t running human experiments.

      Except, of course, they were. So how long do you think before EPA moves on from PM2.5 to things like arsine?

    2. Many of the study subjects were health-impaired ? suffering from asthma, metabolic syndrome, old age (up to 75 years) or, worse, combinations of those factors. They were all financially needy, since they enrolled in the experiments for compensation of $12 per hour… the Obama-appointed Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has refused so far to get involved, despite multiple requests, claiming it already has a full agenda.

      Tell me again about how caring and empathetic Obama is towards the poor?

  4. the commission later sent him a transcript of the telephone conversation along with a proposed settlement agreement calling for “a voluntary contribution to the commission in the amount of $500.”

    Bitch set him up?

    1. Whatever happened to wiretapping laws? It seems like everytime a politician is recorded doing something wrong all we hear about is how the recorder broke the law.

      1. Making live transcripts doesn’t violate wire-tapping laws.

        You can hire a stenographer to listen in on an extension secretly and type up what she hears, and it’s all legal in two-party consent states.

        1. Wait, so “two-party” is a literal term? It doesn’t mean “all-party?”

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition get in trouble a few years ago for basically doing exactly this?

    1. You beat me to it. I’m not sure if the “got in trouble”, I think it’s the very core of their business model.

      A complaint goes against a company. Rainbow Push shows up with their merry band of activists and says, “We can make it all go away if you hire contractors through our ‘preferred list'”

      The contractors on the preferred list pay kickbacks to Rainbow Push coalition in the form of ‘contributions’.

  6. I haz a sad. We have such boring corruption cases here in Iowa. Where’s the hookers and blow?

    1. It’s all in Ames. Filthy, filthy, Ames.

  7. …a commission employee posed as a tenant who needed a “service dog” for anxiety.

    WHAT!!!!!?????

    This is what became of the pioneers? … we as a nation are screwed.

    1. We are the domesticated descendents of those who were once wild and free.

      1. Once with heads held high
        they sang out to the sky
        why do their shadows bow in fear?

    2. So in essence, the commission employee lied.

    3. Dude, where have you been? The concept of ‘service’ pet now allows every anxiety-riddled nervous nelly to walk their ‘service chihuahua’ into the doctor’s office, and you can’t say shit about it because it’s discrimination.

      How’d you miss this trend over the last ten years?

      I believe I had heard my wife tell some ER stories where crackpots were bringing in their ‘service chickens’ and ‘service monkeys’.

      1. Musta lost a decade (a decade for this crap?!)

        1. I started seeing “service dogs” in Seattle for non-blind people in the late 90s. It’s exploded in probably the last three or four years.

          Some woman with a cigarette outside the Kohls standing nervously with her Poodle that has a little sweater that says, “Don’t pet me. Service Dog”.

          So you observe the woman for a while, and she’s hanging out with her family, the dog isn’t hyper-trained like a real blind dog. It’s trying to sniff kids’ ice cream cones as they walk by, it’s fidgeting like… like you would expect a poodle to, climbing up in her lap when she sits down.

          I’m not sure why it pisses me off, but it does. And I have nothing against dogs. I just think using the bullshit excuse that “I have anxieties and my dog helps me with that, so he gets to sit in my lap on the plane” is just that: bullshit.

          1. I don’t get it. Extra deposits for pets are common, but a landlord can’t ask for one if it’s a “service animal”?

            1. I don’t know anything about that. What I’m saying is if you’re a business and someone brings in their dog, there’s going to be hell to pay if you ask some biddy to please remove her dog.

              1. Sorry, I was commenting on the original article: “…a sting operation in which a commission employee posed as a tenant who needed a ‘service dog’ for anxiety and asked whether a pet deposit would be required.”

          2. The deafness dogs are legit. As much as you would want to trust an animal if you are blind or deaf or not anyway….

            I have seen more blind people doing their routine without dogs these days.

  8. The Register reports that the Iowa Attorney General’s Office initially “agreed that soliciting donations in lieu of fines was acceptable under Iowa law”

    The fuck you say. How is this any different than a cop telling you he’ll forget about that broken tail-light for $20.

    the donations went directly to the commission, creating “the impression that justice is for sale,”

    Something was most definitely for sale, although I wouldn’t call it “justice.”

  9. That’s why as a landlord you advertise the place as a roommate situation.

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