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It will likely take donations to help the Twin Cities recover from damage by looters; and state and local governments look for relief in next stimulus bill.

2020Talks - June 5, 2020 


Democrats and Republicans have had drastically different responses to President Trump's militarized response to protests in the nation's capital. And, new electoral maps will be drawn next year, some by legislatures and others by outside entities.

IA Watchdog: Pandemic Offers Lessons in Government Transparency

The push to reopen many businesses is among a number of moves Iowa's governor has been questioned about in the state's response to COVID-19. (Adobe Stock)
The push to reopen many businesses is among a number of moves Iowa's governor has been questioned about in the state's response to COVID-19. (Adobe Stock)
May 20, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa's handling of the coronavirus response has received criticism at times. A watchdog organization says it's fair to question some of the moves, but adds there's a lot to consider.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has been scrutinized for not issuing a stay-at-home order, and the state's troubled testing initiative has raised eyebrows for contracting with a tech firm lacking in health-care experience. Suzanne Behnke, executive director of the investigative news group Iowa Watch, said one of her biggest questions centers around protecting workers at meat plants.

"I'm very curious myself about the personal protective equipment being available to those workers," she said. "Oftentimes, they are underrepresented populations in our state."

A new Associated Press report said state regulators delayed in responding to complaints of workers at a meat plant being exposed to the coronavirus. Behnke said the crisis should serve as a reminder for governments to always be transparent and acknowledge mistakes.

The governor's office did not respond by deadline to requests for comment, but this week announced the state's website for COVID-19 would include more up-to-date data.

Behnke said it appears state officials have put a lot of work into Iowa's response, and noted that the governor has been consistent in her message about moving the state forward. Behnke said when elected leaders are dealing with a situation of this magnitude, being forthcoming and taking timely action can help with public trust.

"Allow your state agency directors to take interviews and to answer for themselves," she said. "Be proactive in your information dissemination, rather than reactive."

Behnke said the public shouldn't demand perfection from officials such as Reynolds, but they still should hold them to a high standard.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA