Put clients’ interests first

April 21, 2017

I clipped the except below from the Corridor Business Journal’s Morning Rush (4/20/2017).  For many years, I have used a Fee Only financial advisor to manage my personal investments and that advisor has always been required to put my interests ahead of his interests.

So I believe Attorney General Tom Miller is on the right tract to pursue getting this rule implemented and I support him in his effort.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Iowa attorney general signs letter to lift ‘fiduciary rule’ delay

Iowa’s attorney general wants to speed up the process of implementing a rule that would require financial advisers to put clients’ best interests ahead of their own. Tom Miller is leading a group of eight Democrat attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of Labor to lift its delay in implementing a rule that was set to take effect April 10, reports the Des Moines Business Record. The Obama-era “fiduciary rule” was delayed for 60 days to June 9 after President Donald Trump ordered the agency to review the rule to determine whether it would adversely affect Americans’ ability to gain access to retirement information and financial advice. In the letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Edward Hugley, the attorneys general said, “to the contrary, postponement of its application is costing investors tens of millions of dollars each day as advisors continue to give conflicted advice and the rule should be implemented without further delay.”

Public Health and Child & Youth Services building progressing

April 20, 2017

During Supervisor Oleson’s State of the County speech, he alluded to the to-be-built Public Health and Child & Youth Services building, which is supposedly on-budget and on-schedule. In December 2016, OPN Architects presented the plans (see attachment) to the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

I am pleased to see the former Options property being re-purposed for another County purpose. And I am looking forward to the synergies and collaboration that should develop in the medical community as a result of Public Health being located in the MedQuarter. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

16_1205 BOS Presentation.pdf

2017 State of the County (Linn) luncheon

April 19, 2017

Thank you Linn County League of Women Voters for hosting the 2017 State of the County (Linn) luncheon! It was well organized, well attended, a credit to your organization, and a benefit to the community.

You can view the raw video of the speeches here and/or you can read my speech in the attachment. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

State of the County 4-19-2017 v4.docx

State of the County teaser

April 19, 2017

Linn County’s annual State of the County luncheon is today and Board of Supervisors Chair Brent Oleson invited me to speak on the elections legislation awaiting the Governor’s signature. The segment below is a preview of what I will be covering in my presentation today and the attachments contain some of the slides I will be referencing.

I hope you can join us today at 11:30am at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Presentation by Auditor Joel D. Miller at the State of Linn County Luncheon at 11:30am on Wednesday, April 19th, at the Hotel at Kirkwood hosted by the Linn County League of Women Voters

Let’s ponder the Elections Modernization & Integrity Act also known as the Voter ID Act and the Voter Suppression Act.

What problem does the new law solve? What will be the cost? And how will it affect you?

If you are in the habit of voting by mail, the Auditor’s Office will no longer be able to accept your request for an absentee ballot greater than 120 days prior to an election. That means, if a general election was held on November 7th of this year, you could not submit your absentee ballot request to the Auditor’s Office prior to July 7th. In addition, unless you are living overseas, the Auditor’s Office cannot mail out your absentee ballot until 29 days before the election, i.e., not before October 9th.

And further, we cannot mail out absentee ballots after October 27th, i.e., within 10 days of the election. My advice: sign-up for reminders from the Elections Office and request an absentee ballot as soon as possible, but not sooner than 120 days prior to the election.

Election Law Changes.pptx

Recorder’s Office pays for itself

April 17, 2017

Year after year, the Office of Linn County Recorder pays for itself through the fees it collects. It’s probably the only Linn County office or department where revenues consistently exceed expenses.

One of the growing services offered by the Recorder is passports. The office is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to apply for a passport – no appointment necessary – and based upon the fees collected, business is great!

The attachment below is the Recorder’s quarterly report. It illustrates the various fees collected by the Recorder. Enjoy. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor – Educator

4-19 Recorder’s report.pdf

Board attendance records and meetings

April 14, 2017

About once a quarter, one or more members of the public request the Supervisors’ attendance records for their public Board meetings. As the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, it is easy for my team to provide the records because we attend every Board meeting, publish the meeting minutes for every meeting, and video record every meeting. No one seems to get too excited about Board attendance and I am not trying to stir anything up with this post.

I am trying to be transparent and educate the public on the number of meetings and time spent at the Board meetings. And I wonder: Does the Board really need to meet three times per week? Would meeting attendance by the public increase if the informal session or formal session was held at 4pm or later in the day? Would the attendance of the Supervisors improve if they held less standing meetings? Could one of the Board’s direct reports takeover the Department Head meetings and provide regular updates to the Board?

A reduction in the number of Board meetings would likely lead to a reduction in the personnel costs associated with supporting those meetings, would likely result in a reduction in the cost of publishing the Board’s meeting minutes in the four local, official newspapers, would likely increase the percentage of meetings attended by the Board, and may even increase the public’s attendance at the meetings. The Board has been having three a week meetings for maybe decades. Is there a better way to govern? -Joel D Miller – Linn County Auditor – Educator

BOS Attendance.xlsx

Statement by Auditor Weipert upon the passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

April 13, 2017

I agree with the Johnson County Auditor’s press release – see below; especially his comment that “None of these provisions does (sic) anything to help people vote”.

Whenever I ask the question: Will this bill increase voter turnout in our elections? No one has answered YES. One person responded with, “Why should I care?”

I will tell you why we should care. We should care because our right to vote is a fundamental building block in our democracy. Voting is how we choose civil leaders; it’s how we peacefully transition power from one elected leader to the next. It’s the one right we exercise that is equal to, but not greater than anyone’s else right to vote. Voting is the easiest way to participate – to engage – in our democracy.

Yes, I would like to see every voter make an informed choice, but that’s not a requirement. And from what I have observed, most voters only vote in races and/or for candidates they know something about. For instance, another law that will combine city elections with school elections is stoking fear that the voters will vote on races they know nothing about. Do you do that?

There is nothing in HF516 that leads me to believe it will increase voter turnout. And if you dare to call me, I will tell you why I think it will increase the opportunity for impostors to illegally cast ballots. In my ten years as Auditor, one impostor ballot has been cast amongst over one million ballots cast in Linn County. That is 1 ballot in over 1,000,000 ballots.

I will honor my oath of office and administer elections per the requirements of the law. I will also work as hard and smart as possible to ensure no voter is disenfranchised by HF516 or any other laws. And when and where I find wannabe voters who have been disenfranchised by our laws, I will yell and scream in the most civil of ways and work to dismantle the barriers to voting. That is not an option for me! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor – Vision: Every person engaged in local government.

From: Travis Weipert [mailto:tweipert@co.johnson.ia.us]
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Subject: FW: Statement by Travis Weipert on Passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert issued the following statement on passage of the final version of House File 516, the voter ID bill (full text at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HF516&ga=87 )

“I am disappointed that the Legislature has taken this big step backward on voting rights. The only type of ‘fraud’ that a photo ID can address, voter impersonation, is simply non-existent.

This bill singles out voters who do not have Iowa drivers licenses. They will have to show a visibly different card in line. This calls attention to them and makes them more vulnerable to having their vote challenged. It also gets rid of the traditional voter card that gets sent to everyone, which many voters value and carry.

The voter ID bill also includes many unrelated items that do nothing to increase the integrity of elections:

· It shortens the time available for in person early voting. This forces voters who have made up their minds to wait, which makes the line longer for everyone.

· It shortens the window for mailing ballots to just 19 days, which decreases the chances that voters who have to send ballots a long distance will see their vote counted

· The bill eliminates the popular straight ticket option that nearly a third of Johnson County voters used last fall. This lengthens the voting process and as a result makes the lines longer.

· Poll workers with no professional training in handwriting analysis are forced to make judgements about signatures which may have changed over time.

· None of these provisions does anything to help people vote. The process will be longer and more difficult, and there’s no question that some people who were able to vote under previous laws will be unable to vote.

Nevertheless, this will be the law, and we will follow and enforce it. We urge voters to be cooperative with our staff and poll workers and respectful of the people behind you in line. We are not happy with this law, but the election process is the only way to change it.

The final paragraph of HF516 says that the Secretary of State, in consultation with county auditors and the public, “shall develop and implement a comprehensive and statewide public education plan.” I look forward to working with the Secretary of State’s office on this plan, and urge the Legislature and governor to fully fund it.” ###

Linn County land purchases in 2015 and 2016

April 12, 2017

In my March 31st post, I indicated I would post Linn County’s (LC) land purchases for 2015 and 2016. Ten parcels consisting of 149.23 assessed acres can be viewed in the PDFs below.

The parcels shown in the maps along 80th Street NW and Holiday Lane are adjacent to LC’s Morgan Creek County Park.  Included in the purchases is a former quarry adjacent to Holiday Lane.

Have a question about LC owned land?  Leave a comment.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

2ndStSW.pdf

HolidayLn.pdf

80thStNW.pdf

GreenbranchLn.pdf

MatsellParkRd.pdf

HorseshoeFallsRd.pdf

LinnDelawareRd.pdf

CountyPurchases.xlsx

Last presidential election cost $5.38 per vote

April 7, 2017

The 2016 presidential election cost Linn County’s taxpayers over $635,000 or $5.38 per vote. That cost was actually less than the 2012 presidential election due to the decreased cost of mailing out ballots (we used a mailing firm) and an overall decrease in mailed out & mailed back absentee ballots. In previous posts, I have detailed various unfunded mandates which are going to increase the cost of the 2020 presidential election if the pending House File #516 becomes law. Iowa’s elections are very expensive and you should be concerned as you are paying for them. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Statement of Election Costs_110816.docx

Post election audits are going to cost you

April 6, 2017

The post-election audits required by the proposed Iowa House File #516 are going to cost you. In Linn and Johnson Counties, the estimated costs to conduct a post-election audit (hand-count) on ballots in the counties’ absentee precincts would  have  exceeded $19K, i.e., based upon the 2016 presidential election results.

Hopefully, absentee precincts will not be audited frequently, but when it occurs, it will be expensive.  And large counties with lots of precincts are likely to be audited more often if precincts are randomly selected versus counties being randomly selected.

This is could be yet another unfunded mandate courtesy of the Iowa Secretary of State, Legislature, and Governor.  -Joel D. Miller

Johnson County Absentees Cost Cost Per Ballot
41,795 $ 19,225.70 $ 0.460
Linn County Absentees Cost
42,170 $ 19,398.20

 


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