Why is the Iowa Department of Public Defense Ignoring Iowa’s Open Records Law?

CampDodgeSignDarwin  is an unemployed veteran of the Iraq War.  He applied on February 27th to be an Installation Security Officer at Camp Dodge through the Iowa Department of Public Defense.  Being a veteran he qualified for Veteran’s points under Iowa Code Sections 35C.1 and 19 A.9.   Under these sections either five or ten points are to be granted to honorably separated veterans when they meet qualifying criteria established in the Code which are:

1.  Being a citizen of the State of Iowa

2.  Service during any war, campaign, or expedition for which a campaign badge or service medal has been authorized.  These include service in:

a.  Lebanon

b.  Grenada

c.  Panama

d.  Somalia

3.  Service during periods established in Iowa Code 35c.1.  These include:

a.  WW 11 service during the period December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946

b.  Korean service during the period of June 25, 1950 through January 31, 1955

c.  Vietnam service during the period August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975

d.  Persian Gulf Conflict service during a period starting August 2, 1990 with an ending date yet to be established.

4.  In order to determine if a veteran qualifies for veteran’s points, their official separation papers, such as military form DD 214, must be reviewed.  Information to be reviewed includes periods of active service and what medals, such as Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, have been issued.

5.  Veterans who have been awarded a Purple Heart Medal during their period of service are eligible for ten point veteran’s preference based on disability.

6.  Veterans who submit documentation from the Veteran’s Administration that they have a service-connected disability are also eligible for ten points.  Verification from the Veteran’s Administration must be resubmitted every 24 months.

7.  Veterans who have been given either five or ten points will be identified on the list of names provided to your department.  These points must be added to the primary scoring system used to rank applicants before an interview.

Darwin being a disabled veteran with diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should have been eligible for 10 veterans points.  He was originally told by email after initially reviewing his application that he was qualified.  On March 12th Curl received the following email from Georganna Beavers who is an Human Resources Tech Assistant with the Iowa Department of Public Defense.  She wrote:

The selection committee for the position of (10593BR) Installation Security Officer located at Camp Dodge, has completed the initial evaluation of all the applications received.

There were a number of highly qualified applicants that made the screening difficult. This letter is to inform you that we will not be giving your application consideration for this position.

Your application will be kept active with the Department of Administrative Services-Human Resources Enterprise for two years from the date originally submitted. You may add additional job titles as they are announced.

Thank you for your interest in employment with the State of Iowa and the Department of Public Defense.

Georganna
HRTA

Darwin responded that day with an Open Records request to Beavers:

Thank you for the reply, however, I will need more information. I’m a well qualified Veteran with a 10 point advantage. I’m requesting all of the committees notes regarding my application, under the States Open Meetings and Open Records laws. I’m also officially requesting all the committee meeting minutes the reference the position.

Thank you for your cooperation,

Darwin C.

He never received a response Ms. Beavers.  He mailed a open records request to Caleb Hunter who is the Deputy Director at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services on March 27, 2012.  See below:


On April 2nd, Deputy Director Hunter responded by sending  Darwin the records that the Department of Administrative Services had which just consisted of his original resume and application.  Hunter said that the Department of Public Defense was the legal custodian of the information that he sought and only they could provide it.


Darwin then received the following reply on April 10, 2012 from Janie Keubler who is a Human Resource Associate with the Iowa Department of Public Defense.  She wrote:

I can’t send you  the hiring packets I will tell you that the Supervisor did the scoring and you had 64 points. The interview cut off was 84. But the vacancy did not get filled because the employee did not retire…

Darwin responded the same day saying, “I have already requested the hiring packet… Stop delaying send it to me as my Open Records request stated. I have requested it several times.” 

He followed up with Keubler on April 25, 2012 with an email:

You have past the required deadline to send me the information I requested. You are now in violation of the the Open Records law. I will be filing a motion for Judicial Review in which a judge will issue you an Open Records Violation. I don’t understand why the State is so resistant to their own laws.

Thank You,

Darwin C.

Darwin then sent an email his State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) and his State Representative Glen Massie (R-Des Moines) the same day to see if they could advocate on his behalf:

I recently applied for a position with the State of Iowa. I was not called for an interview even though I was well qualified. I have requested the scoring sheet from my application packet. The emails below are them refusing to release the information. I have requested it several times from multiple people, even writing a letter to the deputy director of the Administrative department. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Darwin C.

State Representative Massie intervened by sending an email to Janie Keubler on April 25th:

Hello Janie,

   I was hoping that you might be able to help me. I have a constituent who has been looking for work, he applied for a position that a “retiree” was leaving, only to be told that the retiree hadn’t actually retired, so the position is not available. If those are indeed the facts, then he will have to continue to look for work. However, he has requested information under our “open records law” and his request are being denied or ignored?

  Is there a problem with providing him with the information he requested, that I might be of assistance with here at the State House? Please let me know if there is and I will do what I can to assist you from here.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter,

Respectfully,

Rep. Glen Massie

H.D.74 Warren County

Keubler responded the next day:

This is true, the position did not get filled because the person that was going to retire change his mind and is not retiring . I have let Mr. Curl know this. Let me know if I need to get more information from DAS. Sorry I wasn’t here yesterday to get back to you.

State Representative Massie responded the same day:

Janie,

   Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Since the position was never vacated, my constituent will continue to look for work. That being said, would it be possible to provide Darwin with the information he requested under “ open records”?  I am aware that might be inconvenient, however I do believe he has the right to the information he requested. In fact, we recently passed legislation to put in place a government oversight board, to assist taxpayers with request, such as Mr. Curl’s, due to the difficulty taxpayers run into when their request are denied or ignored. I always remind myself, that “WE” (as in you & I) who work in “Government”, always work for the “taxpayer”.  Please don’t take that as,  preaching to you, —it’s just how I think, possibly because I am still a blue collar worker every Friday and most Saturday’s, along with being a legislator, Monday thru Thursday.

   Let me know if there is something more that I can provide you with to satisfy the request of my constituent.  I again thank you for your prompt attention in our correspondence.

Respectfully

Rep. Glen Massie

H.D.74 Warren County

As a result of this correspondence Darwin looked up Ms. Kuebler’s phone number (it was never provided in any email correspondence) to discuss his open records request.  He followed up with Keubler via email on May 1st after the phone call.

Janie,

Thank you for speaking with me over the phone today. I appreciate your stated commitment to emailing me the records I’m seeking.  You can send them to this email account, in the mean time I will be anxiously anticipating them.

Thanks,

Darwin C.

He followed up again on May 2nd by email.  He still has not received the information he requested.

Darwin has made numerous requests for his entire hiring packet, in particular, the scoring that he was told that was done.  The Iowa Department of Public Defense is clearly in violation of the law.  Why are they stonewalling?  It is interesting to note that Darwin has since applied with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and was granted an interview for their Industry Operations Investigator position.  He still doesn’t know the results of their interview.  The point though is that ATF saw that he was qualified enough to grant an interview, but he wasn’t qualified enough for an interview to guard Camp Dodge?  Why?  Darwin has seven years of experience in the military and seven years of experience as a private security manager.  He also has a four-year college degree.  Is it because of his disability?  If so that is illegal.  Darwin has also filed a civil rights complaint and he hopes that they investigate.

Perhaps there are valid reasons why he wasn’t interviewed, but Darwin doesn’t know because they still have not followed through on his request made back on March 12th.  The Iowa Department of Public Defense must release the score sheet as they are currently in violation of the law.

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