Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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U.S. Senate passes ENDA 

The last time the Employment Nondiscrimination Act was brought up before the full Senate, more than 17 years ago, one vote blocked it from passing.

Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, expressed joy as the anti-bias act passed the Senate on a vote of 64-32.

“I would strongly support an executive order from President Obama that makes clear government contractors cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as President Roosevelt did 70 years ago, when he made clear discrimination based on race, color, creed, or national origin was impermissible,” said Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, in a statement. “Every American deserves equal treatment on the job, period.”

The nondiscrimination act, which has not been brought before the full Senate since 1996, would protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace. Iowa currently bans discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, citing religious reasons, voted against the bill.

“While Sen. Grassley believes all individuals should be treated with dignity and opposes discrimination, he has concerns with the bill pending in Congress as currently written,” Jill Gerber, a member of Grassley’s press staff, wrote in an email in a previous interview with The Daily Iowan. “He wants to be sure it does not have unintended consequences for the legal system and economic growth.”

The bill will now go to the House, where officials say it will face particularly more criticism from Republican representatives.

“As [the bill] heads to the House, we know it will face considerable opposition from Republican House Speaker John Boehner and others,” said Donna Red Wing, the executive director of LGBT organization One Iowa, in a statement. “At One Iowa, however, we believe that equality is a nonpartisan issue. In fact, an effort to end discrimination for all citizens is both a conservative and progressive value and should be embraced by both parties. We sincerely hope that the House will do the right thing and work together so we can finally pass [the anti-bias act]. Not only is it a good policy, it’s good politics. And, quite frankly, its about time."

— by Lauren Coffey

North Liberty man charged with possession

A North Liberty man has been accused of possessing crystal meth in his vehicle.

Jon Benton, 47, was charged Tuesday with possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance precursor, and OWI.

According to a North Liberty police complaint, officers stopped Benton for an equipment violation on his vehicle.

Benton was reportedly fidgety and showed signs of being under the influence. He was brought into the Iowa City Police Department for a drug-influence evaluation, and officials determined that he was under the influence of a cannabis and a central nervous system stimulant and was unable to operate a vehicle.

A K-9 alerted officers about the vehicle during the stop, and officials allegedly found batteries containing lithium, Sudafedrin, which, police contend, Benton had intended to use to manufacture methamphetamine. He also had a bag of crystal meth.

OWI and possession of a controlled substance is a serious misdemeanor. Possession of a controlled substance precursor is a Class-D felony.

— by Megan Sanchez

Iowa City woman damages cars

An Iowa City woman threw sidewalk pavers onto cars in the Mill and Starbucks parking lots.

Karen Mabikulu, 22, was charged Oct. 26 with second-degree criminal mischief.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, the reporting party said Mabikulu and another female were throwing objects at cars, later discovered to be the sidewalk pavers.

Mabikulu and the other female left in a vehicle, and officials were able to receive information about the vehicle.

Officials later made contact with the other female, who said Mabikulu allegedly threw the sidewalk pavers, which damaged the vehicles. The other female is a friend of Mabikulu.

In total, four vehicles’ windshields and hoods were either destroyed or damaged.

The damage totals more than $1,000.

Second-degree criminal mischief is a Class-D felony.

— by Megan Sanchez

UI set to post honor roll online

The University of Iowa, in conjunction with the IMU, University of Iowa Veterans Services, the UI chapter of Student Veterans of America, the UI Archives, and UI Libraries will now list the Memorial Honor Roll online.

The Memorial Honor Roll is listed at the IMU, and it will now be listed online to recognize Veterans Day.

Since its creation in 1956, the Memorial Honor Roll at the IMU has recognized UI students and alumni who have lost their lives in service to the nation as members of the armed forces.

The individuals memorialized on the site are identified by the conflict in which they served: World War I, World War II, Southeast Asian Conflicts, the Korean Conflict, and the two Iraqi conflicts.

The website will also provide links to other memorials in Iowa, including the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, and the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston.

The Memorial Honor Roll is located in Hubbard Commons on the first floor of the IMU. The Honor Roll was dedicated in 1926 as a memorial to those who have sacrificed their lives while serving their nation.

— by Lauren Coffey

UI associate professor received education award

Sherry Watt has been recognized by the American College Personnel Association’s College Student Educators International for her “outstanding and sustained contributions to higher education and to student affairs.”

Watt, a UI associate professor of higher education and student affairs, was one of 18 educational leaders nationally to be given the recognition by being named to the 2014 Diamond Honoree Class.

The Diamond Class Honoree program, which started in 1999, is a recognition program and a fundraising activity to support research as well as scholarships for members to participate in professional development opportunities.

— by Lauren Coffey

New Iowa City business celebrates grand opening Thursday

A calzone restaurant opened its doors to offer free calzones for its grand opening Thursday.

D.P. Dough, 519 E. Washington St., is the national chain’s 23rd location.

D.P. Dough will be open every day of the week and open until 4 a.m. on weekends.

— by Lauren Coffey

City Council to vote on liquor license exemption

A resolution to exempt low-occupancy rooftop patios from certain clauses of the Iowa City liquor-license ordinance will be voted on at the Nov. 12 Iowa City City Council meeting.

The current liquor-license ordinance requires establishments with a new liquor license to have windows, which permit visibility of its interior from the public way and to be located on the ground floor.

After input of the city’s Housing and Inspection Services, rooftop patio occupancies of under 50 would be exempt under the proposed resolution. The Iowa City Police and Fire Departments have approved of this exception because of the low occupancy and indoor commercial recreational uses, which would bring lower risks than those associated with eating and drinking establishments.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on Black Hawk Park regulations

Black Hawk Mini Park may see some new regulations.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a resolution that would provide uniformity of regulations between the Pedestrian Mall and Black Hawk Mini Park on Nov. 12.

The city currently doesn’t include Black Hawk Mini Park in the definition of the Ped Mall. However, various code provisions have been adopted by the council over the past several years that apply to both the Ped Mall and the park.

Some regulations that could be added to the park include smoke-free initiatives and more police regulation.

— by Rebecca Morin

City Park pool could see renovations

City Park pool is hoping to renovate its wading pool after not being compliant with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a resolution to set a public hearing for the renovation project on Nov. 12.

The 2010 standards mandate all municipal pools to be accessible. The existing wading pool does not comply with the standards because of its raised edges.

The project encompasses the renovation and replacement of the existing wading pool at City Park Pool with a zero-edge pool, an extension of the perimeter fence, and establishing picnic areas within the pool fence.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on post office relocation sites

The preferred location for the Iowa City Post Office may change once again.

On Oct. 17, the city received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service indicating that its preferred site for the Post Office was in the Pepperwood Shopping Plaza on Highway 6.

An alternative site of 1925 Boyrum Street was listed along with six other sites, which are no longer under consideration.

The city was allotted 30 days to receive public feedback after receiving the letter from the Postal Service. Most of the comments officials received were disappointed in the proposed location because of a lack of pedestrian access.

The Iowa City City Council on Nov. 12 will vote on a resolution to encourage the Postal Service to consider alternative site selection criteria that would expand location options closer to downtown, where public access would be enhanced.

— by Rebecca Morin

Governor Street could become two-way

Governor Street may become a two-way street after city staff completed a neighborhood survey in which 69 percent of the respondents approved of the decision.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a resolution to convert the one-way street into a two-way street on Nov. 12.

Governor Street residents originally requested the change in 2012. After shifting through a variety of solutions — which included converting Dodge Street into a two-way — officials decided converting Governor Street would have minimal financial impact.

City officials estimate the cost of changing necessary signage and removing pavement markings will be less than $2,000. The cost would primarily be staff time to complete the changes.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on flood mitigation program

One flood-mitigation project may receive more funding.

A $55 million project to transfer of operations of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant — which became inoperable after the 2008 flood — to the South Wastewater Treatment Plant could receive extra funding under the Iowa Flood Mitigation Program.

The program is designed to allow cities to capture 70 percent of future sales tax growth to fund flood-mitigation projects.

Through the program, Iowa City would request the flood-mitigation board to allow the city to capture up to $8.5 million in future sales tax growth to pay for the demolition of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant, creation of a five-acre wetland at the north plant site and to stabilize stream banks where Ralston Creek meets the Iowa River.

Initial funding would be available in the summer of 2015 if the city’s application is approved.

The program also requires a local match for the application. The local-option sales tax and wastewater operations funds already committed to the Wastewater Treatment Plant Project as the local match. This resolution approves the use of up to almost $13.6 million of funds as the local match for the total project cost of $63,442,249.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on the resolutions on Nov. 12.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on land purchase agreement

A previously proposed high-rise may soon be seen south of Burlington Street.

Hieronymus Square Associates, which first made an offer to purchase the property west and south of the Mod Pod building in September 2012, is in the running to purchase the property after not receiving competing proposals to purchase the land.

A public hearing will be held on Nov. 12, when the City Council will vote on the resolution to approve the purchase agreement.

Hieronymus Square offered $770,000 for the property — with $100,000 of that price going to air rights to allow a building with southern facing windows to be built on the property line.

— by Rebecca Morin

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