While we were away

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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Joe Brennan to leave UI

Joe Brennan, the University of Iowa vice president for Strategic Communication, will leave his position this summer. Brennan has worked as a top-level adviser in President Sally Mason’s Cabinet.

Brennan will join the University of Albany, a research institution in New York with an enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students. Brennan began working at the UI in August 2013 and will leave the position just under two years later and one day after Mason’s retirement from the UI.

Iowa City man’s murder conviction overturned

An Iowa City man may get a new trial after his murder conviction was overturned.

Justin Marshall was sentenced in 2013 to life in prison for the 2009 death of John Versypt, an Iowa City landlord. Versypt was shot in a stairwell of the Broadway Condominiums in what authorities believe was a robbery gone wrong.

Marshall’s conviction was overturned when an Iowa appeals court ruled that jurors should not have been allowed to hear testimony from confidential informants on the grounds that he was entitled to counsel when he spoke to the informants in jail.

Two other people were also charged in Versypt’s death: Charles Thompson, who agreed to a plea deal and testified against Marshall, and Courtney White, who pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness.

No date for a Marshall retrial has been set at this time.

Hawkeye athletics faces investigation

The UI announced on June 3 that it had received notice of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights into the firing of former Hawkeye field-hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum.

She was fired Aug. 4, 2014, after some members of the field-hockey team said they were verbally abused and pushed to play while injured by the coach. An investigation by the UI Department of Human Resources and Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity found no violations.

Investigators did describe an atmosphere of “fear and/or mistreatment” by Griesbaum.

The current federal investigation stems from complaints four of Griesbaum’s former players filed with the Civil Rights Office.

In the complaint, players contend that their Title IX rights were violated because of the different way the university handles complaints of males and females. The investigation is ongoing.

UI employee fired for violating privacy laws

Near the end of May, Kathryn Trump, a UI Hospitals and Clinics medical assistant was fired after discussing the pregnancy-test results of the girlfriend of a Hawkeye athlete.

While the athlete was in the waiting room, Trump commented in front of another employee that she hoped the situation was a happy one.

Trump also later accessed the woman’s files two more times than necessary, according to the court case files.

The university considered these actions to be in violation of the federal patient privacy law and fired Trump.

The Straw Poll is no more

The 2015 Straw Poll has been canceled following a special meeting with the GOP State Central Committee, which voted unanimously last week to forgo the event.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said canceling the event is necessary to strengthen the state’s first-in-the-nation status in presidential-nomination campaigns and to ensure the party’s future nominee has the best chance to be elected president.

This year, the Straw Poll underwent several changes. Kaufmann said those changes were prompted after listening to Iowa activists and to the Republican candidates.

The poll, which had been traditionally held in Ames, was moved to the Iowa Central Expo in Boone. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, held her annual Roast and Ride at the Expo, in which seven presidential hopefuls spoke earlier this month.

In addition to location change, structural modifications were made as well, including a new random lottery to determine location, rather than a bidding war, allowing “State-Fair-style” food vendors, and new amenities provided at the poll’s new location.

New North Dodge Hy-Vee to open Tuesday

Tuesday at 6 a.m. will be the official opening of the new North Dodge Hy-Vee, 1125 N. Dodge St.
The 56,000-square-foot building cost more than $18 million to build, furnish, and stock the facility and nearby Hy-Vee gas station.

Construction began on Sept. 14, 2014.

New features for the store include a full service Market Cafe, a pharmacy with drive-up window, a floral shop, certified wine, beer and spirit specialists, and specialty artisan cheeses and bread.

Bill Robertson, who has been the store director at the North Dodge Hy-Vee for 17 years, said that a new store was a desperately needed update from the old facility.

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