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January 3, 2000
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
Governor of the State of Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Dear Governor Vilsack:
On behalf of our staff, commissioners, and volunteers, I am pleased to present to you and to the General Assembly the Annual Report of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for the fiscal year 1999.
Although this year has seen many internal changes take place, we have stayed true to our mission of working to eliminate discrimination in Iowa. We have made gains in reducing case processing times, participated in many activities supporting a diverse population in Iowa, and continued our education and outreach programs.
While looking to the future to always learn more and do more, we are proud of the work that we have done. We thank you for your continued support of civil rights for all Iowans.
Acting Executive Director
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a state administrative agency formed in 1965 by action of the Iowa General Assembly. The agency operates under Iowa Code 216, also known as the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The Commission consists of a seven-member board appointed by the Governor which sets policy for the agency. The day-to-day operation is in the hands of an executive director and a staff of 35 persons.
The mission of the agency is to eliminate discrimination in Iowa, and establish equality and justice for all persons within the state through civil rights enforcement, advocacy, and education.
Enforcement of the law by processing of individual civil rights complaints forms a major part of the agency’s work. Staff also engages in public education activities, community diversity appreciation work, and other programs in line with the mission of eliminating discrimination in Iowa. In this report are the details of the array of work accomplished by the staff.
This has been a busy and eventful year for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. In January 1999, newly-elected Governor Tom Vilsack appointed a new executive director for our agency, Diann Wilder-Tomlinson.
Many new internal procedures were instituted, especially in the area of case processing. New investigative standards were set in place, designed to improve both the quantity and quality of investigative work. Our dedicated and experienced staff continued to work with professionalism and diligence to accomplish the work of the agency.
An on-going project throughout the year has been updating our computer systems, both in preparation for Y2K, and because of the need for new equipment. Most staff have received new larger monitors. A grant was received to institute an imaging system, which would result in "paperless" case files, but this has been on hold in order to complete a new case processing computer system.
During this fiscal year, the agency was again able to maintain its gain in managing the number of cases in its inventory. There were 2,274 new complaints received during the year. However, 177 of these complaints were judged to be non-jurisdictional or untimely filed and thus were not accepted. The number of complaints docketed for processing was 2,097. This net number was slightly less than the number filed in the previous fiscal year. Resolutions numbered 2,372, which again helped to decrease the inventory.
One measure of an agency’s efficiency has frequently been the "backlog," or uninvestigated cases in the inventory. During this fiscal year we were able at one point to completely eliminate the backlog, or cases waiting to be assigned for investigation. By the end of the fiscal year, there were 47 cases in the backlog, and cases being assigned at that time had been filed in October 1998.
Employment continued to be the largest area of complaints filed, 81.2%. This was slightly less than last year, with increases of complaints in both public accommodations and housing.
Disability continued to be the most frequently named basis, or reason for discrimination, 33.6%. But sex was close behind, at 33.2%. These two leading causes of discrimination were followed by race, 28.5%; retaliation, 16.7%; and age, 16.0%. The other bases accounted for much smaller numbers of complaints. (Keep in mind that many complaints list two or more reasons for discrimination.)
However, in housing complaints, race was the most frequently-named basis for discrimination, at 43.5%. This was followed by familial status, 19.9%, and disability, 18.0%.
As in past years, termination was the most frequently named incident or cause of action, 43.5%. This increased from 37.8% in the previous fiscal year. When combined with constructive discharge, 9.6%, well over half of the complaints filed alleged involuntarily termination of employment. General harassment complaints increased from 15.9% to 20.2% in FY 99. Sexual harassment complaints remained constant at 11.7%.
Basis is the protected class which a person alleges was the reason for discrimination. More than one basis may be named.
Respondent is the business, housing provider, organization, or individual who has been charged with discrimination in a complaint.
|Public Elem./Sec. School||82||3.6|
|Private Employment Agency||6||<1|
|Private Elem./Sec. School||4||<1|
|State/Local Empl. Agency||1||<1|
|Iowa Civil Rights Commission||1784|
|Equal Employment Opportunity Comm.||121|
|Davenport Civil Rights Comm.||73|
|Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Comm.||57|
|Des Moines Human Rights Comm.||48|
|Mason City Human Rights Comm.||40|
|Waterloo Human Rights Comm.||37|
|Iowa City Human Rights Comm.||36|
|Dubuque Human Rights Comm.||25|
|Council Bluffs Human Rights Comm.||21|
|Sioux City Human Rights Comm.||7|
|Ft. Dodge Human Rights Comm.||6|
|Clinton Human Rights Comm.||5|
|Ames Human Rights Comm.||3|
|Cedar Falls Human Rights Comm.||2|
|Ottumwa Human Rights Comm.||2|
|Burlington Human Rights Comm.||1|
|Keokuk Human Rights Comm.||1|
|Muscatine Human Rights Comm.||1|
|No Probable Cause||234||9.8|
*Administratively closed includes cases that have been screened out, and those where the complainant cannot be located.
Annualized benefits are monies paid to Complainants as a result of settlement agreements or final agency decisions. The total for FY99 was $1,922,975, which was just slightly less than last year’s record-setting total.
The total funding for the Commission for FY99 was $2,410,971. The dollars came from the State General Fund, as appropriated by the legislature, from complaint processing contracts from federal agencies, from within a state government transfer and from reimbursements for copying and civil rights complaints audits.
The Commission received $708,671 from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), under its contract for the resolution of cross-filed employment complaints. The Commission also received $235,030 from the Fair Housing Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the investigation of Fair Housing complaints and for attending HUD sponsored training.
The Department of Management and the Information Technology Services division of the Department of General Services awarded a Reengineering Fund Grant to the Commission for procurement and implementation of a document imaging system. The total amount received under this award was $258,899.
During this fiscal year, the education and outreach functions were reorganized. The Education and Outreach Team plans and implements the Commission’s educational programs that are designed to inform people about their rights under the law, and to inform businesses, landlords, and other organizations how to conduct their operations in accordance with the law.
Staff are available to conduct public speaking engagements, workshops, classes, and other events. During this year, staff participated in 203 events, reaching 7,473 participants (media audiences not included). The most requested topics through the year were for programs on harassment, particularly sexual harassment, and diversity issues.
We also made increased use of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) classroom located in our office, which enabled us to do distance learning to other ICN locations. This is particularly helpful in saving time and money by not having to travel in person to distant locations.
New titles were added to the video lending library and the print diversity library. Both the videos and books are available for loan to the public. There were 233 uses of the videos by staff and by citizen requests.
A total of 3,202 information calls were received (not including intake calls or calls on specific cases). Items mailed out or distributed totaled 28,099. Both of these numbers decreased from the last fiscal year, due to usage of our website, www.state.is.us/government/crc. The public can access information, documents, publications and forms directly, without a phone call or written request. There were nearly 19,000 visits to our website during FY99, more than double the previous year.
Internal staff training included quarterly training sessions on pertinent topics, such as computer training and legal updates. Our annual three-day all-staff training event, Gator U, was held in September 1998. The topics included a sexual harassment overview, interviewing concepts with demonstration interview, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, and small discussion groups on diversity topics.
Although the Commission had no grants or projects in place for testing during the year, the testing program continued in operation. Tests involving landlords, employers, public accommodations and housing providers are a way to determine the nature and extent of discrimination in Iowa.
Tests sometimes come about as a result of individual calls alerting us to a situation that appears to be different treatment. Testing is an excellent way to establish that potential customers or renters are being treated differently, or are being given different information.
Housing tests frequently occur as a result of reading newspapers from around the state, with the housing advertisements providing a list of available housing to check out. Improper advertising, such as "no children," can also be found in many newspapers.
These are the results of the testing program during FY99:
|Number of Tests||468|
Entities with possible violations are contacted about the results of the tests and are offered education about the requirements of the law. Complaints are filed only as a result of particularly blatant violations or when the business owner or landlord refuses the educational assistance offered.
There are currently 23 Community Diversity Appreciation Teams that have been formed in communities around the state. The teams have been formed for the purpose of fighting discrimination locally before it happens, and to be ready to respond with action if it does happen. The commission provides staff support to a community wishing to form a team, and offers follow-up assistance as needed.
The teams have sponsored a variety of community projects and events, all designed to foster appreciation of diversity. Immigration issues have continued to be important, particularly in communities that have meat-packing plants or other industries that draw large numbers of workers. Several communities have produced materials about community services in Spanish, and police departments or other agencies have hired bi-lingual staff to assist newcomers.
The internal committee which coordinates the teams publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, Team Diversity, to help communities to network and share ideas. Frank Tribble, training officer, has been designated as the contact person for the teams. He can be reached at 1-800-457-4416, ext. 1-7508.
The committee also responded to hate incidents around the state, to support local people in taking a stance against hate crimes. The reported incidents included vandalizing a synagogue in Council Bluffs, a cross burning in Palo, and racial slurs in Waverly. The committee also sent a letter to officials in Wyoming, urging passage of hate crimes legislation, in response to the murder of Matthew Shepard.
For agency staff, the committee sponsored a Lunch and Learn program in honor of Asian-American Month. Small discussion groups for staff were held on diversity topics, which included Apologies and Reparations, Police/Community Relations, Building an Inclusive Workplace, and Gender Orientation. Volunteers from other agencies facilitated the groups. These activities were held with the assistance of the internal Training Committee.
The Study Circles Resource Center in Pomfret, CT, is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of study circles or discussion groups on critical social and political issues. These are groups of 10 to 15 citizens who meet in their community to discuss a topic of mutual interest, under the leadership of a trained facilitator. The sharing of respectful, honest and participatory dialogue in an atmosphere that is non-confrontational and non-threatening is the hallmark of an effective group.
The Commission has taken the lead in introducing study circles to Iowa. While the Commission recommends starting the discussions on race and race relations, the groups can choose other topics important to their communities, such as education, criminal justice, or immigration issues. Commission staff are available to help a community start a pilot project group, to provide facilitator training, or for consultation in keeping the circles going. The contact person at the Commission is Frank Tribble, 1-800-457-4416, ext. 1-7508.
In the past year, four additional communities sponsored Study Circles or facilitator training. These communities were Tama, Toledo, Marshalltown and Des Moines.
Study Circles have proven to be an excellent addition to the Community Diversity Appreciation Teams in getting more citizens involved in working on a community’s discrimination issues. The Circles are yet another tool we can use in the fight against discrimination by bringing relevant topics to open discussion.
When the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1990 was passed, it contained a provision that newly constructed multi-family housing (four or more units) must be built with seven accessible features. These features would make the housing units more useable by persons with disabilities.
National and state surveys have shown that there has been widespread non-compliance with these accessibility requirements by owners, builders, developers, and architects. Here in Iowa, a survey of 32 properties constructed after January 1, 1992, in six Iowa communities was conducted. The survey showed that some violations of the accessibility requirements were present in all these properties. Typical violations included lack of curb cuts, lack of accessible parking, environmental controls placed too high, mailboxes too high, steps into the building, and inaccessible common areas.
Under the leadership of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, a task force was formed to work on ways to better educate housing providers of their responsibilities for accessibility as well as consumers as to their rights. Other agencies who became members of the task force include:
Information gathered by the group shows that many architects and builders do not obtain the necessary handicapped review certificate from the State Building Code Bureau. More education is needed on this process.
The Task Force is working on an informational packet to be distributed to the housing industry, disability advocacy groups and consumers.
The Commission has also applied for a HUD grant to cover the cost of distributing materials and holding educational meetings for the public.
The Commission’s annual fair housing conference, "Access to Fair Housing," took place on August 7, 1998, at the Drake University Legal Clinic. Headline topics included sessions on multi-family accessibility, changes in the Fair Credit Act that affect housing, and an update on current fair housing developments in Iowa.
"I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa" was a groundbreaking event here in Iowa. Held Saturday, January 30, 1999, at the State Historical Building, it was a festival celebrating African-American creative achievement. The event was sparked by the "I’ll Make Me a World" series shown on public television, which profiled musicians, writers, actors, filmmakers, dancers, and others whose talents shaped American culture in the 20th century.
Headlining the event was author and actor Greg Alan Williams, a native of Des Moines, who performed a monologue recalling the experiences of his youth. Throughout the day, musicians, dancers, and actors performed, while art and history were displayed and children participated in interactive art activities. Several ethnic restaurants supplied food for lunch. About 1,000 people attended the event, with many remarking what a positive experience it had been.
Building on this success, an expanded schedule of activities is planned for January 27 - February 4, 2000, with the celebration day being held on February 5 at the State Historical Building. Greg Alan Williams will again be performing, joined by Chuck Davis, a nationally recognized dancer and motivator, and Rene McNeal, storyteller.
The annual mediation training conference, "Refining Our Skills," was held on June 11, 1999, at the Farm Bureau conference Center in West Des Moines. This conference provides training for our volunteer mediators, as well as other civil rights staff interested in mediation. This program included a legal update, as well as specific mediation skills such as preparing the parties for mediation, facilitative and evaluative mediation, and getting agreements written.
The usual annual conference for local commissions in Iowa was not held this year in anticipation of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA) meeting to be held in Des Moines in August 1999. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a co-sponsor of this event.
Friends Civil Rights Award Ceremony and Banquet
The Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc., is a non-profit organization founded to further civil rights efforts in Iowa. The third annual awards ceremony and banquet was held in October 1998. The public is invited to make nominations of individuals or entities who have made a significant contribution to civil rights in Iowa in the past two years. The nominations are reviewed and winners selected by the Friends Board of Directors. The 1998 winners were:
Elizabeth "Libbie" Creger, Dubuque.
Nancy Nauman, Muscatine.
Langston Hughes Players and B. John Burns, Des Moines.
Heidi Bagg, Des Moines.
Mark Willits, Union.
*Term expired during FY99
Carol Anne Leach
Gloria Jean Roeder
Lloyd Van Oostenrijk
Assistant Attorneys General
* Left employment during the year.
Volunteers have assisted the agency in a variety of ways, from working in-office on case-related work, being testers, serving on committees, or assisting with special projects.
Debbie Conlin Anderson
Elaine G. Estes
Paula Hutton Harbacheck
Maureen J. Korte
Patricia J. Lantz
Joseph McGill, Jr.
Paula Hutton McKinley
Hoa Tan Pham
M. Jessica Rowe
Billie Jean Stone
Helen Adams, Des Moines
Connie Alt, Cedar Rapids
Kelly Baier, Cedar Rapids
Neil Barrick, Des Moines
Susan Beckett, Iowa City
William Blum, Dubuque
Robert Boeye, Moline, IL
Allen Brennecke, Marshalltown
James Brick, Des Moines
Hugh Cain, Des Moines
Emily Chafa, Des Moines
Daniel G. Clark, Muscatine
Kate Corcoran, Iowa City
Lois Crane, Mt. Pleasant
Robert Crigler, Des Moines
Paul Curtis, Des Moines
William Davidson, Des Moines
Vic Dietz, Walcott
Kent Enwright, Des Moines
L.M. "Al" Fering, Des Moines
Steve Gardner, Ottumwa
A. L. Goldberg, Iowa City
Chuck Hannan, Council Bluffs
Beth E. Hansen, Waterloo
Albert Harvey, Des Moines
Arthur Hedberg, Des Moines
Richard Heininger, Council Bluffs
Arthur J. Hessburg, Waverly
Donald Hoskins, Marion
Jeff Ireland, Cedar Rapids
Reginald J. Jackson, Des Moines
Kristin Johnson, Clive
Nancy Johnson, Des Moines
Sondra Kaska, Iowa City
Patricia Lantz, Des Moines
Devon Lewis, Clive
Sharon Louis-Goldford, Des Moines
Anne McAtee, Davenport
Edward McConnell, Des Moines
Miki McGovern, Des Moines
Edwin McIntosh, Des Moines
C. W. McManigal, Mason City
James Meyer, West Des Moines
Dorothy O’Brien, Davenport
Dennis Ogden, Des Moines
Blake Parker, Fort Dodge
Earl Parsons, Marseilles, IL
Earl Payson, Davenport
Ray Perry, Des Moines
Ron Pohlman, Earlham
Julie L. Pulkrabek, Iowa City
Warren Reinecke, Grinnell
Nancy Roehrkasse, Des Moines
Earl F. Rose, Iowa City
Marilyn Rose, Iowa City
Craig B. Rypma, Des Moines
Russ Samson, Des Moines
Sue Seitz, Des Moines
Steve Sovern, Cedar Rapids
Bill Stone, Cedar Rapids
Bill Stowe, Des Moines
John Swaim, Marshalltown
Angela Swanson, West Des Moines
Kellie Rae Taylor, Council Bluffs
Sheila Tipton, Des Moines
Cpt. Robert Torgerson, Muscatine
Annie Huntington Tucker, Iowa City
Kevin Visser, Cedar Rapids
Mike Wallace, Iowa City
Hannah Weston, Cedar Rapids
Kyle White, Des Moines
Jo Ellen Whitney, Des Moines
Mark Zaiger, Cedar Rapids
Iowa Local Commissions
Sheila Lundt, Director
Ames Human Relations Commission
515 Clark Avenue
Ames, IA 50010
515-239-5101, fax 515-239-5325
Decker Ploehn, City Administrator
Bettendorf Human Relations Commission
1609 State Street
Bettendorf, IA 52722
319-344-4000, FAX 319-344-4012
Jeff Heland, Chairperson
Burlington Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 400 Washington
Burlington, IA 52601
319-753-8120, FAX 319-753-8101
Joyce Rewerts, EEO Specialist
Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission
220 Clay Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
319-273-8600, ext. 69, FAX 319-273-8655
Louise Lorenz, Executive Director
Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission
2nd Floor, Veterans Memorial Building
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
319-286-5036, FAX 319-286-5136
Leah Woods, Contact Person
Clinton Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 611 South 3rd Street
Clinton, IA 52732-2958
319-241-3207, FAX 319-242-7775
Steven C. Palmer, Asst. City Attorney
Council Bluffs Human Relations Commission
209 Pearl Street, City Hall
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
712-328-4618, FAX 712-322-9255
Judith Morrell, Executive Director
Davenport Civil Rights Commission
423 East 32nd Street, Suite 2
Davenport, IA 52803
319-326-0717, FAX 319-326-7956
Floyd Jones, Executive Director
Des Moines Human Rights Commission
Armory Bldg., East 1st and Des Moines
Des Moines, IA 50307
515-283-4284, FAX 515-283-4270
Kelly Larson, Director
Dubuque Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 13th & Central
Dubuque, IA 52001
319-589-4190, FAX 319-589-4299
Ed O’Leary, Director
Fort Dodge Human Rights Commission
819 1st Ave. South, Municipal Building
Fort Dodge, IA 50501
515-576-2201, FAX 515-573-5097
Pat Drollinger, Secretary
Fort Madison Human Rights Commission
811 Avenue E, City Hall
Fort Madison, IA 52627
319-372-7700, FAX 319-372-7758
Lolya Lipchitz, Chair
Grinnell Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 197 4th Avenue
Grinnell, IA 50112
515-236-2600, FAX 515-236-2626
Liz Nichols, Chairperson
Indianola Human Rights Commission
110 North 1st, City Hall
Indianola, IA 50125
515-961-9410, FAX 515-961-2413
Heather Shank, Human Rights Coordinator
Iowa City Human Rights Commission
410 E. Washington, Civic Center
Iowa City, IA 52240
319-356-5022, FAX 319-356-5009
Sylvia Tillman, Contact Person
Keokuk Human Relations Commission
415 Blondeau St., City Offices
Keokuk, IA 52632
319-524-2050, FAX 319-524-1365
Mayor Floyd Harthun
Marshalltown Human Rights Commission
24 North Center Street
Marshalltown, IA 50158
515-754-5712, FAX 515-754-5717
Lionel Foster, Director
Mason City Human Rights Commission
10 First Street NW
Mason City, IA 50401
515-421-3618, FAX 515-421-3619
Sal Alaniz, Lead Commissioner
Mount Pleasant Human Rights Commission
1101 E. Henry Street
Mount Pleasant, IA 52641
319-753-0193, FAX 319-385-4939
Stephanie Romagnoli, Contact Person
Muscatine Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 215 Sycamore
Muscatine, IA 52761
319-264-1550, FAX 319-264-1470
Dr. Gail Quinn, Chairperson
Ottumwa Human Rights Commission
City Hall, 105 East 3rd Street
Ottumwa, IA 52501
515-683-0600, FAX 515-683-0613
Richard Hayes, Executive Director
Sioux City Human Rights Commission
Suite 425, Orpheum Bldg.
Sioux City, IA 51102
712-279-6985 or 6986, FAX 712-279-6326
Walter Reed, Executive Director
Waterloo Human Rights Commission
620 Mulberry Street, Suite 101
Waterloo, IA 50703
319-291-4441, FAX 319-291-4431
Susan Bacon, City Attorney
West Des Moines Human Rights Commission
4000 G. M. Mills Parkway
P.O. Box 65320
West Des Moines, IA 50265