Monday, February 16, 2009

RIO Getting Pay Cuts

What exactly is going on at the Rebuild Iowa Office? And what was or wasn't going on for the past five months or so? The last several weeks have been tough ones. It's hardly the new CIETC. But, with allegations of inflated salaries and overpriced carpet, RIO has become the acronym of acrimony, at least in some lawmakers' eyes (mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, as well).

Governor Chet Culver hasn't exactly criticized what has been going on there, at least not publicly. Lawmakers have done plenty of that. Although, the gov did say today he was "disappointed" in some of the decisions there. That's the first time I remember him saying that about the office. It does seem like the gov has made changes. Chief of Staff Emily Hajek, it appears, was running the show there for about five months. Apparently, Lt. Gov Patty Judge ceased as the interim executive director on Labor Day, according to the gov. That revelation surprised lawmakers with whom I talked, along with the statehouse press corp. No one can remember any announcement back then that the Lt. Gov. was no longer part of RIO.

But after Hajek infuriated some lawmakers during a committee hearing earlier this month, the gov announced Major Ron Dardis was taking over. Lawmakers complained about the salaries of some RIO staffers (after getting two sets of documents showing two different sets of compensation for those staffers). Today, the gov said those salaries are going down. He said he'll submit a new budget for RIO. His office says the new numbers should come out in a few days.

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