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Kim Reynolds: ‘It looked like an ocean’ — Deadly Midwest floods devastate Western Iowa communities

BROWNVILLE, Neb. — Vice President Mike Pence arrived Tuesday to survey with Iowa and Nebraska officials the devastation unleashed across the Midwest by floods that have killed at least four and caused more than a billion dollars in damage to crops, livestock and roads.

Floodwaters have inundated a large swath of western Iowa and eastern Nebraska along the Missouri River, North America’s longest river, prompting more than half of Iowa’s counties to declare states of disaster.

”Touched down in Omaha, Nebraska to survey flood damage & thank volunteers & emergency personnel,” Pence said on Twitter, in a post that included photos of him meeting with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, along with lawmakers including Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.

“The hearts of the American people are with those who have been impacted across the Midwest!” Pence wrote.

Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin all have declared states of emergency in the floods, which stem from a powerful winter hurricane known as a “bomb cyclone” that slammed into the Farm Belt last week, killing untold numbers of livestock, destroying grains and soybeans in storage, and cutting off access to farms because of road and rail damage.

The latest confirmed death was identified by the sheriff in Fremont County, Iowa, as 55-year-old Aleido Rojas Galan, who was pulled from floodwaters along with another man Friday and later died.

Reynolds, who had toured the Iowa damage earlier also, at a news conference Tuesday expressed her admiration for Iowans’ resiliency and assured people facing the calamity that her administration is doing all it can to provide help.

“It’s hard to really describe the devastation that we witnessed. It looked like an ocean,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable, and that’s people’s lives. Those are fifth-generation farms, those are businesses, communities.”

Reynolds said she has asked for a federal disaster declaration as well, and she said she is confident Iowa will qualify.

“This is all hands on deck: federal, state and local,” she said.

Authorities said they had rescued nearly 300 people in Nebraska alone. Rescuers could be seen in boats pulling pets from flooded homes. Some roadways crumbled to rubble, while sections of others were submerged.

In Hamburg, Iowa, floodwaters covered buildings. In Brownville, Neb., floodwaters lapped at the edge of the town of 132 people, closing the main bridge across the Missouri River.

“It’s a lot worse than I’ve ever seen it,” said Malina Wheeldon, who went ahead with the scheduled opening of her new Euphoric Soul Salon & Boutique business despite the floods. Her husband, Justin, who grew up in Brownville, said he had lived through floods of 1993, 2010 and 2011.

“About every five years now, we have a 100-year flood,” he said.

Nebraska officials estimated more than $1 billion in flood damage for the state’s agricultural sector so far, according to Craig Head, a vice president at the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

Reynolds warned more flooding could be on the way as the spring thaw is just beginning.

But she also praised the spirit of many Iowans she has met as they hope to bounce back.

“They’ve not lost their fight, and they don’t know how to give up,” she said. “They are and we are still in the fight.”

Reuters and Erin Murphy of The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.

Democrat Eric Giddens wins special election for State Senate District 30 seat

WATERLOO — Eric Giddens, a Democrat, won the special election for the Senate District 30 seat on Tuesday.

He will replace former Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Democrat who resigned the office in February to take a job with the American Wind Energy Association.

Giddens, 45, of Cedar Falls, gathered 7,610 votes, for a convincing win over Walt Rogers, a former state representative, who had 5,631 votes. Libertarian Fred Perryman had 143.

Winter weather and melting snow posed an obstacle to campaigning, with the cancellation of several canvassing events.

Then flooding forced Black Hawk County to move one of its polling places for Cedar Falls Ward 1, Precinct 1to the Cedar Falls City Hall.

The Senate district includes all of Cedar Falls and parts of Hudson and Waterloo.

At least 1,100 absentee ballots were cast in the week leading up to the election, with more than 800 coming from satellite voting sites on the University of Northern Iowa campus, where Giddens is a program manager for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

Because the election fell during spring break, both Democratic and Republican student activists encouraged early voting by their classmates.

At least nine Democrats who are running for president came to the area to campaign for Giddens, and some sent videos and campaign workers.

Rogers, 57, resigned from his job at the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board to run for office.

The special election is estimated to have cost $41,500.

Rogers’ campaign raised $45,070 to Giddens’ $43,600.50.

Rising river helps Palo test its new forecasting system

PALO — Residents in Palo didn’t have to guess how high the Cedar River would rise during recent flooding. For the first time this flood season, they could see the forecast for their own town.

The city’s new river forecasting site went into effect Jan. 15, one of two forecasting sites that were added along the Cedar River this year. The second is on the Cedar River in Cedar Bluff, about 30 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids.

Located at the Blairs Ferry Road Bridge, which crosses over the Cedar River on the way into Palo, the forecasting site saw its first test with recent flooding events that sent rivers rising throughout much of Eastern Iowa.

Palo and Cedar Bluff already had gauges in place measuring the water level and flow, but having the forecasting sites meant the National Weather Service could provide forecasts specific to those areas, as well as watches and warnings if necessary.

Over the past week, Palo City Administrator Trisca Dix said she’s spoken with several residents and business owners who said they’ve used the forecasting site to keep track of the flooding activity in Palo and determine how that might affect them, their homes or their businesses.

“People get nervous when the river starts to rise,” she said. “So having that information available to them ... can give them a clearer picture of what to expect, and that’s valuable because they can then make informed decisions.”

In Palo, the Cedar River crested midday on Monday at 15.3 feet, which is considered a moderate flood stage for the city. The water level has since begun to drop, measuring in at about 15 feet on Tuesday afternoon.

During previous flood events, Dix said the city had to rely on river forecasts from a gauge site in Vinton, more than 20 miles upstream. Now, with its own forecasting site, Dix said the city has direct access to the information needed when flood events arise.

“Previously, before the forecasting site, we would have to call the National Weather Service to get the current information,” she said. “And either we or Linn County Emergency Management Agency would have to check in regularly for updates. Now that information is readily available to us.”

Additionally, Dix said officials would “have to look at forecasting for Cedar Rapids and Vinton and use that information to kind of estimate what we might see here.”

That’s one of the reasons Palo needed its own site, Linn County Emergency Management coordinator Steve O’Konek told The Gazette earlier this year.

“The last chance we have to see what is going to happen is in Vinton,” he said in January. “It really didn’t tell us much.”

Now Palo residents have the information to react and respond without looking upstream.

“I’d say the forecasting site has been incredibly beneficial,” Dix said. “Now, with the forecasting system, we have direct access to the information we need about water levels and flood projections so that we can respond accordingly.”

Plus, the information is accessible to everyone.

“Anyone can get onto the site and see what’s going on,” she said. “And that’s helpful to residents and business owners because they can make better informed decisions about how to protect their homes or businesses.”

In addition to forecasts, Dix said the site also provides statistical information, historical data and flood impact statements, all of which can be helpful as the city continues to plan future mitigation projects.

The weather service decided to add forecasting sites in Palo and Cedar Bluff based on requests from emergency managers and city officials, weather service hydrologist Jessica Brooks said. The gauges in Palo and Cedar Bluff had been collecting data for at least four years, which is necessary for being a forecast site.

“We have to have several years’ worth of data collected before they can set up a forecasting site, because we need to have a good sense of the river’s activity in that area and enough background data to paint a full picture,” she said. “After that, it’s only a matter of someone saying, ‘Hey I think we need this here because it could help up better prepare for a flooding event.’”

And though the new sites don’t change anything as far as data collection on the weather service’s end, Brooks said they do make a difference for the nearby communities.

“Once we have a forecasting site up and running, it allows (the weather service) to provide that area with more information,” she said. “And more information can help area officials to better formulate their response.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Two more people connected to Christopher Bagley charged in burglary

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two more people linked to a missing Walker man found buried in southeast Cedar Rapids have been charged with burglary and assault, though no one has yet been charged with his death.

Darian Gossett, 22, of Cedar Rapids, and Morgan Jordan, 26, of Marion, are the latest people arrested who are connected to Christopher Bagley, the 31-year-old found dead March 1 after disappearing in early December.

Two men connected to Bagley — Paul Hoff and Logan Gerber — face federal gun and drug charges.

Gossett and Jordan are charged with breaking into a Marion apartment. They told police they thought their “missing friend Chris Bagley” lived there, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained Tuesday by The Gazette.

Bagley did not live in the apartment, but another man, who is in jail on drug charges, did.

Gossett was charged last month with third-degree burglary and assault, and Jordan was charged with third-degree burglary, according to criminal complaints.

A search warrant shows Jay and Sally Podzimek went to check on their son’s Marion apartment Feb. 27 because he was in jail. They found Gossett and Jordan inside.

When the Podzimeks entered the apartment, they found Gossett and Jordan taking property, according to the complaints. Jay Podzimek told them he was going to call the police, and Gossett pushed him to the ground and then ran out of the apartment with Jordan, the complaints said.

A short time later, Marion police found Gossett and Jordan in a pickup in the 300 block of Hillview Drive, according the warrant. They both said they thought the apartment belonged to Bagley and they were going to “clean it up because he’s been missing for a while.”

According to court records, Drew Blahnik lived in the apartment. Blahnik, who was arrested Feb. 26 — the day before the burglary — is charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana. There is also a federal hold on him, meaning he could face charges in federal court, though no charged have been filed.

Blahnik is accused of having a box containing 100 “heavy-hitter marijuana cartridges, which were packaged individually to weigh 1 gram for delivery,” according to a criminal complaint. Blahnik told police the cartridges were worth $2,000 and each cartridge sold for $20.

Officers also recovered from his apartment a handgun, various ammunition and several knives, according to the complaint.

Court records don’t show a connection between Blahnik and Bagley.

Authorities said Bagley was a marijuana and methamphetamine user known for selling marijuana and carrying a gun, according to a previous search warrant obtained by The Gazette last week.

That warrant, filed in January, shows authorities were already convinced Bagley was dead and possibly murdered.

Bagley’s body was found March 1 buried in a yard on Soutter Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids, but authorities haven’t said how that residence is connected to Bagley or his death. An autopsy determined he was stabbed to death.

The January warrant was filed to search a mobile home, where Bagley was last seen alive on Dec. 14.

Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, and Logan Gerber, 29, of Marion, both named in the warrant as the last ones to see or speak with Bagley, were charged in federal court for drugs and firearms but not Bagley’s death.

A woman who was with Bagley on Dec. 13 when he left his Walker home told authorities they went to Hoff’s mobile home. Bagley and Hoff discussed possibly robbing someone but never said who, she told authorities.

Bagley and another man had been involved in robbing people in the past, she told investigators. One of the people robbed may have been Bagley’s marijuana dealer, and she believed the dealer paid someone to harm Bagley.

The woman said she left the mobile home around 4:45 a.m. on Dec. 14, and Bagley stayed.

Hoff, during a Dec. 22 interview, told investigators Bagley and the woman were in his mobile home Dec. 14 and were talking about robbing a drug house but he didn’t know when or where, the warrant shows.

Hoff said he last saw Bagley between 7 and 7:30 a.m. He didn’t know who Bagley left with or what vehicle he got into when leaving, according to the warrant.

Gerber, during an interview with investigators, said Bagley called him about 3:32 a.m. Dec. 14 saying he was on his way to Hoff’s and told him to be ready because he was going to need his help for the “grande finale.” Gerber said he didn’t know what that meant but he thought Bagley was planning to rob someone.

During the investigation, authorities learned of threats allegedly made against Bagley, stating, “it is believed Bagley is deceased and possibly murdered,” according to the warrant.

Additionally, another acquaintance made threats about cutting out Bagley’s tongue to keep him quiet, authorities said. That person thought Bagley faced possible federal charges related to illegal weapons and drugs.

No charges had been filed at the time of Bagley’s death.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

Rep. Finkenauer hears pitch for Cedar Lake project, flood protection

CEDAR RAPIDS — Investing in flood protection is a top priority for the U.S. House, Rep. Abby Finkenauer said Tuesday as she toured the Cedar Lake Loop trail in Cedar Rapids.

“I know there are some creative things we can do, whether it be EPA grants or trail project grants,” Finkenauer said of the area around Cedar Lake. “There’s a lot we can do, and I’m excited to be at the table and be the voice for this lake project in D.C.”

Such investments, the Democrat said, “are not supposed to be Democratic or Republican issues.”

The CONNECT CR project envisions restoring the 100-acre lake just north of downtown and connecting it and the trail around it with a new pedestrian bridge over the Cedar River between Czech Village and the NewBo district.

The city has committed at least $5 million to the project, as has the Hall-Perrine Foundation. Project leaders also have approached state and Linn County leaders for support, and private fundraising is ongoing.

On Tuesday, Cedar Rapids City Council member Dale Todd, long an advocate for reviving the lake, suggested to Finkenauer the federal government also could play a role.

“There are numerous opportunities for the federal government to partner with the city in this project,” he said, “whether it’s EPA money, federal trail money, infrastructure grants — and flood protection here is going to be critical in stopping the river from backing up and depositing sediment into the lake during flood events.”

The city is close to assuming ownership of much of Cedar Lake, once a cooling pond for an Alliant Energy coal-fired power plant,

Todd said the area around the lake soon will get “a face-lift” — including flood protection, improved trail pavement and improved greenery and vegetation.

Besides seeing Cedar Lake, Finkenauer on Tuesday toured bridge and flood infrastructure projects in Dubuque, Independence and Waterloo. In Waterloo, she also visited Lowell Elementary, where the school roof collapsed under heavy snow last month.

Finkenauer, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said flood protection is “the No. 1 priority” for her constituents.

The 1st District in northeast Iowa, which Finkenauer represents, has “a lot of natural resources — and with that comes responsibility, and with that comes investments that are needed,” she said.

“As flooding continues and the risk of flooding continues to exasperate every year we put this off, the need for these projects continue to be top of mind.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

Compromise advances sports betting bill in Iowa House

DES MOINES — Iowa bettors would not be allowed to make in-game “prop” wagers on contests involving Iowa athletes, their colleges or their opponents under a change expected to be approved Wednesday by a House committee — a change backers say will boost the chances of sports gambling becoming legal in Iowa.

The agreement to limit the in-game proposition bets in legislation seeking to authorize betting on professional and college sporting events and on daily fantasy sports was designed to address a concern raised by officials representing state universities and colleges in Iowa, said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, a backer of House File 648.

Kaufmann said he is confident the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has the wherewithal to police such betting that usually involves small wagering amounts on things like whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points.

But he said he agreed to make the change out of “political reality” in attempting to forge a bipartisan coalition that can get the bill to the governor’s desk.

Keith Saunders, a legislative liaison who represents the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents, told a subcommittee this week the concern is for protecting the integrity of college athletes. The state universities were registered as undecided on the bill but Saunders expressed support for the amendment to limit “in play” betting on individual players, Iowa-based teams and their opponents.

Kaufmann said he expected the overall bill, which contains a 6.75 percent tax on revenue, to be taken up Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. Backers envision a system where Iowa residents at least 21 years old initially are required to establish a sports betting account in person at a state casino.

Wes Ehrecke, president and chief executive of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents the state’s casinos, said his members supported the amendment to remove in-game bets on in-state players or their opposing teams.

Opponents of the legislation, including faith-based groups, said they do not support any form of gambling expansion in Iowa because of the potential for addiction.

Kaufmann expressed optimism that lawmakers will send Gov. Kim Reynolds a sports gambling bill yet this session, but Rep. John Forbes, R-Urbandale, a Ways and Means Committee member, described the situation in the GOP-led House as “a little fluid right now.”

“It will be a bipartisan bill if it comes out of this chamber,” he noted.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

United States jury rules against Bayer in Roundup cancer case

A U.S. jury on Tuesday found Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based weed killer to be a “substantial factor” in causing a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, allowing the trial to proceed into a second phase on liability and damages.

The jury in San Francisco federal court in a unanimous ruling found Roundup, one of the world’s most widely-used weed killers, to be responsible for the cancer of California resident Edwin Hardeman. It was not yet a finding of liability against Bayer, however.

The case will proceed into a second trial phase before the same jury on Wednesday to determine Bayer’s liability and potential damages.

During that phase, Hardeman’s lawyers can present evidence allegedly showing the company’s efforts to influence scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of its products, which they were not allowed to in the initial phase.

Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the jury’s initial decision.

“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer,” the company said.

Bayer acquired Monsanto, which makes Roundup.

The case was only the second of some 11,200 Roundup lawsuits to go to trial in the United States. Another California man was awarded $289 million in August after a state court jury found Roundup caused his cancer, sending Bayer shares plunging at the time. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Hardeman’s case was a so-called bellwether trial intended to help determine the range of damages and define settlement options for the more than 760 Roundup cases consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco.

Bayer denies allegations that Roundup, or glyphosate, cause cancer. It says decades of studies and regulatory evaluations, primarily of real-world human exposure data, have shown the weed killer to be safe for human use.

(Reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco; Additional reporting and writing by Tina Bellon in New York Editing by Bill Berkrot)

National Popular Vote Interstate Compact offers a way to bypass the electoral college

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for abolishing the electoral college at a Monday night town hall, saying it was the only way to “make sure that every vote counts.”

Abolishing the electoral college would indeed be one way of instituting a popular presidential vote, but there’s already an initiative underway that could bring about the same result without the hassle of a constitutional amendment: the National Popular Vote interstate compact.

It works like this: States agree to allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact wouldn’t kick in until states with at least 270 electoral college votes among them — the threshold required to elect a president — have signed on.

Say, for instance, California is a member of the compact. If President Donald Trump were to win the popular vote in 2020, the longtime blue state would award him all 55 of its electoral votes, regardless of how he fared on the state ballot.

Conversely, if Texas was in the compact and a Democrat captured the national vote in 2020, then a state that’s voted Republican in the last 10 presidential races would give all 38 of its electoral votes to the blue candidate, again regardless of the local outcome.

Think of it as an end-run around the electoral college: The mechanism remains in place, but the allocation of electoral votes defaults to the candidate who collects the most actual votes across the country.

Many Democrats, including Warren, disparaged the electoral college following the presidential election results in 2000 and 2016, when Al Gore and Hillary Clinton each won the national popular vote, yet lost in the electoral college and, as a result, the presidency. All told, five of the nation’s 45 presidents have taken office without winning the national popular vote.

Supporters say the change would open the national electoral map, requiring candidates to campaign everywhere, rather than just in, say, a small handful of battleground states. And they’ve already made headway in making their vision a reality: as of this month, legislatures in 14 states plus the District of Columbia have pledged to join the compact. They represent 189 electoral votes, meaning they need 81 more to put the compact in action.

How might they get there?

Thee compact initiative could reach 270 with just three more states — Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. The problem for organizers, though, is that battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania have little incentive to join the compact — they like having all the attention and political ad dollars that election years bring.

So organizers of the national popular vote have turned to what founder John Koza calls “jilted battlegrounds” — states that used to be major battlegrounds, he explained in an interview, but which have since turned from purple to red or blue.

Colorado, where Gov. Jared Polis just signed legislation to join the compact, is among those states. So is New Mexico, where a bill passed by the legislature awaits the governor’s signature.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in 15 other states have introduced pro-compact legislation. If the bills pass in just five of those states — Florida, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana — the plan would hit its 270-vote target.

Voters in some states could also opt to bypass their legislatures entirely and attempt to join the compact via a voter-initiated ballot measure. Koza said that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court would even allow it. But he says his group is “very interested” in the idea.

“We thought as we got closer to 270 there would be increasing public interest, and maybe we could get it [on the ballot] in some states where it was bogged down in the legislature,” he said.

Polling shows that electing presidents by popular vote is widely favored among the public, at least in theory. A 2018 Atlantic/PRRI survey found, for instance, that “nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans believe that presidential elections should be decided based on the national popular vote.” A separate and more specific Pew Research Center survey that year found that 55 percent expressed support for amending the Constitution to allow the president to be elected by the popular vote.

Koza says that partisan reactions to his national popular vote idea tend to shift depending on who’s in the White House.

“In 2006, when George W. Bush was in the White House, it was quite hard to get Republicans interested. Then after [Barack] Obama won we encountered a lot of difficulties with Democratic legislatures.” Now, he says, with Trump in office Republicans are skeptical again.

“Each of the parties goes into this triumphal mode after they win the last election and imagine that the system is rigged in their favor because they just won,” he says. “Then often, times change.”

Trump forges bond with Brazil’s Bolsonaro in White House visit

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil’s new far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro forged a bond over their shared brand of conservative and populist politics on Tuesday, with Trump pledging to give more U.S. support to Brazil’s global ambitions.

In a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he told Bolsonaro he would designate Brazil a major non-NATO ally and possibly go further by supporting a campaign to make Brazil “maybe a NATO ally.”

Bolsonaro, a former army captain who rode to the presidency with a brash, anti-establishment campaign modeled on Trump’s 2016 run, has declared himself an unabashed admirer of the U.S. president and the American way of life.

He praised Trump for changing the United States in a way he said he hopes to change Brazil.

“Brazil and the United States are tied by the guarantee of liberty, respect for the traditional family, the fear of God our creator, against gender identity, political correctness and fake news,” Bolsonaro said, touching on themes that have inflamed his critics in Brazil concerned about his autocratic views.

Nicknamed the ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ Bolsonaro rose to power praising the U.S.-backed military government that ran Brazil for two decades before a return to democracy in 1985.

He moved quickly to ally Brazil closer to the United States, a shift in diplomatic priorities after over a decade of leftist party rule that had seen Brazil forging closer ties with regional allies.

At Tuesday’s news conference, the two presidents repeatedly rejected socialism, celebrating their joint efforts to oust Venezuela’s left-wing leader, Nicolas Maduro.

They showed an easy rapport, exchanging soccer jerseys from their national teams at the outset of their meeting in the Oval Office, with Trump’s name emblazoned on Brazil’s famous yellow shirt and Bolsonaro’s on the USA uniform.

The two also share a penchant for family politics, employing relations as some of their closest advisers. In the Rose Garden, Trump praised Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a congressman who sported a Trump 2020 hat when visiting Washington last year.

TRADE PROMISES

As leaders of the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere, Trump and Bolsonaro also discussed how to increase trade and committed to reducing barriers.

“Brazil makes great product and we make great product, and our trade has been never as good as it should be in the past. And in some cases it should be far, far more,” Trump said.

They struck initial agreements on agricultural trade, with better access for American wheat and pork exports to Brazil and the possibility of restarting Brazilian beef sales to the United States.

Looming over their discussion was the fact that China, currently embroiled in a trade war with the United States, has eclipsed America in trade and investment with Brazil. Bolsonaro, who was critical of China in his campaign, announced hours after meeting Trump that he will visit the country in the second half of the year.

Bolsonaro’s Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes, on Monday urged the United States to open its market more to Brazil if it wanted to change the status quo.

Trump also said he supported Brazil’s efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of wealthier nations sharing best practices on economic policy.

But U.S. support would not come for free, according to Guedes. In exchange, the Americans asked Brazil to give up some benefits at the World Trade Organization (WTO), he told journalists earlier on Tuesday.

Becoming a “major non-NATO ally” implies a status upgrade that gives a country preferential access to the purchase of U.S. military equipment and technology.

Supporting Brazil for an association with NATO would be a considerable step further, one that Trump recognized would mean he would “have to talk to a lot of people.”

Colombia became in 2018 the only Latin American nation to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a “global partner,” which means it will not necessarily have to take part in military action.

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Bolsonaro threw his weight behind Trump’s immigration agenda, which includes a wall on the Mexican border.

“We do agree with President Trump’s decision or proposal on the wall,” Bolsonaro said, in remarks translated to English by the broadcaster. “The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions. They do not intend to do the best or do good to the U.S. people.”

His comments sparked an uproar at home and among Brazilians in the United States, forcing Bolsonaro to issue an apology.

“I meant to say that a little part of the people who immigrate don’t have good intentions and I made a mistake. I apologize for that,” he said.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Roberta Rampton, additional reporting by Steve Holland and Alexandra Alper; Writing by Marcelo Rochabrun and Mary Milliken; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Phil Berlowitz)

Goldman: half of entry-level recruits to be women

Ahead of a deadline to release gender pay-gap numbers in Britain, Goldman Sachs said Monday that it is boosting its efforts to improve diversity at the storied investment bank, setting goals for the first time for hiring black and Latino associates and saying it will tie top leaders’ pay and promotions to their progress on those goals.

In a memo to employees Monday, CEO David Solomon said the bank was expanding a year-old goal of 50 percent female recruitment in the crop of analysts it picks from college campuses each year.

It will now include in that goal people hired laterally into entry-level jobs and set goals for several diverse groups.

In addition to having women make up half of all incoming Goldman analysts and entry-level associates — representing 70 percent of the bank’s annual hiring — the bank aims to have 11 percent of those recruits be black and 14 percent be Hispanic/Latino in the Americas.

Goldman also announced new steps to address diversity within its more senior ranks, a move that comes within weeks of the deadline to report on its gender pay gap in Britain.

Solomon said in his memo that the bank would now require two diverse candidates to be interviewed for all open roles, ask business unit heads to increase their focus on career progression and consider progress on diversity goals when evaluating senior managers’ pay and promotion.

“Experienced lateral hiring has been an important part of the firm’s growth. However, it has also been a significant contributor to the dilution of our diversity at more senior levels and we need to address this,” Solomon wrote in the memo.

He added that “to be clear, we pay women and men in similar roles with similar performance equally.” But, he noted, “we need to improve senior representation in order to change the results of these measures, and we are confident that the steps we’ve outlined will help us, over time, increase our representation of all diverse professionals at senior levels.”

Glossier online makeup startup is NYC’s newest unicorn, with $1.2 billion valuation

Makeup company Glossier just became New York’s latest tech unicorn.

The beauty startup that sells directly to consumers online is now valued at more than $1.2 billion after its latest funding round, according to two people familiar with the company who didn’t want to be named because the matter is private. Glossier raised $100 million from investors led by Sequoia Capital, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Glossier started as a beauty blog in 2010 and has since morphed into one of the rare makeup companies that does almost all of its business online.

Glossier doesn’t sell products at department stores or specialty shops such as Sephora. Instead the company promotes its house-brand serums, balms and milky cleansers to 1.9 million followers on Instagram. Glossier products are sent to consumers in baby pink boxes along with a baby pink bubble pouch for carrying the items and sticker sheets to “bling up” makeup bags.

“We are building an entirely new kind of beauty company: one that owns the distribution channel and makes customers our stakeholders,” Emily Weiss, founder and CEO, said in the statement. By connecting directly with consumers, Glossier has access to “endless inspiration for new products,” she said.

Founded in 2014, Glossier now has more than 200 employees and operates in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, France, Denmark and Sweden. Its annual revenue more than doubled in 2018 to surpass $100 million, the company said.

Other investors in the latest funding round include Tiger Global Management, Spark Capital and existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Thrive Capital, IVP and Index Ventures.

Michael Abramson, a partner at Sequoia, said Glossier had built an “exceptional” relationship with its customers. “This is one of the most efficient direct-to-consumer businesses we’ve encountered, and with this new capital, we believe Glossier is well positioned to define the next era of the beauty industry,” Abramson said in the statement.

The company also announced that Vanessa Wittman, formerly CFO at Dropbox and Motorola Mobility Holdings, will be joining as its CFO.

Reynolds seeking federal aid for Iowa flooding

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds described the devastation she witnessed, expressed her admiration for Iowans’ resiliency, and assured people facing the devastating floods that her administration is doing everything it can to provide assistance.

Much of western and northern Iowa is experiencing significant flooding after what Reynolds said was “a perfect storm” of intense snow and rain followed by rising temperatures that caused snow to melt and runoff over still-frozen ground.

The flooding has particularly devastated some communities along the Missouri River, where several levees have been compromised by the rising waters.

“It’s hard to really describe the devastation that we witnessed. It looked like an ocean,” Reynolds said Tuesday during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol. She toured flood-damaged western Iowa on Monday. “It’s just unbelievable, and that’s people’s lives. Those are fifth-generation farms, those are businesses, communities.”

Reynolds has issued a state disaster declaration for 41 of the state’s 99 counties, mostly in western and northern Iowa. She said she expects more declarations in the coming days and weeks.

Reynolds was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts to participate in a flyover of the flood damage on both sides of the Missouri River.

Reynolds has asked for a federal disaster declaration as well, and she said she is confident Iowa will qualify.

“This is all hands on deck: federal, state and local,” Reynolds said, adding she is hopeful federal assistance will be approved quickly.

Joyce Flinn, administrator of the state’s emergency management division, described the flooding as “truly catastrophic” and worse than Iowa flooding in 2011.

Reynolds warned more flooding could be on the way as the spring thaw is only just beginning. But she also praised the spirit of many Iowans she has met as they hope to bounce back from the devastation.

“They’ve not lost their fight, and they don’t know how to give up,” Reynolds said. “They are and we are still in the fight.”

State assistance for Iowans in counties under a disaster declaration includes grants for home or car repairs, temporary housing costs and replacing clothes or food. Iowans can apply for assistance at the state’s human services department website at dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs.

Counties under state disaster declaration:

• Adair

• Bremer

• Buena Vista

• Butler

• Cerro Gordo

• Cherokee

• Clay

• Clayton

• Crawford

• Dallas

• Delaware

• Dickinson

• Emmet

• Fayette

• Franklin

• Fremont

• Guthrie

• Hancock

• Hardin

• Harrison

• Humboldt

• Ida

• Iowa

• Kossuth

• Mills

• Monona

• Montgomery

• O’Brien

• Page

• Palo Alto

• Plymouth

• Pottawattamie

• Shelby

• Sioux

• Tama

• Webster

• Winnebago

• Winneshiek

• Woodbury

• Worth

• Wright

Legislature: Cities resist Iowa scooping up majority share of traffic camera revenue

DES MOINES — Iowa cities pushed back Tuesday on a legislative proposal for the state to scoop 60 percent of the revenue cities now keep from traffic camera citations.

As amended by the House Public Safety Committee, the bill, House File 674, would allow cities to retain 40 percent of the revenue generated by automated traffic camera enforcement after paying expenses. The rest would go to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

However, David Adelman of the Metropolitan Coalition, which represents the largest cities in Iowa, offered an alternative — a $10 surcharge he said would generate $2 million for the Public Safety Department.

The surcharge would be similar to those applied to court fines. It would be a simpler process because of the differences in cities’ contracts with third-party vendors that supply the cameras.

Representatives of cities with traffic cameras said HF 674 could open them to litigation because it’s at odds with an Iowa Supreme Court ruling over the programs.

Cedar Rapids, for example, wants more options when processing appeals from motorists who get traffic camera-generated citations.

Amanda Grieder, a manager for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, told a House Appropriations subcommittee the bill doesn’t square with the state Supreme Court ruling that was critical of the appeal process. Cedar Rapids is developing a form for people to use if they want to appeal online rather than in-person.

Although the bill came out of the Public Safety Committee on a 21-0 vote, and is very similar to legislation that was approved by the House last year, its fate is uncertain.

Subcommittee member Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, signed off on it to keep the process moving but opposes the use of traffic cameras.

Rep. Wes Breckenridge, D-Newton, a former police officer, called traffic cameras a tool to reduce traffic collisions. Although the bill’s language needs to be “cleaned up,” he thinks passage of HF 674 would create stability rather than see the Legislature trying to deal with the issue every year.

The third subcommittee member, Rep. Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada, who has voted to ban the cameras and for another plan to regulate them, said he doesn’t know how he will vote if HF 674 gets to the House floor.

While its red-light cameras have remained active, Cedar Rapids has not issued speeding tickets from cameras on Interstate 380 since April 2017 amid court battles, but Mayor Brad Hart said recently the I-380 cameras would be turned back on “soon.”

The city, which recently adjusted its contract with the camera vendor to keep more of the traffic fine revenue, projects generating $4.7 million from the cameras in fiscal 2020, paying the vendor about $1.7 million.

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Body found at Iowa City car fire on Gilbert Court

Iowa City Police and Fire found a deceased person inside a car at approximately 11 p.m. Monday after a witness reported seeing an occupied vehicle on fire in the parking lot of 1213 Gilbert Ct., Iowa City.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and confirmed there was an occupant inside.

The Iowa City Police Department is investigating to determine the circumstances and whether a crime occurred. Police are requesting anyone with related information to contact them at (319) 356-5275, for case number #2019002539.

Paul Ryan joins board of Fox, new parent company of Fox News

WASHINGTON - Former House speaker Paul Ryan has landed his first post-Congress job as a board member for Fox, the new parent company of Fox News.

Fox spun off from the larger 21st Century Fox, which Rupert Murdoch sold to Walt Disney Co.

Ryan, R-Wis., who retired from Congress last year citing his desire to spend more time with his family, was named to the board Tuesday. A Fox news release credited him for leading “efforts to revise the federal tax code, rebuild the national defense, expand domestic energy production, combat the opioid epidemic, and reform the criminal justice system.”

The once rising star of the Republican Party has kept a relatively low profile since leaving Congress, his legacy forever intertwined with the rise of Donald Trump and Ryan’s reluctance to challenge Trump.

Last week, Ryan reportedly told a crowd during a lecture in Vero Beach, Florida, that the Democrat who defines the race as one about Trump and Trump’s personality could beat him. But he quickly backtracked on Twitter to clarify that he believes Trump deserves to win.

“To be clear, GOP wins elections when they’re about ideas not when they’re personality contests like Dems & media want. We’re clearly better off because of @RealDonaldTrump,” Ryan tweeted. “His record of accomplishment is why he’ll win re-election especially when compared to Dems’ leftward lurch.”

Ryan will serve on the board along with Murdoch, Fox’s founder, and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox’s chairman and chief executive.

ryan

As floodwaters recede, Cedar Rapids to reopen Edgewood Road, others beginning Wednesday

The City of Cedar Rapids anticipates Edgewood Road NW, First Street NW and the intersection of Bowling Street and C Street SW will be reopened sometime Wednesday.

Roads in the Time Check neighborhood and Czech Village District will reopen later in the week.

In a news release, the city also stated that boat ramps along the Cedar River will remain closed until the river is at 13 feet or lower.

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Current Road Closures

• Edgewood Rd NW fully closed to all traffic between Glass Rd and River Bluff Drive

• Intersection of C Street SW and Bowling Street SW

• Bowling St between A and C St SW

• Ely Road closure at Old River Road

• Otis Rd

• Ellis Blvd Between Ellis Ln and 18th St SW

• Ellis Rd west of Edgewood Rd

• A St SW

• Old River Rd

• 1st St NW between E Ave and Penn Ave NW

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Parks & Trail Closures

• Cheyenne Dog Park closed

• Trail at Cedar Lake closed

• Trail from Ellis Park to Edgewood Rd. closed

• Prairie Park Fishery Trail closed

• Cedar Valley Trail from A St. to Tait Cummins closed

• Sac and Fox Trail from Cole St. to Rosedale Ct.

• Cedar Valley Trail from 7th Ave to 12th Ave Bridge

Iowa City Senior Center opens ‘Little Free Pantry’ exchange to help ease hunger in community

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Senior Center brough a “Little Free Pantry” to downtown.

The center’s pantry, a five-shelf cabinet just inside the Washington Street doors called Simple and Free: Pantry Exchange, is a bit bigger than traditional Little Free Pantries but operates the same way. Center-goers or the public can use or drop off any donations of from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday at 28 S. Linn St.

“It ended up being really helpful when we went through such deep cold,” said LaTasha DeLoach, Senior Center coordinator, noting that there were days when Meals on Wheels couldn’t deliver because of weather. “Being able for people to pop in and get a can of soup, that worked out great because we put a microwave down there, have bowls down there.”

A Little Free Pantry is often a cabinet or place where community members take or drop off non-perishable foods or personal items in an effort to help ease some food insecurity. The center celebrated its new pantry with a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month.

Seniors can be at a higher risk of food insecurity because they often lived on fixed incomes or can have mobility challenges. DeLoach said seniors might also need things like denture cleanser that other pantries might not provide.

“You plan for retirement and maybe you didn’t plan enough money or maybe you had a medical situation that came up that ended up being more costly than you anticipated. Sometimes, money runs out at the end of the month,” DeLoach said. “There’s so many reasons that regardless of being a senior or not, we all could use that helping hand.”

Items most needed at the pantry are canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and jelly, heart-healthy soups, pasta, rice, and personal care items. Snacks such as sparkling water and cereal also are popular, DeLoach said.

Small foods like individual peanut butter packs or small bags of nuts can come in handy, too — they might not be a meal but can help increase blood sugar.

Additionally, center staff are also looking for groups to sponsor the pantry once a month. Interested groups can contact DeLoach at the Senior Center at 319-356-5220.

“It’s been going pretty successfully,” DeLoach said. “It’s just the little small things that we can do to put out more into the community that we’re part of. We are essential to the downtown area, and however we can be of service, then we want to do that.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

United States probe of Boeing predates latest crash

Federal authorities began exploring a criminal investigation of how Boeing Co.’s 737 Max was certified to fly passengers before the latest crash in Ethiopia involving the new jet, according to people familiar with the probe.

The investigation was prompted by information obtained after a Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed Oct. 29, killing 189 people, shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, said one person who wasn’t authorized to speak about the investigation and asked not to be named because of it.

The investigation has taken on new urgency after the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 near Addis Ababa that killed 157 people.

It is being conducted in part by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General’s office, which conducts audits and criminal investigations in conjunction with the Justice Department.

The latest crash prompted most of the world to ground Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft. After days of resistance by the Federal Aviation Administration, President Donald Trump last Wednesday announced the United States would join the ban, affecting about 70 of the planes.

The Justice Department is in the process of gathering information about the development of the 737 Max, including through a grand jury subpoena, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Justice Department’s Criminal Division, which is overseeing the effort, declined to comment.

The grand jury’s involvement earlier was reported by the Wall Street Journal. Separately, a Seattle Times investigation published Sunday found that U.S. regulators delegated much of the plane’s safety assessment to Boeing itself, and that the company in turn delivered an analysis containing crucial flaws.

Both Boeing and the U.S. Transportation Department declined to comment about the investigation.

Ethiopia’s transport minister said Sunday that flight-data recorders showed “clear similarities” between the crashes of that plane and Lion Air Flight 610.

A possible criminal investigation during an aircraft crash investigation is highly unusual.

FAA employees warned seven years ago that Boeing had too much sway over safety approvals of new aircraft, prompting an investigation by Transportation Department auditors who confirmed the agency hadn’t done enough to “hold Boeing accountable.”

In recent years, the FAA has shifted even more authority over the approval of new aircraft to the manufacturer, even allowing Boeing to choose many of the federal personnel who oversee tests and vouch for safety. Just in the past few months, Congress expanded the outsourcing arrangement further.

“It raises for me the question of whether the agency is properly funded, properly staffed and whether there has been enough independent oversight,” said Jim Hall, who was chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 1994 to 2001 and now is an aviation-safety consultant.

At least a portion of the flight-control software suspected in the 737 Max crashes was certified by one or more Boeing employees who worked in the outsourcing arrangement, according to one person familiar with the work.

While people like Hall raise concerns about the potential for a conflict of interest, the FAA has been designating authority for certification work and other tasks to employees of companies it regulates for decades.

The agency doesn’t have the budget to do every test, and “the use of designees is absolutely necessary,” said Steve Wallace, the former head of accident investigations at the FAA. “For the most part, it works extremely well. There is a very high degree of integrity in the system.”

In a statement, the FAA said its “aircraft certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs,” adding that the “737 Max certification program followed the FAA’s standard certification process.”

Much of the attention in both crashes has focused on a flight-control system that can automatically push a plane into a catastrophic nose dive if it malfunctions and pilots don’t react properly.

In one of the most detailed descriptions yet of the relationship between Boeing and the FAA during the 737 Max’s certification, the Seattle Times quoted unnamed engineers who said the plane maker had understated the power of the flight-control software in a System Safety Analysis submitted to the FAA. The newspaper said the analysis also failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded — in essence, ratcheting the horizontal stabilizer into a dive position.

Boeing said there were “some significant mischaracterizations” in the engineers’ comments to the newspaper.

In Cedar Rapids, river level expected to recede starting Tuesday

CEDAR RAPIDS — Life along the river in Cedar Rapids could return to normal in the next few days, depending on how fast the Cedar River level drops, city officials say.

According to the National Weather Service, the river in Cedar Rapids is expected to crest at 18.3 feet — still some feet shy of the 2016 crest of 21.95 feet and several feet short of 2008’s crest of just over 31 feet — by Tuesday morning and then gradually drop. The river is not expected to fall below flood stage until the weekend, however Cedar Rapids Public Works Director Jen Winter said as the water level dips, flooded roads should begin opening back up.

“As the water recedes off the roadways, we’ll go check those roadways, make sure they’re safe, and then we would try to get those roads opened back up as quickly as we can,” she said.

Flooding has closed about a dozen city roads, a majority of which are in the southwest quadrant.

Over the weekend, the weather service predicted a river crest of 18.6 feet, 3 feet higher than anticipated in the earlier part of last week. In response, city workers on Monday placed a row of sand-filled HESCO barriers in low-lying areas on the west side of the river, according to a city news release. A portion of those barriers, Winter said, were placed along the river near the McGrath Amphitheatre and behind the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

City workers also plugged additional storm drains and manholes, closed off the underground storm sewer system to prevent water from backing up and flooding streets or businesses, and stationed additional pumps in the Time Check Neighborhood, Czech Village District and Kingston Village District.

So far, the city said, flood protection measures have held, preventing any damage beyond the few road closures.

“We’re running 24-hours shifts to make sure that the flood protection measures are holding,” Winter said. “So we have people working around the clock pumping water if needed, making sure our road blocks are staying in place and making sure the measures we have in place continue to hold.

Ice jams farther up river — there’s a significant jam in the Vinton area — could create additional problems, but Winter said, “We are keeping a close eye on those ice jams ... and we haven’t really seen any impact from them.”

Winter said the city watched closely for signs of trouble last week with ice accumulation on Cedar River between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, however those concerns have since been alleviated.

“Late last week, a lot of the ice that we still had on parts of the Cedar River near Cedar Rapids released and flowed down river,” she said. “And there have been some smaller ice packs that have released between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo that we’ve seen come through.

For Vinton, however, the weather service has changed the flooding forecast from minor to moderately severe due to “an ice jam upstream of Vinton combined with additional flow coming downstream from Waterloo.” With those factors, the weather service upped the predicted crest to between 18.5 between 19 feet.

In Cedar Falls, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported ice on the river began to break apart and shove into houses along Cottage Row over the weekend.

The river crested at just below 95 feet in Cedar Falls on Monday morning, which is about 6 feet above flood stage, and is now falling, according to the weather service. And in Waterloo, the Cedar River was measured at 18.6 feet Monday morning, which caused minor flooding in the area. According to the weather service, Waterloo could see the river dip below flood stage by late Wednesday evening.

In other parts of Northeast Iowa, minor to moderate flood conditions have also been reported.

According to the National Weather Service, the Cedar River at Charles City was at minor flood stage near 13 feet Monday and is expected to fall below flood stage Tuesday afternoon. In Tama, the Iowa River was recorded at 13.2 feet Monday, just slightly above flood stage, and is expected to dip flood stage by Wednesday morning. And the Wapsipinicon River at Independence was in minor flood stage at about 13 feet Monday, with ice activity affecting river levels. It is also expected to fall below flood stage Tuesday.

In the Iowa City area, south of the Coralville Dam, river levels are far below flood stage and are expected to stay. The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday increased the outflow from the Coralville Lake Reservoir to 10,000 cubic feet per second to accommodate snowmelt upriver, but water is forecast to stay below the spillway crest of 712 feet. On Monday, the levels were just below 700 feet and were projected to crest at just over 707 feet by next week. The record high of 717.02 feet was set during the 2008 flood.

l Comments: 319-398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Student regent Rachael Johnson to leave board next month

Rachael Johnson, who was appointed in 2015 to become a student member of the Board of Regents but since has graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, will leave the board next month with about two years left in her term, the board said Monday.

Johnson was appointed to the volunteer board that oversees the state’s three public universities and two special schools by then-Gov. Terry Branstad. To fill the remainder of the term, which expires in 2021, Gov. Kim Reynolds would need to name an interim who, like all regent nominees, eventually would need to be confirmed by the Iowa Senate, according to a board spokesman.

“I am grateful to have been the student member of the Board of Regents for the past four years,” Johnson said in a statement. “Serving Iowa’s public universities, special schools, and citizens as a Regent has been an honor and a privilege. My time on the Board has been an experience I will always treasure. I am proud of all that the Board has accomplished the past four years, and I have no doubt these successes will continue in the future.”

Johnson, who is from Sioux City, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and middle level education a year ago from UNI.

For the last year, she participated in the Truman Albright Fellows program and worked for the Truman Scholarship Foundation as its resident scholar, according to the board office. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

In 2017, she was awarded the Truman Scholarship, given yearly by the Harry S. Truman Foundation in supporting up-and-coming public service leaders.

“Regent Johnson has been an outstanding member of the Board, and I am so appreciative of her service,” said board President Mike Richards in a statement. “She is exceedingly committed to public higher education and has been a strong advocate for our Regent institutions. She also did a remarkable job on a variety of Board committees, including as chair of our Campus and Student Affairs Committee. We wish her nothing but the best moving forward.”

The resignation, which takes effect April 30, gives the governor another seat on the board to appoint. Earlier this month, she named GOP donor David Barker of Iowa City to join the nine-member board when Larry McKibben’s term expires next month.

She also reappointed Milt Dakovich of Waterloo to another six-year term and re-upped the service of Jim Lindenmayer of Ottumwa, who started serving on the board only last summer to fill a vacancy.

The board, which among other things sets tuition rates for students at UNI, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, has set its next meeting for April 18-19 at the UI.

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