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UPDATE: Judge deciding merits of charges against Bachelor Chris Soules

INDEPENDENCE — Reality TV star Chris Soules sat quietly in the courtroom looking down with his hands folded Monday as he listened to the 911 call he made following the April crash that killed 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher.

In the recording, Soules can be heard telling the dispatcher he can’t tell if Mosher is breathing, and the dispatcher offers to talk him through CPR.

The 911 tape was played as Soules’ defense team asked District Court Judge Andrea Dryer to throw out a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

911 call from Slater Ave. Crash

Authorities said Soules rear-ended Mosher’s tractor on Slater Avenue north of Aurora and left before law enforcement arrived on the scene.

Defense attorney Robert Montgomery said Soules shouldn’t be charged because he did what was required following the collision.

“Chris Soules did the morally responsible thing here. Chris Soules did the legally responsible and legally required thing. After this unfortunate accident … Chris Soules did everything he could for the victim of this unfortunate accident, Mr. Mosher,” Montgomery said.

He said Soules called 911, identified himself, provided aid and remained until medics arrived.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown argued the law requires drivers to remain at the scene and allows only two reasons a driver can leave a fatal crash — to seek help or to report the emergency to law enforcement.

“Our position is that the ‘remain at the scene’ infers that the person shall remain until those two things happen — rescuers arrive to assist that person who is injured and law enforcement authorities arrive. Mr. Soules did not wait for the police,” Brown said.

Brown said Soules remained on the scene for only about 14 minutes, leaving before a Buchanan County sheriff’s deputy arrived and while other witnesses were still there.

“I would submit that people who have a fender bender are at a crash scene longer than Mr. Soules,” Brown said.

He said there is an expectation information about a fatal crash is collected to the best of law enforcement’s ability, and police can’t do that if one of the drivers involves leaves.

“Mr. Soules leaving the scene leaves many ambiguities as to why and how the crash occurred. That’s why we have this statute. That’s why he should have remained at the scene,” Brown said.

Montgomery also argued Iowa’s leaving the scene statute — rewritten in the 1970s before the advent of cell phones — is vague and unconstitutional as it applies to Soules’ right to move about.

“No citizen is required to stay even longer, after complying with the requirements of the statute … after doing all those, which Chris Soules did, no citizen is required to remain even longer just so police can get a preferred peek at them,” Montgomery said.

Judge Dryer will rule on the matter at a later date.

In other developments, Dryer on Monday modified the conditions of release, removing the requirement for electronic GPS monitoring. The defense had asked that the monitoring no longer be required, and the state didn’t resist the request.

Baldwin roasts Trump, but urges the faithful to get to work in 2018

DES MOINES — Alec Baldwin rallied Iowa Democrats with a mixture of humor and serious political advice while headlining a party fundraiser in Des Moines on Monday night.

The actor, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” entertained 2,000 party faithful, first posing as a professor of the defunct Trump University, offering courses such as “political science fiction.”

Joking about Democrats’ annual Jefferson-Jackson banquets, named for past Democratic presidents, Baldwin, in his award-winning impression, said “Jefferson-Jackson was a great man.”

More seriously, Baldwin urged the party in a state under Republican control to work harder than 2016, when Trump carried Iowa.

He left the crowd cheering on their feet by tweaking Trump’s slogan to, “Let’s make America America again!”

They also cheered the seven Democratic candidates who would be governor, all of whom spoke Monday.

Baldwin, 59, regaled the crowd with zingers aimed at the president for half of his 30-minute presentation before turning serious.

“I am ready to fight,” Baldwin told the party faithful, citing recent Democratic election victories around the country as they head into 2018.

“We’ve got party building to do on a scale we’ve never known,” said Baldwin.

Citing research for his comedy routines, Baldwin told the crowd, “I’ve studied Donald Trump longer than anyone should be required to.” He said he is conflicted about mocking Trump because he worries it normalizes the president’s behavior.

“I still choke down the words every day – President Trump,” said Baldwin.

He cheered the candidates who spoke and made the crowd pledge they will work to elect candidates who win the party’s nominations.

“His message about unity was really important,” said Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor and U.S. secretary of state in the Obama administration.

All seven of the Democrats running for governor in 2018 — Jon Neiderbach, Andy McGuire, John Norris, Fred Hubbell, Cathy Glasson, Nate Boulton and Ross Wilburn — spoke during the program, which at times took on the air of a pep rally.

“This has been a hard year for Democrats. We’ve done a lot over the last year to rebuild this party and redefine what our party is out there doing and what our party is out there fighting for,” said Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “It’s a night to hang out as a family,” Price said of the gala event, “but tomorrow we have to get back to work.”

Carlos Cruz, spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa, saw the evening’s events differently.

“As Democrats continue to struggle in appealing to rural voters, we’re glad they’re taking the time to hang out in Des Moines with Hollywood millionaire Alec Baldwin,” Cruz said in a statement.

Lawsuit: Iowa school for juvenile offenders misusing drugs

DES MOINES (AP) — Officials at an Iowa school for juvenile offenders are failing to provide adequate mental health care to youths and are instead administering powerful drugs without proper oversight or consent, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by two advocacy groups.

Disability Rights Iowa and Children’s Rights, a national watchdog group, accuse administrators at the state-run Boys State Training School of giving juveniles “dangerous” psychotropic medications. The groups allege the drugs are used “as a behavioral management tool” they likened to a chemical straitjacket.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status but highlights three teenagers with mental health needs who lived at the school in recent years, alleging their treatments — including solitary confinement and restraints — violate the American with Disabilities Act. It alleges medications also were administered to them without comprehensive treatment plans or proper notification to parents or next of kin, and boys signed consent forms that didn’t detail the drugs’ risks.

Disability Rights Iowa said its investigation included repeatedly visiting the school, interviewing housed youths and reviewing health files not available to the general public. The organization is part of a nationwide network of groups with congressional support that help ensure states don’t violate the constitutional rights of disabled residents.

The Iowa Department of Human Services oversees the school in Eldora. The agency said Monday it doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but officials defended the school when Disability Rights Iowa released a report in August outlining similar allegations.

Youths ranging in age from 12 to late teens are held under court order at the facility. The school has 130 beds and houses between 110 and 120 juveniles. Most of the boys suffer from mental illness and more than 60 percent have been on psychotropic drugs, yet the school has only one full-time unlicensed school psychologist and one part-time psychiatrist, according to Disability Rights Iowa.

The lawsuit said the school’s plan to replace the psychiatrist with two other part-time staffers — a psychiatric nurse and a licensed therapist — isn’t enough.

One of the three health department officials named in the lawsuit is the school’s superintendent, Mark Day. When the August report was released, he said he agreed with its call for expanded mental health services, but said limited funding and a statewide shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists make it difficult to provide more treatment.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said at the time she would rely on Health Department Director Jerry Foxhoven, who also is named in the lawsuit, to investigate. Foxhoven later said he wouldn’t order a review of the school.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Des Moines, alleges boys are subjected to solitary confinement for infractions such as raising their voices, arguing with other youths, talking while taking a shower and failing to clean up. Disability Rights Iowa said some infractions can be symptoms of mental illness.

The suit also alleges a 14-point mechanical restraint known as the wrap, with multiple Velcro straps around the body, has been increasingly used at the school. It’s been used 109 times during the first seven months of this year, up from 94 times in all of 2016.

“The tactics employed at Eldora are archaic and run counter to the national and professional consensus in the treatment of children in juvenile detention facilities,” said Harry Frischer, lead counsel at Children’s Rights, in a statement.

Waterloo Council rehashes contentious Sullivan sale

WATERLOO — Aftermath from the sale of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and a heated campaign spilled into the Waterloo City Council chambers Monday.

Councilman Tom Lind called for the city to retain a “special counsel” to investigate the sale of the building to Leslie Hospitality and said two councilmen endorsed by the developer should abstain from voting.

“I think, because none of us in this room can be objective anymore, we need a special counsel to simply review the development agreement and all the supporting documents and give us advice on whether this is a good deal or if it needs to be tweaked,” Lind said.

“I just want to make sure this developer can perform,” he said. “We based our decision on his success in Omaha, which if I understand he lost the hotel and the convention center. That’s not a very good track record.”

Tom Lind calls for probe into Sullivan sale

WATERLOO — City Councilman Tom Lind is calling for a review of the downtown convention center sale following reports the developer was sued by a business partner on a hotel project in Omaha, Neb.

The comments drew rebukes from Mayor Quentin Hart and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Weidner, who said Lind was misrepresenting both the development agreement and the project in Omaha.

“If he cannot perform, the development agreement protects the city against that,” Hart said.

Weidner added, “Before we accuse our developer of failing we should probably make sure that is accurate information.”

Lind said his call for an investigation was based on an Omaha World Herald report that Century-Omaha Land of South Dakota had sued Leslie Hospitality over a $40 million renovation of The Hotel RL and adjacent Coco Key Water Resort and Omaha Convention and Conference Center.

Century-Omaha Land and Leslie Hospitality had been partners in the project and traded accusations in court documents that each side had failed to perform as required. The matter was settled confidentially out of court and the hotel and convention center remain in business.

Waterloo council members voted Aug. 29 to approve an agreement giving the convention center and $1 million to Leslie Hospitality in return for a $6 million renovation. Leslie Hospitality is acquiring the adjacent Ramada Hotel from a private owner and will receive tax rebates for its renovation.

Lind voted for the development agreement but had been critical of the sale process, which prompted Leslie Hospitality president Edwin Leslie to file an open records request seeking Lind’s correspondence during the process.

Lind also was criticized during the campaign about his handling of the convention center deal and was soundly defeated in the Nov. 7 election by Sharon Juon, who will replace him in January.

The meeting turned sour when Lind reiterated his request to vote on hiring a special counsel next week, adding “by the way, Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Powers would have to abstain because they have serious conflicts of interest.”

Leslie posted a Facebook advertisement just before the election that endorsed incumbent Councilmen Pat Morrissey and Tom Powers as well as Juon.

“It looks like pay to play for me,” Lind said. “It was rewarding the votes.”

Morrissey took issue with the characterization.

“Shame on you for making an accusation that is totally false,” Morrissey said. “I did not seek out anything from anybody from the Leslie group. If somebody chooses to support me then they choose to support me.”

It was unclear whether Lind’s request to hire a special counsel will be on next week’s agenda.

Courtesy photo