THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Thomas Mann, Jr., our Executive Director, has been the day-to-day captain of the agency throughout FY-79. Under his directorship, FY-79 has been a year of expansion, a year of reaching for all of the resources we can get, both monetary and human. It has been a year of substantive expansion in the courts as well. Staff turnover has been a problem, but we are working to change it. And our network with the local human rights commissions in the state has become more tightly knit.
EXPANSION IN FEDERAL CONTRACTS
One way in which we have expanded this year has been monetary. We have three federal contracts bringing money into the agency. Two are new and one expanded in FY-79. The Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy division operates under a federal budget of $66,300. In addition, we have two contracts through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One is a contract for compliance work which has been a regularly recurring contract with the agency. In FY-79 the amount budgeted was $156,450. This contract is limited to compensation for Iowa Civil Rights Commission investigation of cases which are also filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. EEOC has designated our agency as having substantially similar enforcement capabilities, that is, equivalent legal powers, duties and ability to obtain remedies for complainants. The EEOC then affords substantial weight to our decisions on cases which would have been part of their workload. We, of course, must do a complete reporting of all such cases. This arrangement has been a good example of intergovernmental cooperation. It has been a healthy partnership for us and the people of Iowa have benefited tremendously because of it.
The second contract with EEOC is new to our organization this year and we refer to it as an agency improvement contract. This particular contract became the vehicle by which we succeeded in fulfilling some crucial needs facing the agency in FY-79.
Through FY-77 and FY-78 the Iowa Civil Rights Commission had a total of 15 VISTA volunteers conducting investigations. There were never 15 at any one time, but over a period of 22 months, they completed hundreds of investigations. Those added to the number completed by our own paid staff created a swell of cases at the conciliation and public hearing stage by the beginning of FY-79. In a related matter, our accountability to our funding source, EEOC, was being thwarted by our lack of clerical resources to store and retrieve data on cases. Of course, there were also the routine clerical needs of the agency. In addition, our experience with the bulging load of cases at the conciliation stage was telling us that many of the cases could have been settled before or shortly after the complaint was filed. Most of the parties on both sides had a conciliatory attitude. These were three very clear needs challenging the management and staff of the agency at the beginning of FY-79. Ergo, the contract we executed with our federal counterpart had three phases.
The first phase gave us two temporary Hearing Officers who could tend to cases already on the docket for public hearing. Each would be a one-year appointment. The second phase gave us three civil rights assistants. Their main purpose was to prepare information on the closed case inventory, so that we could more effectively use the hardware we already had. We already had an electronic memory system with a large capacity. However, we had to get information into it before we could retrieve information from it. Another part of the assistant's jobs was to help take complaints which were coming in at a rate faster than we had ever experienced. The third and last phase was an effort to resolve cases quickly by facilitating an opportunity for parties to settle at the outset. Along with all three phases were three typists for clerical support. This three-phase contract with EEOC amounted to $159,500. So, the total amount of federal money coming into the agency on contract was $382,250.
FY-79 was a year of expansion also in the development of the law. It was a year in which the Commission, the Executive Director and the staff reached to bring ideals closer to practice. Mr. Mann worked closely with the Commission on their rulemaking. Plus, we had three significant victories in the Iowa Supreme Court. The three cases were Quaker Oats Co. v. Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission, 268 N.W. 2d 862 (Iowa 1978); Franklin Manufacturing Co. v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 270 N.W. 2d 829 (Iowa 1978); and Davenport Community School District v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 277 N.W. 2d 907 (Iowa 1979). These decisions affirmed important substantive principles with regard to the rights of pregnant employees. Just as important, the court ratified our own procedural interpretations especially with regard to administrative rules of the agency and our rulemaking ability itself. These court victories have kept us in the vanguard of civil rights in the nation. (For a brief explanation of each of the above cases, please turn to the litigation section of this report.)
While we are certainly proud of our accomplishments this year, we feel we could have accomplished more in the investigative. stage of the process, if there would have been less staff turnover. The job of civil rights investigator is a very demanding position -mentally, physically and emotionally. Although we try to inform prospective employees about the job, some discover they are not prepared for the taxing requirements of the position once they have begun. We continue to analyze our own weaknesses which may have a bearing on staff turnover, so that we can minimize this problem in the future.
COOPERATION WITH LOCAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS
Mr. Mann has promoted good relations with the 22 local human rights commissions in the state. On their part, they have not only been open to a closer relationship with the state commission, but most have responded generously. In FY-78, the local agencies were instrumental in the passage of House File 2390, a major revision in our state law. After the passage of the bill, Mr. Mann held meetings with the locals in different locations around the state to explain the changes in their final form and how they might affect the local agencies. Also, with the help of Hearing Officer, Ed Detlie, and Operations Director, Leo Karn, he issued a model ordinance which incorporated all of the changes derived from House File 2390. The ordinance can now be used for cities, towns, and counties which may want to amend an already existing civil rights ordinance or may wish to establish a local human rights law and pattern it,, after the state law.
Patterning local civil rights laws after the Iowa Civil: Rights Act will be the wave of the future. As a result of an Iowa Supreme Court case in April of 1978, City of Iowa City et al vs. Westinghouse Learning Corporation, 264 N. W. 2d 77 1, that decision requires that local civil rights laws "track" the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Naturally, no one can predict how that decision will be interpreted in later court cases. We, ourselves, question just how literally the court intended the locals to pattern their laws after the state law. At Mr. Mann's direction, we have shared our legal talent and resources on this and other legal questions that keep reminding both the local civil rights agencies and the state commission that we are all in this together.
FY-79 was Mr. Mann's last full year as Director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. He leaves behind a certain type of vacancy simply by his being unique. He is truly a leader because he led by example. The staff expressed their appreciation to him on many different occasions and in many different ways. A picture of one of those occasions appears on the right. Ms. Vernell Warren, Compliance Supervisor, on behalf of all the staff, presented him with a plaque of appreciation at a banquet in his honor sponsored by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The plaque contained the engraved signature of every staff member. He is an inspiration to all of us.