Gazette Daily News Podcast, April 27

Wednesday will begin with what should be the last round of frost for the week before becoming another crisp day, with warmer weather and rain on the horizon. According to the National Weather Service, the frost will melt early in the Cedar Rapids area and the high will creep up to 54 degrees during the day. It will become increasingly cloudy and windy as the day moves on, with wind gusts of up to 20 mph increasing to 30 mph Wednesday night.

Fans wave at the UIHC Stead Family Children’s Hospital during the first quarter break at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with UNI at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Over $17,000 in donations and gifts meant for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics patients — largely for those diagnosed with cancer — and families were unaccounted for, improperly used, unsupported or missing, the state auditor said in a report released Tuesday.

Questions around former administrative specialist Anna Maria Hernandez’s handling of donations, gift cards and purchases prompted hospital officials to call on the auditor to investigate the UIHC Care Coordination Division in February 2021

Hernandez, 41, of Iowa City, had been the division’s administrative services specialist since July 1, 2018, but assumed many titles since starting there in 2006. An investigation into $1,350 in missing gift cards eventually led to administrators calling university police, and Hernandez was put on paid leave in November of 2020. She resigned that month, and the state launched an audit into the possible misuse of funds from 2012 to the end of 2020.

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One month after Hernandez resigned her position at UIHC, she was arrested on suspicion of misappropriating nearly $75,000 from the Fox Hallow Condominium Owner’s Association, for which she was the lone board member. According to a police report, she withdrew cash, wrote checks to herself, made wire transfers and linked her Venmo, CashApp, and PayPal accounts to the association’s bank account.

More charges will be filed against a man accused of murder in a shooting at a Cedar Rapids nightclub, police said Tuesday.

Timothy Rush, 32, is one of two suspects who have been arrested in relation to the shooting, which happened at Taboo nightclub on April 10. Rush originally received several charges in the shooting death of Nicole Owens, who was his girlfriend and the mother of his 1-year-old child. On Tuesday police charged him in connection with 5 of the 10 people who were injured during the shooting.

One of these men who was injured, Marvin Cox, is still in the hospital in serious condition after being shot in the head.

Another man was arrested near Chicago on April 18 in relation to the shooting. Dimione Walker, 29, was arrested by federal marshals and is being held in jail in Illinois until he can be extradited back to Iowa. He is being accused in the death of Michael Valentine.

Iowa will become just the fourth state with 16 weeks or fewer of state unemployment benefits under legislation that needs only Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature to become law.

The reduction in state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 16 was approved Tuesday by majority Republicans in the Iowa Legislature. Reynolds made a similar proposal earlier this year, and is likely to sign it into law.

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“I just think we need to be doing everything we can to encourage people to stay in the workforce and to stay in the game,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “

The legislation also changes the requirements for receiving unemployment payments while looking for work. Before the change, unemployed Iowans had six weeks that they could turn down jobs that paid less than their previous position while still receiving unemployment payments. With the new change, the job applicant would have to accept a job at 90 percent of their former pay at week 1, with this dropping 60 percent of their former pay by week 8. This is intended to pressure unemployed workers to either accept lesser paying jobs or to be cut off from unemployment payments.

The bill passed on Tuesday with only Republican votes.

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