It’s Wrong To Ban Fair Visitors For Speaking Up

This year’s Iowa State Fair received spotlight attention from coast to coast, thanks in large measure to the presence of just about everyone with an itch to be the next United States president. The Iowa Tourism Office could never afford all of the glowing imagery of Iowa and the fair that was sent around the globe this month — the shoulder to shoulder crowds, people enjoying corndogs and pork chops on a stick, and judges rendering decisions in all manner of contests, from cakes to cantaloupes to cattle. Shoe-horned into this Norman Rockwell-esque portrait this year was an unfortunate incident […]

University Of Iowa Has Made Its Misguided Policies Clear

The people of Iowa have gotten a look at the University of Iowa’s priorities in recent weeks. I doubt this was the message administrators in Iowa City intended to send, but I don’t know how else to interpret the juxtaposition two recent news stories created. The first came Aug. 7 when university president Bruce Harreld signed a three-year contract extension with athletic director Gary Barta. The new agreement increases Barta’s guaranteed compensation to $1 million per year. In contrast, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is responsible for all of state government’s revenue collection and for government services ranging from higher education […]

Congress Has Dithered Long Enough On Guns

How many more will it take? How many more mass shootings? How many more bodies of adults and children will need to pile up — in the aisles of retail stores, in churches, in the classrooms and corridors of schools, in offices, in movie theaters, in nightclubs? How many more times must this happen before our leaders in Washington, D.C., do what is so long overdue and work on solutions — and not brush off any discussion because it’s too soon after a tragedy to “engage in politics”? How many more massacres need to occur before Senate Majority Leader Mitch […]

Kim Reynolds Bucks Disclosure Law With Foxhoven Firing

When he was governor, Terry Branstad often voiced his frustration that he was not able to comment on the reasons a state government employee was fired or demoted. In Branstad’s view, the public — the taxpayers of Iowa — deserved to know why the action was taken against the employee. But the governor would explain his hands were tied by a state law to keep some information about government workers confidential. The Republican majorities in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate heard Branstad’s frustrations loud and clear. When they convened their 2017 session, they quickly voted to make an important […]

How Iowa Helped With The Moon Landing

This is a good week for Iowans to put away forever what a friend once called our “mental overalls.” The label was his way of describing the tendency of Iowans to downplay the state’s importance in anything other than dirt-under-your-fingernails agriculture. Being a farmer certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. But my friend thought Iowans were programmed to automatically sit quietly and say nothing when contributions to the arts, or the sciences, or to business, medicine or humanity were being discussed nationally. In my friend’s thinking, Iowans spend too much time putting ourselves down and too little time applauding […]

The Other Side Of Iowa You Should See

Years ago, when I was a young pup of a reporter for the Des Moines Register, my assignment was covering state and federal courts. Normally, it amounted to reporting on the dirty laundry of society that gets scrubbed in the courts — the murders, the robberies, the embezzlements and the civil lawsuits. But whenever time permitted, I would grab a seat in the back of U.S. District Judge William C. Stuart’s ornate courtroom in the federal courthouse in Des Moines and watch as he administered the oath of citizenship to newly naturalized citizens of the United States. It was always […]

What Is Going On In Our Classrooms?

One of the most common types of violence in Iowa’s K-12 schools does not involve fistfights or guns. This form of violence often flies under society’s radar, not receiving attention it should from school boards, the governor, the Legislature, and from the news media. This explosive behavior involves students who go on rampages in classrooms, cursing and screaming at the teacher, tipping over desks, knocking computers, books and other supplies to the floor, and who force the teacher to shoo other students into the hallway for their safety while the teacher tries to persuade the out-of-control student to calm down. […]

The Caravan Congress Should Be Focused On

A small caravan crossed the United States border last month, but this was not the kind of caravan that has been in the news for more than a year. The caravan was not being led by a “coyote” who was guiding hundreds of illegal immigrants to the border so they could try to sneak into the U.S. Instead, at the head of this group of cars and SUVs from the Twin Cities was a Minnesota mother in her minivan who was leading everyone to a pharmacy five hours north in Fort Frances, Ontario. These travelers were crossing into Canada to […]

There’s Judicial Activism You Like – And Dislike

One of the most contentious issues in the Iowa Legislature this year involved the way the state’s judges are chosen. That process was established 57 years ago when voters amended the Iowa Constitution. It’s worth noting that Republicans held solid majorities then in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. In the years that followed – when governors were Republicans, as well as when they were Democrats – the stature of the Iowa judiciary was saluted across the United States for its fairness and nonpartisan nature. But this year, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate came to Des Moines […]

It’s Wrong To View Iowa Citizens As Nuisances

There have been plenty of examples that raise questions whether government boards in Iowa truly understand they work for the people, not for government officials and employees — and that they are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of taxpayers. The latest example comes from Polk County, where county officials seemed determined to keep the public in the dark until after they had formally decided to sweeten the severance benefits for a handful of top employees — at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have seen similar examples, both in local government and […]