Apparently, Legal Deadlines Don’t Apply To Everyone

Some of the most stressful memories I have of my school days involve the words, “We’re going to have a pop quiz today.” Don’t panic, but there’s a pop quiz today. Here goes: CASE STUDY 1: The Iowa Code says all nomination papers for the primary election for state and federal offices must be submitted to the secretary of state’s office by 5 p.m. on the 81st day before the primary election. What happens if a candidate fails to gather enough signatures on the nomination papers and get the papers submitted by 5 p.m.? Don’t cheat by Googling “Ron Corbett,” a […]

Iowa Taxpayers Taken For Expensive Ride On Godfrey Case

Most Iowans are pretty frugal. They don’t waste their money. They especially don’t like it when they believe government officials fritter away our tax money. That’s why I think many people in Iowa are not familiar with the case of Chris Godfrey. Otherwise, if they were truly informed about what has occurred in the past six and a half years, I am convinced they would be steamed about the decision and actions of Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds when they were governor and lieutenant governor. Follow along and see if you think I am off base. See if you agree […]

Time To Focus On The Real Issues In The Governor’s Race

Distraction appears to be a main focus so far in the race for Iowa governor. Election Day is two months away. The decision Iowans make on Nov. 6 will be an important factor in where our state is headed. But instead of having a full and frank debate over important issues and ideas that will shape Iowa’s future, Gov. Kim Reynolds and, to a lesser extent, Fred Hubbell are allowing the race to revolve around sideshow issues. Last week, it was Hubbell’s inadequate disclosure of his income tax returns. Releasing only a few pages served to guarantee that there will […]

How Iowa Priests Are Reacting To Catholic Church Abuse

At most services, Father P.J. McManus moves quickly through the announcements — typically covering such things as the coming Christ the King Church sweet corn festival, the signup for the fall retreat, or a new book study group that soon will begin. This past weekend, however, the announcements took a very different theme and tone. Father P.J. began by mentioning he was at a Des Moines Hy-Vee on Wednesday, shopping for a dinner he was hosting that evening for leaders of the youth group. He was not wearing his Roman collar at the store, and a parishioner he encountered asked […]

Trump’s Immigration Policies Target Military Spouses, Preschoolers

Once again, our government has demonstrated that common sense really isn’t so common. I understand that Americans are not of one mind on the issue of immigration. I understand that people who break the law ought to face punishment. What I don’t understand are two cases involving foreign-born women — one a 39-year-old mother of two in Florida, the other a 4-year-old preschooler in Colorado. Their dealings with the U.S. government, and the inability of our government to apply even a modicum of common sense, have me shaking my head at their predicament. Set aside your political views as you […]

It’s Not Anti-Cop To Ask Questions In Death

There was snow and ice on the ground in Burlington on the morning of Jan. 6, 2015. About 10:30 a.m., police were summoned to 104 S. Garfield Ave., where Autumn and Gabriel Steele were arguing outside their house. Less than a minute after Officer Jesse Hill arrived to investigate, Autumn Steele, 34, was on the ground. She had been mortally wounded by a bullet accidentally fired from the officer’s gun. Hill said he was defending himself from the family’s dog, which came growling toward him. He slipped on the snow as he drew his gun from its holster. Since the tragedy, […]

Iowa’s “Trade Secrets” Law Shouldn’t Trump Transparency

The Iowa Legislature wrote some wonderful concepts into the state’s government transparency laws. For example: “This chapter seeks to assure, through a requirement of open meetings of government bodies, that the basis and rationale of governmental decisions, as well as those decisions themselves, are easily accessible to the people. Ambiguity in the construction or application of this chapter should be resolved in favor of openness.” (Chapter 21, Iowa Code.) And: “In actions brought under this section the district court shall take into account the policy of this chapter that free and open examination of public records is generally in the public […]

University Of Iowa Should Include Public On Closure Decisions

The University of Iowa announced last week that it will close seven academic centers, shrink three others and eliminate 33 jobs. The reductions will save $3.5 million, officials said. The announcement should come as no surprise if you have been paying attention to events in our state. The university has been caught in a vice — squeezed between public pressure to hold down the size of tuition increases and the Legislature’s desire to hold down government spending. University officials have been telegraphing for months that cutbacks would be coming if the Legislature reduced state appropriations for the three state universities. […]

Is This How Iowa Wants To Save Money?

Don’t be surprised if a guy named Jamie Campbell turns out to be one of the key players in the 2018 race for Iowa governor. Campbell’s name will not be on the ballot in November. He will not be crisscrossing the state, appearing at one campaign event after another. But don’t let anyone kid you. Campbell will be talked about, either by name or indirectly. His experience with state government will be an important factor as Iowans decide whether they want Gov. Kim Reynolds or retired Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell to lead our state for the next four years. […]

First Amendment And Reporters Deserve Our Respect, Too

Sunday morning, government officials gathered in Des Moines to brief journalists about the storm that swamped the city and surrounding area with between 5 and 10 inches of rain Saturday night. Among the reporters there was William Petroski, who has covered state government for the Des Moines Register for 37 years. Even on a weekend, a normal day off for him, Bill was wearing his uniform — a coat and tie. The no-nonsense former Marine dresses the same way as he works: like a professional. Although I was his supervisor for years, I could not tell you whether he is a liberal, a […]