Wrong To Keep Muscatine Taxpayers In The Dark

One of the nastiest controversies in local government in Iowa in many years was the impeachment in May of Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson by the city council. I’m not here to pass judgment on the council’s decision. That’s something Muscatine residents can do in the city election. But I do know this: City Administrator Gregg Mandsager owes it to residents to be more forthcoming with public records. Those records would allow people to make informed judgments about the council’s actions, about money the city has spent on the case, and about discussions among council members and Mandsager leading to the […]

President Trump’s Lack Of Empathy On Puerto Rico Risking Lives

When you look at the world around us — with its hatred and bitterness, with its disagreements and divisiveness — the quality most lacking today is empathy. We find it difficult, if not impossible, to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and see events and issues from their perspective. Whether we realize it or not, all of us are guilty of this at some time or another — the D’s, the R’s and the independents. All of us have too much of the it’s-our-way-or-the-highway mentality. Some of us grumble about the football players taking a knee during the National Anthem. […]

Don’t Let Foolishness Get Us Into Another War

A scab on the memories of lots of Americans was yanked off the other week with the airing of the first segments of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam war. The film brought to life the horrors and heartbreak of Vietnam and those events from 50 years ago that divided our nation like it has been divided few times in U.S. history. Each day’s installment of Burns’ history lesson — coupled with the headlines from that day’s news reports — had me reflecting on the current tensions with North Korea, on the rhetoric coming from our president and dictator […]

Equifax, Tell Us About Burdensome Regulations

The biggest under-reported news event from the past two weeks involves a crime of gigantic proportions that directly affects about half of the people living in the United States. Of course, Melania Trump’s choice of footwear for a trip to hurricane-ravaged Texas a few days earlier attracted as much, or more, media coverage. But I digress. Equifax Inc. announced on Sept. 7 that hackers had busted into its computer system. This isn’t just some random corporation, even though most people probably do not recognize its name. The company is the second largest consumer credit reporting business in the United States. […]

Iowa’s Problem With Openness And Public Records Law

When is Iowa going to catch up with the rest of the nation? Every week or two, another case makes headlines around the United States when a police officer acts in a way that many people find troubling. Typically, within a few weeks, police video of the incident is released so the public can evaluate the officer’s actions. The latest example occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, when a police officer manhandled and arrested a nurse in a hospital emergency department. The incident was recorded on two police officers’ body cameras, and the video has triggered outrage across the nation. […]

Iowa Is Abandoning Nursing Home Safety For Apple Handout

Where are our priorities, Iowa? Two news stories that grabbed the headlines in Iowa last week leave me shaking my head and asking, is this really what we want from our state government? The first was news that the Iowa Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman has eliminated virtually all travel by its employees to nursing homes and assisted living centers across the state. The reason given was deep budget cuts forced on the agency by the Iowa Legislature this year. The agency operates on a state budget of $1.3 million, plus $400,000 from the federal government. Lawmakers cut the […]

How “Job-Killing Regulations” That Trump Hates Actually Save Lives

Don’t come knocking on my door looking for support for the Trump administration’s latest effort to get rid of what the president likes to call job-killing regulations. Why? I will answer that question, but first let me tell you about my brother-in-law, Jim. He grew up in Cedar Rapids. He served in the Army in Vietnam and received his business degree from the University of Northern Iowa. Jim was never someone who shied away from hard work. He was always thinking about other people and their needs before he would think about himself. In Vietnam, helicopter gunships were an important […]

Cedar Rapids Panhandling Ban A Solution To A Nonexistent Problem

The cost of sending kids to college has been climbing faster than people’s incomes. So a Michigan mother’s way of coping with that troubling trend has drawn considerable attention. Her “solution” is worth our examination, given the controversial direction Iowa’s second-largest city is heading. More about that shortly. Lori Truex is a school bus driver in Battle Creek, Mich. Her husband is a factory worker. Their youngest daughter, Kendall, is heading to Michigan State University this fall after spending two years at home while attending community college. Once her bus-driving ended for the summer, Lori Truex’s full-time summer “job” has […]

What The Boy Scouts Deserved To Hear

A do-over. All of us, if we are honest, have wished for the opportunity for a fresh start at something at one time or another. Our president isn’t wired that way — at least not in public — to admit that he would like to take a mulligan and try again on something. I’m no expert on presidential oratory, but I think the president’s speech last week to the National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America was a missed opportunity. The speech could have benefited from a do-over. If I were delivering that speech, I would have used a […]

Lack Of Transparency In Police Videos Isn’t Helping With Trust

Much of the relationship between the people and their governments is built on trust. But that relationship is fragile — especially when it appears government is going out of its way to keep the public in the dark. That’s what is occurring in Iowa too often with video recordings made by law enforcement agencies — especially when an officer has taken someone’s life or when an officer’s actions are questioned. The lack of public access to these videos is the central issue that was back in the news last week — and the Iowa Legislature needs to end these unwise […]