A bee enjoys nectar from a purple hyssop plant.

Guns win. Americans lose.

by Ed Tibbetts, Iowa Capital Dispatch
June 21, 2024

They sounded like they cared.

In the aftermath of a mad gunman’s horrifying massacre of 60 people at a concert in Las Vegas seven years ago, members of Congress from Iowa sent this message: It made no sense that bump stocks — the device that allows semi-automatic weapons to act like machine guns — could be legal under federal law.

Sen. Chuck Grassley said, “modifications to legal firearms that effectively convert them into something that the law prohibits certainly deserve scrutiny.”

Sen. Joni Ernst was one of nine GOP senators who asked the Trump administration to review an Obama-era finding that bump stocks were legal.

“I do think there can be some action,” Ernst said. “We’ve just got to figure out what that action is.”

Turns out, they figured out exactly what to do: Nothing.

Bettendorf agrees to pay $2.3 million to victims struck by car on I-74 bridge bike/pedestrian lane

The city of Bettendorf has agreed to pay a total of $2.3 million to the victims struck by a car while they were walking on the pedestrian trail adjacent to the I-74 Bridge two years ago.

Two of the victims were killed and the third seriously injured when a drunk driver mistook the bike/pedestrian trail for a vehicular lane and drove into the trio as they were crossing the bridge May 22, 2022.

In addition to the amounts to be paid by the city and its insurance carrier, the settlement agreement approved by the city council June 18 states the city of Moline will pay a total of $100,000 to two of the victims. Under terms of the settlement, the city is not admitting liability.

Federal judge blocks Iowa immigration law, Attorney General Brenna Bird vows to appeal injunction

by Robin Opsahl, Iowa Capital Dispatch
June 17, 2024

A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction for Iowa’s law on illegal immigration, blocking it before enforcement was set to begin July 1.

The U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of civil rights groups argued in court a week ago that Senate File 2340 should not be allowed to take effect.

Signed earlier this year, the measure gives law enforcement officials the power to charge undocumented immigrants with an aggravated misdemeanor for being found in Iowa after having been previously deported, denied admission or removed from the U.S., or if they have an order to leave the country.

We need to accept outcomes we dislike

Most people go through life never stepping foot inside a courtroom. Most people, that is, except for attorneys, judges, journalists, the few of us chosen to be jurors, and an even more select group, those who are accused of crimes.

If I were talking now with my dear parents, may they rest in peace, I would quickly assure them that my many days spent in courtrooms have been in a professional capacity, not as a defendant trying to avoid the slammer.

As a reporter and later as the boss of reporters, I have had an up-close vantage point to watch our court system as it works. I claim no special expertise. But 50 years in a ringside seat on the judiciary have given me perspective that is worth sharing.

Iowa GOP reaction to verdict misses key point

by Ed Tibbetts, Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 31, 2024

Iowa’s top Republicans were unanimous in reacting to the guilty verdict against Donald Trump on Thursday.

Not a one declared he was innocent.

Did you notice?

Sure, they all complained the trial was a sham. They criticized the judge and the prosecutor. They said the case was politically motivated. But none of them declared in their statements that Trump was innocent.

Trump claimed he did nothing wrong. But his top supporters in Iowa didn’t back up his claim.

This silence shouldn’t be lost on anyone. It speaks volumes about how our state’s top Republicans see the American legal system, at least insofar as it pertains to Donald Trump.

Iowa's Attorney General Brenna Bird disrespects America’s legal system with comments at Trump trial

by Ed Tibbetts, Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 16, 2024

First, the good news: Most Americans trust juries.

Now, the bad news: Iowa’s attorney general apparently isn’t one of them.

Brenna Bird joined a bunch of other Republican politicians at the New York trial of Donald Trump this week and immediately pronounced it a farce. “Politics has no place in a court of law,” she said.

Unfortunately, Brenna Bird fails this standard. Iowa’s attorney general, who formerly worked for Rep. Steve King, has been aggressively making her name in GOP circles since being narrowly elected in 2022, repeatedly suing the Biden administration. Hardly a week goes by when her public relations people aren’t heralding a new lawsuit. Donald Trump has even practically anointed her a future governor.

On Monday, Bird took leave of her duties in Iowa to be in New York to be part of the Trump entourage seeking to torpedo the proceedings there. Among her fellow travelers: U.S. Sens. J.D. Vance and Tommy Tuberville.

Iowans who value the rule of law ought to be disgusted.

Many Iowa rivers are brimming with nitrate

by Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 12, 2024

Nitrate contamination of Iowa’s rivers has surged in recent weeks amid heavy, widespread rainfall, according to data collected by the Iowa Water Quality Information System.

Concentrations of nitrate in several large waterways — including the Boone, Cedar, Iowa and Turkey rivers — have recently reached four-year peaks, the data show. Further, many of the affected rivers also have much higher than usual stream flows, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That often reduces the concentrations.

Because the flows and concentrations are so high, the total nitrate load is also very high.

“This is one of the biggest nitrate leaching events in 11 years,” said David Cwiertny, director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa.

Lee Enterprises, Inc. news release on earnings doesn't mention actual earnings, or lack thereof

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – calling itself a high quality and trusted source of news – issued a news release last week about its second quarter earnings without stating it lost $2.06 per share ($12.2 million) for the three-month period ended March 24.

The owner of the QC Times and Daily Dispatch/Argus and 70 other newspapers and online news site detailed its digital revenues, digital subscriptions, digital subscribers and digital advertising and marketing service in the news release.

But the company omitted stating it lost money during the second quarter, more than double its $1.01 loss ($5.9 million) loss a year ago. (The actual earnings numbers for the period are contained in the financial statement of operations – required by the Security and Exchange Commission – and attached to the news release narrative.)

‘It’s getting worse’ – U.S. failing to stem tide of harmful farm pollutants in Mississippi River

by Keith Schneider | The New Lede, Iowa Capital Dispatch
April 21, 2024

VENICE, Louisiana —  Kindra Arnesen is a 46-year-old commercial fishing boat operator who has spent most of her life among the pelicans and bayous of southern Louisiana, near the juncture where the 2,350-mile-long Mississippi River ends at the Gulf of Mexico.

Clark Porter is a 62-year-old farmer who lives in north-central Iowa where he spends part of his day working as an environmental specialist for the state and the other part raising corn and soybeans on hundreds of acres that his family has owned for over a century.

Though they’ve never met, and live 1,100 miles apart, Arnesen and Porter share a troubling kinship – both of their communities are tied to a deepening water pollution crisis that is fouling the environment and putting public health in peril across multiple U.S. states.

Iowa House votes down measure that would have required more inspections of puppy mills

Iowa Capital Dispatch
April 10, 2024

The Iowa House rejected a proposal Wednesday to require annual inspections of all state-licensed dog breeding facilities by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“Who doesn’t love puppies? We all love puppies, but sadly, Iowa is closing in on number one in the nation for unscrupulous puppy mills,” Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said.

He offered an amendment to a larger agriculture policy bill, House File 2641, that would require an on-site inspection of every state-licensed dog-breeding facility every 12 months, as well as require on-site inspections if there was reasonable cause.

Currently, the law says the department “may” inspect breeding facilities.

Jacoby wrote to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last summer to call for better enforcement after the seizure of more than 120 dogs from a breeding facility in his Johnson County district. Inspectors reported many of the animals were in distress and Jacoby said a dozen of them died.

Republicans opposed the amendment.


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