The butterfly season has arrived. Here, a yellow swallowtail butterfly drinks nectar from a milkweed plant.

Users – including one person lying down and one person standing on the transparent "oculus" feature – of the new Interstate 74 Bridge recreation trail wave to the passing Mississippi Belle Riverboat below.

Suspicion is not enough in our system of justice

It is difficult for many of us to muster empathy for people accused of crimes who have complaints about the way police treated them.

This lack of empathy probably occurs because ordinary folks do not think they will be in situations like people accused of crimes.

If that includes you, allow me to introduce you to Anthony Watson, 43, of Coralville, and Jennifer Pritchard, also 43, of Fort Dodge.

Their experiences should be a wake-up call. We should ask government leaders, especially in Johnson and Hamilton counties, a bunch of “why” and “how” questions — questions about the events and decisions that led these two people to be jailed and their lives turned topsy-turvy.

Odor in the court

You’ve probably heard that once again, establishment power has sided with the folks that own and raise hogs over the other 99.7 percent of the people that reside in Iowa.

I know, I know, knock me over with a feather.

In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court sided with New Fashion Pork and BWT Holdings in a lawsuit (1) filed against them by some guy named Gordon Garrison who had the wild idea that water on his property, which bordered that of the defendants, should be unpolluted by the defendants’ hog waste.

Frankenstein legislation and midnight shell games given green light by Iowa Supreme Court decision

Iowans’ ability to stay informed about what’s happening in the state Legislature took another body blow recently – and lawmakers aren’t even in session.

The latest smackdown on open government came in the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent ruling that also eliminated the right to abortion in the state constitution. Most people, understandably, overlooked the part of the ruling dealing with legislative procedure – specifically the constitutional requirement that bills being debated in the Legislature address a single subject.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, however, didn’t miss it.

Lee Enterprises digital revenues grow, but overall revenues and earnings drop in second quarter

Despite gains from its digital operations, Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of 77 media properties including the Quad City Times and the Argus/Dispatch – saw overall revenues and earnings fall during the second quarter compared with a year ago.

Lee reported Thursday (5/5) it lost $6.7 million ($1.26 per share) during the second quarter ended March 27. That compares with a loss of $608,000 ($.20 cents per share) for the same period a year ago.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners face fines or jail after Iowa Supreme Court rejects contempt appeal

A tangled and contentious five-year legal odyssey involving the owners of eastern Iowa’s shuttered Cricket Hollow Zoo may finally be near an end.

The Iowa Supreme Court this week rejected zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner’s efforts to set aside a judge’s finding that they were in contempt for having refused a court order to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction in Manchester.

The contempt ruling calls for the Sellners to pay $70,000 in fines. If payments are not made toward the fine, the Sellners will have to serve a one-day jail sentence for each animal that was not recovered from their zoo, for a total of 140 days.

Court records indicate no payments have been made on the fine.

All Bettendorf City Council input into sports complex tax rebate deal done behind closed doors

The City of Bettendorf recently negotiated a complicated agreement with sports complex developers over a six-month period, but did so without even a single email or written document shared with city council members.

So how did the city reach a deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze without sharing any written communication with city council members or any public meetings to discuss what should be in the contract?

According to City Attorney Chris Curran, the council was kept abreast of staff negotiations through "informational meetings" held behind closed doors.

Iowa greenhouse gas emissions declined 7.6% in 2020; drop primarily from pandemic impact


Source: 2020 Iowa Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, Dec. 31, 2021

Iowa's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 fell 7.6 percent from 2019, primarily because of lower electric power plant production and fewer vehicle miles traveled that resulted from the pandemic.

CLICK HERE to download the full report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Sports complex development agreement released; public hearing set for Feb. 15 council meeting

Scott County opposed to use of new tax incentives for hotel, retail and commercial service businesses in proposed urban renewal area

The agreement providing millions of dollars in tax rebates for expansion of the sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Roads was released Friday afternoon (2/11), less than three days before the Bettendorf City Council holds a public hearing and votes on it.

The council has discussed the agreement in so-called "3-on-3 meetings" outside the public view for months, but has yet to talk publicly about the multi-million-dollar Tax Increment Finance (TIF) deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze.

It is possible the city council could approve the deal without any members even expressing their views on the agreement.

The agenda for the council's committee-of-the-whole meeting at 5 p.m. Monday (2/14) includes a presentation by the city's Director of Economic Development Jeff Reiter. No public comments are allowed at those sessions.

The council is then expected to hold a public hearing and approve the development agreement at its 7 p.m. Feb. 15 meeting.

CLICK HERE to download the proposed development agreement.

Lee Enterprises reports 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings as Alden Global pushes takeover

Lee Enterprises, Inc. today (2/3) reported a 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings compared with a year ago, while efforts by hedge fund Alden Global Capital to acquire the Davenport-based print and online media company intensified.

Lee – owner of the Dispatch/Argus and Quad City Times – earned $13.2 million ($2.21 per share) during the quarter ended Dec. 26, 2021, compared with $16.4 million ($2.79 per share) for the same period a year ago. The lower earnings occurred despite the inclusion of a one-time $12.3-million gain from the sale of company assets.

Meanwhile, Alden Global is seeking to replace Lee's Chairman and CEO Mary Junck and long-time board member Herbert Maloney III on the company's board of directors. Alden has submitted an alternative slate of candidates for the director slots coming up for election at the company's annual meeting to be held March 10.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners avoid jail, say the case against them could ‘cripple’ Iowa agriculture

Iowa Capital Dispatch

Last September, the owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo were ordered by an Iowa judge to pay $70,000 or serve five months in jail for refusing to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction.

Four months later, zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner have yet to pay anything toward that fine or serve any time in jail. The couple is taking their case to the Iowa Supreme Court and arguing that if a contempt-of-court ruling against them is allowed to stand, it could “cripple our agricultural sector.”

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