As spring weather arrives, delicate purple crocuses peek through the leaves of fall.

Colorful crocuses signal the arrival of spring.

Where oh where are today’s Bob Rays?

It’s hard for those of us of a certain vintage to realize it has been 39 years since Robert Ray was Iowa’s governor.

In spite of the passage of so much time, his name was on the minds of many people last week.

What triggered the Bob Ray memories was Gov. Kim Reynolds’ interview with WHO Radio on Thursday.

Reynolds was asked about the thousands of children, mostly from Central America, who are showing up this year at our border with Mexico without their parents. They arrive hoping to be allowed to live in the United States with relatives or sponsors, freeing them from the deadly violence and the grip of poverty so common where they came from.

Bettendorf subdivision developer fined $6,000 by Iowa DNR to settle storm water permit violations

Ven Green Land Development LLC – developer of the Spencer Hollow residential subdivision in north Bettendorf – has agreed to pay $6,000 to settle storm water runoff permit violations that occurred in July 2020.

According to the administrative consent order issued March 9, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) received a complaint July 15 of last year alleging water in a tributary to Spencer Creek was brown from silt that had run off from the housing subdivision.

Iowa House Republicans: Standing up for free speech (white privilege, implicit bias not included)

Sales of dandruff shampoo should be spiking in Iowa after all the head-scratching over the latest adventures of the Iowa Legislature.

There’s been a lot to puzzle over. Just last week, the Legislature gave final approval to a bill to make it legal for landlords in three Iowa cities to kick poor people out of their homes because they use federal housing vouchers. The Iowa House stayed up half the night on Wednesday to eliminate permit requirements to buy or carry a handgun, right after approving a broad liability shield for the gun industry. And the allegedly pro-business Iowa Senate Republicans voted to turn their backs on a growing big-tech development sector in the state in the name of making a point about social media “censorship.”

Education department expertise loses out to political power in school voucher legislation

The Iowa Department of Education has 220 staff members and a budget of more than $10 million. But it has zero independence or political power.

That's why school legislation in Iowa is driven by the political agenda of the governor, Republican Party leaders and this year, by the Americans for Prosperity, a right wing organization funded largely by the Koch brothers, and Betsy DeVos, ex-head of the Trump administration's education department.

Lee posts first quarter profit thanks in part to $24-million gain from axing retiree medical benefits

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and Dispatch/Argus – reported first quarter net income of $16.4 million, thanks in part to a $23.8-million gain "associated with elimination of retiree medical benefits."

Total advertising revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 27 fell to $102.6 million, a decline of 20 percent compared to the same period a year ago when factoring in the acquisition of Berkshire-Hawthaway's BH Media and the Buffalo News in early 2020. Net income per share for the three months was 28 cents, compared with 9 cents per share for the same period a year ago.

Hearing under way to determine if Cricket Hollow owners should be held in contempt of judge's order

Owners of the troubled – and now closed – Cricket Hollow Zoo are again in court.

This time the owners of the roadside zoo near Manchester are facing charges they disobeyed the district court's December 2019 order that required them to turn over hundreds of animals for relocation by animal rescue personnel.

The trial of Pamela and Thomas Sellner on contempt charges began Wednesday (1/6/21) and is expected to conclude Tuesday in Iowa District Court in Delaware County. The case was filed a year ago, Jan. 8, 2020.

This might hurt some feelings; or what can be done to actually improve Iowa's water quality

“To be radical is to simply grasp the root of the problem. And the root is us.” - Howard Zinn, 1999.

There’s a page on my website where I post the powerpoint slides from presentations I conduct. I took a look at that page this morning, and over the last five years I have conducted 69 programs for various groups, or about one a month on average. I reckon that at about half of these I get the question, “what can be done”, this in regard to Iowa water quality and pollution generated by the corn-soybean-CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) production model.

People have been thinking about “what can be done” for a long time.

Because of industry and farmer recalcitrance and hostility toward regulation, various ideas for improving water quality have focused on either (1) enticing farmers to voluntarily adopt practices that reduce erosion and nutrient loss without major modifications to the production system or (2), promotion of concepts like increased crop diversity and improved soil health that do require substantial management changes.

I suppose you could also throw land retirement in there, but this has not been tried on any significant scale in Iowa since the 1980s.

Iowa's ag college experts on nutrient reduction say their role is to educate, not regulate farm operations

Mandating measures to control and reduce chemical pollution from farm fields should begin, University of Iowa water quality researchers say.

But, don't expect Iowa's land-grant agricultural institution – Iowa State University – to join the call for regulation or any government measures to limit the use of fertilizer on ag land.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Hydroscience and Engineering Department have been analyzing farm field runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus for decades.

Voluntary efforts will never achieve Iowa's goal to curb nitrogen runoff, water quality researcher says

Iowa will never achieve its goal to reduce nitrate runoff from Iowa farm fields relying only on voluntary actions of farm operators, according to a hydrologist who has done extensive research on the state's waterways and water quality.

The state has not only has failed to achieve its goal to reduce nitrogen runoff by 45 percent over the past eight years, the 5-year average of nitrate flowing into the Mississippi River has increased, up more than 100 percent between 2003 and 2019, according to Larry Weber, Ph.D, a research engineer with the University of Iowa's IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering Department.

Farm bureau crows about water quality progress; nutrient reduction report stats show otherwise

The Iowa Farm Bureau unleashed its public relations machine after release of the 2018-19 Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) Report July 2, heralding what it called "clear and significant strides" on reducing nitrogen and phosphorus leaching from farms fields into state streams, rivers and lakes.

Problem is the farm bureau either failed to read the report statistics on nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, or simply chose to ignore the research results and spin the findings.

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