A fall palett of yellow and green leaves color the local landscape.

Drops of rain glisten on fall leaves.

Sen. Roby Smith barked up the wrong tree defending Davenport dog kennel owner

State Sen. Roby Smith’s conduct in bullying Iowa Department of Agriculture staff on behalf of a constituent and raising the possibility of gun violence was beyond disturbing.

If you missed Clark Kauffman’s story in Iowa Capital Dispatch, you can read it here.

The constituent, Davenport kennel owner Robert Burns, couldn’t have been more pleased that penalties against his business for animal-welfare violations were reduced after Smith joined him in a two-hour phone call with top agency staff. And for good reason.

Public must be informed in doctor discipline

The Iowa Legislature’s “To Do” list should be a little longer after last week.

And people need to contact their senators and representatives in the Legislature to make sure they understand their duty is to protect the health and safety of Iowans.

The reason? The Iowa Supreme Court handed down a decision Friday that will pretty much keep the public in the dark when a physician is charged by state regulators with professional misconduct.

‘Like he was my lawyer:’ State Sen. Roby Smith intervened in Davenport animal-welfare case

The owner of a Davenport dog kennel says state regulators scaled back their punishment against his business this summer after a state legislator intervened in the case on his behalf.

Earlier this summer, the Animal Playground boarding kennel in Davenport, run by Robert Burns, was visited by state inspectors working for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. At the time, the kennel was supposed to be shut down due to a license suspension triggered by a series of serious regulatory violations.

The kennel, however, was in full operation with 40 dogs milling about, inspectors reported.

God made me do it

From Carl Sandburg’s book/poem, The People, Yes (1936):

“Get off this estate.”

“What for?”

“Because it’s mine.”

“Where did you get it?”

“From my father.”

“Where did he get it?”

“From his father.”

“And where did he get it?”

“He fought for it.”

“Well, I’ll fight you for it.”

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The ag communication shops are the answer to all my prayers when it comes to inspiration.

I read something a month or so ago from one of them and I knew I had to write about it, but it took a while for an idea to tassel out.

The piece profiles an Iowa farmer who apparently is on a mission from God to grow corn and soybeans.

Most human beings, including the one writing these words here, try to derive some meaning from their existence and so I don’t fault that if that is the angle.

I did, however, find this quote revealing: “If you can raise more corn and beans on this acre of ground the good lord gave you, you darn well better be doing that.”

As far as God giving “us” the land, there’s a few descendants of a continental-scale genocide that would like a word regarding this farmer’s god.

But ignoring that for the moment, yes, it’s true enough that you can raise a lot of corn and beans on Iowa land, and a lot of other stuff that we don’t grow anymore: oats, apples, vegetables, oak trees, and so on.

And, rest assured if corporate CEOs wanted Iowa farmers to grow that other stuff instead of corn and soy, that is what they would be growing, and God could just go pound sand. You gotta know who's the boss, after all.

Iowa Farm Bureau finances revealed by Investigate Midwest and Watchdog Writers Group reporting

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and the Watchdog Writers Group reported Thursday (10/7) on the Iowa Farm Bureau and how it has profited from funds generated by its insurance subsidiary.

"The political activities of farm bureaus at the state and federal level are well-documented. But the scope of the Iowa Farm Bureau’s sprawling financial operations is less understood. Through expanded investments, it has reaped massive profits. Over the past decade, its total revenue has increased about 200 percent. And, lately, about 80 percent of it comes from investments, according to tax documents. No other farm bureau even approaches that ratio."

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Developer of senior housing in Muscatine agrees to $8,000 fine for allowing runoff to pollute Mad Creek

A former LeClaire developer now living in West Des Moines has agreed to pay an $8,000 fine for storm water runoff violations at a senior housing site in Muscatine that polluted the nearby Mad Creek.

James Bergman, of JNB Oak Park LP, signed the administrative consent order with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) last month. Bergman was one of the developers of Thomas Place Senior Housing in Bettendorf.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners ordered to pay $70,000 or serve jail time for violating court order

The owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo have been ordered to pay $70,000 or serve five months in jail for violating court orders regarding the relocation of animals at their roadside attraction.

The ruling this week in the contempt-of-court case against Pamela and Thomas Sellner comes three days after the Iowa Supreme Court declined to review a lower court decision in the case that led to zoo’s closure in 2019.

In that case, a group of Iowans assisted by animal rights advocates sued the Sellners, alleging numerous violations of Iowa’s animal neglect laws. A judge ruled in their favor and effectively ordered the zoo closed with many of the animals to be relocated to wildlife sanctuaries in other states.

READ MORE from the Iowa Capital Dispatch

Reynolds office least transparent in 30 years

A journalist is arrested and put on trial for doing her job. The governor’s office and state agencies defy the law without consequence by ignoring or refusing requests for public records. A veteran state employee claims she was fired for complying with the law and providing a public record to a reporter.

It sounds like some banana republic that we might hear about on the news. Sorry to say, these and other assaults on the First Amendment, press freedoms and public access to their government have all happened right here in Iowa. And it’s costing all of us, the taxpayers.

In my years as a journalist in Iowa, I’ve covered five gubernatorial administrations. (Only four governors, because Gov. Terry Branstad served twice.) I can say without hesitation that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration has been the absolute worst in terms of secrecy and outright denial of public access to information.

Lee Enterprise, Inc. reports third quarter earnings of $3.74 million, 56 cents per share

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of both daily newspapers in the Quad Cities – reported Thursday (7/5) it earned $3.74 million, 56 cents per share, during the third quarter ended June 27.

That compares with a loss of $727,000, 23 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.

On a pro forma basis to reflect acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway Media and Buffalo News last year, total operating revenue fell 4.7 percent and total advertising revenue was down 9.3 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Court of Appeals upholds judge's decision closing Cricket Hollow Zoo for 'deplorable conditions'

Deputy Editor, Iowa Capital Dispatch

The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled the owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo were not denied a fair trial by a judge who closed the attraction after citing the “deplorable” conditions she observed there.

The two owners of the Cricket Hollow, Pamela and Thomas Sellner of Manchester, had appealed a 2019 court ruling declaring the zoo to be a public nuisance. In briefs filed with the court, attorneys for the Sellners argued that the trial judge, Monica Zrinyi Wittig, “took an advocacy role” on the side of the animal rights groups that helped a group of Iowans sue to close the zoo by “criticizing and arguing with” the Sellners and their witnesses.

In their appeal, the Sellners cited comments made to their attorney by Judge Wittig shortly after all of the parties visited the zoo on the first day of trial.

CLICK HERE to read entire article on Iowa Capital Dispatch web site.

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