Let’s stick to issues and forget the labels

If you had your ear cupped just right and were listening closely Sunday afternoon, you might have heard my head explode.

The pressure inside the old noggin has been building for months, thanks to what can be called politics as usual in Washington, D.C., and Des Moines. So, my friends and relatives were not surprised by what occurred about 2 o’clock Sunday.

My cranium could not contain the buildup any longer when I read that U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California was fuming about his visit to a restaurant in that state.

Iowa needs sunshine — on police videos

Sunshine Week will be observed across the nation next week.

The week shines a spotlight on the important role open government and citizen accountability
play in our democracy. Open meetings and open records are the tools that enable the public to
know what their government is doing, or not doing, in the name of the people.

In Iowa, the sunshine next week will be obscured by clouds – at least when it comes to citizen
access to videos recorded by law officers on their squad car cameras and body cameras during
incidents in which police shoot someone or when officers are fired upon.

Let’s see who really is ‘gaming the system’

Last week’s news put furrows in my brow.

As I ruminated on the headlines and details in the news accounts, I came away convinced something is out of whack somewhere.

One of the reports was that Amazon, the online retailing behemoth, cancelled plans to build a corporate headquarters in New York City. The company had said 25,000 employees eventually would work there.

Amazon’s decision came after persistent criticism from some New York politicians and community activists about the amount of incentives the state of New York and the city government were going to give the company – $3 billion, with a “B.”

Reynolds’ amendment deserves our support

Faithful readers of this space know I have not been shy about disagreeing with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ positions on a variety of issues.

But I am here today not to criticize our governor but to praise her – for her courage that is both political and personal.

Politically, Reynolds risks offending some of her staunch supporters with the proposal she made last month to amend the Iowa Constitution to automatically reinstate felons’ right to vote after they finish their prison terms and complete parole or probation.

More politics is not what Iowa courts need

Harold Hill, that smooth-talking con artist in “The Music Man,” persuaded gullible Iowans that “ya got trouble, my friend, right here in River City.”

He arrived in town to sell band instruments and band uniforms to parents who didn’t know they wanted or needed them. But his first task was to sell parents on the notion that a band was the way to keep their kids from hanging out at the pool hall.

Today, the Harold Hills working our state are not concerned about pool halls or bands. But they are again trying to gin up public anxiety about a supposed problem right here in Iowa – that politics, with a capital P, is tainting our court system, especially the selection of judges.

Making laws should not be about convenience

One of the biggest contrasts in public access to state and local governments in Iowa came into focus last week, and Iowans should be concerned by what occurred.

A bit of context: Iowans have long had the right to sit in on almost every meeting of state government policy-making and governing boards and on meetings of their local school board, city council and county board of supervisors.

That law requires a board or council to post the agenda for its meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting. This notice requirement exists to give the public time to offer their opinions on an issue and to arrange to attend the meeting.

While the law does not require government entities to allow citizens to speak at the meetings, most boards and councils, with rare exceptions, do permit public input at their meetings.

You don’t solve problems by taking hostages

I’m not sure you can get Republicans and Democrats to agree on many things these days – not even on motherhood and apple pie.

Some people believe a wall along the border with Mexico is a national security priority and is necessary to stop the movement of migrants into the United States. Others think the $5 billion at the center of the border wall dispute could be better spent on additional border agents, more drones and sophisticated new security technology.

Each of us has an opinion in this debate. But we all should be able to agree on this one point: It is absolutely wrong to hold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent employees of the federal government hostage during this stalemate.

A judge should not prohibit publishing facts

On the morning of Aug. 31, shortly after 8:30, a 12-year-old boy pulled out a gun in his seventh-grade classroom in Eldridge, a community just north of Davenport.

In an instant, he directed his classmates to get on the floor and then pointed the gun at his teacher’s face and squeezed the trigger.

Blessedly, he did not take the gun’s safety off. The gun did not fire. But there was a bullet in the firing chamber and 11 others were in the gun’s ammunition magazine.

Here’s an antidote to our nation’s discord

Americans these days seem to get along like dogs and cats.

We don’t trust each other. We constantly snipe back and forth. This person is a crook. That person is dumber than a box of rocks.

This acrimony and animosity have not provided a very fitting backdrop for the tranquility that is supposed to accompany the Christmas season.

There are things more important than money

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about money, some easier than others, in the years since I pushed a lawnmower back and forth across Mrs. Carroll’s and Mrs. Greiner’s yards in Bloomfield long ago.

My start as a gainfully employed contributor to the U.S. economy was inauspicious in the grand scheme of things. But I felt like a regular John D. Rockefeller – in blue jeans and a ball cap, instead of a suit and top hat – when the ladies settled up by handing over a couple of dollar bills each week.


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