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Church needs action, not ‘lawyerly blabber’

At most services, Father P.J. McManus moves quickly through the announcements --- typically covering such things as the coming Christ the King Church sweet corn festival, the signup for the fall retreat, or a new book study group that soon will begin.

This past weekend, however, the announcements took a very different theme and tone.

Father P.J. began by mentioning he was at a Des Moines Hy-Vee on Wednesday, shopping for a dinner he was hosting that evening for leaders of the youth group. He was not wearing his Roman collar at the store, and a parishioner he encountered asked about that unusual occurrence.

‘Trade secrets’ shouldn’t trump accountability

The Iowa Legislature wrote some wonderful concepts into the state’s government transparency laws.

For example: “This chapter seeks to assure, through a requirement of open meetings of government bodies, that the basis and rationale of governmental decisions, as well as those decisions themselves, are easily accessible to the people. Ambiguity in the construction or application of this chapter should be resolved in favor of openness.” (Chapter 21, Iowa Code.)

And: “In actions brought under this section the district court shall take into account the policy of this chapter that free and open examination of public records is generally in the public interest even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others.” (Chapter 22, Iowa Code.)

But increasingly, 11 other words in the public records law are causing headaches for Iowans who want to monitor the decisions their government makes.

UI should include public when decisions are needed

The University of Iowa announced last week that it will close seven academic centers, shrink three others and eliminate 33 jobs.

The reductions will save $3.5 million, officials said.

The announcement should come as no surprise if you have been paying attention to events in our state. The university has been caught in a vice --- squeezed between public pressure to hold down the size of tuition increases and the Legislature’s desire to hold down government spending.

Is this how Iowa wants to save money?

Don’t be surprised if a guy named Jamie Campbell turns out to be one of the key players in the 2018 race for Iowa governor.

Campbell’s name will not be on the ballot in November.

He will not be crisscrossing the state, appearing at one campaign event after another.

Trump is wrong about people’s rights

If you go out East this week and swing by places like Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier, don’t be surprised if the soil has been disturbed over the graves of our Founding Fathers.

Those founders of this beacon of freedom known as the United States of America surely have turned over in their graves following the news from President Donald Trump.

The president announced that he wants to eliminate due process and access to the courts for people accused of entering the United States without government permission.

Tariffs aren’t as simple as Trump believes

The school year is finished, but whether we like it or not, Iowans have been sent to summer school this year.

The subject for our summer education: the economics of foreign trade and tariffs.

Professor Donald Trump assured us this would be really simple to master and wouldn’t take very long. But Iowa farmers and the owners and managers of many businesses are now realizing the professor might need to brush up on the subject material before he teaches more lessons.


Whirlpool/Maytag deal offers insight into foreign-trade issues and global markets

Ag industry, state ag department claims at odds with scientific study findings on nitrogen pollution runoff

You wouldn't know it listening to Iowa agricultural industry groups or state ag department officials, but a new report from University of Iowa researchers makes it clear: state farm operators are doing a lousy job of keeping nitrogen fertilizer out of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

How bad a job are ag businesses doing in preventing nitrates-nitrogen from seeping from their farm field drain tiles into state waterways?

In the Upper Mississippi River Basin, Iowa contributes 21 percent of the water, comprises 21 percent of the land area, but is responsible for nearly half (45 percent) of nitrate-nitrogen pollution that flows into the Mississippi River.

In the Missouri River Basin, Iowa contributes 12 percent of the water, comprises only 3.3 percent of the watershed land area, yet is responsible for more than half (55 percent) of the nitrate-nitrogen polluting the Missouri River.

Question for the ages: How will history judge us?

I am surely not the only person who has wondered what it was like to live through various big events from history, events that occurred long before I entered this world in 1950.

This curiosity has led me to contemplate events like the Civil War, the growing tensions in Europe and America before World War II, the lynching of black people by vigilantes in the South during the first half of the 20th Century, the internment of Japanese-Americans in the Western United States during the 1940s, and the various waves of anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-Italian and anti-Irish thinking in our country.

What would have been going through my mind then? How would I have reacted? Would I have sat by quietly, or would I have stood and spoken out from my corner of America?

Don’t hide government officials from the public

I sometimes think government officials overlook the important role the public plays in our system of government.

That was my takeaway last week from the monthly meeting of the Iowa Public Information Board.

When Mrs. Gentry lectured in my high school government classes 50+ years ago, I remember her talking about how American government is participatory. The public can attend meetings of government boards, she told us. People are free to express their opinions to government leaders.

Government should be like Baby Bear’s porridge

I’m sure you have heard the old tale about Iowa’s bountiful cornfields – about closing your eyes in the summer, listening carefully at night and being able to hear the corn grow.

Here’s different image to ponder: If you open your eyes and look around carefully, I think you can see our state changing right in front of us. And I’m pretty certain we are not going to like where we end up.

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