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A teacher has a lesson from the ER for all of us

Schools across Iowa have been dark for more than a week because of winter vacation.

But a Des Moines teacher still managed to teach a very important lesson during that time – but this lesson wasn’t aimed at the kids she normally works with. It was intended for adults.

Laura’s lesson is one more people should learn from, because the discussions in Washington, D.C., and at the Capitol in Des Moines would benefit from a wider appreciation and understanding of what she was telling us.

Horrors of Cricket Hollow Zoo expose need for reform of state, federal enforcement agencies

Viewpoint by Tracey Kuehl, of Bettendorf, one of the seven plaintiffs who filed lawsuits filed against Cricket Hollow Zoo.

When Cricket Hollow Zoo was ordered closed by a district court judge Dec. 4, it was the end of a long-running tragedy for hundreds of animals that suffered from neglect and cruelty.

But the lengthy legal battle over operation of the roadside zoo near Manchester also exposed an equally despicable condition – apathy and neglect by government agencies charged with protecting those animals from deplorable conditions and mistreatment.

Regulatory inadequacies and lax enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) paved the way for more than a decade of animal suffering at the zoo.

UI utility secrecy: A blow to public accountability

The Iowa Board of Regents is being asked this week to consider a complex proposal to turn the operation of the University of Iowa’s utility system over to an unnamed a business that will be paid to operate it for the next 50 years.

The business will make a cash payment of undisclosed size to the university up front in return for the privilege of managing the coal-burning power plant, water treatment plant and the infrastructure for distributing electricity, steam and water across the sprawling campus and hospital complex. In return, the business is guaranteed a 50-year stream of revenue from its one customer.

Our legacy is more than our bank accounts

I was in Dubuque last week to toast a friend who was retiring after a long and distinguished career. There was a big community reception that was attended by scores of people.

The speakers mentioned his many contributions to the company where he worked for 33 years. They commented on the awards he had received and how he had helped make Dubuque a better community.

There were congratulatory letters read from some notable Iowans – former Gov. Terry Branstad, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley and a friend, the Most Rev. William Joensen, the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines.

But it was the mention of his family – his wife, their four children, the flock of grandkids – that had the honoree dabbing at his eyes.

There’s too little talk about corporate welfare

Here we go again.

Many politicians and their followers are warning of the dangers of the United States drifting into socialism.

If you listen to those sounding the alarm, the culprits behind this trend are presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Party in general, and some of the party’s young lighting rods, notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

There’s more to being a good role model

I have been sputtering like an old pickup truck for the past three years over the sometimes outrageous, sometimes ill-informed, and often infuriating comments our president makes each day on his Twitter account.

But before readers rush to judge me too harshly for that statement, allow me to add:

It would be utterly foolish, absolutely wrong, and a perversion of what the United States is all about if the officials who operate Twitter bow to efforts by Kamala Harris, the California senator and Democratic presidential candidate, to pressure the company to shut down Donald Trump’s account.

Our founders wanted the press to shine its spotlight

Fifty-three years ago, I was a high school kid in southern Iowa who knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: I wanted to be a journalist.

The first step on that journey occurred when I walked into the offices of the Bloomfield Democrat and introduced myself to Gary Spurgeon.

Inconsistency’s quicksand snags our governor

Consistency can rise up and snare political leaders if they are not careful.

A recent example is Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is now squirming after questions were raised over whether she favors local control or state control.

The question came up this summer when Madison County officials began studying a proposal from some people living in rural areas outside of Winterset. Those residents want to restrict where wind turbines can be erected in the county.

Lawmakers should leave traffic cameras alone

There was a sobering news report a few weeks ago that did not get the attention it deserved here in Iowa.

That’s unfortunate, because the report should put to rest once and for all the shortsighted attempts by some members of the Iowa Senate to interfere with public safety.

Here was the news:

A new study by the American Automobile Association found that traffic deaths at red lights have increased nationally by 28 percent since 2012.

“The problem is drivers are distracted,” AAA spokesman Doug Shupe told CBS News. “They’re impatient and they’re reckless.”

Iowa’s caucuses need to be more inclusive

Some of my friends who are Democrats are asking Iowa party officials some very uncomfortable questions these days.

I applaud these people for standing up. Their questions go something like this:

Is the Iowa Democratic Party more concerned about keeping the Iowa caucuses first in the nation in the presidential nomination process, even if the caucus structure prevents countless Democrats from participating?

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