Randy Evans's blog

There’s judicial activism you like – and dislike

One of the most contentious issues in the Iowa Legislature this year involved the way the state’s judges are chosen.

That process was established 57 years ago when voters amended the Iowa Constitution. It’s worth noting that Republicans held solid majorities then in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.

In the years that followed – when governors were Republicans, as well as when they were Democrats – the stature of the Iowa judiciary was saluted across the United States for its fairness and nonpartisan nature.

It's wrong to view citizens as nuisances

There have been plenty of examples that raise questions whether government boards in Iowa truly understand they work for the people, not for government officials and employees --- and that they are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of taxpayers.

The latest example comes from Polk County, where county officials seemed determined to keep the public in the dark until after they had formally decided to sweeten the severance benefits for a handful of top employees – at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We have seen similar examples, both in local government and state government, where governing boards have appeared not to be watching how taxpayer money is spent.

Big business shouldn’t overlook working stiffs

I’m a sucker for happy news.

There never is enough of it. Often it seems as if discouraging news overshadows anything uplifting or encouraging.

But there was an amazing good-news moment Sunday.

It came during the commencement ceremony in Atlanta at the historically black Morehouse College, a school whose most notable graduate is the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Free speech sometimes is uncomfortable

The First Amendment isn’t long, but it certainly packs a lot of angst into those few words:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Most Americans embrace these concepts that are important foundations for democracy in the United States – although there are times when these freedoms make us uncomfortable.

How you use your money tells us a lot

When you drive down Columbia Street in Bloomfield, you will roll past two lessons on selfless giving.

Both of those “lessons” are wrapped in one important building, the Bloomfield Public Library. More on the library’s lessons in a moment.

All of this is pertinent to our discussion today because it seems as if Beto O’Rourke, one of the flood of Democrats who want to be our president, never really grasp the lesson about the importance of giving that many of us have learned.

College sports wants it both ways

A few days ago, a friend repeated a maxim about what it’s like at his work these days:

When the company wants him to do something after hours for no pay, the boss points out this is his calling. But when he asks for a raise, the boss winces and reminds him this is a business.

It’s like that with the NCAA, too. The organization wants it both ways.

Hey lawmakers, let local government govern

When members of the Iowa Legislature show up at coffee shops in their districts on weekends, you won’t hear them talking about not trusting local government officials.

But that is at the heart of a bill that would turn city and county government topsy-turvy and place a straitjacket on the governments that are closest to the voters.

House Study Bill 165 is the product of Republicans who hold a majority of seats on the House Ways and Means Committee. A subcommittee has recommended approval of the bill.

If that doesn’t occur this year, don’t assume for a minute the idea is dead. Watch carefully when the 2020 session is gaveled in, because ideas rarely ever go away when the same party controls both the House and the Senate, as well as the governor’s office.

Important lessons that flowers can teach us

The altar at the First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls was decorated with bouquets of beautiful flowers last week.

Dozens of people gathered there to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman at the conclusion of her 84 years on this Earth. Those blossoms offered especially poignant symbolism.

Ruth was a true treasure – to her family, to her friends, to her community where she lived, and, when you stop to think about all of the people like her, to the world around us.

Like the phrase encourages us, Ruth bloomed where she was planted.

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.

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