Users – including one person lying down and one person standing on the transparent "oculus" feature – of the new Interstate 74 Bridge recreation trail wave to the passing Mississippi Belle Riverboat below.

Iowa court’s unfair message: ‘Take one for the team’

In 1972, Gordon Garrison purchased 300 acres of farmland in Emmet County, a rectangle near the Minnesota border one county to the east of the Iowa Great Lakes.

The Iowa State University agricultural engineering graduate began raising sheep and crops. He also set about working to restore the “prairie pothole” ecology of shallow wetlands that was common in northwestern Iowa when white settlers began arriving 175 years ago.

Garrison built a house on his land in 1999. He still lives there, although his quality of life has taken a troubling turn since he put down roots there.

Life for Garrison and his neighbors changed significantly in December 2015 when New Fashion Pork LLP built a CAFO, or a confined animal feeding operation, uphill from and adjacent to Garrison’s property. The confinement building — which the state allows to house 4,400 to 8,800 hogs, depending on their size — is about a half mile from Garrison’s property.

Frankenstein legislation and midnight shell games given green light by Iowa Supreme Court decision

Iowans’ ability to stay informed about what’s happening in the state Legislature took another body blow recently – and lawmakers aren’t even in session.

The latest smackdown on open government came in the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent ruling that also eliminated the right to abortion in the state constitution. Most people, understandably, overlooked the part of the ruling dealing with legislative procedure – specifically the constitutional requirement that bills being debated in the Legislature address a single subject.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, however, didn’t miss it.

No bushel left behind

Friday, June 17, 2022

The ag propagandists lack of creativity is more than balanced by their relentlessness and the fact that they are unburdened by shame.

Imagine if the Energizer bunny copulates (he is a rabbit, after all) with all the killer rabbits from the '72 horror movie "The Night of the Lepus" (mutant rabbits terrorize Janet Leigh and DeForest Kelly) and their horde of offspring stampede the countryside devouring the truth. Or something like that.

Take phosphorus, for example.

Our secretary of agriculture was recently quoted saying: "We've come a long way on our phosphorus reduction goals in the state of Iowa due to a lot of management practices that have been put in place, cover crops, no-till, conservation tillage in the state of Iowa" (1).

And, not to be outdone, one-time secretary of agriculture hopeful and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser was quoted saying in an EPA roundtable meeting that “Iowa has reduced phosphorus losses by 27 percent" (2).

Reminds me of an old joke about Minnesota and Iowa and manure and the punch line is: "Mr. RabBIT will soon be here with the shit."

These statements are detached from reality.

Here's an example of the hare-brained "conservation" the ag spokespeople say has reduced Iowa phosphorus levels 27 percent.

There is not a shred of water quality data that shows phosphorus levels in our streams to be declining over the long haul, and in fact, the opposite is probably occurring (graphs at the bottom).

Lee Enterprises digital revenues grow, but overall revenues and earnings drop in second quarter

Despite gains from its digital operations, Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of 77 media properties including the Quad City Times and the Argus/Dispatch – saw overall revenues and earnings fall during the second quarter compared with a year ago.

Lee reported Thursday (5/5) it lost $6.7 million ($1.26 per share) during the second quarter ended March 27. That compares with a loss of $608,000 ($.20 cents per share) for the same period a year ago.

Statehouse standoff leaves Iowans in the dark

The 100th day of the 2022 legislative session in Iowa is Tuesday.

I know that’s probably not a day marked on your calendar. Most Iowans don’t pay much attention to whether the Legislature is in session or not. Those who celebrate Easter, Passover or Ramadan may have been spending time with family. Others may be planning their gardens, attending kids’ track meets and working toward the end of the school year. Some may have spent the weekend figuring out their taxes.

Speaking of taxes, yours are paying for everything that happens at the Iowa Statehouse, and guess what? Not much is happening right now. And whatever may be happening is being done in secret, behind closed doors, where you aren’t welcome.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst summed it up: “First and foremost, I want to echo what I’ve heard from so many Iowans who have reached out to me over the last few days and said the phrase: ‘The hell’s going on up there?’”

The Republicans who control the Iowa House, Senate and governor’s office have been unable to reach agreement on some key elements of the governor’s agenda. As a result, work on the state budget is at a standstill.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners face fines or jail after Iowa Supreme Court rejects contempt appeal

A tangled and contentious five-year legal odyssey involving the owners of eastern Iowa’s shuttered Cricket Hollow Zoo may finally be near an end.

The Iowa Supreme Court this week rejected zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner’s efforts to set aside a judge’s finding that they were in contempt for having refused a court order to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction in Manchester.

The contempt ruling calls for the Sellners to pay $70,000 in fines. If payments are not made toward the fine, the Sellners will have to serve a one-day jail sentence for each animal that was not recovered from their zoo, for a total of 140 days.

Court records indicate no payments have been made on the fine.

All Bettendorf City Council input into sports complex tax rebate deal done behind closed doors

The City of Bettendorf recently negotiated a complicated agreement with sports complex developers over a six-month period, but did so without even a single email or written document shared with city council members.

So how did the city reach a deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze without sharing any written communication with city council members or any public meetings to discuss what should be in the contract?

According to City Attorney Chris Curran, the council was kept abreast of staff negotiations through "informational meetings" held behind closed doors.

Iowa greenhouse gas emissions declined 7.6% in 2020; drop primarily from pandemic impact


Source: 2020 Iowa Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, Dec. 31, 2021

Iowa's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 fell 7.6 percent from 2019, primarily because of lower electric power plant production and fewer vehicle miles traveled that resulted from the pandemic.

CLICK HERE to download the full report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Sports complex development agreement released; public hearing set for Feb. 15 council meeting

Scott County opposed to use of new tax incentives for hotel, retail and commercial service businesses in proposed urban renewal area

The agreement providing millions of dollars in tax rebates for expansion of the sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Roads was released Friday afternoon (2/11), less than three days before the Bettendorf City Council holds a public hearing and votes on it.

The council has discussed the agreement in so-called "3-on-3 meetings" outside the public view for months, but has yet to talk publicly about the multi-million-dollar Tax Increment Finance (TIF) deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze.

It is possible the city council could approve the deal without any members even expressing their views on the agreement.

The agenda for the council's committee-of-the-whole meeting at 5 p.m. Monday (2/14) includes a presentation by the city's Director of Economic Development Jeff Reiter. No public comments are allowed at those sessions.

The council is then expected to hold a public hearing and approve the development agreement at its 7 p.m. Feb. 15 meeting.

CLICK HERE to download the proposed development agreement.

Lee Enterprises reports 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings as Alden Global pushes takeover

Lee Enterprises, Inc. today (2/3) reported a 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings compared with a year ago, while efforts by hedge fund Alden Global Capital to acquire the Davenport-based print and online media company intensified.

Lee – owner of the Dispatch/Argus and Quad City Times – earned $13.2 million ($2.21 per share) during the quarter ended Dec. 26, 2021, compared with $16.4 million ($2.79 per share) for the same period a year ago. The lower earnings occurred despite the inclusion of a one-time $12.3-million gain from the sale of company assets.

Meanwhile, Alden Global is seeking to replace Lee's Chairman and CEO Mary Junck and long-time board member Herbert Maloney III on the company's board of directors. Alden has submitted an alternative slate of candidates for the director slots coming up for election at the company's annual meeting to be held March 10.

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