American bald eagles are reflected in the water of the Mississippi River near Lindsay Park, Davenport.

Controversial Pleasant Valley school board election could be decided by a drawing

For additional details of the recount and mishandling of election report, see this article in the Pleasant Valley High School newspaper

by Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch
December 1, 2023

A hotly contested race for school board in a small eastern Iowa community may be decided by a drawing on Monday.

The Scott County Auditor’s Office recently presided over a recount for one of the races involving a seat on the school board for the Pleasant Valley Community School District.

Initially, the results of the Nov. 7 election indicated challenger Jameson Smith had beaten incumbent Tracey Rivera on a vote of 256 to 250. Rivera then requested a recount which led to a new controversy involving Iowa’s own version of a hanging-chad dispute.

An assistant Scott County attorney had allegedly explained to the three parties handling the recount that because the Nov. 7 election involved the use of optical scanners, any write-in votes could only be counted if the oval alongside the line for the name of a write-in candidates was filled in by the voter.

One of the individuals involved in the recount objected to a ballot in which the oval was not filled in, while the other two individuals argued such ballots should be counted since the intent of the voter was clear. Rivera allegedly benefitted from the majority decision to count two such ballots as valid, and that led to a determination that the candidates were tied at 255 votes each.

With the process headed toward a randomized outcome, with the election to be decided by a drawing, attorney Alan Ostergren wrote to the county auditor and lodged a protest on behalf of Smith.

Is it open season for Medicare enrollment or for snagging seniors with incessant advertising?

by Cheryl Tevis, Iowa Capital Dispatch
November 25, 2023

Martha, Martha, are you listening? Martha? Can you hear me?

Is it Dec. 7 yet? No? Two more weeks? I can’t be the only person who has this date highlighted on my calendar. But my motivation might be different than you’d expect.

For those readers who are Gen Xers or Millennials, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 is the annual Medicare open enrollment period. With a total of 65 million Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S., it’s a big marketing opportunity. It’s also annoying the hell out of everyone under age 65 – and that’s 83 percent of the American public.

In these incessant TV commercials, Martha, a white-haired lady wearing  super-sized glasses, is described by the narrator as a “cranky” 75-year-old. Apparently, she’s been living under a rock for the past 10 years: she has no idea what the narrator is trying to “man-splain” to her. The commercials are condescending and demeaning.

A 2022 Commonwealth Fund survey indicates that three quarters of individuals aged 65 and older reported receiving daily unsolicited calls or ads: “Hello, this is your senior advisor.” Calls are supposed to be federally prohibited unless individuals agree to be called.

Endorsing DeSantis is a risky move for Reynolds

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
November 6, 2023

I said on national television back in August that I would be very surprised if Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed a presidential candidate ahead of the 2024 caucuses.

Color me surprised. Reynolds is reportedly set to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a campaign event Monday evening in Des Moines and then take the show on the road, with stops in Davenport and Florida ahead of the third GOP presidential debate.

Reynolds first said over the summer she wouldn’t rule out a pre-caucus endorsement. The reasons I was skeptical then are the same ones that seem puzzling now: It’s a huge political risk for Reynolds and an even bigger hazard to the future of the Iowa GOP caucuses.

DeSantis was 29 percentage points behind former President Donald Trump in the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely GOP caucusgoers published a week ago. The Florida governor lost his lead over former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who’s now tied with him at 16%. While Reynolds’ backing is certainly a boon at a crucial time for DeSantis, it seems like a stretch that it would push him over the top to defeat Trump in January and launch him to the nomination.

Bettendorf firm fined $6,000 for failing to control erosion on Forest Grove/Middle Road development

The developer of the commercial property northeast of Middle and Forest Grove Roads in Bettendorf has been fined $6,000 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for failing to control erosion on the construction site.

FG80 Holdings, LLC, owned by developer Kevin Koellner, agreed to the fine in September for violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that occurred in 2022 and 2023.

According to the IDNR, a routine inspection of the property in July 2022 found soil had flowed out of the sediment basin and that the sediment traps that had been installed did not provide adequate control of the soil runoff.

"Silt fencing in low lying areas had been overwhelmed," according to the inspection report, which was sent to the developer along with recommended corrective actions.

This old House has been torn down

by Dave Nagle, Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 25, 2023

I remember clearly the first day I went to the Capital to become a member of Congress.  I purposely walked up the front steps and was greeted by a guard, who opened the door and said, “Good morning, Congressman.” What a sense of satisfaction to have finally arrived.

But then I walked across the hall and opened the door to the chamber.  I had a second thought, and it was simply, “I hope I don’t screw this up.”

Court order sought requiring pharmacies to fill controversial COVID-19 prescriptions

by Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 16, 2023

An Iowa physician is seeking a court order that would require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.

The order is being sought as part of a civil lawsuit brought by Dr. David Hartsuch, an emergency medicine physician from Bettendorf, against the Iowa Board of Medicine and Iowa Board of Pharmacy in Scott County District Court.

Hartsuch, a former Republican state senator, alleges the two licensing boards have attempted to discourage patients from receiving “certain lawful prescription drugs” – his lawsuit references ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — to treat COVID-19.

Facts disprove claim Iowa school choice a success

by Rob Sand, Auditor, State of Iowa

Common sense says we can’t judge an outcome before a program begins, but I wasn’t surprised to read a guest essay in the Sept. 3 Des Moines Register proclaiming that “it’s safe to say we were wrong” if we thought Iowa’s new vouchers program would harm our public schools.

I wasn’t surprised because common sense has never been part of the push for vouchers in Iowa.

Here, instead of political talking points, are actual facts about the program’s rules and structure.

Fiddling while we burn: We know what to do about climate change but who will do it?

by Art Cullen, Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 25, 2023

Here we sit sweating it out under a heat dome. It’s supposed to get hot in an Iowa summer, but like this? One heat dome after another. Then a shower just in the nick of time. They say it’s a sign of climate change — that seasonal extremes like a hot August day become more extreme, and linger.

Storm Lake was in a water emergency during RAGBRAI last month. City wells stressed by drought and thirst failed. They got fixed for the time being, but our water system is limping along in need of more improvement than we can afford. Our drinking water sources, underground aquifers, are in decline from increased pumping for humans, livestock and ethanol.

If you don’t think that we are burning up the planet, look around: Maui got toasted as people jumped into the ocean to flee the fire. LA does not get hurricanes, but now it does. Entire towns in Canada are evacuating from wildfires. The smoke gags the Midwest.

If you’re trying to grow wheat or run cattle near the Panhandle, good luck, pardner.

If climate change is not a thing, then what is all this?

Seizure of 131 dogs from Riverside puppy mill prompts Coralville legislator to call for action

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 29, 2023

Last week’s seizure of 131 dogs at a rural Iowa breeding operation has prompted one state lawmaker to call for changes in the way the state oversees puppy mills, dog breeders and brokers.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, wrote to Gov. Kim Reynolds this week asking for her cooperation in holding unscrupulous breeders accountable.

In his letter, Jacoby wrote, “It’s time for us to work together to fix this problem. I look forward to a strong and immediate bipartisan effort to end this wrong. It is as simple as inspection and enforcement. We need to stop unscrupulous puppy mill owners by strengthening the laws that govern commercial breeders, increase inspections, and penalize those who violate the law.”

Jacoby’s letter to the governor comes one week after the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship inspected Sunset Valley Farm, a commercial dog-breeding operation in the town of Riverside.

Des Moines Register caucus poll shows ‘hands off’ approach to Trump isn’t working for rival candidates

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 21, 2023

The latest Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of the Iowa caucus race, published Monday, was a blowout. Former President Donald Trump holds more than a 2-to-1 lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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