A bee enjoys nectar from a purple hyssop plant.

Truth but no truth

If I hold to be true that absurdity determines my relationship with life, if I become thoroughly imbued with that sentiment that seizes me in the face of the world’s scenes, with that lucidity imposed on me by the pursuit of science, I must sacrifice everything to these certainties and I must see them squarely to be able to maintain them. Above all, I must adapt my behavior to them and pursue them in all their consequences. I am speaking here of decency. But I want to know beforehand if thought can live in those deserts.French/Algerian writer and philosopher Albert Camus

In geology, ‘drift’ refers to all the debris transported and deposited by glaciers or their meltwater, and this glacial garbage in Iowa can be as much as 500 feet thick. Glaciers spread it across the landscape like peanut butter on an English muffin, masking surface roughness and leaving much of the landscape approximately level.

In this part of the North America, little was left untouched by glaciers save a roughly oval piece of plain muffin we call ‘The Driftless’ that covers 20-70 miles east of the Mississippi River from Durand, Wisconsin down to just south of Galena, Illinois. I’m sorry to tell my fellow Iowans (and Minnesotans) that we’re really just Driftless wannabes; our part of the ‘Driftless’ isn’t without drift, it just looks like it. But that’s a story for another day and for convenience I’m just letting that go for now.

Lee Enterprises execs get pay boosts despite steep earnings decline, forced furloughs in 2022

Amid a steep fall-off in earnings, forced unpaid furloughs across its 77 news properties, significant staff cuts and a continued stock price decline, top Lee Enterprise, Inc. executives received increased compensation packages from 7 to 62 percent during 2022.

The executive compensation detailed in the company's proxy to shareholders, shows President and CEO Kenneth Mowbray's total compensation went up 7.2 percent to $2.33 million. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Millage had his compensation upped 33 percent to $1.05 million. Operating Vice President and Vice President - Audience Strategy Nathan E. Bekke's compensation package increase 62 percent to $1.12 million.

And, past CEO Mary E. Junck, who serves as executive chair of the board of directors, received a $30,000 hike in her compensation to $430,000 ($250,000 in fees paid in cash and $180,000 in stock awards).

For the company's fiscal year ended Sept. 25, 2022, Lee lost 35 cents per share compared with a gain of $3.98 per share for the previous fiscal year.

Late fiscal 2022 financial report from Lee Enterprises shows net income down 35 cents per share

Lee Enterprises, Inc. finally filed its full fiscal 2022 financial report Tuesday (Feb. 27) with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), two months later than normal.

The annual 10-K report showed the company lost 35 cents per share for the 12 months ended Sept. 25, or 14 cents more than preliminary numbers released Dec. 8 as part of its fourth quarter financial results.

Lee is publisher of the Quad City Times and Daily Dispatch/Argus and some 75 other newspapers and online news sites including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Buffalo News and the Omaha World-Herald.

Succession plan for Bettendorf city administrator position doesn't include timeline for transition

The Bettendorf City Council last month approved a succession plan for its city administrator without knowing when the transition would occur.

The week before Christmas, Bettendorf City Council members gathered in groups of three to avoid having to make public their meeting with City Administrator Decker Ploehn and Human Resource Director Kathleen Richlen. The purpose was to discuss a succession plan developed by Ploehn.

Ploehn, 70, had told the council over several years that he planned to retire once the new Interstate 74 Bridge was complete. The bridge opened last fall after a 10-year effort of planning, funding and construction.

But prior to completion of the bridge, Ploehn changed his mind. He now says his retirement might be "in six months or in two years."

Lousy choices best describes 'school choice' bill

Along the Mississippi

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says her plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schooling gives people a choice to educate their kids where they want.

But that’s not what her plan says. Just look at the details: Only certain families with kids in public schools will get that choice.

What this plan really does is pay people who already are sending their kids to private schools.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ address highlights private school scholarships, agency restructuring

by Robin Opsahl, Iowa Capital Dispatch
January 10, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds unveiled her latest private school scholarship proposal and plans for a huge restructuring of the state government Tuesday in her 2023 Condition of the State address.

Reynolds delivered her sixth address as governor to the most Republican-dominated Legislature of her time in office and one in which more than a third of the members are beginning their first terms.

“Through natural disasters, a pandemic, a nationwide recession and more, Iowa’s status as a beacon for freedom and opportunity has endured,” she said. “We’ve been recognized as the most fiscally responsible state in the country, we’re ranked in the top ten states to live in America, and we continue to be ranked the #1 state for opportunity.”

Reynolds was reelected to her second full term as Iowa governor in the 2022 election, defeating Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear.

Republicans also strengthened their trifecta control at the Iowa Statehouse, and party leaders in both chambers said they were ready to implement the governor’s agenda quickly. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said the Senate is ready to hold a subcommittee meeting on Reynolds’ education bill yet this week or early next week.

“We are ready to get to work and hopefully make this agenda into law,” Whitver said.

Class action lawsuit accuses Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, Inc. of online privacy violations

Iowa Capital Dispatch

The Iowa-based newspaper chain Lee Enterprises is facing a potential class-action lawsuit alleging it has shared readers’ personal information with Facebook in violation of federal law.

Lee publishes newspapers and other media content in 77 markets across 26 states. The company’s 10 Iowa papers include the Quad-City Times in Davenport, the Sioux City Journal, the Mason City Globe-Gazette the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Muscatine Journal.

The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, alleges that Lee’s news-media websites offer users the option of subscribing to newsletters or to newspapers that provide consumers with access to articles and video content in exchange for their personal information, including names and mailing addresses.

Large write-down of assets leaves Lee with a $6.34 million loss for fourth quarter ended September 25

Lee Enterprises – owner of the Quad City Times, Daily Dispatch/Argus and more than 70 other newspapers and online news sites – reported a $6.34 million loss for the fourth quarter ended September 25. However, the quarterly financial results were skewed into negative territory primarily by a $21 million (non-cash) write-down of company assets.

Without the write-down, Lee likely would have had positive earnings for the quarter, as opposed to the $1.09 per share loss it reported Thursday (December 8).

Iowa to dramatically cut back on restaurant inspections; plan is for once every five years

Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 12, 2022

The state of Iowa is planning to dramatically scale back the routine inspection of restaurants and other food-service establishments by making only one onsite inspection every five years.

Currently, most Iowa restaurants are subjected to at least one routine inspection every three years. They are also inspected in response to complaints or changes in ownership.

Complaint-driven and ownership-related inspections will continue. But in the absence of those issues, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals intends to visit each Iowa restaurant no more than once every five years under a set of new rules that are expected to take effect next month.

Iowa regulatory agency ignores law requiring the routine inspection of Iowa hotels

Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 10, 2022

For the past eight years, a state regulatory agency has violated a law requiring the routine inspection of Iowa’s hotels and motels.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is required to inspect all hotels within its jurisdiction at least once every two years. Inspections are the sole process by which Iowa enforces regulations intended to protect hotel guests’ health, safety and rights as consumers.

In May, the Iowa Capital Dispatch asked the department why few hotel inspection reports were being posted to the agency’s website given the legal requirement for routine, biennial inspections at all hotels.

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