mrtyryn

Grassley misled on state-operated veterans homes

An earlier version of this commentary appeared in The Prairie Progressive‘s fall 2021 issue.

In a media release earlier this year and a commentary published in some Iowa newspapers, Senator Chuck Grassley asserted, “it appears that the standard of care and quality controls at many state veterans homes falls well short of those required by other government supported nursing homes.” He was referencing the number of COVID-19 deaths and infections in veterans homes across the country.

How many is many? The senator’s letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis R. McDonough cited a handful of media reports in footnotes. Although some of those articles cited statistics provided by the government, the numbers Grassley used are flawed.

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Pissed off: New Iowa law makes fake urine a crime

Marty Ryan covers a new law that received little attention early this year. -promoted by Laura Belin

A private sector employee from Iowa goes across the border on a Friday after work to Illinois. His friends offer a blunt, and he takes a hit. He thinks nothing of it, because recreational use of pot is legal in Illinois. On his way home on Sunday, he realizes that there could be a random drug test early in the week. He’s heard marijuana will stay in his system for up to 30 days, so he purchases a package of fake urine at a vape shop.

Monday morning, he is asked to take a drug test. He manages to get the fake urine into the beaker without anyone seeing him.

Days later, a lab result indicates that he may have used fake urine. Depending on a union contract, an employee handbook, or company policy that has been posted conspicuously, the employee may be disciplined, or in a severe case terminated. Now, he can also be arrested for a simple misdemeanor.

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Trumped-up executions

This commentary by Patti Brown and Bob Brammer represents the collective view of the Iowans Against the Death Penalty board of directors. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dustin Honken is set to be executed July 17 at the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, for two of five murders he committed in Iowa 27 years ago.

This case is of particular interest to Iowans, because while Iowa does not have the death penalty for crimes prosecuted in its state courts, the federal government has retained the death penalty. Honken was sentenced to death in federal court because his crimes involved manufacturing, trafficking, and the distribution of methamphetamine across multiple state jurisdictions.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Lies, lies, and damned lies

Marty Ryan is skeptical that meatpacking companies are doing everything possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, based on two decades of experience in that business. -promoted by Laura Belin

Anyone believing that spokespersons for Iowa packing plants are doing what they say they are should talk to the employees. However, if you get two different stories, and if you want to decide who is telling the truth, place about 80 percent of the truth on the side of the worker.

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Fighting city hall on the state level

Exclusive reporting by Marty Ryan on his efforts to hold the Iowa Board of Corrections accountable for failing to follow state law. -promoted by Laura Belin

“You can’t fight city hall,” the saying goes. It means you may get more gratification from beating your head against a wall than from fighting with government bureaucratic processes.

I have fought city hall, but I think I can count the successes on one finger. My recent challenge to secure a win for common sense was beat back last month when the Iowa Public Information Board dismissed the complaint I had filed against the Iowa Board of Corrections in July.

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