More secrecy unwise in universities’ hiring decisions

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He can be reached at IowaFOICouncil@gmail.com.

Iowa’s three state universities made a U-turn this summer, and they now are headed down the road toward secrecy with some hiring decisions.

The about-face should trouble taxpayers of this state. It also should bother state lawmakers, who have expressed concern in recent years that the universities are out of touch with the people of Iowa.

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Jim Leach joins new GOP reform effort

Jim Leach is among 27 former Republican members of the U.S. House who spoke out this week for changing the GOP in the face of “rising political extremism.” Four former governors, along with several former ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, or Republican Party leaders are also among the 152 people who signed the “Call for American Renewal” published on May 13.

The document cites “the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice” when “forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise.” The signers “declare our intent to catalyze an American renewal, and to either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.”

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Exclusive: Iowa Democrats recall first Congressional vote on Hyde amendment

Forty-three years ago this week, Congress overrode a presidential veto to enact an appropriations bill containing the first ban on federal funding for abortion. Republican U.S. Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois had proposed language prohibiting Medicaid coverage of abortion during House debate on what was then called the Health, Education, and Welfare budget. Ever since, the policy has been known as the “Hyde amendment.”

Four Iowans who served in Congress at the time spoke to Bleeding Heartland this summer about their decisions to oppose the Hyde amendment and the political context surrounding a vote that had long-lasting consequences.

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Sara Craig Gongol joins small group of top Iowa women staffers

The first woman elected to our state’s highest office has picked the third woman to serve as an Iowa governor’s chief of staff.

Sara Craig Gongol will replace Governor Kim Reynolds’ current chief of staff Ryan Koopmans, effective December 15. Craig Gongol was a leading campaign strategist for Reynolds this year and has been “a key member of my team” since 2014, the governor said in a December 11 press release.

The appointment inspired me to look into which women have held the top staff position for governors or members of Congress from Iowa. Like Craig Gongol, who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, several women who managed high-level Iowa campaigns went on to serve as chiefs of staff.

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Rest in peace, Bob Ray

Iowans of all political persuasions are grieving former Governor Bob Ray, who passed away on July 8 at age 89. I can’t think of any Republican more admired by Iowa Democrats. My parents canceled out each other’s votes in most elections for decades, but my mother supported Ray whenever he was on the ballot. Bill Crews, who managed the governor’s 1978 re-election campaign, remembered Ray as his “best boss and a great mentor.” Crews took the above photo on the night Iowans elected Ray to his fifth and final term.

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More women managing Iowa campaigns

Iowa hasn’t been the most friendly state for women in politics, to put it mildly. We didn’t elect a woman to Congress until 2014. We have not elected a woman governor. Just 22.7 percent of our state lawmakers are women, below the pitiful national average of 25.3 percent. Only two women have ever been Iowa Supreme Court justices, and we are currently the only state in the country to have no women serving on our highest court.

But Iowa has not escaped the national trend of more women becoming politically involved in the wake of the 2016 election. Not only will a record number of female candidates appear on Iowa ballots in 2018, more women than ever before are leading campaigns for high-level offices.

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