When politicians become assignment editors

For many years, the Des Moines Register regularly published dispatches from Washington on what the Iowans in Congress were doing. Coverage deteriorated after the newspaper laid off Jane Norman in 2008. To my knowledge, no Iowa-based news organization has had a correspondent in the nation’s capital since the Register let Philip Brasher go in 2011.

In a wide-ranging review of the Register’s political reporting four years ago, I commented, “If a member of Congress didn’t brag about it in a press release, conference call, or social media post, the Register’s readers are not likely ever to learn that it happened.”

The newspaper’s recent coverage of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley illustrates that problem.

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The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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Water is our shared lifeblood

Sable Knapp‘s home state is Iowa, and she currently lives in Maine. -promoted by Laura Belin

The human body is two-thirds water, as is the surface of the planet we inhabit. Water quality profoundly affects human health and clean water protections must be upheld. Everyone should be able to have the peace of mind that comes from guaranteed safe, free drinking water.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement works persistently to defend Iowa’s water. By suing the State of Iowa for failing to ensure the safety of Raccoon River, Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch are sending a strong “No Means No” message to polluters and politicians who authorize the pollution of Iowa’s rivers. Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO, aptly said, “We are completely at the mercy of what gets dumped in our rivers each day.”

The rallying cry “Water is Life” is a fundamental truth. Poet and activist Lyla June evokes this power in her poem “And God is the Water,” which concludes with the words, “I am the rock and God is the water.” The way we care for nature reflects the way we care for ourselves.

As America’s waterways slip further into the hands of corporate players, subsequent pollution continuously affects everyone. Iowa’s elected officials must be held responsible for facilitating the revitalization and protection of the water that flows through Iowa.

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House bill would update Iowa divorce law, removing tool for abusers

Amanda Rex-Johnson reports on a lesser-known bill that made it through the Iowa legislature’s first “funnel.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Two types of people immerse themselves in politics: those who are motivated by personal achievement, and those who find motivation born in affliction, for whom adversity becomes a catalyst.

While I’ve always expressed my convictions, often in the political sphere, opinions alone don’t typically change the rules that govern society. It wasn’t until Iowa law affected my family that I was prodded into action.

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Disenfranchised Winneshiek County voters will never have their day in court

Envelopes containing 29 absentee ballots that Winneshiek County voters mailed on time will likely remain sealed forever. Time has run out for Democratic candidate Kayla Koether to sue over how Iowa House Republicans handled her contest of the 2018 election result in House district 55.

It is also too late for any disenfranchised voter to challenge a process that placed an administrative rule about mail barcodes above the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by Article II of Iowa’s constitution.

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How do you represent those people?

Aaron Hawbaker is the chief public defender for Black Hawk County. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am a criminal defense attorney. More specifically, I am a public defender. That further distinction is important for this discussion, because public defenders do not choose their clients based upon ability to pay or the merits of their case. They take all comers, warts and all. I am now in my fifteenth year of public defense and have had the responsibility of defending individuals charged with the spectrum of human baseness.

I am often asked, more frequently the more notorious the case, how can you represent those people?

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