Sophomore smugness a real political problem

Bruce Lear discusses some questionable state and local decisions on how to use federal COVID-19 relief dollars. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I was in college, I came down with a bad case of sophomore smugness. In the middle of what I thought was a brilliant rant, my dad reminded me, “There is a reason you have two ears and only one mouth. Consider using them in proportion.” He was right.

As federal COVID-19 relief funds flow to local and state governments, there has been little listening and a whole lot of group-think and group-speak. After all, the only thing harder than cutting a budget for politicians is deciding how to spend one-time, unexpected money poured into their coffers. 

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Poorly-drafted law opened door to Iowa City mask order

Republican lawmakers intended to prohibit schools, cities, and counties from requiring masks when they amended an education bill on the final day of the legislature’s 2021 session. But House File 847, which Governor Kim Reynolds rushed to sign within hours of its passage, was not well crafted to accomplish that goal.

An apparent drafting error opened the door for the mask order Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague announced on August 19, with the full support of the city council.

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Des Moines City Council still abusing consent agenda

Brandi Webber is a candidate for Des Moines City Council in Ward 3.

So about the Des Moines City Council meetings… You may have seen coverage (again) about distractions, protests and arrests. “Why is this happening?” you may be asking yourself. I certainly can’t answer that alone, but I can add some important context as someone who was inside the chamber during the July 19 meeting.

The council has continually attempted to limit public comment and abuses the consent agenda to push through controversial items, items on police funding, criminalizing and punishing the houseless, denying accessibility concerns and much more. This has been happening over the course of the last year and a half, while the public has been speaking up and begging to be heard. During the virtual meetings the council was able to silence the public. Now that meetings are back to in person, there is no mute button to silence and control the public.

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Johnson County has a more fitting namesake

Johnson County’s five supervisors voted unanimously on June 24 “to recognize Lulu Merle Johnson as the official eponym” of Iowa’s fourth-largest county. The previous namesake was Richard Mentor Johnson, who had no ties to the area but was U.S. vice president when the county was established in 1837.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan had floated the idea of choosing a different namesake four years ago, noting that Richard Mentor Johnson was a slave-owner who “killed Native Americans indiscriminately.” The idea picked up steam in the summer of 2020 after Ron McMullen published a guest column in the Iowa City Press-Citizen about the “particularly despicable” man for whom the county is named.

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Gas companies want to profit off Iowans

Michael Schmidt, staff attorney for the Iowa Environmental Council, wrote this post, which first appeared on that organization’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

This legislative session has kept the Iowa Environmental Council busy, in part because of a bill that would protect gas company profits at the expense of Iowa customers. House File 555 and its companion, Senate File 455, would hurt Iowans by stopping cities and counties from protecting their local residents from dangerous gas infrastructure, high energy bills, and polluting fossil fuels.

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