The inherent culpability of maleness

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese wrote this commentary before The New Yorker published new sexual misconduct allegations about Brett Kavanaugh on September 23. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s get this out there at the outset: I am a person of tremendous privilege. I may not be at the very top of the privilege ladder, but as a college-educated, straight, white cis male who attended both public and private schools during my upper middle class suburban upbringing, as a successful business person, and now as an elected official, yeah, I’m up there.

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How safe do you feel? Your gender likely influences your answer

Amanda Hardy teaches at a state university and is a licensed mental health counselor in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I teach a course on poverty and housing at one of our state universities. Every year, I ask my students to explore issues relating to privilege very early in the semester. I believe it is necessary to be constantly reflecting on the ways our positions and experiences play in our thinking and doing while we address heavy and often divisive topics like inequality. I have been teaching this particular course for seven years.

I adopted this particular exercise (an adaptation of Dr. Renee Cramer’s “Continuum of Identities and Experiences”) as a means to begin our conversations and personal reflecting in the fall of 2016. While being intentional and reflective on the role of our personal experiences was always a central part of my course, I–like most instructors–was on the lookout for a better way to enhance our learning and engagement around this issue.

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Rest in peace, Leonard Boswell

Former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell passed away on August 17 at the age of 84. He had long battled a rare cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei. Boswell publicly speculated in 2015 that exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War could have caused his abdominal tumors. According to a former staff member, a link to the powerful herbicide was later confirmed. In a recorded message to Iowa Democrats last year, Boswell said his doctors agreed that his disease stemmed from getting “pretty well soaked” while flying a crop-duster mission.

Surviving two tours of duty as an assault helicopter pilot in Vietnam was itself beating the odds. Boswell received numerous honors for his actions in that extremely dangerous role.

Following 20 years of military service, Boswell became a cattle farmer in southern Iowa. First elected to the Iowa Senate in 1984, he served three terms in the legislature, the last as Senate president. He was well-liked in Democratic circles. When I met him briefly during the 1994 campaign (he was the lieutenant governor nominee on a ticket with Bonnie Campbell), he seemed to have a larger-than-life personality.

After winning an open U.S. House seat in 1996, Boswell represented parts of central and southern Iowa in Congress for sixteen years. His proudest legislative accomplishment was sponsoring the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which President George W. Bush signed in 2007. Though he belonged to the conservative “Blue Dog” caucus, Boswell voted for the major legislation of President Barack Obama’s first term, including the economic stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act.

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Urgent: Civil rights commission threatened in Davenport (updated)

Latrice Lacey, an attorney and mother, has been director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission since 2014. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Davenport City Council is considering an illegal amendment to our city’s civil rights ordinance, which would eliminate the neutrality and independence of our Civil Rights Commission. The proposed change would decommission a body which has been active since 1962, remove the authority to manage staff, and replace it with a council-led board lacking knowledge of civil rights law enforcement.

In addition, the proposed ordinance would exclude all government and Davenport Schools employees from the protections of the civil rights ordinance. Despite this clear violation of state law and drastic change, council members have claimed there will be no change. Either they haven’t read the draft ordinance, or they are hoping community members haven’t read it.

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Gender balance should be happening on local boards

Poweshiek County Soil and Water Commissioner and farm manager John Clayton comments on a recent study showing that men continue to be over-represented on Iowa’s county-level appointed boards and commissions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Des Moines Register recently ran an Associated Press story about how most Iowa counties are not in compliance with the gender balance law.

In this same regard, many Iowa cities, including the City of Grinnell, also reveal themselves as not progressive.

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Ethics board: Iowa candidates can't use campaign funds for child care

Iowa candidates seeking to use campaign funds to cover child care expenses are out of luck unless the state legislature and governor expressly allow the practice. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted 5-1 at a July 13 meeting for an opinion stating, “We do not believe Iowa law clearly allows campaign funds to be used for a candidate’s childcare expenses related [to] campaigning. We believe this issue is a policy decision best left to the legislature.”

The Federal Election Commission determined in May that Congressional candidates “may use campaign funds” to pay for child care expenses that “would not exist irrespective” of the campaign. Soon after, state House candidate Reyma McCoy McDeid, a single mother of a three-year-old, requested an advisory opinion on the matter from Iowa’s campaign regulator.

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