2015 ‘gifts’ that should be returned

If someone will please direct me to the back of the line, I have a few “gifts” from 2015 I’d like to return.

1. The dress. We’ll never get back all the time we spent trying to figure out how to accessorize an outfit that some saw as white and gold and others saw as blue and black.

2. Bird flu. The epidemic cost the state more than $1 billion and the nation more than $3 billion. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t get re-gifted in 2016.

3. DVD set of “The Apprentice.” It looked good from a distance; the GOP primary offered a different perspective.

4. Hasty closure of two state-run mental health institutes. We shouldn’t forget that there was a bipartisan compromise rejected by Gov. Terry Branstad — or that people died.

2015 gifts5. Veto of $55.7 million in K-12 funding. Another bipartisan compromise that Branstad couldn’t stomach.

6. The Legislature. Given their inability to work together and defend the compromises they forged, they should be exchanged for newer, more effective models — preferably some with spines.

7. Iowa’s gun safety classes. What good are mandated classes when they don’t require participants to touch a firearm? As it stands, the only people benefiting from these classes are the ones cashing the tuition checks.

8. Bruce Harreld. Thanks to Regent shenanigans, this businessman turned university president never had a chance.

9. Regents. If there was ever a “gift” that cried out for exchange, this is it.

10. Closed-door hirings of public positions.

11. Bakken oil pipeline. A few temporary jobs aren’t worth the long-term environmental risk from potential spills.

12. Rock Island Clean Line. Eminent domain should not be used for private projects that don’t benefit Iowans, which is also a strike against the Bakken pipeline.

13. Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Stop this chant; make it go.

14. Opening prayers at the Statehouse. When a representative of one religious camp prays for the death of a representative from another religious camp because of a Statehouse message, the tradition has outlived its purpose.

15. Nasty grams. When did it become OK to launch personal attacks against people with whom you disagree? Let 2016 be the year my email box is filled with thoughtful disagreements instead of beauty assessments. Delete.

This past year also held gifts that were taken away far too soon. Here are some people and things I would have liked to have kept a little longer.

1. My sisters.

2. Pastor Max Villatoro. The Iowa City pastor was swept up in an immigration sting intended to target hardened criminals.

3. Respect for law enforcement. There are bad actors in every profession, and we shouldn’t convict all based on the actions of the few.

4. Beau Biden. A statesman, soldier and a gentleman.

5. Author Jackie Collins. Blush-worthy guilty pleasure.

6. Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. Author of my teenage nightmares.

7. Common sense. I thought a news report of black students at Oberlin College demanding segregation and fried chicken was satire. Sadly, it wasn’t.

This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on December 26, 2015.