How place-making can help fight opioid addiction

How place-making can help fight opioid addiction

Gazette Column
Six people in Council Bluffs were taken, unresponsive, to the hospital this month, apparent victims of painkillers so powerful that first-responders have been warned about touching them, but otherwise legally and easily obtained over the internet. The culprit is a synthetic opioid called fentanyl, a substance that already has decimated communities throughout the country that are battling opioid addiction. Forensic chemist Christine Gabig with the Douglas County Forensic Services Division told The Nonpareil that many synthetic variants of fentanyl have made their way onto local streets. Because the chemical compounds differ, the substances are not “true” fentanyl, commonly used in surgical procedures, and not illegal. Such synthetic varieties can easily be purchased online without a prescription. In some instances, these potentially deadly synthetics are mixed with other illicit drugs to produce more…
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Parenting a freethinker made easier

Parenting a freethinker made easier

Gazette Column
Two decades ago, as our family reeled from a full-term stillbirth, I grappled with ways to help our then 6-year-old daughter work through the grief of losing an infant brother. I searched for resources to offer reassurance and comfort, but there were scant few on the topic of death. And none I could find on stillbirth. So, we muddled forward with our own words. Was I saying the right things? Were there “right things” to be said? About a decade later, when a different daughter’s best friend died unexpectedly, I was given a book, “Parenting Beyond Belief,” edited by Dale McGowan. Suddenly I had a compass to help guide my child through grief, and advice on many other thorny topics. McGowan later co-authored a practical, companion book and, this past year,…
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Equality coalition names five Women of the Year

Equality coalition names five Women of the Year

Gazette Column
More than 130 local women have been honored over the years in conjunction with Women's Equality Day Women and men will gather Saturday night, on Women’s Equality Day, to add five more women to the ranks of those named Women of the Year. The women, nominated by friends and co-workers, were chosen because of their commitment to improve the lives of area girls and women. Their names will be added to a list of more than 130 who have been honored by the Women’s Equality Coalition of Linn County over the past four decades. Women recognized in 2017 are: [caption id="attachment_1303" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Those chosen as 2017 Women of the Year by the Women's Equality Coalition of Linn County are (beginning top left) Denise Bridges, Barbara Chadwick, Charrisse Cox, Monica Brown Challenger and Eden…
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Vets know: Nazis not ‘fine’ folks

Vets know: Nazis not ‘fine’ folks

Gazette Column
As a cub reporter, I was sent to interview World War II veterans. The interviews were going well, but there was one veteran — an older man in a wheelchair — not really participating. I tried to reel him into the conversation. He resisted. Other veterans began to goad the man, telling me that he and his troop were some of the first to enter a German concentration camp. “People need to know,” one man urged. As the interview wrapped up and the men began to leave, I shifted to sit beside the veteran in the wheelchair. “Is what the others said true?” I asked. “Were you one of the first Americans to enter a concentration camp?” The man nodded and met my gaze. I could tell he was hesitant…
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At Wing Ding, Democrats still are grappling

At Wing Ding, Democrats still are grappling

Gazette Column
CLEAR LAKE — Each year the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding lives up to its unusual and playful name by being slightly unorthodox. Last year, for instance, attendees twittered nervously as organizers literally mowed down defaced photographs of Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley that had been mounted in AstroTurf. While that bit of political humor missed the mark, other attempts, usually in the form of skits, have been more successful. This year’s offering was a much subdued two-man scripted exchange. (“Just got diagnosed with T.I.A.D. That sounds serious. What is it? Trump-Induced Anxiety Disorder.”) There were some moan-worthy puns, and one-liners tame enough to share with the grandkids. And, as it turns out, organizers didn’t need to push the envelope on this evening billed as an introduction to the party’s “Rising…
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DHS director sends mixed messages on juvenile justice

DHS director sends mixed messages on juvenile justice

Gazette Column
Amid allegations of mistreatment at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven says there’s no need for changes. But that’s not the opinion he expressed a few months ago. Disability Rights Iowa, a federally mandated and funded protection and advocacy group, released a report last week detailing concerns with the school, including improper use of seclusion and restraints and a lack of behavior health treatments. The school was established and is run by the state to provide treatment and rehabilitation services to boys, ages 12 to 18, who are found by juvenile courts to be delinquent. More often than not, these are male juveniles who have committed multiple, lower-level crimes, but the facility also houses teens convicted of violent acts. Capacity of the facility is…
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Postcards offer love, bolster unity

Postcards offer love, bolster unity

Gazette Column
Hate crimes are on the rise in America, and religion-based violence leads the pack. As a May Senate Judiciary Committee hearing led by Sen. Chuck Grassley thoroughly detailed: Hate crimes against minority faiths spiked 86 percent in the past year — a low-ball percentage that only reflects what’s reported. “Religious hate crimes against Muslims are the fastest growing category,” said Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “Fear for practicing one’s religion should never happen in this country.” Religion-based violence touched the Midwest again last weekend when a bomb exploded inside the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in suburban Minneapolis. As people gathered for morning prayers, the explosion ripped through the local religious leader’s office. Furnishings were charred, windows shattered — but thankfully no lives lost. Only a week before, swastikas and messages warning…
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Women’s equality, a work in progress

Women’s equality, a work in progress

Gazette Column
Linn County equality coalition adding five to list of Women of the Year Women across the nation will come together this month. They’ll recognize each other, applaud successes and resolve — as so many demonstration signs have more bluntly stated — to continue to fight for equality. Such celebration is an annual event in Linn County and other parts of Iowa, held each Aug. 26 in connection with Women’s Equality Day. That was the day 97 years ago when the 19th Amendment was certified, the culmination of an 80-year battle for women’s suffrage. The fight for the vote was marked, as I’m prone to highlight each year, with derision of the women seeking equality. Editorial boards from coast to coast issued dire warnings of chaos if women were welcomed into…
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National monuments under fire

National monuments under fire

Featured, Gazette Column
Maybe, if the review of national monuments ordered by President Donald Trump directly targeted Effigy Mounds or the Herbert Hoover Historic Site, Iowans would be more interested. But a lack of Iowa sites isn’t reason to be complacent. If the Trump administration chooses to shrink or abolish a national monument, and earns court approval for doing so, precedent will be set, placing the fate of all national monuments in jeopardy. The reviews, being conducted primarily by the U.S. Department of the Interior and its new secretary, Ryan Zinke, are the result of an April executive order that questions the legitimacy of recent designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906. That’s the law that established the nation’s first historic preservation policy, intended to protect artifacts from would-be looters or vandals. It gives the…
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