Blog

Home / Blog
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,…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
Statewide conversation on affordable, supportive housing begins

Statewide conversation on affordable, supportive housing begins

Gazette Column
Spotlight reveals challenges within the Creative Corridor DUBUQUE — Every county in Iowa lacks a sufficient number of affordable housing units, which, in turn, contributes to the prevalence of homelessness most apparent in the state’s population centers. Although intensity varies, this lack of housing is a statewide challenge that affects the ability of communities to attract business and sustain a workforce, the need for taxpayer-funded safety net programs and overall health and well-being. So, this week, the Iowa Finance Authority launched the first of three statewide conversations on housing with a specific focus on the overwhelming need for supported living arrangements. “What we’ve learned from recent experiences in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City,” explained Carolann Jensen, chief programs officer with the IFA, “is that the push for housing, especially supportive…
Read More
Temper home-school response

Temper home-school response

Gazette Column
The latest Iowa Poll shows state residents are reacting to recent deaths and abuses within the foster care system with more scrutiny of state home-school laws. Such sentiments are partially misplaced. There have been two high-profile deaths among youth adopted out of the Iowa foster care system, and a third first-person account of how one young women fled her abusers. In nearly all such cases, home schooling has played a significant role by allowing abusive parents to further hide their actions and neglect. It’s largely in reaction to these horrific cases that participants in a recent Iowa Poll responded with skepticism of all Iowans who chose to home-school: • 46 percent think families with foster children should be required to send children to an educational facility (not be allowed to home-school) • 67 percent…
Read More