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Work flexibility a win-win

Work flexibility a win-win

Gazette Column
Is it too soon to suggest what the Iowa Legislature should discuss in its next session? If you, like me, think it isn’t, then I propose we ask our lawmakers to stop squabbling over equal pay and minimum-wage hikes (at least for now) and turn their eyes toward Vermont. As of January, Vermont business owners are required by law to consider worker requests for flexibility such as job sharing, working from home or alternative schedules. The law protects the workers making such requests from retaliation. It is essentially a legally protected conversation that can have a tremendous impact on single parents, those tasked with caring for an elderly relative or families stretched thin due to child care costs. While the idea is fairly unique in the United States, several European…
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Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Gazette Column
Mailers recently distributed into Iowa’s 1st Congressional District by a Virginia-based organization and attacking U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley use messaging previously deemed false. [caption id="attachment_196" align="aligncenter" width="232"] Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_197" align="aligncenter" width="237"] Back of a Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] The mailers, shown above, were distributed Wednesday and Thursday. They encourage voters to contact Braley, the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, regarding his support of health care reform. The messaging is nearly identical to an earlier television ad buy, which was labeled as “pants on fire” by PolitiFact. Both the television ad and the mailers were produced by a funding group with ties to brothers Charles and David Koch. According to the Washington…
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Discretion isn’t carte blanche

Discretion isn’t carte blanche

Gazette Column
Recently, I was reminded why the wheels of the private sector and government spin at different speeds. As aggravating and frustrating as the slow turn of government wheels can be, their reduced pace allows for thoughtful discussion and input from all facets of society, which will ultimately need to live and function under the laws and policies. Because we understand the system to be deliberate and, at times, imperfect, society has tolerated and even encouraged public servants to use discretion when fulfilling their duties. This is especially true at all levels of the justice system because of the unequaled impact those officials have on individuals and communities. Within our communities, we want the public servants closest to the particulars of any given situation or incident to use their best judgment…
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Just asking for it

Just asking for it

Gazette Column
Some things are so intrinsic to our culture they are no longer spoken. For years, as we have sent our young women off to college, we have given them advice. We told them: Don’t run around after dark Don’t leave your drink unattended Don’t walk across campus alone Don’t dress like that Don’t leave a party alone Don’t leave your friend alone at a party Don’t be stupid While said with the best of intentions, the statements are tinged with an implied conjunctive, “or you’re just asking for it.” Ironically, most of us cannot fathom what “it” actually is. Hopefully we’ll never have firsthand knowledge. But we do know that “it” is something bad, nasty, horrific that happens to women who don’t listen or forget what they’ve been told. If…
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Bring on the Herkys to rally Iowans

Bring on the Herkys to rally Iowans

Gazette Column
If asked to list the greatest moments of community unity in our nation’s or even our state’s history, recent disasters would probably fill the top 10. It’s difficult to look beyond “Boston Strong,” the upcoming 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232 in Sioux City or the cleanup of the 2008 floods in Eastern Iowa when asked for examples of human collaboration. Perhaps this is because it is in those moments, when everything seems at its worst, we most need to concentrate on what’s good. We promise we will never forget the horrific incident, as well as the atmosphere of goodwill in its wake. Yet, the collective conscience is short-lived. My son, born in 2002, has no direct memory of the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings. What he…
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The women are coming?

The women are coming?

Gazette Column
More than half of the state’s population is female, yet women hold less than 25 percent of legislative seats in Iowa. While we have seen a trend of female lieutenant governors, no woman has been elected to live in Terrace Hill or to serve on behalf of Iowans in Congress. Yet if we are to believe the latest research on why women are underrepresented at each level of government, blame for the gap falls primarily on the shoulders of women themselves. Once a woman takes the plunge into politics, she is statistically just as likely as any male counterpart to emerge victorious. The reason more women don’t serve, researchers say, is because most stand on the diving platform and refuse to jump. According to a 2013 research study, there are…
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Drop the labels and hop in

Drop the labels and hop in

Gazette Column
You think you know me. Even if you’ve never read a single word I’ve ever written, there’s no doubt you’ve already glanced at the photo on this page and perceived what would follow. My guess is that you are skimming, searching for those key words or phrases that will make it easier for you to attach any number of labels to me. Liberal. Conservative. Flyover country, breadbasket white. Blonde. Materialistic. Granola. After all, choosing a few labels — or, for my fellow bibliophiles, “people-genres” — provides the illusion of order. The known, however predictable and stale, is often preferred to the unknown. It’s a lot safer, we believe, to pull into an already known franchise restaurant than risk our hunger on a local, mom-and-pop diner in a strange geography. Given…
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