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The Duggar children will remember

The Duggar children will remember

Gazette Column
Another day, another cringe-worthy scandal courtesy of reality television. Based on redacted police reports and a public statement by Josh Duggar, the oldest son in the “19 Kids & Counting!” cable television show, the systematic cover-up of multiple, incestuous child molestations has come to light. Duggar has resigned as head of the religious conservative Family’s Research Council’s lobbying arm. Because of the timeline of abuse, we now know his professional path for political advocacy began in 2006, the year he simultaneously launched the consulting firm Strategic Political Services and became the subject of the first serious investigation by law enforcement of reports of sexual contact with a child more than three years earlier. Duggar’s parents, former Arkansas state representative Jim Bob and home-school teacher Michelle, as well as local church…
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Childhood in the rearview mirror

Childhood in the rearview mirror

Gazette Column
Back when blogs were still referred to as weblogs, I publicly detailed angst and dismay about all the things I swore would never happen on my parental watch. Suitably dubbed “The Crayon Is On the Wall,” the blog featured the often embarrassing lessons of humility taught by our three children. We lived through the one year hot dog-only diet our oldest demanded — and, with a little help from Flintstone vitamins, so did she. Our bank account was worse off, but still better than the fish, when Mr. Bubbles was unexpectedly introduced to the saltwater tank. Despite one of our angels dropping trou in the middle of the produce section and removing a softball sized wad of toilet paper from her backside (forgotten during a “magic potty” flushing scare), we…
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Providing for the living honors the dead

Providing for the living honors the dead

Gazette Column
Monday I will honor my brother, who gave his life in Vietnam while serving our nation. I won’t stand at his gravesite and mourn, nor will I march around town with an American flag or other patriotic accessories. I won’t be spending my money at any of the many Memorial Day sale events. I honor my brother as well as all of our nation’s fallen by caring for veterans who have returned home and active military families who wait. And while that sounds simple — to make it a priority to care and provide for those who have served — it is a concept government officials have not yet grasped. [caption id="attachment_1118" align="alignleft" width="401"] Volunteers work to raise American flags along the edge of the cemetery in Oxford, Iowa. (Brian…
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Variety by choice, not mandate

Variety by choice, not mandate

Gazette Column
Column readers, some in dismay, have been reaching out over the past few weeks while channeling Ronald Reagan. “There you go again” is how so many of the conversations have started, even if the rest of the conversation differs. “I really enjoyed your Saturday column,” one woman said. “You’ve been spending so much time on events and harder news lately that I was afraid you’d been told not to write those types of softer and more thoughtful pieces.” Another caller wanted more information on the Sunday column. “Your writing is thick — and I mean that in a very good way,” he said. “I really like it when you dive into a topic, really learn the pieces of it and spread it out for the reader. You have a knack…
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Eminent domain bill deserves fair hearing

Eminent domain bill deserves fair hearing

Gazette Column
A decade has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court decided private property could be legally seized by the government and handed to a different private property owner under the guise of “economic development.” Kelo vs. New London was met with widespread distaste, earning the public ire of Republicans and Democrats alike. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spelled out the dangers: “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” As public sentiment toward the decision soured, backlash within the states began. In 2006, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill to restrict the use of eminent domain for economic development. Although the bill was…
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Losing the wisdom of strangers

Losing the wisdom of strangers

Gazette Column
Since grade school, I’ve kept a notebook to document the pearls of humor and wisdom dispensed by strangers. The first entry was courtesy of my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Ronald Jones, who was quick-witted and known for liberal application of corporal punishment. Although I had long been a member of the “good kid” club, the thought of spending a full school year locked down in his classroom terrified me. There were just so many things that could happen — and not all of them my fault — that would end in an introduction to the business end of his paddle. Through a strictly followed plan of no eye contact and wallflowerdom, I made it until February, my birthday month. It was tradition for the birthday person to receive “licks” with…
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Paranormal investigation at Abbe Center? Why not?

Paranormal investigation at Abbe Center? Why not?

Gazette Column
Supervisors approved use of doomed facility with little fanfare The shuttered Linn County facility that formerly housed Abbe Center for Community Mental Health has remained useful as a training site. Last year it was used by multiple law enforcement and first responder agencies to stage an active shooter situation. Last night, a much quieter training took place. Coralville resident Greg Reisner has been a part of the Johnson County Paranormal Team since its inception in 2007. The organization is comprised of volunteers who provide their services without charge to residents and business owners throughout the Midwest. They’ve served as advocates for such activities, providing presentations about their investigation methods and the equipment they use at Eastern Iowa public libraries. Reisner also hosts an educational and entertainment show on Iowa City…
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‘Looker’ offers peek into women’s realities, seeks empowerment

‘Looker’ offers peek into women’s realities, seeks empowerment

Gazette Column
There are certain things women seem to just know. Walk with a buddy. Park under a streetlight. Pretend it’s a compliment. Never leave a drink unattended. Keys can double as makeshift weapons. Despite not being part of school curriculum or “the talk,” such knowledge spans the boundaries of political persuasion, affluency and ethnicity. It’s passed from mother to daughter, sister to sister and friend to friend. Tonight, May 9, this phenomena and more will be on display at Public Space One in Iowa City in conjunction with a community forum. “Looker” is a collaborative project by artists Taylor Yocom and KT Hawbaker-Krohn. Representatives of several area organizations will be hand for the forum, which will explore “the crevices between feminism and art, vulnerability and power.” [caption id="attachment_1134" align="alignleft" width="350"] A…
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Iowa advocates push for police oversight, accountability

Iowa advocates push for police oversight, accountability

Gazette Column
This column would have been less difficult to write earlier in the week, before Baltimore was engulfed in flames. But it wouldn’t have been as important. On the surface, Bob Babcock and Felicia Jones have few similarities. Although they both are residents of the Quad Cities, they represent different generations. Babcock leans on a wealth of hard-earned life experience, and now is of the age when the past often intersects with and gives clarity to the present. Jones still is figuring out the world, testing how she fits and what type of difference she can make. On Saturday, April 25, the two stood together at Rock Island Township Hall, a computer presentation as their backdrop, leading a small but engaged group of Quad Cities residents through possible solutions to what…
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Bird flu outbreak is a disaster

Bird flu outbreak is a disaster

Gazette Column
More than 10 million Iowa birds, mostly commercial layer hens, have been or soon will be culled in an effort to combat the spread of H5N2, an avian flu virus. And, as I was writing this, an additional 5.6 million layer hens and a yet unknown number of commercial turkeys were tagged by the Iowa Department of Agriculture as probably infected with the bird flu virus. Given Iowa’s role in egg production — one out of every five eggs consumed in the U.S. comes from Iowa — and the wide swathes of the state economy dependent on agriculture, the situation is clearly cause for the state to issue a disaster declaration. Yet. Gov. Terry Branstad has declined. (Update May 1, 3:15 p.m. — With the number of confirmed and probable…
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