Disability isn’t so easy, even for the desperate

Disability isn’t so easy, even for the desperate

Gazette Blog
As much as I need to stop thinking about the Washington Post story on Social Security disability benefits reprinted in The Gazette on Sunday, I’m having trouble letting it go. As the youngest child of elderly parents — my mother went to the doctor for concerns about menopause only to discover she was pregnant with me — I grew up on Social Security dependent benefits. So, in addition to my parents’ Social Security retirement checks, our family received a little more than $200 each month earmarked for me. In order to better make ends meet, my father and mother worked odd jobs. Until bone cancer made it impossible, my mother took in sewing projects. My dad mowed lawns and did handyman or mechanic work when he could find it. During…
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GOP lawmakers create Saturday conflict

GOP lawmakers create Saturday conflict

Gazette Blog
Some Eastern Iowans hoping to hear from both of their state legislators this Saturday will need to figure out how to be in two places at once. For decades the nonpartisan Linn County League of Women Voters has set aside one Saturday morning each month while the General Assembly is in session for a legislative forum. All area lawmakers are invited to come together, provide individual updates and answer questions from the public. That tradition will be broken this Saturday. Linn County’s Republican lawmakers — Rep. Ken Rizer, Rep. Ashley Hinson, Rep. Louis Zumbach and Sen. Dan Zumbach — have partnered with Farm Bureau to schedule a separate forum at the same date and time as the long-standing — and I cannot stress this enough — nonpartisan League forum. [caption…
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Video: Conversations from the Iowa Women’s March

Video: Conversations from the Iowa Women’s March

Featured, Gazette Blog
DES MOINES — Thousands of Iowans gathered at the State Capitol last weekend as part of the Women’s March, a movement that began as post on social media and grew into an international force. [caption id="attachment_401" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Participants in the Iowa Women's March gather on the steps of the State Capitol in Des Moines in January 21, 2017. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_402" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Thousands of Iowans filled the sidewalks and streets surrounding the State Capitol in Des Moines in January 21, 2017. It's estimated more than 25,000 people participated in the Iowa Women's March. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] In this video, a few of those Iowans explain why they needed or wanted to be part of the demonstration. This is why they marched. This blog post and video…
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SCOTUS told us what we already knew

SCOTUS told us what we already knew

Gazette Blog
Abortion restrictions imposed by the Texas Legislature in the name of women’s health should have never made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter what side of the abortion debate you are on, the dirty little not-so-secret behind regulations thinly wrapped inside a facade of improving women’s health was clear from the beginning. Unable to outright ban abortion, those opposed concentrated on what some openly referred to as “the next best thing,” erecting barriers to access. Years ago, and sometimes still today, those barriers were literal, amounting to lines of demonstrators who aimed to keep women out of health care facilities that provided abortions. They’ve also been psychological, like the published lists of home addresses and telephone numbers or photographs of clinic workers and doctors who perform abortions. Perhaps…
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VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

Gazette Blog
Hoping to provide elected officials with a better understanding of how existing public transit services in Cedar Rapids impact the public, columnist Lynda Waddington recently rode the bus and spoke with other riders. Here are a few of the people she met, and what they think about the service they rely on to get to work, school and elsewhere. Read more about Cedar Rapids bus service in this Q&A piece, in which Lynda answers questions about her time on the city buses. This blog post by Lynda Waddington originally published on The Gazette site on May 23, 2016. Photo credit: Lynda Waddington/The Gazette
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Transit blog, day nine

Transit blog, day nine

Gazette Blog
The changing face of 'those people' One of my main take-aways from this project has been that many people — roughly four out of every five I’ve spoken with — have developed a certain perception of who uses public transit. Some believe transit users are all homeless or nearly so. One woman told me that most bus riders are people with alcohol addictions who have had their driver’s license revoked by the state. Still others have implied the system would be more efficient if it only stopped at Goodwill or other places that employ people with disabilities. An added tax on retirement housing complexes and nursing homes should be explored, one man wrote, since the elderly are primary transit consumers. Large, local businesses should sponsor transit services, noted another, because…
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Transit blog, day eight

Transit blog, day eight

Gazette Blog
There is sort of an app for that At the beginning of this series I said that after I used the Cedar Rapids Transit app more, I’d offer a review. Today seems like a good day. The first thing you need to know is that the website — rideCRT.com — and the companion mobile app aren’t homegrown. They are part of a system offered by Utah-based Ride Systems, which reports it works with more than 150 transit agencies in North America — municipal, academic, corporate, airport and resort. I’ve used their site to access a tutorial for the app, and have also embedded that video below. (If you aren’t into new age music, you might want to watch with the sound muted.) I can’t say that I learned anything from…
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Transit blog, day seven

Transit blog, day seven

Gazette Blog
Not all stops are created equal Until I met Marion resident Ann Roberts (day three) I didn’t spend much time thinking about bus stops. I’m guessing most people who don’t ride the bus don’t really see the stops, since many are little more than a small sign on a poll. Route 5S, for instance, has a total of 114 stops along its route, which runs from the transit hub, along First Avenue and out to the Marion Wal-Mart near Hwy 13 — roughly one stop every two blocks. Placing a shelter or even seating at each stop on each route wouldn’t be practical or possible. Some are located in the parking area (between street and sidewalk) of residential roads, others adjacent to private property. And, when you are riding the…
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Transit blog, day six

Transit blog, day six

Gazette Blog
Gaining a new perspective Reaching the halfway mark of my two-week stint on public transit feels good. It also seems like a good time to relax a little and reflect. I drove my car this weekend, and I must admit that I enjoyed it. For Mother’s Day, I wanted new shoes and my sweet husband suggested I just go and find the ones I wanted. In fact, he told me to “buy two.” It was a task made exponentially easier by car, even though Cedar Rapids Transit offers free rides on Saturday. But even as I drove around, visiting various retail joints, I was more aware of the community and the transit buses than I normally would be. If you ride city buses for any period of time, you can’t…
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Transit blog, day five

Transit blog, day five

Gazette Blog
Morning commutes made easy Since I rode the last Route 5S bus out of the transit hub, it’s only fair that I would also board the first Route 5S bus out of Marion Square this morning. As you might expect, it was a mostly quiet commute. While I was the only person waiting at the bus stop, there were about five people already riding the bus when I boarded at 7:05 a.m. Moving along First Avenue, we picked up several more, with very few exiting. By the time we arrived at the downtown transit hub shortly after 7:30 a.m., the bus was nearly full. Because of the way deadlines fall, I’ve already filed my Saturday column that gets printed in the paper. It discusses how difficult it can be to…
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