Protests are evidence of exclusion

Protests are evidence of exclusion

Gazette Column
One of the best things about working in the media is the access it provides to all facets of the community. When combined with innate curiosity and a penchant for organizing, this access results in piles of string — journalism shorthand for scraps of information that don’t warrant their own report, but that could possibly be valuable in the future. Since I’m curious about barriers to civic participation — not only why this person doesn’t participate, but why this neighborhood tends not to participate — I collect string on how groups interact. Some pieces are incredibly benign. For instance, a woman told me that she and her husband alternated attending meetings to save on child care. Others, however, provide glimpses of how infrastructure availability is determining civic and social participation.…
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It’s not just the money, honey

It’s not just the money, honey

Gazette Column
Food and living expenses have new meaning for three Eastern Iowa state senators who recently accepted a national challenge to Live the Wage for one week. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids, Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City and Tom Courtney of Burlington agreed to try and live with only $77 of spending money. The national challenge is the product of a coalition of advocates who hope to draw attention to the issue of the federal minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage has gross earnings of $290 per week. The $77 is what the advocates estimate remains after taxes ($35.06) and housing expenses ($176.48) are deducted. Facebook posts have documented the challenge for the trio, and their commentary has been what one might expect from three…
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After the deluge

After the deluge

Various
There were valuable parallels between the flooding in Iowa and Hurricane Katrina. But the media looked in the wrong places The distinctive beep of an car alarm being activated prompted many in southwest Cedar Rapids front yards to slow their flood cleanup and watch a man exit a vehicle with out-of-state license plates. "He set his car alarm?" asked a woman as she carried one end of a friend's soggy and smelly sofa to the curb. A flooded-out property owner considered and then jokingly replied: "Someone must have told him about all the homeless people in this area." [caption id="attachment_1807" align="alignleft" width="350"] The Tree of the Five Seasons is in the distance as floodwater swirls around the federal building at the corner of 2nd Ave SE and 1st St SE in downtown…
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