Let’s just leave ‘rape’ out of it

Let’s just leave ‘rape’ out of it

Gazette Column
A not-so-funny thing happened in the wake of the latest politically-charged dust-up between Linn County Auditor Joel Miller and his former primary opponent Joe Stutler. My colleague, Todd Dorman, offered a concise rundown of the controversy, which features Miller ordering the Cedar Rapids Police Department to arrest Stutler. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden, who supported Stutler in the primary, called out Miller’s actions as a “deplorable abuse of the legal and political process.” For anyone who has followed Linn County politics over the past few years, this is merely par for the course. Who said what, who did what and the reason behind it is shuffled around and lost in a landscape that’s too politically charged, and too focused on past transgressions and opportunities for one-upmanship. Most residents, I…
Read More
Aim higher for Iowa’s gun safety training

Aim higher for Iowa’s gun safety training

Featured, Gazette Column
For the past five years, Iowa law has required citizens wanting a weapons permit to pay for a “safety” class that has no minimum standards. And, based on conversations with the crop of this year’s legislative candidates, no changes are on the horizon. In 2011, when Iowa became a “shall issue” state, removing nearly all discretion in weapons permitting from local law enforcement, the law required most applicants to attend safety classes. The Legislature, however, did not specify the content or curriculum of those classes or give such authority to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. [caption id="attachment_147" align="alignright" width="300"] A display of 7-round .45 caliber handguns are seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York January 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)[/caption] The result is a patchwork — a…
Read More
Trading expectations for reality in Linn County supervisor race

Trading expectations for reality in Linn County supervisor race

Gazette Column
Seems like everyone is excited about the number of women up and down the ballot. But there is one hotly contested Linn County office where no female names appear. The Gazette’s Editorial Board has been busy with candidate interviews, which are one part of our endorsement process. To date, we’ve sat down with candidates involved in nearly every contested regional race as well as the statewide races that will appear on local ballots, and have more scheduled in the coming days. These are similar meetings to those we hold throughout the year with elected officials, advocacy groups and others except that they tend to be more diverse in their scope. We aren’t gathered to discuss a single issue or learn about a specific concern. There are some things that the…
Read More
Let’s celebrate equality in Linn County

Let’s celebrate equality in Linn County

Gazette Column
Less than 100 years ago, those who fought for women’s equality were derided as inferior, lazy, oversexed, masculine, childlike and unworthy of consideration. Even now, when a female combat veteran is the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress, and a major political party nominated its first woman for president, it is easy to forget that American women battled for 80 years to earn the right to vote. The 19th Amendment, which took a lifetime to accomplish, is now a lifetime in the past. Yet stereotypes of women as sex objects or puppets to biological and emotional whims persist. It was only four years ago, during the 2012 presidential campaign, that a national news organization announced “something may raise the chances for both presidential candidates that’s totally out of their…
Read More
Campaign finance: How much would you pay?

Campaign finance: How much would you pay?

Gazette Column
Many Iowans lucky enough to make it through the highly competitive process of becoming a delegate to their political party’s national convention are still hard at work as they solicit money for the trip. You may have seen the pleas in your social media feeds or heard them firsthand at organizational events throughout the state. Being elected a delegate to the Republican or Democratic national convention is an expensive proposition. Not only do many would-be delegates underwrite the cost of their election campaigns, but each is responsible for taking time off work, writing checks for convention fees and paying all their own travel and lodging expenses. How much does it cost? It varies each year, depending on your political persuasion and the convention location, but always runs in the thousands.…
Read More
Democrats bending under 2016’s reborn PUMA wave

Democrats bending under 2016’s reborn PUMA wave

Gazette Column
The only thing missing from this month’s meeting of the Linn County Democratic Central Committee were PUMA buttons. Although the acronym was officially registered as “People United Means Action,” most remember it as the more colloquial and inflammatory “Party Unity My Ass.” PUMAs were 2008 Democrats who adamantly supported Hillary Clinton, and protested Barack Obama because he “was selected by party leadership and not the people.” Some place, however, there must be a few PUMAs tipping back a pint and laughing — or alternately chewing Alka-Seltzer tablets like candy. Their spirit lives on. PUMAs saw the nomination process as “unfair and biased” and “flawed beyond belief.” Party leaders and the media, they said, were intent on making “the convention into a coronation.” So PUMAs demanded Clinton’s name be placed into…
Read More
Dutchman cares for overseas grave of Iowa WWII soldier

Dutchman cares for overseas grave of Iowa WWII soldier

Gazette Column
Local genealogists connect European caretaker with soldier's descendant Just when a prolonged and extreme political season seemed to signal an end of civility, an unassuming man in the Netherlands has renewed my faith in humanity. Pat Wilkinson, head of research for the Genealogical Society of Linn County, received an odd message from Western Europe about a year ago. “At our research library, we are frequently called upon to track backward in time — from a person living today to their ancestors,” Wilkinson explained. “But it is not often we are called track someone forward in time, and find living descendants.” [caption id="attachment_781" align="alignright" width="300"] Netherlands resident Robby Prinsen decorates the grave of Cedar Rapids native and World War II veteran Robert A. Hasley at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in…
Read More
Calling all CR Transit riders

Calling all CR Transit riders

Gazette Column
When was the last time you took a ride on a city bus? If you are like the city council and school board candidates I’ve asked, the answer is “not lately,” “ahhh,” or “can’t remember.” Regular riders often fall into two categories: those who are most passionate and those who are most needy. About five years ago, with a wrecked vehicle and no steady job, I had a toe in each bucket, and decided our family could manage with only one car. My husband would drive to work, and I’d ride the bus. The plan was nearly ditched the first day when I needed to visit Linn County offices, then located at Westdale Mall. After seeing the children off to school, I walked to the closest bus stop from our…
Read More
Consider multi-generational county space

Consider multi-generational county space

Gazette Column
Planning for a potential new public health building, Linn County has an opportunity to turn a good idea into a great one. If approved, the new facility would be located at 1019 Seventh St SE, the former Options site, and would probably require a levy, currently estimated at 6 cents per $1,000 evaluation. Area seniors, displaced and scattered since the 2008 flood claimed the Witwer Center, advocated Wednesday for the inclusion of a permanent centralized senior center. Since Cedar Rapids is the largest city in Iowa without such a hub and more than a third of all county residents are over the age of 50, the proposal and investment make sense. Supervisors also appear receptive to the idea, requesting more specific space needs as quickly as possible. Those who spoke…
Read More
Learning from our history of finding scapegoats

Learning from our history of finding scapegoats

Gazette Column
Sadness, fear and confusion. Those are the three emotions woven throughout conversations I had in the wake of a 2008 immigration raid in Postville. For nearly the same reasons, these emotions also surrounded the Muslim residents taking part in a community demonstration last weekend. The alignment is understandable, if regrettable. [caption id="attachment_913" align="aligncenter" width="640"] People of many faiths gathered on May's Island on Saturday, Dec. 19, in a show of support for Muslims and other immigrants, who have recently been targeted in political rhetoric. The solidarity demonstration was organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] Some Postville Hispanics were spared the felonious identity theft convictions faced by 389 male workers — a prosecution strategy that the U.S. Supreme Court later found lacking. Instead of being bustled…
Read More