Larger issues hidden in Chauncey’s shadow

Larger issues hidden in Chauncey’s shadow

Gazette Column
When a city or region grows, change is inevitable ­— and often painful. Iowa City’s growing pains have most recently been displayed as part of discussions on development of the northeast corner of College and Gilbert streets. On Tuesday night, I listened as a final set of residents sounded off on a proposal to rezone the property — the latest speed bump on the path to construction of the Chauncey, a 15-story, mixed-use high-rise. Nothing new emerged. Those opposed to the Chauncey development remain concerned about traffic, parking, use of taxpayer funds, affordable housing and, of course, the shadows cast by another lofty building. Proponents wrapped their comments around praise for past projects by developer Marc Moen and the need for a “vibrant downtown.” It was another opportunity for residents…
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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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And how will they know us?

And how will they know us?

Gazette Column
This column was filed late. You see, I’d planned to begin it with a prayer for the harm of another person. Seriously. I considered being a copycat and praying for physical harm of a person. After writing the prayer and making sure readers knew it was offered from a place of love, I planned to include some little jokes to soften it. After all, everyone appreciates light reading on a Saturday. But as I sat down and placed fingertips to keyboard, the prayer wouldn’t come. I couldn’t bring myself expend the energy necessary to actively pray for someone’s harm. I spent some time thinking about that, about why I couldn’t do what I planned. Obviously, like most humans, I’m capable of anger, and there have been moments I’ve wanted to…
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Indiana is just the beginning

Indiana is just the beginning

Gazette Column
When the U.S. Supreme Court returned its decision in the Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case, I argued the set stage would be of little benefit to women or religion. I’m saddened to see that in Indiana, my predictions, largely drawn from Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, have come to fruition. “Religious organizations exist,” she wrote, “to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith.” In contrast, businesses and corporations exist to create profits, and do not draw the workers or customers who sustain them from any singular religious community. I wrote that if the “ruling could somehow be limited only to medications or contraception, it would be bad enough, but there are much broader implications at stake.” Humans pray. Humans gather with like-minded others to express their faith.…
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Court weakens prayer

Court weakens prayer

Gazette Column
There is an overriding philosophy where government and technology meet, seeking to balance the public’s need and right to know with individual privacy concerns and, yes, cost effectiveness. When considering whether or not to digitize certain records or databases, even ones freely accessible by the public during in-person visits to city hall, the question has morphed from, “Can we do this?” to a more nuanced and complex, “Even if we can do this, should we do this?” The same question should be asked by communities considering a recent Supreme Court decision allowing public prayer before government meetings. In a split decision, the Court determined prayers at government meetings are a matter of free speech, which the listening officials cannot censor or edit. Even if a visiting member of the clergy…
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