Joni Ernst disingenuous on personhood

Joni Ernst disingenuous on personhood

Gazette Column
It’s time for Iowans to jump in the weeds. And, thanks to all the manure spread as part of and on behalf of the U.S. Senate campaigns of Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley, you should know these weeds are deep. Reproduction is a very personal thing. To launch discussion on the topic opens the door to faith, sexuality and mortality. There is no way — at least none that I’ve found — to mitigate the strong emotions these subjects evoke. Difficult conversations, however, are no excuse for complete avoidance or, worse yet, the half-baked excuses allowed to stand during the first U.S. Senate race debate. DEBATE RECAP [caption id="attachment_1650" align="alignright" width="228"] US Senate candidate Joni Ernst claps during an event at The Blue Strawberry Coffee Company in Cedar Rapids on…
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There’s a lesson in Atlantic City

There’s a lesson in Atlantic City

Gazette Column
I wandered aimlessly for hours, the quintessential tourist wanting to hold and press each experience between the pages of a mental travel memoir. I spent the better part of a day walking the historic boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., having been drawn there by my desire to see a Monopoly board come to life and visions of the 1964 political convention that aimed to heal a party, if not the nation, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Forget that reality TV Jersey shore garbage and Iowa Caucus speculation — this was where Frank Sinatra had crooned in the Copa Room of the Sands Casino and Marilyn Monroe had judged the Miss American Pageant in the Depression-era Claridge Hotel. [caption id="attachment_1654" align="alignleft" width="450"] Trump Plaza, the white structure with red…
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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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Public K-12 is a solid investment

Public K-12 is a solid investment

Gazette Column
Education funding shortfalls could get worse “It won’t hurt to look.” That was the advice of the school registration worker as she smiled and extended a paper with state income eligibility guidelines toward me. She had asked if our family qualified for free or reduced-priced lunches and I had mumbled something to the effect of, “I doubt it.” So, I took the paper and looked, my finger sliding down to our family size, then across to the yearly totals. It wasn’t even close. As I shrugged and handed the paper back to the worker, her smile widened and turned conspiratorial. “You didn’t know you were rich, did you?” HITTING HOME Every so often, when a writer is truly fortunate, personal and professional collide, allowing for the dissemination of information that…
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Voting ban is a mark of poverty

Voting ban is a mark of poverty

Gazette Column
President Lyndon B. Johnson announced a “War on Poverty” as part of his 1964 State of the Union address, promising and mandating the nation not simply treat the symptoms of the poor, but fetter out and eliminate root causes. “Today, for the first time in our history, we have the power to strike away the barriers to full participation in our society,” he said. “Having the power, we have the duty.” This appears to be a duty Gov. Terry Branstad is willing to shirk. By executive order, former Gov. Tom Vilsack said people convicted of crimes, who had served their sentences, should be able to fully participate as citizens by casting ballots and standing as candidates for public office. [caption id="attachment_640" align="alignleft" width="300"] "I Voted" buttons in a bowl. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)[/caption]…
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Helping kids is an obligation

Helping kids is an obligation

Gazette Column
I am not sure how people of faith, especially those who say their faith guides them in matters of public policy, are able to reconcile not first reacting with compassion to the plight of Central American children. While we may not like or appreciate how the children arrived on our doorstep, and even while we may debate federal immigration law and procedures, spiritual teachings are clear. We should care for and protect children. Pope Francis recently noted the mandate. “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected,” he said as part of a message sent to a global conference in Mexico on July 15. Closer to home, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin voiced similar concerns during a Congressional hearing this week. “I have a…
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Bring back ‘Iowa nice’

Bring back ‘Iowa nice’

Gazette Column
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba has drawn scrutiny and (to be blunt) nastiness for announcing organizations in the Quad Cities will help care for a few hundred of the roughly 52,000 Central American immigrant children currently detained in U.S. border states. The children — predominantly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have arrived without adults and, due to law changes signed by President George W. Bush as part the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization of 2008, cannot be immediately deported. “You can’t turn your back on kids, little children and tell them they must go back to Honduras and in many cases be killed. That’s wrong,” said Gluba, who is hoping the community will help care for some of the children while their cases work their way through an overburdened…
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Sullivan, Botchway got it right

Sullivan, Botchway got it right

Gazette Column
While there was plenty to be learned at a Hunger Forum this week hosted by the Crisis Center of Johnson County, two of the most important thoughts elevated within the discussion were not limited to food security. Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan noted that if communities want more people to come forward and access available services, there needs to be a widespread effort not to bruise the dignity and pride of those in need. “There is a stigma associated,” he explained, and immediately received mild pushback from another panelist. While I may receive some similar pushback, let me say that I agree with Sullivan. Society cannot on one hand decry the people receiving state food assistance as incapable of making healthy food choices and, on the other hand, berate parents…
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Communication, responsibility at core of HIV conviction reversal

Communication, responsibility at core of HIV conviction reversal

Gazette Column
Eastern Iowa man once faced 25 years for consensual encounter The Iowa Supreme Court has effectively set aside the conviction of an Eastern Iowa man who pleaded guilty in 2009 to criminal transmission of HIV. Nick Rhoades, 39, was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison, but was released on probation after serving only a few months. He was also required to register for life as a sex offender. The charges followed Rhoades’ consensual Black Hawk County encounter with another man. Although undergoing treatment for HIV, police and court records indicate Rhoades did not disclose his status to the man before unprotected oral and protected anal sex. Law enforcement became involved a few days after the encounter, when the man learned from a mutual acquaintance that Rhoades was positive. Today’s…
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More IJH rush jobs won’t serve Iowans or at-risk youth

More IJH rush jobs won’t serve Iowans or at-risk youth

Gazette Column
About midway through May, a moving van and trailer arrived at Toledo’s now shuttered Iowa Juvenile Home. According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, furniture, appliances (including older computers) and records were removed from the site and relocated to other state-run facilities. Area residents and former facility workers who had purchased flags in honor of loved ones or donated to the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation to provide specialized materials for the school library, worried these items and other historical artifacts had been removed from the site. A DHS spokeswoman says while the future of these items are discussed, they remain at the Toledo facility. But the move, hit-and-miss property upkeep and near constant presence of highway patrol officers in the parking lot have done little to alleviate the worry…
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