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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Voters drowned out by spending

Voters drowned out by spending

Gazette Column
Although we won’t know fundraising results from other county, legislative and statewide candidates until the disclosure deadline tomorrow, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds let their cat out of the bag Thursday. The duo is reporting a whopping $4.5 million cash-on-hand and promising, now that the legislative session has closed, their campaign “will kick into high gear.” Iowa’s 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimate is a total population of 3.1 million. Roughly 1.9 million people were registered, active voters as of May 1, according to the Secretary of State. This means the Branstad-Reynolds campaign has collected roughly $1.45 for every man, woman and child in the state, or $2.37 for each active, registered voter. Looking only at the Republicans? That’d be $7.49 per GOP voter. To put it another…
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Work flexibility a win-win

Work flexibility a win-win

Gazette Column
Is it too soon to suggest what the Iowa Legislature should discuss in its next session? If you, like me, think it isn’t, then I propose we ask our lawmakers to stop squabbling over equal pay and minimum-wage hikes (at least for now) and turn their eyes toward Vermont. As of January, Vermont business owners are required by law to consider worker requests for flexibility such as job sharing, working from home or alternative schedules. The law protects the workers making such requests from retaliation. It is essentially a legally protected conversation that can have a tremendous impact on single parents, those tasked with caring for an elderly relative or families stretched thin due to child care costs. While the idea is fairly unique in the United States, several European…
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The women are coming?

The women are coming?

Gazette Column
More than half of the state’s population is female, yet women hold less than 25 percent of legislative seats in Iowa. While we have seen a trend of female lieutenant governors, no woman has been elected to live in Terrace Hill or to serve on behalf of Iowans in Congress. Yet if we are to believe the latest research on why women are underrepresented at each level of government, blame for the gap falls primarily on the shoulders of women themselves. Once a woman takes the plunge into politics, she is statistically just as likely as any male counterpart to emerge victorious. The reason more women don’t serve, researchers say, is because most stand on the diving platform and refuse to jump. According to a 2013 research study, there are…
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