‘Fab Five’ shows Corridor’s 2016 battleground status

‘Fab Five’ shows Corridor’s 2016 battleground status

Gazette Column
Iowa Democrats have their eyes on the Corridor, and are betting on the rise of the “Fab Five.” With a majority of races up and down the ballot mostly set, Democrats gathered in Marion Thursday night to preview the 2016 coordinated campaign with an initiative led by Hillary Clinton’s state team, “Iowa Women Win.” The focus is, of course, on the fact that two women — Hillary Clinton and Patty Judge — earned the Democratic Party’s nomination in races at the top of statewide ballot for the first time in Iowa history. The “amazing women of Iowa’s past, present and future” is a theme the campaign hopes will energize those drawn by the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy as well as those who have been turned off by Republican nominee…
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Viola Gibson’s legacy lives through us

Viola Gibson’s legacy lives through us

Gazette Column
Visiting Oak Hill Cemetery was necessary this week so that my daughter and I could pay respects to one of the newest inductees into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. Four Iowa women will join the Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Des Moines next weekend. Only one is from the Cedar Rapids area and, unfortunately for us all, she died in 1989. Nonetheless, because of her work on civil rights and passion to make this a more equitable community, Viola Gibson remains a nearly household name. My husband is a local, a graduate of Kennedy High School (Go Cougars!), but I didn’t meet him and move into Iowa in time to know Viola Gibson personally. It wasn’t until 2000 or 2001, when the Cedar Rapids Community School District…
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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…
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Despite Clinton accomplishment, women haven’t made it yet

Despite Clinton accomplishment, women haven’t made it yet

Gazette Column
PHILADELPHIA — Maybe it can all be chalked up to a lack of foresight by Democratic National Convention organizers. On Wednesday, the morning after Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever nominated for the presidency by a major political party, many newspaper readers across the country either didn’t see the news on their front page or saw headlines about history-making alongside a photograph of former President Bill Clinton. The latter was sadly what greeted readers of this newspaper. I get the constraints and preferences of the news business. Things have to be ready by a certain time, and editors want fresh photos to run with the news. The keynote speaker at the DNC Tuesday night was Bill Clinton, with Hillary appearing only via satellite. So, in this case, the news…
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DNC constituency caucuses are pockets of unity

DNC constituency caucuses are pockets of unity

Gazette Column
PHILADELPHIA — A text message I received from Iowa this morning is similar to dozens of others: “Is it really as bad as it looks on TV?” The answer depends on where you look. With a few notable exceptions, most television cameras are focused on prime time convention coverage, which happens each evening at the Wells Fargo Center. But convention activities occur throughout the day. Each morning state delegations hold breakfast meetings, usually in or near their designated hotel. These are open to the press and are typically favorites of state-based political reporters because they provide ample opportunity and easy access to state party leaders and members of the delegation. About four miles from the arena, just on the edge of Chinatown, delegates meet as a part of constituency caucuses…
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#Road2Philly: Yes, I’ll be celebrating

#Road2Philly: Yes, I’ll be celebrating

Gazette Column
Being an observer to Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential nomination means a lot to me. Here’s why. At one of our recent Pints & Politics events, I was discussing how, beyond the political horserace and never-ending public policy debate, being at a convention where, presumably, a major American political party would nominate a women as president for the first time in history was significant, when Iowa Public Radio host Ben Keiffer interrupted to ask if felt the same about Joni Ernst breaking Iowa’s congressional glass ceiling. The question caught me off guard, not because I couldn’t answer it, but because I hold a great deal of respect for Ben as well as for James Q. Lynch and Todd Dorman, who share the Pints & Politics stage with me. I needed a…
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Pat Murphy campaigning like it’s 1999

Pat Murphy campaigning like it’s 1999

Gazette Column
Have a look around. This is the year of the political outsider. Too bad 1st Congressional District Democratic hopeful Pat Murphy was robodialing instead of reading the memo. From the GOP’s reluctant embrace of a Donald Trump presidential bid to Hillary Clinton’s leftward drift courtesy of Bernie Sanders, has there been a time in recent history when political party loyalty held less value? In states with the largest primary and caucus turnouts the message is undeniable and the so-called establishment is taking a hit, for good reason. Voters are tired of the same people, running for the same offices, saying the same things on the campaign trail and then doing very different things once elected. Voters are no longer entertained by the once revered practice of partisan grandstanding unless there…
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Should punishment fit the crime or the risk?

Should punishment fit the crime or the risk?

Gazette Column
A bill intended to drastically reform punishment for domestic violence has quickly moved through the legislature this year. While good-intentioned, it opens the door for use of risk assessments in sentencing, and uses ineffective mandatory minimums. House File 2399 passed the Iowa House in March, 82-12. It was amended by the Senate to expand the definition of stalking, include GPS monitoring as stalking and classify dating violence as domestic abuse before being passed unanimously on April 6. The Senate also included mandatory-minimum punishments for stalking, harassment and repeat offenders. The House must take up the amended version before it is passed to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk. The bill, according to the Legislative Services Agency, would require abusers to undergo mandatory risk assessment. The assessment would be developed and validated by…
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No more lowered bar for sexism

No more lowered bar for sexism

Gazette Column
Expecting chuckles, I was quite surprised to hear startled gasps. That was when I knew I’d crossed a line. As part of the Pints & Politics panel March 24 at CSPS in Cedar Rapids, I was listening to ongoing discussion of the 1st and 2nd District Congressional races, musing on the possibility of the incumbents being chosen for another term. The conversation drifted to Democrat Monica Vernon, who is challenging Republican incumbent Rod Blum. The consensus was that if Donald Trump takes the GOP presidential nomination, his supporters would most likely benefit Blum in the general election. Someone noted that Vernon is probably the type of candidate Trump/Blum supporters would be motivated to vote against, and a short list began of the attributes those voters would highlight as negatives against…
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Incentives speed Iowa bill to terminate parental rights of rapists

Incentives speed Iowa bill to terminate parental rights of rapists

Gazette Column
This is the most disgusting example possible of state lawmakers first ignoring and then profiting from a morally abhorrent problem. Back in 2012, when U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., waxed poetic about “legitimate rape,” the nation was yet again embroiled in a debate about abortion rights. Specifically, if abortion was illegal, should a woman’s health or sexual assault warrant exceptions. Akin was widely, and rightfully, chastised for suggesting that rape didn’t exist and, if it did, women couldn’t get pregnant as a result of it. Lost within the fanfare of ignorant comments uttered during an election year were the voices of women who had been raped, did become pregnant and made a choice. Too often those choices were made more difficult by laws that allow accused and convicted attackers to…
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