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Columns

  • What's Going On: Speed limits are important for all, even the governor

    Another Fourth of July has passed and again I’m reminded about Iowa’s seeming hypocrisy regarding public safety.

    While there are state laws (that aren’t enforced) on the books banning setting off (but not possessing) fireworks in the name of safety, motorcyclists can drive down the highway without wearing a helmet. Apparently, a bottle rocket is more of a personal safety threat than driving at high rates of speed with no form of protection.

  • Miner Queries: Can we focus government on the common good?

    In Book Two of The Lord of the Rings, Theoden King of Rohan wastes away on his throne as evil threatens to destroy his kingdom.  At his right, a bent and scrawny man named Wormtongue whispers directions in his ear. Bewitched, Theoden and his country flounder and begin to fail.

    In the U.S. and Iowa, we have our own corporate version of Wormtongue whispering in our state politicians’ ears.  It’s called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

  • The Time Capsule: Store bought watermelons: Uninteresting

    We find little excitement in a grocery store watermelon.  They’re an assembly-line hybrid; a triploid created by crossing a diploid with a tetraploid in a process that commonly employs the use of chemicals called colchicines. They’ve been developed to be the same size, same shape, the same dull green stripes.  Inside the rind they’re pale, a bit dry, semi-seedless, sometimes picked before fully ripened. Producers claim these are what the public prefers, and I suppose they know.          

  • What's Going on: Way to go Junction Days committee

    What a great weekend to be in Red Oak.

    When I first experienced Junction Days in all its glory back in 2009, there were some noticeable gaps in activity.

    There was plenty of stuff to do Saturday morning and into the early afternoon, but beyond that, it was a bit of a stretch to call it a “weekend” celebration. Since then, the Junction Days committee has done a commendable job of filling in the gaps.

  • Grassley Notes: Beleaguered IRS undermines public trust

    America’s system of voluntary tax compliance works in large measure by keeping up the public’s trust in government. Through wages, investment income and fuel taxes, taxpayers contribute a sizable share of their hard-earned money to finance government services for the public good.

  • The Time Capsule: Former UI announcer, food expert dies

    On a Saturday in the mid-1980s, I was driving to Iowa City to work security at a football game. This was choice duty—state car, per diem, free pass to the game.

     Troopers, as was always the case on game day, were working the interstate, and I listened as a pilot called out speeders to officers on the ground.   Approaching the zone a black Cadillac passed me. It had personalized Hawkeye license plates bearing the letter “Z,” and was going faster than the law allowed. 

  • What's Going On: Long overdue, it’s time to honor our Vietnam Vets

    It’s not very often in life you get a chance to right a wrong.

    Montgomery County has that chance this weekend.

    Saturday morning, local Vietnam War veterans will be leading the annual Red Oak Junction Days parade, serving as the grand marshals.

    Like generations of soldiers before them and generations of soldiers to follow, they risked their lives in the name of God and country. Their sacrifices are immeasurable and as such, impossible to repay.

  • Miner Queries: Workforce, government: Who sets our priorities?

    One week ago yesterday, I was exiting the parking ramp at 7th and Grand Ave. in Des Moines at 7 a.m.  Having parked free all weekend, I wanted to get out before I raked up any parking fees. As I approached the exit, I noticed the gate down and the attendant booth empty. 

    As I pulled to a stop, I scanned the messages and buttons across the self-serve terminal.  Nothing fit except the “Press for assistance” button.  So I did.

  • The Time Capsule: Rain hurts crops, shrimp and oyster harvest

    It would not be surprising if, in the not-too-distant future, men like Murray the Oyster Guy will take an unpaid and unwanted vacation.  The year before last, when a red tide shut down all of Matagorda Bay, hundreds in that community were out of work.  Some of them worry about what’s coming down the Mississippi, and it’s not the topsoil.         

  • What's Going On: Carlyle’s resignation should be the first of many for Association

    Red Oak Chamber and Industry Association Executive Director Darrell Steven Carlyle has resigned; 13 more people should follow his lead.

    Carlyle’s resignation represents an epidemic failure on the part of the Association’s Board of Directors, systematic of a flawed organizational structure.

    With Carlyle out of the picture, the entire board needs to resign, restructure and start again.

    If not, whoever is hired to replace Carlyle is pre-destined to fail.