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Columns

  • The Time Capsule: The search for a winning column

    Heartiest congratulations to our general manager, who recently received a Master Columnist award.  Recognition of this nature is not easily achieved. I say that with some perspective—doing these things for 10 years without an honorable mention.   

    While my congratulations are sincere, I’m envious. My grandpa used to say even a visually impaired hog finds an acorn now and then. Out of 600 columns it seems there must be one winner, so I went through my memory file trying to find it.     

  • What's Going On: Property tax relief is no reason to support gas tax

    At the recent Farm and Home Show, three Republican southwest Iowa legislators (as if there are any other kind) touted a gas tax increase as the solution to the state’s alleged crumbling highway system.

    I should note I say alleged because this entire argument is predicated upon the fact that Iowa’s highways are in comparatively worse shape than similar states. I have driven a lot of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa highways and find Iowa and Nebraska’s in much better shape condition wise than our neighbor to the south. But as indicated, I’m no expert.

  • Notes From the Capitol: How to effectively lobby legislators

    Movement of bills has picked up this past week, with the Senate focusing on very non-controversial bills.  Some of the bills we addressed include Code language clean-up, disbursement of seeds from weeds and provisions pertaining to shorthand reporters.  Even though we had hours of riveting debate on these varied topics, we are falling short on issues the public might find more deserving of our attention and time, such as our state budget, education reform and school allowable growth and property tax reform. I am hopeful that we will take up more substantial bills soon.

  • The Time Capsule: Tamales, folk heroes and presidents

    President Gerald Ford, while on the campaign trail in 1976, made a hand-shaking stop in San Antonio.  A group of local ladies, no doubt virtuous Republicans, gave him a food item they thought he would enjoy. This was probably the first tamale Ford had seen. He didn’t know the corn husk wrapping should be removed. Pictures show him munching on the tamale, corn shuck and all.  His smile tells us he was either a paragon of politically correctness or had the taste buds of a Holstein.    

  • What's Going On: Sunshine laws keep America in the know

    What’s the most important “right” we have as Americans?

    Some would argue it’s the right to vote, or the right to own property, or the right to bear arms.

    They would be wrong.

    The most important right we have as Americans is the right to know.

    I also believe our forefathers would agree, which is why they included the freedom of press in the first amendment. They understood how important a free press was to a free society and to a democracy.

  • Miner Queries: Basic skills testing: What’s in a number?

    What’s in a number?

    Education has been on my mind a lot lately.  But then, I live with a teacher and student, so it is always front and center at my house.

  • The Time Capsule: George Madden’s journey continues

    Last month in this column we took excerpts from George Madden’s diary written in July and August of 1862.  He told of enlisting for a three year term, joining the war effort to defend the constitution. We now continue:

    Saturday, August 23.  Hoeing weeds down.  Joseph plows for me as he will be getting my plow.

    Sunday, 24.  Disappointing church meeting.  We went and there was no meeting.

    Monday 25.  Went to town to see about getting some likenesses taken.

  • What's Going On: Are we accepting death too easily?

    Never say die.

    You’ve heard the cliché a thousand times, sometimes in reference to sporting events, sometimes in reference to an actual wartime battle, sometimes simply in reference to any one of life’s struggles or obstacles.

    Sometimes, you might have actually heard it in reference to the “American Spirit” or a characteristic of what makes this country great.

  • Notes From the Capitol: Legislature moves forward on state budget

    by Joni Ernst

    The Iowa Legislature is rapidly approaching funnel week.  All individual bills must be through the subcommittee and committee process by our first “funnel” date March 8. I have considered a number of bills this past week in subcommittees and committees, from mental health transitional funding to registration fees waived for those who qualify for Purple Heart license plates.

  • The Time Capsule: Gun laws won’t solve violence problem

    During the days following Christmas, I enjoyed watching children play computer games. They’re amazing.