Public health researchers disagree on the impact fine silica dust has on the long-term health of residents living near silica sand mining communities like the tiny Mississippi River town of Clayton, which is in the Iowa county by the same name, and in southwest Wisconsin.
The altar at the First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls was decorated with bouquets of beautiful flowers last week. Dozens of people gathered there to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman at the conclusion of her 84 years on this Earth. Those blossoms offered especially poignant symbolism. Ruth was a true treasure — to her family, to her friends, to her community where she lived, and, when you stop to think about all of the people like her, to the world around us. Randy Evans
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.
You’re interested in your community and current events and wonder how news about them is reported and written. Now, you have a chance to not only learn that but to be part of a workshop that takes you through the steps of reporting, writing and editing a news story in your community. The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, which runs the news site, IowaWatch.org, will host a journalism workshop on April 24, 2019, from 6 to 8 p.m. to inform and engage the public in news reporting. The workshop will be in the Iowa City Public Library, Room D, at 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City. REGISTER HERE
This workshop will be open to the public but we recommend confirmation that you will attend through Eventbrite, an online event management platform.
Iowa will not add investigators to handle an increased number of pesticide drift complaints, favoring instead more efficient ways to handle complaint inspections, the state’s chief agriculture officer said. “I’ve got to manage the department of ag within my budget,” Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said in IowaWatch’s weekly radio program that aired this past weekend. “It’s true, we’ve not seen a budget increase in the pesticide bureau, and I don’t expect to see a dramatic increase in the pesticide budget. So, what we do is look at how to manage the workload with the crew that we have.”
Naig’s comments followed an IowaWatch report on how workloads for Iowa’s eight state investigators who respond to complaints of misused herbicides have more than doubled the past two years. The workload increase went from 110 misuse reports in the 2016 crop year to 249 in the 2018 crop year.
If you had your ear cupped just right and were listening closely Sunday afternoon, you might have heard my head explode. The pressure inside the old noggin has been building for months, thanks to what can be called politics as usual in Washington, DC, and Des Moines.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, or IowaWatch, is pleased to announce three new members to the Board of Directors. Rose Rennekamp, Alan Swanson and Linh Ta join a group of volunteers that guides the nonpartisan news nonprofit that works with students to develop investigative and explanatory news stories provided for free to Iowa news outlets. Linh Ta, who joined the board in March 2019, is a business reporter specializing in retail at the Des Moines Register. She was born and raised in West Des Moines and graduated from Valley High School in 2011. She moved north to attend school and study political science at the University of Northern Iowa and work as the executive editor of the student paper, the Northern Iowan.
Iowa clean energy advocates suspect the state’s largest utility is secretly behind a new organization claiming to represent farmers, consumers and businesses that oppose the state’s solar policies. The utility neither confirmed nor denied a role in setting up the group and a spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy did not directly answer a question about its role in the group. But solar industry supporters said the timing and similarities in messaging suggest a link. “This group didn’t exist until the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, started pushing a bill that would decimate the distributed solar industry in Iowa,” said Josh Mandelbaum, a lawyer with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In late January, a few weeks before the introduction of two bills that would impose new costs on solar customers, a website and Facebook page surfaced for an organization calling itself the REAL Coalition, which claims it “gives voice to Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state.”
The website decries what it calls the “solar cost shift,” and urges legislators to “keep the interests of ALL your constituents in mind and vote YES” on bills moving briskly through both chambers that would impose substantial new fees on electricity customers who generate some of their own power.
The nation’s only president born in Iowa had a far different reputation around the world than he had in the United States. Such was the fate for Herbert Hoover, who presided over the start of the Great Depresssion during his 1929-33 presidency.
Workloads for eight state investigators who determine whether herbicides are applied properly in Iowa have more than doubled the past two years, with no plans in sight for adding staffers. The workload increase — from 110 misuse reports in the 2016 crop year to 249 in the 2018 crop year — coincides with the introduction by agrochemical companies of dicamba-based herbicides to kill weeds in farm fields. In spite of this, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Pesticide Bureau has not added staff investigators and completing cases is taking longer, spilling over into the next crop year. Cases taken on in the 2018 crop year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept.
Sunshine Week will be observed across the nation next week. In Iowa, the sunshine next week will be obscured by clouds — at least when it comes to citizen access to videos recorded by law officers on their squad car cameras and body cameras during incidents in which police shoot someone or when officers are fired upon.