Evans: There are more questions than answers in Iowa these days

It may be time for lawmakers to designate an official state punctuation mark, too. 

The question mark seems to be an appropriate choice — especially after the troubling news from our state in the past few weeks, news that has left many Iowans asking “why?”

Some examples: 

Why does it seem as if state health officials do not have a well-planned strategy for vaccinating people in every nook and cranny of our state? And why have people basically been left to fend for themselves by making numerous phone calls trying to find a clinic or a pharmacy or a county health office that has appointments for the shots available? 

Why does it seem as if no one in a position of responsibility has considered until the past week or two how people who do not have computers or internet access, or people who are working during the day, are supposed to make these appointments — especially when vaccination providers in some communities only allow people to sign up online? Why did our governor and our United States senators not use their close relationships with former President Donald Trump to pressure his administrators to ensure that Iowa received a comparable allotment of vaccine doses, based on population, as other states received? 

This is especially vexing because the federal government’s data show Iowa ranked 47th among the 50 states last week, per-capita, in its vaccine supply. Iowa was 46th worst among the states in the proportion of its residents who have been vaccinated so far. That federal data say Iowa has administered 64 percent of its vaccine so far — a percentage that is lower than surrounding states.

Evans: Needless confusion about First Amendment

Forty-five words that were first written with a quill pen 230 years ago form what may be the most consequential sentence in United States history. But that sentence also is one of the most misunderstood – as recent comments from some of our leaders illustrate. The sentence I refer to is the First Amendment. It is the Constitution’s guarantee of fundamental rights of the American people to live their lives without government butting in. For reference, here is what the amendment says in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Evans: We don’t need a leader like this one

I was a kid from small-town Iowa when I first laid eyes on the United States Capitol. It was 1962. My family squeezed into our Dodge and drove to our nation’s capital for the vacation of a lifetime. It was all about history. We walked through the White House.

Evans: No justification for shutting out the public

There are some high-minded legal principles written into Iowa laws and rulings by our state’s Supreme Court. But in recent weeks, one of those sound principles has run into a few closed-minded state officials and the closed doors of government. Some officials prefer to conduct the people’s business without being bothered with having the pesky public around. This has occurred during the Iowa Board of Regents process for learning what students and employees at the University of Iowa hope to see in a new UI president. This has occurred as the Iowa Department of Public Health tapped into the advice of medical experts on what priorities should be established for access to the new coronavirus vaccines.

Evans: Unemployment is not the same for everyone

The boss told Gus Malzahn on Sunday that he was no longer needed. His employment was ending immediately. With that blunt conversation, Malzahn became another statistic of 2020. He took his place next to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs this year — a year when unemployment, at times, rivaled those dreadfully dark days of the Great Depression. But Malzahn is not in the same boat as most of the others. 
He won’t have to be up before dawn to get into a food line.

Evans: U.S. House is wrong place to decide who won

Tone-deaf. That’s the dismal state of the political discourse in our nation these days. Regrettably, Iowa has an all-too-prominent role in this bumbling lack of awareness of how our democracy is being eaten away by the people who want to be our leaders. Pour yourself a glass of Maalox. You will need it, because your acid indigestion will flare up before we get far in today’s discussion.

Evans: World War II lesson is ignored in this pandemic

Forgive me, but I don’t think Americans are as tough as we used to be. Specifically, I don’t think many of us see the big picture the way our parents and our grandparents did. I venture down this treacherous path because I think this lack of toughness is affecting Iowans’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Stay with me, and we’ll come back to this shortly. But first, some context.