Author

Randy Evans

Randy Evans

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, a 43-year-old nonprofit education and advocacy organization that works for improved government transparency and citizen accountability. He can be reached at [email protected]

COMMENTARY
governor signs bill restricting transgender athlete participation

Utah’s governor listened to both sides before acting on trans athlete restrictions. Iowa’s didn’t.

By: - April 2, 2022

Through history, some political leaders have been outstanding orators. Boy, could they talk. They knew how to mobilize and move people with their words. Think of Franklin Roosevelt and, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Or Ronald Reagan and, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The ability to crystallize their thoughts […]

COMMENTARY

Lessons about cracked legal theories from a misguided pots-n-pans salesman 

By: - March 19, 2022

Many years ago, I sat at the kitchen table of a pots-n-pans salesman from Pleasant Valley. We didn’t talk about cookware. He was laying out with lots of precision why the United States government had no legal basis for prosecuting him for willfully refusing to file federal income tax returns. It was a lengthy conversation […]

COMMENTARY

Departing superintendent’s payout teaches taxpayers an expensive lesson 

By: - March 12, 2022

Des Moines Superintendent Thomas Ahart has been a lightning rod during the past three years over the way Iowa’s public schools have responded to the COVID pandemic. Ahart announced last week that he is leaving, effective June 30. But the Des Moines school board ensured that Ahart will continue to carry that lightning rod for […]

COMMENTARY
The State Capitol of Iowa reflects the sunset

Here’s another place where Iowa needs more transparency 

By: - February 27, 2022

There has been a lot of talk lately about why Iowa’s K-12 school districts need to be more transparent, and more accessible and more accountable, to parents and the rest of the tax-paying people of Iowa. That is the justification offered for a bulging backpack full of bills introduced in the Legislature this year. But […]

COMMENTARY
biofuel gasoline gas pump ethanol fuel

Lawmakers’ mixed message on mandates puzzles Iowans

By: - February 13, 2022

I’m confused, and I have a hunch I am not the only one. Are government mandates a bad thing — or are they good? My confusion comes because I hear what leaders in the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds have said for months. It certainly seems as if, to a person, they agree mandates […]

COMMENTARY

Massive tax cuts won’t solve Iowa’s population challenges

By: - January 23, 2022

I stumbled across a statistical tidbit the other day that probably will surprise many people. U.S. Census Bureau figures show that between 1900 and 2000, the state that grew the least in population, on a percentage basis, was Iowa. Read that again. No state had smaller population growth between 1900 and 2000, as a percentage, […]

COMMENTARY

Senate removal of media won’t keep Iowans informed

By: - January 11, 2022

Typically, in the days leading up to the start of a new session of the Iowa Legislature, the attention is on lawmakers’ goals and priorities — and on the pledges they make to work together for the good of the people of Iowa. This year, however, Republican leaders who control the Iowa Senate announced a […]

COMMENTARY

Two accidental shootings by police, two very different approaches to justice

By: - January 1, 2022

Minnesota and its government officials delivered an important lesson recently on how to provide justice — and their lesson should be taken to heart by their neighbors in Iowa. The contrast is jarring between the way government handled the deaths of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., and Autumn Steele in Burlington, Iowa. One was […]

COMMENTARY

Those ‘good neighbor deeds’ can recharge us

By: - December 25, 2021

When I walked out the door at the Des Moines Register for the final time on Dec. 12, 2014, there was an unfinished piece of work tucked away in a box of assorted stuff I carried. The folder contained a few dozen newspaper clippings, press releases and notes to myself I had collected. There was […]

COMMENTARY

Some school officials haven’t learned important lesson about public records

By: - December 16, 2021

The past couple of years have been challenging for Iowa’s 327 public school districts. Parents have become very engaged with their schools — and enraged, too, at times. This has revolved around masks and vaccines, what is being taught or not taught, the content of library books, and an assortment of other concerns. But in […]

COMMENTARY
Redhead teenage male bullying mixed race teenage boy in the corridor at school.

Why aren’t we discussing student behavior issues?

By: - December 11, 2021

When you have orbited the sun as many times as I have, people sometimes want to tap into the insights you have gathered through the years. Young journalists and newsroom managers ask about the lessons I accumulated from a half century in the newspaper business. One lesson is quite simple, actually: Keep your eyes and […]

COMMENTARY

Our political system has withered since Bob Dole’s days

By: - December 9, 2021

The death Sunday of Robert Dole was a potent reminder of what we have lost as a nation. Another member of the Greatest Generation has left us — another of those Depression-era kids who came together to save democracy in the dark days of World War II. The career of the 98-year-old Kansas Republican reminds […]