Commentary

The debate dance: Change the format to better serve voters

BY: - September 29, 2022

Iowans are losing one more traditional handhold on the world of politics as incumbent candidates are either refusing to participate in debates or limiting themselves to just one. And maybe that’s a good thing – but only IF debates evolve into something more useful for voters. Sadly, I don’t think that’s happening, but I have […]

Harvest season is a good time to sort out what we know about Iowa farming – and what we don’t

BY: - September 28, 2022

JEFFERSON, Iowa – For the first time in 19 years, I am not living in the Iowa countryside as the harvest begins. Yes, my frequent road trips are still giving me plenty of up-close views of harvest progress. But I’m feeling a little more like a spectator now and a little less like a participant, even […]

Gov. Kim Reynolds race-baits in campaign’s new TV ad

BY: - September 26, 2022

Nothing happens in a campaign commercial by accident. Strategists plan every word and image, with the candidate’s approval. Directors may film many takes to get the perfect cadence for every line. So Iowans should understand: The racist tropes in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ latest TV ad are deliberate. Here’s “Still Works,” which the governor’s campaign launched on Sept. […]

Iowa has made it harder to vote, study shows

BY: - September 25, 2022

Since the 2020 election, it got harder to vote in Iowa, relative to other states, according to a new study. The Cost of Voting Index, which measures the ease of voting in all 50 states, ranked Iowa 23rd in the nation in its 2022 report, a decline of four places. The new study was published […]

Technology has super-sized community donations

BY: - September 24, 2022

Growing up in Bloomfield in the 1950s and 1960s, I remember seeing empty coffee cans next to the cash registers in places like Ollie O’Briant’s drug store, Bill Tews’ coffee shop and Isham Pottorff’s gas station. The cans had handwritten signs taped to the side — a common fundraising technique of the day. Those simple […]

Keep your hands off journalists

BY: - September 19, 2022

Reporters need a thick skin. Hard-hitting stories can generate a lot of complaints, including abusive language and the occasional threat. It got out of hand this month in Las Vegas where a reporter was stabbed to death in his home.  Police have arrested an elected official who had been the subject of several investigative stories […]

Looking to the midterms: A conversation with Rep. Cheri Bustos

BY: - September 18, 2022

Few people I know have been more plugged in to what voters are thinking in the Midwest, particularly along the Mississippi River, than U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos. She works tirelessly to meet people – and to listen. A Democrat from Moline, Bustos has served 10 years in Congress, representing Illinois’ 17th congressional district. Over the […]

Interest group’s ad rakes Axne over term limits issue but ignores Grassley, Ernst

BY: - September 17, 2022

Televisions are getting larger, but that does not make it easier to decipher the political ads that are as common these days as gnats at a picnic. There is one thing we should understand about these ads: Their purpose is not to educate voters or inform them about the finer points of a candidate’s views. Instead, […]

Journalism was a calling for slain reporter Jeff German

BY: - September 16, 2022

A former colleague of mine was stabbed to death in his yard this month, apparently for writing something someone didn’t like. His name was Jeff German and he was a crackerjack reporter who spent a career covering crime and corruption in Las Vegas. We worked together at the Las Vegas Sun some 23 years ago. […]

The Ballad of the Freemartin Town P.O.

BY: - September 15, 2022

We had faith in Faith. We knew the Freemartin Town post office ran like any other local business, so we pulled together and supported it. But our previous postmasters stayed three months, maybe a whole year if we were lucky. One up and left in the middle of the night and our Budgets (the Amish […]

A trip to Perry brings home why we need immigration reform

BY: - September 14, 2022

I went to Perry, Iowa (population 7,836) on Friday to help train a new news guy at Raccoon Valley Radio. Perry is about an hour and a half long drive away from home. I had planned to arrive mid-morning, but at about 5:30 a.m., a gut feeling told me to leave soon. So I did. I arrived […]

What white people get wrong about Black dads

BY: - September 13, 2022

When my dad, Lawrence, had cataract surgery in 1994, my sister and I took the day off work. The white supervisor at the bank where I toiled frowned at my request for time off. It was a routine surgery for older people and not worthy of my level of concern, she explained. I pushed back […]