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Officials should not view the public as an annoyance

My role as executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council has taken me from border to border in our state.

The message I’ve preached at each stop is a simple one: Transparency is a fundamental part of good government, and government officials risk undermining their respect and credibility when they try to minimize their accountability to the citizens.

Do we really think people choose to be poor?

I have spent 50 years as a journalist asking questions, listening to the responses, and closely observing the people and events around me.

Somewhere along the way, my observational skills must have failed me. Apparently, I have missed a lot.

Otherwise, I would have noticed those lines of people eager to join and remain in the ranks of the poor.

Governor wrong to think silence will work

Here we go again.

The ink is barely dry on the $1.75 million check the taxpayers of Iowa had to write last fall to settle a sexual-harassment lawsuit won by an employee of the Iowa Senate Republican staff.

The leader of the Senate Republicans, Bill Dix of Shell Rock, resigned March 12, a few hours after photos and a video were made public showing him kissing a lobbyist for the Iowa League of Cities.

There’s more.

Public service isn’t always about winning

There was noteworthy news coming out of the Iowa Legislature two weeks ago.

This may surprise you, but I am not referring to the headlines about Bill Dix, the Iowa Senate’s majority leader, although that news certainly created a buzz from border to border.

The Shell Rock Republican resigned a few hours after photos and video were made public that showed him at a Des Moines bar kissing a lobbyist employed by the Iowa League of Cities.

Making a better world, one stone at a time

People like to say we control our own destiny.

But in some of the most important aspects of that destiny, we have zero influence.

None of us has a say in where we were born. We aren’t consulted about who our parents will be. Nor are we looped in to the decision-making that determines our birth family’s economic status.

A better way to show our appreciation

Mr. President, may I have a few minutes of your time? I would like to suggest an alternative to the big Veterans Day parade in Washington, D.C., that you asked the Pentagon to plan.

I certainly appreciate your desire to honor the men and women in our armed forces who are serving our nation around the globe. I understand you want to show off the equipment our military has at the ready.

The last big military parade was 26 years ago after the end of the first Gulf War. That was the war that made a no-nonsense general named Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the coalition forces, a household name.

Will we ever act? That’s the question

That priest in Australia nailed it with his message on the Anglican church sign last week: “When Will They Love Their Kids More Than Their Guns.”

The sign was a pointed reference to the latest St. Valentine’s Day massacre in the United States.

This massacre didn’t involve a bunch of thugs shot to death with machine guns in a garage on the north side of Chicago. That was in 1929. This one involved 14 students and three faculty and staff members shot to death with a semi-automatic rifle at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

That’s our tax money being frittered away

It’s nothing short of a miracle that the people of Iowa have not taken up pitchforks and marched on Des Moines demanding the attention of government officials.

As things now stand, don’t be surprised if the folks in charge simply wait for the dust to settle and then get back to business.

I hope ‘students’ were paying attention in ‘class’

One of Iowa’s talented historians delivered an important lesson last week. But instead of standing in front of a school classroom, he was in the chamber of the Iowa House of Representatives.

The teacher was Mark Cady.

The subject of his lesson was a proud chapter in Iowa history and how events today are threatening one of our state’s claims to greatness.

Why my journalism ulcer works overtime

Last week was a time for setbacks in the United States. The only question is which setback was greater.

Was it President Donald Trump’s standing in the eyes of the American people, with a book filled with fresh allegations about chaos inside his White House?

Or was it American journalism’s standing in the eyes of the American people that suffered the most?

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