Friday, February 11

Michael Wright to Bow Out

Iowa City Council member Michael Wright is not seeking to run for re-election when he completes his term which ends in January 2012. Citing personal reasons for his decision, Wright has served as a progressive voice of reason on a council that has dealt with many highly charged issues including choosing two city managers, public safety concerns, and the issues surrounding abuse of alcohol in Iowa City.

With the current issue of affordable housing policy on the table, the loss of Wright's considerable knowledge on the council could have dire affects as the members debate how best to move forward.

Friday, February 4

Civility 101: Talking with Yale Cohn

In case you are interested in what I do with my spare time, here is an example. Yale Cohn is a local media guy who has a talk show on the highly viewed PATV:

"Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Jennifer Hemmingsen, community activist Garry Klein, and blogger Matt Butler talk with Yale about how the anonymity of the internet is shaping the tone of public discourse, causing people to avoid talking to each other in person about “hot button” social or political issues, and what needs to be done to get back to a point where people actually talk with each other rather than at each other."

Wednesday, February 2

Heaven Frozen Over?

Iowa has a real problem and it is not same-sex couples with marriage licenses. Iowa's problem is that it has a legislature that is willing to create law that would explicitly treat gay and lesbian people as not equal to the rest of Iowans under the state constitution. The amendment, House Joint Resolution 6, passed by a vote of 62-37, and would prohibit not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

As many proponents for such a distinction use religion as the reason for their beliefs that this inequality should exist, I believe God made His viewpoint clear to them by unleashing a blizzard that closed down many roads and disrupted commerce which will cost the state millions of dollars in revenue. As He saw it, it was the only way to reach the Republican leadership on a level that they could understand--in the free marketplace.

Thankfully, the Iowa Senate is likely not to allow HR6 to go any further and that is why a bicameral system is so important. The foolish act of foolish people has always benefitted by checks and balances and fortunately Iowans recognized a long time ago the wisdom of this in drafting a state constitution that, coicidentally has the distinction of the least amended one in the US (so take that, you strict constitutionalists).

I making their voices heard, many men and women spoke against the amendment. A glowing voice of reason that should make 67 representatives ashamed of their understanding of their role as legislators came from Zach Walls, a young man from Iowa City that I've had the pleasure to watch grow-up. If you haven't seen this speech, I think you'll agree that Zach represents what is good about Iowa.