Monthly Archives: July 2008

Nuts About News

The Columbia Journalism Review chronicles how some of America’s most trusted news sources handled Jesse Jackson’s cutting remarks aimed at Barack Obama’s manhood. Some papers left readers dangling.

OK, I’ll stop now.


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I Say Give Him A Break

So John Gillick walked into the Gazette Tuesday to share his story with me. He lives, or used to live, at 1027 10th Street NW, which was flooded. I’d never met him before, but he seems like a pleasant guy.

Gillick said that in his hurry to evacuate on the fateful flooded Thursday he had to leave his car behind, parked at the curb in front of his place. He tried to go back to get it after getting his wife and a few of their belongings out in her car, but it was too late.

Of course, it was several days before he was allowed back into his neighborhood. Between evacuation and return, the police had his car towed away. He’s not sure exactly why and he says the police haven’t been able to give him a definitive answer. In any event, Darrah’s Towing hauled it away and it’s now sitting in impound.

Gillick would have liked to get a few bucks from the junk man for his trashed car, but it looks like he’s going to have to let Darrah’s keep it. He really needs the money, probably more than they do, but rules are rules, as we’ve all heard again and again.

“It just gripes me to no end,” said Gillick, who spent much of Tuesday trying in vain to get an explanation and maybe catch a break.

My sympathy for Gillick is compounded by the fact that his once yellow-carded house has now been red-carded. Oh, and he also owned one of the famously smashed Ellis boathouses. Oh, and he says his wife’s mother had a stroke in the middle of all this misery. Good Lord.

Sure, there are probably steps he could have taken to avoid this car mess. And yes, I know without laws there is chaos. But as an unapologetic pushover, I say give him a break and let him get a few bucks out of his car. He needs a little good news, clearly.

And good luck to all the John Gillicks out there, who have been served injury with a side of insult.

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Chrome Horse is Sound

Some great news from Manager Mark Dukes’ blog, posted on Monday:

“The building which houses the Chrome Horse and 3rd Street Live is structurally safe and sound.

“An independent structural engineer – hired by the Chrome Horse – inspected the building from basement to ceiling Monday morning and pronounced it safe to repair the business. He said there was no structural damage from the flood; nothing in the foundation had moved, no cracks, no nothing. This confirms what we have been thinking from eyeballing the structure the past couple weeks, so obviously we’re very happy to get an official confirmation.

“For those of you who have run into people who insist the building is, or has been, demolished, have ‘em check this out. Or better yet, have ‘em drive by and see for themselves. We’re not going anywhere, and neither is this stubborn 100-year-old building! – Duker”

 If  anyone out there has updates to pass along about other flooded local joints, let me know.

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One Is the Loneliest Number

Anyone else out there scratching their head about the recent news that Cedar Rapids gets only one seat on the Gov. Culver’s 14-member Rebuild Iowa Commission? That’s the group Chet created to guide Iowa’s disaster recovery efforts.

Now, I don’t mean to diminish or question the credentials and talents of those who were named to the commission late last week. All are good, capable Iowans to be sure. But when the state’s second largest city is devastated by an unprecedented natural disaster, you’d think we might rate a few more seats on an important panel that could have a big impact here.

Consider the fact that there are as many members on the commission from Creston and Sioux City as there are from Cedar Rapids. Can you imagine if Des Moines had been hit as hard as Cedar Rapids, and then only one person from the capital city was appointed to the recovery commission? Wouldn’t happen. All Hell would break loose.

True, there are four members from “The Corridor,” including Jim Fausett, the longtime mayor of Coralville, Cedar Rapids attorney Caroll Reasoner, Iowa City businessman Bill Bywater and Bill Gerhard of Iowa City, president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.

So what’s this council do anyway? Pretty important stuff, according to the governor’s office:

The commission will report to the Office of the Governor and to the Legislature within 45 days of the first meeting. This report will include an assessment of the storms’ impact on the state – including our people, schools, businesses, and private and public infrastructure — and recommend initial steps the legislative and executive branches can take to assist in recovery.

The Commission will develop a comprehensive long-term vision for rebuilding a safer, stronger, and better Iowa. In doing so, the Commission is charged with reaching out to stakeholders at all levels of the private sector and government, and citizens of all walks of life, from all parts of the state. This innovative and inclusive process will be accompanied by recommendations for strategies to achieve that vision.

The Commission will continue to advise on the state’s ongoing recovery efforts at the federal, state and local levels, and assess progress towards meeting the rebuilding vision.

The Commission will also be empowered to create and appoint ongoing task forces focused on specific issues, and, as necessary, develop further recommendations in these areas in order to support a strategic recovery process.

 Maybe the commission will appoint a Cedar Rapids task force, or a corridor task force. Who knows? In any event, Reasoner is carrying a pretty heavy load of local needs and hopes into this thing, and I wish her well. I also wish she had some more local members by her side.

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LA Times Checks in on CR

LA paper runs a piece this morning focused on recovery at the Mother Mosque of America and across the city.

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