Daily Archives: May 7, 2008

Auditor’s Race

Gazette county government beat writer Adam Belz wants your take on the hot Democratic primary race for Linn County auditor between incumbent Joel Miller and Lyle Hanson.

Go here right now to chime in.



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Fear Index

What’s frightening us this week?

1. Measles. From The Gazette:

A national measles outbreak has state officials urging Iowans to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.

No cases have been reported in Iowa, but Iowa Department of Public Health officials caution that the risk is high for measles to enter the state.

…Measles, a highly contagious disease, causes high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a red rash that moves from the face to the body.

Someone with measles can start an outbreak by walking through a public place such as a mall or an airport, as the virus is contagious even hours after the patient has left.

 2. Lipstick. From MSNBC

…some dermatologists say that slathering on shiny lip glosses can actually increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Of course, wearing any lip product without SPF doesn’t exactly shield the thin skin from sun damage. But the slick, shiny nature of the gloss could be making the sun’s UV rays hit harder, some experts say.

 3. Chinese dental filings. From the Columbus Dispatch:

 An investigation by WBNS-TV (Channel 10) raises questions about the safety of dental crowns, or caps, which are cemented over teeth to improve their strength or appearance, at a cost of hundreds of dollars.

Working with a Columbus dentist, WBNS ordered eight supposedly identical dental crowns from four labs in China, the source of a growing number of dental implants used by U.S. dentists. The labs are regular advertisers in industry publications distributed in the United States.

A certified testing facility in Cleveland found that the porcelain veneer of one of the crowns contained lead — 210 parts per million.

 4. Sleep. From The Gazette:

ATLANTA (AP) — People who sleep fewer than six hours a night – or more than nine – are more likely to be obese, according to a new government study that is one of the largest to show a link between irregular sleep and big bellies.

The study also linked light sleepers to higher smoking rates, less physical activity and more alcohol use.

The research adds weight to a stream of studies that have found obesity and other health problems in those who don’t get proper shuteye, said Dr. Ron Kramer, a Colorado physician and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

 5. Oil. From the Associated Press:

Oil futures blasted to a new record near $123 a barrel Tuesday, gaining momentum as investors bought on a forecast of much higher prices and on any news hinting at supply shortages. Retail gas prices edged lower, but appear poised to rise to new records of their own in coming weeks.

A new Goldman Sachs prediction that oil prices could rise to $150 to $200 within two years seemed to motivate much of Tuesday’s buying, although a falling dollar and increasing concerns about declining crude production in Mexico and Russia contributed, analysts say.


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Chet Not Like Open Records

From The Des Moines Register:

Gov. Chet Culver’s office has begun to encourage state agencies to charge for the cost of having government lawyers review documents requested under Iowa’s open-records law.

The advice runs contrary to past practices of numerous city and state agencies, which sometimes charge citizens or media to retrieve and copy records and e-mails but have not charged for having lawyers review records that are presumed public under law.

At stake is whether the government or its citizens should bear the cost of determining whether a record should be kept confidential.

 Open records experts say the new charges – which have been estimated at $25 and $35 an hour – are largely untested in Iowa courts and uncommon in other states across the country.

If the advice by Culver’s legal counsel to the state agencies is ultimately found to be legal, it could have a chilling effect on those attempting to watchdog government and keep it open, said Kathleen Richardson, executive director of the state’s Freedom of Information Council.

 So let me get this straight, just a couple weeks after the closure clowns in the Iowa House killed a bill that would have beefed up enforcement of open meetings and records laws, the governor wants to start charging Iowans potentially hundreds of dollars to get their hands on PUBLIC records.

Of course, the Culveristas are ticked because the DMR is asking for bushels of e-mail records, but this goes way beyond some tiff they’re having with one news organization. This could open the door for fake fees to be charged all over Iowa by officials trying to scare off scrutiny.

And to those who think this is all about the pesky media, if big fees are charged, only pesky media organizations with deep pockets will be able to afford public records. Ordinary people will be out of luck, unless they’re willing to pony up. This is an incredibly bad idea.

Maybe Culver was inspired by his big pay raise, approved by lawmakers in the middle of the night. Lack of public scrutiny can be very profitable.

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