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Our shiny, happy legislature

This year’s Iowa legislative session has been all sunshine and roses. It’s pretty amazing when you consider that the Senate is controlled by the Democrats and the House is controlled by Republicans. For the last few years that mix has caused rancorous debate among the two factions and late endings to the legislative sessions.

Not this year. This year everyone in the legislature is laser focused – they are focused on the goal of finishing early and getting out of Des Moines so they can campaign for re-election. Isn’t it nice to know that they can set aside their differences when there is important business that needs to be done? Sigh.

I’m not sure whether to be angry at the legislature for having such skewed priorities or happy that they don’t have time to mess anything up. It seems they’ve adopted the Hippocratic oath, Primum non nocere, ‘First, do no harm’ and turned it into the hypocritical oath. In an election year, maybe that’s the best we can expect from them.

Paint it black

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On today’s opinion page is a letter from Muscatine resident Melissa Goldman, concerning the city’s use of coal ash in the mix they’ve been putting on our roads this winter. While I would have liked Melissa to cite her sources, I have to say, I agree with her overall opinion that just because the city is allowed to use coal ash for this purpose doesn’t mean it is a good idea. A few years ago the city stopped piling snow down by the river because they were concerned with the run off from the melting piles of snow – and this was snow that wasn’t mixed with coal ash.

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But now we’re okay with putting this on our streets so that it can eventually make its way into our sewer system and out to the river anyway? Plus, because our city doesn’t have sidewalks throughout, I’m often walking my dogs through this sludge and I can’t help but be worried about what is getting on their paws. There are all kinds of alternative solutions that can be put on icy streets that would be more environmentally friendly than coal ash. Maybe I’m being concerned for nothing. Maybe the hazardous materials in the coal ash are in such minute amounts that it really isn’t any different than putting down salt, sand or any other material – that all could be true and I’d still want the city to use something else if only because that black, dirty mix makes our city look bad.

Reporters are people too

If you haven’t noticed, our new reporters have taken to writing blogs, and even shooting video blogs, and posting them to our home page at muscatinejournal.com. Both Ky Cochran and Sarah Tisinger are new to Muscatine and new to community journalism, so many of their posts have focused on their experiences and interactions with their new hometown. Jason Liegois, who is both a longtime resident and a more experienced reporter, has focused on current events. Blogs are kind of like journal entries. They are personal reflections on life and news and give our reporters an outlet to express their interests in a way you just can’t do with news stories. If you want to get to know our reporters a little better and perhaps learn something new, take the time to check them out.

Thank you for reading, I appreciate it.

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Steve Jameson is the editor and publisher of the Muscatine Journal.

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