Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SPLC Lists Amana, IA, as Sight of Neo-Nazi Activity // Amana Colonies Leadership Strongly Disputes This Accusation

There is a group of villages in the neighboring county called the Amana Colonies. They were founded back in the mid-1800s by persecuted German immigrants who sought a communal existence in the American Midwest. These days, they attract tourists from all over, who come for their shops and food. Husband Mark and I go there every fall with the boys for food and I often visit the shops when I'm looking for a day to get away. Heck, there's even a shop that I would love to buy if Mark would give me the okay -- which he won't -- but I can dream.

The Amana Colonies have been in the news for a much more distressing reason these days. Amana was listed as the sight of Neo-Nazi activity by the Southern Poverty Law Center. More specifically, the Daily Stormer, "a neo-Nazi and white supremacy news and commentary organization," held at least one verified meeting at a restaurant in Amana in late 2016:
Ryan Lenz, a senior investigative writer for the SPLC, said that the group met at a restaurant in Amana in 2016 and that it is fair to say that there is indeed an active group in the historic village. “We’ve monitored where they existed and going with every instance where they met or … we saw they had plans to meet in Amana and we confirmed at least once in Amana, which is enough to say there is a hate group,” Lenz said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “What’s getting lost in the translation is … we’re not saying Amana is a hate group or welcoming of hate groups. This is saying racists have congregated in Amana. That’s all we’re saying.” 
Further research backed Lenz’s comments that the group of individuals did meet sometime in 2016 at a restaurant in the Amanas. “The First Iowa Stormer Bookclub was a success!” posted a user with the screen name Concerned Troll in a Sept. 26, 2016, thread originally posted on The Daily Stormer, and since cached by Google. Concerned Troll, who did not post specific details about the visit, went on to suggest a subsequent meeting in Des Moines sometime in the late fall or early winter.
Of course, Amana's leadership is not happy about this designation, nor is the Iowa County Sheriff. Both the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau and Iowa County Sheriff's Office dispute the claim that the colonies are the home of any hate group and are not happy that they have been associated by any Neo-Nazi groups:
“What he is saying is some people came from around state and had a meeting, or allegedly had a meeting; we don’t know for sure that they did,” said Rettig. “To label us as being home of a hate group is ridiculous and that will be proven as we go on. You can come to Amana and you will not find a hate group. It’s not what we’re about.”
And I have certainly never seen any evidence of hate group activity during any of my visits to any of the Amana Colonies.

The SPLC says that their "Hate Map" is updated annually. Amana will be taken off of their map if it's found that they is no additional activity in 2017.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trump Unity Bridge Drives Through Iowa City

Friday morning, I began hearing about a Trump float in downtown Iowa City. Turns out that it was something called the Trump United Bridge and it has been traveling across the nation with the goal of "building bridges not walls."

Trump Unity Bridge's has put in 40,000 miles while traveling around the USA:
Cortis said the bridge reflects messages from not only President Trump, but also from the American people. “Our messages represent what the people want, from the left, the right, the center.” And what are those messages? “Build the wall. Lock her up. One God, one nation, one flag. Things like that,” he said.
Needless to say, the Trump Truck wasn't well received in Iowa City. But he really wasn't here that long. Just long enough for people to notice and take a few pictures.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Iowa: Couple Awarded $3.25 Million Judgement Against Attorney for Failed Adoption

An Ankeny couple was awarded a $3.25 million judgement against their former adoption attorney, alleging that Des Moines attorney Jason Reiper had failed to file paperwork, which ultimately led to the removal of their adoptive child. Baby Gabriel was eventually removed from Heidi and Rachel McFarland's custody because Reiper did not have the birth parents sign any termination of parental rights paperwork.

Heidi McFarland summarized pretty succinctly what led to them losing their baby in two sentences:
One piece of paper was all that was needed. Basically, this would have been a whole different story.
To make things worse, the baby died within five weeks of being returned to his birth mother, having been killed by his birth father. Drew Weehler-Smith was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison after Gabriel died from severe head injuries.

This is what their current attorney, Roxanne Conlin, had to say about the ruling:
Today a jury in Polk County awarded Heidi and Rachel McFarland 3.25 Million Dollars for the loss of the baby boy they thought they were adopting. Their attorney didnt get the basic document signed by the birth mother in a timely fashion. After having him for 78 days, they had to give him to her when she asked for him. If the lawyer had done what he was supposed to do, the birth mother would have signed a document called a release of custody and 4 days after she signed it, it would have been almost impossible for her or the baby's father to take Gabriel away from them. The lawyer just didnt get around to it. The birth mom got mad at the McFarlands and ripped this baby away from the only parents and the only home he had known. That is all the jury knew when they reached this verdict. There is more to the story. 5 weeks after the baby was returned to the birth mom, and while she went out for concert tickets, the birth father killed the baby. The jury didnt know that and also didnt know that for every hour of every day he was not with them, Heida and Rachel worried that he was living in a cockroach invested apartment with a 16 year old who drank and took drugs. God bless the civil justice system for holding people accountable for the damage they do to others and to this jury who came to the right conclusion even without all of the evidence.
Both the McFarlands and Conlin have indicated that they will see very little of that $3.25 million judgement, but are glad for the moral victory and they hope that they might prevent similar situations like this in the future.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Black Hood Coming to "Riverdale"?

The latest trailer for "Riverdale" Season Two just dropped, which was pretty cool. I'm sure that you will be watching the show when it makes its debut at 7:00 PM CST on 10/11/17. But this is even cooler.

It looks like the Black Hood will be appearing in "Riverdale" this season!

The Black Hood -- at least the latest Black Hood -- is a police officer named Gregory Hettinger. He made a name for himself for killing the previous Black Hood and then getting shot in the face, effectively ruining his appearance and starting the downward cycle into the world of pain medication dependence and addiction. He eventually began wearing the old Black Hood's ripped up mask and beating up drug dealers -- largely so that he could steal their black market oxy.

The Black Hood never interacted with Archie and the Riverdale Gang -- but it will be pretty cool if he ends up on the show. If nothing else, this might result in a resurgence for the comic book and a spin-off superhero TV show featuring the anti-hero -- which is admittedly not likely. Then again, Black Hood was cool enough to have his own radio show back in 1943 and 1944, right around the same time that the most popular "Archie Andrews" radio program made its own debut. So, not so crazy after all!

Charlottesville: Barely-White Power Dude Scared Shirtless by Protesters

I haven't written too much about the "Unite the Right" march that happened last weekend in Charlottesville, VA. It was a mess and a national embarrassment. But this video kind of tricked my trigger, if you know what I mean.

Someone was filming when a young guy ran into the ran, terrified and screaming for help. He was wearing the khaki-and-white uniform of Vanguard America, which is a white nationalist group. And he was being chased by a couple anti-fascist counter-protesters.

He suddenly called out "Please don't!" and began stripping in the middle of the street. "I'm not really white power, man! I just came for the fun! I'm sorry!"

The situation quickly defused itself, but the cameraman stuck with the shirtless guy. "You can't just take your costume off!" He then asked Shirty, "So you just came for the fun? You're not a real white supremacist."

Shrug. "Barely. It's kind of a fun idea... Just being able to say, 'White Power!'"

Shirty was followed for a bit through the crowd before being asked, "The big question, man. You going to put the uniform back on? What's the plan? You're a white supremacist until people begin chasing you and then you take the uniform off. So are you going to put it back on?"

"Quite honest? I like to be offensive. It's fun." Before wandering off for some unspecified fun activities.

You can watch the whole video here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who Is the Sugar Man and What Is His Connection to "Riverdale"?

Remember when I shared my list of fantasy Archie Horror titles for Archie Comics to publish each month? Looks like I should have waited a few days for Archie Comics CCO/"Riverdale" creator Roberto Aguirre Sacasa's recent tweet featuring the Sugar Man!

The haunting character looks like something out of Elm Street as opposed to Riverdale, but he sure does look scary!

It appears that he has a dark connection to the Blossom twins' childhood. And it makes sense that a creepy monster named Sugar Man would haunt the dreams of Riverdale's maple syrup heirs.

Presumably, we will be learning more about Sugar Man in "Riverdale" Season 2. But I think it would be really cool if he showed up in one of Archie Comics' Archie Horror titles.

And wouldn't it be cool if the Blossom Twins got their own ongoing comic book title again after all of these years???

Muscatine City Council Begins Impeachment Effort Against City's Mayor // Updated Report: $100,000 in City Legal Fees May Be Used to Justify Impeachment Effort // More Updates... // Updated on 05/11/17: Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson Has Been Removed from Office by Unanimous Vote of her Accusers, the Muscatine City Council // Updated on 06/16/17: Court Reinstates Diana Broderson as Mayor

(Originally written on 01/13/17): This is interesting. Last night, the mostly Republican City Council in Muscatine, IA, unanimously approved impeachment proceedings against the city's Democratic mayor, accusing her of unspecified incidents of misconduct and neglect, as well as making disparaging comments towards city employees.

I've been reading the sordid conflict between Mayor Diana Broderson and the Muscatine City Council with interest. She unexpectedly won an election against the incumbent mayor back in 2015 and has since struggled for achieve any of her limited mayoral duties, which pretty much consist of making appointments to city commissions, as well as appointing the Police and Fire Chief. In fact, the City Council voted last summer on an ordinance that stripped the mayor of those duties. Mayor Broderson challenged this new ordinance and received a decision from the state Attorney General's Office back in October 2016 indicating that the City Council lacked the authority to make these changes and that it was potentially criminal. However, the Muscatine County Attorney declined to act on the state Attorney General's opinion last month.

Which leads us to this week. The Muscatine City Council announced that it would vote on a request to impeach the city's mayor at its 01/12/17 city council meeting. According to the Muscatine Journal, none of the Council members wouldn't offer any explanation for this move and instead referred the reporter to the city attorney, who conveniently couldn't be reached for comment.

Last night, Councilman Michael Rehwaldt read the following motion:
An elected City official may be removed from office for, among other reasons, misconduct or maladministration in office, and willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of the office; and

Willful misconduct or maladministration in office and include, but is not limited to, conduct such as repeated public criticism of the City or staff; repeatedly engaging in defamatory attacks against the City, staff or public; breach of fiduciary duties; or other conduct which tends to erode public confidence in the City or staff.

Habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of office an include, but is not limited to, such conduct as repeated breaches of the public official's fiduciary duties and/or repeated failure to follow established city ordinances or policies;

It appears the Mayor may have engaged in some of the foregoing conduct to the detriment of the City and in contravention of her established duties and, as such, written charges for removal should be filed to determine if the Mayor should be removed from office as a result of such conduct.

Therefore, the City Council of the City of Muscatine, Iowa, hereby motions to instruct the City Attorney to draft and file written charges for the removal of the Mayor as provided for by Iowa Code Chapter 66 and City Code section 1-7-6.
The Council members continued to avoid any specific accusations. Hopefully, they have evidence of willful misconduct or maladministration. Certainly something more substantial than vague suggestions that she "may have engaged" in detrimental conduct.

About 60 citizens attended the meeting and all appeared to denounce this impeachment effort.

I'm not a citizen of Muscatine, but this really doesn't pass the smell test. The Muscatine City Council better watch out or they might engage the citizens enough to vote out its incumbents -- particularly those like Councilmen Rehwaldt, Bynum, and Natvig -- all of whom are up for re-election later this year.

Updated on 01/19/17: We're beginning to get an idea about what the Muscatine City Council plans to use to support their impeachment effort against Mayor Diana Broderson:
The Muscatine city attorney said in an email to City Administrator Gregg Mandsager Wednesday that the city has incurred more than $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses in fighting what he says are "unproven claims and allegations" made by Mayor Broderson...

City officials said the official charges could be released as early as Friday.

City Attorney Matthew Brick detailed the 2016 attorney fees in an email to Mandsager. That email was in response to an inquiry Mandsager received from Broderson requesting more information about costs and attorney fees. Brick's email stated that complaints filed by Broderson against city officials, staff, contractors, and citizens resulted in about $64,000 in unbudgeted legal fees and $43,600 in staff time during the 2016 calendar year.

Mandsager had forwarded the email to the mayor and city council members early Wednesday morning. The email was also forwarded to the Muscatine Journal and Quad City Times.

As to the allegations that she caused funds to be spent by filing complaints, Broderson said she was just doing as the citizens asked...

Her reaction to the amount of costs paid to the city attorney was to wonder how much had been spent changing the city's appointment process. The council passed an amendment earlier in 2016 that created a nominating committee made up of the mayor, the city administrator or his appointee, and two council members to review candidates for city appointments.

"My take would be most of the money has been spent trying to reduce the office of mayor," she said.
By the way, I was listening to this Muscatine-based podcast earlier tonight and was shocked to learn that City Administrator Gregg Mandsager has apparently banned the city's employees from speaking or interacting with Mayor Broderson, outside of basic greetings. It's apparently been this way since shortly after Broderson's election in 2015.

Updated on 01/25/17: I'm not even sure that the Muscatine City Council actually has a clue about Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachable offense. Check this out:
Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick says charges for removal of Mayor Diana Broderson may not be filed for weeks, and the nature of the charges has yet to be determined. Brick said he will continue to investigate, and "slow equals fair. I want to make sure if there are relevant issues that they get looked at," he said. 
The Muscatine City Council two weeks ago voted to take the first steps toward ousting the mayor. Councilman Michael Rehwaldt cited "habitual neglect" and "willful misconduct or maladministration in office" as two possible reasons. State law says elected officials can be removed by two-thirds vote of the council. 
"It would be nice for not only me but for the people of Muscatine to know sooner rather than later so both sides could work to prepare," Broderson said. 
If evidence for removing the mayor under state law is not found, Brick said at the end of the investigation he would report back to council.
It sounds to me like the City Council members are just biding their time until after the next election cycle. Pretty shady, Muscatine...

Updated on 02/17/17: Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick filed a list of complaints early this morning, which are being used as the basis for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment:
Broderson is accused of ignoring Brick's legal advice when he told her that she was stepping outside of the boundaries of her power as mayor, listed in the document as "willful misconduct or maladministration … habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of her office..."

In the document, Broderson is accused of "making baseless complaints” that cost the city as much as $100,000 in legal fees and staff time to investigate, including asking for an investigation into whether she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and requesting investigation into actions of the city that were later determined to be unfounded.

Also outlined is an alleged breach of fiduciary duties, failure to comply with city code, defamation and/or false allegations and misuse of power and/or abuse of discretion.
These charges have been filed with the city and could appear on the agenda for the next Muscatine City Countil meeting. That is scheduled for 03/01/17.

Updated on 03/10/17: The Muscatine City Council scheduled the date for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment hearing at their council meeting last night. The hearing will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday, March 23rd.

According to news reports, residents approached the Council and expressed disappointment with this whole process. One particular resident suggested that they should have waited until the next election when Mayor Broderson's term expired and just run a better candidate against her instead of going through the time, money, and embarrassment of impeaching her mid-term:
Although advised by City Administrator Gregg Mandsager to answer “no comment” to residents’ questions, Councilman Santos Saucedo responded to Nathan Baker, of Muscatine, after Baker said the recent actions of the council were making Muscatine a statewide laughing stock. Baker said that the mayor would not have retained her seat through the next election in November, and the council should have waited instead of trying to impeach her. "I wouldn’t vote for her again except for that you guys have created this problem," he said. "The right thing would be to let her finish her term, and for you guys just to do your thing." 
Saucedo was visibly upset after Baker’s remarks. Saucedo said he was doing what he felt was right and promised that the reasons behind the charges filed for the mayor’s removal would be revealed at the March 23 hearing. "All the information is going to come out," Saucedo said.
The problem is that the Muscatine City Council has been so cagey about why they are impeaching her that there is little else for residents to do except assume that there's something under-handed, political, and nasty about this whole affair.

Updated on 03/21/17: The impeachment hearing begins first thing Thursday morning. Here are some new details. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM in the council chambers in Muscatine. The hearing will be open to the public, but they will not allow any public comments at the meeting. They will not broadcast the hearing on their local government channel, so you won't have any televised footage for use during future campaign commercials (unless someone in the audience records something on Facebook Live).

Muscatine has brought a retired judge and mediator in to act as special counsel for the city and to act as prosecutor. Mayor Broderson will be represented by her own attorney, presumably at her own expense. Council members will hear the arguments for and against Mayor Broderson's impeachment. Two-thirds of the Council will need to vote for her impeachment. It's unclear if they will actually vote on Thursday or not.

The Muscatine City Council is walking on fragile ice here. This is the first case of a mayoral impeachment in Iowa history. There is an election in a few months and three of the seven Council members are up for reelection. There are already efforts to vote out all three Council members this fall.

Updated on 03/23/17: Mayor Broderson's impeachment hearing dragged on for eleven hours today. You can follow the #musmayor hashtag on Twitter, but it's not clear to follow most of the testimony because there's very little video or written coverage (outside of some tweets and 2-minute clips). Eventually, the hearing was postponed until 9:00 AM on Saturday, 04/01/17.

Updated on 03/24/17: Hear are some details on the testimony, courtesy of the Muscatine Journal. It offers more substantial reasons for the impeachment hearing:

Gender Bias Complaint: Mayor Broderson had initiated a gender bias investigation against the City Council and City Administrator Gregg Mandsager. It was later determined that there was no basis for her allegations:
When he was called as a witness, City Administrator Gregg Mandsager said he may have been negatively impacted by the investigation during a recent job search, because he was required to say he had been the subject of an investigation into gender bias. He also said his health had been negatively impacted by the investigation and allegations made against him and council members during her term.
Misuse of Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson has been accused to spending $500 of her campaign funds to pay for her attorney. She is also alleged to have spent $1200 in campaign funds to send letters to residents that attack the character of Council members. For example, she referred to the Council members as "good old boys."

Complaints Against City Staff: Mayor Broderson allegedly claimed that two staff members violated Muscatine's Code of Ethics for negative comments made on Facebook about her during their free time. For example, she was called an "asshat" by a city accountant. She also questioned the employment status of a retired city engineer who was hired as a temporary independent contractor while also drawing from his IPERS pension.

Mayor Broderson still hasn't testified on her own behalf. She will presumably have the chance defend herself on April 1st.

Updated on 04/02/17: Testimony resumed and concluded yesterday in Musatine. I was traveling this weekend, but monitored the impeachment hearing as much as I could on Twitter. Testimony was split between City Attorney Matthew Brick and Mayor Diana Broderson.

We learned more of the complaints against Mayor Broderson:

Coffee with the Mayor: Mayor Broderson is accused of violating city code by forming an ad hoc committee, i.e., her monthly Coffee with the Mayor chats. These informal events were characterized by the city as a committee or task force.

Contacting City Staff: Mayor Broderson was accused of contacting city staff without permission by the city administrator. Broderson claimed that she was permitted to contact city staff by email as long as she cc'ed City Administrator Greg Mandsager. She noted that other city counselors were not required to cc the administrator on emails.

Misspending Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson is accused of using her campaign funds to fund letters to Muscatine residents, which violates the city's code of ethics.

Lastly, it's been reported that Mayor Broderson stated that there is some sort of political deal in the works. If true, it would dismiss the impeachment charges -- with some strings attached:
Broderson dropped that bomb Saturday at the very tail end of another marathon hearing of her impeachment trial. "I don't understand this, since you'll give me back my appointment power if I agree not to run again in November," Broderson responded when acting City Council Chairman Bob Bynum asked if she had "anything else to say."

Broderson's power to appoint Muscatine residents to its various commissions and committees is at the heart of the legal and political battle that, for the past year, has fractured the city of 23,000. Last spring, just months into her tenure, the City Council stripped her of unilateral appointment power. It set off an all out war, with Broderson alleging all kinds of malfeasance on the part of City Administrator Gregg Mandsager and City Council members.
It's worth reading this article so that you can visualize the shocked responses from those in the room -- including Broderson's own attorney.

Updated Again on 04/02/17: Someone who was watching Saturday's impeachment hearing in person noted a slight difference in Mayor Broderson's final comments:
As I heard it (and heard again thanks to the Muscatine Profile recording), she says it this way: "It surprises me that the Council is acting like this is such a big travesty, some of the things that I've done, yet they were willing to make this all go away and give me back my appointment powers if I would just agree not to run again in November. And I think that that is such a terrible thing for the people—"
This latter quote rings more true to me.

Updated on 05/11/17: It took three minutes. The Muscatine City Council voted unanimously to impeach Mayor Diana Broderson. There was no discussion. No input from the various citizens in the room.

Four months ago, the Muscatine City Council moved forward with plans to impeach the city's mayor, citing unspecified charges of misconduct. Eventually, we learned that the mayor held informal gatherings with constituents. We also learned that she spoke to city staff without getting permission first from the city manager. We learned that she made some unwise decisions as mayor, but we also learned that she was pretty much cut off from the rest of the city staff. Which means that nobody pulled her aside to help her through her growing pains.

The Muscatine City Council accused her of misconduct. The Muscatine City Council acted as judges and jury. The Muscatine City Council then voted her out of office. And now they get to appoint anyone they want as the city's new mayor. Mayor Broderson might have been a mediocre mayor, but the optics on this look bad.

There is an election later. Three of the council member are up for reelection and they've managed to piss off and energize a sizable chunk of the voters. I can't wait to see the results of this election.

Updated on 05/13/17: Muscatine has a new Mayor Pro Temp: Alderman Bob Bynum. Bynum will act as mayor for Muscatine until the City Council makes a decision about how to replace impeached Mayor Diana Broderson. Bynum is one of three City Council members who is up for reelection later this year.

Updated on 06/16/17: Oh my! Diana Broderson has been reappointed as Mayor of Muscatine, IA, while her impeachment appeal moves on.

Last month, Broderson filed an appeal in court, arguing that the impeachment process was improper and that it was a conflict of interest for Muscatine's City Council to preside over her impeachment, given that they were her accusers. And, it appeared from news report of the initial court hearing that Judge Mark Smith agreed with her attorney:
"I counted 17 allegations in the decision where Mayor Broderson was accused directly affecting the city council, can you tell me why that isn`t a conflict of interest," said Judge Mark Smith. Judge Smith didn't hand down a decision in court and didn't say when he will. He did leave the door open that the former mayor may return to office, "The likelihood of success is pretty good on this case in terms of the plaintiff, in terms of being successful."
Judge Smith issued an order this morning that reinstated Broderson as mayor, pending final hearing on this case:
The judge said there were "inherent conflicts of interest" throughout the council's removal of the mayor, and to ensure a fair trial, "no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome."
Of course, that means that Mayor Pro Temp Bob Bynum is no longer Muscatine's mayor.

It's been reported that the City of Muscatine has spent more than $107,500 in their effort to remove Mayor Broderson from office. Ironically, one of their complaints about her was bad decisions that cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Updated on 06/26/17: The political drama continues to unfold down in Muscatine, IA. Earlier this month, Judge Mark Smith returned Mayor Diana Broderson to office, pending a July 17th hearing. But don't assume that the City of Muscatine is sitting back and letting her run over them. And why would you?

Muscatine's city manager, Amy Reasner, filed a motion last week asking Judge Smith to reconsider his order. She argued that the City Council has the full authority to accuse, try, and sentence its mayors when it comes to impeachment. In fact, she actually challenged the court and questioned its own ability to interrupt the execution of their impeachment conviction.

Meanwhile, Mayor Broderson has resumed her "Holding the Coffee with the Mayor" chats last weekend -- much to the chagrin of the City Council! Roughly 50 people showed up to cheer her on and to share local concerns. During the event, Mayor Broderson indicated that she plans to run for re-election.

Updated on 07/02/17: There was a court hearing late last week, where the City Council tried to get Judge Mark Smith to change his mind and uphold their impeachment decision. Judge Smith reviewed the cases and then sent everyone home, with Mayor Diana Broderson still the mayor of Muscatine.

It's not looking good for the Muscatine City Council:
In the judge's ruling, Smith wrote there is a probability the council's impeachment proceedings will be found to be unconstitutional and in violation of the 14th Amendment. 
It's ironic that the City Council and City Manager argued that Mayor Broderson wasted the city's money. Meanwhile, they've seemingly pissed away $107,500 (and probably more by this point) over the past six months in their effort to kick her out of office!

A final hearing is schedule with Judge Smith on July 17th.

Updated on 08/15/17: The court hearing to determine the legality of Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment continues to drag on. We learned this week that Judge Mark Cleve (Jon's Note: I thought it was Judge Mark Smith??) has ruled that transcripts from several closed session meetings held by the Muscatine City Council will be used as evidence in court. The city had been fighting to keep these transcripts inadmissible as evidence:
In the ruling, Cleve decided the recordings of the closed meetings are necessary in determining whether the council violated Broderson's right to due process when removing her from office. Broderson argued the council violated her 14th Amendment right by acting as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury... 
The judge said the city also waived attorney-client privilege by allowing third parties to be present during the meetings, as the mayor was allowed to attend the initial meetings and Mandsager also was present, despite threatening litigation against Broderson. 

The transcripts, Cleve said, could also show if the council had "personal animus or bias" toward Broderson, which would result in a due process violation.
The transcripts are to be submitted to the court by Friday. The judge will then issue his final ruling.

Updated on 08/16/17: We learned earlier this evening that City Administrator Gregg Mandsager is fighting the court order that would make public five recent closed session Muscatine City Council transcripts, arguing that his personal performance information as a public employee would be revealed if the transcripts were released.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Nebraska Sheriff's Offices Report Rock-Filled Feed Sacks Left Intentionally on Roadways

Here is a creepy post coming out of Nebraska, courtesy of the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office:
Fillmore County Sheriffs Office is advising all drivers to use extra caution. It has been brought to our attention, that someone has been placing bags with large bricks on our county roads. Please call the Sheriffs Office if you come across one of these bags. We would be happy to remove it from the road.
According to this news article, several people had filed reports yesterday of encountering feed sacks filled with cinder blocks that had been left on rural roads. The intent was to give the appearance of debris that was safe enough to drive over, which would then cause damage to the vehicle as it passed over the blocks.

Frankly, I surprised that I haven't read any reports of serious damage or accidents.

Incidentally, the Thayer County Sheriff's Office also reported incidents yesterday of cinder blocks hidden in feed sacks on the roads.

Iowa City: Street Preacher Cited for Disorderly Conduct Outside Planned Parenthood; Pleaded "Not Guilty" & Has Requested a Jury Trial // Updated Below

(Originally written on 08/13/17): Sometime this past week, I learned of a disorderly conduct case that's emerged here in Iowa City involving our local Planned Parenthood clinic and a street preacher with strong lungs.

It all started on 05/30/17 when Tony Miano from Cross Encounters were protesting outside of Planned Parenthood. It was on a Tuesday morning, which is when our local PP clinic does abortion procedures. You see protesters outside of or near Planned Parenthood in Iowa City pretty much every Tuesday morning.

Miano began preaching very loudly that morning outside the clinic. You can watch this video to get an idea of how loud he was, but it was loud enough to be heard inside the clinic. I'm sure it stinks to live nearby this clinic or to have a business near this clinic because of his preaching, but I'm also pretty sure that Miano doesn't care.

Within a few minutes of the start of his street-preaching, two Iowa City Police Officers pulled up and informed Miano that he was violating the noise statute. Once it was determined that he had already been warned about this during a previous police interaction, he was cited with Disorderly Conduct. Once again, you can watch video of their interaction here.

One day later, Miano reports that he was contacted by an attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom to represent him. He'd apparently seen the video encounter and offered to represent him. On 06/23/17, Miano pleaded "not guilty" to the charges of Disorderly Conduct and a trial was requested. A few days later, they specified that they wanted a "trial by jury," which was granted.

The case will go to trial at some unspecified point in the future. This case has grabbed my interest, so I'll keep my eyes out for it and provide updates.

Updated on 08/15/17: I was watching more videos the other day featured Tony Miano and his anti-abortion street ministry here in Iowa City. This particular video is from late last month outside of Iowa City's Planned Parenthood clinic.

A couple pulled up into the clinic parking lot. Miano called to the couple and grabbed their attention: "Please let us talk to you before you go inside. Please? What's that? We'd like to talk to you before you go inside. We've got help to offer. We're willing to adopt your baby today. There's absolutely no reason to abort your child today. Any financial, medical, housing needs you may have we're willing to provide today. Absolutely."

The couple then walked away. "So you're still going to murder your child anyway, sir? You wouldn't be at Planned Parenthood if you had medical reasons, sir."

And it goes on from there.

I'd point out that it's very well possible that this couple was going inside to undergo an abortion procedure. They could have also been there for other medical treatment services.

But the video sparked my curiosity. On Monday, I posted the following question to Tony Miano on his YouTube comments section: "Has anyone taken you up on your offer to adopt their unborn child?"

He replied: "Not yet. This is why I say women have abortions-not because they have no other choice or option, but because they have no other desire."

Personally, I think it's a little of both. Depending on the individual, of course.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Riverdale" Wins Big-Time at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards

The Teen Choice Awards are happening tonight -- and it looks like "Riverdale" is winning big time!

Here are tonight's "Riverdale"-related awards:
  • Choice Breakout Show: "Riverdale"
  • Choice Drama TV Show: "Riverdale"
  • Choice TV Ship: Bughead (AKA Betty & Jughead)
  • Choice Breakout TV Star: Lili Reinhart (AKA Betty Cooper)
  • Choice Drama TV Actor: Cole Sprouse (AKA Jughead Jones)
  • Choice Scene Stealer: Camila Mendes (AKA Veronica Lodge)
  • Choice Hissy Fit Madelaine Petsch (AKA Cheryl Blossom)