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Good, Bad & The Ugly

September 20, 2012
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The good

The City of Ankeny’s Budget 2013: Virtual Town Hall won top national honors in the 24th annual national Savvy Awards Competition sponsored by the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA). The City took home first place in the social media category and third place in the citizen participation category. The Town Hall was launched earlier this year in order to provide public awareness about significant budget issues. Using Facebook as the platform, the project was widely accessible, reaching 6,000 people in the span of three months, and it allowed elected officials to get feedback from their constituents. This is a proud and progressive example of what Iowa’s open records laws are all about. Bravo, Ankeny.

The Environmental Protection Agency has selected Des Moines to receive technical assistance for green infrastructure design under its Greening America’s Capitals program. The focus of the project is a proposed streetscape plan for a one-mile segment of the Sixth Avenue Corridor, as it serves as a gateway to downtown, holds an official Main Street Iowa Urban Neighborhood District status and has direct access to the Des Moines River. Nice comeback from the flood devastation the neighborhood suffered a few years ago.

The bad

While patrolling the Court Avenue District last week, a Des Moines police officer checked on a parking lot “known for criminal activity,” where they caught a “strong whiff” of marijuana. They saw Shameikwa Allen, 21, and John D. Edwards, 26, both of Des Moines, standing by a car and an empty plastic baggy on the ground nearby. When police found a handgun in Allen’s purse, Edwards reportedly admitted that it was his. So they arrested them both. While searching the car, police also found 28 pills in a baggy. Officers soon discovered that Edwards was wanted on a warrant for felon in possession. Now he can add to that, possession of a handgun and a schedule IV narcotic. Both were arrested.

A recent Harvard University study doesn’t do much for Iowa’s reputation for quality education. The study showed Iowa schools are ranked worst in the nation for their mediocre learning gains during the past two decades. States posting the largest gains, including Maryland, Florida and Delaware, improved at a pace of two to three times of that in Iowa. Iowa test scores remained largely stagnant despite an increase in spending. ($5,119 per student in 1997-98 compared to $8,603 in 2009-10, according to the Iowa Department of Education). That represents a 68 percent increase in per-student funding. “Iowa was quite exceptional,” said Paul Peterson, director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and co-author of the study. “It’s a state that has such a history of support for education that goes way back to the turn of the century. They were the first to develop high schools. They had such a good university system. There was a commitment to education. It’s remarkable to see that’s no longer evident.” This is proof that throwing money at a problem is not the solution.

The ugly

The weirdest stuff always seems to go down either at Walmart or in Florida. In this case, it’s both. Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies say Stephen Balogh Jr., 51, took a 23-year-old female acquaintance with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old to the Walmart in Hudson, Fla., last week to go shopping. He reportedly made her drink Jim Beam, and while parked in his truck, Balogh kissed her and demanded oral sex. She tried to push him away, but “the sexual battery continued.” Balogh initially denied everything to police but later said they had consensual sex. He was arrested and taken to Land O’ Lakes jail on a charge of sexual battery. Land O’ Lakes Jail?

Shit happens, but it should never happen like this. Hotel cameras caught Andrew Harris, 18, and Michael Cline, 19, playing with poo in the pool. Police in St. Petersburg, Fla., say the two threw their own crap around in a hotel swimming pool, at one point even swimming to the bottom to write a big “X” with one of their own turds. Police say Harris actually pooped his pants, reached in, pulled out his own poo goo, and threw it around the pool — twice. The two were later found rinsing off in the hotel jacuzzi. They were charged with commercial burglary, due to the thousands of dollars their sick misbehavior will cost the hotel.CV



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