“I want my grandchildren to go to the No. 1 high school in the state, not the 139th.”

Erin Jordan and Alejandro Rojas in The Gazette:

Many parents are mad the Iowa City Community School District is closing its elementary school in Hills, but that doesn’t mean they want to send their kids to a lower-ranking district instead.

Sen. Dawn Driscoll, R-Williamsburg, and Rep. Heather Hora, R-Washington, met with the Hills City Council last week to talk about the possibility of changing school boundaries to move Hills students to the Lone Tree Community School District instead.

Iowa Republicans, including Driscoll and Hora, continue to defund public education in Iowa, where the past decade has seen state funding fail to keep up with inflation, leading to building and program closures.

The solution Republicans are offering: move your school to a shittier district that doesn’t guarantee it could keep the building open, either.

Respectfully, Fuck Off

A footnote on a column by Aletha Cole, The Gazette’s conservative columnist, about trans and non-binary protesters in Johnson County:

*For reasons of conscience, the author respectfully declines to use “they/them” as individual pronouns.

These “reasons of conscience” are unspecified, and appending “respectfully” doesn’t make it so.

Johnson County Protester Acquitted

Molly Hennessy-Fiske writing about the acquittal of Tara McGovern, charged with crimes for protesting an anti-trans speaker, for The Washington Post:

Johnson County District Attorney Rachel Zimmermann Smith responded late Wednesday afternoon: “The Defendant got a fair trial and, regardless of the outcome, that is always the ultimate goal.”

Is the goal of any prosecutor a fair trial? And if the ultimate goal is a fair trail, why did Zimmermann Smith offer everyone plea deals?

The American Bar Association:

Plea bargaining accounts for almost 98 percent of federal convictions and 95 percent of state convictions in the United States.

Car Washes are Proliferating Across the U.S. Here’s Why.

Ailsa Chang interviews Patrick Sisson of Bloomberg on NPR:

You also talked about how, like, some small towns – they’ve resorted to banning car washes. It’s really that bad. Like, car washes has – they’ve become this invasive species in some parts of the U.S.

The number of car washes is expected to double in the next six years because there’s a ton of money to be made in subscription model, the labor costs are low and culturally we’ve shifted from “I can do it” to “I want someone to do it for me”.

Not Far from Navalny

Valerie Hopkins and Andrew E. Kramer in The New York Times:

Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist who for more than a decade led the political opposition in President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia while enduring arrests, assaults and a near-fatal poisoning, died Friday in a Russian prison, according to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service. He was 47.

The prison authorities said that Mr. Navalny lost consciousness on Friday after taking a walk in the Arctic penal colony where he was moved late last year. He was last seen on Thursday, when he had appeared in a court hearing via video link, smiling behind the bars of a cell and making jokes.

That’s a suspiciously sudden turn.

Adam Liptak in The New York Times:

Eight years ago, just before the Iowa caucuses, Donald J. Trump crowed about his invulnerability.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said. “It’s, like, incredible.”

On Tuesday, at a federal appeals court argument held the week before this year’s caucuses, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said that the Constitution basically states the same thing.

It took a few questions from Judge Florence Y. Pan to pin down the lawyer, D. John Sauer. But in the end he made the jaw-dropping claim that former presidents are absolutely immune from prosecution even for murders they ordered while in office.

“I asked you a yes-or-no question,” Judge Pan said. “Could a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

Mr. Sauer said his answer was a “qualified yes,” by which he meant no. He explained that prosecution would only be permitted if the president were first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

Trump’s argument is that the president could order a rival’s murder and the only possibility of accountability is political process of impeachment.

That seems suspiciously close to Navalny’s downfall.

Only if We’re Brave Enough

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

There’s a lot of folks in Johnson County who need to be reminded.

Rights

The Iowa state motto:

Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

It’s emblazoned on the state flag if you need a refresher.

Erin Murphy in The Gazette:

The Iowa Civil Rights Act would be changed by removing gender identity as a protected class, and by adding gender dysphoria to disabilities covered by the act, under legislation that will be considered by state lawmakers next week at the Iowa Capitol.

Shameful.

A subcommittee will hold a hearing on Jan. 31, and you can provide written or in-person comment.