Q: Did Iowa ever have gerrymandering, in light of the recent elections? If it ever was gerrymandered, how did they get rid of it?
— Paul, Davenport
A: Redistricting happens every 10 years after the decennial census. That’s when political boundaries have to be redrawn to account for changes in population. All states have redistricting. Gerrymandering (fun fact: it’s named after former Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry) is the practice of drawing political boundaries to gain an electoral advantage for a political party. It’s also more of a subjective term. For example, Illinois Republicans would likely say the current map — which was drawn by Democrats — was gerrymandered, while Democrats would likely say it’s simply redistricted.
Most states redistrict like Illinois does — maps are drawn by lawmakers and approved by the governor. Iowa is one of three states that uses an independent body to create a map based on redistricting rules. That map, too, has to be approved by lawmakers and the governor, but they don’t have a hand in drawing the lines. Also, the Iowa Legislature has to approve a map by Sept. 15 of the same year or the Supreme Court decides. In 1970, the legislative-drawn map was challenged in court and struck down because, the court ruled, the population ratio used by lawmakers was not equal enough. In 1980, the Iowa Legislature passed House File 70, which mandated that the nonpartisan Legislative Services Bureau (now called the Legislative Services Agency) draw the maps. There have been no challenges to the map since then.
For a full guide to redistricting in Iowa, go to legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/Central/Guides/redist.pdf
Q: At the Davenport City Council meeting dated Dec. 12 that was printed in the legal notices of the Quad-City Times on Tuesday, Dec. 25, there was a motion passed for the demolition of 11 houses in Davenport. The 11 houses had no addresses listed. For the cost of $134,000, I think we should be told where they are located. Can you help?
— Fred, Davenport
A: Yes, we can! The city received a grant of $95,000 and matched $50,000 to demolish houses for a variety of reasons, ranging from vacancy to deedholder participation and more. Three companies were contracted.
Lohman Demolition of Hillsdale will be paid $42,750 to demolish houses at 1801 Ripley St., 1222 LeClaire St. and 310/312 E. 10th St.
Holst Trucking of LeClaire will be paid $44,752 to demolish houses at 1125 W. 7th St., 1123 Ripley St., 2139 W. 3rd St. and 1008 Ash St.
n McAdam Inc. of Davenport will be paid $47,070 to demolish houses at 754 E. 6th St., 1519 W. 4th St., 1502 Rockingham Road and 1123 W. 6th St.
Q: My wife and I have a little disagreement I hope you can settle. In the early commercials about the Clapper, where the elderly woman is in her bed and claps to turn off the light, before they show her, there is a gentleman to the left of the screen with gray hair, wearing a long overcoat. I say it is TV actor Mark Harmon and my wife says it is not. Can you check?
— Jack, Davenport
A: Our friends at the Davenport Public Library worked on your question and here’s what they report:
“We watched the various Clapper commercials on youtube. The woman in bed is unmistakable in the original version. We could neither find a man that matches that description in any of the commercials available online, nor any reference to Mark Harmon or a man in a coat in any web searches.”
(Answers provided by Times reporters Mike Wiser and Kurt Allemeier and Davenport Public Library