IOWA CITY - Iowa will keep its offensive coordinator's position in the family.
Brian Ferentz, Iowa's offensive line coach the past five seasons and the run game coordinator the past two seasons, was named Monday afternoon to replace retiring Greg Davis as the Hawkeyes' offensive coordinator.
"I gave this a lot of thought and consideration and Brian is the right fit," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said after announcing the move in a late-afternoon news conference.
He said the promotion of his son is "unique," but said his coaching experience with the Hawkeyes and in the NFL with the New England Patriots has prepared him well for his new responsibilities.
"I embrace the challenge," Brian Ferentz said, saying part of his objective will be to return the balance that was absent in the Iowa offense during an 8-5 2016 season which saw injury and depth issues limit production in the passing game.
"We didn't execute to our standards," said Ferentz, a former Hawkeye captain and three-year letterwinner.
He said the Hawkeyes will continue to build on a foundation of playing tough, smart and physical football beginning with strong line play.
Kirk Ferentz said he considered multiple possibilities for the position after Davis informed him last Wednesday he planned to retire.
"Brian is more than ready," the Iowa coach said. "This is something that made a lot of sense to me."
Because of the family relationship, Brian Ferentz will continue to report to director of athletics Gary Barta rather than to his father.
With the promotion, Iowa is now searching for an assistant coach. The responsibilities for that position will be determined at a later date.
WATERLOO — U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-1st District, has once again earned ire in Washington, D.C., and back home, for a social media post.
The congressman, who was sworn into a second term last week, posted to Facebook Sunday, “Walked to work past DNC HQ this afternoon. Nobody there — I guess they couldn’t ‘hack’ this cold weather.”
The post showed a picture of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., which was subject to hacks during the 2016 campaign. Blum's post comes on the heels of a new report from the nation’s intelligence community that expressed confidence the Russian government was behind the hacks with the purpose of hurting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and boosting now-President-elect Donald Trump.
Several responses on Facebook to Blum’s post were from Iowans who criticized him for making light of the serious situation, and knocked his comedy skills. A few suggested the responses were from liberals "trolling" the congressman.
Blum said in a statement the outrage is a symptom of political correctness.
"The fake outrage and political correctness of the Washington, D.C., elite is exactly what people in the rest of America are sick of. My advice to Washington is to relax a little bit and let themselves chuckle at a harmless joke. We all need a little more humor in our lives, especially in the joyless world of politics," Blum said in a statement.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not see it as a harmless joke and called on Blum to apologize for not taking the hacking allegations more seriously.
“Congressman Rod Blum clearly and naively believes that Russia’s meddling in our election and the threat they pose to our national security and infrastructure are laughing matters,” said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law. “Rod Blum’s refusal to put America first is both dangerous and unpatriotic. He should immediately apologize.”
Blum found himself similarly criticized in March 2016, both by Democrats and Iowans, for tweeting a picture of cranes in Washington, D.C., and saying the district needed a “recession.”
Blum at the time also dismissed the criticism as “fake outrage from D.C. Democrats” and part of what’s wrong with politics.
In response to Sunday's post, DCCC Communications Director Meredith Kelly tweeted, “This reminds me of when @RepRodBlum tweeted angrily re: cranes & DC needing a recession. Except.... way more serious.”
The Iowa Democratic Party similarly noted Blum’s previous “recession” comments and noted in a tweet, “Tampering with our democracy is no laughing matter.”
A Davenport woman accused of fatally shooting her husband Saturday has waived her right to a preliminary hearing.
Meenakshi Brandt, the attorney for Shiela Jo Jasper, 52, filed the written waiver Monday in Scott County District Court.
During a preliminary hearing, a judge hears evidence to decide whether there is enough evidence to justify a trial. The judge does not determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence in these hearings.
She will be arraigned Feb. 2.
Jasper faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Mark, 64.
At 10:10 p.m. Saturday, Davenport police responded to the couple’s home in the 2300 block of North Ripley Street for a death investigation.
They found Mark Jasper dead from a gunshot wound, according to police.
Shiela Jasper told police that while Mark Jasper was asleep in a living room chair, she went to the basement and recovered his revolver, which was sitting on a computer desk, according to an arrest affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint.
She then went back to the living room, put the gun to the right side of his head and pulled the trigger with the intent to kill him, according to the affidavit.
She then covered his face with a towel and waited several hours before contacting a mortuary to come collect his body, according to the affidavit.
No other information, including a possible motive, was released Monday.
DES MOINES – In 1999, Iowans thought they heard Gov. Terry Branstad’s final Condition of the State address.
Now, 18 years later, as the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, it appears Tuesday’s address to a joint convention of the 87th Iowa General Assembly will mark his farewell message as the state’s chief executive with expectations he will become U.S. ambassador to China in the coming months.
Branstad, 70, who served as governor from 1983-99 and again from 2011 to the present, said he expects to deliver a speech that looks forward and backward as he charts the opportunities facing the state and remembers past challenges like the farm crisis of the 1980s.
“The theme of my speech is going to be smaller, smarter government,” Branstad said in a recent interview. He readily says the idea is not original because it is one that’s been a long-term favorite of Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, who has beat the drum repeatedly for government doing less but better.
Rogers said he gladly shared the phrase for the governor’s speech, saying “It’s been my mantra and desire since I got down here, so if we can get everyone moving that way I think it would be great.”
The governor said his speech will be well-rehearsed and a little sentimental, along with highlighting communities — Bloomfield being one — that have battled back from adversity to achieve productive results with hard work and thoughtful action.
Branstad said he is preparing for the session that opened Monday with anticipation 2017 could be a historic year with Republicans joining him at the helm of state government with control of both legislative houses for the first time in two decades.
“I’m very excited. I’m very optimistic,” the governor said. “We have some tough decisions to make right up front. The first order of business has got to be to do some de-appropriations of fiscal 2017 to bring the budget back into balance.”
Trimming roughly $100 million in spending through June 30 will require reductions of up to 4 percent for some budget areas, he said Monday. But he has placed K-12 schools, local government tax credits and Medicaid funding off limits and prefers employee layoffs over furloughs in making long-term changes to government. He also plans to offer a full two-year budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 that includes up to 2 percent more funding for K-12 schools.
On Monday, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said the de-appropriations bill will be the first item of action for the House, while House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, said he expects to take up the first year of K-12 funding this session but likely wait on fiscal 2019 until there’s a better fix on future revenue growth and possible tax policy changes to be considered.
Branstad said he doesn’t expect full agreement from lawmakers who are in charge of the appropriations process.
“I don’t expect the Legislature is going to pass the budget just as I recommended. I think they’re going to adjust and change it. I think they may increase in some areas and reduce in some other areas. This is the legislative prerogative,” he said.
“I’ve said to them: if you have specific ideas or programs that you think could be eliminated, we’re all for that, we’re interested in that,” he added. “That’s part of our smaller, smarter government initiative. We want to look at every board and commission and we want to look at their responsibilities. We think there has been some over reach and we think there are areas where we could eliminate or dramatically reduce what the boards and commissions have been doing.”
Branstad said the state’s certificate of need process for approving health care facilities and the combined enforcement duties by state transportation employees and state troopers are topics he would like to explore as a start.
Bond was set Monday at $250,000 each for three men accused of committing a home invasion Saturday in Rock Island.
Deaunta S. Tyler, 29, of East Moline, Ledell S. Tyler, 35, of Silvis and Dalvent J. Jackson, 24, of East Moline were arrested early Sunday and charged with one count of home invasion and two counts of armed robbery.
The charges are all Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison. Because the incident involves a handgun, however, they face an additional 15 years added onto the sentence, if convicted.
Jackson also is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison.
All three will be back in court Jan. 17 for a preliminary hearing.
According to a Rock Island Police Department incident report, the home invasion happened 9:50 p.m. Saturday in the 1000 block of 12th Street.
Court documents filed Monday claim the three entered into the home without authority and, while armed with a .22-caliber Browning handgun, robbed one person of money and car keys and a second person of money.
The following day, Jackson possessed less than 15 grams of MDMA, according to court documents.
No other information was available Monday.
At the time of his arrest, Jackson was on probation after pleading guilty in July to aggravated battery and resisting a peace officer, a misdemeanor, in Rock Island County.
In that case, a man called East Moline police in May and reported that a man that he knew shot at him with a handgun and then swung and hit him in the head with it in the 1000 block of 15th Avenue, according to police.
Officers who arrived on scene learned that the suspect, later identified as Jackson, ran into a nearby apartment, according to police.
Jackson fled on foot when officers tried to detain him; he was taken into custody in the 1000 block of 16th Avenue, according to police.
Deaunta Tyler has prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance, criminal trespass to a residence and driving while license suspended or revoked in Rock Island County.
Ledell Tyler has a 2011 felony obstructing justice conviction in Rock Island County.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate won’t vote on a proposed bipartisan compromise to end the state’s 18-month budget standoff until after the new General Assembly takes office on Wednesday.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, agreed to hold off on a vote due to concerns among Republicans about voting on a major package of legislation that included tax increases during the waning days of the current General Assembly.
“We in the Senate recognize the problems (facing the state), and we are potentially close to an agreement on how to solve them, but we’re not quite there,” Cullerton said Monday during a joint news conference with Radogno.
He said the plan is to refile legislation that was filed Monday and to move it as quickly as possible to the Senate floor for approval.
The House, meanwhile, passed another temporary spending plan Monday that would provide funding for social service and higher education through June, when the state’s fiscal year ends.
The package that was introduced Monday in the Senate would increase the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. Another component would provide an additional $740 million in funding for social service and $1.1 billion for higher education for the remainder of the state’s current fiscal year.
The Senate is also considering legislation that would authorize borrowing $7 billion to help pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, which currently stands at $11 billion.
Also included are pension reforms that Cullerton has advocated, an increase in the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021, and changes that would make it easier to consolidate units of local government.
A gambling expansion measure would create licenses for six new casinos, including one for the proposed Walker’s Bluff resort and casino in southern Illinois’ Williamson County and another for the south suburbs of Chicago.
The final package also could include changes to the state’s workers’ compensation laws, a referendum on amending the Illinois Constitution to limit lawmakers to 10 years in top legislative leadership positions, and an overhaul of the way the state funds public schools.
Cullerton said the package is designed so that it only goes into effect if all the pieces are approved.
Radogno said these discussions represent progress amid the ongoing impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
“One of the big takeaways from this is for the first we’re acknowledging that we really do need to link the reforms, the revenue and the budget all together,” she said. “Starting with that premise, we’ve made tremendous progress on areas of agreement.”
Radogno said she believes there will be Republican votes on all the pieces of the final package, but members were concerned about voting on it quickly during the lame-duck session.
Because of the timing, there was almost no chance of the package being taken up in the House before the current General Assembly’s term ends. But passing it would have sent a message that Senators on both sides of the aisle were willing to compromise to end the standoff.
The crux of the impasse has been Rauner’s insistence that portions of his pro-business, union-weakening “turnaround agenda” be included in budget negotiations and Democrats opposition to linking the two.
The governor and his main political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, were notably absent from discussions about the Senate’s plan.
At an unrelated appearance in Springfield on Monday morning, Rauner declined to comment on the specifics of the proposal.
Meanwhile, the House voted 63-49 to approve a stopgap spending bill that would provide an additional $400 million for higher education and $258 million for social services for the current year. The previous temporary budget for those programs and most other state operations expired Dec. 31.
The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, would be paid for with special state funds dedicated to social services and education. Its prospects in the Senate on Tuesday are uncertain.
The House also voted 65-45 to approve changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system. That measure’s future in the Senate is also unclear.
Rep. Jay Hoffman-D, the measure’s sponsor, said the changes are an effort to prevent excessive rates for workers’ compensation insurance. Democrats say insurance companies haven’t passed on to their customers savings from previous reforms.
CEDAR RAPIDS — They admit they lost the election, but representatives of more than 30 progressive organizations made it clear at the Statehouse Monday that they aren’t going away.
Instead, representatives of public employee unions, women’s health care providers, LGBTQ rights and environmental groups had a message for the GOP majority in the Iowa Legislature. Progressive, Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said progressives “are fighting back against the legislative attacks we know are coming.”
After the election in which Iowans gave Republicans control of the Iowa House and Senate, and governor’s office, for the first time since the 1997-98 session, progressives “began to hear the conservative agenda loud and clear and what that shift would really mean for everyday Iowans,” she said.
“Iowa conservatives have long been chomping at the bit to take us backward and destroy the civil rights of people who are LGBTQ, weaken public education, undermine worker rights, block access to reproductive health care for women, erase any commonsense gun laws that promote public safety, suppress the rights of voters who disagree with them and much more,” Ryan said.
The election — both national and state — has left many Americans “alienated and fearing for their futures,” said Erin Davison Rippey of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
“In Iowa, our state has shifted from a fair and balanced state government to one that is controlled by right-wing extremist … eager to enact a dangerous agenda that threatens the health, safety and livelihood of so many Iowans,” she said.
Nathan Blake of the Latino rights group LULAC and the Asian & Latino Coalition, called GOP-proposed voter ID legislation an “all-out assault on the fundamental right to vote” and a “21st Century poll tax.”
Despite the tone of their remarks, Ryan said the intent is not to be “in your face oppositional,” but to tell lawmakers “our voices are here, we are here, we are not going away.”
Progressives, she said, want to work with the GOP majority, “but more times than not we have been shut out of those conversations.”
The intent was to put the GOP majority on notice that progressive “are not going to just hold on until the next election,” said Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa State Education Association.
“We have to continue to advocate, to be out in the community because it matters,” Cobb said.
AFSCME President Danny Homan pointed to an Iowa flag in the rotunda to remind people of the state motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
Progressives must do everything they can to make sure those liberties and rights are not “taken away from us by a party or a group of people who wants to push an agenda that is only serving to them and to their donors,” Homan said. “That’s our flag. Let’s go defend it.”
With seasonal influenza rates are going up in the Quad-Cities, Genesis Medical Center and UnityPoint Health Trinity are asking that only healthy visitors come to call at local hospitals.
There is "local" flu activity in Iowa, and the incidence of flu-related illnesses has raised to the "moderate" level in Illinois.
In addition, Iowa's state epidemiologist warns that while officials have not seen a large number of outbreaks, it's clear the flu rate is going up. "Expect the rate to increase in the next few weeks, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said.
Typically, the flu peaks in late January or early February in this area, and continues into April.
Quinlisk said Iowa lags behind much of the nation in flu incidence reports because of its population, less crowded cities and not as many people traveling in and out of the state.
Still, two deaths in Iowa have been confirmed. In addition, all four strains of the virus are circulating in the state right now, which is unusual, Quinlisk said.
The good news is that the flu vaccine is a good match for all four strains, and it's not too late to get one. "Getting a vaccine now will protect you all season," she said.
At the Quad-City hospitals, any visitor with a sore throat, chills, headache, stuffy or runny nose, cough, fever or body aches should stay away.
At Genesis, visitors who present those symptoms will be asked to put on a mask and clean their hands before entering a patient's room.
At Trinity, masks are available upon request, according to representative Brian Boesen. Visitors are also asked to wash their hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based lotion, before entering a patient's room.
"The best preventative measures to protect against seasonal influenza are a flu vaccination and good hand hygiene," said Lisa Caffery, infection control coordinator at Genesis.
Almost 9,000 schoolchildren in the Quad-Cities and in Clinton have been protected from influenza via the Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities initiative. The hospital system provides about 35,000 total vaccinations each year.
Influenza and pneumonia are still a top-10 cause of death, Quinlisk said.
According to multiple online reports, Rock Island grad Chasson Randle will sign a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
The former Stanford star earned a tryout Monday with the 76ers, who had a roster spot available after waiving Hollis Thompson last week.
Randle tweeted Monday night, "So blessed to have this opportunity to play for the Sixers organization. All praises to God! Dreams do come true!," along with a picture of the 76ers' logo.
The 76ers host the New York Knicks on Wednesday, when Randle could make his NBA regular-season debut against the team that waived him in October.
Randle, Stanford's all-time leading scorer who went undrafted in 2015, has been starring for the Westchester Knicks of the NBA D-League this season. The 6-foot-2 point guard is leading Westchester with a 20.7 scoring average through 19 games. He earned NBA D-League performer of the week honors earlier this season and had back-to-back games of 38 and 36 points in mid-December.
The Knicks cut Randle after a broken orbital bone ended his preseason in which he averaged 7.7 points a game. Randle emerged as an option for the Knicks after averaging 18.3 points during the NBA summer league, earning him an invitation to preseason camp and a partially guaranteed contract.
Randle, who led Rock Island to a state championship in 2011, played his rookie season in the Czech Republic for CEZ Nymburk.
IMEG Corp., the parent of KJWW Engineering Consultants and TTG Engineering, has acquired JanCom Technologies Inc., based in Austin, Texas.
Established in 1997, JanCom is a technology consulting firm that designs and documents IT infrastructure, structured cabling, audiovisual and critical power systems for a variety of building types and markets. Working primarily with the architectural community, JanCom provides professional design services that result in cost-effective and manageable construction of technology systems within the built environment.
Details of the financial transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition closed Jan. 1.
"The merger with JanCom expands IMEG Corp.'s already strong technology group," Paul VanDuyne, IMEG's president and CEO, said in a news release. "It also provides us with a presence for more easily providing technology design and services in the Texas market and across the globe."
John Jankowski, JanCom's co-founder and president, said the merger provides his firm with the benefits of belonging to a longstanding, forward-thinking organization that puts clients first. "Being part of a larger organization also provides us with expanded resources for serving existing and future clients."
As a division of IMEG Corp., JanCom will continue to operate under its existing brand for the time being, IMEG said. JanCom's Texas and Georgia offices become the 33rd and 34th locations for IMEG, and its 13 employees expand IMEG’s technology group to 60 team members.
IMEG Corp. was formed in 2015 through a merger of international firms KJWW Corp., based in Rock Island, and TTG Corp., based in Pasadena, California. IMEG has more than 30 offices and a staff of 1,000. IMEG is one of the largest U.S. design consulting firms, specializing in high-performing building systems, infrastructure, program management and construction-related services.
Headquartered in the Quad-Cities, IMEG operates as KJWW Engineering in the Central United States and TTG Engineers in Texas and on the West Coast.
A free talk on the work of cleaning up the nation's rivers will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Watch Tower Lodge, Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island.
Mike Coyne-Logan is a crew member for Living Lands & Waters, the Hampton-based nonprofit started by Chad Pregracke. Coyne-Logan began as a volunteer in 2005 and joined the organization two years later, helping to clean up several rivers across the country.
The title of his talk is “Trash, Treasures and Trials on our Nation’s Rivers.”
Iowa's junior forward is the kind of kid you can talk to for two minutes, fire off about 10 questions and maybe get a couple dozen words back in return. He’s a smart guy who speaks several different languages. He just doesn’t speak them any more than he has to. He’s quiet. Real quiet.
But the unspoken message he delivered to Iowa coach Fran McCaffery on Sunday afternoon came through loud and clear.
Uhl had his best game of the season, probably the best of his three-year Iowa career, as the Hawkeyes evened their Big Ten record at 2-2 with a 68-62 victory over Rutgers.
The 6-foot-9 junior came into the season as the second most experienced player on the Iowa roster, but he gradually has played his way from starter to frequently-used sub to hardly playing at all. In a double-overtime loss at Nebraska on Thursday, he was on the court for only six of the 50 minutes.
So his performance Sunday was, well … a really big — and really pleasant — surprise.
“I just tried to bring some energy off the bench defensively and offensively,’’ Uhl explained.
He had only been on the court for a minute or so when he calmly knocked down a 3-point field goal. That’s the first one of those he has had in a month. He ended up playing 23 minutes and finishing with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
The point and rebound totals were season highs and they equaled his career highs for Big Ten play. The five blocked shots were two more than he’d had all season. One of them came with a little more than a minute left in the game and kept Iowa from relinquishing the lead.
“He had some huge blocks down the stretch,’’ teammate Cordell Pemsl said. “He did everything he needed to do to help us win.’’
The effort wasn’t a surprise to Uhl himself. He said he has been working hard on his skills as his playing time has dwindled.
“You’ve just got to stay positive, get in the gym and work on your game,’’ he said. “That’s all you can do really.’’
McCaffery said Uhl has been doing well in practice and he lamented the fact that he didn’t use him more in the loss at Nebraska. He admitted he liked the way Uhl responded to being demoted.
“He could have hung his head,’’ McCaffery said. “He had a terrific practice (Saturday). I just thought he earned the opportunity to get more minutes and that's the reason we won.’’
Uhl said getting angry or pouting would have been counter-productive.
“It doesn’t really help …’’ he said. “He’s the coach. He makes the decisions.’’
McCaffery said that’s the sort of approach he hopes all of his players would have. He used the word “professionalism.
“It would have been real easy for him to get mad at me and make excuses,’’ he said. “He just kept working. He's here two hours early and working, and he whacks a three as soon as we put him in.’’
The big question, of course, is where has this Dom Uhl been hiding? And will we continue to see this version going forward? Was this a blip on the radar screen or a portent of things to come?
There is no question that if he continues to perform at this level, the Hawkeyes will be a much more difficult team to beat.
“We'll just stay positive with him, encourage his effort level because he gives you that every day,’’ McCaffery said. “We have all seen him play this well and it will be a big impact on our team if he continues to do that.’’
DES MOINES — Monday was all about regime change at the Iowa Statehouse.
Republicans, who took control of the Iowa Senate and maintained sway in the Iowa House during the 2016 election, realized the fruits of those labors with the swearing-in of new legislators and the start of a two-year run that they pledged would mean major conservative change for Iowans on several fronts.
On an opening day marked by ceremony, pomp and speeches, Ankeny Republican Jack Whitver took the oath of office as Senate president from Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and accepted the gavel from Dubuque Democrat Pam Jochum to officially start the GOP takeover of the Statehouse and begin work with Gov. Terry Branstad to fashion a new budget plan and tackle an aggressive change agenda.
"The first day of session is always my favorite day of the session because everyone is full of optimism. They have big plans and big dreams and big goals of what we can all accomplish in this upcoming session," the newly installed president told a Senate now made up of 29 Republicans, 20 Democrats and one independent.
Whitver called on his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to approach the 2017 session's scheduled 110 days by "thinking big and acting bold."
"When this session ends, let them say about 2017 that this was the year that changed everything in Iowa, that 2017 was the year that the economic revival started in Iowa," Whitver added, noting he didn't envision incremental adjustments but rather changing "the course of this state forever."
Across the rotunda, it was more business as usual as Clear Lake Republican Linda Upmeyer retained her speakership and Windsor Heights Republican Chris Hagenow maintained his role as floor leader of a 59-member GOP majority. Democrats hold 40 seats with an open seat in Davenport to be contested later this month.
"I'm just thrilled," Hagenow said. "It's like reading a great book because you can't wait to get to the end to find out how it ends. Make no mistake, our time is now."
Upmeyer opened the session on a light-hearted note, drawing parallels with the start of a new year at school where everyone shows up in their best clothes full of hope, excitement and anticipation to greet old friends and to meet new members.
"Things have changed here 'bigly,'" Upmeyer told a GOP fundraising event, drawing laughs for using a Donald-Trump-ism for the term "big league."
Upmeyer became the first woman re-elected as House speaker on Monday, but her swearing-in ceremony was interrupted by a test of the state Department of Homeland Security's emergency public address system.
The same test interrupted Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, during his opening remarks that called for bipartisan work to ban texting while driving to make Iowa roadways safer and increasing the state's minimum wage without decreasing pay for workers in counties that already have taken action.
Hogg took the opportunity to blast what he considered shortcomings of Iowa's privatized Medicaid "mess" and to warn against spending legislative time dealing with "fake problems" such as collective bargaining changes, defunding Planned Parenthood or "fake people casting votes" in Iowa elections.
Hogg marked the start of the session by leading the Senate in a moment of silence to remember the passing of former Sen. Joe Seng, D-Davenport, who died last year and was replaced in a special election by Jim Lykam, who moved from the House to the Senate on Monday. Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, marked the start of his 45th session by treating his colleagues to cookies.
In his opening day remarks, House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, referred to a passage from the Book of Isaiah: "He gives power to those who have no might."
"As the minority party in this chamber, the might that we bring to this body in this time and place is our voices, our ideas and our commitment to a better Iowa," Smith said.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock also made a religious reference, telling fellow Republicans at their breakfast fundraising event that the upcoming session is "going to be fun, it's going to be challenging, and we're going to need your prayers, as well, because there are going to be some difficult times and difficult moments."
Dix said the solutions for the problems that confront the state are "growth, growth and growth."
"When we all put our minds together and when we all set our minds on a path, there's no turning back," he said. "Today, it is a new day. I'm excited about it. Now we have the opportunity before us to lead. We're not going to continue the status quo."
Branstad said he is "very, very excited" about what's going to happen during the upcoming legislative session, although he conceded he could not guarantee he would be governor by the time the final gavel falls depending on the timing of his U.S. Senate confirmation of his nomination as U.S. ambassador to China.
"I'm excited that with the new leadership in D.C., and with what you're going to do here that Iowa's going to come roaring back and good times are on their way," Branstad told more than 150 attendees at the GOP session kickoff breakfast.
Bob Vander Plaats, who guides the Family Leader organization, sent an email to the group’s members Monday saying “the next few months may be the best chance we have had to advance family values in Iowa since the 1800s” with Republicans now in control of the Statehouse.
“Right now in Des Moines, a new Iowa Legislature is convening that is more united and open to making meaningful change than any we have seen in over a century,” Vander Plaats noted.
“This opportunity is way too rare, and way too exciting for you to miss,” he told Family Leader members. “On life, marriage, religious liberty, parents and schools, health care, finances, and more — the decisions made in the next few months will have a profound effect on you, your children and your grandchildren.”
Four North Scott High School students have been named finalists in the Iowa State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division "Know Your Constitution" Project.
Juniors Drake Golinghorst, Grant Hansel, Alexis Ramos and Joseph Slater were honored at a luncheon in West Des Moines.
More than 1,000 students from across Iowa participated in the competition, which is designed to enrich students' understanding and appreciation of the Constitution. The students completed an online multiple choice and short essay exam on the articles and amendments of the document.
The top scorers from each of Iowa's Statehouse districts were chosen as finalists.
The results of the election for MetroCom NAACP Unit 4019, Davenport, have been tallied.
Vera Kelly has been elected to her fourth term as president of the Davenport NAACP. Daniel Teague was elected vice president.
Janet Woods-Bragg had been elected as secretary but recently passed away. Kelly said that Vernell Compton, who was re-elected as assistant secretary, has been promoted to secretary to replace Woods-Bragg. Kelly said she will appoint an assistant secretary.
Patrick LaShawn Peacock will be the new treasurer, while Joseph Obleton will be the assistant treasurer.
All of the elected officials began their two-year terms Jan. 1.
Elections were held Nov. 15 at Third Missionary Baptist Church, Davenport.
Government: Urban Chickens, food trucks and a $17 million economic assistance package for Sterilite Corp. sit on the Davenport City Council's plate this week.
The City Council will hear the first consideration for ordinances allowing urban chickens in residential areas and food trucks in designated zones and city right of ways.
The aldermen also will vote to expand northern urban renewal boundaries as part of its preliminary approval for an incentive package to bring a Sterilite manufacturing facility to the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center.
The Davenport City Council meets 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 226 W. 4th St., Davenport.
Schools: Uses and plans for the new 1-percent sales tax are on the agenda for the Rock Island-Milan School Board at the conclusion of its meeting Tuesday. The revenue stream to improve facilities is to be used in Rock Island County for the first time in 2017. Board members will discuss plans on how best to use the funds during a special work session following the regular meeting.
The board meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Rock Island High School Library. In action during the meeting, the board is expected to approve the newly established club, "Girls Leading the Way," at the high school. In addition, Bob Beckwith, the district’s chief financial officer, will provide five-year financial projections.
Three Iowa school boards meet in regular session at 6 p.m. Monday, including Davenport, Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley. The North Scott School Board plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, and part of that meeting will be closed to evaluate the district’s superintendent, Joe Stutting.
Sports: The Quad-City Mallards will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a special alumni weekend on Friday and Saturday at the iWireless Center. Former team president Howard Cornfield will be honored prior to a Friday game against the Indy Fuel and former Mallards players will play an alumni game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, prior to a game with the Fort Wayne Komets.
Local high school sports teams will have a full week of action. Among the highlights will be a Friday night boys basketball game between Rock Island and United Township and the two-day Midwest Shootout wrestling tournament hosted by Bettendorf.
Big Story: For Sunday, reporter Brian Wellner is wrapping up his reporting on a look into domestic violence in the Quad-Cities. More specifically, his Big Story will show how resources are being pinched by the Illinois budget crisis, and how one privately funded shelter for abused women has closed in Rock Island.
Wellner is talking to abuse survivors about the value in getting help to get away, among other important topics.
1. Rising temperatures today topped off with fog, drizzle
A good Monday to all.
Here's the forecast from the National Weather Service.
Today will be mostly cloudy with a high near 33 degrees.
Tonight there's a chance of drizzle after midnight with patchy fog after 3 a.m. Otherwise skies will be cloudy with a temperature rising to around 40 degrees by 5 a.m. South winds of around 15 mph will gust as high as 25 mph.
Rain is likely before noon Tuesday with a chance of drizzle between noon and 5 p.m. Then there's a chance of snow after 5 p.m. Look out for some patchy fog before 11 a.m.
Otherwise the day will be cloudy with a temperature rising to near 44 degreesby 11 a.m., then falling to around 35 degrees during the remainder of the day. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent with little or no snow accumulation expected.
Tuesday night will be mostly cloudy with a low around 25 degrees.
2. Hope, Trump upstage 'La La Land's' moment in the sun
The sunny musical "La La Land" may have danced its way to a Golden Globes record Sunday night, but the film's seven accolades were a mere sideshow to the eloquence of honoree Meryl Streep, whose speech encapsulated the evening's prevailing themes of hope, inclusivity and action over anger about the imminent presidency of Donald Trump. Read more.
3. What lies below: Caves and tunnels under the Quad-Cities
As time marches on, portions of the Quad-Cities' underworld are expected to reveal themselves. It happened 20 years ago in Moline.
An eroding hillside reopened a shaft to a long-dormant limestone mine at the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street. As you will read, the handful of people who rappelled down a tree root and into the massive enclosure haven't forgotten it.
Another cave, this one at the Mound Street and River Drive entrance to the Village of East Davenport, was used to store hundreds of barrels of beer. People today cannot agree on how it got there. Our big story from the weekend, in case you missed it, read more.
4. Doxsie's after-thoughts from Iowa-Rutgers
Check out what Don Doxsie had to say about Iowa’s 68-62 victory over Rutgers. Read more.
5. Davenport man killed during home invasion
Authorities have identified the man killed during a weekend home invasion in northeast Iowa.
The Bremer County Sheriff's office says 46-year-old Steven Anthony of Davenport, died during after a shooting in the home in Sumner on Friday night.
Another person was injured in the incident, but Sheriff Dan Pickett declined Sunday to identify the other people who were in the home.
Pickett described the incident as a home invasion.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting with the case.
6. Best of the week
Check out entertainment reporter Amanda Hancock's best entertainment bets for the week. Read more.
The Freight House in downtown Davenport is getting an icy makeover. During the fifth annual Icestravaganza Saturday at the Freight House, 421 W. River Drive, Davenport, about 20,000 pounds of ice is slated to create interactive sculptures with the help of a team of professional sculptors. Also on tap is live music, children's activities, a visit from an ice princess and tasting from Front Street Brewery.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Freight House. Free
2. Shipwreck sighting
"Shipwreck! Pirates and Treasure," a deep-dive exhibit exploring pirate legend and lore, shipwreck recoveries and hands-on activities, has almost run its course at the Putnam Museum & Science Center. The museum's latest blockbuster interactive ends Sunday, so don't miss your chance to experience the thrill of shipwreck discovery while learning about legendary pirates such as Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Barbary Corsairs, Privateers and the Buccaneers. The museum, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, college students and $5 for youth ages 3-18. For more information, visit putnam.org.
Open through Sunday, Putnam Museum, $5-$8
3. A show from the other side
When the 1990 movie "Ghost" was transformed into a Broadway musical a few years ago, it flopped. Last year, a director from Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pa. reworked the show to make it smaller and more intimate. Director Jay Cranford says that version of the musical "has the heart of the love story from the movie with songs that show it off." This week, see "Ghost: The Musical" at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
Wednesday through March 11, Circa '21, $51.73
4. Party at Playcrafters
Playcrafters Barn Theatre opens the year with a comedy, "Steel Magnolias." In this production, neighborly gossip takes the spotlight at Truvy's beauty salon, where six diverse women come together to share their secrets and memories, from weddings to divorces and babies to funerals. See the show's opening this week at Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 35th Ave., Moline Get advance tickets, $13, at the box office or by calling 309-762-0330.
7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Playcrafters Barn Theatre, $13
5. Be the detective
Ready to take on the role of detective? At this murder mystery-themed dinner, called"Akin to Murder," you'll get a balance of laughs and scares. Plus, you'll get to solve a crime over cocktails and a meal. Reserve your spot by visiting skellingtonmanor.com or calling 563-344-9187.
6:30 p.m. Friday, Skellington Manor, Rock Island, $39.95
6. Americana concert
Need a "it's almost Friday" pick-me-up? See Minnestota-based "front porch Americana" band The Last Revel, as well as opening band Miles Over Mountain, on Thursday at the Redstone Room, 129 N. Main St., Davenport. For more information, visit rivermusicexperience.org.
8 p.m. Thursday, Redstone Room, $8
7. Hip-hop only
Daytrotter is kicking off 2017 with an all hip-hop show. The Minneapolis-based rapper Sims, who is promoting his latest album "More Than Ever," headlines the concert with performances from Chicago act Air Credits as well as Quad-City rapper Xavy Rusan at Daytrotter, 324 Brady St., Davenport. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.
8 p.m. Friday, Daytrotter, $8
8. Support a blues sister
Juliana Logan, a 17-year-old Quad-City singer-songwriter, was recently selected by the Central Iowa Blues Society to represent Iowa at the 2017 International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase. To help Logan and her band, made up of four Q-C teenagers, get to Memphis next month, a slew of Quad-City musicians are hosting a fundraiser show, called "Support Our Sister: Memphis Send-Off" at the Redstone Room, 129 N. Main St., Davenport.
6 p.m. Friday, Redstone Room, $10 in advance, $15 at the door
9. A taste of LeClaire
Spend your Sunday sampling (for free) some of the best food, beer, wine and whiskey in downtown LeClaire. During "Taste of LeClaire," the town's eateries will offer free samples as well as specials on their signature dishes. For example, try soup at Bela, wine at Grasshoppers, the "Hot Iowish Cream" cocktail at Mississippi River Distilling, sweet apple pork sliders at Big Dave & Holly's, red wine hot chocolate at Wide River Winery Tasting Room, wings at Bierstube, a Winterfest beer at Green Tree Brewery and more.
A vacant downtown Silvis store that once housed Cashway Lumber, and later Pro Build Contractor Supply, now will become an R.P. Lumber store.
John Corelis, of NAI Ruhl Commercial Co., who brokered the deal, said the building has been sold to Old Capital Retail, a subsidiary of the Edwardsville, Illinois-based R.P. Lumber.
Founded by Robert Plummer in 1977 in Staunton, Illinois, the full service building materials supplier has 65 stores across the state and in Missouri.
"They're a lumber company that specializes in contractors, but they'll have a large showroom for do-it-yourselfers," Corelis added.
He said the building sold for $710,000. It was listed for $875,000. It was owned by Laird Norton Real Estate Inc., of Seattle, Washington.
R.P. Lumber trucks are already on site, presumably making renovations.
The site included a 37,000-square-foot-retail building and seven acres with numerous outbuildings. Corelis said the building was vacated a few years back when the Silvis Pro Build consolidated with its Davenport sister store.
"I'm excited because I think it will be good for the city of Silvis," said Corelis, Ruhl Commercial's senior vice president. "Anchor Lumber is next door and it attracts people that are looking for lumber products to that area."
For Corelis, this marked a second chance to sell the downtown site. In the 1970s, he listed the property— a former ice house that once sold blocks of ice cut from the frozen Mississippi River. But shortly after the listing, fire ravaged the 1800s-circa building.
"It was sold to Cashway Lumber after the building burned down, and they were there a long time," he recalled.
Midland Communications adopts new name
Midland Communications, Davenport, has announced a new name that it says better reflects the company it is today.
Now known as Midland Technologies, the 70-year-old company has grown to develop a very diverse suite of technology products and services.
Company president Jason Smith said the name change was driven by the fact that customers thought of Midland solely as a unified communications equipment provider.
For the past decade, Midland has been providing managed IT services, security, surveillance, audio visual and unified communications solutions to the business community.
"We expect this to deepen our relationship with current customers and to create a better customers experience for everyone we connect with in the future as well," he said.
Launched in 1946 as the worldwide marketing arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors, Midland has been a distributor of NEC America since 1977. It boasts a customer base of more than 3,000 companies, government agencies, universities and colleges, hospitals and hotels.
For more information, call Midland Technologies at 563-326-1237 or visit www.midland.com.
Slumberland aids Bethany clients
Thanks to the generosity of Slumberland Furniture Stores in Davenport and Moline, more than three dozen Quad-Citians began the new year with new mattresses.
The two Slumberland stores donated 37 new twin-size mattress sets last month to Bethany for Children & Families, which identified people in need of new beds.
Bethany President and CEO Bill Steinhauser said the donation ensures that 37 people "will no longer have to sleep on the floor during these frigid winter nights."
The donation was made through Slumberland's annual Making Homes for the Holidays, a program created in 1993. Since its inception, the program has donated 2,000 mattress sets.
Founded in 1967 in Richfield, Minn., Slumberland has expanded to more than 125 stores in 12 states throughout the Midwest.
DES MOINES — The most important numbers representing Iowa’s 87th General Assembly, which meets today for the first time, are 29 and 20.
Those are the respective numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the 50-member Iowa Senate, representing a change in political party control of the chamber for the first time since 2011 and a new power structure at the Iowa Capitol: After the Nov. 8 election, Republicans now control the state’s law-making agenda with a GOP governor and majorities in both the Iowa House and Senate.
But there are many other numbers that give us a glimpse into the makeup of the Iowa Legislature and its 149 members. (For now. A 150th will be added with a special election on Jan. 31 to fill a vacant House seat in Davenport.)
Take 14, for example: There are 14 first-time members of both the Senate and House who will be sworn in this week.
Of course, that number likely will increase to 15 in the House when the special election determines a winner.
Here are more numbers that describe the makeup of Iowa’s 87th General Assembly:
The number of independent members. Sen. David Johnson of Ocheyedan withdrew from the Republican Party in protest of then-presidential candidate and now President-elect Donald Trump. Johnson was in the middle of his fourth four-year term and thus was not on the ballot for re-election in November.
The age, as of the 2017 session’s first day, of the Legislature’s youngest member, Rep. Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Orange City. The youngest Senate member is 32-year-old Jake Chapman of Adel.
The age, as of the 2017 session’s first day, of the Legislature’s oldest member, Rep. Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield. The oldest Senate member is 83-year-old Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids.
The respective average age of members of the Iowa Senate and House.
The number of grandparents in the Iowa Legislature, roughly a third of all members.
The number of women in the Iowa Senate, five of whom are Democrats. Sen. Amy Sinclair of Allerton is the only Republican woman in the Senate. The group 50-50 in 2020, which is working to have equal gender representation in the Iowa Legislature by 2020, has a lot of work to do in the next two elections: Including the House, women make up just 22 percent of the Legislature.
Minority members in the Senate. There are just five minority members in the House, meaning minorities comprise 13 percent of Iowa’s population, according to Census figures, but just 3 percent of its law-making body. All five minority members of the Legislature are black, and all are Democrats.
The number of farmers in the Legislature. The most-represented professional background is business/professional, with 66 members, or 44 percent. In both chambers, the top four professions are business/professional, farmer, retired and educator.
The number of members with college degrees. That’s 84 percent of all members.
The number of members who were not born in Iowa. The members born outside Iowa’s borders hail from 13 different states. Five were born in Minnesota and four each in Illinois and Missouri. Two were born in California, Sen. Mark Chelgren and Rep. Timi Brown-Powers; one in Wyoming, Rep. Ralph Watts, and one in New Jersey, Rep. Helen Miller.