Thumbs Up … to Augustana College for the $8.5 million, 22,000 square foot expansion of the Hanson Hall of Science. The new project was unveiled just before the beginning of classes this week.
As the Dispatch-Argus’ Graham Ambrose wrote, "the Hanson expansion is a modest yet aesthetic contribution to the face of campus. More than a mere recruitment tool, the facility is expected to become a hub for current students and faculty."
The capital campaign, which included a $2.5 million contribution from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, has been a top priority as the university has seen interest in the sciences grow on campus. Which is good for the Quad-Cities. Our area will see an increase in jobs in the scientific services field over the next several years, according to Bi-State Regional Commission projections.
The expanded Hanson Hall is yet another improvement to educational opportunities in the Quad-Cities, a key to our community's growth and development.
Thumbs Down … to the Iowa Department of Public Safety for turning down an Associated Press open records request asking for the identities of people convicted of crimes who were improperly granted credentials to work at private security firms.
The AP reported the agency revoked the credentials of about two dozen people, an action it took after a state audit discovered it failed to do the required security checks before issuing licenses to 5,800 people to work at security firms.
A lawyer with the Department of Public Safety, citing state law, said the names of people working for licensed security firms must be kept confidential.
Even those who weren’t properly credentialed to work there in the first place?
Auditor Rob Sand’s office also declined to release the list to the AP, saying its work papers are confidential. A spokesman for the office, however, said that Public Safety should make the names public.
We agree. One of the reasons for having an open records law is that disclosure helps the public and the press judge how government agencies and employees do their jobs.
Secrecy makes it that much harder, especially in a case where it appears that sort of oversight is needed.
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We would note that one of the reasons this is an issue is that an ex-felon used a security card to seek a weapons permit in Linn County.
Fortunately, it was caught. But how many others might have done the same thing?
We don’t know. We don't know who these people are.
In fact, we don’t even know details of the incident in Linn County because – you guessed it – state law prohibits the release of information related to the denial of a weapons application.
Thumbs Up … to the Quad-Citians who will be at the Freight House Farmers Market on Sunday, Sept. 15, as part of National Drive Electric Week.
Local electric vehicle, or EV, enthusiasts will be there to answer questions. There also may be an opportunity for folks to test drive some of the electric vehicles that will be there.
Electric vehicles still make up a small fraction of American car sales, but interest is building fast, particularly among young people. A recent AAA survey said that 40 million Americans said they would be willing to consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase.
What was especially interesting about the AAA survey is the misunderstandings that many Americans have about EVs. For example, they do better than gasoline-powered vehicles in stop-and-go traffic, because they are able to recapture energy to charge the battery while decelerating. In the survey, though, a majority of those asked didn’t know whether electric vehicles did better in highway or city traffic.
It seems to us this event at the Freight House is a good place to answer questions like this. So cheers to those, including the Eagle View Group of the Sierra Club, who are sponsoring this event, one of about 300 around the country.
Electric vehicles are becoming more common, and it’s anybody’s guess how fast this market will grow, especially as worries about climate change abound. We’re happy to see people out there who are eager to spread the word.