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Former Davenport school district administrative building

Former Davenport Schools Administration Center

Thumbs Up ... to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for adding the former Davenport School District administration building to the National Register of Historic Places.

The department announced the decision about a week ago, and according to the Times' Sarah Ritter, it "was added to the Register for its modernistic, New Formalism design."

The building, at 1606 Brady Street, first housed First National Bank, which opened in 1967. Now the building is being redeveloped by Des Moines-based Newbury Living into a 38-unit apartment complex.

It's easy for those of us who work in the area not to notice it as we drive by, but the building is a striking architectural example of its time.

As Ritter noted in her article, the building, along with the downtown library, are two of the strongest examples of New Formalism here.

"The style emerged in the 1960s with a focus on spatial hierarchy, emphasizing a building structure and construction grid on a raised base," she wrote.

Incidentally, we would note, the Davenport City Council last month granted local landmark status to the downtown library, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

The Edward Durrell Stone building has long been a distinct feature of the corner of Main and 4th streets.

As longtime residents of downtown Davenport, we are happy to see our historic treasures recognized -- and to see them continue to contribute to the life of this part of the community.

Thumbs Down ... to Iowa Workforce Development for its nasty little bill that would impose a waiting period of a week before Iowans who lose their jobs are able to draw their first unemployment check.

The legislation actually got passed out of a House subcommittee this week, as Republicans on the panel signed off.

Proponents of the legislation say Iowa is one of the few states that don’t have a waiting period, and they say some construction firms use current law to improperly use it to pay workers who really aren't out of work, but are not on-site.

Critics, though, say making Iowans wait a week is cruel -- and it would be a great hardship for people who often don't have any savings. We saw the evidence of that clearly in the recent federal government shutdown. A gap in pay is no small thing, even for a week.

We also think it's pretty dumb for a state that needs workers.

"If we’re trying to attract workers, why would we take 10 steps backward? We shouldn’t penalize Iowans," Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, said.

We agree. And it's not like Iowa's unemployment fund is hurting. It's one of the strongest in the country.

If there are people who are gaming the system, go after them. But don't punish others, and the state's competitive standing, at the same time.

No, to us, this just looks like a way to cheat unfortunate Iowans out of insurance they have coming to them.

Under this plan, the first week of unemployment would be delayed -- and it wouldn't be paid at all until an out of work Iowan exhausts their full 26 weeks of benefits. But, get this, only a quarter of the people on unemployment actually go the full 26 weeks.

Get the idea?

We do, and we think it’s pretty underhanded.

Thumbs Up ... to the Iowa lawmakers who are moving ahead with a bill that would ban using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

A subcommittee of the Senate Transportation Committee cleared the bill on Thursday.

Lawmakers have worked to restrain the use of mobile phones by drivers for a couple of years. But the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, said it's time for stronger measures.

"I think hands-free is probably the only way we’re going to solve this issue (of distracted driving), or at least pay more attention to it,” he said.

We would tend to agree. It's clear to any driver just how frequent it is to see a motorist, either at a stop light -- or not -- head bent, checking out their phone.

Sixteen states have similar laws on the books, including Illinois. We think it’s about time we took that step here.

Some law enforcement officials in Iowa say the current rules make it too easy to get out of citations. Which may be why enforcement is spotty, to say the least.

The Iowa State Patrol wrote the vast majority of the 1,743 citations for violating the no texting-while driving law in its first 12 months, according to the Des Moines Register. That left fewer than 600 for the other 400 local law enforcement agencies in the state.

This bill appears to face an uncertain future. Kapucian said he didn't know its prospects in the full Senate. Meanwhile, the House hasn't moved on anything yet.

Either way, we applaud the lawmakers who have moved this forward.

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