CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION-DONATIONS Questions raised about donations to state agency (Information in the following story is from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com) DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – At least 27 Iowa landlords made donations to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in lieu of legal action for illegally discriminating against housing applicants. The Des Moines Register reported Thursday that the commission solicited and accepted at least $19,850 in “voluntary contributions” from 2006 through February 2011. Ralph Rosenberg, the commission’s director in 2006, says the practice was started to encourage rapid resolution of discrimination complaints. He says the attorney general’s office agreed that soliciting donations in lieu of fines was acceptable under Iowa law. The office revisited the issue last year and concluded it’s not appropriate. State court administrator David Boyd says the practice is frowned upon by the judicial branch because it gives the impression that justice is for sale.
IOWA FLAGS-WARD Flags in Iowa at half-staff for Sen. Pat Ward DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Governor Terry Branstad is ordering flags at state government buildings and other sites to be flown at half-staff to honor state Senator Pat Ward, who died of breast cancer on Monday. Branstad says flags will be lowered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, the day of Ward’s funeral at Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines. The 55-year-old Clive Republican was elected to the Senate in 2004 when she won a special election to fill the suburban Des Moines seat vacated by Mary Kramer, who was appointed U.S. ambassador to Barbados. Ward faced Democrat Desmund Adams in the November election. Her name will remain on the ballot, but the votes will not be official. A special election will be held December 11th.
PAUL RYAN-CAMPAIGN Paul Ryan, Lee Greenwood campaign in Florida FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan raised $1.2 million at a private reception and was greeted by a comedian and a country music star as he made campaign stops Thursday across Florida. In a visit to Fort Myers at sunset – where some 3,600 people had gathered – musician Lee Greenwood was on hand to play patriotic country tunes and comedian Dennis Miller entertained the crowd before Ryan took the stage. “I’ve had it with the hipster president,” Miller joked about President Obama, then added a reference to Romney: “I am ready for the ‘gosh’ president.” During all of the stops, Ryan focused on the economy, a strong military and job creation. In a visit to Ocala earlier in the day, Ryan accused Obama of running a campaign based on divisiveness.
DIESEL FUEL SPILL Fuel spill in Des Moines River traced to generator DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Officials say a diesel fuel spill in the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines has been traced to a rooftop generator at the Iowa Events Center. The spill was discovered Thursday morning. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says about 2,500 gallons of diesel flowed down a roof drain from a standby generator on the roof of Hy-Vee Hall. It flowed into a storm drain that led to the river. Cleanup crews have placed absorbent booms across the river. DNR spokesman Ted Petersen says there’s no danger to the city’s drinking water supply. He says the spill is below the city’s intake on the Des Moines River and most of the city’s water comes from the Raccoon River.
MISSING GIRLS Runaway Iowa teens face charges in Illinois (Information in the following story is from: The Gazette, http://www.gazetteonline.com/) CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – Four Iowa teenagers who ran away together face juvenile charges in Illinois where they found in a vacant house. The teens were found safe in Eureka, Illinois on Tuesday when the owner of the house checked on the property. Two Shellsburg girls and two boys from Atlantic had not been seen since Saturday. The Gazette reports the teens were in court in Illinois on Wednesday on charges of trespassing and criminal damage to property. The boys also face a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle. Benton County, Iowa, Sheriff Randy Forsyth says one of the girls and one of the boys apparently met through the Xbox video game system that allows users to interact with each other. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name juveniles accused of a crime.
PENN STATE-GOING NASCAR Penn State revs up offense in ‘NASCAR’ mode STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – At times, a Penn State game can resemble a track meet these days. It’s not quite time to say goodbye to huddles and heavy-formation handoffs in Happy Valley, but when first-year coach Bill O’Brien wants to turn up the tempo, he goes “NASCAR.” It’s Penn State’s version of an up-tempo, no-huddle offense which has become all the rage in college football. But at Penn State (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten), it’s a dramatic change of pace from the previous regime which tended to be less risky and relied more on the run and field position. Going NASCAR is just another new wrinkle in the host of changes installed by the offensive-minded O’Brien with the surging Nittany Lions, who have won four straight heading into Saturday’s night’s tilt at Iowa.