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Editorial: Transparency at the local level

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | DECEMBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City celebrated its 175th birthday this past weekend: The party included horse-drawn carriage rides, fireworks, and other celebratory activities.

Iowa City certainly deserves praise; it was ranked 10th in Livability.com’s ranking of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2015. The ranking was based on amenities, demographics, economy, health care, and housing. Considering that Iowa City has a population of approximately 80,000 the recognition is an example that Iowa City has created an environment that makes for a great place to live.

Nevertheless, Iowa City’s birthday is also an opportunity for it to consider what it can change. More specifically, there needs to be more discussion about the changing way we tackle such issues as diversity and the treatment of women.

The group Diversity Focus met with Iowa City officials to discuss how the city handles issues of diversity. The Diversity Focus group has a three-pronged approach for this issue: awareness, action, and advocacy. The Iowa Soul Festival, Iowa Black Business Consortium, and diversity training for Iowa City law-enforcement have all been raised by the group. These changes have all occurred since 2005 and demonstrate how much the city has tried to move forward in the last decade.

The recent case involving Eric Garner in New York and the subsequent protests across the country and in Iowa City are a reminder that this work should continue.

Considering that Iowa City is more than 80 percent white demographically, there is certainly a continued need for diversity efforts. The next step for Diversity Focus is to continue having conversations about diversity and more police training, while also finding ways of fighting the inherent inequalities that may have seeped into the fabric of the city.

Similarly, the treatment of women is another issue Iowa City needs to put into consideration on its birthday. There have recently been many instances of women coaches being fired by the university, allegedly for being too tough. While their male counterparts have often had the same allegations, their contracts were renewed.

Mandi Kowal, the Iowa women’s rowing coach, did not have her contract renewed after some contended that her workouts were too intense. Sharon Dingman was Iowa’s volleyball coach whose contract was also not renewed. In contrast, Chris Doyle, who is the football strength and conditioning coach, had 13 football players hospitalized because the workouts were too rigorous. Instead of any punishment, he was awarded as being Iowa’s football assistant coach of the year.

While the university denies any sex bias, and it is certainly very difficult to document, it is important to recognize that the equal treatment of women is another issue that the nation and our city are dealing with.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes that the No. 1 issue for the city to stress should be transparency, because this helps alleviate any concerns that certain decisions are being made for racist or sexist reasons. The police should make sure their techniques are well documented and available to the public. In relation to the above example, the university should make its requirements for terminating contracts more universal. Taking these steps can help bridge the divide between authorities and the citizenry.


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