BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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Homicide suspect passes away before trial

This November, a nearly 17-year-old homicide trial was brought to a screeching halt when the suspect died.

John Bloomfield was set to take the stand in court in January, but he died in a Minnesota hospital from a variety of illnesses including prostate cancer, diabetes, and heart problems.

Bloomfield had been accused of strangling wife Frances Bloomfield in 1997.

Court documents alleged that Bloomfield “returned to his home from a business trip and struck his wife in the head, then strangled her with a ligature before wrapping up her body and dumping it along a road near Rockford, Illinois.”

Bloomfield had been charged with first-degree murder.

by Megan Sanchez

Missing ISU student found in Iowa City

On Sept. 26 missing Iowa State University student Tong Shao’s body was found in the trunk of a Toyota Camry in Iowa City.

Shao was last seen Sept. 8 and was reportedly visiting boyfriend Xiangnan Li, a University of Iowa student, whom the police identified as the person of interest in the case. It is suspected that Li traveled back to China.

On Oct. 31, the Johnson County Medical Examiner Administrator’s Office released the autopsy report to the Iowa City police and the Johnson County county attorney.

The family has been notified, but police Sgt. Scott Gaarde told The Daily Iowan that a release was being prepared but needed final approval from the county attorney.

by Nick Moffitt

Sexual misconducts on campus reach nine

Nine sexual misconducts were reported on the University of Iowa campus during the fall semester.

UI President Sally Mason announced in October that additional funding would be added for three positions related to prevention education.

The DI also reported in October that compared with other Big Ten universities, the UI tells students very little information about where sexual misconducts occur.

by Nick Moffitt

Campus, community debate controversial art display

In early December, Serhat Tanyolacar, a UI visiting assistant professor of art and a printmaking fellow, put an original artwork on the Pentacrest.

The display consisted of a Klu Klux Klan figure made out of newspaper clippings about racial tension and oppression.

The statue was taken down shortly after its initial appearance, and it sparked controversy at the UI and in the city.

Some argued that the artwork should be classified protected by “freedom of speech,” while others found it deeply offensive. The university insisted that because Tanyolacar did not have a proper permit, the statue could not stay on university property.

Tanyolacar apologized for any trouble he may have caused but said he did get what he wanted out of the display.

“I’m deeply sorry for the pain,” he said. “I share all the pain I see today. Meanwhile, now there’s a dialogue. My whole intention was this. I’m sad, but at the same time I’m very happy. As a faculty [member], I came here to be an activist. Now, I think there is a chance to be accepted or to be an ally or to heal all of these kids’ feelings.”

by Megan Sanchez

Ferguson verdict causes debate in Iowa City area

Just as University of Iowa students settled in to their Thanksgiving holiday break, the grand jury’s decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was announced.

Students and community members were immediately affected, taking to the streets of Iowa City to protest the decision.

The protest lasted more than an hour, and at one point blocked traffic.

This was just one of many demonstrations going on throughout the nation at the time.

The public displays for change continued throughout the semester when a judge dropped a felony charge against the officer who was accused of killing 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit and again when a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the officer who was accused of killing Eric Garner, an African American who lived in New York.

These court decisions motivated UI medical students and professors to stage a “die-in.” Nearly 60 people lay on the ground holding signs, staring at the sky, not speaking for 11 minutes.

The issues have continued to be talked about during panel discussions throughout the year.

by Megan Sanchez

Flood mitigation

Despite summer flooding, flood-mitigation projects at the IMU and Mayflower Hall continued to stay on schedule.

The 2014 summer floods reached more than 25 feet, which is major flood stage. That has only happened two times in Iowa City’s history, 1993 and 2008.

The floods delayed summer construction, but extra manpower was added to catch up.

A new permanent home for the University of Iowa Museum of Art was announced in October — the southeast quadrant at the intersection of Clinton and Burlington Streets.

The site is across the street from the new Voxman Music Building, which is under construction. 

by Nick Moffitt

Branstad wins sixth term as governor

Gov. Terry Branstad will become the longest-serving American governor in December 2015 after having been elected to an unprecedented sixth-term in office in November.

Branstad, 67, ran alongside Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who will continue in her position.

He had consistently led by double-digits in the polls leading up to the race. Branstad won the race with 59.1 percent of the vote.

by Nick Moffitt

Ernst set to become Iowa’s first woman senator

Joni Ernst, 44, will become the first female senator in the history of the state after defeating Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in Iowa’s Senate race in November.

Ernst will succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. She ran her campaign on creating jobs, growing the economy, and protecting the Second Amendment.

Ernst will serve alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley. The pair will be the first pair of Republicans from Iowa to serve in the U.S. Senate in more than 30 years.

The veteran from Red Oak, Iowa, is the first female combat veteran elected to Congress.

Ernst had previously served in the state Senate from 2011 to 2014.

by Nick Moffitt

Local Senate

In the only contested area state Senate race, Democrat Kevin Kinney defeated Republican Mike Moore in Iowa’s 39th Senate District.

Republican Sandy Greiner retired from the seat.

Kinney is a veteran lieutenant sheriff in Johnson County and a lifelong farmer from Oxford, Iowa.

His platform included establishing Common Core curriculum across the state, reforming the prison system, and mental health.

by Nick Moffitt

Latham and Harkin retire

Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election to the House of Representatives. Latham had served western Iowa for 20 years.

His retirement opened up the seat in the 3rd Congressional District.

Republican David Young won the seat in the Nov. 4 election.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, also announced his retirement this year, leaving a Senate seat open after serving for 30 years.

Republican Joni Ernst will take over Harkin’s seat after winning in the Nov. 4 election.

by Lily Abromeit

Regent Carroll resigns

A member of the state Board of Regents resigned Nov. 20 because her family has moved to Texas.

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Nicole Carroll in 2011, and her term was set to expire in April 2017.

Branstad will have to nominate a new individual to replace her. Because of the board’s policy of balance, the candidate will have to be a woman and either an independent or a Democrat.

The state Senate will then have to approve the nomination by a two-thirds vote.

Carroll is an attorney from Carroll, Iowa, and served 12 years on the Carroll School Board. Her hometown is Story City.

by Chris Higgins

Regents pass third tuition freeze

The state Board of Regents unanimously approved a historic third-consecutive tuition freeze for resident undergraduates at all three regent universities earlier this month.

The regents expect a projected $4.5 million revenue loss to be covered through savings from their ongoing efficiency review. Some regents said they found it difficult to justify increasing tuition given the $40 million to $80 million the review is expected to save.

Some expressed concerns included whether the universities would want efficiency savings to cover the freeze, whether a third freeze now could lead to steep increases in the future, and how the freeze could disproportionally affect the University of Northern Iowa.

Education costs have skyrocketed over the past 15 years as the state Legislature has dramatically reduced its percentage of university funding.

Tuition will increase on all other students, resulting in $10 million in additional revenue, while fees will increase for every student.

by Chris Higgins

UIHC becomes Ebola treatment center

The UI Hospitals and Clinics was named Iowa’s only Ebola treatment center earlier this month.

In addition, Mercy Medical Center and Iowa Methodist Medical Center, both in Des Moines, were named as screening facilities.

There have been zero reported cases of Ebola in Iowa and four in the United States total, with none since October.

One individual in Iowa was quarantined over Ebola concerns in November.

The hospital has set up an isolated area in the hospital for hypothetical Ebola patients and several staff members have been trained to deal with the disease.

The UIHC has also created specialized headgear to allow wearers to avoid contamination.

Ebola has infected around 18,500 people in West Africa, where it remains a significant health crisis. Nearly 7,000 have died.

by Chris Higgins

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