Evans: We should not just accept deaths like these

Twenty years ago, when the death of 2-year-old Shelby Duis outraged Iowans, I was confident the Spirit Lake tragedy would soon bring change to our state. I probably was naive. 

In 2016, when Natalie Finn, 16, was found near death in a middle-class neighborhoodin West Des Moines, I was confident that tragedy would bring change to our state. I probably was naive. Again. 

In 2017, when Sabrina Ray, 16, was found dead in her home in Perry, I was convinced the time for change was imminent. 

I probably was naive. Once again.

Evans: Iowa should look at another Vision Iowa

There was a milestone of note recently, and it is a shame there was not a big public celebration. Twenty years ago, Gov. Tom Vilsack and the Iowa Legislature had the foresight to create a program that has brought important changes to communities large and small across Iowa. The program was called Vision Iowa – and it certainly provided that. The initiative enabled communities to bring projects to life that probably never would have gotten off the ground without the unusual financial arrangement that was the beauty of Vision Iowa. State government provided part of the investment for these projects.

Evans: We benefit from these doses of inspiration

I’m sure we all have been inspired at one time or another by a gifted speaker. Maybe it was a pastor or teacher. Maybe it was a leader who is a skilled orator. Or it might have been someone else who connected with us and delivered a memorable message. In the past few weeks, a couple of speakers have done that for me.

Evans: It’s time to streamline top-heavy universities

Even before coronavirus hit American colleges and universities, even before their budgets imploded because of the pandemic, questions were being asked nationally about how these institutions spend their money. Some high-profile decisions by University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld have put the focus on this issue in our state. The issue further crystallized last week when a list of administrative staff at Iowa State University landed in my mailbox. At its essence, this issue is the growth of the number of administrators, compared with the number of academic staff. Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University in Virginia, studies this issue.

Evans: Threats won’t end people’s virus anxieties

Give an extra tug on your seatbelt. The next couple of months will be rough ones. The new school year starts in a few weeks. Not surprisingly, with the coronavirus still sickening and killing people in Iowa, what normally is a time of much excitement has become a time of great anxiety. Our president has said he expects students to be back in the classroom for in-person learning in every school in America. If schools do not comply, he has threatened to withhold their federal education aid.

Evans: Barta’s management under scrutiny — again

There’s so much anxiety going around Iowa City now, and Maalox could easily qualify as the official summer beverage. There’s anxiety over what the fall semester will look like at the University of Iowa, with coronavirus still a fact of life in the community and enforcement of social distancing next to impossible in dormitories, classrooms and student hangouts. There’s anxiety over how many students will decide to sit out the coming school year because of concern for their health. A significant drop in the university’s enrollment could cause the school’s financial problems to mushroom. There’s anxiety over how coronavirus will change the Hawkeyes’ football season, the social event of the fall in Iowa City and the biggest revenue-generating sport for the UI Athletics Department.