Your Town Now: The Month that was January 2011

Four Words

Worst. Prosecution. Witness. Ever.

Piano Lounge

Chief Revenuer Sam Hargadine wants your tipples served with a chaser of good moral character. In recent months, Hargadine has lobbied for the non-renewal of liquor licenses to several Mike Porter-owned establishments on the grounds that Porter’s financial troubles and failure to meet city building codes demonstrated a lack of good moral character. Now, he’s after the Piano Lounge.

The Piano Lounge ain’t One-Eyed Jake’s and Hargadine’s beef isn’t quite the same, either. It turns out Chad Freeman, who owns 30% of PL, bounced a check in Linn County back in July, and his other business, Freeman Construction, has a long-unpaid landfill fee. The Piano Lounge has had no PAULA citations, no sales-to-minors citations, heck, no “other” citations in the last twelve months, according to Hargadine’s memo to City Council. Their record’s neat as a pin. Freeman’s might be muddier, but here’s a suggestion to all involved: take the landfill fees out of the $700,000 in city contracts Freeman Construction has been recently rewarded and stop pretending that the unrelated legal adventures of a minority owner characterize the establishment as a whole. Or come clean about why the finger’s being pointed at this particular bar.


On Jan. 18, no Iowa football players were officially accused of rape. That’s something to build on.


On Jan. 1, Iowa enacted a law requiring sheriffs to issue a handgun permit to anyone not unqualified to receive one. Part of the statute (not titled the We’re Really Not Arizona Act) indicates that permits “shall be valid throughout the state except where the possession or carrying of a firearm is prohibited by state or federal law.”

This got some of our city’s sharper minds–including Iowa City Public Library Director Susan Craig and City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes–to wonder what this meant for the city’s property, city hall and the library, for instance. If the state government hasn’t outlawed guns from public buildings, does the right to carry firearms extend to city property?

When Craig asked Dilkes for clarification, she got a clear and heartening answer: Iowa City reserves the right to ban firearms from its public buildings, reading the validity clause as requiring only that permits be acknowledged regardless of the Iowa counties in which they were issued. Since the state’s attorney general agrees unequivocally, you’ll need to leave your pistols with the nearest Ped Mall-trawling teenager when visiting the library. Better yet, leave ‘em at home.


On Jan. 6, no Iowa football players were officially charged with selling enriched uranium to North Korea. A needed feather in Coach Kirk’s quickly thinning cap.

Make-Believe is Fun

Say you’re a high-ranking university official. You work closely with students, especially with athletes. Let’s call you the Associate Athletic Director for Football Services and Lack of Institutional Control. Better yet, the Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Compliance. That sounds better.

One Monday, hypothetically, you happen to speak with three student-athletes about an incident. Student C says that he’s worried about being named in a sort of rape-thing that he had nothing to do with. Because it involved a female student-athlete who doesn’t like him. Student A says that he had sex with the woman, and that the other didn’t. Later, the woman speaks with you. She’s already submitted her rape kit, but has requested that the police not be involved.

I know, I know, you can smell the bullshit from here. This is serious stuff, demanding a thorough investigation if you’re to honor the woman’s wishes not to turn it all over to the police. After all, you’ve got three young people all but shouting “RAPE!” in your face. You know it, I know it. But in our little story here, which is totally fictional, let’s say that you just blur your brain a bit and pretend nothing much is wrong.

The next time you talk with Student A, he says that Student C did have sex with the woman. You ask Student A a second time, he says the same thing.

Hold it–no investigation just yet, and no involving the police. Stupid, I know. Downright nasty. But bear with me.

By now, the woman is out of discreet options, and pursues other avenues. She’s shocked to discover forensic evidence proving that Student C had sex with her that night, just as Student A said he had. She goes to the police.

Two questions:

  1. At what point do you say to yourself, “I really should have taken this more seriously. Perhaps the university deserves someone in my position who’s not as prone to this sort of vicious callousness”?
  2. When Student A cops a deal and testifies during the inevitable trial by claiming to have been asleep during the alleged rape and therefore unable to say whether Student C had sex that night, who’s lying? Who’s the perjurer? For all the people who deserve to burn in this whole sad story, beyond even the two other high-ranking university officials who’ve already been fired, who’s going to burn for that?


Also in January, Bob Pollard released another great record. Which the entire city council should listen to, along with all residents of Iowa City. Accuse me of shoehornery, but good music is good music.

Three Words

Consent. Is. Sexy.