Evans: What was New York’s Andrew Cuomo (or Joni Ernst) thinking?

Here is one of the persistent questions rattling around in my head: Why are some well-educated people seemingly so lacking in common sense and good judgment? I’m thinking about Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor for the past 10 years. Cuomo is hanging on to his job by a thread. His job security is so precarious I wouldn’t recommend buying any green bananas for the governor’s mansion. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James, herself a Democrat like Cuomo, issued a scathing report last week that found he had created a toxic work environment inside the governor’s office. Specifically, she concluded he sexually harassed at least 11  current or former state employees, all women, since 2013.

Evans: Norm and Dolly are two peas in a pod

It is hard to imagine Norman Borlaug ever joining in singing “Jolene” or “9 to 5.”

I can’t picture him harmonizing in a heart-tugging rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”

This is not a knock against this kid from Cresco, Iowa. He excelled in other ways — like saving upwards of 1 billion people from starvation through the revolutionary plant-breeding work he did in the decades after World War II. Borlaug developed new high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat, maize and rice that are still feeding people around the globe today. He also established the World Food Prize 35 years ago to honor people who devote themselves to trying to rid the world of the scourge of hunger. A bronze statue of the late scientist stands in Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol.

Evans: Iowa’s universities need to learn an important lesson

In recent years, Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa Legislature often agree on little. But they were nearly unanimous this spring in supporting an important piece of legislation — a bill requiring faculty and administrators at the state universities to go through training about the First Amendment and the rights it contains. Anyone skeptical of the need for the new law received a wake-up call last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis handed down a decision against the University of Iowa. The decision should embarrass and anger Iowans. In a blistering 3-0 ruling, the court said university administrators engaged in clear discrimination against a student religious group based solely on the views of the organization and its leaders.

Evans: Government cuts corners on public participation

Several times a week, someone contacts me because they had difficulty learning about a government meeting or ran into obstacles trying to get government records. These calls and emails to the Iowa Freedom of Information Council come more frequently than just a few years ago. This is a troubling trend because there is growing citizen distrust of government at all levels. It should not be this way. Government officials in Iowa already have the power to make these citizen frustrations disappear — if they want to.

Evans: A church and its misplaced priorities

Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney General Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses in our state. 

Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints. Most of the cases involved priests who are now deceased or retired.

Evans: This wasn’t one of the court’s finest moments

Through the long arc of history, the Iowa Supreme Court has developed a reputation for judicial courage that often puts it ahead of many other courts when crafting groundbreaking decisions before important legal concepts become widely accepted. The issues have been meaty, and controversial, especially here in the middle of America. Iowa has been a leader with landmark rulings on slavery, school desegregation and gay marriage. But Friday, the Supreme Court passed up the opportunity to add to its legacy. In time, history will tell us just how far reaching this latest decision turns out to be, legally and environmentally.

Evans: Governor is right that we need more transparency

Gov. Kim Reynolds talked last week about the importance of government leaders keeping other government officials looped in as decisions are made and events unfold. The governor was more correct than she probably intended. I will get to that shortly. But first, here is some important background on the governor’s statement — because she and I see eye to eye on this, at least as it relates to the issue that provoked her displeasure with federal officials. Reynolds was talking about the federal government’s secret chartered flight with migrant children from California that landed in Des Moines in the middle of the night on April 22.

Evans: Americans deserve answers, not more politics

Plenty of stray thoughts have been swirling through my noggin lately. Thoughts like: What would Americans and members of Congress think today if the federal government decided against creating the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John Kennedy? What would we think today if the House and Senate two decades ago rejected an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the aborted airliner attack on either the White House or Capitol? What would Americans and members of Congress think if the government refused to convene a special commission after World War II to investigate the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor?