Dean Borg

Correspondent

Dean Borg is an Iowa City based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2000, but his broadcast news career began at WOI Radio as an Iowa State University student.  Later in Cedar Rapids, he led a 32-person news, sports, weather and farm radio and television staff for The WMT Stations. His experience includes daily coverage of the Iowa General Assembly, news and documentary reports from South Vietnam and the Paris Peace Talks, moderating nationally televised presidential candidate debates, and interviewing every President since John F. Kennedy.

He holds journalism and political science degrees from Iowa State and The University of Iowa. ISU conferred its Distinguished Achievement Citation to him, the highest award given to alumni.  He is also the winner of lifetime achievement awards from The Iowa Broadcast News Association and the Northwest Broadcast News Association.

Dean's favorite public radio program is Car Talk.

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Linn County’s Board of Supervisors wants more information before deciding whether to raise the minimum wage in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities.

That’s after the supervisors study committee recommended $8.25-an-hour, a dollar more than state law requires, but a dollar less than neighboring Johnson County.

Cedar Rapids mayor, Republican Ron Corbett, says the committee’s $8.25 recommendation is palatable, but warned that delays invited power struggles. But supervisors chairman, Democrat Ben Rogers, says ‘not so fast’.

Southern Iowa Gets Drier

Jun 27, 2016
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farm fields in central and southeast Iowa remain abnormally dry. Despite weekend rainfalls totaling two-to-three inches in eastern Iowa near Cedar Rapids, some of the state’s driest areas got only about a half-inch. 

Iowa State University Regional Agronomist Megan Anderson’s monitors a 10-county region from Independence to Washington.  That part of Iowa includes counties the National Drought Monitor has listed as abnormally dry or in moderate drought.  She says things are “precarious”.

There’s rarely seen public animosity within Iowa’s congressional delegation.

2nd District Congressman David Loebsack, the only Democrat in the delegation, is calling 4th District Republican Congressman Steve King an “embarrassment to Iowa”.

It concerns King’s statements after introducing an amendment that would block plans for replacing former President Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with one of African American civil rights activist Harriet Tubman.

A Linn County study commission is recommending increasing the county’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour by January 1st.

The county board of supervisors convened the study commission. Linn Supervisors chairman Ben Rogers says he’ll take the commission’s recommendation to the supervisors’ meeting tomorrow.

The study commission supports Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett’s motion for increasing Linn County’s minimum wage. Corbett says it’s needed to help workers and to prod Iowa legislators.

U.S. Drought Monitor

While northwest and north Iowa farm fields are struggling with too much rain, a good share of southeast Iowa is too dry.   The USDA’s weekly update Monday afternoon lists more than 50-percent of south-central and southeast Iowa short to very short of top-soil moisture.

Tuesday’s primary elections set the stage for two of the nation’s most competitive congressional campaigns. In Eastern Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Cedar Rapids Democrat Monica Vernon seeks to replace first-term Republican Rod Blum of Dubuque.

University of Northern Iowa political scientist Donna Hoffman says Vernon’s success depends voter turn-out.

Joyce Russell/IPR file photo

An Iowa Republican State Senator is using this primary election day to change his political party affiliation, protesting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Northwest Iowa legislator David Johnson of Ocheyedan, who has served 18-years in Iowa’s legislature, issued a blistering statement after changing his voter registration to “no party.”

Senator Johnson’s statement says “mark me down as never Trump, and at the same time, never Clinton”.

Dean Borg/IPR

Water gleams between green rows of young corn and soybean plants in some north Iowa fields. Wild geese gather in small ponds where corn should be growing.

USDA’s weekly crop update issued Monday says, “Farmers in the northern one-third of the state are struggling with wet spots.”

Iowa State University Extension Agronomist, Paul Kassel, monitors 10 north Iowa counties stretching from Forest City to Sac City.  He says persistent, heavy rains have drowned some corn plants and slowed soybean planting.

Dean Borg/IPR

Jason Schroeder is praising a new prosthetic leg with a motorized, flexing ankle that distinguishes it from others that he has used.

“I have quite the collection,” explains the 45-year-old Schroeder, of Colona, Illinois. “One for every occasion. Water skiing, snow skiing, running."

Schroeder had to make the amputation decision in 2005 after a rail car crushed his left foot.

“So we went in,” he said, “decided to amputate the leg, about nine inches below the knee.”

Iowa City Police

Iowa City police say video evidence and eye witness accounts don’t support a racial hate crime against University of Iowa student Marcus Owens.

Police and Johnson County attorney Janet Lyness presented their conclusions at a press conference this morning.

Iowa City Police Captain Troy Kelsay told reporters and some city council members investigation findings don’t support Owens’ initial statements.

U.S. House of Representatives

Iowa’s highest-ranking Democratic office holder is predicting the Presidential campaign in Iowa will be very competitive with extensive spending to win the state’s electoral delegates.

And 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack is warning his party not to take anything for granted against apparent Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Iowa economic development leaders are rolling out a new loan program to help communities spruce up, especially small towns.

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham says low interest loans are available to communities through the Nuisance Property and Abandoned Building Remediation to get rid of eyesore properties. 

Iowa Sweet Corn Planting!

Apr 15, 2016
Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa’s sweet corn season is underway! That planting, that is.

Dean Rebal’s roadside stand at his farmhouse adjacent to Highway 1 north of Iowa City won’t be opening until mid-July.  But, on Thursday, Rebal began moving his planter across the twenty-acres where he’ll be growing this year’s sweet corn crop. He usually sells some nine-thousand dozen ears of sweet corn. Last year, Rebal’s selling season began July 17th and he sold the final ears for the season on September 16th.

By refusing to schedule a hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley has started a conversation about the importance and composition of the United States Supreme Court. E.J. Dionne, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post, says the controversy is an example of how the court has become increasingly politicized. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources is giving University of Iowa a unique air quality permit that will provide the UI flexibility in using renewable fuels as an alternative to coal.

The ‘Plant-wide Applicability Permit’ enables the UI to average air quality across the 437 emission sources on the campus, instead of reporting individually.

DNR Director Charles Gipp says the permit -- one-of-a-kind in Iowa -- allows the UI to try new, renewable energy sources without violating air quality standards.

King and Bertrand campaign websites

Iowa’s Fourth District Congressman is questioning the motives driving the Republican challenging him in the June primary.

Steve King is seeking an eighth term in Congress, and until this year, has never been challenged by another Republican in seeking re-election.

This year, Sioux City State Senator Rick Bertrand is challenging King, and is receiving financial backing from Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter in June’s Republican primary election.

Dean Borg/IPR

As Iowa legislators search the state’s budget for money to fund water quality projects, an Iowa environmentalist believes it may be on grocery store shelves.

Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council, estimates a five-cent tax on plastic bottles containing water and other beverages could bring the needed money to the state.

“We’ve heard it may raise as much as $20 to 25 million a year,” Rosenberg told reporters Friday, following taping of an Iowa Press program on water quality at Iowa Public Television.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa officials say a new pork processing plant coming to North Iowa will boost the state’s hog industry. Officials announcing a pork processing plant soon to be built near Interstate 35 in the Mason City-Clear Lake area were celebrating the anticipated two-thousand jobs this week.

But Iowa’s Pork Producers Association sees extra capacity.  It says the state’s existing 16-pork processing plants will be straining later this year to accommodate expected large marketings.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey also welcomes more capacity.

Today is the deadline for candidates seeking statewide or legislative offices to file nomination papers with Iowa’s Secretary of State.

One of the candidates filing nomination papers late this week was Democrat Patty Judge, who filed her papers Thursday.  

She’s already held the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture offices, and served in the State Senate. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still saying he will not hold confirmation hearings, now that President Obama has selected a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Linn County’s Supervisors are considering possibly raising the minimum wage in the region including Iowa’s second largest city, and have formed a study committee. Supervisors’ Chairman Ben Rogers says Linn County will thoroughly study increasing the Cedar Rapids area minimum wage.

“Many of us feel, like providers and community groups, felt that Johnson County rushed their discussion and implementation of the minimum wage,” he says.

Linn’s study committee includes small and large businesses, and hasn’t met yet.  Rogers says it could even recommend wage increase exemptions.

Waldo Jaquith / Flickr

Iowa’s Master Gardeners will be stocking community food banks this summer.

Iowa State University Master Gardner coordinator Denny Schrock says it’s expanding existing programs already producing nearly 15-tons of fresh produce.augmenting healthy diets for more than a third of a million Iowans said to be food insecure. And Shrock says the desired foods are surprising.

"They want more zucchini. So, we’ve green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers,  carrots, potatoes, melons, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are going to be part of the home demonstration gardens.”   

PeteLinforth/Pixabay.com

Johnson County’s experiment setting a county minimum wage above the state’s $7.25 an hour produced another version last night.

Tiffin’s city council gave first reading to an ordinance setting wage minimums at $9 an hour.

The only ‘no’ vote came from council-woman Jo Kahler.

“I do not feel we have any business telling businesses what they should pay in wages,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.

Until Tiffin gives final approval to its own $9 ordinance, the Johnson County supervisors’ $8.20 an hour prevails.

Johnson County’s new ordinance incrementally raising the State’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by this time next year continues getting pushback.  Several communities are opting out, and last week a member of Iowa’s Board of Regents, objecting to increasing University of Iowa costs, said Johnson County is out-of-step with the rest of Iowa.

Tonight, the City Council in Tiffin takes up the issue.

Tiffin’s Council was considering keeping wages for workers under 18-years old at the state law amount, $7.25 an hour.

Des Moines Public Schools

The University of Iowa is announcing a plan that credits Iowa high school students for such things as good grades and community service with eventual scholarship money.

The UI is partnering with 99 Iowa school districts in a pilot program that accumulates up to 12-hundred dollars in what’s called a “micro-scholarship”.                                                      

The UI’s vice president for Student Services, Tom Rocklin, says such things as a “B”-grade in math courses earns $25, $75 for a year’s perfect attendance, and $100 for four-years of a foreign language.

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa continues to grow as the nation’s leading wind energy state.

Governor Terry Branstad today is citing U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics showing 31-percent of all electricity generated in the state comes from wind power.

The data shows Iowa is the first and only state crossing the 30-percent mark in wind power.

South Dakota is second, generating 25-percent, and Kansas third with nearly 24-percent of total power generated coming from wind turbines.

A member of Iowa’s Board of Regents says Johnson County’s raising of the minimum wage is “out of step with the rest of Iowa”.

Johnson County is incrementally raising the wages to at least $10.10 an hour by 2017, action taken by the County Board of Supervisors.

At today’s Regents meeting in Ames, Regent Larry McKibben of Marshalltown said he’ll oppose extending that to the University of Iowa campus.

“I’m working hard to reduce debt of families and children, and we can’t be an outlier vis-a-vis the other two universities, and I want an answer to that,” he said.

Dean Borg/IPR

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley told a town hall meeting Tuesday in Marengo that President Obama should defer to the next President in appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

“I’m pretty clear that this should carry over to the next election,” Grassley told the town hall meeting in Marengo’s public library.

Grassley, who chairs the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, has a key role in determining the Senate’s consideration of any nominee President Barack Obama would nominate to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s death on February 13th.

William Patrick Butler/Flickr

Former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver is now in the struggle surrounding the current Governor, Republican Terry Branstad’s plan for converting Iowa’s Medicaid program to private management. Culver is conducting several public forums this month.  In Coralville Tuesday, he listened for two hours to the fears of parents and others receiving Medicaid services about the move away from state management of the program.  He told the roughly 30 people attending the forum that privatizing Medicaid isn’t a partisan political issue.

Daniel Orth/Flickr

A Cedar Rapids church is stockpiling bottled water to help Flint, Michigan families deal with that city’s lead-contaminated municipal water supply.  Bottled water cases are being stacked at Mt Zion Baptist Church where Damian Epps is the Senior Pastor.

“My plan is to leave next Monday, on the 15th, and hopefully we can have more than 100,000 bottles of water,” he says. “Take a team of people there and at least spend a day-and-a-half or so passing out water, but also assessing their plight.”

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