If you are consuming your news from broadcast networks ABC, NBC, or CBS, or from cable channels Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, you are arguably among the most misinformed, or under-informed, viewers in modern times. Not only is precious little of those outlets’ daily content composed of unbiased, need-to-know, evidence-based information; most of it is nothing more than guided speculation, therefore hardly reliable as relevant news.

I have warned readers many times that guided speculation is a sophisticated strategy to manipulate viewers and push us into predetermined conclusions. The Obama administration called it “nudging.” Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (RCReader.com/y/nudge1) from 2009 to 2012, co-authored a book on the subject titled Nudge, and its precepts were implemented throughout the executive branch, via executive order, to effect greater acceptance by the public of President Barack Obama’s policies and programs (RCReader.com/y/nudge2). It is doubtful the new Trump administration will disband this inter-agency behavior-modification department. The question should be: Toward what desired outcomes is the public being nudged now?

If you haven’t heard the remarkable story of “Rescuing River,” it’s time you did. First, River is a beautiful, soulful dog. River was found in northern Clinton, Iowa, shot in the head three times and left for dead by his owner. It was during a particularly brutal time in Clinton when two other dogs were similarly shot and abandoned; one lost its life. River’s story is shared on Facebook (Facebook.com/rescuingriver) for those interested in learning more about this remarkable dog, his remarkable rescuers, and the fan base that has ensued in support of River. It is the most uplifting, wonderful story, and a joy to read.

Now the tables have turned, and River’s rescuer Maggie Stafford needs our help.

There were several noteworthy pieces of legislation passed in the 11th hour of President Barack Obama’s administration that flew almost entirely under the radar. The most alarming concerns controlling how information will be filtered then disseminated to the public.

Readers are urged to familiarize themselves with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA), signed December 23, as it relates to your personal security (RCReader.com/y/radar1). It includes a most disturbing new provision with the Countering Foreign Propaganda & Disinformation Act of 2016 (RCReader.com/y/radar2) that was slipped into the NDAA bill as a matter of political convenience.

In January, the first order of business for the Scott County Board of Supervisors will be to hold an election for its 2017 officers. Two incumbent supervisors serving the second halves of their four-year terms are purportedly vying for the position of chair: Diane Holst and Carol Earnhardt. There are five supervisors who will vote for this year’s chair, so a 3-2 vote will secure the position and associated responsibilities for the next 12 months. There is more to these responsibilities than meets the eye, and the taxpayers and citizens of Scott County would best be served with Diane Holst as the chair in 2017.

As the November 8 election approaches, I am dumbfounded by so many voters’ resolute determination to not look behind the curtain at the facts evidencing numerous criminal acts by Hillary Clinton, or the myriad hypocritical business practices of ...

The world became markedly less interesting when Lanny C. Powell departed it on September 10. He, too, was a force of nature, living his life with intense purpose and depth.

David E. “Halvy” Halverson (1950-2016)
David E. “Halvy” Halverson (1950-2016)

Many of us have arrived at that place in the cycle of life where we are forced to deal with the passings of those most dear to us. So it is with David E. “Halvy” Halverson, who departed September 1.

You might want to try an enlightening experiment as we get closer to election day. Put your normal preconceived notions about politics aside for a few days and open your mind to the possibility that nearly everything you’re being told via broadcast and radio news is entirely scripted, and specifically designed via behavior-modification techniques to “nudge” your choices in a predetermined direction.

On April 7, three of the five Scott County Supervisors – Carol Earnhardt, Jim Hancock, and Tom Sunderbruch – approved a stunningly short-sighted change to the Scott County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that allows for spot zoning anywhere in the county’s unincorporated areas. Supervisors Diane Holst and Brinson Kinzer respected the community-at-large’s wishes and voted against the change in the spirit of true representation.

The county’s current Agricultural Preservation Zoning District prevents spot zoning – developments that don’t conform to the surrounding land use – on any agriculture property outside city limits. But the three supervisors provided the necessary votes to begin the approval process for a new zoning designation called an Industrial Floating Zone (IFZ) to skirt that protection. April 7’s vote was the first of three readings over the next four weeks that will change the CLUP to allow the county and Quad Cities First – the economic-development arm of the Quad Cities Chamber – to market prime farmland for a “megasite” (1,000 acres or more) to potential industrial operators.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority established 17 regional marketing groups – including Quad Cities First – to help attract industrial development to Iowa, and it’s offering marketing grants of up to $50,000 per project. The fund expires in November, so the pressure is on to get the IFZ passed before that deadline. (See RCReader.com/y/ifz1.)

The Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation – a partnership of Scott County, the City of Davenport, the Quad Cities Chamber, and MidAmerican Energy – owns and operates the Eastern Iowa Industrial Park, but it’s running out of sites to market, and none is large enough to qualify as a megasite. Ergo the Industrial Floating Zone, which by circumventing current protections for prime farmland will open up the entire unincorporated county to potential industrial development.

And this is precisely what makes the Industrial Floating Zone so egregious. Most counties and municipalities allocate specific acres of property for site certification as a megasite. Certification criteria demand that qualifying properties have infrastructure already in place. With the IFZ, this is not the case. It’s all up for negotiation, and no surrounding properties are protected from the intrusion, leaving an entire rural community economically insecure going forward. And county residents can bank on their tax dollars paying for necessary infrastructure as part of the incentives used to entice an industrial operation here.

Every now and then, an issue arises locally that poses a real threat to our natural resources and subsequent standard of living. This time it is in the form of an amendment to Scott County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that currently protects our most precious asset – the richest soil in the world.

Residents will have an opportunity to be heard on this matter during a public hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, in the Scott County board room on the first floor of the Scott County Administration Building at 600 West Fourth Street in Davenport.

The amendment, called an “Industrial Floating Zone” and recommended by the county Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Commission, would permit spot zoning for large-scale industrial operations anywhere in the unincorporated areas of Scott County (outside city limits). At a July 2013 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission was told by Planning & Development Director Tim Huey that the Board of Supervisors was interested in reviewing and updating the CLUP to better reflect the county’s strategic-plan goals – with a focus on language for commercial and industrial zoning to further economic-development objectives. This was in response to losing the $1.4-billion Orascom fertilizer plant to Lee County because of the Agricultural Preservation Zoning District that protects ag land and prevented this industrial intrusion into dedicated farmland.

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