Iowa candidates for public office should be ashamed for not filling out Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (NPAT). What message does it send to voters when our incumbents and challengers are unwilling to share their views with voters? And what does it say about the parties and political consultants who discourage candidates from such basic disclosure? This refusal to inform voters is part of the systemic problem that perpetuates lack of accountability of the body politic.

The Midwest Writing Center was once an idea and an organization without a place. It's definitely a place now, but one with a door that might or might not be open if you stop by.

The facility, which held several programs over the summer, will make its presence official this weekend with a grand-opening celebration on Sunday, September 29, from 2 to 4 p.

• The audio alchemists of Negativland have done it again, challenging listeners with an electronic cacophony to accompany their latest "art damage" project, entitled Death Sentences of the Polished & Structurally Weak.

I am happy to report that the parents of students from Grant and Johnson elementary schools are appealing the Iowa Department of Education's administrative law judge's decision to uphold the closings of the two facilities.

When the Davenport City Council on Wednesday considers raising fares for the city's mass-transit service by 50 percent, it's doing so with the risk that the move could backfire. While the city has estimates on how much revenue the fare increase might generate, history and the size of the hike suggest that the benefit might not be enough to bring the service out of the red.

• According to a study published this month in the journal Health Education Research, the nation's three leading student drug-prevention programs are either ineffective or under-evaluated. Programs highlighted in the study include McGruff's Drug Prevention & Child Protection, Here's Looking at You 2000, and DARE.

A budding political dynasty is in deep trouble on Chicago's Southwest Side.

No, I'm not talking about the attorney- general candidacy of House Speaker Michael Madigan's daughter, Lisa. And I'm not referring to former Senate President Tom Hynes' son, Dan, whose re-election as state comptroller is all but assured.

The disturbing connection between Enron executives and the current administration becomes more apparent with each passing day. During the Florida presidential re-count, each party established a fund in support of its respective candidates.

After seeing the Friday night performance of Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's latest murder mystery, Fatal Attraction, one line stood out: "The American public will accept anything except being bored." Audiences don't have to worry, because there's no room for boredom during Bernard Slade's two-and-a-half-hour thriller. The action is almost non-stop, the characters are engaging, and the technical elements give the show a nice finishing touch.

Lately, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has been trying to put the best possible face on state-government ethics. But despite some positive press coverage, the group's spin falls way short, particularly when it comes to Illinois.

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