My buddy Jim Anderson over at the Illinois Radio Network mentioned the other day that he is seeing some eerie similarities between this governor's race and the last one. He could very well be right.

Back in 1998, George Ryan was the heavy early favorite.

Of all the November elections I have ever participated in, this is by far the most woeful in terms of candidates dealing with the issues that challenge America. The glaring lack of debates, surveys, interviews, and opportunities in general for the public to engage with the candidates exposes a strategy of nondisclosure on the part of the political parties' leadership.

I am writing in response to the ludicrous accusations of racism and possible voter fraud suggested by Judith Malone, Republican candidate for Iowa House District 86, in her letter to the editor on October 16 (see "Voters Should Be Leery of 'Early Voter' Campaigns," River Cities' Reader Issue 396).

A "get out the vote" drive targeting Scott and Waterloo counties is underway. In the Iowa House 86th District, the strategy is as follows: Paid employees, some masquerading as citizen activists, spent the summer rounding up absentee requests.

For Gwen and Dorty Hennessey, the two Catholic nuns from Dubuque who received the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) award from St. Ambrose University last Thursday for their service in promoting world peace, the wind knows no government.

Before Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein became icons of the 20th Century, they were dreamers. Steve Martin thinks so anyway. In his 1996 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Martin explores the unusual (fictional) meeting of young artist Picasso and science genius Einstein before they created history-changing works and ideas - during a time they had only the visions in their heads to rely on. Richmond Hill Players is performing the play in Geneseo through October 13.

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.

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