The state of Iowa is one of the beneficiaries of Scott County's one-cent option tax passed to renovate and expand schools. Earlier this year, Iowa lawmakers gave the Department of Revenue and Finance the authority to keep a share of local-option taxes to pay for administrative costs. The move came after the department's budget was cut. The state charges a mere .16 percent, but with $271.7 million expected to be collected statewide in local sales-tax revenues, it works out to $396,000. For its chunk of the tax, the department processes retailers' sales-tax returns, calculates the correct payments to jurisdictions, and answers the public's questions on the tax. And it appears that the department is planning to collect its fee until lawmakers rescind the rule.

The Libertarian Party notes the recent Republican Convention was held in Philadelphia, a city classified by the federal government as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The soon-to-be-held Democratic Convention, hosted by Los Angeles, is in another HIDTA. Currently, 39 states are classified as HIDTAs - centers of "illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution." The HIDTA program was started in 1990 and funnels extra money to certain areas to fight "critical drug-trafficking problems." Stee Dashach, the Libertarian Party's national director, points out that if the "War on Drugs is actually a war, more than two-thirds of the county is now occupied territory." By the way, Iowa is considered a HIDTA.

The American Intercultural Student Exchange (ASIE), a not-for-profit education foundation, needs host families for foreign high-school students for the 2000-1 school year. The students live with American families and attend local high schools during their five- or ten-month cultural-exchange experience. Host families will provide the students with a place to sleep, meals, and a loving family atmosphere. For more information, call (800)742-5464 or visit the AISE Web site at (

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is the first third-party presidential candidate to file nomination papers in Iowa for the November general election. The Iowa Green Party, Nader's supporters, submitted 3,000 signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State, twice the number of required signatures. If Nader wins at least 2 percent of the Iowa vote, the Iowa Green Party will become a qualified political party. People will then be allowed to officially register as Greens, and the party won't have to collect petition signatures for each election. Nationally, if Nader's party wins 5 percent of the national vote, it qualifies to receive matching campaign money in 2004.

The government can take your home, cars, and cash without even charging you with a crime. Learn how this is being done and how to join the fight against it through Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (FEAR), a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to reform of federal and state asset-forfeiture laws. The organization is working to restore due process and protect property rights in the forfeiture process. FEAR Foundation; P.O. Box 33985; Washington, DC 20033-3985, or via telephone at (888)332-7001. You can also look at the group's Web site at (

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has lifted a fish-consumption advisory for carp and carp suckers on the Iowa side of the river in Le Claire and Davenport. The advisory, instituted after testing in June 1989 showed polychlorinated biphenyl, a carcinogen better known as PCB, at a higher level than allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Carp and carp suckers are bottom-feeders, and PCB tends to collect in sediment where those fish feed. The PCB was traced to the Alcoa Davenport Works plant, which claims that since that time it has spent $70 million cleaning up the environment. The lifting of the advisory signals an improvement in the Mississippi's water quality.

The Scott County Recorder's Office has recently begun processing passports for the United States Department of State. The new service makes it possible for an individual to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate and obtain a passport in the same place. Applicants must present two passport photographs, a certified birth certificate, current identification, and two checks (one for $15 and one for $45) to obtain a passport. The new service will generate additional revenue for the recorder's office without the need for additional staffing.

Grant applications are now available for Fall 2000 grants from the Riverboat Development Authority (RDA). Applications can be picked up at libraries and city halls in Bettendorf and Davenport, as well as the Scott County Courthouse, QC Welcome Center at the Union Station, CASI in Davenport, the President Casio Administration office, and on the Scott County Library System Bookmobile. You can also receive an application via e-mail (in Microsoft Word format) by calling (319)328-8078. For more information, contact Mary Ellen Chamberlin at the above number. All applications must be returned to the RDA office by 5 p.m. September 29.

Volunteers are needed to help facilitate an ongoing youth-grief support group for the upcoming school year. Rick's House of Hope, a division of Genesis Medical Center Spiritual Care Department, will train volunteers to provide a safe, supportive environment for children dealing with traumatic issues such as the death of a loved one. For more information, contact the Genesis Spiritual Care Department at (319)421-7970 or (319)324-9580.

Companies doing business by phone can't ask you to pay for credit before you get it. Contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877)382-4357, or look on its Web site at ( for this and other consumer-protection information.

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