Gazette Daily News Podcast, November 19 and November 20

This may be the first forecast to use the word stormy in a while. According to the National Weather Service there is a small chance of snow flurries on Saturday morning, but otherwise it will be sunny for most of the day. But it will also be cold, with a high of 22 degrees dropping to 0 degree wind chill with blustery 15 to 25 winds. On Saturday evening it is mostly clear, the wind dies down a bit and the minimum temperature is 10 degrees. On Sunday the temperatures will rise up to 35 degrees, again with sunny skies and again with wind which will probably make it much colder. Sunday night is mostly clear with lows of around 26 degrees.

Todd Halbur, a Republican nominee for Iowa’s auditor

Iowa will still have a statewide Democrat in office after Republican state auditor nominee Todd Halbur conceded the race to Democratic incumbent Comptroller Rob Sand on Friday.

Halbur said he was dropping his request for a recount because he did not have sufficient resources to submit the requests in all 99 counties, and he claimed the Iowa Republican Party would not help sponsor a statewide recount.

Sand led the race with 2,893 votes out of nearly 1.2 million votes cast — a margin of just 0.24 percent — according to the latest unofficial results reported by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

Because the profit margin is less than 1 percent, under state law, Halbur could request a recount without posting bail, with Iowa counties covering the cost.

However, Halbur would have to file papers with each state district auditor within three days of the county election and recruit commissioners to serve on recount committees in all 99 counties.

“You have to have the flexibility to do a hand count for days and flexibility for a total of 18 days to do the recount,” Halbur said in a statement provided to The Gazette. “My campaign doesn’t have the staff or infrastructure to coordinate this nationwide in such a short amount of time.

In less than three days this week, seven people — five of them children — have died in home fires in Iowa, a death toll the state hasn’t seen in at least 16 years, data show.

Four children died in a fire in Mason City on Wednesday. A retired couple died Thursday in a fire in northeast Cedar Rapids. And a fire early Friday in Onslow claimed another child.

The Mason City fire was attributed to a faulty power strip. The cause of the Cedar Rapids and Onslow fires remained under investigation, although officials believe the Onslow fire started in the kitchen.

Building fires tend to occur at this time of year, said Ron Humphrey, the Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office special agent in charge, because as temperatures drop, people use different types of heat-producing appliances that can sometimes become fire hazards — like space heaters, stoves, and fireplaces.

“I can’t say that’s one of the causes of these recent fires, but fires in general this time of year we seem to get more frequently because … people are starting to turn on their stoves,” Humphrey said.

Data compiled by the State Fire Marshal’s Office in 2006 shows that there has never been such a high fire death toll in such a short period of time in 16 years. In December 2017 – four days before Christmas – two fires on the same day killed six people, including a family of five, in Davenport.

To rally support for Cedar Rapids’ third attempt at a casino after the state moratorium on new gaming licenses expires in 2024, Linn County’s gaming interests have begun funding the political campaigns of key state leaders and potentially increasing their influence the Statehouse.

The Cedar Rapids Development Group PAC — the political action committee formed by supporters of a potential Cedar Rapids casino — donated $47,750 to Republican and Democratic candidates in the nomination period that ended Oct. 14, just weeks before the midterm elections on November 8, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Cedar Rapids Development Group is a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific composed primarily of local investors. The group has an agreement with the City of Cedar Rapids that guarantees exclusive city support through the gaming license application process through 2029.

The PAC was formed after Iowa lawmakers curbed Cedar Rapids’ third attempt to obtain a gaming license from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission earlier this year.

Have a nice Weekend.