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Q: What is ex parte communication? How long has it been in existence by the city of Cedar Falls?

A: Cedar Falls City Attorney Kevin Rogers replies: “The term ‘ex parte’ is a Latin term meaning ‘from a side.’ Thus, an ex parte communication is a communication from only one side of an issue that a decision-making body considers. In the case of Cedar Falls’ policy, which is based on Iowa law, prohibiting ex parte communications involving the mayor, City Council, and the Planning and Zoning Commission relates to only land use matters such as changes to the comprehensive plan, zoning amendments, and consideration of site plans. These matters require quasi-judicial, or ‘judge-like’ decision-making. Just like a judge, it would be unfair for these public officials to hear from only one side prior to the time that the land use matter is decided. This policy, which has been in place since 2007, is intended to make sure that ‘judge-like’ decision making occurs in an open meeting where persons on all sides of a land use matter have an opportunity to be heard.”

Q: In the March 12 paper Walt Rogers was quoted as saying Iowans have had some of the largest K-12 funding increases in the nation. What is the evidence or data to support this statement?

A: Rogers cited a Nov. 27, 2017, Cedar Rapids Gazette article, which reported, “In Iowa, however, researchers found total state funding per student, adjusted for inflation, increased 20.6 percent from 2008 to 2015. Only North Dakota, Illinois and Alaska had greater increases according to the researchers’ analysis of data from the Census Bureau Public Elementary-Secondary Education 2015 data and National Center for Education Statistics.”

Q: Was there ever a Cummings Jewelry Store in Cedar Falls?

A: Yes. A news story in the July 2, 1964, Courier said George Cummings opened the store at 324 Main St. in 1936 and longtime employee Mrs. John Dutcher was purchasing it.

Q: Has any state publicly financed elections for state offices?

A: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Today, 13 states provide some form of public financing option for campaigns. Each of these plans requires the candidate to accept public money for his or her campaign in exchange for a promise to limit both how much the candidate spends on the election and how much they receive in donations from any one group or individual.” Some plans apply only to some races. Those states are Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Q: How much did a box of 24 Crayola crayons cost in 1945?

A: An ad for Wilson’s Drug Store at West Fourth and Jefferson in the Aug. 30, 1945, Courier said prices for genuine Crayolas were 10 or 17 cents — we’re not sure how many crayons were in those boxes, though.

Q: What is an address to write to Andre Rieu?

A: Write to him at Ursulinenweg 1A, Maastricht, 6212 NC, Netherlands, or send email through the website at www.andrerieu.com.

Calls are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.

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