Gazette Daily News Podcast, November 24

Photographer Christopher Sherman captured the serenity of a rural Iowa summer evening, with fireflies dancing in a field
Photographer Christopher Sherman captured the serenity of a rural Iowa summer evening, with fireflies dancing in a field while a shooting star blazes the sky by a barn near Marion. Landscapes, and especially barns, are his focus now that he’s staying with family in Marion between his travels. Sparked by a bump in his online sales last Thanksgiving weekend, he has spent 2020 organizing the first Artists Sunday online event, to encourage shoppers to choose holiday gifts from a directory of participating artists around the world. (Christopher Sherman)

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You may awake to find your home surrounded by a thin layer of snow. Or, if it’s a bit later, it will be rain and wind that will greet you. Great options. According to the National Weather Service, there should be some cold November rain in the Cedar Rapids area Tuesday, with a high of 44 degrees. This rain will come with a 10-15 wind gusting as high as 25 mph. Tuesday night will see a low of 40 degrees, with a bit more rain and a bit less wind possible.

Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers have momentarily trended in a slightly less terrible direction, but with the Thanksgiving holiday on the horizon, it is too early to know if the state has meaningfully reversed its most recent spike of the disease. The positivity rate for data analyzed by the Gazette on Monday was 33.21 percent, which is not good, but as the state has hovered above 40 percent for much of November, it is a welcome change if it stays. Hospitalizations have also appeared to have stabilized in the past few days, hovering in the 1,350 patient range, but patients on ventilators and in intensive care were up slightly Monday, suggesting that even if the intake of new patients were to decrease, the result of the spike will still show serious consequences. 

2,222 people had died of the virus as of Monday night, 17 total deaths for the day.

Ousted Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones will not be reinstated, the city’s Civil Service Commission agreed Monday, though his lawyer said Jones would appeal.

The three-person commission heard Jones make his case in September and then considered legal briefs over the last several weeks. In a virtual meeting Monday, the panel voted unanimously to deny Jones’ case and uphold the police department’s earlier decision to terminate him for rules violations.

Jones’ attorney, Skylar Limkemann, said afterward his client will appeal in court.

Jones was fired June 18 after the department said an internal investigation revealed he had violated policy during a traffic stop on Oct. 30, 2016, and lied about it. This traffic stop was a few days before he became involved in a traffic stop with a man named Jerime Mitchell, who Jones shot during the arrest. Mitchell was paralyzed by the incident but a grand jury declined to pursue charges against Jones. Jones claims that he was actually fired due to pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, along with other internal department politics.

The Republican candidate in Iowa’s still-too-close-to-call 2nd Congressional District says the results of a recount in Scott County completed over the weekend cannot be trusted, arguing “numerous votes” are missing.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ campaign over the weekend claimed the three-member recount board’s tally of absentee ballots is off by 12 from what was recorded in the official canvass of votes by the Scott County Board of Supervisors.

Why does Miller-Meeks care about 12 votes? Well, her Democratic challenger has pulled from 47 votes down to 36 votes down, with more to be recounted. So literally every vote may count. The Miller-Meeks campaign contends that Scott County used both manual and optical scan counting when either is required by law, while the Hart campaign is pushing for a deeper dive into ballots in Johnson and Scott counties, which tend to favor Democrats.

For those who are curious, if these two candidates end up in a tie, two scraps of paper will be placed in a “receptacle” and the winner will be drawn at random.