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Man who burned LBGTQ books from Orange City library charged with misdemeanor

ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- Northwest Iowa Christian activist Paul Dorr has been charged with fifth-degree criminal mischief in connection with publicly burning four LGBTQ-themed books he checked out from the Orange City Public Library.

Dorr drew national attention for a half-hour long Facebook Live video on Oct. 19 that showed him tossing the books into a burning barrel. Dorr, director of the Ocheyedan-based group called Rescue the Perishing, said he was protesting a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning celebration in Orange City, the introduction of sexual education into the public schools and some local churches' reluctance to denounce homosexuality.

"Orange City Library, you won't be peddling this one anymore!" Dorr said in the video as he pitched one of the books into the flames. "You should all be ashamed of yourselves and repent." 

Dorr, 62, selected four books from the library that he felt were the most egregious -- David Levithan's "Two Boys Kissing"; Suzanne and Max Lang's "Families, Families, Families!"; Gayle E. Pitman's "This Day in June"; and Christine Baldacchino's "Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress" -- and checked them out on Oct. 6. Thirteen days later, he "unlawfully" burned the books, according to court documents.

An initial court appearance for Dorr is scheduled for Jan. 22 at the Sioux County Courthouse in Orange City. In Iowa, a charge of criminal mischief, a simple misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of of $625. 

Dorr and library officials declined comment Thursday.

In an interview with the Journal in October, Dorr said he would not reimburse the library for the destroyed books.

The library, which earlier this year faced community opposition for putting LGBTQ books on its shelves, has declined to say whether it has replaced the books, or assessed the costs to Dorr, based on its policies. 

In the aftermath of the burning incident, individuals and groups across the country sent hundreds of dollars' worth of cash donations and books to the library. 

The library ran into a public outcry about its LGBTQ books in February, when some local residents petitioned the library to separate such books from books on other topics, and to halt acquisitions of similar books without public input. The library responded by changing its book classification system, classifying books by subjects and subcategories, rather than by the author's last name. 

Dorr was particularly incensed that one book, Andrea J. Loney's "Bunnybear," about a bear who feels like a bunny, was read to kids during this year's OC Pride event.

Paul Dorr, a northwest Iowa religious activist, released a Facebook Live video Oct. 19 in which he burned four books from the Orange City Public Library. A still from that video is shown. Dorr has been charged with fifth-degree criminal mischief, a simple misdemeanor. 

NTSB report: Airplane in Guthrie Center plane crash had cracked muffler, other issues

GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa -- The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the airplane crash south of the Guthrie County Regional Airport that killed four Northwest Iowans Nov. 9. 

The crash killed Samantha Clark, 15, Tyler Douvia, 28, Edward Anderson, 49, and Patrick Kellen, 36, who were headed to a hunting trip in Osceola, Iowa. All the victims were from Le Mars except Douvia, who lived in Merrill. 

The 1979 Piper PA28 airplane had a 2 inch-long crack in its engine aft exhaust muffler, according to the report. The inner surface of the muffler's heat shroud was covered in gray and tan-colored sooty deposits, and similar deposits were found inside the cabin heat hose, which piped warm air into the cabin via a heat distributor box. 

Autopsies performed on the victims by the Iowa State Medical Examiner's office found they all suffered elevated blood carbon monoxide levels. 

The report said that the plane was co-owned by Kellen, who was a co-pilot. The pilot, Anderson, was not an owner of the aircraft. 

Kellen attempted to take control of the plane after Anderson suffered what was described to air traffic controllers in Des Moines as a "heart attack." Kellen initially said he would attempt an emergency landing at the Perry Municipal Airport, but later told pilots in other nearby airplanes that he would try to land at Guthrie Center. 

Thirty minutes later, the plane had not landed at either the Guthrie Center Airport or the Perry Municipal Airport, and a so-called Alert Notice was issued. The wrecked plane was found in a pasture the following morning. 

Guthrie County Sheriff's Department, via AP 

This photo shows the wreckage of the 1979 Piper single-engine plane that crashed Nov. 9 near Guthrie Center, Iowa, killing four residents of Le Mars and Merrill, Iowa. A preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board notes that all four occupants had elevated carbon monoxide levels. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

The Goodfellows Yellow Dog Auction Club board of directors gather for a photograph at the offices of the Sioux City Journal Friday. Shown are, front row from left, Darlene Erickson, John Roost, Chic Wolfe, Stew Huff, Jeff Wooldridge, Pat Kuehl with Polar, the 2018 Little Yellow Dog, and Chris McGowan. Back row from left, Beau Braunger, Rusty Clark, Dr. Ken Roach, Ron Peterson, Robert Brock and Gregg Lucken. The Journal's Goodfellows fund began in 1914 to provide Christmas toys to needy children and expanded in 1936 to include the auction of a puppy. This year's Little Yellow Dog Auction will be Dec. 8, at the Ho-Chunk Centre.  

Public employees union proposes 3 percent raises


DES MOINES -- Seeking “structure” and consistency,” the state’s largest public employee union on Thursday proposed a new contract that mirrors the one implemented in 2015, before massive changes were made to Iowa’s collective bargaining law.

AFSCME Council 61, which represents roughly 19,000 public employees in Iowa, also proposed 3 percent raises for its members.

Thursday’s meeting between union and state leaders began the process of negotiating a contract for the state fiscal year that starts July 1.

“I believe it’s a reasonable proposal,” AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan said. “I believe that if the state is serious about wanting to recruit and retain their valuable employees, and recruit good people to come here, they better get serious with how they address worker issues.”

AFSCME represents nurses, corrections officers, university employees, and transportation workers, among other public workers.

In February 2017, the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature overhauled the state’s collective bargaining laws, stripping most elements for which public employees may bargain through union representation. The law limits most public-sector union contract negotiations to base wages capped by the cost of living while eliminating such issues as health insurance and supplemental pay as mandatory topics for discussion.

AFSCME and the state’s largest teachers union filed lawsuits challenging the new law, saying it violates the Iowa Constitution by creating separate classes of public employees: some who retained most of their collective bargaining rights, and others who lost most. Those lawsuits are scheduled to come before the Iowa Supreme Court next week.

Homan said AFSCME’s proposal for the coming fiscal year’s negotiations does not include elements — like health insurance — that were struck down by the law but does include some elements that were declared permissible for negotiation in a preliminary ruling by a state public employees relations board, Homan said.

“The reason we have done that is right now we don’t believe there’s a lot of structure,” Homan told state representative Janet Phipps, director of the state administrative services department, during Thursday’s meeting. “There is no consistency (across the myriad state agencies). There’s no guidebook.”

The state will compile its counterproposal and offer that at a meeting in January.

“This is whole new territory,” Phipps said, referring to the change in the state’s collective bargaining law and unresolved disputes over which elements can be negotiated. “I think we’re both trying to navigate a little bit of uncertainty in this case. We’re both doing the best we can, I think.”

Previously, the state police officers union proposed a 3 percent raise for its members and a smaller union representing social service, scientific and professional workers proposed a 4.5 percent raise.