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McConnell: Senate 'not broken' after Kavanaugh fight

WASHINGTON — Picking up the pieces after a contentious nomination battle, the Senate's majority leader said Sunday that the chamber won't be irreparably damaged by the wrenching debate over sexual misconduct that has swirled around new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

While Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Kavanaugh's confirmation was a shining moment for the GOP heading into next month's pivotal elections, GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio predicted "a good year" for Democrats and said he wonders about "the soul of our country" in the long term after the tumultuous hearings.

McConnell, in two news show interviews, tried to distinguish between President Donald Trump's nomination of Kavanaugh this year and his own decision not to have the GOP-run Senate consider President Barack Obama's high court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016. McConnell called the current partisan divide a "low point," but he blamed Democrats.

"The Senate's not broken," said McConnell. "We didn't attack Merrick Garland's background and try to destroy him." He asserted that "we simply followed the tradition of America."

The climactic 50-48 roll call vote Saturday on Kavanaugh was the closest vote to confirm a justice since 1881. It capped a fight that seized the national conversation after claims emerged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted women three decades ago. Kavanaugh emphatically denied the allegations.

The accusations transformed the clash from a routine struggle over judicial ideology into an angry jumble of questions about victims' rights and personal attacks on nominees.

Ultimately, every Democrat voted against Kavanaugh except for Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday evening in a private ceremony as protesters chanted outside the court building.

McConnell said the confirmation fight had energized Republican voters and he praised GOP senators, who he said had "stood up to the mob" in favor of the "presumption of innocence."

He signaled that a Republican-controlled Senate would act on a fresh Trump nominee to the Supreme Court in 2020 — a presidential election year — should a vacancy arise. The court's two oldest justices are Democratic appointees: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Stephen Breyer is 80.

"We'll see if there is a vacancy in 2020," McConnell said.

Two years ago, McConnell blocked a vote on Garland, citing what he said was a tradition of not filling vacancies in a presidential election year. But when asked again Sunday about it, he sought to clarify that a Senate case in 1880 suggested inaction on a nominee only when the chamber was controlled by the party opposing the president.

Republicans currently hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, with several seats up for grabs in November.

Trump has now put his stamp on the court with his second justice in as many years. Yet Kavanaugh is joining under a cloud.

Accusations from several women remain under scrutiny, and House Democrats have pledged further investigation if they win the majority in November. Outside groups are culling an unusually long paper trail from his previous government and political work, with the National Archives and Records Administration expected to release a cache of millions of documents later this month.

Still, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said he believed it would be premature for Democrats to talk about re-investigating Kavanaugh or a possible impeachment if the party takes control of the chamber in November, stressing a need to help heal the country.

"Frankly, we are just less than a month away from an election," Coons said. "Folks who feel very strongly one way or the other about the issues in front of us should get out and vote and participate."

McConnell spoke on "Fox News Sunday" and CBS' "Face the Nation," Kasich appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," and Coons was on NBC's "Meet the Press."


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Get ready to donate!
Siouxland Big Give to lift up 100-plus nonprofit groups

SIOUX CITY -- Siouxland Community Foundation executive director Rebecca Krohn thought that getting 50 nonprofit organizations on board would constitute a success for the first annual Siouxland Big Give.

Then, more than 100 nonprofits signed up for the online charitable giving marathon.

"There are so many local nonprofits that do great work," Krohn said. "Big Give day is designed to bring awareness to all of these great organizations and inspire donors to support the causes they value."

Throughout Tuesday, all 24 hours, donors can go to SiouxlandBigGive.org and donate a minimum of $10 to organizations that run the gamut from educational organizations to health facilities to nature centers.

Siouxland Community Foundation invited 501(c)(3) public charities from Woodbury, Monona, Ida, Sioux, O'Brien and Lyon counties in Iowa, Dakota and Thurston counties in Nebraska, and Union County in South Dakota to participate in the day of giving.

"In 2017, we awarded $1.88 million in grants to 455 Siouxland organizations, to meet community needs, and nearly $500,000 in college scholarships to 227 high school seniors," Krohn said. "We connect people with causes that matter."

However, the foundation had never attempted an all-day, social-media-driven campaign before.

"Other communities, like Omaha, had seen success with annual Big Give events," Krohn said. "After touching base with some of the community's nonprofits, we thought it was something that would work in Siouxland.

"Most charities already have their end-of-the-year programs in place," she said. "We figured October would be the best time since summer vacations are over, kids are back in school and people may be in a generous mood." 

Krohn is especially pleased that donors can choose to support major charities like Ronald McDonald House Charities of Siouxland or smaller nonprofits like the Le Mars Iowa Little League baseball field, which experienced damage to recent flooding.

Plus the charities can generate excitement by posting updates, via Facebook and Twitter.

"Social media is changing the way people contribute," Krohn said. "I'm sure that programs like Siouxland Big Give will soon become much more important."

If the initial interest is any indication, many nonprofits will soon be reaping the benefits of Siouxland Big Give.

For Krohn, she's happy that organizations like Mary Elizabeth Child Care and Preschool and Noah's Hope Animal Rescue are among the participating organizations.

"I do like kids and I do like animals," she said.

More importantly, Krohn is happy a great variety of organizations will benefit from Siouxland Big Give.

"A day of giving can raise new money from people who love and care about the community where they live," she said.


Monday’s Briefing
Monday’s Briefing

No Columbus Day in Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The largest city named for Christopher Columbus has called off its observance of the holiday named for the explorer.

Offices in Columbus, Ohio, will remain open Monday and close on Veterans Day instead.

A spokeswoman says the city is not reacting to a movement to abolish the holiday in favor of indigenous peoples, but is giving deserved attention to veterans.

The switch was announced quietly Thursday, allowing Columbus to avoid the consternation around canceling Columbus Day that's taken place elsewhere.

An organizer of the local Italian-American Festival says it's an obvious attempt to be politically correct, and a missed opportunity.

Joseph Contino (kahn-TEE'-noh) says with the explorer as its namesake, Columbus should have embraced the day to celebrate both Italian and indigenous cultures.

Princess Eugenie set to wed this week

LONDON — There will be military fanfare and red velvet cake when Princess Eugenie weds this week — Britain's second royal wedding of the year.

The 28-year-old granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II is due to marry liquor company executive Jack Brooksbank on Friday in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Prince Harry, her cousin, and American actress Meghan Markle married at the same venue in May.

Buckingham Palace said Sunday that Eugenie's service will feature a trumpet fanfare and Scottish pipers, a performance by Italian singer Andrea Bocelli and a prayer written by Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

London baker Sophie Cabot is making the red velvet-and-chocolate wedding cake, billed as "a traditional cake with a modern feel."

The younger daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, Eugenie is ninth in line to the British throne.

-- Associated Press


Klett


Andrew Harnik 

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)


Govt-and-politics
top story
Sioux City Council to weigh Morningside library, Convention Center project bids

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council will decide Monday at its weekly meeting whether to award a contract to Wegher Construction Co. for the renovation of the Morningside branch library.

Library Board of Trustees president Todd Stanley said Friday that the project includes roof and boiler system replacement, a complete interior remodel with new carpet, windows and LED lighting, as well as plumbing updates to make the restrooms ADA-compliant. He said the library, which serves an estimated 50,000 people annually, hasn't been updated since the late 1960s.

"There's going to be new shelving and furniture, of course. The children's area is moving to a wider area," he said. "A number of things are going on at the same time there. We figured if we do it all at one time, then we don't have to worry about a second phase of the project down the road."

In the fall of 2016, Sioux City-based FEH Design presented a facilities study to the Library Board of Trustees and the council that outlined a possible $1.65 million in facility upgrades. The study deemed $1.2 million of those fixes as "critical," among them heating and cooling, plumbing and power issues.

The city received five bids for the project. Wegher Construction submitted the lowest bid, $1,036,490, which is below the engineer's estimate of $1,274,080. 

Jodi Klocke, graphics and communications specialist for Sioux City Public Library, said Friday that library director Helen Rigdon will share renovation plans at a news conference Tuesday.

"The branch renovation is moving forward. We closed to the public on the 1st to start prepping for upcoming construction, which is slated to begin on the 15th," Klocke said.

Construction is expected to be completed on or before April 26.

During Monday's meeting, the council will also discuss awarding a contract to L&L Builders Co. for the Convention Center renovation project.

The project will include renovation of 7,500 square feet of current Convention Center space into a ballroom for events, as well as construction of a new 7,260-square-foot "pre-function" space that will attach to a five-story Courtyard by Marriott Hotel being built next door.

In August, the council rejected initial bids for the project and instructed that new construction documents be prepared, when the lowest bid from a contractor came in nearly $1 million higher than expected. Council members could choose to eliminate some features of the project to save money, including additional storage space and the brick exterior, which could be replaced with a less expensive material.

City staff recommends that council members keep the storage space and upgrade the building's exterior to brick. L&L Builders Co. submitted the lowest bid, $2,900,100, which is below the architect's revised estimate of $3,072,487.