Saturday, July 22, 2017

Toni Topaz Rumored for "Riverdale" Season 2 Debut! Plus: When Did She Become Bisexual?? // UPDATE: Toni Topaz Is Indeed Bi!

(Originally written on 06/28/17): Regular readers might have noticed that I'm a fan of Archie Comics' character, Two-Fisted Toni Topaz. She is a relatively new addition to the Riverdale Pals & Gals. She was created as a tough-girl rival for Jughead, who enjoyed eating and sarcastic dialogue. She's appeared on more Archie Comics covers than you can shake a stick at, but other than that hasn't appeared in that many stories

It looks like the character will be appearing on Season 2 of The CW's "Riverdale" series in the fall. Audition tapes have surfaced, including one by an actress named Lorelei Linklater. I've never heard of her, but she was in some show called "Boyhood." Here is her audition tape. Personally, I wasn't terribly impressed.

But I did like this actress' audition tape. Her name is Arabelle Monet (sp?). I have no clue who she is or what's she's done, but I really hope that she got the job!


There was a curious bit of trivia revealed about Toni Topaz in this article. Apparently she's bisexual. When did this happen? I consider myself a fan of the character, but I don't ever remember her ever expressing any interest in other girls. In fact, I've only seen her interested in Jughead in the past. I'm not complaining, but this was completely new to me!

Did you know that Two-Fisted Toni Topaz is a bi girl? If so, tell me about it in the comments section. I really want to know!!

Updated on 06/29/17: Yes, Two-Fisted Toni Topaz is indeed a bi girl! Check out this tweet:


And just in case you're thinking that she's a lesbian, Toni Topaz has crushed on guys, including Jughead and Sayid. So there you have it!

Updated on 07/22/17: Looks like "Riverdale" has finally cast its Two-Fisted Toni Topaz!

Toni will be played by Vanessa Morgan, who previously starred in "The Shannara Chronicles." I've not heard of her or it before, but I'm super excited that we get to see one of my favorite D-List Archie Comics characters on Season 2 of "Riverdale!!"

According to the article I read, Toni Topaz will be a member of the Southside Serpent and she "might mean 'trouble' for Betty and Jughead's relationship."

Full Transcript of 5th Doctor Peter Davison SDCC Comments about the New Female Doctor Who

I wrote a blog article last night about news that former "Doctor Who" actor Peter Davison lamented the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor and that the casting decision was "a loss of a role model for boys." I went to bed and then woke up to a more complete, nuanced transcript of Davison's statements at the San Diego Comic Con.

So I took down my original post and decided to post Peter Davison's complete statement:
"I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for her and I think that it will be hard for some fans to adjust to it. As I said before, it’s difficult to adjust to any new Doctor, but I think the important thing is that those are uncertain fellows, those who are uncertain should be encouraged to watch it with an open mind. ... I don’t know, I feel... I think the time for discussion about that is past. They’ve made the announcement. Jodie Whittaker is the next Doctor and that’s great! 
[break] 
I feel.. if I feel any doubts about it, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you’ve got to open it up, so that’s absolutely fair enough. So she has my best wishes and full confidence. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job. 
[break] 
As a viewer, I kind of like the idea of the Doctor as a boy, but then maybe I’m an old fashioned dinosaur. Who knows? But I think that’s irrelevant now. The time for discussion is over. We have a new Doctor. And let’s give her our full support. 
[break] 
I would encourage them to watch. I think there’s too much... you know on the internet... there’s too much bile coming from both sides. And too many people are being horribly sexist about it, and too many people are saying, ‘Well, we don’t care about you. You’re old fashioned. Go away and watch something else.’ I think fans who are doubtful, who are uncertain should be encouraged and welcomed. And just approach it with an open mind. 
[break] 
Oh yeah, of course. I mean, she’s a terrific actress. And you can absolutely understand it. Look, someone rings you up... I know this feeling... someone rings you up one night. You’re sitting at home and they say ‘how would you feel about being the next Doctor Who?’ It’s a fantastic opportunity, so of course, she grabs it with both hands. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job!"
 So there you go. Much more nuanced response than you would have read in this article. And a much more positive and affirming reaction from Peter Davison.

I mentioned in the now-deleted post that Peter Davison was "my" Doctor. I watched the Tom Baker episodes when I first began working "Doctor Who" in the late 70s, but I fell in love with Peter Davison's Doctor, as well as his initial team of companions (Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric).

I'm so glad that I did a little more digging and was able to clear the air about my favorite Old School Doctor Who!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Justin Lee Removed as Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network // UPDATE: GCN Has a New Interim Executive Director: Isaac Archuleta

(Originally written on 07/19/17): Justin Lee started the Gay Christian Network back in 2001. It started out as a small discussion board where people had the opportunity to discuss what it meant to be gay and Christian. Or whether one could be gay and Christian. Or if you had to be celibate to be gay and Christian. Over time, the online community got huge. GCN began organizing yearly conventions. Small regional groups began meeting. Justin wrote a book. And then the GCN board participation shot down as more people turned to resources such as Facebook to connect with other LGBTQ people of faith.

That's just some background. The main point of the blog post is that Justin Lee has been removed as the executive director of GCN. In fact, he's been gone from the organization since early May 2017:
Joint Announcement from the Board of GCN and Justin Lee: Due to irreconcilable differences about the direction and future of the organization, Justin Lee and the GCN Board of Directors have agreed to his amicable separation from the organization. Justin Lee will no longer serve as the executive director of GCN, effective May 4, 2017. Neither Justin nor the Board will publicly discuss the reasons behind Justin’s departure other than to affirm that it was a practical business decision intended to allow for the growth of this important work.

Both Justin and the GCN Board of Directors remain committed to pursuing the mission of creating “…a world in which the next generation of LGBTQ youth will grow up fully loved and embraced by their families, churches, and neighbors; and where Christians worldwide will live up to their calling as instruments of grace and defenders of the outcast.” We remain allies in continuing our work for the LGBTQ Christian movement.

As announced at the 2017 Pittsburgh Conference, the Board reaffirms its previous commitment to changing the name of the organization to one that better reflects the diversity of the ministry and the community we serve. Recognizing the long history of Justin’s connection with the GCN name, the Board has chosen to accelerate the timing of the name change and will announce it at the 2018 Denver Conference.

From the Board of GCN: Dear Friends of GCN,

For 16 years the Gay Christian Network has been meeting the spiritual needs of the LGBTQ community throughout our nation. Justin Lee, our founder, has helped GCN become a vibrant and healthy community making a difference for those who have been treated unfairly by the church.

Through GCN and his excellent book, Torn, Justin has been a pioneer helping LGBTQ individuals accept the truth that God loves them, just as they are. Through GCN, he helped those people find a spiritual home. Because of Justin’s dedicated work, countless lives have been changed. The Board of Directors of GCN is grateful for Justin’s years of service. Moving forward, however, Justin and the Board have come to realize they have 
differing perspectives on the operational needs of the ministry. After much prayer and discussion, the Board of Directors and Justin have agreed to separate.

The GCN Board is pleased Justin will continue to speak, write, and produce content serving the LGBTQ community he so dearly loves. There have been no issues that would cause us to be anything but fully supportive of his continuing work in ministry. Those wishing to follow his work are encouraged to do so at JustinSpeaks.com.

Please join us in thanking Justin for his many years of service.

From Justin Lee: Dear friends,

I don’t have the words to say how grateful I am for all of your incredible support of me and of this work; the time, energy, and money you’ve committed to our shared mission has enabled us to accomplish things I never dreamed we could. Running this organization for the last 16 years has been absolutely the most incredible experience of my life, and I will always treasure the memories and the knowledge of how we’ve changed the world together.

As sad as I am to say goodbye, my hope and prayer for this organization is that it will always stay grounded in a passion for Jesus Christ and uphold an ongoing commitment to living out His light and love in all things. In Christ, anything is possible, and yet there are still so many people who have experienced the gospel as a hindrance rather than a hope, who’ve been led to believe that God doesn’t love them—or at least that the church doesn’t—and who feel all alone. They need to know they’re never alone.

As for me, I continue to feel a calling to change hearts and minds in the church for the sake of those who still don’t have that support. Even though I am no longer involved at GCN, I will still be speaking out on the issues that matter to our community and doing all I can to support those in need. I’m as passionate about this work today as I was back in 2001, when GCN was just a website I was running out of my apartment! In the days ahead, I will share more at JustinSpeaks.com about my future plans, and I would love to hear from you there.

Thank you again for your love and support. To those I’ve had the privilege of interacting with over the years, I sincerely hope our paths will cross again in the future. If not, you will certainly be on my heart and in my prayers. Love to you all, and may God bless you.

In Closing: The Board has hired an Interim Executive Director who will be introduced to the community soon. The Interim Executive Director will be in place while the Board commences a national search for a new CEO who can lead us into the future.

Constantino Khalaf, our Director of Operations, will continue to direct the GCN staff in preparation for the 2018 Conference in Denver, the October 2017 Youth Retreat in Wilkes-Barre, PA in October, and the other ongoing offerings of GCN. 

We ask for your prayers for Justin, and for GCN, as we all work to create vibrant spiritual opportunities for LGBTQ people of faith.
I have seen little else but shock, anger, and sadness over this announcement over on the GCN boards, on Facebook, and in other social media corners. The GCN Board is really going to need to step up and smooth things over before this winter's annual conference.

Updated on 07/21/17: Justin Lee's departure/ouster from the Gay Christian Network continues to rattle the GCN world. In addition to the shock, anger, and sadness; more people are starting to step forward and assert that maybe it is time for a change. After all, donations are down. As is participation within the online GCN discussion boards. It's still unclear what led to Justin leaving/being forced to leave GCN and nobody is really talking.

I did talk via Facebook Messenger with Costantino Khalaf, who pointed out to me that he is not the interim executive director. I totally misread that. But that conversation gave me the opportunity to tell him that GCN's Board of Directors really needs to get involved with this conversation and help people move forward.

And conversations began. First, I came across an updated statement from Justin Lee:
As you might imagine, the last 24 hours has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. After the statement went up yesterday afternoon, I spent some time responding to private messages and then took the evening away from my computer to spend time with some local friends. I haven’t yet had a chance to read all of the messages, but I’m truly grateful for the words of support and love, and I promise to read all of them as I’m able. 
Some of you have known me for a long time. I know that this work is personal for many of you as it is for me, and I know that this is emotional news for some of you (as it is for me). I can’t talk about the past right now, so I won’t. But there are some things I want to say about the future that I think are pretty important. 
First, we’ve got to show each other some grace here. None of us—not you, not me, not the remaining board and staff at GCN, not the other people posting about this stuff on social media, and not the people you trust and admire most in the entire world—none of us is perfect. We make mistakes, we see things our way, and we fail to live up to God’s calling for our lives. Every single one of us needs to be willing to forgive and show grace to others in times of conflict, because every single one of us has done things we need to be forgiven for ourselves. Besides that, none of us ever has the whole picture, because we never have the whole story of other people’s lives, and even if we did, none of us can see into other people’s hearts and know what motivates them. We superimpose our own assumptions onto others, and sometimes our assumptions are wrong. Grace, grace, grace. It’s one of the most important core doctrines in Christianity, and we need to remember it, especially in times of emotional challenge. 
Second, I want you to know that I’m not going anywhere. You’ll actually probably see a lot more of me on social media than you used to, and I’m hoping to have even more time available for speaking engagements, so that means more opportunities for me to travel and interact with y'all. I’m also finishing up the manuscript for my second book, which I’m really excited about. And on top of it all, there are a bunch of projects I had in the planning stages when I was with GCN that I’m still really passionate about, so I’m just going to keep working on them, even if it’s not my job anymore. Plus, being on my own, I might just have a chance to show more of the quirky, geeky side of my personality. Ultimately, this work still drives me as much as it ever did, and none of this changes that. I’m not stopping anytime soon. 
And finally, because people have been asking, yes, there will be a way to support my future work for those of you who feel led to do that; I appreciate your asking. I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to get into all of that stuff yesterday as this news was breaking, you know? I won’t pretend this hasn’t been an emotional time, but I am optimistic about the future, and I am constantly reminded that I am truly very, very fortunate, especially because of all of you. ❤️ Thank you for being you, as wonderfully diverse and passionate as you all are. I’m lucky to have such amazing friends.
And then I came across this statement from Susan Shopland, the chair of GCN's Board of Directors:
Friends, 
As part of the GCN community, and trustees of its mission, the members of the Board of Directors are aware of the shock caused by yesterday’s announcement. Transitions in leadership are never easy, regardless of the good will that may be behind them. We were sensitive to the concerns the announcement would raise, and have planned to reach out to you today. Out of respect for Justin and his legacy we decided to wait a couple of days to announce the name of the Interim Executive Director. We are looking forward to sharing that news tomorrow. 
We are not at liberty to speak about what transpired in recent months. But we are delighted to speak about the bright future GCN has ahead. We are encouraged by the success of the initiatives we have already launched—the Parents and Youth Retreats, and our devotional series, to name a few. I personally can’t wait to share more of what’s in store in due time. 
As our statement yesterday mentioned, some changes are coming. We look forward to better representing and embracing the full diversity of our community—the beautiful diversity of God’s creation. We want GCN to include more women and people of color, and we want our new name to reflect our full embrace of our trans and non-binary siblings in Christ. 
But we also want to reassure you that certain things are never changing. 
We will always be a Christ-centered, Spirit-led organization. Our Christian faith is what brought us together, and it will always remain the central focus of our work. We will thrive in the unity of the body of Christ, and our commitment to nurture and sustain the faith of all members of our community will not falter. To be clear, GCN will always be a spiritual home for both Side A and Side B. 
Please keep us in your prayers, especially as we meet at the end of this month for our annual Board and Staff retreat. Pray that Christ’s love and grace continue to guide us into the future.
She later asked some of the more upset commenters on the GCN discussion boards to reach out to her via PM to discuss their hard feelings about this separation. She also encouraged people to wait before making the decision to permanently quit GCN.

Then earlier today, GCN announced its new interim executive director: Isaac Archuleta:
“The Gay Christian Network has much to be proud of, and I seek to build on the incredible accomplishments of the staff, board, and volunteers. My desire is to fortify GCN's ability to empower LGBTQ lives as reciprocating beings with themselves, their loved ones, and God. I will approach my work with GCN with passion and conviction to strengthen your mission to create ‘…a world where the next generation of LGBTQ youth will grow up fully loved and embraced by their families, churches, and neighbors; and where Christians worldwide will live up to their calling as instruments of grace and defenders of the outcast.’”
Then Archulea, Khalaf, and another member of the GCN staff named Kyle Franklin released a video with the following message:
As three cisgender men, we are aware that our team needs more diversity—more people of color, more women, and more of our transgender siblings. And while GCN builds an internal structure that more accurately expresses God’s diversity we are also building an external structure: we are ever focused on creating a GCN community that will grow in solidarity, that will be transformed spiritually, and one that will fortify the stability of our God-given identities- whether we’re side A or side B. We believe, just as GCN always has, that all of us belong at the same table. We will continue to work as a Christ-centered organization with your essence in mind. . . 
. . .As the staff at GCN, we are committed to seeing you thrive relationally and spiritually. We are here to welcome our allies so that we can walk as one cohesive unit, teaching one another about Jesus’ love

The GCN guys promised a commitment to more diverse staff and board representation. And they recommitted to establishing a more diverse organizational name that better encompasses the entirety of GCN's membership, including lesbians, straight allies, transgender folks, and gender fluid individuals. You can watch the video here.

Here are my final thoughts (for now) on this situation as we move into these GCN-PJ months and years:

1. I hope the new GCN leadership avoids gimmicks that likely looked good in concept, but that really harmed GCN. I'm talking about stuff like secretly inviting Exodus International's Alan Chambers to one of the GCN Conferences. Or Justin doing outreach to Focus on the Family in hopes that they would become a safer organization for LGBTQ youth.

2. And I want GCN's leadership to have an active presence on the GCN discussion boards. Not just the new director, but the Board. Justin promised that he'd be an active member of the GCN boards much more each time they relaunched the boards, but that rarely lasted more than a few days. GCN is an online community. GCN needs its leadership to participate in that online community.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ARCHIE #22: "Why Can't I Feel My Legs?"

The "Over the Edge" story line just wrapped up in ARCHIE #22. This was the story line that originally threatened to kill off one of the main five characters in Archie Comics. I then later realized that Archie Comics was being a bit sly and just implying that somebody would die. Sure enough, we learned last month that Betty Cooper was serious injured and on the brink of death after getting caught up in a drag-racing-involved car accident.

So did she die?

SPOILERS!!!...

MORE SPOILERS!!!...

EVEN MORE SPOILERS!!!...


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Not Appreciating #NotSpecialNeeds

There's this video circulating called #NotSpecialNeeds, featuring a cast of individuals with Down Syndrome.

The narrator says:
Special Needs?...

What we really need is... education, jobs, opportunities, friends, and some love. Just like everyone else. Are these needs special?
Interspersed between those two paragraphs are examples of how people with Down Syndrome might indeed have special needs. Such as if they could only eat pterodactyl eggs or if they needed cat massages everyday.

You are then directed to the NotSpecialNeeds website where they explain why it's important that we drop the term "special needs" when talking about Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities:
The phrase "special needs" is actually counter-productive in so many ways: 
1. By definition it “exceptionalises,” segregates and excludes. 
2. It stigmatises as it is associated with segregated settings (e.g. special schools, special workshops and special group homes), and accordingly for many, a “special needs” label is effectively a one-way ticket to a separate, segregated, low expectations pathway through life. 
3. Being a euphemism, it is increasingly considered patronizing, condescending and offensive by people with disabilities. 
4. It serves to distance people with "special needs," as it implies that their needs can only be met in a "special" way or by "specialists." This complicates inclusion of people with disabilities in regular education and employment. 
5. In “exceptionalising” disability and reinforcing attitudinal barriers, it hinders the recognition of disability as a part of human diversity, and slows the realization of human rights for people with disabilities. 
6. Recent research suggests that people respond more negatively to someone described as being or having "special needs," compared to someone described as having disabilities or a particular disability.
We're told by the website that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities might require extra assistance to meet particular needs, but that doesn't make their needs any more "special" than other people's needs.

Which seems to be stretching the point, in my mind. I get what they're saying in this video and on the webpage, but I don't fully agree.

Most people with Down Syndrome and other forms of intellectual and developmental disabilities do indeed have special needs that affect their everyday ability to independently meet their educational, vocational, self-care, medical, social, financial, home organizational, and even behavioral needs. Those needs vary from individual to individual, of course.

The list up above complains about special classrooms or special work-sites for people with disabilities -- usually more severe disabilities that prevent them from fully engaging in less expensive integrated classrooms or work locations. Without those segregated settings, we're finding that people with more severe disabilities are typically not becoming more involved with their peers and their communities. Instead, they're doing without.

For example, here in Iowa they shut down most of the sheltered workshops. These were work-sites at places like Goodwill or Rural Employment Alternatives where people with moderate to severe disabilities could work on basic job tasks with lots of assistance at their own pace and earn a little bit of money. Those sheltered workshops went away with promises that community-based employers -- stores, hotels, offices, etc. -- would step up and we would carve out fully-waged jobs with minimal job coaching for everyone. And for some folks with disabilities, this really worked out. But many others found themselves without any employment opportunities or wages because of the severity of their disabilities.

We are struggling to keep funding in place for special education classes and Medicaid-funded home-based and community-based services to help most disabled individuals stay out of more institutional services -- or worse. When you see disabled people working at a store like Target or Walmart with assistance from a job coach, that job coach is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars. When you have a disabled neighbor who gets a staff person to come to their home to help with their checkbook and their shopping, that staff person is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars. When you have a group home set up in your neighborhood that supports 3-4 intellectually disabled adults with staff who help with their cooking, showering, and behavior management needs, that group home is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars.

This website is quibbling over whether it's exceptionalising to note that people with disabilities have special needs. And minimizing those special needs makes it more difficult to make a case for the continued existence of those home- and community-based services.

I used to think that people had a basic moral understanding of the need for services for people with intellectual disabilities. These days, the states and the federal government are constantly looking for ways to slash spending for society's most vulnerable citizens -- and I'm not sure that people really get it until they find themselves in the position to need those special services.

So instead of fretting about when someone says the phrase "special needs," spend some time writing to Congress about the need for continue support for those with special needs. We've spent decades building up these various services. I hate watching them be dismantled. You should too.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Iowa City Man, Whose Cat Was Allegedly Tortured by Roommate, Now Charged with 18 Counts of Sexual Abuse // Updated Charges Below

(Originally written on 12/19/14): A local man was arrested two months ago and charged with torturing his roommate's 8-week-old kitten for at least three hours non-stop. This abuse was reportedly recorded by a video camera on the roommate's laptop.

Here is where everything gets complicated. Its seems that the Iowa City Police Department found additional videos on Nathan Schloss' laptop. Those videos led to his arrest earlier today. According to the Gazette and the Iowa City Police Department, Nathan Schloss faces 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for allegedly committing sexual acts with "an 'incapacitated' woman and recording those acts without her knowledge:"
Police said that while all 18 charges involve one victim, there are multiple victims involved and more charges are to come. Police have not given a definitive number of victims.
“We have identified and spoken to several of the victims involved in this manner and continue to identify others,” (Sgt. Scott) Gaarde said...

According to criminal complaints, the earliest incident occurred on May 13, 2012 and continued until September 8, 2013. The criminal complaints are sparse in details, but share in common traits. 

Police said that in each case, the victim was “incapacitated” and had no idea she was being recorded. 

Schloss is depicted in the videos touching and, in multiple cases, penetrating his victim or rubbing himself on her, according to the criminal complaints.

It appears that in at least one case, police had to inform the alleged victim that she was sexually assaulted.

“The victim has never seen this video and was unaware this ever happened,” one complaint reads.
Gaarde said he could not comment on how the women were incapacitated or what would account for their lack of memory of the events...

In one case, police said video shows the alleged victim waking up in the middle of the abuse and repeatedly telling Schloss to get off her.
According to the Gazette, Schloss told the police that the woman in the video was aware of both the sexual activity and that she was being recorded.

Schloss faces up to ten years in prison for each of those 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

It goes without saying that he has been accused and not convicted of these charges.

Updated on 12/30/14: The Press-Citizen reports that Schloss has now been charged with 22 counts of invasion of privacy:
According to criminal complaints, Schloss video recorded or photographed himself with visibly incapacitated women against their consent. The videos and photos depicted Schloss having sexual intercourse with one victim, touching multiple victims' genitalia and using victims' hands to touch his own genitalia, according to criminal complaints.

Schloss had multiple victims, police have said, and it is possible that not all of the victims have been identified. Police also said some of the victims were unaware the abuse had taken place. According to criminal complaints, the abuse took place between May 13, 2012, and Sept. 8, 2013, at three Iowa City addresses...

According to the State of Iowa legal code, a person charged with invasion of privacy the charges Schloss faces is "a person who knowingly views, photographs, or films another person, for the purpose of arousing and gratifying the sexual desire of any person." According to the code, the victim must have no knowledge of the event, must not consent or be able to consent and must be in a state of full or partial nudity.
Schloss was released from jail yesterday after posting bond. The PC reports that he must remain within the state of Iowa and is not allowed contact with any of his alleged victims.

Updated on 07/13/17: It's been a really long time since I last wrote about this case. It's being reported in local media that Nathan Schloss will finally be entering a new plea next week. A plea hearing has been scheduled for Monday, July 17th. His trial was supposed to begin on August 8th.

Updated on 07/17/17: Nathan Schloss successfully entered a plea deal earlier today. He pleaded guilty to five counts of invasion of privacy and one count of assault causing serious injury. Under the plea agreement, Schloss will be sentenced to up to five years for the assault charge and up to one year for each of the individual invasion of privacy charges. The sentences will run consecutively for a period of up to ten years. Schloss will also be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and will be placed on probation for 10 years following his prison sentence.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jodie Whittaker Announced as the 13th Doctor Who!

(Originally written on 07/15/17): It's been known for several months that Peter Capaldi is leaving "Doctor Who." I've heard much speculation about the identity of the next actor to take over the long-running science fiction program's lead role, but the BBC has remained tight-lipped about the new actor.

Until now. The BBC has announced that they will officially announce the new "Doctor Who" actor tomorrow (July 16th) afternoon!

Stay tuned!

Updated on 07/16/17: I've been running around being busy all day so I haven't had time for blog updates. I was convinced that the BBC was going to announced Kris Marshall (formerly of "Death in Paradise") as the 13th Doctor Who, but I was completely wrong.

Earlier this morning, the BBC dropped this major piece of video and people are going mad. The 13th Doctor is none other than... Jodie Whittaker!!

I know her from "Broadchurch" and "Cranford," but she's appeared in several other television programs and movies over the years. People have been craving a female Doctor Who for years -- decades even. I have a VHS fanfiction VHS program from the late 1980s (or was it the early 90s?) featuring a female Doctor. Of course, I can't watch it anymore but it was really good stuff!

Pretty much everyone I know is super excited about getting a female Doctor -- and I've purposely avoided the comments section of every video and news article out there to avoid the people who really hate the idea.

It's time for change. "Doctor Who" has been growing stale over the past few years. The new creative team -- both in front and behind the cameras -- promise to shake things up and take things in a very different direction.

I'm excited about Jodie Whittaker -- and I'm excited to learn more about her unique take on the Doctor, about her new companions, and about her new adventures!

Senator Caitlyn Jenner(??)

Remember last year when I wrote about my dislike for Caitlyn Jenner and the rest of the Kardashian family? That opinion hasn't changed at all. I continue to avoid stories that involved Caitlyn and I cringe when she puts herself out there as a representative for the LGBTQ communities. But this is too good to avoid:

Caitlyn Jenner is thinking about running for a Senate seat. It happened yesterday on a radio interview:
“The political side of it has always been very intriguing to me. Over the next six months or so, I gotta find out where I can do a better job. Can I do a better job from the outside? Kind of working the perimeter of the political scene, being open to talking to anybody? Or are you better from the inside, and we are in the process of determining that. Yeah but I would look for a senatorial run."
I guess she would be running against Senator Diane Feinstein in 2018. Or possibly Senator Kamala Harris in 2022.

One would hope that people wouldn't vote Jenner into office. Then again, people have voted much crazier people into political office in the name of celebrity.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Vatican Nixes Gluten-Free Communion Bread

It's being reported that the Vatican has officially nixed 100% gluten-free communion wafers when celebrating Mass. This directive was originally issued on June 15th, but didn't become widely know until last week when it was reported on Vatican Radio.

For some reason, it is crucial that communion be served with a minimal amount of wheat -- as opposed to breads made from rice, potato, tapioca, or other flours.

This is a big deal for Catholics who live with celiac disease, which is a gastrointestinal immune disease. Celiac disease causes stomach pain, diarrhea, and weight loss when they consume each small amounts of gluten.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coming in October 2017: New ARCHIES Ongoing Comic Book Series!

A few months ago, Archie Comics announced a series of one-shot audition comic books. A few of them saw print. A few others were never published. One of those one-shot comic books was THE ARCHIES, by Alex Seguara, Matthew Rosenberg, and Joe Eisma. I have a confession to make. I'm looking for to that book. I purchased that book. But I haven't read that book. I've just been too busy recently.

Fortunately, it doesn't matter if I read it or not. What matters is that enough of us bought it. Which leads me to today's news that Archie Comics announced plans to publish an ongoing follow-up comic book titled THE ARCHIES! It's scheduled to debut in early October 2017. And it looks like the previous creative team remains intact.

For those who don't know, the Archies are a garage band featuring Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie. Which possibly spoils the "Over the Edge" storyline over in the main ARCHIE title...(?) According to MTV News, the Archies are heading out on a road tour in THE ARCHIES #1, but their first tour isn't without tension:
But has Archie learned to not take his friends for granted, or will the overnight fame start to get to his head? And when someone makes a decision that leaves the rest of the band scrambling, can The Archies keep it together? The new ongoing series will continue to follow the ups and downs that come with forming a band with friends. Only this time, Archie and the Riverdale gang will get to meet a few of their heroes along the way.
Also according to MTV News, THE ARCHIES will feature guest appearances by real bands in future issues -- instead of the Pussycats, presumably. Archie Comics is asking for suggestions from fans of bands that will appear in the book.

So how about it? Which real-life bands to do you want to see guest appear in THE ARCHIES?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Degrassi: Next Class" Character Comes Out as Genderqueer in Latest Season

I was pretty excited this weekend when the latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" dropped on Netflix. I managed to watch the entire season on Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Really great stuff. I'm sure that I will write more about the latest season soon.

But I want to write tonight about develops involving Yael, Degrassi's resident gamer girl/ feminist fighter. (Jon's Note: Sorry about that. I was just trying for some alliteration...)

Yael has always pushed the bounds of individualism on the show. She likes to game. She hangs out primarily with boys (up until this season). And she's never been one to hide behind gender roles. But this latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" really shakes things up for young Yael. (Jon's Note: See? More alliteration!!)

It starts out in the first episode when Yael avoids various activities because of the size of her breasts. Her friend Lola susses out that Yael isn't getting enough support up front, which causes a lot of back strain. A shopping trip for better-fitting bras does the trick... except that Yael finds herself very uncomfortable with the way that her male friends continue to focus on her newly prominent boobs.


That's when she discovers binding. Yael begins compressing her breasts in an effort to deemphasize her breasts. She then quits shaving her legs and her underarms -- something that really bugs her boyfriend Hunter. But these acts begin leading her down the road of questioning both her sexual orientation and her gender identity.

Yael confides more to Lola about her confusion. She knows that she's not a lesbian. She knows that she's attracted to Hunter and other boys. And she knows that she doesn't want to become a boy. But she also knows that she doesn't feel like a conventional girls.

She feels in-between. She doesn't like make-up or other things that most girls like. She hates her breasts. But she also doesn't feel like a boy.

Lola introduces Yael to the concept of being genderqueer, or genderfluid. It's a former of gender identity for those who don't identify with either end of the gender spectrum. And -- in true Lola fashion -- she offers to give Yael a make-over.


The results were perfect.

In true Degrassi spirit, most of Yael's friends rally to her side and help her come up with the gender pronouns of her preference -- "they," "their," and "them." Sadly, her romantic life doesn't survive the journey.

But I really love the friendship that's developed over the past two seasons between Yael and Lola. They started out hating each other and now they're such great supports for each other.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

RIVERDALE #4: "We Need to Talk About Kevin..."

I just finished reading RIVERDALE #4. RIVERDALE is an interesting book. "Riverdale" is an adaptation of the regular Archie Comics, which RIVERDALE is a comic book adaptation of the "Riverdale" TV series. RIVERDALE #4 focused on America's favorite gay teen, Kevin Keller.

The story is titled "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and is features writing by Michael Grassi, art by Joe Eisma, colors by Andre Szymanowicz, and lettering by John Workman.

In this story, Kevin is moping around because he's the only gay kid in Riverdale. Which reminded me of Daffyd Thomas from "Little Britain..."

... Except that Kevin really isn't the only gay in Riverdale. We've already seen him hooking up in the "Riverdale" television series with Moose, plus we know that he's hooked up anonymously with other guys. Which is something that is brought up again in RIVERDALE #4.

Let's move beyond the idea that Archie Comics is currently publishing a comic book where one of the lead characters is a 16-year-old kid who cruises public parks and truck stops for sex with adult men.

But there are plenty of men-loving men in Riverdale, if this Sup app is to be believed. And more than a few of them attend Riverdale High. Kevin attempts to use the Sup app to find a date and ends up with one of the students on the water polo teammates -- not that anything came of it. The guy dumped Kevin before they had a chance to talk.


Keep in mind that Kevin is desperate for a boyfriend, but not desperate to try dating Billy the Fridge (as seen in RIVERDALE #2). Who seems like a nice kid, but he's not conventionally attractive, so why give him a chance?


In addition to looking for guys on Sup, Kevin looks for love at the local gay bar (with help from Veronica, Betty, and Reggie) and he even tries cruising for anonymous sex at the local park in this story:


"Tries" loosely. He gets freaked out over the idea that another student (Jason Blossom) was killed by... somebody. Also, there's some reference in this story to a "near death experience" during one of his past cruising encounters. Other Archie Comics fans are freaking out over Kevin's sexual exploits. I'm freaking out wondering what this "near death experience" was all about!!

Anyway, Kevin finally gets comfortable with the idea of being single just in time to meet the new British student, Devin (who just might be a twisted version of Devon from the old KEVIN KELLER series). Of course, Devin doesn't exist in the "Riverdale" TV series and I'm really curious how he might fit in a world that contains Joaquin.


RIVERDALE #4 ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but I'm not sure that we'll cross that cliff next issue.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oklahoma City Man Arrested Following Fight Over "Star Wars" VS "Star Trek"

When I was a kid, I was completely into "Star Wars." I watched the movies. I had the action figures. I had the toys. I had the lunch box. It was great. Then I got older and began watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and I've been a Trekkie ever since (Jon's Side-Note: Don't lecture me about how I should call myself a Trekker. That's a stupid nickname. Just sayin'...).

But I don't hold it against anyone for enjoying "Star Wars" over "Star Trek." Case in point:
Police say a fight over Star Trek and Star Wars led to an assault in the metro... Oklahoma City Police Department reports show that (a 23-year-old man who should know each other) and another man were in the living room of an apartment... when they began arguing if Star Wars or Star Trek was better. The victim told police he became frustrated and stated "You're just a trick" before walking back to his room.

(The accused assailant) allegedly followed the man and shoved him to the ground. The victim got back up and told police he stated "You wanna replay that?" and was once again shoved to the ground. Police say (the accused assailant) then wrapped his arm around the victim's neck and began choking him. The victim was near unconsciousness when he pulled out a pocket knife.
The accused assailant was subsequently arrested and charged with assault and battery, possession of marijuana, and outstanding Oklahoma County warrants. All over an out-of-control debate about one science fiction franchise versus the other.

It's not clear from the article if the assailant was into "Star Wars" or if he was into "Star Trek." I'm guessing that he's into "Star Wars."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Coming in October 2017: HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA

Archie Comcis and DC announced a new six-issue comic book crossover mini-series: HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA:
The series will be co-written by Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini, with art from Laura Braga. Dini originally created Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series, the show that also established the character’s flirty friendship with Poison Ivy. The new series will find them pitting their girl power against Riverdale’s most famous pair. When a proposal emerges to drain the wetlands between Gotham and Riverdale, Ivy sticks up for her beloved fauna by enlisting Harley to kidnap valuable heiress Veronica Lodge and her best friend, Betty. Chaos, you may assume, ensues.
You know me. I'm a huge fan of Archie Comics. I've enjoyed the new look. I've loved Archie Horror. I've danced with joy when they teamed the Riverdale Gang with the Ramones (and Predator and Sharknado, etc...).

But I'm not looking forward to this crossover. I know that people love Harley Quinn. I just shrug.

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA is scheduled to premier on 10/04/17.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Utah: Freedom Festival Kicks LGBT Group Out of July 4th Grand Parade

Yesterday was Independence Day. I spent the holiday with my boys and several other family members (sadly, Husband Mark stayed behind because of work). We spent much of the weekend in the country side exploding fire crackers and other lite fireworks. But we also spent part of the July 4th at a small town parade celebrating our country's independence.

Fortunately, we weren't participating in the Provo Freedom Festival in Provo, UT. The group that organizes that celebration's Grand Parade decided at the last minute that the community's local LGBT center wasn't allowed to march:
The annual Provo Freedom Festival decided July 3 that a local LGBT resource center would not be allowed to walk in Grand Parade, according to Encircle: LGBT + Family & Youth Resource Center. The Festival, according to its website, "highlights freedom through bands, professionally crafted floats, giant helium balloons and local and national performers," while encouraging participants to "promote patriotism and traditional family values to around 300,000 spectators." 
According to a Facebook post by Encircle, the Festival revoked its previously approved application to participate because it is being classified as an advocacy group. Encircle disputes that classification, however, citing its status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Encircle has been in operations since Valentine's Day 2017 and offers community services, skills training, and counseling.

Encircle ended up hosting a pancake breakfast on July 4th instead.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Festival's executive director has announced that he plans to meet with Encircle's leadership sometime next week to discuss the situation.

Moon Girl Meets Girl-Moon!

I haven't written about Moon Girl lately. There's this great story line in MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #19-20, where Lunella Lafeyette receives a distress call. She's deep in space and separated from her father. Lunella jerry-riggs a spaceship and goes out to help this frightened girl.

Lunella lands on a moon in search of the young girl, Illa, but cannot find her. It actually takes Earth's smartest person way to long to realize that Illa isn't lost on the moon. She is the moon!

It turns out that Illa is Ego the Living Planet's daughter. She briefly saw her father after her birth, but then rotated away from him so that she's constantly looking away from him! Being the nice guy that he is, it apparently never occurs to Ego to respond to her cries and turn her to face him.

The rest of the issue centers around Lunella's attempts to get herself home -- despite Illa's efforts to keep her new "friend" around. Can Lunella get back to Earth with a faulty space-engine and against the will of an angry Girl-Moon?


Hopefully you're reading MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR.It's fun stuff issue after issue!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day! // Remembering Dragnet's "The Big Trio!"

Happy Independence Day! 

I won't be spending too much time with the blog today, but wanted to share a July 4th story from the old "Dragnet" radio drama. This particular episode is titled "The Big Trio" and is premiered back on July 3rd, 1952.

In the story, Detective Sergeant Joe Friday is assigned to traffic detail during the Fourth of July weekend. "The Big Trio" features three weekend tragedies. One involves a teen who ended up in the hospital after leading the police in a high-speed race through Los Angeles. Another involves a supposed drunken hit-and-run victim. The third involves a careless driver who inadvertently crashes into a police officer, killing the man. Friday is then tasked with breaking the news to the officer's fiancee.

You can listen to the entire story here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Check Out the "Marvel Inhumans" Trailer!

Late last week, Marvel Comics dropped the trailer for their new ABC television series: "Marvel's Inhumans." It features the Royal Family and their kingdom on the Moon. The show is scheduled to premier on ABC on September 29th, but fans can also watch the premier early on September 1 in IMAX theaters.

It looks pretty good. As far as I can tell, the entire Royal Family is there: Blackbolt, Medusa, Maximus, Crystal, Karnak, Gorgon, and Lockjaw. I haven't seen Triton, but I'm pretty certain that the character has been cast.

The trailer shows Maximus agitating the Inhumans and getting everyone read for a coup against his brother/their king, Blackbolt. For his part, Blackbolt looks constipated a lot. Don't believe me? Check this out:


Maximus is played by Iwan Rheon. You might know him from "Game of Thrones," but I love him for his portray of Ash Weston on "Vicious." He was also pretty good in "Under Mild Wood." He certainly gets the most dialogue and screen-time in the trailer. Then again, he's deposing a silent king so that goes without saying.


Not only will the Royal Family have to contend with Maximus and the mutinous Inhumans, but they'll find themselves running from the forces of humanity on planet Earth.

I'm interested in the show, but seeing Lockjaw in action is what sold "Marvel's Inhumans" on me!


You can watch the entire trailer here.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Muscatine City Council Begins Impeachment Effort Against City's Mayor // Updated Report: $100,000 in City Legal Fees May Be Used to Justify Impeachment Effort // More Updates... // Updated on 05/11/17: Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson Has Been Removed from Office by Unanimous Vote of her Accusers, the Muscatine City Council // Updated on 06/16/17: Court Reinstates Diana Broderson as Mayor

(Originally written on 01/13/17): This is interesting. Last night, the mostly Republican City Council in Muscatine, IA, unanimously approved impeachment proceedings against the city's Democratic mayor, accusing her of unspecified incidents of misconduct and neglect, as well as making disparaging comments towards city employees.

I've been reading the sordid conflict between Mayor Diana Broderson and the Muscatine City Council with interest. She unexpectedly won an election against the incumbent mayor back in 2015 and has since struggled for achieve any of her limited mayoral duties, which pretty much consist of making appointments to city commissions, as well as appointing the Police and Fire Chief. In fact, the City Council voted last summer on an ordinance that stripped the mayor of those duties. Mayor Broderson challenged this new ordinance and received a decision from the state Attorney General's Office back in October 2016 indicating that the City Council lacked the authority to make these changes and that it was potentially criminal. However, the Muscatine County Attorney declined to act on the state Attorney General's opinion last month.

Which leads us to this week. The Muscatine City Council announced that it would vote on a request to impeach the city's mayor at its 01/12/17 city council meeting. According to the Muscatine Journal, none of the Council members wouldn't offer any explanation for this move and instead referred the reporter to the city attorney, who conveniently couldn't be reached for comment.

Last night, Councilman Michael Rehwaldt read the following motion:
An elected City official may be removed from office for, among other reasons, misconduct or maladministration in office, and willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of the office; and

Willful misconduct or maladministration in office and include, but is not limited to, conduct such as repeated public criticism of the City or staff; repeatedly engaging in defamatory attacks against the City, staff or public; breach of fiduciary duties; or other conduct which tends to erode public confidence in the City or staff.

Habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of office an include, but is not limited to, such conduct as repeated breaches of the public official's fiduciary duties and/or repeated failure to follow established city ordinances or policies;

It appears the Mayor may have engaged in some of the foregoing conduct to the detriment of the City and in contravention of her established duties and, as such, written charges for removal should be filed to determine if the Mayor should be removed from office as a result of such conduct.

Therefore, the City Council of the City of Muscatine, Iowa, hereby motions to instruct the City Attorney to draft and file written charges for the removal of the Mayor as provided for by Iowa Code Chapter 66 and City Code section 1-7-6.
The Council members continued to avoid any specific accusations. Hopefully, they have evidence of willful misconduct or maladministration. Certainly something more substantial than vague suggestions that she "may have engaged" in detrimental conduct.

About 60 citizens attended the meeting and all appeared to denounce this impeachment effort.

I'm not a citizen of Muscatine, but this really doesn't pass the smell test. The Muscatine City Council better watch out or they might engage the citizens enough to vote out its incumbents -- particularly those like Councilmen Rehwaldt, Bynum, and Natvig -- all of whom are up for re-election later this year.

Updated on 01/19/17: We're beginning to get an idea about what the Muscatine City Council plans to use to support their impeachment effort against Mayor Diana Broderson:
The Muscatine city attorney said in an email to City Administrator Gregg Mandsager Wednesday that the city has incurred more than $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses in fighting what he says are "unproven claims and allegations" made by Mayor Broderson...

City officials said the official charges could be released as early as Friday.

City Attorney Matthew Brick detailed the 2016 attorney fees in an email to Mandsager. That email was in response to an inquiry Mandsager received from Broderson requesting more information about costs and attorney fees. Brick's email stated that complaints filed by Broderson against city officials, staff, contractors, and citizens resulted in about $64,000 in unbudgeted legal fees and $43,600 in staff time during the 2016 calendar year.

Mandsager had forwarded the email to the mayor and city council members early Wednesday morning. The email was also forwarded to the Muscatine Journal and Quad City Times.

As to the allegations that she caused funds to be spent by filing complaints, Broderson said she was just doing as the citizens asked...

Her reaction to the amount of costs paid to the city attorney was to wonder how much had been spent changing the city's appointment process. The council passed an amendment earlier in 2016 that created a nominating committee made up of the mayor, the city administrator or his appointee, and two council members to review candidates for city appointments.

"My take would be most of the money has been spent trying to reduce the office of mayor," she said.
By the way, I was listening to this Muscatine-based podcast earlier tonight and was shocked to learn that City Administrator Gregg Mandsager has apparently banned the city's employees from speaking or interacting with Mayor Broderson, outside of basic greetings. It's apparently been this way since shortly after Broderson's election in 2015.

Updated on 01/25/17: I'm not even sure that the Muscatine City Council actually has a clue about Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachable offense. Check this out:
Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick says charges for removal of Mayor Diana Broderson may not be filed for weeks, and the nature of the charges has yet to be determined. Brick said he will continue to investigate, and "slow equals fair. I want to make sure if there are relevant issues that they get looked at," he said. 
The Muscatine City Council two weeks ago voted to take the first steps toward ousting the mayor. Councilman Michael Rehwaldt cited "habitual neglect" and "willful misconduct or maladministration in office" as two possible reasons. State law says elected officials can be removed by two-thirds vote of the council. 
"It would be nice for not only me but for the people of Muscatine to know sooner rather than later so both sides could work to prepare," Broderson said. 
If evidence for removing the mayor under state law is not found, Brick said at the end of the investigation he would report back to council.
It sounds to me like the City Council members are just biding their time until after the next election cycle. Pretty shady, Muscatine...

Updated on 02/17/17: Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick filed a list of complaints early this morning, which are being used as the basis for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment:
Broderson is accused of ignoring Brick's legal advice when he told her that she was stepping outside of the boundaries of her power as mayor, listed in the document as "willful misconduct or maladministration … habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of her office..."

In the document, Broderson is accused of "making baseless complaints” that cost the city as much as $100,000 in legal fees and staff time to investigate, including asking for an investigation into whether she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and requesting investigation into actions of the city that were later determined to be unfounded.

Also outlined is an alleged breach of fiduciary duties, failure to comply with city code, defamation and/or false allegations and misuse of power and/or abuse of discretion.
These charges have been filed with the city and could appear on the agenda for the next Muscatine City Countil meeting. That is scheduled for 03/01/17.

Updated on 03/10/17: The Muscatine City Council scheduled the date for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment hearing at their council meeting last night. The hearing will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday, March 23rd.

According to news reports, residents approached the Council and expressed disappointment with this whole process. One particular resident suggested that they should have waited until the next election when Mayor Broderson's term expired and just run a better candidate against her instead of going through the time, money, and embarrassment of impeaching her mid-term:
Although advised by City Administrator Gregg Mandsager to answer “no comment” to residents’ questions, Councilman Santos Saucedo responded to Nathan Baker, of Muscatine, after Baker said the recent actions of the council were making Muscatine a statewide laughing stock. Baker said that the mayor would not have retained her seat through the next election in November, and the council should have waited instead of trying to impeach her. "I wouldn’t vote for her again except for that you guys have created this problem," he said. "The right thing would be to let her finish her term, and for you guys just to do your thing." 
Saucedo was visibly upset after Baker’s remarks. Saucedo said he was doing what he felt was right and promised that the reasons behind the charges filed for the mayor’s removal would be revealed at the March 23 hearing. "All the information is going to come out," Saucedo said.
The problem is that the Muscatine City Council has been so cagey about why they are impeaching her that there is little else for residents to do except assume that there's something under-handed, political, and nasty about this whole affair.

Updated on 03/21/17: The impeachment hearing begins first thing Thursday morning. Here are some new details. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM in the council chambers in Muscatine. The hearing will be open to the public, but they will not allow any public comments at the meeting. They will not broadcast the hearing on their local government channel, so you won't have any televised footage for use during future campaign commercials (unless someone in the audience records something on Facebook Live).

Muscatine has brought a retired judge and mediator in to act as special counsel for the city and to act as prosecutor. Mayor Broderson will be represented by her own attorney, presumably at her own expense. Council members will hear the arguments for and against Mayor Broderson's impeachment. Two-thirds of the Council will need to vote for her impeachment. It's unclear if they will actually vote on Thursday or not.

The Muscatine City Council is walking on fragile ice here. This is the first case of a mayoral impeachment in Iowa history. There is an election in a few months and three of the seven Council members are up for reelection. There are already efforts to vote out all three Council members this fall.

Updated on 03/23/17: Mayor Broderson's impeachment hearing dragged on for eleven hours today. You can follow the #musmayor hashtag on Twitter, but it's not clear to follow most of the testimony because there's very little video or written coverage (outside of some tweets and 2-minute clips). Eventually, the hearing was postponed until 9:00 AM on Saturday, 04/01/17.

Updated on 03/24/17: Hear are some details on the testimony, courtesy of the Muscatine Journal. It offers more substantial reasons for the impeachment hearing:

Gender Bias Complaint: Mayor Broderson had initiated a gender bias investigation against the City Council and City Administrator Gregg Mandsager. It was later determined that there was no basis for her allegations:
When he was called as a witness, City Administrator Gregg Mandsager said he may have been negatively impacted by the investigation during a recent job search, because he was required to say he had been the subject of an investigation into gender bias. He also said his health had been negatively impacted by the investigation and allegations made against him and council members during her term.
Misuse of Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson has been accused to spending $500 of her campaign funds to pay for her attorney. She is also alleged to have spent $1200 in campaign funds to send letters to residents that attack the character of Council members. For example, she referred to the Council members as "good old boys."

Complaints Against City Staff: Mayor Broderson allegedly claimed that two staff members violated Muscatine's Code of Ethics for negative comments made on Facebook about her during their free time. For example, she was called an "asshat" by a city accountant. She also questioned the employment status of a retired city engineer who was hired as a temporary independent contractor while also drawing from his IPERS pension.

Mayor Broderson still hasn't testified on her own behalf. She will presumably have the chance defend herself on April 1st.

Updated on 04/02/17: Testimony resumed and concluded yesterday in Musatine. I was traveling this weekend, but monitored the impeachment hearing as much as I could on Twitter. Testimony was split between City Attorney Matthew Brick and Mayor Diana Broderson.

We learned more of the complaints against Mayor Broderson:

Coffee with the Mayor: Mayor Broderson is accused of violating city code by forming an ad hoc committee, i.e., her monthly Coffee with the Mayor chats. These informal events were characterized by the city as a committee or task force.

Contacting City Staff: Mayor Broderson was accused of contacting city staff without permission by the city administrator. Broderson claimed that she was permitted to contact city staff by email as long as she cc'ed City Administrator Greg Mandsager. She noted that other city counselors were not required to cc the administrator on emails.

Misspending Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson is accused of using her campaign funds to fund letters to Muscatine residents, which violates the city's code of ethics.

Lastly, it's been reported that Mayor Broderson stated that there is some sort of political deal in the works. If true, it would dismiss the impeachment charges -- with some strings attached:
Broderson dropped that bomb Saturday at the very tail end of another marathon hearing of her impeachment trial. "I don't understand this, since you'll give me back my appointment power if I agree not to run again in November," Broderson responded when acting City Council Chairman Bob Bynum asked if she had "anything else to say."

Broderson's power to appoint Muscatine residents to its various commissions and committees is at the heart of the legal and political battle that, for the past year, has fractured the city of 23,000. Last spring, just months into her tenure, the City Council stripped her of unilateral appointment power. It set off an all out war, with Broderson alleging all kinds of malfeasance on the part of City Administrator Gregg Mandsager and City Council members.
It's worth reading this article so that you can visualize the shocked responses from those in the room -- including Broderson's own attorney.

Updated Again on 04/02/17: Someone who was watching Saturday's impeachment hearing in person noted a slight difference in Mayor Broderson's final comments:
As I heard it (and heard again thanks to the Muscatine Profile recording), she says it this way: "It surprises me that the Council is acting like this is such a big travesty, some of the things that I've done, yet they were willing to make this all go away and give me back my appointment powers if I would just agree not to run again in November. And I think that that is such a terrible thing for the people—"
This latter quote rings more true to me.

Updated on 05/11/17: It took three minutes. The Muscatine City Council voted unanimously to impeach Mayor Diana Broderson. There was no discussion. No input from the various citizens in the room.

Four months ago, the Muscatine City Council moved forward with plans to impeach the city's mayor, citing unspecified charges of misconduct. Eventually, we learned that the mayor held informal gatherings with constituents. We also learned that she spoke to city staff without getting permission first from the city manager. We learned that she made some unwise decisions as mayor, but we also learned that she was pretty much cut off from the rest of the city staff. Which means that nobody pulled her aside to help her through her growing pains.

The Muscatine City Council accused her of misconduct. The Muscatine City Council acted as judges and jury. The Muscatine City Council then voted her out of office. And now they get to appoint anyone they want as the city's new mayor. Mayor Broderson might have been a mediocre mayor, but the optics on this look bad.

There is an election later. Three of the council member are up for reelection and they've managed to piss off and energize a sizable chunk of the voters. I can't wait to see the results of this election.

Updated on 05/13/17: Muscatine has a new Mayor Pro Temp: Alderman Bob Bynum. Bynum will act as mayor for Muscatine until the City Council makes a decision about how to replace impeached Mayor Diana Broderson. Bynum is one of three City Council members who is up for reelection later this year.

Updated on 06/16/17: Oh my! Diana Broderson has been reappointed as Mayor of Muscatine, IA, while her impeachment appeal moves on.


Last month, Broderson filed an appeal in court, arguing that the impeachment process was improper and that it was a conflict of interest for Muscatine's City Council to preside over her impeachment, given that they were her accusers. And, it appeared from news report of the initial court hearing that Judge Mark Smith agreed with her attorney:
"I counted 17 allegations in the decision where Mayor Broderson was accused directly affecting the city council, can you tell me why that isn`t a conflict of interest," said Judge Mark Smith. Judge Smith didn't hand down a decision in court and didn't say when he will. He did leave the door open that the former mayor may return to office, "The likelihood of success is pretty good on this case in terms of the plaintiff, in terms of being successful."
Judge Smith issued an order this morning that reinstated Broderson as mayor, pending final hearing on this case:
The judge said there were "inherent conflicts of interest" throughout the council's removal of the mayor, and to ensure a fair trial, "no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome."
Of course, that means that Mayor Pro Temp Bob Bynum is no longer Muscatine's mayor.

It's been reported that the City of Muscatine has spent more than $107,500 in their effort to remove Mayor Broderson from office. Ironically, one of their complaints about her was bad decisions that cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Updated on 06/26/17: The political drama continues to unfold down in Muscatine, IA. Earlier this month, Judge Mark Smith returned Mayor Diana Broderson to office, pending a July 17th hearing. But don't assume that the City of Muscatine is sitting back and letting her run over them. And why would you?

Muscatine's city manager, Amy Reasner, filed a motion last week asking Judge Smith to reconsider his order. She argued that the City Council has the full authority to accuse, try, and sentence its mayors when it comes to impeachment. In fact, she actually challenged the court and questioned its own ability to interrupt the execution of their impeachment conviction.

Meanwhile, Mayor Broderson has resumed her "Holding the Coffee with the Mayor" chats last weekend -- much to the chagrin of the City Council! Roughly 50 people showed up to cheer her on and to share local concerns. During the event, Mayor Broderson indicated that she plans to run for re-election.

Updated on 07/02/17: There was a court hearing late last week, where the City Council tried to get Judge Mark Smith to change his mind and uphold their impeachment decision. Judge Smith reviewed the cases and then sent everyone home, with Mayor Diana Broderson still the mayor of Muscatine.

It's not looking good for the Muscatine City Council:
In the judge's ruling, Smith wrote there is a probability the council's impeachment proceedings will be found to be unconstitutional and in violation of the 14th Amendment. 
It's ironic that the City Council and City Manager argued that Mayor Broderson wasted the city's money. Meanwhile, they've seemingly pissed away $107,500 (and probably more by this point) over the past six months in their effort to kick her out of office!

A final hearing is schedule with Judge Smith on July 17th.