JOHNSTON — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican, says if there’s a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S Senate should start the process of filling it as soon as possible.“We have a Republican-held Senate and a Republican president,” Ernst said Friday afternoon, “and so I don’t see there would be any difference between the president and the senate on a selection of a supreme court justice.”Republican Senators refused to act on President Obama’s nominee after Justice Scalia died in early 2016, arguing voters that November should decide which president should get to fill the vacancy.“That was a different situation,” Ernst said. “…That was a Republican-held Senate with a Democratic president and so we were divided on who that selection would be. This is a different scenario where you have a Republican president and a Republican senate. There’s likely not to be a lot of disagreement when it comes to the selection of a justice.”Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced Friday she is undergoing chemotherapy for a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg, who is 87, intends to remain on the court.Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s other Republican senator, was chairman of the senate committee that refused to hold a hearing on Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 and Grassley has said a hearing should wait until after the election, if there is an opening on the court in 2020.Ernst said Republican senators should hold a hearing on a Trump nominee even in a so-called “lame duck” session in November and December — after the election. She discussed the issue with “Iowa Press” host David Yepsen Friday afternoon.“If President Trump is defeated, if Republicans lose control of the Senate, would you still support doing this prior to January?” Yepsen asked.Ernst replied: “Well, one, I wish nothing but the best of health for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I think we all do and I will be praying for her and it is a lame duck session. I would support going ahead with any hearings that we might have and, if it comes to an appointment prior to the end of the year, I would be supportive of that.”A spokesman for the Iowa Democratic Party blasted Ernst’s comments.“Senator Ernst promised to be an independent voice for Iowans, but instead she’s spent her six years in Washington shamelessly putting Mitch McConnell’s harmful agenda above the interests of Iowans,” IDP spokesman Jeremy Busch said in a written statement.In 2016, when Republicans refused to act on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Ernst argued that “in the midst of an important election, the American people deserve to have a say in this important decision that will impact the course of our country for years to come.”Ernst became a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel’s hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, the second justice President Trump has appointed to the nation’s highest court.
A parks director from Modesto, Calif., has accepted an offer to lead the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Department.City Manager Eric Holmes said Monday that Julie Hannon will start Dec. 3.“I’m excited to add Julie Hannon to the city’s leadership team. She has the right skills to lead our hard-working department into an exciting new era,” Holmes said. “As we look ahead to 2014 and beyond, Vancouver’s focus will be on a sustainable plan for Parks and Recreation as a city-focused department, after many years as a shared city/county agency.”Hannon has 25 years of parks and recreation experience, said Barb Ayers, the city’s spokeswoman. She has a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in public administration from Ashford University. In switching jobs, Hannon will take a pay cut, as she earned $147,053 in 2012 in Modesto and will earn $133,272 a year in Vancouver. California, however, has an income tax, while Washington does not.She will oversee a smaller staff but be responsible for more parks. In Modesto she has a staff of 112 and 72 parks; Vancouver’s parks and recreation department has 44 full-time equivalent employees and 108 parks.But while Vancouver has cut the parks staff in half in recent years, worse times could be ahead in Modesto. Voters there will consider a temporary sales tax increase next week and a loss would will be “devastating” to its general fund, resulting in more parks cuts, according to the Modesto Bee.