Monday, March 2, 2009



Sergeant Sid Jackson refused breath test
and resisted arrest.

(March 2, Iowa City, IA) As far as “Big Ten” university towns go, Iowa City is at the very bottom of the heap. While every college town has a wealth of drinking and eating establishments, in most places they are counterbalanced by the presence of bookstores and other cultural enterprises. Iowa City proudly has none of that; it is just a one horse town that would be just another wide spot in the road if not for the presence of the University of Iowa.

The Iowa City Police Department is also at the bottom of the heap by any objective means a police department is measured. They are constantly proving themselves to be inept regarding anything akin to “real” policing. On the rare occasions a serious crime is perpetrated, the ICPD fumble their way through what they consider an ‘investigation’ and the actual solving of the crime is left to an almost as inept squad from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The bread and butter for the ICPD are arrests related to collegiate drunkenness; public intoxication, public urination, illegal possession of alcohol by minors and of course, the big enchilada - drunk driving. So aggressive are the gung ho ICPD that drunken offenses are now the major revenue stream for the department. The hypocrisy inherent in this relationship between the captive drinking public and alcohol related arrests, fines, penalties and associated costs is laughable. The bars and restaurants that cater to the college crowd constitute virtually the entire “economy” of Iowa City and the ICPD is here to get their share.

On Sunday, February 22, 2009, the good people of Iowa City (and U of I students) awoke to the news that veteran Iowa City police officer, Sergeant Sid Jackson, had been arrested for drunk driving. This was welcome news given the fact that Sid Jackson has had a long deserving reputation as a “bad cop”, a very, very bad cop. Jackson was notoriously harsh if not abusive to drunk driving and public intox suspects.

The test now for the Iowa City Police Department , who have placed Sergeant Jackson on “administrative leave” pending an “internal affairs” investigation, will be in how this matter is adjudicated. The simple fact that Jackson was granted the protective status of an “administrative leave” and that there is even going to be an “internal affairs investigation”, are ominous signs that this matter will be quietly swept beneath the rug. The Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) laws in Iowa are strict and unambiguous: Sergeant Jackson should face the legal penalties any accused and found guilty drunk driver would face. Has he been ordered to undergo the mandatory substance abuse evaluation as prescribed by Iowa law? Has he even been official charged yet? These and many other questions demand public answers. Given Sid Jackson’s reputation, documented past on-duty behavior and other professional problems, this case should be followed closely.

Jackson has been a member of the ICPD for over 20 years having worked in law enforcement for 27 years. He is a graduate of the University of Lousiville-Southern Police Institute where he gained entry due to an affirmative action initiative. His academic performance while at the Institute was well below average in all areas of the curriculum and his psychological testing indicated a level of “instability” that did not portend well for whatever law enforcement agency was to hire him.

His tenure in Iowa City has been marred by scores of citizen complaints against him for being “over zealous” as well as “phsyically and verbally abusive”. He has been reprimanded for abuse of power, public brutality, conduct inappropriate for a law officer, public indecency, sexual harrassment, and professional misconduct. The ICPD refuses to this day to publicly reveal the circumstances by which then Lieutenant Jackson wound up demoted to Sergeant . The particulars of his demotion are closely guarded by his friends in the ICPD and Johnson County government. One long time colleague of Jackson, speaking not for attribution for fear of retaliation commented, “Sid was always bad. He is a bad cop, a bad person and, in some ways, a very dangerous guy. He has functioned almost with impunity all these years as a real, over the top, hard ass. Sid is an avowed racist. He could be very vicious and physical with the college students but was a real coward otherwise. I for one am glad he has been caught at something finally.”

Jackson was arrested by Iowa City police officers with assistance from officers from the University of Iowa Public Safety Department after he was seen sitting in his car with the door open at 3:54 AM on the 22 of February. According to records and eye witness accounts, Jackson had been leaning out of his running vehicle violently vomiting for several minutes on Muscatine Avenue before the first IC officer arrived. Jackson became belligerent and verbally abusive and, after back up officers arrived, he became physically violent. He fought savagely with the officers inflicting bodily injury to four of them. When he was finally subdued and hand cuffed, he refused to take a breath test. On the way to the police station he experienced urinary and rectal incontinence. Jackson continued vomiting, belching and hurling verbal insults at the arresting officers until he was escorted into the police station. “I was jogging with my spaniel and I saw a bunch of Iowa City cops dragging this big black guy into the stationhouse. They were having a difficult time controlling him although he was handcuffed, throwing up and seemed extremely drunk. I think that one of the officers maced him and I also think he was Tasered. It was a very disturbing scene”, stated Dylan Yoder, a junior at the University studying dance.

Iowa City is the county seat for Johnson County, a jurisdiction notorious for its multitiered criminal justice system. “Everyone knows there are different rules for different people in Johnson County courts. If you are a U of I athlete, you are treated one way, if you have money, you are treated another way and, if you don’t have money, you get treated another way,” commented Johnson County Public Defender Peter V. Bursaunt. “The judicial inequities in Johnson County are stunning”, said Byron Vander Phaltz, an attorney with the ACLU in Des Moines. Vander Phaltz continued, “Actually, the entire Sixth Judicial District which includeds Johnson County and Iowa City is rife with corruption, police and prosecutorial misconduct and a host of irregularities that warrant serious investigation by an impartial, unbiased task force. The travesties of justice perpetrated in the Johnson County Courthouse are legendary, blatant and constitute gross abuses of the criminal justice system.”

How the Sid Jackson case will play out is the concern of many. Given Jackson’s sordid past, many courthouse observers, Iowa City residents, and members of the legal community have expressed interest. “We’ll see how this goes down. I would speculate that Jackson will be forced to resign and I doubt he will be prosecuted as he should be. But, after all, this is Iowa City and Johnson County. Who knows, he’ll probably get a promotion”, commented Dr. Richard Hauser a local psychiatrist. Dr. Hauser added, “As far as I know Sid Jackson is insane, an alcoholic, a psychotic and a bed wetter. He belongs in prison.”

This is the first installment in our "Unsalted Earth" series.

Copyright TBC 2009 © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 1, 2009


An Expose’ Of the Heartless Heartland


The first Brooding Cynyx to come to Iowa in September 2007, were the advance guard of the greater contingent to follow. We were coming to Iowa to cover the Presidential Primary Campaigns which would culminate here in January 2008 with the much hyped Iowa caucuses, the “First in the Nation” contests that historically have launched winners and often narrowed the field of contenders. We wanted to provide in depth coverage leading up to the Caucuses, the type of coverage that only on the ground correspondents could provide.

Our presence here diminished after the Caucuses but we had seen enough to know that Iowa, this odd place in the middle of the country, was indeed a place rich in story lines - fertile fields for exploring a variety of current events and issues. There was much to learn about Iowa and what went on here when the national media was not present in profusion for the quadrennial Caucuses. We had begun to glimpse the wealth of material that could tell many stories, frame many issues and serve as a microcosm through which we could explore social and cultural topics.

Not long after the caucuses sent Barak Obama on to what would be electoral victory, a sordid tale of secret lives, murder and mayhem broke when a local banker killed his wife and children before talking his own life in a fiery crash on Interstate 80. This was a tale rich with sensationalism locally yet oddly mundane in its detail anywhere else. We stayed to cover this event and its aftermath and knew by this time that we would remain here until we obtained a greater perspective on this place and its people.

By June 2008 the “500 Year Flood” had much of eastern Iowa under record breaking flood waters. We were able to cover this event in depth and from it flowed a rich crop of tangents we were anxious to pursue. That was the real beginning of this series we are about to post in installments.

“Unsalted Earth” is the product of over 20 months of investigative journalism, aggressive reporting amassed from hundreds of interviews with people across the broad spectrum that is Iowa today. Editorially, we decided to focus on just one of the 99 counties in this vast state; Johnson County, home of the University of Iowa; an honest blend of midwest urban, suburban and rural veins occupying 600 square miles in the east central portion of the state. This would be our microcosm within a microcosm, our laboratory from which we could illuminate current events as perceived from this locale. We had also been convinced that this place was rich with stories of its own that deserved telling and told they would be. We were beginning to get an objective appraisal of this place, her people and saw that there was no lack of subject matter. Just the opposite; Iowa was a bumper crop of interesting and surprising tales to be told - good and not so good. Johnson County was just the platform we needed to cast our view and our fishing lines. This was indeed a well stocked pond.

Over the course of the next few months we will post installments covering a variety of issues, local, national and international, as seen from Iowa and as they impact the people of Iowa. Our readers will vicariously see behind the “Iowa Mystique” and come to see the myths about the “heartland” be splayed open and exposed as just so much inaccurate stereotype and bunk. We were seeing Iowa as it really is not the idyllic, bucolic, ‘salt of the earth’, “Fields of Dreams” the rest of America may think of when (and if) they think of Iowa.

Reality as we have found it, seen it and lived it here is an expansive departure from those antiquated myths. Iowa had been showing it’s true self to us and we felt obliged to share our acquired observations with our loyal, discerning readers. How could we not? This is, after all, our stated mission and motivation, our reason for being in many ways.

We hope you will enjoy reading this series as much as we have constructing it. We will be examining relevant issues and topics diverse and disparate through which so much is revealed about this place, its people and its place in our country literally, figuratively and in some collective imaginations. It is a hard hitting, no-hold-barred expose’ of domains from agribusiness to the legal system, to the front lines in the clash between urban development and the rural way of life which, by the way, is not “farming” as most people would think of “farming” to be.

We refer our loyal readers and new followers alike to visit our archives from November 2007 through June of 2008. There can be found some of the initial postings that grew into this long reporting process.

We are proud of “Unsalted Earth” and hope you will find it provocative, educational, entertaining, amusing, thoughtful and penetrating. We of course, as usual, invite you to join the discussion; to contribute your thoughts and comments as you see fit. The Brooding Cynyx always welcomes input from our readers.

With that, we now leave you. The first installment of “Unsalted Earth” will be posted in short order.

Thank you and be well.

The Brooding Cynyx


The “Unsalted Earth” series is investigative (subjective) reportage at its best and in its purest form. It is our contribution to the blogging community as represents a "blog" in its truest form, purpose and mission. Names are named, subjects discussed in as unvarnished a manner as possible. That said, the series is also a collection of subjective observations and, as such, is protected under the laws of journalistic practice related to editorializing, opining and commentary. All installments of “Unsalted Earth” have been rigorously scrutinized by our legal staff. Since each installment is labeled as “subjective observation”, “commentary”, “opinion”, and “commentary”, they (and we as authors) are protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution ( We make no apologies for writing and reporting as we have seen fit. We have not sought to intentionally offend, insult or otherwise upset anyone however, if we have, that’s too bad. If anyone takes issue with anything we have written or reported it is probably because they are guilty as charged. The truth often hurts. Those who become insulted are also frightened because they have been dragged into the harsh light of day, their deeds exposed for a wider audience. We express and maintain our rights under law for the contents of “Unsalted Earth”. We welcome any legal challenge; that would provide additional grist for our very able and active mills.

March 1, 2009
New York, New York
Iowa City, Iowa

Photo image courtesy of

Copyright TBC 2009 © All Rights Reserved