Axios Des Moines

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Hi, Tuesday and happy election day! Check your polling place for today's special city council election.

  • Polls open from 7am-8pm.

☀️ Weather: Sunny and breezy with a high of 61°.

❤️ It's a great day to contribute to our newsroom by becoming an Axios Local member.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 804 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Iowa is a book ban hotspot

Book titles challenged in public schools and libraries, 2023
Data: American Library Association; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Almost 260 book titles were challenged in Iowa's public schools last year, among the most in the nation, according to new data from the American Library Association (ALA).

Why it matters: Some of the most challenged books deal with themes of social justice, discrimination and inequality.

  • The objections are often made to protect kids but can nonetheless diminish access to viewpoints and cause harm, according to the ALA.

By the numbers: Nationally, 4,240 different titles were targeted for censorship in the past year, compared with the previous record of 2,571 in 2022, Axios' Jennifer Kingson reports.

  • Iowa had the seventh-most challenged titles in the nation and more than all surrounding states, except Wisconsin where there were 448.

Zoom in: An Iowa law passed last year resulted in some districts removing books like "The Color Purple." That legislation is temporarily blocked after a judge ruled it was "incredibly broad."

  • A bill introduced this year that appears to be dead would have repealed an Iowa law requiring local governments levy taxes for public libraries.

What they're saying: It's parents' responsibility to monitor what their children are reading or watching, DSM Public Library (DMPL) director Susan Woody told us last year.

  • Yes, but: Some metro-area parents contend books containing sexual content are inappropriate for certain school ages and should be restricted.

📚 Reality check: Banned books often get a circulation bump.

Read more

2. The big 4-0

Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

At Waveland Cafe, the menu and servers rarely change, and you can count on a line if it's a Sunday morning.

Why it matters: The Des Moines diner is celebrating its 40th anniversary, thanks to staying "consistent to a fault," owner David "Stoney" Stone tells Axios.

  • "If you do things right, you shouldn't have to change it."

How it started: After working in food service for two decades, Stoney opened the cafe in 1984 after deeming the location the perfect spot for a breakfast diner.

  • From there, he tailored a no-frills breakfast and lunch menu.

Zoom in: The menu may seem simple, but a lot of thought was put into it, Stoney says.

  • For example, he experimented brewing the diner's black coffee down to a tenth of an ounce of grounds, along with the water purifiers and softeners.

The intrigue: Waveland's popularity with celebrities and politicos started when the diner hosted "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" in 2000.

  • Since then they've welcomed everyone from President Biden to actor Jason Momoa.

What's next: Don't expect any expansions or more seating. Stoney doesn't plan on changing anything.

  • But he does expect his daughters will someday take over the family business.

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3. Charted: Hello darkness, my old friend

<span style="display: block;text-align: center;">Path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse</span>
Data: NASA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

A total solar eclipse is coming April 8 and the next one won't reach the lower 48 until 2044.

Zoom in: Des Moines and Iowa aren't in the path of totality, but you can still expect a partial eclipse (75%) starting around 12:43pm.

Zoom out: If you want the full experience, there are plenty of places to drive or fly — if you're willing to shell out some cash.

Linh's thought bubble: I'm staying in Fayetteville for the eclipse, about a six-hour drive, and plan to go an hour south the day of totality.

📣 Shoutout: Are you traveling for the eclipse? Hit reply and tell us where.

<span style="display: block;text-align: center;">Path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse</span>
Data: NASA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

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4. The Ear: Your news roundup

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🚣‍♀️ Hundreds of Iowa's water body segments do not meet water quality standards for recreation, including in central Iowa. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

🍔 Iowa's best burger nominees this year include JJ's Tavern + Grill in Ankeny. The winner will be announced May 1. (KCCI)

💵 The Iowa DNR raised its camping fees for the first time since 2021, ranging from a $1 to $6 increase depending on the campground. (WHO-13)

📚 The Iowa Senate approved an AEA bill and sent it to the House for review yesterday. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

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5. NCAA bracket challenge

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Selection Sunday has come and gone and the brackets for the NCAA men's and women's tournaments are set.

  • Iowa, Iowa State and Drake women are playing, as well as Iowa State and Drake men.

How it works: Sign up for our Axios Des Moines group on ESPN and enter a bracket for the men's or women's side, or both! Once the tournament wraps up, we'll see who had the most accurate predictions and select a winner from each group.

  • The password to enter the group is "Axios." (no period)
  • Entries must be completed by Thursday, March 21 at 11am.

The bottom line: There's no pressure. Once you've submitted your bracket, let us know how you chose your winners. Coolest mascot? Random selection? Personal favorites?

🤳🏾 Linh is reading this story in The Atlantic about smart phones and teen depression.

🎃 Jason wonders if it's too early to start decorating for Halloween?

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.