Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld – Political Columnist

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, an Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Iowa State University is co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), Editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge).



Alf “Freddie” Clark – Dirty Money Island Excerpts & Bystander Correspondent

Alf “Freddie” Clark is a local author. He has written two books about life on the streets of Chicago and Des Moines. His first work, a memoir (Satan’s Mask: A true Story of Deception, Murder, and Betrayal), chronicles his life from the small southern town of Clarendon, Arkansas, to Des Moines, Iowa, and on to his coming of age on the streets of Chicago as a member of the notorious street gang – The Almighty Black P. Stone Nation.

It is a powerful cautionary tale of a man who rose to unlikely criminal power, fell and then found redemption and is sharing his harsh lessons learned so others don’t make his mistakes.

Sentenced to prison at eighteen years of age for the commission of an armed robbery, it was there with the help of older, politically conscious inmates that he learned to read and write. He began to write poetry and political commentary as a means of overcoming the pain and hopelessness of confinement.

It was many years later, however, before he began to take his vocation as a writer seriously.

After his release from prison in the summer of 2010, he released his second book,” IMANI”, a novel about street life in Chicago and Des Moines.

He has written a third book, “Suffer The Little Children”(due out in the fall of 2013), and is currently working on the screenplay to his first book” Satan’s Mask” (which will be released as the movie titled “Dirty Money Island”) with noted screenwriter, director, and producer James Serpento, and producer Bo James of LaunchPad DMI Entertainment.

Larry Cotlar – Sports Coordinator

Larry Cotlar was honored as the Iowa Sportscaster of the Year in 2007 and is a member of the IHSAA Media Hall of Fame.

According to Cotlar he was bitten by the radio bug while growing up in St. Louis and was never cured.

Cotlar began his radio career following his graduation from the University of Missouri in the spring of 1974.  He learned the business working in places such as Hannibal, MO, Shenandoah, IA and Memphis, IA before moving into the sports radio world for good at WHO Radio in Des Moines from 1981-91.  While at WHO, he helped create the popular “Soundoff” radio show following University of Iowa football broadcasts, which continues today.

Cotlar then hit the road for the next decade.  He hosted national sports talk radio network shows in Las Vegas, NV and Chicago, IL along with a local talk show in St. Louis, MO before returning to Des Moines in the fall of 2001.

In December 2001, Cotlar began hosting what the became the popular “Cotlar and Company” sports talk show at KXNO Radio, which continued through March ’08. He is currently co-hosting “Out of Bounds” along with KCCI-TV Sports Director Andy Garman from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. weekdays at KBGG Radio, the ESPN Radio affiliate in Des Moines.

However, there’s more to Larry Cotlar than just just sports talk radio.  He is about to enter his sixth season as the play-by-play voice of the Drake men’s basketball team and serves as the play-by-play voice of the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team.

Cotlar, impressed by Iowa Bystander’s emphasis on “good news,” joined the publication as a way to share many of the very positive local and regional sports stories, particularly those involving our area youth.

Jim Hawkins – Education Columnist

Jim Hawkins has served as the Director for The Professional Educators of Iowa the past 13 years.

For 28 years he served in various capacities including administrator, cooperative education coordinator, and consortium director for Carl Perkins and School to Work initiatives within the public schools.

Jim received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Arts from Northwest Missouri State University in 1967 and earned a Master of Science Degree from Drake University (1972) with elementary and secondary administration certification.

He has been published in Iowa Education Leadership, the Journal of the Iowa Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, co-authored the Iowa Cooperative Vocational Education Handbook, and contributed for the Iowa state guides for Multi-Occupations Cooperative Programs, and Education for Business in Iowa.

Other areas of service are the Outcomes and Assessment Committee for the state of Iowa and chair of the Central Iowa Area Planning Council. He also represented the urban and rural schools in Education Committee Hearings concerning the Federal Role and What Works in Education.

Jim received a national award, the Carol Applegate Education Award, for his outstanding work during the 2007 Iowa legislative session. The Carol Applegate Award is given out yearly by the National Right To Work Committee to those persons most effective in the fight against compulsory unionism.

In the midst of this career in education, Jim worked in private business in a variety of other capacities from sales representative to business owner. The unique background in education and business brings Jim to this publication with perspectives on education that span several decades.

His forty-four year marriage to Judy has brought them two children and five grandchildren. Jim’s community involvement includes serving as a Sunday School teacher and church elder.


Bishop Jelani Faraja Kafela – Religion Columnist

Bishop Jelani Faraja Kafela, a longtime Des Moines resident, is the founding Senior Pastor of Imani Temple Christian Fellowship in Pomona, California.

Bishop Kafela, a well studied and passionate Shepherd is the author of two books with a third on the way. They are:

  • ·Laugh Out Loud in the Face of Your Swagga Jackers
  • ·Pursuing the Mystery of Perfection: Growing in Grace and Knowledge
  • ·Living Beyond Your Comma (soon to be released)

Bishop Kafela in partnership with Promise Christian University and Seminary has established the Shelter T. White Institute of Biblical Study (SWIBS) a certificate program for ministers and lay leaders.

With over 40 active ministries, 22 ordained ministers and 18 Deacons and Deaconess along with the Imani Economic and Community Development Corporation, whose Invisible Hands Food Ministry feeds hundreds in the community each month, Imani Temple Christian Fellowship is one of the leading churches in Southern California’s Inland Empire Valley.

Bishop Kafela is the Presiding Prelate of the Bridge Network Covenant Fellowship of Associated Churches and Independent Ministries and a Member of the Joint College of African American Bishops.

Bishop Kafela has received the following honors:

· Living History Award recipient, Jack and Jill, Inc. Iowa Chapter

· President’s Award, NAACP, DES MOINES CHAPTER

· Community Service Award, National Black Child Development Institute

· Awarded Master “Hersetha” (Teacher) – The Institute for the Study of Black Family Life & Culture, Oakland CA (Dr Wade Nobles)

· Pastor of the Year, Inland Valley News

· Doctor of Divinity, Promise Christian University.

Gary Lawson – Independent Freelance Writer & Frequent Bystander Contributor

Gary Lawson is a freelance writer of articles focusing on various aspects of public affairs. He is a graduate of the Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania, with a Master of Government Administration degree.

He is a Viet-Nam Era veteran that served in the U.S. Army with the rank of Captain. His public service career included various administrative and management positions in government including service as the former administrator of the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans.

He has received numerous awards and served on various boards, commissions, and committees on the national, state, and local levels.

He was inducted into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame and most recently received the distinguished “Whitney Young, Jr. Award” from the Boy Scouts of America for his work with urban youth.

He has been a freelance contributor (producer and host) of the “Capitol Hill Report” at the former KUCB radio, and of the “In the Public Trust” program at KJMC radio.

Dick Murphy – Education Columnist

After serving as an air traffic control technician in the Iowa Air National Guard, Dick Murphy did somewhat of an about face and joined the Peace Corps to go to Thailand during the Vietnam war.  Both experiences shaped some of his thinking and after an extensive world tour of more than 20 countries, he arrived back in Des Moines, determined that he could impact the world through education.

Supporting himself by driving a taxi, teaching, and substitute teaching, and a paid internship, he obtained a Master’s in teaching and obtained ABD status at Drake University.  The paid internship eventually led to the position of Coordinator of Research and Evaluation at Heartland AEA.

He later became coordinator of Global Education programs and worked with educators in more than 60 central Iowa school districts.

While at Heartland he published material that had nationwide distribution and through various sponsorships engaged with educators in China, Japan, Taiwan, and former USSR.

He and all of his family members are multi-lingual and he is on several community boards.  He is also well-known in the immigrant and refugee communities having helped many of them establish their own non profit groups.

“Most people who know me have disagreed with me about something but I still retain their trust because they know I am committed to doing what is best for our community,” stated Murphy who was invited by former Des Moines School Board Director and Iowa Bystander Editor-in-Chief, Jonathan R. Narcisse, to write a weekly education column.

“Iowa Bystander, since its founding in the late 1800s, has prided itself on being fair and accessible to all constituencies. It is a matter of public record that Dick and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. At the same time his background uniquely qualifies him to comment on key global, national, state and local education issues impacting Iowa Bystander’s base of Polk-Warren-Dallas counties. He has a great deal to say and will be a very nice compliment to our other education columnist, Jim Hawkins, State Director of the Professional Educators of Iowa,” stated Narcisse.