The Square: A Podcast from the Iowa League of Cities


The Square, your podcast from the Iowa League of Cities, brings current and important topics for communities across the state to your city square. 
Episodes are released monthly and available for download from Sound Cloud, Google Play, Apple Podcast and Sticher. 


Episode 17: The one with Mayor Tom Lazio | Listen on Sound Cloud​
Released December 20, 2019
Happy holidays! The Square closes out 2019 with an interview of Tom Lazio, Ottumwa Mayor and President of the League Board. We learned some interesting things about Mayor Lazio's career before he entered public office and how that helped prepare him to be an effective mayor. He also shared some of the great work they're doing in Ottumwa, a few of their goals for the future and what he hopes to do as League President.

This month's Your Questions Answered asks about cities' ability to set their own council meeting rules of procedure, something we strongly encourage all cities to have. And the League's Senior Accountant, Alison Deiter, joins us for the Get to Know Your League segment. Alison's pay our bills (and issues paychecks to staff) so we took it easy on her!

As usual, we wrap up with the answer to last month's trivia (which county in Iowa has the most cities) and ask a new trivia question: what is the lowest temperature recorded in Iowa and where? Send in your trivia answers, questions to stump our staff and other feedback to Enjoy the holidays!



Episode 16: The one about city names | Listen on Sound Cloud​
Released November 25, 2019
It is a busy time for the League as we are visiting various cities for our Budget Workshops and Municipal Leadership Academy. So, we decided to have a little fun with this episode with an idea that sparked during our travels. We have 942 great cities in Iowa and each has a unique character and some have a unique name. We discuss our favorite city names and attempt to pronounce them right! This is meant to be fun (and funny)! We hope no one takes offense if their city is mentioned or doesn't enjoy the humor in a funny pronunciation or story behind the city name.

This month's Your Questions Answered asks if there is a recall process in Iowa for elected positions and our Get to Know Your League interview features Jess Vogel, the League’s Communication Coordinator.

We also cover last episode's trivia question, which asked what year did the League's Municipal Leadership Academy begin? (We may know the official date?!). If you do not know what MLA is, make sure to check it out on our website! It is a fantastic training opportunity for newly elected and for veteran officials. In addition, we offer some new trivia: what county has the most cities?

Send your trivia answers, questions and feedback to!​

Episode 15: The one about the 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibit | Listen on Sound Cloud​
Released October 31, 2019
You may have noticed The Square took last month off, but we promise we were busy! In fact, we grabbed some live interviews from the Exhibit Hall of this year's Annual Conference & Exhibit in Dubuque and had some fun chatting with a bunch of great city officials from around the state. Give those a listen and enjoy some of the sounds from the luau-themed Exhibit Hall! We also review this year's League awards, which were presented during the Awards Banquet at the Annual Conference. We detail the All-Star Community Awards, Rhonda Wood Smith Award, Legislative Service Awards and our new Hall of Fame inductees. As always, we had some tremendous cities and individuals recognized this year for their outstanding contributions to their communities. 

This month's Your Questions Answered is a question on whether citizens can petition for a city code change in their community and our Get to Know Your League interview features Heather Roberts, the League's outstanding Director of Information Services. Learn a little about Heather, including how she got started at the League (just a few years ago) and what she likes to do in her free time (hint: she's a dog person!). 

We also cover last episode's trivia question, which asked where the Red Delicious apple originated (a surprisingly controversial answer to this one). And we offer some new trivia: what year did the League's Municipal Leadership Academy begin? 
Send your trivia answers, questions and feedback to

Episode 14: The one about training | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released August 28, 2019

We're back with another fun episode of The Square! This month we focus on the value of training and highlight some important upcoming events hosted by the League. We talk about the 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibit, including some of the great workshops and networking events that attendees can join. We also discuss this fall's Budget Workshops and Municipal Leadership Academy, which will offer important education at workshops around the state (learn more on our Workshops & Events page). We mixed in a few of our favorite stories from the road as well!

Bill Goldy, the League's Membership Services Coordinator, joins us as a guest host and also gets grilled in the monthly Get to Know Your League segment. We put Mickey on the spot again with the Your Questions Answered segment as he was asked about city election systems. And we wrap up by answering last month's trivia question (What year did IMWCA begin offering coverage?) and ask this month's, In what city did the Red Delicious apple originate?

Send your trivia answers, questions and comments to!

Episode 13: The one about safety | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released July 25
It's sometimes easy to take employee safety for granted, but cities that have had to deal with workplace injuries know how critical workers' compensation coverage and a safe working environment is to a successful organization. This month we talk to Jeff Hovey and Dean Schade of the Iowa Municipalities Workers' Compensation Association (IMWCA) about the importance of safety and workers' compensation.
IMWCA is an endorsed program of the League and is housed in the League offices. Jeff and Dean share their perspectives on working with cities and other local governments and what employers can do to improve their workplace safety. 
The Your Questions Answered segment features the curious question of whether we have different classifications of cities in Iowa. And the Get to Know Your League interview features Jeff and Dean, who were kind of enough to stick around and share more about themselves. 
Stay to the end to hear last month's trivia answer while also getting the next brain buster. Send your feedback, questions and trivia answers to!
Episode 12: The one about our favorite city slogans | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released June 18, 2019
It's summer time in Iowa, so we wanted to have a little fun with this episode and share some of our favorite city slogans and welcome signs that we've seen around the state. We talk about some of the clever city slogans, interesting welcome signs and memorable places that stand out to us. Check these out when you're out traveling this summer!

There are so many great city welcome signs, slogans, public art installations and other landmarks across our great state - way too many to mention in one podcast. We'd love to see your favorites too! Send us pictures and your list to

We also cover the question of how a person can run for city office during Your Questions Answered and then interview the League's Office Manager, Shannon Busby, in the Get to Know Your League segment.

As usual, we wrap up with some fun trivia as League Trivia Expert Ryan Pealer answer's our previous question of which city is home to the American Gothic House Center, and then ask in which city was the first ever Heisman Award winner, Jay Berwanger, born?

Please send your trivia answers, question of the month and any comments to
Episode 11: The one about the 2019 legislative session | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released May 29, 2019
This month's episode features a recap of the recently completed legislative session, which included several pieces of legislation important to city governments. We sat down with Robert Palmer and Daniel Stalder from the League's Government Affairs team to get their thoughts on the session. They provided some interesting perspectives on what it's like to work in the Capitol, a few of the important issues that came out of the 2019 session and what kind of work is planned before next year. Also, be sure to read the New Laws of Interest Special Report to get more information on the bills passed that affected cities.

The Get to Know Your League segment includes a fun interview with Kim Gannon, our claims examiner with IMWCA. And this month's Your Questions Answered features a question from Decorah city council member Johanna Bergan, who asked what cities can do create a more equitable government.

Our top trivia expert Ryan Pealer provides the answer to last episode's trivia question that asked which state has the most disc golf courses per capita, and for this month's trivia we have the following: What city is home to the American Gothic House Center, which was the inspiration for Grant Wood's famous painting?

Be sure to send your trivia answers, the question of the month and any comments to!
Episode 10: The one about nuisance abatement | Listen on Sound Cloud
April 29, 2019
Nuisance abatement is challenging for all communities, and this month we sit down with Charlie Nichols, Linn County's Planning & Zoning Division Manager and formerly with the City of Burlington. Charlie offers his thoughts on how cities can effectively manage nuisance properties and describes the Healthy Neighborhoods program in Burlington, a proactive approach that helps residents improve properties.

The Your Questions Answered segment provides guidance on teenagers working for a city, and Katie Wheeler is featured in our Get to Know Your League interview.

We also provide the answer to last month's trivia question: what is the oldest municipal golf course west of the Mississippi River? And offer the following for this month's trivia: which state has the most disc golf courses per capita?

As always, please send your trivia answers, questions and any comments to!

Episode 9: The one from Colfax | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released March 25, 2019
On the road again...that's right, The Square ventured out to Colfax for another fun episode. We had the pleasure of talking with city clerk Nancy Earles and city administrator Wade Wagoner about what it's like to serve in their roles.

Nancy had a lot of interesting stories from her career working as a city clerk... some of the strangest things can come through city hall. Wade shared thoughts on how cities can be innovative to find solutions to problems, which sometimes comes with risk but also great reward.

We get into who is eligible to serve on a city council in this month's Your Questions Answered segment and put one of our co-hosts, Mickey Shields, on the hot spot in the Get to Know Your League interview.

The episode wraps up with our monthly trivia as we answer which is the smallest city in the U.S. to be granted a Carnegie library (spoiler: it's in Iowa!) and ask, because winter must end at some point, what is the oldest municipal golf course west of the Mississippi River?

We want your feedback! Send your questions, trivia answers and comments to

Episode 8: The one from Atkins | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released February 21, 2019
The Square went on the road this month to visit Atkins, a beautiful city of 1,670 residents that has experienced some growth in recent years with expectations of adding to their population in the coming years. 
We are joined by Eric Christianson, a field specialist at ISU Extension, who helped the city develop strategic initiatives and plans for the community. Eric shares what that process is like and how it can be beneficial for any city.
Atkins Mayor Bruce Visser talks about how the community has changed over the years and what the city has done to work with citizens. The city has constructed a new wastewater treatment facility, improved roads and added subdivisions. Mayor Visser describes the challenge in keeping up and the need to thoughtfully prioritize projects. 
We tackle the issue of council member compensation and elected officials performing work as independent contractors in the Your Questions Answered segment. And The Square's producer (and League Network Administrator) Ryan Pealer is our featured guest in the Get to Know Your League segment!
Get the answer to last month's trivia question (which city had the largest population increase from 2000 to 2010) and take a stab at this month's: The smallest community in the U.S. to be granted a Carnegie library is in Iowa, which city is it?  
Send your questions for the Your Questions Answered segment and trivia answers to!


Episode 7: The one to kick off legislative session | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released January 10, 2019
Happy new year! The Square kicks off 2019 with a special look at this year's legislative session. The episode features an interesting conversation with Kim Downs, city administrator of Hiawatha, who shares some of the important legislative issues for municipal governments, her role on the League's Legislative Policy Committee and some tips for successful grassroots advocacy.

We also chat with our very own Robert Palmer, Director of Government Affairs and General Counsel, about his role in representing cities at the legislature and what a typical day is like at the Capitol.

Get a double dose of Robert, as he is this month's featured staffer in our Get to Know Your League segment! In the Your Questions Answered segment we're asked what limitations cities have in establishing local property taxes (it must be budget season for cities).

Hear the answer to last month's trivia (what is the newest city in Iowa?), and send answers to to this puzzler: which city in Iowa had the largest increase in population from 2000 to 2010? 



Episode 6: The one with a few of our favorite things | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released December 21, 2018

As 2018 winds down we took the opportunity to look back over the past year and recognize some big moments for the League and cities around the state. We even brought in the boss to help as League executive director Alan Kemp co-hosts to share his perspective!

We talk about some of our favorite Cityscape magazine cover photos and articles, new League events and services that stood out to us, what we remembered most from the 2018 Annual Conference & Exhibit (hint, it involves dancing), and a few other fun things. We also had Alan stick around for the Get to Know Your League segment where you can learn a little more about his path to the League, how he spends his free time and a big event that occurred in his life this year.

This episode's Your Questions Answered segment provides information on how to fill a council vacancy, something nearly all cities encounter at some point.
You can send your trivia answers and questions, as well as hobby suggestions for Alan, to Happy Holidays! 

Episode 5: The one with Jim Thompson from IEDA | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released December 3, 2018
Jim Thompson, Downtown Economic Development Specialist at the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), joins the podcast for a fun conversation about his experiences working with cities and programs at the IEDA that can help communities.


Jim previously served as a council member in Charles City before getting involved in economic development work, giving him keen insight into what works for cities and the challenges that so many face. Hear his perspective on what cities can do to understand their identity, make important improvements around the community and specific programs that cities can utilize through the IEDA.

In this episode's Your Questions Answered segment we dive into the differences between a city manager and a city administrator. And the Get to Know Your League conversation features a fun talk with Tim Kirgan of IMWCA, who talks about his role with the League and shares a little baseball wisdom.

As always, send questions and trivia answers to

Episode 4: The one where we talk to Scott Naumann | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released October 22, 2018
Our fourth episode of The Square features a fun interview with Scott Naumann, Bettendorf Alderman and current President of the League Executive Board. Scott's passion for his community and local government is evident throughout our chat as he talks about how he got on the city council, the important projects that have been completed in his tenure and some of the challenges he's faced as a public official. You'll also get to know Scott a little better in our lightning round of questions and see if he answered this month's trivia question correctly. Thanks Scott for such a great conversation!

This month's Your Questions Answered segment covers a topic that nearly all cities struggle with - how to complete important city infrastructure projects. We give our thoughts on ways cities can better understand their road, utility and facility needs while making sound financial decisions.

We also have a special treat for you in this episode as our Get to Know Your League segment features none other than Bethany Crile, co-host of The Square! 

Enjoy the episode and be sure to send your questions and trivia answers to

Episode 3: The one about the 2018 Annual Conference & Exhibit | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released September 25, 2018
We took The Square on the road! This month's episode features interviews with city officials in the Exhibit Hall at the 2018 Annual Conference & Exhibit in Council Bluffs. Hear about some cool things happening in different communities and get a feel for the networking and fun that is always part of the annual conference.

In the Your Questions Answered segment we give our take on how to best manage citizen complaints and social media comments, and in a new segment we introduce the newest member of the League staff.

Listen until the end to hear this month's trivia, and be sure to send your answers to! 

Episode 2: The one about the 2018 All-Star Community Awards | Listen on Sound Cloud
Released August 15, 2018

This month on The Square we feature stories and interviews from our 2018 All-Star Community Awards – Bondurant, Lisbon and Marion! Bondurant won in the 3,000-10,000 population category for its fantastic community entrance project that included a welcome sign unlike any other featuring 10 porch swings and a firefly lighting element. Lisbon won in the fewer than 3,000 category for its community solar project that brought solar installations to four city facilities, leading to significant cost savings and serving as an example for residents and businesses. In the greater than 10,000 category, Marion was awarded for its Uptown Artway project that features nine public art installations in an underused alley that has propelled development to the city’s main commercial district.

We talk to several city officials and community volunteers, who describe the importance of quality of life, public art, forming meaningful partnerships and handling vandalism. We applaud our 2018 All-Star Community Award winners and applicants – there is a lot of great work being done by cities around the state! And if your city has done something really cool (we know it has), let us know – we’d love to talk about it on The Square and you can apply now for the 2019 awards.

Join us at the Annual Conference & Exhibit, September 12-14 in Council Bluffs, as we will formally recognize the All-Star Community Award winners. You can also participate in choosing our 2018 People’s All-Star Community by going to our Facebook page and liking your favorite projects!

Enjoy the episode, and come back next month for a special Live from the Annual Conference edition of The Square!

Episode 1: The one about Home Rule with Bob Josten | Listen on Sound Cloud​
​Released July 25, 2018
Our first ever podcast! This inaugural episode focuses on a topic near and dear to all cities: Home Rule. In Iowa, Home Rule was adopted through a Constitutional amendment in 1968, with overwhelming support from citizens across the state. That effort provided city governments the authority to establish local laws and policies without needing the approval from the state legislature. This change has led to more innovative and effective municipal governance while allowing city officials to be more responsive to citizen needs.

This episode’s guest is Bob Josten, bond counsel at the Dorsey Whitney law firm in Des Moines who served as the League’s executive director in the years immediately after municipal Home Rule powers were adopted in the Code of Iowa. We talk to Bob ab
out the transition to cities gaining Home Rule powers in those early days, why it was so important to municipal government and how Home Rule has evolved since its passage. We hope you enjoy this fascinating interview, and we thank Bob for sharing his time and expertise!

Also, be sure to give a listen to the Your Questions Answered segment for a little more info on Home Rule and how we’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary. And stick around to the end for some fun Home Rule trivia!

Visit our Home Rule page for additional guidance on this important topic and join the effort in celebrating the 50th Anniversary by issuing a proclamation!​​