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DES MOINES, Iowa–There were a few moments Wednesday night but the five Democrats running for governor largely avoided criticizing each other during their third and final debate, this one just six days before Tuesday’s primary election.

A few policy differences emerged among the candidates. Only former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn and John Norris, former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Vilsack, said they would repeal the Republican-led tax cuts that Governor Kim Reynolds had signed into law early in the day.

Only former registered nurse Cathy Glasson said she would opposed raising the states sales tax 3/8 of a cent to fund natural resources improvements. Voters already approved that back in 2010, but lawmakers have never implemented it.

The candidates also disagreed when it comes to drugs. All five Democrats want to expand the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Glasson was the only candidate to talk of legalizing personal use of recreational marijuana and taxing it to help the state’s finances.

Norris was, perhaps, the most critical of the race’s presumed front-runner Fred Hubbell, a Des Moines businessman. Hubbell has criticized the tax cuts but hasn’t called for fully repealing it. Norris offered Hubbell advice during the debate, “Be cautious about being against that tax cut before you were for it. That will be a difficult position to both criticize it and defend it in this (general) election, if you get there.”

Hubbell responded that he would have vetoed the tax cuts–if he had been governor at the time–but acknowledged that he isn’t.  “You have to recognize that you’re governor of everybody, not just a few people. You have to recognize the pieces that are good and get rid of all the rest,” Hubbell said.

The debate was sponsored by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The weather may be warm, but hunger doesn’t take a vacation, and those who run food pantries in the metro say right now, the need for donations is urgent; and your help is needed more than ever. The Des moines Area Religious Council says its Food Pantry Network has seen an increase in need, but donations have not kept up to meet that need.

“It`s a bit worrying,” said Luke Elzinga, Communications Manager for DMARC. “This year, the first four months we`ve seen so far, double digit increases every month compared to the same month last year. So, in January we had an 18 percent increase over January 2017, in terms of the people we`re serving.”

And if that trend continues, the consequences could be dire for community members who are in need of help.

“If they keep on going this way, we will eventually run out of food,” said Eileen Boggess, Executive Director of Urbandale Food Pantry. “You can`t keep on going and feeding people, if there aren’t the donations there to feed people.”

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  “An Alford plea is a guilty plea, just like any other guilty plea,” said Robert Rigg, professor of law at Drake University Law School. “The only difference is the defendant doesn’t have to give the factual basis for the plea.”

The Alford plea is named after a U.S. Supreme Court case from 1970: North Carolina v. Alford.

“It was a death penalty case, originally, is where it came from,” said Rigg. “Where the client wanted to plead guilty, but couldn’t give a factual basis, but wanted to take advantage of the plea negotiations.”

By entering an Alford plea, the defendant has to agree that the case against him or her is strong, and that based on the evidence they’d probably be found guilty if it went to trial. An Alford plea gives the defendant the opportunity to take advantage of plea negotiations, such as a reduction of the charge or a specific sentencing recommendation by the prosecution.

Why would someone enter an Alford plea?

“Probably because there’s some reason the client wants to be able to say, ‘I didn’t admit to this or couldn’t admit to this because this particular issue,'” said Rigg. “And that varies from case to case.”

A person may not want to simply stand up and say, ‘I’m guilty’ for a variety of different reasons.

“The client may not be able to do that either because a client was injured or a client was under the influence, or the client may not want to do that for financial liability purposes,” said Rigg. “So you won’t have that admission on the record. Well, that’s the good news. The bad news, it’s still a guilty plea.”

The Alford plea is a tool that can be beneficial to both defense attorneys and prosecutors.

“Both sides, I think, would recognize that going to trial is always a risk,” said Steve Foritano, Practitioner in Residence at Drake University Law School. “There’s always a chance that from the defendant’s side that he could be convicted of the maximum charges. And on the state side, there’s always that chance that he could be found not guilty. So there’s always a huge risk whenever you go to a trial, no matter how you think the facts are or how strong you think the facts are.”

At boys state team tennis, Waukee beats WDM Valley 5-1 to take the third place trophy.

Linn-Mar edged Iowa City West 5-4 for the championship. With weather delays, the match took 7 hours.

OSKALOOSA, Iowa  —  “No Sir, I have not seen anything like that before,” said Bonnie Patterson, who lives just northeast of Oskaloosa. “But then it’s no surprise. We broke some heat records yesterday and today.”

The extreme, record-breaking heat had roads buckling in Mahaska County, like one in the 2200 block of Oxford Avenue, just outside of Oskaloosa.

“We first noticed that there were cars coming around the buckle, up in the grass, and off towards the ditch,” said Patterson. “Because they wanted to avoid that, obviously, it was standing up pretty high. I would think it might ruin a tire, very obviously.”

Bonnie and her husband live right near the area where the road buckled. The Pattersons have lived in that house since 1990, and they say this is the first time they’ve seen this happen.

“When they broke up the pieces, they carried them off with their hands and it seemed like the concrete wasn’t very thick,” said Bonnie Patterson. “We lived here when they poured that new road…but I guess I thought it was just a little thicker than that.”

The Pattersons say they have plenty of yard work to do, but they’re going to save that for a cooler day.

“We stay inside, maybe even go to the basement to try to find something to do to stay cool,” said Patterson. “It’s not our kind of thing to come out on days like this.”

In town, people found other ways to stay cool–like getting ice cream.

“It cools you off…absolutely,” said Melanie Vermillion, who was buying ice cream at Sno Biz.

“It helps,” said her husband Mike. “Swimming pool, ice cream, water, whatever you can get.”

And the heat is good for business, if you’re selling ice cream.

“Yeah definitely, we are usually busy around, like, eight o’clock every night,” said Andy Sterner, a Sno Biz employee. “But now that it’s gotten more hot and that school’s out, too, throughout the district, it’s been way busier from like the 1-5 (pm) range, in like the hottest part of the day.”

IOWA  —  A change of plea hearing will take place on Tuesday for a Woodward man charged in a deadly accident.

Jack Janda, 67, faces a maximum of 40 years in prison following a fatal accident that took place nearly two years ago. Janda is charged with  homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Joseph Davis died in October 2016 after the hit and run accident. Police say Janda hit Davis’ motorcycle near Polk City when he tried to pass in a construction zone.

Janda has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In this week’s What’s Bugging Andy, a trip back to Parkersburg has Andy reflecting on the passage of time.

In this week’s Murphy’s Law, Keith Murphy says the NFL desperately wants to end protests during the national anthem for what players generally call social injustice, but the NFL comes across as tone deaf.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Iowa is home to many different Asian cultures, and this weekend an event that’s become a Des Moines tradition aimed to celebrate the diversity at Western Gateway Park.

Dozens of food tents lined the streets allowing visitors to taste foods from around the world, but one group participating said the event is more about pride. Guests gathered downtown to taste authentic Asian cuisine, hear traditional music, and socialize under the sun at the annual CelebrAsian festival.

“It means we get to spend the day outside and meet new people and see old friends,” said West Des Moines resident Bob Hughes.

“Different cultures that are here in the metro, there’s a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds. So I think it’s just really interesting to see everybody come together and kind of celebrate it together,” said festival-goer Kathy Dally.

In addition to food and culture, the Iowa Asian Alliance, which organizes the festival, also sponsors two scholarships for students of Asian heritage.

Van Lam is a member of Khmer Krom, a Des Moines Cambodian group.

“Our goal and our mission is to build a meditation center here and an education center,” he said.

Lam’s organization represents nearly 200 people at the event, and he said being there means the world.

“We are proud of your Khmer people. We work in the sweat and volunteer and donate money. We are happy to represent our community here,” he said.

The meditation and education center is expected to be a space for those of the Buddhist faith, but they plan to let the facilities be used by other social service organizations.

Next year’s CelebrAsian event is already scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in 2019 at Western Gateway Park. This year’s celebration runs through 10 PM on Saturday, with live performances taking place up until that time.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Record-setting heat forced the Kiwanis Miracle League to cancel its afternoon games on Saturday, but the morning of the opening day went on as planned.

The league provides opportunities for children of any ability to enjoy baseball. This is the league’s 10th anniversary, and this year the group has a new field to use. However, the new space comes with some challenges when the weather is extremely hot.

“Mother Nature did not cooperate with us today. With this 90 degree heat, we have to remember that the field surface is rubber. Rubber does heat up rather quickly, so playing on it, while it might be more cushiony, it’s also very hot. So keeping the physical health of our players and coaches in mind is necessary,” said Jan Burch, president of the Kiwanis Miracle League Board of Directors.

The next Miracle League home game is scheduled for next Saturday, June 2nd.