Head out your front door sometime this week and take a little walk.
What do you see?
Are the sidewalks clear and mostly level? At busy intersections, are the crosswalks painted and clearly visible? How about bike lanes? Can you easily see them? Do you feel safe using them?
Most importantly, when you step off the curb, are drivers stopping?
A group of Newman Catholic High School students are in the midst of a "walkability" study of their school's neighborhood. The audit, which was funded by a state grant awarded to Healthy-Mason City, has been replicated at the city's elementary schools and will soon include John Adams Middle School.
Similar work has been done at colleges around the state.
What the students found in their audit was alarming. At an intersection just steps from where hundreds of kids come and go on a daily basis were crosswalks one student said he wasn't comfortable using.
A radar gun quickly backed up the student's fears; cars were streaming by at a speed that easily exceeded the posted limit.
"Everybody knows people speed on this road, it’s no secret," said another student.
If it's not a secret, then it begs the question: why hasn't this been addressed?
And let's be clear, we don't lay the blame on the police. Of course they could devote more resources to policing roads like 19th Street Southwest for speeders.
Although that would be an effective deterrent, it comes at a cost. There are other public safety issues the police could spend their time on, and at some point, priorities have to be established.
Traffic cameras can also serve as an effective deterrent, but they've received a rather cold welcome here; they're criticized as a quick way for a city to make extra revenue. Several in Iowa, including Waterloo, have used them and have had to pursue action through the courts to be able to continue to use them after the state attempted to shut them down.
Letter: Consent is the key to vaccines
The CDC is not wrong about vaccines; they simply are not presenting the whole truth regarding vaccine safety. U.S. law regards vaccines as unavoidably unsafe. This is not vaccine misinformation, but a declaration by the Congress from the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, 42 USC 300aa-22, and this decision was reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court in the case of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. This act reads in part: “no vaccine manufacturer shall be liable …for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death…after (Oct. 1, 1988), if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable.”
Vaccines do prevent disease, but unfortunately they sometimes injure the recipient. The reporting system for vaccine injury is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. It is totally voluntary and by the CDC own studies, it’s estimated that 1 to 10 percent of all adverse events are reported. Since 1996, VAERS has reported for the measles vaccine: 689 adverse events in Iowa, 72,862 in the U.S., and 240 U.S. deaths from the measles vaccine. The true numbers of these adverse events are probably 10 to 100 times higher.
For further evidence of the occurrence of adverse events, since 1986, the U.S. government through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid over $3.7 billion dollars in compensation to those injured by vaccines.
I am not "anti-vaccine." I still vaccinate patients in my office. I encourage vaccination, but I do allow patients the choice of consent. Like all medical treatments, vaccines offer both a benefit and a risk. And where there is risk, any risk, medical ethics dictates that there must be choice.
I urge anyone interested in learning more about the concerns of risk to look up an extensively referenced 2017 white paper about Vaccine Safety on the website of the Informed Consent Action Network.
Jon Ahrendsen, Clarion
Letter: Iowa pols see the field differently
“Iowa: Fields of Opportunity” welcomes visitors to our state along several highways at our borders.
I think some Iowa lawmakers never got that message, are vindictive and spiteful toward the poor, or simply just love irony.
Why? Because of the several bills being debated at our statehouse that would impose additional work and reporting requirements for Iowans receiving Medicaid or food assistance through SNAP.
If this is the Iowa our elected officials want to be reality, then we’re not the fields of opportunity touted. Instead, the signs one sees entering our state should read “Iowa: Fields of Forced Labor.”
Kathy Huegli, Waterloo
Letter: Change is the norm in North Iowa
It seems Mason City is no longer the retail shopping area. We're losing more stores to shop all the time. It's not just here. Why? People are buying online, no need to go to a store. Often, it's cheaper and shipped free to your home.
Younkers and Penny's are still in business, and you can buy online. All the empty buildings in a town doesn't look good. Retail and factory, plus all the jobs lost.
Changing times are here. Mason City has a lot of senior citizens who don't move but young people are on the move.
It's easy to get around Mason City and good schools, and we are lucky to be so close to Clear Lake. Lots of free music in the summer. We have a good police force and ambulance service. You can raise a family here.
We will all go with the flow with all the changing we have seen and will see in the future.
Kay Bessman, Mason City
Letter: Snow removal crews top notch
Big kudos to the city, county and state snow removal crews this last few weeks! In one of the worst months of weather in memory, the plow drivers and removal crews have worked incredible hours, day and night, in awful conditions to keep our streets and roads passable.
In a mostly thankless job, laboring in anonymity and often in brutal conditions, you all have succeeded in keep us safe and our streets passable. Great job, and thanks again!
David Guetzko, Mason City
Letter: Jim Crow and his faults linger
Jim Crow is still around, but Jim Crow is old. The problem is that Jim Crow has sons. The one we've got to battle is James Crow Jr. He's a little more educated and hides in the Republican Party.
He's a little slicker. He's a little more polished. But the results are the same; he's still racist as all get out and hidden under layers and layers of Republican lies. He doesn't put you in the back of the bus. He just puts referendums on the ballot. He doesn't call you a racial name; he just marginalizes your existence. He doesn't tell you that he's against you; he sets up institutional racism.
Slavery never ended: it just evolved.
Ron Lowe, Nevada City, California
Letter: Call out hate when you see it
We are here once again. Once again people of faith have been gunned down in a place of prayer. Once again we mourn. Once again we ask ourselves “Why?” Once again we are forced to be witnesses to pure evil. Once again leaders may, or may not, offer “thoughts and prayers.” Once again we want to know what it is that we can do.
Let us try this:
Every time we hear words of hate, hidden even in a joke, let us call it out for what it is...every time.
Every time we witness acts that are not consistent with our values of decency, inclusion and love, let us call them out...every time.
Every time leadership fails to uphold the values espoused in the founding documents we say we revere, let us call them out...every time.
Every time violence strikes, be it at home or away, let us call it out...every time.
Every time humanity is made to feel less than equal be they of a different religion a different ethnic background, a different color, a different sexual orientation, let us call it out...every time.
Let us give no quarter to hate. Let them be as pariahs. Let us not do business with people who spew hate. Let us not socialize with them nor let our children come into contact with them. Let us cast them aside until they realize that hate is not the answer and they ask to be forgiven.
Let us not weaken when it comes to standing up for what is right, and kind and just...be it in our community, our county our state our nation our planet...every time.
Let us band together as we have in the past, but this time with the resolve that we will actually do something that dispels the darkness of evil that confronts us...every time.
We owe this to each other.
Alan Steckman and Michael Libbie, Mason City
Letter: Feeling green from the free stuff
Free stuff...The latest darling of the Democratic Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is calling for “The Green New Deal,” supported by many Democrats, including in our own state, that for the United States to become 100 percent dependent on renewable electricity generation in 12 years. This is technologically impossible. No more air travel, farting cows, (how would that do for our ag industry and for those of us who like to eat a good ribeye?)
Further, she wants to make Medicare for all (free health care). She also wants free college tuition, student loans erased, and a guaranteed annual income. Perhaps there’s even more free stuff that I’ve forgotten.
No matter how much the Democrats plan to raise taxes on us, there isn’t enough money in the U.S. economy to pay for all her proposed free stuff and “The Green New Deal” she proposes.
What is very troubling, is that many Democrat presidential contenders support her ideas, and many Democrats in our own state do as well. Where are the moderates in the party? When will they (if ever) take their party back? The Democratic Party has become very dangerous to our state and country. We should all be concerned.
Pat Ropella, Mason City
Letter: Can't defend votes for ag-gag bill
Iowa legislators, including one representing the Mason City area, passed the "ag-gag" bill. Even after the outrage and disgust by so many of us, when the puppy mill near Manly was exposed.
A legislator told me they voted against "deceit", hiring on under false pretenses. I get that to a point, but this restricts an employee that didn't plan to be a whistleblower, but is appalled and disgusted by inhumane treatment of animals by their employer.
This legislator also said "these facilities are regularly inspected by DNR & USDA." Only due to lack of funding and understaffing, that isn't the case. Without the public's knowledge of the horrific conditions, little pressure to correct the situation will occur.
Less than 4 percent of Iowans live on a farm. A small percentage of them operate puppy mills or CAFOs. Iowans are growing very weary of the stranglehold big ag has on the legislators.
Allowing the untreated waste of 24 million hogs spread across the countryside, much of it on frozen ground, is one of the many objections to the industrial production of livestock.
The horrible conditions animals experience in some of these facilities is shameful, and voting for this bill was, too.
Tom Willett, Mason City
Letter: Iowa's senators should defend McCain
When will our two Iowa senators be joining Sen. Johnny Isakson in a public chastisement of Mr. Trump for his continual denigration of former Sen. John McCain?
I may not have always agreed with some of Mr. McCain’s political positions. But my respect for the man’s integrity, for his compassion, and for his devotion to our democratic republic and its institutions, which had extended well into the realm of extraordinary military heroism, never faltered. The man was a true patriot and an unrivaled statesman.
For a president who is supposed to be the leader of our country and a respectful and responsible commander-in-chief of our military service men and service women, Trump’s repeated attacks against the reputation of this luminary among American citizens is a deplorable display of childish pique and petty jealousy.
As Sen. Isakson emphatically asserts Trump "deserves a whipping." And, indeed, he deserves at least as much from Grassely and Ernst.
Steven Pokorny, Urbandale
Letter: Time to vote pocketbook over party
Trump promised lower income taxes for the working class. Due to fewer allowable deductions, I discovered my actual taxes rose by 0.793 percent which relates to a $1 tax increase on my earnings of $538. The bottom line is, every year I will pay an additional $538 in federal income taxes so the super wealthy pay less than their fair share.
Shortly after turning 66, I began drawing social security. Since that time, between my employers and myself, I have paid into Social Security tens of thousands of dollars, money that I do not receive any additional revenue, no interest nor principle, just a donation to the federal government.
Why should the government continue to collect Social Security taxes from me if I cannot receive any benefits whatsoever for continuing to contribute?
Now the Iowa Legislature would like to do away with the inheritance tax on the super-rich of Iowa. The result will be, when funds in Iowa are depleted, Iowa will again tax the working class while turning a blind eye on the super-rich. On top of all of this, Alliant Energy wants to raise electric rates a whopping 24 percent over the next couple of years.
Folks, it is time you and I put aside parties and vote our pocketbook. Remember candidate Joni Ernst said she was going to make them squeal in Washington, if elected. It looks like the ones squealing are the ones who believed in Trump and her.
We little peasants need to grab our little sticks and say “enough is enough.” We need to take our government back!
Stan Walk, St. Ansgar
Letter: Biggest threat to U.S. is Trump
It is a scary fact that Trump treats our two greatest and most dangerous enemies better than our historically best allies such as Canada, Mexico, and the NATO countries of Great Britain and Europe. Remember Trump's first summit with Kim Jung Un, psychotic dictator of North Korea? Trump came out of those meetings claiming the nuclear threat from North Korea was over. They signed some kind of an agreement to meet again, but nothing else was accomplished. They met again recently with Trump walking away like a spoiled child, probably stomping his feet.
Again, no progress for us. Since then our intelligence shows nuclear armament activity in North Korea has resumed. Trump has given Kim a seat on the global stage without accomplishing anything. The first summit with Putin was equally unproductive with the two leaders meeting privately at times with only Trump's interpreter present, and he took her notes away from her afterward. Trump continues to believe Putin about Russian interference in the 2016 election over our 17 intelligence agencies that claim there is no doubt. He continues to belittle our great institutions such as the FBI, DOJ, State Department, etc., which our great democracy depends upon. Congress would not approve money for Trump's wall, so he declares a national emergency.
But it is not, so the House writes a bill to overturn the declaration and passes it 420-0, and the Senate passes it also 59-41, with Republican support. Polls show the American people are against funding for a wall also. Trump vetoed that bill without congressional and public support, and only for himself.
This is why he admires dictators like Kim Jung Loon and Pukin Putin. Trump is not a threat to either, but he is a threat to these United States. Wake up!
Steve Epperly, Mason City
Letter: Remembering drummer Hal Blaine
As a former professional recording session drummer, it is with a heavy heart that I commemorate the passing of one of the most recorded drummers in history, Hal Blaine.
Hal began his recording career in San Bernardino, California, at the local radio station KFXM.
Cultivating a reputation for on-time reliability and intuitive creativeness, Hal became a member of Phil Specter's legendary LA session group, "The Wrecking Crew," which included bass/guitar session great, Carol Kaye (one of the few female session players of that time), "a lick for every country" guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and at various times Earl Palmer, Barney Kessel, Plas Johnson, Al Casey, Glen Campbell, James Burton, Leon Russell, Larry Knechtel, and Jack Nitzsche.
Hal played on Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey," 1965 Grammy record of the year; Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," 1966 Grammy winner; "Up, Up and Away," by the 5th Dimension which won Grammy of the year; Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender”; the theme from “Batman"; Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night”; The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man”; The Monkees’ “Mary, Mary”; the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"; the iconic kick and snare riff that opened the Ronettes' early '60s anthem, "Be My Baby"; and Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” among hundreds of others.
Hal recorded six consecutive Record of the Year winners, including Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water,"
Hal estimates he recorded more than 35,000 tracks.
Hal always said his forte was not showiness, it was capability. “I was never a soloist, I was an accompanist. That was my forte. I never had Buddy Rich chops."
One of Hal's favorite stories was a conversation he had with Bruce Gary, of the Knack, who said he was disappointed to find out that “a dozen of his favorite drummers were me.”
RIP Hal Blaine.
Michael Fiala, Clear Lake
Letter: Bad ideas thrive amid silence
My wife Jan and I went out to eat today. There was a table with several young women nearby, and I noticed they were looking at us. When they got up to leave one of them came over and said to me, “I like your hat.” It was a blue cap that said, “Immigrants Make America Great.” I told her Jan gave it to me last summer, and it has become my headwear of choice. She responded positively, and I thanked her.
Whenever we are out in public there is rarely a day that a clerk, server, or someone else, doesn’t make a comment on it. I’ve begun to realize that this seems to be the general consensus, and I’m glad. After all, we are all descended from immigrants.
I’m not a one-policy voter, but this is important. Call or email your senators and Congressperson about this and other matters that are important to you. Don’t forget, your voice is important. Bad ideas thrive when good people remain silent.
Steve Patterson, Marion
Letter: Earth is 6,000 and other thoughts
1. Global warming: the government admits it is trying to cool down the planet. Enough is enough. We're freezing!
2. People are bigger. Cars are bigger. Parking spaces stay the same.
3. "Glacier is disappearing" (Globe Gazette, March 6). It says 20,000 years ago Chicago was encased in ice 3,000 feet thick. Really? Where do they come up with stuff like that? The whole article is so far-fetched it is unbelievable. The Earth is about 6,000 years old if you study the Bible.
4. Why isn't there a sign on Highway 106 on the corner that leads to the Avenue of the Saints?
5. Who dumped tires on my gravel road? Why should I have to deal with your garbage? Who dumped a garbage bag with dead fish parts on my road? I walk my dog; she shouldn't have that garbage. I had to clean up your mess so my dog wouldn't get sick.
6. Isn't there a law that says when it is snowing, raining or foggy, that you're supposed to drive with headlights on? So many don't. They can see me, but I can't see them.
7. Why do we need a developer for downtown? Don't we have local architects? If we really need a hotel there, use the Younker's store. Build the rooms up. Use the main floor for the lobby – with little coffee shops, sandwich shops, gift shops, deli – around the edges. Big lobby area with couches, internet access, etc. The train station in Denver, Colorado was like that, and it was really neat.
8. A lot of people never go downtown. They go through town on the highway. The medians are ugly. Either plant grass and maybe small trees or really beautiful with plans. Go down Fleur Drive in Des Moines – beautiful.
Joyce Pinke, Clear Lake
Letter: Evidence of crisis in the numbers
On March 6, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, appeared before a Congressional committee to report the emergency crisis that is going on at our southern border. The hard-working Border Patrol is being stretched to the limits.
In the month of February, over 76,000 undocumented immigrants were stopped or detained at the border, and the forecast is that the number will increase substantially with warmer weather.
A large percentage of these people consisted of both unaccompanied children and families with children. These children are victims of smugglers and human traffickers, and their crimes have required any female over 10 years of age to have a pregnancy test. Our southern court system has exploded with a backload of over 800,000 undocumented immigrants waiting for a court date.
On March 7, President Obama's border security chief, Mark Morgan, appeared on a national morning news program. Mr. Morgan stated that President Trump is 100 percent right when calling the conditions at our southern border a national crisis. He said the wall is the first line of defense with the aid of electronic surveillance equipment.
I urge all readers of this letter to search and listen to Sen. Chuck Schumer's speech that he gave in 2009 to the Georgetown Law School. He stated firmly that we must take control of our borders and "dramatically reduce" the number of illegal aliens coming into our country. In addition, he stated that the law must be changed to have "a rational system of legal immigration." A short time after Mr. Schumer's speech, Congress gave President Obama billions of dollars to start the wall in California and Arizona.
In 2019, the undocumented immigrant numbers have increased to a breaking point for our Border Patrol personnel.
Steve Sawyer, Mason City
Letter: CAFO model isn't sustainable
The preponderance of CAFOs in Iowa has decimated rural economies. Children that live on or near CAFOs are nearly three times as likely to suffer from respiratory illness than children who do not. CAFOs produce far more manure than our land can absorb, and the excess manure ends up in our water.
The farmers and foreign companies for whom they work do not pay for our children's health care. Nor do they pay for cleaning up our drinking water. As industry associated costs have increased with the proliferation of CAFOs, property values in affected areas have dropped 20-40 percent. Expenses are up, and tax revenues are down. This is not an economically sustainable model. It is time to place a moratorium on the building of CAFOs in Iowa.
Jan McGinnis, Marshalltown
Letter: The baby's choice isn't heard
1. It's been argued that the woman's body is her own? No, it's two beings. One an entity by casual sex, and the participant in it made the choice.
2. Rape is a no-brainer. The baby didn't perpetrate the rape, and another act of violence doesn't warrant another.
3. It's "legal." A myriad amount of laws are legal, but not right.
So there you have it. Please don't defend the old statement of choice.
Does the baby have one?
Russell McAfee, Clear Lake
Letter: Resources available for elder care
I am writing to respond to the letter that was sent out “Exploiting our elders must stop” by Bill and Marti Waters in Clear Lake. After reading the article, I felt like I needed to respond.
Full disclosure, I am the community relations coordinator at Country Meadow Place Assisted Living and Memory Care in Mason City. We work with residents every day with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. We are well known for our memory care community in North Iowa. With that said, if your family is looking to make some changes to your current situation, I implore you to look at all options.
In the letter to the editor, it is unclear if your aunt is living in North Iowa or not. If she is living in North Iowa, there is a resource called North Iowa Sagelink that can point you in a bunch of directions that you may need for this situation.
When looking at service and available options, the cost that was indicated seems steep for a daily rate. Again, reach out to any one of the assisted living, memory care, or nursing home communities in the North Iowa area, especially one you feel comfortable with, they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Tony Buhr, Mason City
Letter: Ag-gag efforts aid puppy mills
If you don’t know it’s happening, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Of course not. But, this seems to be the desired outcome of Iowa’s “ag-gag” law that went into effect in 2012 and was recently struck down by a federal judge earlier this year.
Now, the Iowa Legislature is considering two bills that would revive key components of the original ag-gag law. What is ag-gag? It’s a restriction law that penalizes whistleblowers who report animal abuse, torture or neglect by using audio, photo or video evidence they have recorded.
In Iowa, there are currently over 17,500 dogs living a life of confinement in puppy mills. We have all seen pictures of the horrifying and inhumane conditions many of these dogs are subjected to day in and day out. Yet, it is likely that many of these photos exposing the truth about puppy mills were taken illegally under Iowa’s previous ag-gag laws.
The attempt to renew this unconstitutional law will once again pull the shade on Iowa’s puppy mill industry and allow inhumane treatment, injuries and suffering to continue unreported and unseen by the public.
Whether you see it or not, animal cruelty exists. Recorded evidence exposes this truth and the truth always prevails. Iowans need to advocate for those without a voice and without freedom. Please urge your Legislators to oppose SF519 and HF649.
17,500 dogs are counting on you.
Sybil Soukup, Mason City
Letter: For distributors, it's not just beer
You pass our trucks every day. I’m sure you’ve noticed — they say “Coors Light,” “Guinness,” “Peace Tree” or another brand of recognizable adult beverage of moderation.
Those trucks carry precious cargo. But, it’s not just the beer.
It’s the person behind the wheel.
That person is a beer distributor, and they work hard every day transporting beer to your favorite local bar, restaurant, grocery, and convenience store.
Beer distributors are part of a three-tiered system of alcohol responsibility comprised of brewers, distributors, and retailers. This heavily-regulated system is essential to keeping alcohol consumption safe and responsible.
Beer distributors don’t only deliver your favorite drinks. They deliver a huge economic impact to your community, over $579 million dollars.
In Iowa alone, there are 54 beer distribution facilities with over 1,343 employees. These men and women make a combined $102.2 million dollars in salaries and wages. They live in our communities, support local charities and events, and drive economic development. Distributors have invested over $1.7 million into their communities and pay over $104.4 million in federal, state, and local taxes that contribute to the safety and wellness of Iowa.
These businesses have more than an economic impact; they also have a real human impact. They promote charities and community programs, sponsor causes and events, and participate in activities that make our communities’ better.
Last month, beer distributors were in schools fitting children for winter boots and supplies. They also held events to raise money for sexual assault victims. These are just a couple examples of distributors investing in their communities.
So, the next time you pass a beer truck or see a distributor stocking shelves at your favorite retailer, give them a wave – shake their hand – thank them. They got up before the sun to deliver so much more than beer.
Mike Brewington, Des Moines
Letter: Mall deal is a losing proposition
These are capricious times, a time like no other in my memory. History is being made daily directly in front of us, and it’s not to our benefit. Our democratic way of life is being threatened by incompetency, and unless there is a total disinfection at the very top of our government, we will end up struggling with health care, proper education, and immigration laws. What I have mentioned is but a scratch on that landscape called life.
As you travel through the days and nights that tell the story of your life, remember to exercise your right to vote. That simple act is the main reason why people all over the world are clamoring to live here. Remember my words: there is no threat from immigration. On the contrary, it is our very life’s blood. This country was built by immigrants who together pooled their knowledge to achieve the life we enjoy today.
I have always believed we all have a master volume that is locked in a room that records our daily life. Each day we live constitutes one page in our ledger.
Today we are standing witness to one of the greatest slight-of-hand schemes in the field of real estate, and it involves the property called Southbridge Mall. This current City Council has gerrymandered a losing proposition without “due diligence," resulting in dumping millions of dollars into a property the city does not own, then further committing the taxpayers to a costly lease arrangement that is tantamount to a criminal act. This council has sold out those living here without a second thought.
Peter Children, Mason City
Letter: Listen to the warnings next time
I would like take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the state, county, and city snow plow drivers for their efforts since the Sunday, Feb. 24 blizzard. The trifecta of heavy rain, then 9 to 16 inches of snow (who could measure?), followed by 18-plus hours of 45 mph wind left all roads, streets, and alleys a disaster. What happened in the next couple days was miraculous – calling it a “job well done” is an understatement. Your tireless efforts are very much appreciated. Kudos to each and every one of you!
I hope that this weather event serves as a lesson to the people that did not heed the (days in advance) warnings to stay off the roads. The number of people stranded on the interstates and highways was astounding – and 100 percent avoidable. Keep in mind that dozens of people risked their own lives rescuing others. It never should’ve come to that. When forecasters and law enforcement officials issue warnings and say travel is not advised, they mean it. Let’s be smart and listen next time, folks!
Thank you again, plow drivers - and keep up the great work!
Sandra Johnson, Osage
Letter: Congrats to Clear Lake firefighter
I simply want to offer my sincere congratulations to Clear Lake firefighter volunteer Greg Southgate, who recently became a U.S. citizen. I commend Greg for being one of many legal immigrants to the U.S. who choose to do things the right way!
Thomas Frank, Mason City
Letter: Doesn't trust GOP, does trust God
Question asked "Should former FBI confession be made public?" Yes, indeed. If Trump isn't guilty, why does he fire so many, or they resign of his own party, and blames it on Democrats?
Why not go back to the vote of the people? Electoral votes are not true, as many absentee ballots are not counted.
Another thing, the tax. The big money people pay the lowest tax, the lowest income people pay most. Not fair. Government has lost over $1 trillion and deepest debt ever. I can't trust Republicans any more.
Drugs, sexual immorality, killings, storms, diseases, man-made rules... aren't they all Jesus' prophecies before His coming for His bride?
Noah's flood was true; bones found in Earth today are proof. Israel is a nation; land is theirs, not the Philistines, as they claim.
Our main concern is: How is our faith in God and Jesus? Do you know him as the savior, living for Him and telling others about Him? Are you ready to meet Him should he come today, to meet Him in the air?
This isn't to be pushed aside. It's a serious decision to be made today.
That day, no one knows, only God. No matter how good or how bad, Jesus loves you the same. He gave His life for you, is risen from the tomb, ascended into heaven, and is coming again.
The only way to heaven? Call upon him today.
Delphia Foell, Sheffield
Letter: Plow drivers should get a raise
All of us that live on 290th Street north of Clear Lake thank our snowplow driver for the excellent job he has done this winter, keeping our roads open.
We live on a dead-end road, and always have been able to get out. Keep up the great work.
Let's take some taxpayer money and give them a raise, like everyone else in office.
Rich Oehlert, Clear Lake
Letter: Canada handles socialism just fine
With all the hyperventilating going on over what "socialism" is, it may truly be shocking for some to learn that Canada has had a democratic socialist political party for years in the form of the New Democratic Party.
The NDP was formed in the depths of the Great Depression back in 1933 in Regina, Saskatchewan, as the Commonwealth Cooperative Federation (CCF), and which successfully became the first socialist government in North America when it won the 1944 Saskatchewan provincial election under the leadership of Baptist minister Thomas "Tommy" Douglas.
The NDP has also led provincial governments in British Columbia and Manitoba, and staged a dramatic upset in Alberta five years ago when it upended the nearly 40-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives.
So far as I can tell, our northern neighbors haven't collapsed as a result of having a democratic socialist political option, and surely our nation won't collapse either.
Kevin Young, Sheffield
Letter: To unite, get behind Delaney
The presidential race is in full swing here in Iowa, and Iowans have a big decision to make. Above all, we need a leader who can restore dignity to the White House and unite Americans to solve the difficult problems we face.
I became Iowa Co-Chair for Congressman John Delaney because he is the best person to unite Democrats, independents and disaffected Republicans in the general election and get things done in Washington.
I believe the best determinant of future job performance is what someone has done in the past.
Congressman Delaney is from a blue-collar family and worked hard to create two successful businesses. He was then elected to Congress and successfully united leaders from both sides of the aisle around infrastructure, climate change and supporting veterans. Delaney has thoughtful strategies to achieve universal, affordable healthcare and lower prescription drug costs; to improve education and rural infrastructure. Delaney understands we need a 21st century immigration system to fill the jobs America will create and keep our economy growing.
John Delaney is the only Democratic candidate for President to visit all 99 Iowa counties since 2007 for the simple reason that he is committed to listening to Iowans. John has earned endorsements from Iowa Democratic County Chairs in Mills, Wayne and Van Buren counties because Iowans recognize his integrity and vision for our future. I hope you will get to know John Delaney – I believe he is our best candidate to win in November and to move our country forward again.
Congressman Delaney has a track record of innovative ideas that gain strong bipartisan support. There is a better way, and John Delaney understands it.
Paula Meyer, Saint Ansgar
Letter: Open market to drop drug prices
Sen. Grassley’s office notified me that he’s presently chairing the Finance Committee’s second round of hearings on the very high drug prices that we individuals and the federal government, through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, are forced to pay.
In the Senator’s words: “Patients and taxpayers deserve to hear from leaders in the industry about what’s behind this unsustainable trend and what can be done to lower costs.”
In my response, I suggested a solution to the problem:
I’m glad to know that you continue to take an interest in the outrageous costs that Americans pay for prescription drugs. None of the other economically developed countries pay the exorbitant prices that we do. That is because they all have either totally socialized health care programs or a mixed form of nationalized health care insurance with private insurance options, such as Switzerland.
So, it seems to me that you are not really addressing the root cause of sky high drug prices. The competitive edge afforded countries that have a single health care provider is based on simple economies of scale, which give these countries the ability to negotiate fair prices with pharmaceutical companies.
Open up Medicare as a health insurance option available on the exchange and a rapid and significant decline in drug prices will take care of itself.
There's nothing socialized about such an option.
Indeed, it just puts in place the basic principle of capitalism: competition, which is the dynamic currently missing from our American model of pharmaceutical enterprise.
Steven Pokorny, Urbandale
Letter: We're in need of scientific revolution
I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in. I’m a “Baby Boomer.” The times of the 1950s to '80s during the Cold War saw the nuclear time clock approaching midnight.
A similar clock, the climate clock, started ticking as early as 1800 during the Industrial Revolution. The difference between this clock and the nuclear clock is this: the nuclear clock has a faster fix. For centuries atmospheric carbon dioxide has been below 300 ppm. In the 1950s, scientists began to see a permanent upward trend to 411 ppm. That significant change is due to the worldwide human lifestyle that puts all life at risk of extinction.
It seems that every day there is a catastrophic disaster somewhere on the planet. These include, rising sea levels, droughts, forest fires, excessive rainfall, super hurricanes, hot spots, flooding, tornadoes, and record snowfalls. In January 2019, we witnessed in Mason City a staggering swing in temperatures from 28 degrees below 0 to 40 degrees above in just three days, along with wind chills of 50 degrees below 0.
This was due to radical changes in the polar vortex and jet stream making the occurrence of these temperature swings more frequent. The cost of these disasters is staggering, causing disruption of commerce, loss of life, property and jobs, and the displacement of millions of people, as well as animal life.
It’s time for the next Scientific Revolution. We need a program similar to the ones implemented by past presidents. I call on our political leaders to stop spending money on things that really don’t matter and put that money into things that do...like our environment and the threat of climate change.
Mark Suby, Mason City
Letter: Iowa doesn't need judicial fix
Our governor and some legislators believe the judicial selection system that has served our state so well for nearly 960 years is somehow broken and in need of a fix.
Yet, this is the same system that in just the last eight months has given Gov. Reynolds the opportunity to appoint two highly qualified and distinguished individuals to the supreme court in Susan Christensen and Christopher McDonald.
It seems the legislation currently under discussion is a misguided solution in search of a problem — a problem that simply does not exist.
David K. Boyd, Urbandale
Letter: Surf is a North Iowa treasure
On Friday, Feb. 1, the third-graders from Jefferson Elementary in Mason City were invited to attend the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom. We didn’t really know what to expect, and we were completely entertained. With an already packed schedule, it’s truly amazing that the Surf Ballroom took the time to include our students in this event.
Mallory and the staff really did an exceptional job of teaching kids the history of rock 'n' roll and how fortunate we are to have this piece of history in our backyard.
The show started with music videos featuring the music of Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper. Then we were treated to Buddy Holly artwork and music by a local student, and the show ended with a full band performing all the hits of the 1950s and '60s.
It was a great experience for our students and helped to give them a piece of local culture they may never be exposed to otherwise. This experience opened doors to music history, and taught students the importance of the Surf as a place with great history and a place to keep the music alive.
All of the students loved it and we heard positive feedback from several parents as well. We felt so lucky to be a part of this legendary event and we hope to come back! The Surf Ballroom is a great community partner and we so appreciate them reaching out beyond the city of Clear Lake.
Sheryl Mariner, Mason City
Letter: Left's latest double standard
Let me see if I understand this correctly. The left calls it “amoral” or "immoral" for us to build a wall on our southern border designed to protect our country from illegal immigrants.
Yet recently a bill was passed into law in New York that legalizes abortion up to and including when a woman is in labor. Other Democrat-run States including Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Mexico are proposing the same, and, worse yet, Virginia is taking it a step further, as their Democrat governor wants to legalize “infanticide,” allowing the murder of an infant after he or she has been born.
None of the leaders on the left have condemned these bills. Obviously, this is not considered “amoral or immoral.”
What is going on with the Democrat party? When will the moderates retake their party?
Pat Ropella, Mason City
Letter: Not going to Manly for 5 cents
New bottle cap and can deposit bill is a disgrace. Stores no longer have to take bottles and cans back, including convenience stores and retail. That is not right. Where does that 5-cent deposit money go?
Take the deposit money off. Hy-Vee is the only one who takes them back. You see trailers at Fareway for people to donate cans and bottles. Now a new redemption center opening in Manly. Who wants to take them to Manly?
People need to stand up and speak up to people in Des Moines who passed this bill. If you want to get rid of cans and bottles without a deposit, you could put them in a recycle bin.
It's not right. We are charged and get nothing back. If they sell the product, they should be made to take them back.
Kay Bessman, Mason City
Letter: Share random kindness every day of the year
Every day, it's bad news, tariffs, government shutdowns, lies, late tax refunds, name-calling, partisan politics. There are times we can't take any more!
Shopping at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I had a totally different feeling. I came out feeling better than when I went in. The cashiers were very busy, so I started putting some of the bags in my cart when a man behind me started to help me. I looked at his wife and said, "You have a keeper there, keep him." She said she would. We all smiled, and I said, "Thank you." A random act of kindness.
I went to my car and finished putting the bags in my car when a gentleman said he would take my cart back to the store. I thanked him, and we both said, "Have a good day." Neither of them had to do what they did, and we all felt good. Just simple acts of kindness we need more of. Sometimes even a simple act of kindness can make someone's day a lot better.
Feb. 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day. Maybe every day should be random acts of kindness, not one day a year.
Gloria Goll, Klemme
Letter: Comment was about Trump, not Rudd
In response to Nancy Kelsey's letter ("Ahem... Rudd is great community," Feb. 7), apparently she suffers from small-town paranoia, or needs to take a class in interpretive reading 101.
A concern for the letter written by Steve Epperly regarding the comment he made concerning President Trump and Rudd (published Jan. 23):
I never said anything about "Rudd being unfit to have Trump as their mayor." What I did say was that "Trump was not fit to be mayor of Rudd", that is, he is not good enough for a small town like Rudd.
I grew up in a town smaller than Rudd, and I have known people in Rudd as well as other many small towns. So, apology accepted.
You are correct about one thing: I do have a very negative attitude toward Trump. He is a psychotic narcissist rivaled by none other we have ever seen. He is also a psychotic liar and probably lies even to himself. He associates with criminals and expects them to bite the bullet for him. The Mueller report will trip the guillotine.
Is Trump even a success in business? Check these out: Trump Airlines, turned over to creditors after three years; Trump Vodka, 2006-2011, shut down from lack of interest; Trump casinos (three), Atlantic City, bankrupt four times; Trump Magazine, closed a year-and-a-half after launch; Trump Steaks 2007-2012, Trump Steakhouse in Vegas closed down for 51 health code violations; GoTrump.com luxury travel search engine launched 2006, closed a year later; Trump University, opened 2005 and closed 2010, N.Y. Attorney General sued for $40 million in 2013 for defrauding students; Trump Mortgage, launched 2006 with Trump claiming, "Who knows more about financing than me?" and it shut down a year-and-a-half later.
Trump claimed more recently, "Nobody knows more about technology than me." Really? He doesn't even know how to send an email, the twerp just tweets. He could ruin this great nation!
Steve Epperly, Mason City
Letter: GOP abortion move should anger
The Republican-controlled legislature wants to amend our Iowa Constitution to say that Iowa will no longer protect or guarantee the right to an abortion nor will it grant funding for any abortion. (Senate Joint Resolution 9) I am alarmed and angry. You should be, too.
Having read about extreme abortion policies/laws in two countries, China and Romania, I know that attempting to either legislate abortion away or to mandate it doesn't work.
In our country that boasts about freedom, the right to ownership of one's body ought to be a given. Therefore, decisions to have an abortion ought to be made solely by the female, her faith, her physician, and family and friends she loves and trusts. Not by legislators.
The “pro-lifers” promote their position by offering support through the pregnancy but also attempt to make it difficult for a woman who decides to obtain an abortion. The “pro choice” folks have offered any assistance the pregnant woman feels she needs.
If minimizing abortion rates is the goal, then the solution is not an amendment to our Constitution but a compromise in the area of prevention and contraception. Expand and improve sex education in schools; include forums with presentations and frank discussions by the medical community, the clergy, parents, state politicians (if possible), and teachers. Make sure contraception is accessible, affordable or free – even in our high schools.
Please contact your state senator and representative now and tell them that amending our Constitution is no solution to this issue.
Johanna Anderson, Osage
Letter: Iowa's process for judges works
Republican lawmakers in Iowa are currently trying to change the way Iowa selects its judges. They’d like Iowans to believe that our judges are politically appointed and partisan. This, however, is not the case.
Why would we want to change a successful non-partisan, merit-based system for selecting Iowa’s judges? Voters made merit selection of judges part of an Amendment to the Iowa Constitution in 1962 when Iowa’s voters decided this was the fairest way to select judges. It is a process that is respected nationwide as a model for a fair and impartial method of appointing judges.
This system minimizes the influence of political parties and special interest groups in the process and focuses selection of Iowa’s judges on each judge’s professional qualifications. Through regular retention votes, it allows the voters to have the final say about who serves as a judge.
If you’re hoping as I am that we can get beyond all the partisanship in our government, you won’t find any better example of a successful process than Iowa’s current judicial selection process.
If you oppose changing it, before the politicians go any farther down this road (and they have already started), let your representatives and the governor know.
Linda Long, Cresco
Letter: Exploiting our elders must stop
We are curious to know if any of your readers have had the same experience that we are having with an elderly relative with Alzheimers and dementia and what their solutions have been to our issue.
Several years ago, my aunt set in place a will and a trust to prevent the exact same thing that is happening now to her.
She has been living at home this past year with 24/7 care from a caregiver agency. She also has a financial adviser from a bank.
As my aunt's health and memory are decreasing, the family suggested that we know her finances just to make sure her expenses were within reason.
We received a quarterly statement only to find out that her funds were being depleted rapidly. The caregiver agency is charging her $750 per day which equals $273,750 a year to stay in her own home. Excuse me? This is not including oxygen, medications, food and other monthly expenses.
When the family found this out we had a meeting with the bank's financial adviser, the caregiver owner and my aunt. We discussed several issues, however, the big issue being the cost was non-negotiable. This is clearly financial abuse or financial exploitation in our opinion. There is no plan B, nobody has addressed the issue of where our aunt will go or who will take care of her when the funds are depleted.
What the financial adviser and the caregiver are not addressing is the fact that my aunt cannot make good judgement decisions because of her Alzheimers and dementia.
We called my aunt's attorney and also conferred with one we had used in the past, and there seems to be nothing in place to prevent this situation from happening.
Come on people, this is 2019. Elders everywhere are being exploited.
Bill and Marti Waters, Clear Lake
Letter: GOP-OK'd judge believes in freedom
I would like to thank Senior Judge James Gritzner for his unequivocal support for the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. The senior judge evaluated the facts against the "Agricultural Production Facility Fraud" law, a deceptive name and offensive statute. He found no provision in the Constitution where the rights of corporations override the rights of natural persons. (Corporations are not people.)
If these corporations had nothing to hide and all facilities treated land, water, people and animals with respect, then why hide behind this law? If this were so, they should want outsiders to verify that these are great facilities. It would be great PR!
But the Farm Bureau and pork producers are infuriated. They are terrified that so-called "radical" groups who care about public health, food safety, fair treatment of workers, and preserving a healthy environment can now educate the public about these giant corporation's violence done to people, animals, and our rural communities in the name of pure greed.
After all, who cares about public health or food and worker safety or Iowa's waterways when profits are at stake? Don't corporations have the absolute right to pursue profit no matter the cost, regardless of individual freedoms and liberties of the U.S. Constitution? The Farm Bureau and pork producers clearly think so.
By the way, Judge Gritzner was appointed by George W. Bush and confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate. Clearly an "activist judge" if I ever saw one.
Matthew Pierce, Urbandale
Letter: Give up the traffic camera fight
In the Monday, Feb. 4 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls) Courier was the story "Traffic camera bills return." In that article, "House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, is taking another run this year at regulating traffic cameras to make sure they are being used to enhance safety, not just to generate revenue."
Now, I ask you to think about that. If there were no speeding, nor other infractions, how would there be revenue generated? There would not be. There is only revenue generated if the traffic laws are broken and those breaking them are caught.
We either need laws, or we don't. If we need laws, and I think most of us in our right minds do agree, then we need to enforce the laws. Right? That's all the cameras are doing.
If people are not breaking laws, they have nothing to worry about. Driving is not a right; it is a privilege! If you want to drive and not pay a fine, then obey the laws. By obeying the laws, you do enhance safety.
Larry Dodd, Washburn
Letter: National cancer is pornography
Contrary to popular opinion, pornography is not merely harmless entertainment, but in reality is the inevitable exploitation of naive individuals for the sexual gratification of others.
This gratification, however, is always temporary, and those who seek after it do so to their own hurt. Those who are taken in by the illusion and illicit imagery that is pornography follow the promise of pleasure "as an ox goes to the slaughter."
Just as the ox is enticed toward the place of slaughter with a bucket of grain, so also those who follow after illicit sexual satisfaction are enticed toward their own destruction by the promise of pleasure.
Far from being harmless entertainment, pornography is like a national cancer that works by attacking the most fundamental building block of our society – the family. For many, pornography is an addictive gateway that leads to further illicit sexual pursuits.
Pornography is frequently mentioned at divorce proceedings as a factor in the breakup of marriages. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2016 reported the results of a study showing that the odds of divorce double for men and triple for women when spouses being watching porn. The results of pornography are pain and suffering not only for the ones who seek illicit entertainment but also for those whose lives intertwine – spouses, children, parents and siblings.
Far from being harmless, the illicit imagery comes with an incalculable price tag. As such, the golden yellow brick road leading to the heavenly utopia of Oz becomes a slippery, downhill slope leading to a dead-end, one-way street – a literal Highway to Hell.
Wendell Carr, Ottumwa
Letter: Put a cap on property tax revenue
It’s time for property tax relief for all Iowans.
High property taxes are burdensome whether someone is a homeowner, business owner or farmer. High property taxes also limit growth in communities of all sizes.
When I was running last year as a candidate for Iowa Senate District 27, property taxes was one of the concerns shared most with me by North Iowa residents. That’s why it didn’t surprise me to learn that 67.9 percent of general election voters, who responded to a survey conducted Jan. 15-17, said the Iowa Legislature should review the issue of property taxes this session.
Iowa Legislators can provide tax relief by establishing a property tax revenue cap that limits the growth of property tax revenue. Higher property tax bills –whether caused by increased assessments or higher tax rates – punish hard-working Iowans, many of whom live on strict budgets. Instead, we should encourage Iowans to reach their dreams of owning houses, land and businesses.
Let’s encourage our elected officials to help Iowa residents and communities of all sizes prosper by capping property tax revenue.
Shannon Latham, Sheffield
Letter: Retain Iowa's forest preserve law
A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate just forwarded a bill to the full Natural Resources Committee which will eliminate Iowa's century old Forest Reserve Law.
The Forest and Fruit Tree Reservation law was passed in 1906 by the 31st General Assembly and, I quote, "to eliminate property taxes to induce landowners to hold their poorer lands in timber not only as a resources of farm income but also for erosion control, watershed protection and game cover." Exempting forestland from property taxes is a powerful preservation tool.
The new bill is Senate File 5 and is being supported by the powerful Iowa Farm Bureau lobby as a means to reduce property taxes. The most recent survey I can find (2011) showed Iowa landowners enrolled 700,000 across Iowa. The value is about 4/10 of 1 percent of the total county budgets, or about $85,858 per county.
As we spend millions promoting the nutrient reduction program, its seems short sighted to encourage the destruction of the very land use form so critically valuable to water quality let alone wildlife habitat and quality of life.
Please contact legislators and voice your support to retain the Forest Reserve law.
Milton Owen, St. Ansgar
Letter: Border facts don't support Trump
In responding to Mr. Wayne Rietema's recent letter ("Dems won't protect the nation," Feb. 6), it has been stated over and over in local news reports, national news outlets, interviews with governors and mayors from the area, not to mention, numerous local citizens living in the border area, that modern technology would better insure a safer border than a Trump wall. That is no more than a much needed campaign promise to satisfy his base and some "hard headed Republicans."
It is fact, that more drugs, rapists, murderers, child molesters (all Trump's words for the border) do not come over a wall, but come through our ports of entry: land, air and sea! Also, statistics show few of his claims to be true, as the figures for these individuals, at the border, have dropped each year for the last decade.
With the knowledge you have stated, it is amazing, that you winter year after year, just 5 miles from the border! Aren't you concerned for your safety?
Myrna Marnin, Mason City
Letter: State of our union is broken
For those that watched the State of the Union speech, the one word that would describe this country currently would be broke. Virtually no one is talking about or cares. Total US debt is nearly $22 trillion. That is nearly $68,000 for every citizen, $200,000 per taxpayer.
How did we get here? Well, the Great Society social programs enacted during the Lyndon Johnson era along with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Democrats can't seem to pass up a opportunity to add another social program that we can't afford.
The Republicans believe in trickle down economics. That business given enough tax advantages will provide jobs and revenue to propel the economy. Take the 2017 tax cut enacted. The Republicans touted how it would grow the economy. Employment is said to be the highest in many decades. Yet this years deficit is at $1 trillion, highest ever. What would it be if the economy were in a slow down or worse yet a recession?
Many of these companies took that enacted cooperate tax cut and bought back stock in their own companies instead of investing it in plant and equipment and their employees. Did wonders for the stock market but little for the economy. It also did wonders for those very same cooperate insiders who over the past year were huge inside sellers of their ballooning stock.
The debt this country carries will never be paid. The only reason we continue to get away with it is because we have reserve currency status worldwide. That will end, and it isn't a question of if. When that happens, America will become a very different economy.
So while the divide in this country continues, we continue to get more broke every second of everyday.
Jeff Secora, Mason City
Letter: More to worry than the wall
Everyone is talking about Mexico's drugs and human trafficking, but no one is talking about Mexico's new socialist leader, economy and oil pipeline.
I am worried for the republic of the United States. No one person or party is to blame for the condition of our country. We are all to blame. Individuals and groups inside and outside of the United State that want to change this country from capitalism to socialism are very misguided. Look at socialist European countries that are failing. Socialism and "free stuff" do not work. Someone has to pay. It is so tragic that we do not act but react after all is gone. Without borders and barriers, we cannot have a sovereign country.
How many of you know what is happening right now in Venezuela and Mexico with their oil? We should be extremely concerned. We do not hear about this in the news. Mexico has a new socialist person governing their country. Their oil pipelines are being sabotaged by thieves tapping into the pipeline and stealing oil to sell on the black market.
When their economy goes down without barriers at our borders where do you think people in Mexico will be going? Oh yes, you can bet it will be the United States. As I have heard people say, we have fences to protect our loved ones inside our house not outside.
We all need to be more vigilant and tell our government representatives they need to get busy and be working for us, not for all the specialist groups.
If common sense was so common, more people would have it. Wake up, people: we are losing our republic to socialism.
Alyce Hugeback, Hampton
Letter: King passes this racist test
So now Steve King is a racist? By who's standard? If you don't think and speak like others think you should, you must be a racist. You can't regulate or legislate thought. I am very tired of this worn out argument. Most of us go to work and take care of our family. We don't think about racism.
Jerry Hiatt, Council Bluffs
Letter: Credit union tax trickles down
Last year, Iowa’s bankers tried to burden consumers with a slight-of-hand that would subject many of the state’s cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions to an additional tax on top of the current state tax on legally required safety and soundness reserve balances. Ultimately, credit unions prevailed in educating lawmakers on the cooperative difference, and preserved financial choice for Iowans.
Growing up on our family farm in Iowa, I learned first-hand the importance of cooperatives to Iowans where like-minded people would come together to support each other with their farming, their small businesses, or personal finances. Unlike other forms of business, cooperatives are owned and controlled by their members.
I also learned another difference between Iowa’s for-profit banks and the cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions. Simply put, at for-profit banks, the income above expenses is given to a select group of investors. But credit unions give that income, all of it, right back to the members because they are the owners. In other words, another tax on Iowa’s credit unions is another tax on Iowa’s families who are credit union members.
For cooperatives, there is no conflict between doing what is best for the people that they serve and doing what is best for owners, because they are one in the same. Iowa’s lawmakers in Des Moines should not be swayed by the fast talk of profit-making bankers, and neither should Iowans.
Doug O'Brien, Washington, D.C.
Letter: No tears for shutdown workers
Let me get this straight. I am supposed to feel sorry for some 800,000 public workers who earn more than non-governmental workers who do the same jobs, who get their own special retirement program (better than what Social Security provides for the rest of us), who are not subject to Obamacare (their Medical plan is better and cheaper), who cannot be fired, and who always receive back pay for time off work, and better vacations, better benefits, etc.
Because they are not insightful enough to foresee a time when they might have reason to keep one to two paychecks held back in savings or for an emergency. Many supposedly had to sell personal items or apply for food stamps and welfare, in order to survive for 35 days without a paycheck. That is simply disgraceful economic planning.
Maybe we should consider (and then realize) that these people are also not intelligent or insightful enough to be working for the rest of us in the first place. Maybe we should just consider letting them go and trying again to hire responsible people.
Obviously, my comment may not apply to all furloughed public employees, but it does apply to many (according to the news) who apparently cannot survive 35 unpaid days without going broke, not being able to make their monthly payments, or having to apply for welfare.
With so many irresponsible employees, is it any wonder the government can't balance a budget?
Thomas Frank, Mason City
Letter: Blue-colored dreams of Franken
Allow me to pontificate on some current issues. I think we Democrats need to put aside our stern rules about who is and who is not acceptable in public office. Our strict and stern adherence to political purity is costing us way too many otherwise good people.
The current situation in the State of Virginia is a good case in point. The duly elected governor may very well be one of the people in the offensive photo in the college yearbook, but if you are following along, there is a hidden agenda that is pretty obvious if you decipher it. The current lieutenant governor is already being accused of sexual harassment and that leads to who is No. 3 in line of ascension?
The Speaker of the House, a Republican, as you may have already suspected.
The Republicans in Virginia have never accepted that a Democrat could be their governor, so voila, a scandal is uncovered, or created, and they can rid themselves of both of the intruders into their coveted offices.
The governor may not have thought it a racist thing in 1984; things like that were more accepted back then. I think we need to look at how he has behaved since then, especially since he chose the path of public servant.
As for the lieutenant governor and the assault charge: Stuff it, look at all the Republicans who have done far worse, including the sitting president, and just move on.
We've already given up too many otherwise good people because we insist on this purity code. Unless and until the Republicans give up their accused as well, there is no need for us to be the fools and chase otherwise good people into the private sector. I'll never get over the loss of Al Franken.
Jeanette Armstrong, Osage
Letter: Democrats won't protect the nation
I find it very interesting reading the letters to the editor and daily news articles on the border wall. I winter in south Texas, just 5 miles from the Mexican border. If these people would come down here and talk to a barber, clerk in the department store, retired year-round citizens, policemen and border patrol, they might change their opinion of the wall!
Border Patrol agents report that the barrier along the southern border helps prevent illegal entry, drugs and weapons from entering the United States, to which they have the numbers to prove it. In October and November, agents apprehended 102,857 undocumented persons between all ports of entry.
Democrats are willing to withhold paychecks from many Americans in order to prevent the president from being able to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall to slow down the flow of illegals into the U.S. This was the reason a vast number of us voted for Mr. Trump.
Why not compare these writers against the wall to a Mexican illegal giving his opinion on how much fertilizer or chemical an Iowa farmer should apply for a successful corn crop? How many people write about illegal entries without checking with the Border Patrol?
The wall is only one of various tools needed to help the Border Patrol curtail illegal traffic of all kinds. Come on, Democrats: you voted for the wall when your president was in office; why not now? Democrats are proving they would rather withhold paychecks than protect the nation.
Wayne Rietema, Kanawha
Letter: Ahem... Rudd is great community
I strongly believe we each have a choice about our attitude and outlook on things, being it positive or negative. The recent letter written by Mr. Epperly definitely shows his choice being negative.
We are each entitled to our opinions on things, but the drive-by comments referencing Rudd and them not being fit to have President Trump as their mayor was unwelcome and undeserving.
Whatever you think of Rudd is your choice, but our little community is filled with positive, hard-working people who have a great community bond.
I have long believed that choosing a negative outlook breeds further negativity, but choosing a positive outlook is a much healthier choice for the mind, body, and the community.
Nancy Kelsey, Rudd
Letter: New party touts end of squabbling
In a nation divided by the ever more ruthless game of party politics, it is the people who suffer. The recent government shutdown was the longest in American history, lasting 35 days. It cost our economy $3 billion in permanent losses and forced over 800,000 federal employees to go without a paycheck for over a month.
At the end of the day, the dispute boiled down to a struggle for the upper hand between the two major parties. The Republicans, led by Donald Trump, demanded $5.7 billion in federal funds to build a grandiose wall on the southern border. The Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, chose to prove their superiority to Trump and the Republicans through petty jabs and an insincere concern for the people.
Each party wants to prove that they're better than the other. But who does their squabbling hurt? The citizens they claim to represent.
That is why I chose a third way: The Alliance Party. We aim to create a bridge across our divisions by offering practical, thoughtful and centrist solutions to the complicated challenges our nation faces. We refuse to believe the people should be given only an impossible choice between one evil or another.
The Alliance Party offers some things we find severely lacking in today's politics: Functionality. Moral conviction. A sense of duty and pride in serving the people. And a promise: That we will serve the American people's best interests, no matter what, and we will not surrender to those who would seek to manipulate us.
We are a party of the people, by the people and for the people. And that will never change.
Alexandra Dermody, Davenport
Letter: Column rides Rough on the details
In response to John Skipper's column regarding Steve King (published Feb. 3), who am I neither for or against:
Your article states that P.T. Barnum said, "There’s a sucker born every minute.” There is absolutely no evidence that P.T. Barnum spoke or coined this phrase. It is attributed to several other men.
Why are you perpetuating historical myths such as this to make a political point? Does your book on Theodore Roosevelt likewise tell its readers how Teddy and his Rough Riders famously seized San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill, or does it disclose the fact that it was actually the Buffalo Soldiers that did most of the fighting beforehand?
You fail to mention that only 4 percent of bills introduced are passed as laws. You also fail to mention that many bills that have no chance of becoming law are introduced anyway. This is done for various reasons, including drawing attention to a cause and bringing attention to a unique problem affecting the legislator's constituents.
You owe the Globe Gazette readers an explanation as why you leave out important information!
Greg Schotanus, Plymouth
Letter: Iowa Senate should open its doors
The Iowa Senate must change course and explicitly adopt long-standing rules that enable public access to the legislative process. During week one of session, several Republican-controlled Senate Committees declined to amend the rules that have protected public access to subcommittee hearings for 15 years. The decision not to abide by those long-standing norms means that 24-hour advance notice of hearings have been jettisoned in favor of back-room dealing.
The move by the Senate is a direct attack on rural Iowa and anyone living outside the metro. Most Iowans can’t simply jump down off the tractor, close down their small businesses, or abandon their children to drive to the Capitol to claw their way into the democratic process. They need notice to plan, ample time to consider the legislation, and ample time to contact their legislators.
Organizations like the Iowa Environmental Council and our members are also victims of the Senate’s move to squelch public discourse. Groups like ours, which provide a voice for many Iowa voters regardless of the size of their megaphones or checkbooks, have every right to know in advance when hearings are taking place and must have the opportunity to advance our members’ positions.
Advance notice of hearings and appropriate access are also critical to media coverage. Excluding media from Senate hearings removes the media’s ability to inform Iowans about decisions being made on their behalf.
Kudos to Iowa Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, who declared that the House will continue to provide notice saying, “We are the people’s house, and we will continue to be the people’s House.”
We believe the Senate is also “the people’s house,” and urge Senate leadership to rethink this decision. Open the doors and give access to Iowans.
Jennifer Terry, Des Moines
Letter: Restore rights of public unions
"Commerce Item 3. We call for legislation that would eliminate all public sector unions." This is copied from the Republican Party of Iowa Platform found at its website.
The destructive changes that were made to union/collective bargaining rights for public employees in 2017 were supported by all 53 Republicans in the Iowa House and all 29 in the Iowa Senate. What further damage will they do to public employees in 2019 when they again have control of both houses of state government and the governorship? Will they again act quickly and quietly before a challenge can be organized?
Public sector employees are city, county and state workers who serve the public as police officers, firefighters, teachers and social workers, as well as employees in skilled trades, corrections and judiciary, plus others. These workers need your support and action now.
It's time to contact legislators to tell them to support collective bargaining rights for all Iowa workers. Also ask for their support to reinstate the collective bargaining rights that were eliminated in 2016.
There is no valid reason for public employees to be treated differently and less than private sector employees, who are allowed to choose whether or not to be represented by unions.
Jane Close, New Hartford
Letter: Senators aren't working for Iowa
I watched with disgust as our two Iowa senators, Ernst and Grassley, voted in the largest tax break last year. Who benefitted from this? Not the middle class. The wealthy, large corporations and share holders benefitted. I waited for promised large expansion of businesses to occur, to no avail. But our debt burden skyrocketed.
I watched with disgust last year as our two senators continued to heap praise and support for our President, and plan on supporting him in the 2020 election, while migrant children were taken from their parents, with no plans to reunite them. This was done in the name of border security.
I watched with disgust this past week as our two senators voted "no" to stopping the partial government shutdown. Government workers were forced to work in servitude, working with no pay, and needing to go to food pantries in order to feed their families. The entire security of our country was put at risk, and thousands of Americans were placed in financial hardship. And yet our senators still voted to place a higher value on a wall than on the American people.
I watched with disgust as Sen. Grassley is again reintroducing an amendment to the Constitution that would require the federal government to balance its budget each year, and would place strict limitations on the government's ability to increase taxes. This will require cuts to programs such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Grassley apparently was not concerned about the budget when he voted in the tax cuts. He plans on balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and middle-class Americans.
I watch with disgust as Sens. Ernst and Grassley say they are working for Iowans.
Lissa Holloway, Britt
Letter: The color of a cause's money
Recently, billionaire Tom Steyer has been in the media, including a strong TV presence, promoting the “Need to Impeach" organization. And not a word of outrage from the liberal media.
Yet when the billionaire Koch brothers put any money into a conservative cause, the liberal media howls in protest. Apparently, “blue money” in politics is OK and “red money” is not OK.
Pat Ropella, Mason City
Letter: Good customers, wish for spring
I live in Clear Lake and have delivered the Globe Gazette for several years. I like doing that. It gives me purpose in my life. Sometimes I think maybe I'm a little bit crazy.
This winter has been a challenge with the weather, wind, rain, some ice, snow, and now this very cold air. Most of my customers are very understanding about the papers being in a different place then usual or even being late. I really appreciate that.
Spring will be here soon and new problems will arise no doubt. Clear Lake is a good place to live. Good people.
Donald Nichols, Clear Lake
Letter: Opioids can help people in the right hands
Have I missed something in news reports re: The Opioid Epidemic? I have read/heard dozens of news stories about how dangerous opioids can be. But I have yet to read or hear one news report divulging a breakdown between the numbers of opioid (street) abusers who die or mess up their lives -vs- the number of legitimate users who are prescribed these meds to provide some relief for patients who are plagued by chronic pain when nothing else works.
So where ARE these numbers that point out the stats of which of the aforementioned categories are being used for "news" of the opioid crisis? I'm pretty sure these figures exist somewhere. And btw ... I know military veterans being treated by VA caregivers that have been arbitrarily denied these meds thanks to people who use "poor judgment" and "medicate' themselves sans prescriptions.
Of course they are dangerous. Which is why they are prescribed. And illegal to even possess without a script. But like many other things, it's the few (which I am asserting) that ruin things for everyone.
Now about the hypocrisy re open use of drugs that have killed more people than all other drugs combined: Alcohol. And tobacco.
William Amos, Plymouth
Letter: Concussions cannot be 'shaken off'
As the temperatures increase so do concussions from spring sports and activities.
March tempted us with a first taste of spring. It was also Brain Injury Awareness Month in Iowa and across the nation. However brain injury is not a once a year issue. As the temperature outside increases so does the risk of brain injury. Yet despite a seeming flood of information about concussions there are still too many misconceptions about concussion and how to respond.
Myth #1: Concussions are not a big deal. You can just “shake them off.” Make no mistake, concussion might be called a ‘mild’ traumatic brain injury - but it is a serious medical condition that requires medical attention. A concussion happens when a hit or jolt to the head or body makes the brain bounce and/or twist around inside the skull. This can damage brain cells and cause chemical changes in the brain. It’s important to know that symptoms of a concussion may not develop for several hours after an injury, and can continue to change over time. That’s why Iowa law requires that athletes leave a game after a concussion and not return to competition for a minimum of 6 days. The same is true for anyone who’s injured: If you think you have a concussion, use caution and seek medical attention, even if you feel fine at first. While most people will make a full recovery, optimal outcomes are linked to obtaining the right treatment after an injury.
Myth #2: You need to lose consciousness or be “knocked out” to have a concussion. The majority of people diagnosed with a concussion do not report loss of consciousness.
Geoffrey Lauer, Iowa City
Letter: Judicial system fails in sentencing consistency
Hello, our names are JJ, Randy and Xavier. We are boy scouts in Troop 14. We are working on our communications merit badge. One of our requirements are to write to the an editor of a magazine or our local newspaper to express our opinion and share the information on any subject we choose.
We put some thought into this [email], and we decided to write to you about our judicial system. Even at a young age, we have seen how some people can get a lot of time for the littlest crimes, and others that are more serious they do not hardly get any punishment. We feel that a lot of people, and families get hurt by this; especially the ones who may be truly innocent but get the biggest sentences. We do not truly understand how someone who has all the evidence against them can stay with their families and get probation.
We think that there needs to be some changes done within the courts to ensure that repeat offenders, and those who do commit a serious crime are getting the same punishment as others who do the same crime. We cannot be easy on some and hard on others. This is setting a bad example to the criminals that depending on the judge, you may not get in much trouble at all.
JJ, Randy and Xavier Matton
Letter: Don't want to lose your children? Don't cross the border illegally
Why is it the United States has to allow Mexico's citizens into our country? They are Mexico's problem, not ours. Closing the border seems the right thing to do.
And, why am I not allowed to take a finger nail clipper aboard an aircraft, but we can allow hundreds and thousands of Mexicans to enter our country and we cannot even look into or search whatever they are carrying into our country? Do you see something wrong here? And, once they cross the border, they are criminals and need to be locked up, and sent back to the other side of the border.
And, to the parents of the children who become separated from the rest of the family, I offer this advice: If you do not want to be separated from your family, then don't cross our border illegally. Period.
Sam Sneed, Greene
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Waterloo's Police Chief Dan Trelka acknowledged the additional revenue argument, but reminded city leaders of the public safety value as well.
"This turns up the heat a little bit on vehicles that are out there routinely …violating our traffic laws by running red lights and speeding and our cameras are catching them," Trelka said.
And there's a bill still hanging on at the statehouse -- though action this session seems unlikely -- to ban them completely. The bill is not part of the end-of-session "funnel," but remains alive by virtue of the fact that it remains before the Appropriations Committee.
A lot of debate and red tape still attached to that option.
Here's an easier path to consider: How about we consider our surroundings and make more of an effort to slow down?
And while we're at it, let's put ourselves in the shoes of those who either can't or don't drive every once in a while.
Sure, we're all pretty busy people and it's easy -- so easy! -- to get behind the wheel and try to make up time by racing through a yellow light or to multi-task by taking a call or sending a text or pretending you don't see that person at the curb about to enter a crosswalk.
It only takes a second before you can end up regretting those decisions for the rest of your life.
This isn't a new argument, we know. Try this one on instead: Making a town more walkable and bikable improves its economy.
For example, did you know that most cars are worth a lot less than the spot they're parked on? If you used public parking spots less by walking and biking more, Mason City could consider more mixed use development, retail could grow and ... your property taxes would decline.
Another example: San Diego examined the economic impact of creating a more walkable community and found that there is a direct correlation between walkable communities and housing values.
The Walking the Walk study found that homes located within a walkable community commanded a price premium of $4,000 to $34,000.
We've heard the slogan "slow down, it saves lives" argument so many times that despite its truth and importance, it can go in one ear and out the other. Perhaps this will stick a little more: slowing down (and walking more!) may put more bucks in Mason City's coffers and in your own pockets.