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: Put federal employees back to work
The inability of our elected leaders to compromise has led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. I am proud of my work as a federal employee in service to the country I love. Federal workers nationwide are forced to stay at home and wait for the government to reopen, and are no longer able to provide the services on which our fellow Americans rely.
Middle-class federal workers and their families are stretching their pennies until the shutdown is over. Even though pay will be restored eventually, bills still arrive on time even if paychecks don't, and many federal employees are being forced to make difficult and unnecessary financial decisions to make ends meet.
Our legislators in Congress and the president need to stop playing political games with our government's services and those who provide them. We are now in a crisis, and our leaders must work to promptly reopen the government.
We must call them to reach consensus immediately, so committed federal employees across the nation and right here at home can get back to work for our country.
Karl Griffith, Mason City
Letter: Voters should address King, Walk
It appears Iowa's 4th District has a problem with Steve King and Mitchell County has a problem with supervisor Stan Walk.
Mr. King is an embarrassment to Iowa, and Mr. Walk is an embarrassment to Mitchell County residents.
Both may appear to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, although in varying degrees.
Mr. King is soon to be booted out of Congress.
I suggest Mitchell County voters send Mr. Walk packing also.
Being a street fighter, he can easily pick up a gig at a bar in Osage or St. Ansgar in need of a top-notch, take-no-prisoners bouncer. Or is the term used these days enforcer?
That sounds more threatening.
From a neighbor to your south, who enjoys the catch-and-release of small-mouth fishing in Mitchell County's beautiful stretches of the Cedar River.
Go Devils and Saints.
Michael Handt, Charles City
Letter: Working title, not available
Coming soon to your local bookstore: a tell-all expose of Joni and Gail Ernst entitled, "The Secret Lives of 'Family Values' Republicans."
Kevin Young, Sheffield
Letter: Include doctors in search for good life
Just thought I would add another "for instance" to the thought of trying to bring more people to live and work in the Mason City area:
Recently I was told that I would need to find another (new) primary care doctor, as my latest doctor will be going into a specialized practice and no longer be a primary family doctor. I am currently 72 years old, and from time to time over the length of my life had to do this quite often, as all of my doctors have moved into specialized service.
So for the past month I have been trying to get another family doctor to take me on as a new patient, and guess what I have found? There aren't any current doctors in this city taking on new patients. Now there are new resident doctors here, but these doctors will be leaving for greener pastures and more money once they finish their residencies. Thus I will again have to start all over again to find a doctor for my needs.
Here is the question I would ask the powers that be want amenities, entertainment, housing, good well paying jobs, and any other things denoting the good life: what will you tell people when they ask about hospital facilities and doctor availability, and all you hear is "good luck on that"?
Something to think about!
Ralph Madison, Mason City
Letter: Health care is filled with scammers
I recently stepped in and became involved when an elderly friend told me that he thought that he was being taken advantage of while residing at a care/mental health facility in a nearby community. I soon discovered that he was not the only person being exploited. Sadly, this happens throughout the U.S. and is quite common. An ex-president once wrote that a society is ultimately judged by how well or how poorly it treats its most unfortunate and vulnerable citizens.
Under our current leadership at both the state and national levels, Americans appear to becoming more and more proficient at using these members of the USA. Welfare and entitlements should not be confused with genuine, quality care. Instead of simply putting these people down, as was Nazi Germany's solution, we exploit and use them as huge money-makers for a corrupt system operated and well-managed by wealthy, educated and greedy individuals devoid of conscience. These so-called health care and medical "professionals" have perfected the art of creating loopholes in order to rip off insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid and private payers. For so many, this has become standard operating procedure. Unnecessary tests and surgeries are performed routinely because they are so hugely profitable.
Granted, knowledge and technology now save many lives and allow some of us to walk, talk, hear and even see again. We are very fortunate to have skilled medical professionals when we need them. However, there are many out there who scam the system for more money and easy money. What a shame!
Everyone is paying dearly for the scammers. What will happen when we still have all the potential to do good, but the dollars are gone? Only the elite and the very rich will receive needed care because they will be able to pay the exorbitant charges.
Michael Handt, Charles City
Letter: Media ignores abortion, recalls MLK
Last year, 100,000 people protested the abortion tragedy of tragedies.
The happened at the same place that MLK held his civil rights rally.
Which one gets the attention of the media?
Russell McAfee, Clear Lake
Letter: Let border states handle wall issues
Plan A: Border wall. That's what the POTUS wants. It's a tug-of-war, no one wants to give up. The POTUS needs a plan B.
How about the federal government giving each state involved so much money to take care of the problem. Our citizens hire the immigrants because they are cheap labor. They come here to earn money so they can go back to their own country, maybe buy a home and live better from the money earned here.
Each state, I believe, knows best what they need to do. (P.S. Their children want to stay in the USA.).
Erma Petersen, Mason City
Letter: Fuzzy math finds money for wall
As a Republican voter, I seem to have a math problem when I use very large numbers, so I would like a Democrat to help me, please.
Just how many walls, at President Trump's numbers, could have been built with the $150 billion that former President Obama gave to Iran? I keep coming up with 30. That many? Where would they be built?
I strongly believe we need just one.
Sam Sneed, Greene
Letter: Push to change Iowa's payday lending regs
Everyone needs to borrow money, whether it’s for unexpected health care costs, utility bills or other basic items. But not everyone is treated the same.
Have you ever borrowed two or three hundred dollars at interest rates of 350 to 400 percent?
Probably not. You have better alternatives.
Things are different, however, when lower income working Iowans need to borrow two or three hundred dollars. They actually pay triple digit interest rates of 350 to 400 percent because that’s what Iowa lawmakers allow the “payday loan” industry to charge!
Who would borrow money at 400 percent interest? Certainly not middle and upper middle class families. We have access to low interest credit card offers and zero interest car loans.
Payday loan lenders are part of a second, separate credit system, one that exploits low income working and elderly Iowans. These families are “offered” outrageously high interest payday loans where every loan is a rip-off.
Iowa payday loan companies have made millions by targeting lower income, working families in our low wage state.
It is time to make long overdue reforms, reforms that many other states have already made.
In 2019, the Iowa Legislature should:
• Cut the interest rate for payday loans from 350-400 percent to no more than 36 percent.
• Provide borrowers with new payment options to get them off the debt treadmill.
• Encourage banks and credit unions to provide credit to low income borrowers.
I’m a state senator and people at the statehouse say no one cares about this issue.
I don’t think that’s true. I think most Iowans think interest of 350 percent is a trap and should be illegal.
Talk to your local state senator and state representative. Tell them you care about working Iowa families who are being exploited.
Joe Bolkcom, Iowa City
Letter: For a different Mason City mall outcome
It seems like the leaders of Mason City have got us another good deal regarding the dead mall downtown.
I am among those that wished it would have been demolished a decade ago or left totally to private investors to rehabilitate without clumsy meddling by the city that I am sure will cost taxpayers a bundle.
Michael Syverson, Mason City
Letter: Tell D.C. to act on climate change
Climate experts agree that climate change is real and is mainly due to atmospheric heat trapping from rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Fossil fuel burning is the primary cause of this rise. In addition to the effects of rising temperature, climate change includes changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. Climate change has caused more damaging coastal storms and historically severe Western forest fires. In Iowa, four or the five hottest years on record occurred in the last five years.
Our children and grandchildren will face worse consequences if we do not act, according to the U.S. government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment. This quite readable document is available online, and contains sections about the impacts of climate change on the Midwest and on agriculture.
Polls show a majority of Americans believe that climate change is real and that the government should do more to deal with it. Our policy makers will not act, however, unless we the voters demand action.
What can you do? Tell Sens. Grassley and Ernst and Rep. King that this is a very important issue, and you want them to take action. Consider asking them to back the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which was introduced in the House and Senate by bipartisan sponsors. This is a market-based comprehensive measure, as opposed to multiple regulations. It calls for a fee on fossil fuel extraction. This will encourage energy conservation and will accelerate the move to alternative energy sources. All revenue from the fees will be returned equally as a dividend (rebate) to all households to offset higher costs.
Bruce Trimble, Mason City
Letter: Trump is unfit to lead Rudd
Donald Trump has proven that he is unfit to be president. In fact, he is unfit to be mayor of Rudd. He has attacked our free press (fake news) and has received and acted on advice from conservative quacks Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. He has proposed and is gutting Social Security and Medicare.
Why shouldn't he? He and his rich friends don't need it, and that money could be used toward a border wall. By the way, shouldn't we be building a wall along the Canadian border? They use technology and "no one knows more about technology" than Trump.
He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate deal, so now only the U.S. and 19 fossil fuel rich countries are not in. Trump has no clue of the reality and science in regard to climate change. He argues against because of the "weather" some place on a given day as evidence.
He also pulled us out of the Iran Nuclear Arms Treaty. There has been some controversy over it, but it was working!
Trump stabbed the middle class in the back with his tax cut for the rich. I have studied it and noted previously with examples how it affects different income levels. It sucks money from the middle class giving a windfall to the rich and has increased our national debt by $2 trillion.
He embarrasses our country in everything he does. And now he holds hard-working Americans hostage over a border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. He even put in writing that he would "force a down payment right away after inaugurated, a check from Mexico of $5 billion to $10 billion."
He is a proven xenophobe, racist, and bigot. His shameful moral character and self-serving leadership make him absolutely unfit for president.
Steve Epperly, Mason City
Letter: It don't take a rocket scientist
I watched with interest the interview that Anderson Cooper had with the new congresswoman from New York. She asked to not be called a congress woman but to be called a democrat socialist!
She stated that America was stale and needs a lot of changes. When asked what the changes would be, she stated that America needs to become a socialist country! Free education and taxed at 50 to 60 percent of the income!
When asked what people would live on, she responded "My government will give them what we think they need to live."
The Democrats have turned to socialism as their new platform. I don't want to live under this! Why can't people see this coming? Wake up! This scares me, especially for the older people that don't work or pay taxes.
It don't take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen to them. People need to start listening and vote for freedom!
Sherryl Joines, Vermillion
Letter: It's simple: King is racist
I was very upset after the mid-term election, and Steve King was re-elected. I had a letter written and decided against sending it, and now I wish I had sent it.
I've lived all my life in this state but am upset to think that anybody would even consider voting for him. I'm not real proud to be an Iowan right now.
He, like our current reside of the White House, are two peas in a pod.
The thought that "white nationalism" is not offensive? He's a racist, plain and simple. He, like many old, white, Republican men, need to be voted out come 2020.
Thank God (and I do constantly) for the new Democratic Congress. I have confidence the country will become more unified instead of divided.
Karen Weber, Charles City
Letter: Failure-prone system needs fixed
I am one of the 29 individuals who were disenfranchised after voting by absentee ballot in Iowa House District 55 last November. My envelope received a USPS barcode, but did not receive a postmark stamp. On Dec. 3, Iowa District Court Judge Scott Beattie ordered the bar codes be read and mine was confirmed to have been timely. I plead now that to ignore my valid vote is an unconstitutional act.
Inconsistencies exist in the absentee voting process in counties across Iowa. Unfortunately, Iowa law does not mandate acceptable methods for counties to determine timeliness of absentee ballots. Iowa law does not define the term “intelligent mail bar code” that is posted on absentee ballot envelopes, nor does it require the Intelligent Mail bar code, or IMb, be used to trace a ballot’s entry into the federal mail system. According to procedures followed by the Auditor’s Office in Winneshiek County, only a valid USPS postmark stamp is used to determine timely mailing of absentee ballots.
I believe any USPS postal marking, stamp, IMb or other bar code should be accepted as evidence of timely mailing by a constituent. Without mandating how the USPS processes absentee ballots, the Legislature can mandate that any marking issued by the USPS be deemed acceptable in verifying the receipt date of the envelope into the mail system.
I was a disenfranchised voter, but through no fault of my own, I was failed by a failure-prone system. I plead to the Iowa Legislature to address this issue before the next election. Please make all votes count.
Dominique Bockman, Decorah
Letter: Improve Iowa's car seat laws
Iowa ranks fourth in the nation for child fatalities from car accidents, following only Mississippi, New Mexico, and N. Dakota. In 2016, 24 Iowa children under the age of 14 died, according to a report by Safewise.
The leading cause is improper seat belt and car seat usage. People are turning their children forward too soon and using seat belts instead of booster seats. Iowa laws do not conform to evidence-based best practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
1. Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat's manufacturer, usually 2 years or more.
2. Next, children should use a forward-facing seat with a harness up to the weight or height allowed by the seat's manufacturer.
3. They then should use a belt positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they've reached 4 feet, 9 inches and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
4. Children 13 and under should be restrained in rear seats once they've left booster seats.
Rear-facing car seats better support the head, neck, and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash and they are five times safer during a side crash.
Please contact your state representatives, senators, and Gov. Reynolds today about the urgent need to change Iowa's outdated child passenger safety laws.
Carol Sula, Dubuque
Letter: Iowa State Fair deserves support
Throughout its history, the Iowa State Fair has been a unique institution, serving to educate, inform and entertain people from all walks of life. From the first fair in Fairfield in 1854, to 1886 when it found a permanent home, to today, the Iowa State Fair has been our state’s outstanding agricultural showplace and I am humbled to serve on the governing board.
But a long history and annually hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors takes a toll. We continue to need the financial generosity and commitment of fair-lovers to support preservation and renovation projects. Through the Corndog Tax Checkoff, it’s easy to make a donation to ensure these vital efforts continue. While completing your Iowa tax return, please consider making a donation of $1 or more. Donations will be deducted from your refund or added to the amount due, and are fully tax-deductible.
For 26 years, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has been raising funds in support of the Iowa State Fairgrounds. From the preservation of Grandfather’s Barn in 1994 to the enclosure of the Varied Industries Building in 2001 to the major expansion of the grandstand completed for the 2018 fair, barns and buildings across the fairgrounds were saved from the ravages of time or upgraded for modern use.
Alan Brown, Hampton
Letter: King is a nationalist, not a racist
I am ashamed of the New York Times in their inaccurate and out-of-context reporting regarding Rep. Steve King. Since when did Iowans start believing the New York Times? I am extremely disappointed that they and others have disregarded facts and quickly thrown Steve King under the bus without any regard to researching the truth. King’s congressional colleagues are well aware that he is a nationalist, not a racist.
I have known Steve for over 25 years as man of principle who is defends the original intent of the Constitution and the merits of western civilization. When Steve and I served in the Iowa Senate together, I witnessed his courage and boldness in standing for the under privileged and the rights of all citizens, including the unborn child. He stood for personal responsibility under the rule of law. He served the people by defending them against intrusiveness, taxation, and over regulation in government.
He did not enter the political process for personal gain, but on the contrary, endured extreme persecution for his beliefs. He left the comforts of a successful business and small-town living with the hope of helping to restore our God-given liberties. His goals and beliefs have not changed, but the liberal news media and his opponents have systematically created a false narrative about him.
Minority Leader Rep. McCarthy, without facts, removed King of his committee assignments and left the 4th District without a representative voice in our political process. Are our Republican leaders more afraid of the New York Times and Democrat leaders than they are willing to standing up for truth in defending their friend? I believe the truth will prevail.
Kitty Rehberg, Rowley
Letter: We deserve better than Trump, King
I don't know Steve King, so I have no idea if he is a racist. Despite odd comments like the ones that have stirred recent controversy, I'm sure those who know him best would say it's a misunderstanding. Far be it for me to argue with them.
However, one need not be a racist in order to say dumb, racist things. And when that person is a Congressman, his or her comments should be strongly condemned by anyone in a position of leadership in our country. In the wake of King's most recent foot-in-mouth episode, in fact, nearly everyone has done just that, including his first choice for president in 2016, Ted Cruz.
The one person who didn't condemn King's words but, instead, attempted to play dumb but implying he hadn't heard them? You guessed it, Donald Trump.
I think it is possible in our politically correct world for people to say dumb, insensitive things that come out sounding like something that was not intended. However, our President is supposed to be smarter than that. He is supposed to be able to recognize self-evident right from wrong. Heck, most of us would expect our kids to recognize such basic things.
But not Trump. White supremacists march in Charlottesville and a woman dies and Trump feels the need to say many of them are 'fine' people. Now, King makes comments that even he says were wrong, and Trump can't get himself to agree and condemn?
Trump's difficulty in these areas may be the result of many things. Regardless of the reasons, however, it is unquestionably yet another example of failed leadership on his part. Whatever one may think of Trump's policy agenda and his brilliant negotiating skills, we should all be able to agree that America deserves so much better than this.
James Peppe, Houston, Texas
Letter: Rants at a King on another planet
Stephen King needs a brain transplant from any available donor, maybe a chimp, but I think a chicken would do! What is the color of the sky on your planet, fella? And I am a lifetime Republican!
Greg Heitland, Mason City
Letter: No change in supervisor concerns
Recent actions by Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk accentuate citizen concerns regarding his ability to be effective and impartial as a county leader.
On June 8, Walk sent a threatening email to Josh Byrnes, naming Byrnes, Lynn Kirchgatter, and me. He states, “I am a 70-year-old street fighter, and I no longer give a s- - -. This makes me very dangerous. Keep that in mind, I do not take prisoners.” Walk is referring to our disagreement with him regarding the construction of a gas pipeline by the port authority.
Walk has no problem spending the money. The construction of a $40 million pipeline across Worth and Mitchell counties by the port authority solidifies his plan to control and profit from the distribution of natural gas.
Walk claims he cannot say the pledge because of the phrase “justice for all.” He plays a rich-versus-poor argument to refuse participation in the Pledge. Walk’s big-money policy doesn’t correspond to his refusal to recite the Pledge.
Do you really want natural gas distribution and the responsibility of county government in the hands of a man who threatens violence and prays for vengeance on those who disagree with him?
Al Winters, Osage
Letter: Pursue repayment, legal action
Since we now know the names of all Mason City School employees who received unapproved increases in monetary benefits through the improper distribution of more than $2 million in taxpayer money, and since the report specifies the amount that each employee received, it should be easy for the Board to request repayment of those funds to the tax coffers from those who received the improper distribution.
The auditors did us a favor and saved the Board a lot of work, yet the School Board wants to redact the names. What does that tell you?
We should also be going after whoever it was that approved the improper distribution of funds and should pursue any available legal action to assure proper accountability.
Thomas Frank, Mason City
Letter: Time to revamp Hancock pay board
Hancock Supervisor Jerry Tlach’s first-year salary in 2000 was $22,350. The proposed 2019-20 salary is $36,379. He has voted to increase his base pay $14,029, a 63 percent increase. The rate of inflation for the same time frame is 46 percent.
Hancock Supervisor Florence Greiman’s first-year salary in 2002 was $23,300. The proposed 2019-20 salary is $36,379. She has voted to increase her base pay $13,079, a 56 percent increase. The rate of inflation for the same time frame is 40 percent.
How does this happen? The Hancock County Compensation Board is chosen by the elected class to dole out compensation packages to the very same elected class. See the problem? In fact, this is such a tight-knitted group, one member has an office literally across the street from the courthouse. We bestowed a position on HCCB to a lawyer who works for a Mason City law firm, but yet the farmers who pays thousands in property taxes acres of rural Corwith or Woden has little or no input. And I’d love to know if another member of HCCB gave out 4.5 percent raises to his bank employees this year. Banks aren’t known to overpay employees.
Don’t forget: that 4.5 percent is on the base salary. We taxpayers also have to match the income tax withholding and IPERS contributions. Truth be told the total percent increase to those of us footing the bill will be closer to 5 percent.
A simple solution: The HCCB should be chosen randomly from the township trustees. The county has 16 townships and with each having three trustees. Most importantly, they are elected by voters.
Elected class: If the job doesn’t pay enough for your talents, don’t put your name on the ballot.
Compensation Board: Represent the taxpayer and not be the union representative of the elected.
John Johnson, Britt
Letter: Plans to pay in forward in 2019
For 48 years, a nice woman has shown her love for a stranger and her grandmother by sharing the labor of her love in a handmade gift.
Christmas Eve, which getting gas in Mason City, a woman approached me with a gift. She told me a heartwarming story how she came from a large family and her grandmother made all their gifts. The grandmother was disappointed in how commercialized Christmas had become.
At the age of 11, her grandmother passed away but had asked her to share her story, and each year make a gift and present it to a stranger. In exchange for the gift was a request to make a gift and share it with a stranger the following year and tell her grandmother's story.
With the gift was a card with no name but handwritten words "Just believe" and the number 48. The gift was a beautiful hand crochet afghan, truly a labor of love.
I have shared this story with family and friends, and it has brought tears to many eyes. It made my Christmas extra special this year, and I hope my gift next year has the same effect on a total stranger.
Sheree Holstrom, Hampton
Letter: Get Mercy involved in mall project
Hello, Mason City. Has this ever crossed your mind on what to do with our mall?
What would you think if Mercy Medical Center would buy it and use it for patients, such as dermatology, cardiac rehab, Urgent Care, women's health and some of the outlying offices used by medical center currently?
There could be a pharmacy, food court and a very nice place for patients and family members to sit and relax. It would also provide a lot of parking, and it would be all under one roof.
People we really need to brainstorm and look outside the box. I just think this would also help with the small businesses uptown, as it will bring more people into that area. It's a win-win situation for Mason City. Thank You.
Orville Anderson, Mason City
Letter: Majority saw through Trump's act
Open letter to Sen. Grassley:
Your persistence at securing the federal criminal justice reform legislation has been commendable. Sadly, the federal law will have only limited impact without governors and state legislatures implementing similar reforms at the state level.
More to the point, your successful efforts on this piece of legislation are overshadowed by your continued and inexplicable support of your president.
I did not, nor did the large majority of Americans, vote for this man. We had the good sense to see what the whole world now sees as the Trump reality. There is no question that this guy is corrupt, guilty of federal and state crimes, utterly incompetent, and totally focused on using the presidency to secure his own financial and political advantages at the expense of the American people.
His sloganeering of “America First” makes me want to throw up.
Trump is the greatest threat to the security of our republic. That you continue to support this horrible human being, along with those of your Republican colleagues who have not denounced this presidency, make you and them complicit in every deplorable act that this guy perpetrates.
When in God’s name will you cease bringing shame and dishonor upon yourself? Are you so insecure in your standing with those whom you believe are the base of your supporters that you must cling to this man as though he were your baby blanket?
Grow up, sir, and do what you know is right. Demand his resignation or demand impeachment.
Steven Pokorny, Urbandale
Letter: Hypocrisy by Dems over the wall
I can’t understand Democrats refusal to adequately fund a border wall and overall border protection from undocumented immigrants.
Studies have shown, including a recent one completed by MIT-Yale University that there over 22 million undocumented immigrants living in our country.
American taxpayers foot the bill for undocumented immigrants' education, health care, welfare, to a tune of over $134 billion annually. Wow!
So asking for $5 billion in the budget to help secure the border is too much? It may be the best investment our country can make.
At what point does the United States lose its sovereignty to undocumented immigrants? Would you welcome criminals including MS-13 gang members, human traffickers, murderers, drug smugglers,...into your home? Then why should they be allowed into our country? Crazy!
We already are the most generous country in the world through our legal immigration policy, and charitable giving to impoverished nations.
The failed argument that walls don’t work by Democrats is laughable. Walls have proven to work in our country and all over the world, such as, Israel, Vatican City, prisons, celebrity and other wealthy people’s homes, and gated communities. If Nancy Pelosi continues to say that walls don’t work, she should be the first one to take down the wall that protects her home to avoid being a hypocrite.
Pat Ropella, Mason City
Letter: Agenda behind perennial letter
I see the Globe Gazette reprinted John (J. B.) Johnson’s perennial letter to the editor ("Most-read Letters to the Editor in 2018," Dec. 30). Mr. Johnson had so many misstatements it would be difficult to know where to start to dissect this propaganda document.
I challenge Mr. Johnson to back up his statements with proven written facts, not unfounded accusations. Johnson cannot and will not do this because the facts tell a whole different story. Where are the facts, J. B. Johnson? Just the facts, Mr. Johnson.
The Russians are intent on getting Americans fighting amongst ourselves, hoping we destroy ourselves from within. Keep in mind, America and local governments can be overthrown internally by misguided and uninformed individuals. Is John Johnson unwittingly an extension of the Russian plot to spread untrue statements for the purpose of us fighting and destroying what is good in America and North Iowa? Why does J. B. Johnson want to destroy what has been highly successfully working for the benefit of the property taxpayers in Winnebago and Mitchell counties? J. B. Johnson apparently has a hidden negative agenda, one he is not willing to publicly share.
For those of you who desire the facts and extensive additional information, my phone number is in the St. Ansgar phone book. I support transparency.
Stan Walk, St. Ansgar
Letter: Can't blame Trump for all 35,000
I was recently approached by a nonbeliever of our president. He informed me that he had read where Donald Trump has hired, as employees, undocumented immigrants, and he just wanted me to know that.
I spent considerable time trying to get the information that proved that to be a fact. And I did find it to be true, to the letter.
It seems that one of the employees, a lady, was working at one of the POTUS' hotels as a maid. And the second was also a lady, and she was working as an attendant in a ladies' locker room at one of the golf courses that our POTUS owns. So he does/did have undocumented immigrants working at one or more of his properties.
Not allowing myself to not get all of the information I could gather via the computer, phones, newspapers, etc., I did also discover that he either owns or has interest in very many properties, worldwide. And he has really only 30 to 40 true employees that he sees nearly every day or is in contact with nearly every day. As it became more informative, he and the many organizations that he either owns or has interest in, the total number of employees is well over 35,000. Of course, they are scattered around the world, and chances of him ever seeing or meeting the vast majority of them is too remote to even be mentionable.
Of course with that many employees, I find it quite erroneous to print that he has undocumented immigrants working for him. I find that some of the members of the press are pretty guilty of knowingly printing statements that are and were meant to be misleading, showing that they are "digging dirt" to see what they can find.
Sam Sneed, Greene
Letter: 'Conspiracy,' Bush funeral tell the GOP story
Trump is the worst and most dangerous president in modern times or longer. Christians, how can you support someone who was cheating on his third wife while his son was being born and admitted to assaulting many women. Remember the "Hollywood Tapes" and the 16 women who came forth, most credible? The same is true with his first two wives.
The Mueller investigation has already proven Trump has committed known crimes in his campaign for president. We probably don't know the extent but Bob Mueller and his team do. So far, Michael Cohen and General Flynn have pleaded guilty for crimes and are cooperating. Trump campaign chairman and Trump long-time associate, Paul Manfort, is not cooperating, but I don't think he will get pardoned.
Trump and his "deplorables" say it is all a "Democratic conspiracy." Really? Fired FBI director, James Comey, is a Republican and his replacement, deputy director Andrew McCabe, an independent who Trump also forced out. Current FBI director is Christopher Wray, a Republican. Fired deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, is a Republican, and Matt Whitaker is a Republican replacing the fired Jeff Sessions, a.k.a." Elmer Fudd," also a Republican who Trump called "Mr. Magoo." Bob Mueller, special prosecutor heading the Russia probe, is a Vietnam hero and former FBI director, also a Republican.
Shame on a GOP Congress which didn't want Trump either, but selfishly fell in line after the election knowing the potential for disaster.
I watched the entire George H.W. state funeral. What a stark contrast to how an American president should be and what we have. Maybe the most qualified ever and served honestly and for the good of the country, never for himself.
He was a patriot, war hero, exemplary family man, honest businessman and politician, all the opposite of Trump. Amen.
Steve Epperly, Mason City
Letter: Village memories of foundation
Opportunity Village is now a memory but should not be forgotten. For 47 years, it had a real impact on Clear Lake, was highly rated, had national recognition, and was widely approved for helping disabled people learn and live to make living worthwhile. Before the Village existed, most of them had no reason to get up in the morning, watching TV daily.
As one of the Village founders and also activity director in the early days, I was privileged and amazed to see lives transformed at close range. Everything was exciting, from living in their own cottage as long as they chose to a multitude of activities of their choice at the activity center.
Each had their own room at the cottage, something cherished by all; a family atmosphere prevailed. Part of the mid-morning breaks was set aside for devotions by a resident. They could not be more sincere. These early days were comparable to a honeymoon, but it lasted for years.
How did this million dollar facility spring up in rural North Iowa? Were the founders rich, brilliant people? What a foolish question!
Why the Christian emphasis? Was it because the founders were believers, because our leader was a minister, or what? Some believed the Village was God's way of answering prayers, and it was inspired by the living Jesus.
As for me, I have doubts. He did?
Bill Otterman, Clear Lake
Letter: Online, out-of-town hurts local business
Mason City no longer biggest shopping hub. With our mall empty and Shopko filing for bankruptcy, the pharmacy so far, store closing may be coming. Our choices for shopping are limited.
It's hard being in business. Too many people shop online. For the convenience and sent right to your door. Our society have gotten so lax and lazy, drive-up food lanes, online grocery delivery and the list goes on.
We the people are doing it to ourselves, putting stores out of business, plus jobs lost. Now people drive to Des Moines or Minneapolis for the day or weekend to shop and spend their money and have fun doing it. Instead of adding jobs, we're losing jobs. People drive 30-50 miles to go to work but live here.
So I may be old-fashioned, but we are hurting ourselves. I believe in shopping local and supporting hometown business.
Kay Bessman, Mason City
Letter: Keep fighting D.C. for biofuels
As a sixth-generation Iowa farmer, and past president of the National Corn Growers Association, I understand the importance of Iowa’s biofuels industry and what it means to Iowa farm families and our nation’s renewable fuel supply.
Today, we are facing many immediate issues that impact the profitability of Iowa farmers that need to be fixed. One of these concerns being the sales restriction of E15 fuel. For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has restricted sales of E15 to only around eight-and-a-half months of the year, which has severely reduced demand for Iowa grown renewable fuels.
While President Trump has signaled he will direct the EPA to lift the sales restriction on E15, we are still waiting on the fix to be completed in Washington. Fortunately for Iowa, we have champions on this issue advocating for us. Sens. Ernst and Grassley have been on the front lines fighting for Iowa farmers and greater market access for Iowa renewable fuels.
If E15 is allowed to compete fairly, sales of the product will surge. This will help drive demand for Iowa corn and have an uplifting economic impact in rural communities throughout our state. It is important our leaders in Washington continue their efforts to secure this much-needed victory for Iowa agriculture.
Pam Johnson, Floyd
Letter: Iowa needs Medicaid to work
Medicaid makes it possible for thousands of low-income Iowans — low-income children and adults, people with disabilities and seniors — to access quality health care services without having to choose between being healthy and paying the rent.
We also know our state’s Medicaid program isn’t working as well as it should. But it has become so politicized that a productive conversation on how to fix the program is nearly impossible.
The election is over. It’s time to listen to Iowans, build on the good things Medicaid does and fix the things that aren’t working. Iowans are great problem solvers; we know how to find practical solutions.
In Cerro Gordo County, 31 percent of kids get their health insurance through Medicaid or hawk-i. Statewide, more than 550,000 Iowans are covered by Medicaid.
Child and Family Policy Center looks forward to working with Sen. Ragan and Rep. Steckman to find ways to modernize Medicaid without harming vulnerable Iowans who depend on it for their health care.
If managed care is the path Iowa takes, we should make it the best Medicaid managed care program in the country. We need Medicaid to work. It’s just too important.
Anne Discher, Des Moines
Letter: Lift up vulnerable neighbors
Many of us have experienced the chaos of the holiday season: rushing to get every gift wrapped on time, navigating large family gatherings, standing in lines and circling parking lots, and trying not to overspend.
Now imagine facing the stress of the holidays with a disability. An empty bank account. A mental illness.
As president and CEO of Lutheran Services in Iowa, one of the state’s largest human services providers, I’m reminded each day of my fellow Iowans who are struggling this time of year.
For Iowans with disabilities, confronting the bustle and crowds to shop for holiday groceries or gifts may be challenging, and large family gatherings overwhelming.
Former refugees new to our state might struggle as they adjust to a new language and climate.
Iowans facing financial hardship may find it difficult to afford gifts.
Children in foster care or residential treatment may wake up on Christmas morning away from home. Others might spend the day in shelters, waiting for a foster home to become available.
Mental illness can make many of us feel anxious, depressed, or inadequate as we juggle the expectations of the holiday season.
Volunteer at a local church or community center and serve a free holiday meal. Make a financial donation to your favorite local organization. Reach out to a loved one and ask what you can do to make their day a little better.
Let’s join together this holiday season.
John Twardos, Des Moines
Letter: We need more nurses like this
I work at a local hospital and last year I was admitted to my work place as an inpatient. I know quite a few people and have coworkers. I needed to go to Nuclear Medicine for a test. I was in my hospital gown and wheeled to Nuclear Medicine. There was a nurse who just seemed to know I was in distress although I didn't say anything. My biggest fear was my gown would pop open and I would give someone I probably knew "the full moon." The nurse instantly must have known. She said to me, "We are going to give you pants to match your gown."
Today, I saw her again, and her name is Amy Erin. I hope I'm getting that right.
She is intuitive, caring, and must be able to read minds as she certainly knew what I was thinking. The world would be a better if we had more like her. She took an awkward situation and made me laugh, and we all know "laughter is the best medicine."
Sue Stallwood, Mason City
Letter: Exciting, challenging time for mall
John Skipper: I appreciate your piece on Dec. 2 ("Can city gain public support for latest hotel proposal?"). Great journalism. I find our situation both exciting and promising. Doing nothing was certainly not the solution to Mason City's challenges.
You, as a seasoned journalist, and I know the the civic process can be like making sausage. Grinding slowly at times. Not pretty but producing an appealing, sometimes exceptional, product.
Thanks for staying in the game.
Mark Lemon, Mason City
I have always had the tendency of giving people the benefit of the doubt. My wife used to say it was one of my greatest strengths – and one my…
Letter: World class starts with a library
After reading the article in the Globe regarding the value of "teacher-librarians" and the quality of education in our schools ("Iowa sees drop in teacher-librarians," Dec. 4), I feel I must explain my job to the public. As a certified elementary media specialist (now retired) my program included:
1. Ordering and teaching literature that was both good and would appeal to my student population.
2. Providing specific literature that coordinated with class curricula.
3. Providing the resources and designing or assisting in class research projects.
4. Teaching students how to use indexes to find information quickly.
5. Promoting reading contests and other incentivized reading activities.
I had our art and physical education teachers using library books in their curricula. Many media specialists are called upon to assist in solving teachers' tech problems as well.
One well known elementary science book author said the quickest way to judge the overall quality of education in a school is to examine the catalog and condition of that school library. I agree.
We will not have “world class” education in Iowa (supported by helpful budgets) without good school library media programs.
Johanna Anderson, Osage
Letter: Immigration problems aren't new to us
I have no opinion regarding such craziness going on in Tijuana, so for now I'll just call it the Tijuana tango. I do think while all eyes are on the border, we should look around right here in North Iowa.
For years, illegals were smuggled through Tijuana, however they were not all Hispanic, but from the Czech Republic, Russia and Asia. They're working on pig and chicken farms, in restaurants, as cleaning crews for major retailers and cheap skilled labor. Well-knowns are profiting as are their captains, through fraud, dealing in human trafficking, drugs and scamming the elderly.
"I have no idea what this world is coming to," my mother would say while reading the news. God bless her departed soul. She'd be rolling over in her grave!
Jo Parker, Mason City
Letter: Remain active to clean Iowa's water
When it comes to Iowa's water quality problems, the elephant in the room is the multinational pork industry. Iowa's roughly 24 million hogs produce 260 million gallons of feces and urine every day. Is it any wonder that most of our water is polluted with animal waste?
By not holding the pork industry accountable, the Republican leadership in Iowa has passed the cost of cleaning up our water onto taxpayers.
Exit polls from the November election are telling, and the Iowa GOP needs to be listening:
• Iowans believe in being part of their community (i.e. local control).
• A whopping 73 percent of Iowans want the governor and Legislature to act on reducing farm pollution runoff.
• Sixty-six percent of voters indicated they would prefer funding education, infrastructure and clean water rather than getting a decrease in their taxes.
It's clear that Iowans want clean water, but the polluters should pay to clean it up.
Now that you've all voted, it is not the time to six back and relax. Now is the time to contact your elected officials tel tell them to act on cleaning up our state. There is no down time in democracy.
Pat Bowen, Iowa City
Letter: Pray to trim list of bad things
Fellow Americans: Ask yourself, what am I doing to make this a much better world? The answer is probably nothing.
I'm afraid we have many bad things going on, such as jobless; homeless; abortion; two unmarried adult people living together and messing around; stealing for any reason; war that lets the government decide to kill millions of innocent people; drug addiction; alcoholism; and persecution of Christians or Jesus' followers whom we must pray to protect.
There might be worse things, but I don't know what they are.
Now please remember, God is your real friend who cares about anything anytime. Jesus listens when you pray to him.
Mary Hoffman, Rockwell
Letter: Only invasion is shaded in blue
The "blue wave" from election day keeps getting bigger and bluer. Thirty-six House seats flipped now, and Orange County, California flipped totally blue for the first time in 70-plus years.
What happened to that "invasion" of the murderous caravan from Central America that Trump hyped out on 45 times the three weeks before election day but not one time since?
What happened to the "10 percent additional middle class tax cut" Trump promised before the election and hasn't mentioned since?
Trump has chosen arms deal money over justice in believing the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia over our own CIA on the slaughter and dismemberment of an American journalist and resident.
He has been played a fool by Kim Jung Un on nuclear disarmament, as we have discovered 16 secret silos we didn't know he had and there is no deal in writing.
Putin's election interference has been proven and agreed on by our 17 intelligence agencies, and the U.S. president does not take it seriously.
Now, we find daughter Ivanka, senior adviser to Trump, has breached security in the use of her personal email for government business just like what Hillary was accused of. This was Trump's main campaign theme against Hillary for the 2016 election.
The turbulence and drop in the stock market shows indices have lost all those big gains for the year. The 18-month investigation and evidence by the Washington Post that Trump's father was very rich, and by tax cheating schemes, siphoned $800 million to son Donald who said daddy gave him $1 million at age 30 and he paid it back with interest.
The Mueller Russia investigation will wrap up, and I'm not sure they even need Trump's testimony. If he is innocent, he should be demanding to testify.
He doesn't pass that test!
Steve Epperly, Mason City