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Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

July 9, 2018

Sioux City Journal. July 3, 2018

Keep up the farm-state pressure on Trump about trade.

At the Iowa Republican Party state convention in Des Moines last month, U.S. Rep. Steve King urged convention goers to be patient with President Trump on trade, according to a June 23 Opinion column from The Journal’s Des Moines bureau.

“Let’s give (President Trump) room to operate with his strategy, this multidimensional negotiation. Give him time. Give him room,” King said.

We ask: How much “time”? How much “room”? Because the trade war Trump started with China is bad and only will get worse for farm states like this one.

In an April editorial, we praised King for criticisms of Trump related to trade. We believe as representative for Iowa’s largely rural 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House, King should be a leader in pressuring the administration of President Trump for stronger support of agriculture. In our view, this isn’t the time for King or Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst or Gov. Kim Reynolds, all Iowa Republicans, or for Republican members of Congress and GOP governors in our neighboring states of Nebraska and South Dakota to ratchet back criticisms of Trump on trade.

If anything, they should be doubling down on those criticisms because tariffs on Chinese goods aren’t just a possibility any more, they’re reality. Trump approved tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports last month. In response, the Chinese promised retaliation against American goods, including soybeans (China was the biggest buyer of U.S. soybeans in 2017). In response, President Trump threatened tariffs on another $200 billion of goods from China.

To their credit, the entire Iowa congressional delegation, including King, reminded President Trump in a letter last week of the repercussions retaliatory tariffs will produce for this state.

“Mr. President, these tariffs have real consequences on states like Iowa,” the six-member delegation wrote. “We encourage you to act expeditiously to save our rural economies.”

We want to read about more talk like that. Leaders of agriculture states should be in the ear of President Trump and members of his administration on this issue every day.

“Time” and “room”? We’re not sure our state can afford them.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. July, 6, 2018

Dubuque police get credit for shots-fired decrease.

No doubt the front page story in Sunday’s TH about the number of shots fired incidents had the entire Dubuque Police Department knocking on wood.

When the number of gunfire calls goes from something that happened dozens of times in a year to just two, well, as much as they would like to credit great police work, law enforcement officials know there is an element of luck involved. Whatever the reason, they don’t want to jinx it.

While that number could certainly increase significantly in the coming days and weeks, having just two instances six months into 2018 is a milestone worth noting. Clearly, Dubuque officials have figured out some things that are working.

In 2015, Dubuque hit a high-water mark in the number of shots fired investigations with 33, including six injuries and three homicides.

That raised serious concerns among citizens in Dubuque, particularly in the downtown area. Police stepped up enforcement in the Washington Neighborhood area. They began to lobby the city for more security cameras and lighting in key areas. Police called for vigilance and tips from law-abiding residents.

Meanwhile, Dubuque police began working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s office. Prosecuting cases at the federal level — such as unlawful possession of a firearm, either by a person who is an illegal drug user or who is barred by federal law from having a gun — results in significantly more prison time. That means getting more guns and gun offenders off the streets.

That’s not the only thing having an impact. Dubuque has invested in its security. The city now has more than 1,000 traffic and security cameras in its network, an investment of more than $700,000 in fiscal years 2015-2018. Another $515,000 has been recommended to add more cameras in fiscal years 2019 through 2023.

A substantial number of the city’s shots-fired cases in recent years have occurred in areas covered by those cameras. On the camera footage, law enforcement officials are able to see faces, clothing, license plates — even people inside of vehicles. That also helps combat another challenge with crimes like this: A lack of witnesses. The more video footage officers have, the more they can nail down who was involved or present at the scene of a crime.

As Sunday’s story by Alicia Yager laid out, other communities like Cedar Rapids and Davenport would love to have the camera network Dubuque has in place.

We’ll knock on wood and cross our fingers and say some prayers that the trend continues. But we’ll also give credit where it is due: Dubuque Police, under the leadership of Chief Mark Dalsing and with the support of City of Dubuque and elected officials, have made an impact on gun violence in Dubuque. We know it’s not the end of the story, but it’s certainly a great beginning.


Fort Dodge Messenger. July 6, 2018

Let’s keep our farms safe for kids

Here are some tips to help avoid tragedies this summer.

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, agriculture is the second most dangerous occupation in the nation with a death rate at 22.7 per 100,000 workers. Given agriculture’s central role in Iowa’s economy, an emphasis on farm safety is of crucial concern in the Hawkeye State. Additionally, there are many young people who work in agriculture or who live on the nation’s farms and ranches. The risks they face are of particular concern.

Anyone who grew up on a farm will tell you that the rural life can have pleasures aplenty. The wonders of nature are close at hand. The clean air and exhausting but exhilarating work in the great outdoors become treasured memories as farm kids grow older - especially so, perhaps, when they depart rural life for a more urban setting.

Farms can also be dangerous places for young folks if safety isn’t given a high priority.

Sadly, each year thousands of young folks are injured and too many die as a result of dangers present in their idyllic but risky surroundings.

Keeping the young ones safe should be a top concern for farm families.

Several years ago, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued what it characterized as the “Top 10 Farm Safety Tips for Kids.” Most of them are common sense and remain relevant today. Since the growing season is at its height in midsummer, this is a good time to pay special heed these important safety admonitions:

. No seat, no rider. Do not allow children to be extra riders on farm equipment, even if they are helping with chores.

. Keep small children from playing on, in or under machinery or equipment. Provide an alternate safe-play area.

. Know where children are before starting machinery and farm vehicles.

. Train and closely supervise youths who will be operating farm machinery and equipment.

. Keep ladders out of reach.

. Keep small children away from large animals, particularly animals that have recently given birth.

. Do not let children under age 12 operate an all-terrain vehicle.

. Keep children from playing on, or in, silos and grain bins or wagons.

. Do not leave children unsupervised around farm ponds or manure pits.

. Hold monthly farm safety review sessions.

The summer can be a wonderful time for forging lasting childhood memories in rural America. The vast majority of tragedies that befall young people on farms can be avoided with a little caution and care.

Many of these recommendations are also the key to keeping adults who work in agriculture free from injury.


Des Moines Register. July 3, 2018

Rise up! Inspiration for July 4 from ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’

Rise up, Iowa!

The runaway hit “Hamilton: An American Musical” continues its star-spangled run in Des Moines, and if you’re humming along to its Schoolhouse Rap version of American history, you’re not alone.

But even if you haven’t seen the show (and some of us on the Editorial Board haven’t), you can find some patriotic inspiration for Independence Day in some of the lyrics:

“America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me; you let me make a difference. A place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up.” — “The World Was Wide Enough”

The Broadway show tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury secretary and influential interpreter and promoter of the new Constitution. Born on the island of Nevis and raised in part on St. Croix, young Hamilton embodied the immigrant spirit that still characterizes our country today.

On opening night in Des Moines, as has become a tradition elsewhere, some in the audience cheered the line, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”

Here are some other cheer-worthy lyrics, culled from various Internet compilations that we’ll list at the end.

“You want a revolution? I want a revelation. So listen to my declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m ’a compel him to include women in the sequel!” — “The Schuyler Sisters”

“I’m just like my country — I’m young, scrappy, and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot.” — “My Shot”

One of the reasons this story resonates today is that it reminds us that our country’s destiny and democracy are in our hands, and it’s up to us to protect it.

″‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less;

These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em; Don’t act surprised, you guys, cuz I wrote ’em. — “Cabinet Battle #1”

“I may not live to see our glory, but I will gladly join the fight. And when our children tell our story, they’ll tell the story of tonight.” — “The Story of Tonight”

“I know that we can win, I know that greatness lies in you. But remember from here on in, history has its eyes on you.” — “History Has Its Eyes on You”

We’re not King George’s “sweet, submissive subject(s).” We can stand up for civil rights, equal opportunity, government by and for the people and freedom of speech and the press. We can stand up for the environment, affordable health care and education for everyone, fair treatment of immigrants, principled relations with other countries and ethical and open government.

We can start by examining the records of our elected officials and vetting candidates for office and supporting the right ones with our donations, our volunteer hours and our votes.

America is a “great, unfinished symphony,” and we are now the composers. Rise up, Iowa!

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