Use safety when encountering Iowa back roads
Thanks to Kim Norvell for the story about the Nova Scotia woman stranded in a car for 3 days. [Canadian woman stranded on Iowa mud road for 3 days survived on kombucha and marzipan cake]. I’m glad that she survived, and this may be a good lesson for all of us.
As a 69-year-old guy who grew up on rural roads around Waterloo, I may have seen an few more “B Roads” than some readers. These are roads where the state no longer (or never) put crushed rock on them. So the surface is soil, usually clay-like.
They are passable about 80 percent of the time. But when it gets wet, it is like grease. This happens especially during spring and fall.
There are always signs: a yellow diamond-shaped sign that says “maintenance ends” or something like that. If you feel like you are driving down such a road, I’d recommend walking down it a few hundred feet first. And even then, be wary if it starts to get slick.
The old-time fix used to be that a nearby farmer would get a tractor and a chain, and they would pull you to firm ground. There are not four farms every mile like there were 100 years ago, so be prepared to walk, and don’t count on cell phones working in every remote place in Iowa.
If you find a person with a tractor to tow you, offer them some money. A tow truck might cost $100 or more. Three days of waiting in a cold car is not a great plan, and it might be deadly.
Don’t be afraid to see Iowa off the beaten path, just beware of the road conditions.
— Alan Brase, Cedar Falls
Zahn needs to leave women’s rights to women
I always know when I see Drew Zahn as a guest columnist that it’s going to upset me, and his latest column was no exception [The science is conclusive: That fetus is a baby].
I don’t know what it’s going to take to get these people out of women’s lives.
He cannot get it through his head that the issue of pregnancy is about a woman and her body. Hers, not his, nor anyone else. Only she has power over her own body.
He can believe what he wants; whether it’s religion, myths, science or whatever, but he’ll never have the power to force any woman to do as he wishes when it comes to owning her own body. That’s just a fact.
— Donna Fleming, Des Moines
Iowa farmers should consider hemp plants
With the clouds of climate change and trade wars a constant rumble overhead, a farmer would be wise to consider crops that are a little less dependent on “the way things have always been.” With cultivation of hemp soon to be federally legal, thanks to the upcoming passage of this year’s Farm Bill, why not consider hemp?
Hemp (the non-psychoactive cousin of the marijuana plant) is relatively easy to grow, and in Iowa, varieties of the plant grow as weeds.
I can’t think of a better way to make money from a field than to take a weed and sell it to people who are willing to pay top dollar. Yes, the details are more intricate than all that, but in general it’s a sturdier, more resilient crop than corn that offers more salable material per pound of plant. To top it off, hemp can be used for everything from shirts to medicines.
With national legalization, crop insurance is possible. So is interstate transit, financing and selling. And perhaps most important, there’s a domestic market for it. A farmer could have their choice of to whom to sell it to — local artists, fiber manufacturers, even big pharmaceutical companies — and they may never have to worry about tariffs again.
— Thalia Sutton, Des Moines
Trump was rude during Pelosi/Schumer meeting
Trump’s boorishness was again on display in his meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. He has learned that if he talks loud and interrupts often, many will ignore the facts and accept his prevarications as truth.
What he lacks in good manners (he seems especially fond of talking over women), he makes up for in dishonesty and distortions. Not letting others get a truthful word in edgewise is a useful for demagogues.
— James Obertino, Fairfield
The U.S. needs to sanction Saudi government
I just read the transcript on CNN.com of the recording made while Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by hit men operating, as our CIA has determined, under direct orders from, or with full knowledge by, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The transcript reports that saws can be heard in the recording as the hit men dismember Khashoggi’s body. It is appalling to read that the Saudi government would stoop to such depravity to eliminate an internationally prominent reporter, who was also a legal resident of the U.S., because of his persistent criticism of the authoritarian tactics of political oppression in Saudi Arabia.
It is doubly deplorable that Jared Kushner would attempt to smooth over such a revolting act that is utterly contrary to the democratic and moral values of America.
I urge our two senators and their colleagues to impose the strictest sanctions on a government that does not deserve the respect and the favors of which it has been the recipient of from the U.S. in the past.
A message of “no tolerance” must be loudly made.
— Steven Pokorny, Urbandale
Citizens should not stay idle about voting rights
There is increasing evidence that democracy as a form of government is less attractive, and even feared, by many of our citizens. One political party particularly seems much more comfortable with suppressing votes than with encouraging participation.
Too often, party officials rigorously strive to limit the influence of opposition votes by imposing extreme gerrymandering and by advocating rigid, biased voter identification and registration rules.
The recent behavior of the GOP in Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina clearly shows that real democratic voting is not very appealing to the politically powerful.
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens seem willing to tolerate this distorted process and free and fair elections are becoming a distant memory. State legislatures even move, during lame-duck sessions, to legislatively restrict executive functions when opposition candidates win the governor’s office.
Why are so many of our citizens reluctant to live up to the basic tenets and ideals for which this country has been known? Does autocratic rule really seem easier and more comfortable than the hard work of democracy?
This country must decide what direction it wants to go before it is too late; right now we are clearly heading in the wrong direction.
— Dean R. Prestemon, Ames
Republicans must earn good SEO results
During a congressional hearing with the CEO of Google, Rep. Steve King complained about bias in the search engines [Rep. Steve King makes Apple iPhone complaint to Google CEO, demands list of employees]. Media and internet bias is a constant complaint of the president, conservatives, and Republicans in general. Ted Lieu of California answered King with “if you want positive search results, do positive things.”
If you want to look good, do good.
— Frank McCammond, Redfield
Electric vehicle owners and farmers must work together
Some years ago, I purchased an electric car out of concern for the environment.
I suspect some farmers are producing biofuels with the same concern. After all, farmers are the ones suffering first-hand the negative effects of extreme heat and rain events caused by global warming.
I would like to think that electric car owners and concerned farmers are working together to preserve our natural environment. But along comes a former representative of the Farm Bureau, attempting to pit the two groups against each other [Tax credits for electric vehicles are a threat to Iowa farmers]. At first glance, it is strange for the Farm Bureau to decry modest tax incentives for electric cars in light of the huge amounts of federal monies flowing to American agriculture.
However, the most troublesome aspect of the column is a total disregard for the way we all have to work together — farmers and owners of electric vehicles — to address the globally destructive effects of carbon emissions.
I hope that members of the Farm Bureau will contact their leaders and urge them to join in the movement to save the natural world on which we all rely.
— Bob Ward, Urbandale
Can we pinpoint the moment that abortion becomes inhumane?
After reading Rehka Basu’s opinion piece concerning Iowa’s abortion laws [Basu: Rhetoric isn’t fact and a fetus isn’t a ‘person’ just because state’s lawyer says so], I have only one question to ask anyone who is in favor of allowing abortions.
My question is, when was that magic moment when each of us went from being just a fetus to becoming a human being with all the rights of all human beings?
I would think that everyone who is reading this letter came into the world in the way nature designed. All of us started as a fertilized egg in our mother’s womb and grew from there.
If that magic moment occurs sometime after conception, consider the ramifications if you miss it by even a small amount of time.
— Mel Frueh, Des Moines
Reynolds’ change in judge nomination process would cause uproar
Gov. Kim Reynolds says she is “open” to changing the way Iowa appoints judges to the bench [Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says she’s open to changing nonpartisan commission that helps fill Supreme Court].
Despite the current system of judicial appointments being recognized as one of the best in the nation for limiting the influence of politics in the appointment process, Republicans are hell-bent on getting rid of the influence that opposing lawyers exert over the selection process.
If Republican lawmakers think they are going to repeat the last session’s garbage of over-the-top laws by changing the judicial nomination process in the coming session, they better get ready for a very loud, very angry and very boisterous group of protesters in the capitol rotunda.
— Eric Stimson, Des Moines
Elder abuse prevention seems to be at a standstill
Your recent editorial on elder abuse repeats some of the facts that you have written about for several years. It is one thing to identify the problems, but it is another to fix them [Editorial: Protecting seniors requires funding from the Iowa Legislature].
In a state that turns its head away from abuses to dogs and horses and infants and teenagers, it is much easier to ignore the needs of the elderly. I always thought that Iowans would show more concern and compassion for those in need. It is only a few steps down the slippery slope to condoning elder abuse.
It looks like we will not get much help from state or federal agencies. So the best hope you have when you grow old is to have a caring family or church to take care of you.
— Robert Hedges, Ames
Teachers should be paid like coaches, by productivity rates
I want to address the accidental juxtaposition of two articles in the Register on Dec. 10. Specifically, at the very top of the front page above the masthead said, [Campbell inks contract extension with Iowa State], and immediately below it, [Des Moines teachers brace for cuts].
I’m a self-styled fair-weather fan of Iowa collegiate sports, if they win. ISU, UNI, Drake, Grand View; anybody that wins, I believe that they’re entitled to the fame and glory.
I know how the money game works and big salaries for coaches fit into the same category as big paydays for musicians, actors, authors, TV celebrities and the occasional Nobel Prize laureate.
I haven’t the slightest problem with a successful football coach earning millions. But then I read that article concerning teachers and the question I can’t quite figure out is — if coaches are paid on the basis of their team’s productivity (i.e., wins), why aren’t teachers paid on the basis of their students’ productivity (successful careers, taxes paid, babies raised, etc.)?
Maybe that juxtaposition wasn’t so accidental.
— Ed Ramsell, Des Moines
Mental health screenings create hurdles for kids
Iowa lawmakers are considering making every child participate in a mental health screening [Iowa children would be routinely screened for mental illness under new state plan].
Once a child is labeled mentally ill, their lives are trashed. Parents should be irate about this attack on their innocent childrens’ freedom.
We should not create hurdles in children’s lives.
— Mike Maschmann, What Cheer
Will Boulton case change ethics practices?
Being an inquisitive and thoughtful person, I continue to consider the Senate Ethics Committee and how they will handle Sen. Nate Boulton’s situation [Lawmakers plan to meet this month to discuss misconduct complaint against Boulton]. This is a situation where the behavior in question occurred before the individual was in his public role.
If the committee pursues this case, will they be pursuing violations of all state representatives who have behaved unethically/illegally prior to their professional career?
Will that include all those who have drunk driving charges, or those who have made public statements about carrying firearms in public places when that was illegal?
I am confident that there are many elected officials who have engaged in less-than-ethical past behavior, but where will the committee draw the line in future cases? What criteria will be used for unethical behavior?
I do not condone any of the behaviors that I list above. However, I do believe that if this first stone is cast, it will have far-reaching consequences for all of those who represent us and who consider representing us.
— Cyndy Erickson, Des Moines
Time’s person of the year was well-deserved
Congratulations to Time magazine for honoring journalists as their Person of the Year, and highlighting the increasingly difficult and dangerous positions they face [Jamal Khashoggi, journalists named TIME’s 2018 Person of the Year].
In many countries, a report critical of government can lead to harassment, arrest or even death.
Even in the U.S., attacks against journalists have increased in frequency and intensity; fanned by extreme and irresponsible charges by government officials.
It’s sad to see us start to follow countries like the Philippines, Venezuela and Myanmar in press suppression. We’re not as far down the road as they are, but we’re on the same street.
— Jerry Parks, Burlington
Every Iowan’s vote should be counted
Secretary of State Paul Pate has told 29 voters in Winneshiek County that their votes don’t count, despite having cast them legally and in a timely manner [Judge orders election official to collect ballot data in Iowa House race separated by 9 votes].
— Eric Stimson, Des Moines
Our children and our education deserve investments
Gov. Kim Reynolds claimed over and over again during her re-election campaign that her administration had made “historic investments in education.” This flew in the face of cuts to our three state universities, and they were told by the state Board of Regents that they would each have millions less in their budgets for 2017.
Will we learn our lesson now, when we’ve just been told by the Des Moines school district that they are anticipating budget cuts for the second straight year? The capital city of our great state, where our governor spins her tales, is trying to educate our state’s future leaders, without these fabled “investments.”
Sit and be proud of your vote, Iowans, and if you find that difficult, I would like to welcome you to reality and ask that you think harder before you make your choices next time.
Our teachers and our children deserve better.
— Nate Whitney, Grimes
School schedule changes shouldn’t eliminate teachers
As a former teacher in Des Moines, I have read the news about the district once again changing the high school schedule [Des Moines schools might change high school schedules. Here’s what you need to know.]. The Register article stated it would allow more staff to be cut. That’s not the “best practice” that will ensure that students are learning effectively.
The block schedule was tested first at my school. Since many students work, the block schedule makes it easier for them to complete both their jobs and their schoolwork. It is a more relaxed learning environment and it allows teachers to address individual learning styles by including several delivery modes within the block.
If the district wants to increase student/teacher contact time, they could consider eliminating all the Wednesday early-outs. Those half-days eliminate countless minutes which could be better spent on teaching and learning.
Changing school scheduling to eliminate teachers is not the answer.
— Susan Pundzak, Des Moines
Porn ban should be lifted for prisoners
Rekha Basu supports a ban on pornography in prisons [Do prison inmates have a right to porn?] As an alternative to porn, she recommends “meditation and other calming activities.” Needlepoint, anyone?
Prisoners have limited options for satisfying their sexual needs. As long as the porn portrays only consenting adults, why should prisoners be denied access? Porn might make the prison environment less tense.
In banning porn, Republican legislators went way out of their way to inject themselves into the sex lives of prisoners. This gratuitous harassment of the downtrodden was just plain mean and I hope the courts strike down the ban.
— Timothy Olson, West Des Moines
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