Activist state

Editorial Summary: Iowa | State News

Dubuque Telegraph Herald. November 16, 2022.

Editorial: Reynolds fails to capture millions of federal dollars to address key challenges

The same critical issues creating challenges in Dubuque and the tri-state area pose similar obstacles throughout the state of Iowa.

While a labor shortage may be the biggest problem facing the state, with ripple effects on communities large and small, the lack of affordable housing and child care options necessary children compound the problem.

Together, these three issues have created the perfect storm, adversely impacting businesses, institutions and families.

Dubuque leaders — city, county, economic development officials, chamber of commerce, elected officials — are all working together to try to find solutions that could pave the way for more affordable housing and child care for help meet the labor shortage.

This is how we must approach the issue: spare no effort, find opportunities and seek solutions.

Unfortunately, that’s not the mindset that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds brings to combat these challenges.

According to reports from the Des Moines Register, state leaders do not plan to distribute congressional money that the state has not yet spent on housing assistance or affordable housing, which means that 89 million dollars earmarked for Iowa will likely be returned to the US Treasury for use. in other states. The Iowa Finance Authority declined to say why the state refused to try to reallocate the money.

This comes at a time when Iowans are grappling with the high cost of fuel and food, high interest rates and housing costs, as well as a growing number of tenant evictions and an increase in the number of homeless people.

Of the state’s $149 million allocation, he used $59.6 million. If not collected by the state by December 31, the remaining $89 million will be clawed back by other states.

We don’t want to spend $89 million on rental assistance and affordable housing? We’re just letting other states take Iowa’s share?

Then came last week’s report from the Iowa Capital Dispatch that the governor deliberately withheld $30 million in federal aid specifically for child care. The funds required a 10% local match to withdraw the money, and Reynolds opted not to pursue the grant.

We couldn’t tap into the state’s $1.9 billion surplus for $3 million to capture $30 million in federal dollars? What does this mean?

Iowans just gave Reynolds four more years in the governor’s mansion, but residents should demand better of her. When federal funds are available to solve two — and ultimately three considering the impact of affordable housing and child care on the workforce — of the biggest problems facing the state, a real leader would work hard to make sure those dollars are well spent right here in Iowa.

To ignore the millions of dollars intended to address these issues in Iowa is a complete failure of governance.


Des Moines Register. November 20, 2022.

Editorial: Keeping people out of public gatherings should be the very last resort

Intimidation is never appropriate for our elected officials and they must exhaust all alternatives before resorting to exclusion.

Modern-day elected officials can find vulgar and threatening criticism of their jobs, if they choose, within moments of unlocking their phones.

Across the country, we have seen large crowds simmer with rage at public meetings, a rage that may or may not be based on an accurate understanding of what a council or executive is doing. It is therefore appropriate to grant a moment of pity and appreciation to the public servants who risk and suffer this kind of abuse.

None of this changes, however, that these same elected officials have a responsibility to uphold long-held open government conventions, as well as the principles mandated in the Constitution and in laws.

This brings us to a series of incidents in Iowa where leaders have sought to silence and exclude voters who publicly voiced their grievances.

They could be considered isolated cases. But the blunt answers are worth calling out, lest they give even a little credence to the misconception that it’s okay to ban people from seeing and talking to their reps.

In Newton last month, Noah Petersen was arrested after speaking at a town council meeting. The mayor told Petersen to leave after saying, “I think the two main fascists in this town, Mayor Michael Hansen and the chief of police, need to be removed from power. Petersen refused to leave and the police intervened.

This was actually the second time in October that Petersen had been charged with disorderly conduct at a council meeting; a similar episode had played out three weeks earlier. A law firm representing the city, defending the decisions to detain and prosecute Petersen for his “derogatory” remarks, issued a puzzling statement saying that “cities have the ability to implement and enforce rules regarding reasonable restrictions of time, place and manner in public meetings”. .”

It’s true. It has nothing to do with the restriction on derogatory language either.

A bench trial for the earlier charge is scheduled for December 15. As Petersen’s attorney, Gina Messamer, wrote, “It is well established that the ability to express one’s opinion on matters of public interest is one of the central protections provided by the First Amendment.”

The scary thing about every current example in Iowa is that it limits people’s ability to petition the government.

A more definite call to weigh more forceful responses comes when prolonged disturbances impair an organism’s ability to carry out its activities. At Des Moines City Council meetings last year, when activists objected to unchallenged approval of police department spending, police arrested them when they refused an instruction to stop speaking or leave. Even then, the mayor and council members could have done more to avoid confrontation: they could have noted the obvious public interest in being heard about police spending, but they did not.

Litigation continues in eastern Iowa after the Linn-Mar school district banned Amanda Pierce Snyder from attending board meetings for a year. She was kicked out of a meeting in August when officials said she disrupted proceedings by interrupting board discussion to question a proposed contract with a company that supports “social, emotional growth and behavioral.

The forced removal of constituents is quite questionable. A preventive ban on future public meetings? It looks more like revenge than an attempt to maintain order. Such a ban should not come into play without much, much greater provocation. Linn-Mar officials should have realized this. They only had to read the news about the Iowa State Patrol’s outrageous order telling racial justice activists to stay out of the Statehouse after a confrontation in 2020. A settlement removed the restrictions and forced the state to pay the activists $70,000.

To be fair, elected leaders are often right. Some advice reads a boilerplate request — not an order — that speakers avoid bashing individuals, then sit back and listen even if a visitor does just that. At a school board meeting in Ankeny last month, anti-mask activist Kimberly Reicks dressed in cross-dressing to try to make a point about an after-school performance. The school board members gave him the floor, and then they moved on.

This should be the default approach: let voters have their say, whether consistent or inconsistent, true or misleading, polite or biting.

It is absolutely true that speech can be harmful. The words themselves can be violent to oppressed communities. At the extremes, it’s a state where, at least twice in the past 40 years, angry men have opened fire in public workspaces, killing Mount Pleasant Mayor Edd King in 1986 and terrifying supervisors of Jackson County in 2014. Physical security is an unavoidable consideration. : Running for office shouldn’t mean risking your life.

The rest of us, the governed, can do our part by petitioning the government responsibly.

But the prospect of some members of the public breaking the rules cannot justify threatening to jail people for speaking out. Intimidation is never appropriate for our elected officials and they must exhaust all alternatives before resorting to exclusion.

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