Category Archives: Letters to the Editor
To the Editor,
Like most Iowans, I hate cronyism.
That’s why I was upset to find out that the state of Iowa has hired at least 990 employees since January 2007 without advertising their jobs. This happened under both Democratic and Republican Governors.
I’m not a fan of “friends hiring friends” for state jobs. That won’t get the best qualified candidates for government positions that involve millions of dollars and affect the basic rights of Iowans, our quality of life and our economic future.
For the last several months, I’ve investigated the hush money scandal and other problems with Iowa’s state government as a member of the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee.
In addition to cronyism in hiring, we also learned that some state contracts are being awarded on an essentially “no bid” basis. There is no doubt that this “no bid” approach resulted in some bad deals for Iowa taxpayers.
Last month, the Oversight Committee approved a series of reforms to address these issues. We recommended that the Iowa Legislature require all state agencies to conduct formal competitive bidding for construction projects above $100,000.
We also recommended a return to the policy of requiring transparent, knowledgeable and nonpartisan recommendations when it comes to major state construction projects. It was a mistake for Governor Branstad to eliminate this safeguard a few years ago.
When it comes to spending millions of state dollars, no Iowa Governor should be able to rig the system to reward their friends and political cronies.
Senator Brian Schoenjahn, Arlington, IA
Many people get an annual physical or check-up. l’d like to encourage another type of check-up – a Medicare Part D check-up. It’s easy to sign-up
for a drug plan and stay with it year after year. But the State of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) has found that doing an annual Part D check-up can save money.
Most people can change Part D plans once a year from October 15 through December 7. Last year SHIIP helped thousands of people compare plans during this time and found almost 80% saved money by changing plans for 2014. Part D plans can change premiums, co-payments and drugs covered each year. The plan that was best for you in 2014 may not be the best for 2015.
Now is the time for residents of Black Hawk County to do their Part D check-up. During the October 15-December 7 open enrollment period you can choose to change your Medicare drug coverage for 2015 or enroll in a plan if you missed earlier deadlines. We also know there are people who might be eligible to get help with their Medicare drug costs, but haven’t applied for that help with Social Security. If you’re on Medicare or know someone who is, share this important information with them.
The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) volunteers are available to help anyone on Medicare with questions about the drug benefit. They can also help compare the drug plans offered in Iowa, assist with enrollment in a plan if requested and help apply for assistance. To meet with a SHIIP counselor call 319-272-2250. SHIIP’s services are free, confidential and objective.
Start your check-up now. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a decision.
Roxine Hild, SHIIP Counselor
La Porte City
I am writing to voice my support for Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate. The Senate election has deteriorated into partisan attacks about veterans’ issues. Our support for veterans is not a Democrat or Republican issue, but a priority that should be above misleading attack ads aimed at scoring political points.
Bruce Braley has a strong record of standing up for Iowa’s veterans and fighting to ensure their service is honored. He has stood up to the President and the pentagon to get back-pay that was denied to Iowa National Guard members, and he worked across party lines to improve disability services for veterans. He passed tax cuts for small business to hire veterans when they returned home from service. I know that Bruce cares about Iowa’s veterans, and I know he will continue to do so in the U. S. Senate.
Joni Ernst’s Tea Party ideas are wrong for Iowa. She supports privatizing Social Security, which would put Iowans’ retirement hopes in the hands of Wall Street. She wants to eliminate the federal minimum wage, and supports transforming Medicare to a voucher system, which would undermine benefits for Iowa seniors.
All the latest attacks on Braley’s strong record on veterans’ issues show how far Republicans are willing to go just to distract Iowans from Ernst’s Tea Party ideology. Ernst’s entire campaign has focused on everything except her positions on the important issues that affect Iowans.
Bruce Braley is the better candidate for veterans and he’s the better candidate for Iowa.
Patricia Sass, Waterloo, Iowa
To the Editor:
The dollars farmers get from the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) transmission line won’t pencil out. The Rock Island Clean Line is a proposed 500-mile high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line used to transport electrical power from wind energy dense states in the midwest (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota) to the energy markets in the Chicago, Illinois, and cities further east.
Using Black Hawk County for example, the average land value per ISU 2013 is $11,239. This line cuts a quarter section in half. RICL will pay 90% of $11,239 or $10,115 per acre. If using a 200 feet wide by 2640 feet long easement that would equal 12.12 acres. RICL would be paying $122,595. Three poles on the property at $6,000 per pole would add an additional $18,000. The total would be $140,595. The land devaluation in this case, per Kurt C. Kielisch, appraiser from Oshkosh, Wis., would be 10-30%. Using 30% for cutting the farm in half would be $11,239 times 30% x 160 acres equals $539,472. Then subtracting the $122,595 easement payment would result in a loss of only $416,877. Don’t forget the ingress and egress clause on the entire 160 acres, the crop loss from construction compaction, the inability to aerial spray fungicide and insecticide, and the tax liability on monies received .
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance is working hard to stop RICL and protect the rights of landowners. The Alliance is against the use of eminent domain to take private property for economic gain. We encourage people not to sign RICL’s voluntary easements and to file a formal objection with the Iowa Utilities Board. For further information contact PRIA at www.iowastopricl.com or 712-262-5229.
To the Editor:
On August 20, 1964 in Washington, D.C., President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA). The EOA created a variety of programs, including Community Action Agencies, as part of his War on Poverty. Operation Threshold was one of those agencies established to address local poverty problems in rural, urban and suburban communities.
Operation Threshold got its start serving Black Hawk County in September, 1964, later adding Buchanan and Grundy counties to its service area. Since that time Operation Threshold has served tens of thousands of area families by providing crisis utility assistance, crisis housing assistance, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Weatherization program, foreclosure prevention counseling, family development and parent education programming, and, in Grundy County, a food pantry. In our last fiscal year we served 19,184 unduplicated individuals in 7,621 households.
“Operation Threshold’s track record highlights the positive impact we’ve had helping our neighbors through a variety of financial and personal challenges”, said Executive Director Barbara Grant.
“We help over 19,000 individuals each year change their lives with a variety of programming and our success, whether it’s helping youth obtain employment, making sure pregnant women and young children have nutritional food, helping families stay in their homes, or making homes more energy efficient, underscores our ability to achieve measurable results.”
In 2014, Community Action Agencies across the country are commemorating the 50th anniversary of Community Action. Nationally, the Community Action Partnership will honor the occasion during its 2014 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. Locally, Operation Threshold will hold an Open House on July 17th, from 2:30-4:30 PM, with a program at 3:30 PM to celebrate our 50th anniversary and our Nest and Parents As Teachers programs receiving their Iowa Family Support Credentialing Certificate.
For additional information concerning Operation Threshold or its programming, please contact Operation Threshold at (319) 291-2065.
Planning & Compliance Director