Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers - NEWS 95.7
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Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

Last Updated Oct 22, 2018 at 11:40 am AST

Des Moines Register. October 21, 2018

Register Editorial Board’s endorsement: Hubbell is the governor Iowa needs to move forward

This state needs a leader who understands the concept of public service and has a vision beyond cutting taxes and government

Fred Hubbell is not a politician. He has never held elective office. He has not built his gubernatorial campaign around attacking his opponent. He is somewhat awkward in debates.

Yet he is perhaps the most qualified person in decades to seek Iowa’s governorship.

The Des Moines Register unequivocally endorses Fred Hubbell as the best candidate to unite Iowans and move this state toward a more promising future.

The future he offers is very different from the one offered by his opponent, Gov. Kim Reynolds. Her vision seems to consist almost entirely of more tax cuts and smaller government.

Hubbell’s vision is about putting people first. He understands how the actions of elected officials directly affect the lives of Iowans. During a recent meeting with Register editors and writers, he talked at length about how the privatization of Medicaid has hurt patients, health providers and taxpayers.

“The per-member cost is going up three times the rate it was before privatization,” he said. The focus of the $5.6 billion government program should be on health outcomes of Iowans, “not on the profits of out-of-state companies . making their money by denying and reducing benefits to our patients and denying payments to our providers.”

If elected, he would immediately begin working toward returning the program to state control, which is exactly what needs to happen.

Hubbell also supports funding the conservation and recreation trust created by Iowa voters in 2010. The money generated from a small increase in sales tax would allow for a “huge investment in rural Iowa,” he said, improving water quality, preserving topsoil, building recreational trails and cleaning up parks.

He spoke out against the GOP-led destruction of Iowa’s collective bargaining law, which he said hurts public workers and has prompted teachers to pursue jobs in border states.

In an exchange with a Register staffer about abortion, he summed up his position with this statement: “A woman has a right to control her own body, just like men have a right to control their own bodies. We don’t have laws that tell men what they can and can’t do” when it comes to reproductive decisions.

Amen to that.

The Iowa native has had a successful career as a business executive and a lifetime of civic volunteerism and philanthropy, as befits a member of a family that has combined business and civic betterment in Iowa for five generations.

Yes, he is wealthy. The GOP, which usually celebrates prosperity, has sought to use Hubbell’s wealth against him by making him seem distanced from working Iowans.

Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s focused on raising family incomes, providing health care and ensuring state government works ethically and fiscally for residents, not special interests.

Reynolds frequently notes Iowa’s top scores on career and quality of life rankings. Indeed, by many measures, Iowa is a good place to live. Yet its future is jeopardized by a shortage of workers, presidential tariffs, eroding topsoil, dirty water, and politicians who refuse to adequately fund basic government services, including K-12 education and the state’s universities.

Reynolds has failed to address these challenges to Iowa’s economy and quality of life. No one would argue with the goals of the Future Ready Iowa program she has championed, an effort to help Iowans upgrade their job skills. But where is her vision for ensuring Iowa’s economy generates high-wage jobs and the state remains a place where families want to live, work and play?

She insists a recent budget surplus is evidence the state is doing well, yet does not mention the surplus will be needed to cover the increased costs of the Medicaid privatization program she embraces.

Reynolds was part of an administration that closed state mental health facilities and oversaw the loss of hundreds of human services workers. Iowans now wait weeks for autopsies of loved ones, and as few as five state troopers are on duty to patrol the entire state overnight.

During her time in the office she inherited, she has advocated for improved mental health services and rightly signed into law a reform bill that all lawmakers supported. Yet she wrongly signed an extremist bill demonizing immigrants (it cracks down on so-called sanctuary cities) and another essentially banning abortion. The latter was especially painful to watch, coming from Iowa’s first female governor.

Iowans deserve better. Hubbell understands the concept of public service. While he certainly does not need the job of Iowa governor, it is this state’s good fortune he wants it.

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Fort Dodge Messenger. October 21, 2018.

Keep good judges on the bench

Don’t fail to do your part in keeping Iowa’s courts first-rate

Iowa’s judiciary is recognized as among the best in the nation. In surveys conducted for the United States Chamber of Commerce, our state judiciary has consistently ranked among the top five state court systems in terms of impartiality and competence. This high standing is due to Iowa’s judicial merit selection and retention process that emphasizes professional qualifications instead of partisan politics and ideologies.”

Those are the words of former Chief Justice Louis A. Lavorato of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Since 1962, when Iowa voters approved a constitutional reform measure, the system for selecting judges in this state has been removed from politics. There is a carefully designed process for ensuring that judges are selected on basis of merit. For more than four decades, Iowans have benefited from a method of choosing judges that rigorously weighs the qualifications of those individuals who seek to serve on the bench. This system assesses the integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament, experience and service record of potential judges.

Once on the bench, there is a mechanism for assuring accountability.

Judges stand for what is called a retention election near the end of their terms in office. Voters can vote “yes” to keep the judge in place for another term or “no” to end that judge’s service. Given the highly professional selection process used in our state, it is rare that a “no” vote is justified.

There are many important decisions for voters to make next Tuesday. Don’t overlook your chance to help keep excellent judges on the bench.

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Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. October 21, 2018

Convention centre still needs update

Some hard feelings re-emerged recently when it was discovered Leslie Hospitality was no longer running the Ramada Hotel and Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center it was planning to buy and renovate.

Earlier this month, Leslie Hospitality president Edwin Leslie and hotel owner Luke Castrogiovanni both confirmed the hotel and city-owned convention centre are back under Castrogiovanni’s control.

“Things have not worked out as planned,” Castrogiovanni said. “He (Leslie) has left us a mess.”

Any chance LK Waterloo, of which Leslie Hospitality was a managing partner, will be able to follow through on a $20 million project seems doomed. The redevelopment agreement called for renovation of the downtown hotel and convention centre and was approved by the city in July 2017.

At the time it was big news — and good news — for the city. The deal garnered the No. 3 spot on The Courier’s top stories for 2017.

The sale was hailed by many as a way to help revitalize the downtown tourism hub. The deal called for the city to give Leslie Hospitality the convention centre and $1 million in return for the company completing

a $20 million overhaul of both the centre and the adjacent Ramada Hotel, which Leslie Hospitality was purchasing on its own.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber endorsed the deal, and in the words of former president Steve Dust, “this solution is the best we could have imagined.”

City Attorney Dave Zellhoefer and Mayor Quentin Hart both declined to comment last week after the revelation Leslie Hospitality is no longer running the facilities, noting the city had not received any documented confirmation of the business relationship between Castrogiovanni’s Watermark Hotel Equities and LK Waterloo.

“I don’t know the full details or parameters between Mr. Leslie and Watermark,” Hart stated. “I can tell you we’ve been getting considerable interest from folks that want to build a brand new hotel downtown near the convention centre.”

The approval process was contentious among City Council members. At the time, Councilmen Tom Lind, Steve Schmitt and Bruce Jacobs challenged Leslie’s credentials and ability to finance the project. Lind unsuccessfully pushed for a special counsel to revisit the agreement.

Lind called for the review, citing some red flags, including reports the developer was sued by a business partner on a hotel project in Omaha, Neb. The bad blood spilled over into municipal election campaigns. Leslie posted a Facebook advertisement just before the last election that endorsed incumbents Councilmen Pat Morrissey and Tom Powers, as well as Sharon Juon, who was running against Lind and who had been critical of Lind’s handling of the convention centre deal.

In hindsight, Lind’s request for a special counsel may have been the reasonable move.

Lind was defeated in his re-election bid.

“This is hardly surprising,” Lind told The Courier last week. “From the very beginning, every warning sign pointed to this outcome.

“Unfortunately, Mayor Hart was more interested in using my and others’ objections to the project for his own political gain rather than doing what was best for the city of Waterloo,” he added. “Well, he was successful. He got me off the City Council but at a huge cost to the citizens of Waterloo.”

There have already been a lot of “I told you so” comments around this latest development, and we expect there will be plenty more.

We weren’t immune to succumbing to the lure of a deal that promised to turn long-standing taxpayer subsidies for the convention centre into a new revenue stream, while remodeling and modernizing facilities that had fallen into disrepair.

In August 2017, we placed our support, via an editorial, behind the transaction, noting “this deal came too close to an unnecessary teetering point,” (because of the objections) and that “losing out on this opportunity would have been a major embarrassment.”

We’re not going to apologize for backing the city in taking a risk on this project. We see the importance of having a vibrant convention centre in our community. But some of the council members, city staff and supporters of the deal — including us — will have to eat some criticism for a while.

But then it’s time to move forward. We still want a convention centre the Cedar Valley can be proud of, while making economical sense. We hope to see everyone back to the drawing board and working together on this issue very soon.

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Dubuque Telegraph Herald. October 19, 2018

GOP farmers Hein, Tranel merit new terms

Though they live on opposite sides of the Mississippi, Lee Hein and Travis Tranel have much in common.

Both are farmers.

Both are Republicans.

Both have served in the lower chambers of their respective state legislatures since 2011, Hein in the Iowa House and Tranel in the Wisconsin Assembly.

And both today receive the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board’s endorsement for re-election.

Hein, representing District 96, is a veteran of public service. Before first winning election to the House in 2010, he served on the Monticello School Board for nine years, including five as president.

As a farmer, he is familiar with many of the issues that come before lawmakers; he lives several of them every day. They include agriculture policy — he chaired the House Ag Committee last session — budgets and taxes, environmental regulations and rural concerns.

As a father of adult children, reluctantly and through tragic circumstances, he came face-to-face with another major and controversial issue — abortion and Iowa’s stringent anti-abortion “heartbeat bill.”

While Hein holds to his belief that life begins at conception, he also believes that whether to bring a pregnancy to term — especially where the health of mother and child are factors — must be a personal, family decision and not one dictated by government.

After much soul-searching about the GOP-initiated heartbeat bill, particularly after a tragic situation confronting his own family, and anticipating backlash from pro-life constituents and fellow Republicans, Hein voted no. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his decision, all should appreciate it when an elected official, facing a gut-wrenching decision, demonstrates the courage of his convictions.

If voters return Hein to the House, as they should, his priorities will be repairing the privatized Medicaid system, sustaining rural ambulance services, and keeping the state budget in line. To that end, Hein, a no-nonsense but sensible lawmaker, describes an ideal legislative session as one in which officials “pass a responsible budget and go home.”

District 96 voters who take major exception to Hein’s support of the bill that stripped collective bargaining rights for public employees and the state’s defunding of Planned Parenthood have their candidate in Democrat Reenie Montgomery. Otherwise, they have a sure bet in Hein.

Montgomery is a former Monticello City Council member who has been a Manchester police dispatcher the past 11 years. She is a proud union member who, veering from the general direction of her party, believes in the preservation of gun owners’ rights. While she identifies the key problems facing Iowa, she tends to be tentative and vague regarding possible solutions.

Across the river, in Wisconsin Assembly District 49, citizens are represented well by Tranel, who, though just

33 years old, already has eight years of experience as a lawmaker.

His record of hard work and perseverance are

reflected on his dairy farm, around the district and in the Capitol. His depth of knowledge and perspective on major issues reflects his education — he’s

an economics and finance graduate of Loras College — and standing as a veteran lawmaker, where he most recently chaired the Assembly’s Tourism Committee.

Where Tranel and his Democratic opponent, small-business owner Mike Mooney, of Platteville, might disagree the most concerns the state’s $3 billion incentive package that will bring a huge Foxconn factory to eastern Wisconsin.

Mooney, who might be Tranel’s most formidable challenger yet, argues that the incentives were excessive and says “that money” should have been spread out to benefit the entire state.

Tranel notes that the incentives do not involve opening the state’s checkbook — there is not $3 billion in cash involved — as much as offering Foxconn results-based incentives. A multi-thousand-employee company would boost the overall state economy and could ripple positive impact as far away as households in the 49th District. However, if Foxconn doesn’t fulfil its contractual obligations, it won’t receive the incentives. The deal is structured in such a way that Foxconn is not a gamble, he said.

In our view, Mooney would serve well in the Assembly. Had this election been for an open seat, without a talented incumbent involved, we could support him for the office. However, in our view, Mooney needs a stronger case to replace Tranel.

Voters in their respective states and districts would do well to re-elect Rep. Lee Hein in Iowa House District 96 and Rep. Travis Tranel in Wisconsin Assembly District 49.

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