Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers
Sioux City Journal. June 16, 2019
When will immigration reform get the attention it needs?
That imposition of tariffs on Mexico was averted is, as we said in our June 9 editorial, good news, for a variety of reasons — largely economic. A U.S.-Mexico agreement, announced by President Trump on June 7, to prevent the tariffs under which Mexico promised to get tougher on illegal immigration from its side of the border (under the deal, for example, Mexico will deploy thousands of troops along its border with Guatemala) is positive news, as well.
On the U.S. side of the border, however, much work remains.
Members of our editorial board have used this space on many occasions over many years to advocate for substantive action on illegal immigration. The myriad challenges — legal, social, economic and security — related to illegal immigration America faces today result from an inability of our nation’s leaders to reach a comprehensive agreement on immigration reform. As a result, we apply Band-Aids as we lurch from one crisis to another and ignore the need for broader, deeper solutions for the long term.
What this complex issue cries out for is bipartisan communication in Washington, D.C. Extremists on both the left and right who insist on everything will produce nothing. To bring order to the chaos, decision-makers must start talking to one another about the issue in productive fashion. A simplistic view? We don’t believe it should be, and we believe the lack of a will to work together on this and other problems is a big reason why 75 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.
With President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., trading insults about one another’s mental stability, with impeachment talk looming and with 2020 election campaigns picking up speed, it’s unlikely anything meaningful will happen on immigration during this Congress, and that’s unfortunate.
We don’t know how or when, or if, comprehensive immigration reform will get the traction in our nation’s capital it needs, but this much seems clear to us: The status quo isn’t acceptable.
America should demand as much of itself on this issue as it demands of Mexico.
Fort Dodge Messenger. June 16, 2019
It’s time to honor our fathers
They play a vital mentoring role and do so much more
Father’s Day is upon us once again. That’s good news for the greeting card vendors. In recent years, they have sold upwards of 100 million cards to Americans intent on paying tribute to good old dad. About half of those cards are purchased by dutiful sons and daughters. Wives honoring a man they love account for most of the rest.
Other merchants also rejoice in the arrival of Father’s Day each June because gift purchases keep cash registers humming.
The commercial side of Father’s Day, while good for the economy, is not all that important.
What really matters is taking the time today to remember how immensely important fathers can be in our lives, and finding personal ways to show dads just how special we know them to be.
Fathers give their children many things. The lessons they teach through example may well be the most critical gifts.
The vital mentoring role fathers fulfill was on the late former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s mind when he reflected on the crucial influence of his own father.
“I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week,” he said.
The point Cuomo was making has been understood by great thinkers for as far back as human records exist. Some 25 centuries ago in ancient China, a great philosopher had a similar message
“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them,” Confucius told his students.
In 21st-century America, too many parents are absent from the lives of the children they brought into the world. Others do not teach by example the lessons children want and need.
If your father is, or was, a wise and loving guide, honor him today.
If you are the father or grandfather of young children, resolve to teach them the lessons of character that will serve them well for a lifetime.
Dubuque Telegraph Herald. June 16, 2019
With access, officer cameras benefit all
It’s positive that the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department is planning to purchase body-worn cameras for use by deputies and other personnel. Vendors’ bids are due this week.
As it relates to citizen interactions and investigations, body-worn video cameras are a valuable complement to the dashboard cameras that have become common in patrol cars.
Further, if video is made accessible to citizens, cameras can go a long way toward public accountability and confidence.
Based on Sheriff Joe Kennedy’s comments to the TH the other day, the proposed cost of his department’s 100 body-worn cameras will be about $114,500, about half of which would come from a federal grant. Kennedy also said that Mobile-Vision, camera supplier to the Dubuque Police Department, has the inside track on the sale. That might cause consternation among other bidders — if they bother to bid at all — but the sheriff noted the strong preference to use Mobile-Vision because of existing shared technology between the city and county agencies.
Similarly, Dubuque County’s two largest law enforcement agencies are, by and large, going to use body-worn cameras together under virtually the same policy, the one the city enacted when it began using cameras a couple of years ago.
These policies spell out that the overarching purpose of body-worn cameras is for collection of evidence, internal training, protection of citizens against improper officer (or deputy) conduct and, just as importantly, protection of officers against “unwarranted” citizen complaints.
The policies also state that departments will comply with state law and court rulings regarding public access to the videos. However, that is where things are murky. Iowa citizens and media outlets contend that it is far easier to see video of an officer clearly in the right or doing a good deed than it is when an officer’s actions are the subject of questions or complaints.
Some of that apparent inconsistency may or may not fall within the legal bounds of local discretion, but it does not engender citizen confidence in law enforcement. Iowa law should be clearer on what video is or is not public record. And, making rulings based on current law, the courts have delivered mixed verdicts.
In a Cedar Rapids case, for example, the state Supreme Court this spring unanimously ruled that the Cedar Rapids Police Department must release some records to attorneys for Jerime Mitchell, who was paralyzed after being shot by an officer during a traffic stop. The city had argued that its release of the records must come with the stipulation that Mitchell’s lawyers may not share those records with the public. The justices said no.
While that was some victory for advocates of transparency, such was not the case with another section of the same decision, which stated that police records that are legally confidential during an investigation remain confidential even after the investigation ends and the case is closed. Forever.
The Legislature for years has been a spectator through all this, and has been reticent about updating or clarifying 20th-century law to reflect 21st-century law enforcement technology. Lawmakers need to step up.
Meanwhile, as a future editorial will address, and as a situation in Jackson County is demonstrating, whatever current policies and laws state, they must be followed.