Readers Respond

Monday, April 24, 2006

Letters to the Pilot

Loan sharks at work on SL poor

To the editor:

Through a local church I have been working with a young Sudanese woman who recently moved to Storm Lake from Minnesota. She was in need of some funds to pay for housing costs while she waited for employment. When I asked her about acquiring funds she stated that there was a man in a local apartment complex who would loan her some money. She said, "I can borrow $500 from him this week and pay it back in two months with an added $250 to borrow it." Then she went on to add, "Or I can borrow $100 right now and pay him back the $100 plus $25 more next week." The first loan has an annual rate of 300%, the second a 1300% annual rate! As I stood there in her meager living room I did a quick calculation and figured that these loans were SLIGHTLY more than my interest rate at the local bank, like 30 to 130 times more.

Later that week I placed a call to the local police station to see if we had any city, or state laws against such loan sharking. The police officer was not aware of any such laws. He said he would investigate it further and contacted the local District Attorney's office, to which he received a similar reply - there were no such laws.

This session of the Iowa legislature is currently addressing the issue of car loan sharking. Even with car collateral, some lenders have been charging over 200% interest. These bills are attempting to limit the rate charged for car loans at 21%. Though this seems high, at least it is a limit where no limits currently exist.

Should we not also have local laws preventing other "businessmen" from preying on those in need in our community? Do we have predators among us?

- Susan L. Richey, Storm Lake

Funeral protest is 'warped'

To the editor:

The protest this week at the funeral of Army Specialist Daniel L. Sesker in Ogden is another sign of extremism and hatred in American politics.

In the Iowa Senate, we voted unanimously to protect mourners from a Kansas group that travels the country from funeral to funeral as part of a campaign against gays.

As an Iowan, I'm amazed that we even needed to pass this bill. Who could possibly be so warped as to protest at funerals?

I found the answers when I learned more about Reverend Fred Phelps and his followers. Phelps says he is motivated by Christianity. I disagree. I think it is much more accurate to say he is driven by hatred.

In fact, I think Reverend Phelps and others like him have been driven crazy by their hatred for gay and lesbian Americans. One of the first Phelps funeral "protests" was the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young man beaten and left to die in Wyoming because he was gay.

Once a person gives themselves over to hate, they've started on a downward path. The Phelps group now welcomes every new tragedy as an excuse to spew forth their hatred and extremism.

On April 18, the burial of an Iowa soldier in Ogden became their latest "opportunity." That was a shame for all Iowans, especially the family and friends of Daniel Sesker.

Iowa is relatively free of the politics of hate that seems to consume other states. Let's keep it that way by treating each other with respect and by focusing on improving education, expanding health care, and growing Iowa's economy.

- State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Iowa City

Vigil a success

To the editor:

Thank you for coming out and helping support the 6th Annual Candlelight Vigil. The Candlelight Vigil helps bring awareness and prevention to our community in honor of April being the National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

- Jessie Hamm for the CASA staff