Readers Respond

Monday, August 28, 2006

Letters to the Pilot

Keep the KKK out of Storm Lake

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to the article that recently appeared in the Storm Pilot Tribune about the KKK making an appearance in Storm Lake, Iowa recently. It is my understanding that someone left KKK fliers on car windows and other places throughout Storm Lake saying things like: "Protect the white race! Protect your Christian faith! Join the KKK!"

First of all, I would like to point out that I am white with blonde hair and blue-eyes. Secondly, I commend Storm Lake law enforcement's ongoing investigation to determine the names of the people responsible for distributing the KKK fliers. I was pleased to read in the article that law enforcement is not remaining passive about this issue.

That being said, here is my take on the KKK: Members of the KKK generally come from a low social status and poor prospects (downward mobility). Members of the KKK are typically ignorant and in every sense bankrupt of cultural endowment. KKK members are not anyone that I am proud to consider a fellow white American.

While being a member of the KKK is usually associated with poverty and southern influence, sheer eccentricity can play a role. Regardless of social status among its members, it is my contention that because of the KKK's ignorance, prejudice, and violence, its members are socially worthless.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that KKK members typically tout that they are Christian. Yet, KKK members act anything but Christian. They seem to forget the Bible says to love their neighbor, do unto others as you would have done unto you, and do not judge less you be judged. The Bible also says not to kill, and yet the KKK has been accused in the past of very violent and sometimes fatal hate crimes. The Bible does NOT condone violence toward your fellow man or woman, regardless of race. True Christians that are true to their faith understand the importance of accepting all men and women as they would wish to be accepted, regardless of color or ethnicity. I truly believe that those that refuse to do this, are NOT true Christians.

The KKK is generally full of people with crude manners, abnormally low moral standards, and lack of cultured behavior and/or education. This group is America's poorest and most disparaged and despised category of whiteness. By the categorization of social class, most of these people would rank in the low and middle class.

So, they may be members of the KKK but they are not part of a white supreme population they would like people to believe, and the majority of Christian and non-Christian white men or women do NOT condone or support the KKK!

I am sorry to learn that the KKK still exists and has not been put to rest as of yet. I guess I am still hopeful that one day soon we can take great pride in living among a more educated and respectful society than the swill that KKK is all about.

So, what should be done if the KKK makes itself known in Storm Lake again?

The KKK is not a debating society. It is a secret, paramilitary, white supremacist organization dedicated to carrying out terrorist attacks against Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, lesbians and gays, and anyone else who doesn't meet their twisted definition of "American." They hold their rallies to recruit new members to commit racist, violent acts.

This isn't a question of free speech - there is no right to racist terror. If this were an organization of child molesters, they'd never get a permit to hold a rally. An organization of dope dealers wouldn't be allowed to recruit new members. So why should the Klan be allowed to hold a rally to recruit new members to carry out criminal acts of racist terror?

What can be done about this threat? Here are some suggestions:

1) Call on all unions, all community, student and religious groups to pass resolutions condemning the Ku Klux Klan, clearly stating that [they] are not welcome in Storm Lake.

2) Call on the City and County governments not to grant rally permits to the KKK. There is no obligation to allow the promotion of racist terror.

3) If either the City or County does grant a permit for the Klan to hold a rally, call on them not to spend the enormous amounts of money that other localities have spent to ensure police protection for the Klan. Without a massive police presence to protect them, the Klan would think less about rallying in Storm Lake. If the City or County has money to spare, they can spend it on summer jobs for our youth. They can use it for community improvements. They could find a thousand and one good uses for the money. Where is it written that the people of any city or community must pay huge sums of money to ensure the promotion of a violent gang of racist thugs?

4) In the event the Klan does decide to rally in Storm Lake, call on every fair-minded person in the area to come out and protest. Bring your picket signs. Bring your bullhorns. Bring your anger. Let the forces of racism see that Storm Lake can still stand shoulder-to-shoulder together and say no to racism, no to racist terror.

- Jeannie Fredric, Storm Lake native

Lucky to have Gingerbread

To the editor:

As someone who has had to bite my tongue when news reports and Letters to the Editor mentioned my name, I empathize with the board and staff of Gingerbread House Child Development Center, and its recent moment in the spotlight, triggered by employee terminations.

Gingerbread has been very fortunate to have four dedicated administrators, Betty Ohlund, Denise Jennett, Mark Shea, and now Andrea Hogrefe. Their commitment to quality daycare permeates every facet of their operations, and every decision that they make. Some of those decisions, by their nature, are private. Certainly, personnel actions and the special needs of any particular child fall in that category and, as Gingerbread's attorney, I have so advised them.

The fact is that the Gingerbread House staff and board have worked very hard to create a safe, warm, and nurturing environment for the children they serve. Anyone with any doubt about how lucky we are to have this facility in our community need only talk with board members, tour the facility, or meet the staff and its new director, Andrea Hogrefe.

- Dave Patton, Storm Lake

Other side of the Gingerbread story

To the editor:

There has been a lot in the news lately about Gingerbread House. I would like to share the view of a current staff person. Are there fewer kids at Gingerbread House at this time? Yes, but that always happens in the summer time. Some parents work for the school system, some children have older siblings they stay with, and some take vacations, stay with relatives, and some stay with friends. Also, we have the children that "age out" and are old enough to stay by themselves and possibly with younger siblings. With school starting this week there have been children returning.

As for the remaining staff, I see more teamwork and less gossiping and backstabbing. The staff at Gingerbread is working for the best of the children. Their main concern is the best care they can give to the children and the peace of mind for their parents that their children are being loved and well taken care of.

If you are interested in what is going on at Gingerbread, I'm sure that the director would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Get your answers first hand, not second hand or from letters you may read. There are two sides to every story. Thank you.

- Denise Struck, Storm Lake

TIF suits up Iowa towns to compete for growth

To the editor:

The Des Moines Register's recent series on the uses of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is misleading or at the very least slanted with a tinge of the anti-TIF sentiment which is clearly on the Iowa's Farm Bureau's legislative agenda. TIF financing has been a positive economic development tool of choice which provides for local control. TIF financing allows for the flexibility to meet a wide range of local needs for those progressive communities that decide to use it to their strategic advantage.

Economic development is not a spectator sport nor is it played in slow motion. Iowa's communities and local leaders must "suit up" and be ready to play in the real time against competition throughout the United States for long term economic development growth and community vitality.

TIF financing is a local economic development tool while the State of Iowa programs come and go at the whim of our state legislators and disengaged governors. TIF financing allows those on the front lines of decision making to provide Iowa with more economic development not less!

The Des Moines Register reporters, as well Iowa State academicians, have the benefit of hindsight, which is always 20-20. How about trying to look into Iowa's future and see what our local communities would be without the use of tax increment financing? That would not be a pretty picture, on that Iowa can be sure!

- Terry L. Bruns, Iowa Lakes

Electric Cooperative

Is the tide turning against factory farms?

To the editor:

It was an encouraging week for those of us who breathe air and drink water for a living. At a press conference in Clear Lake, Governor Vilsack issued a strong statement in response to a legislative committee's attempt to negate a new DNR rule giving the public more input regarding hog confinements.

(Incidentally, it is encouraging to see Vilsack siding with the little guy in this matter since, as a senator in 1995, he voted for the original hog confinement bill. That bill, HF 519, barely passed on a 26 - 24 vote. And as governor in 2002, Vilsack signed the next significant pro-confinement bill, SF 2293. Yet a conversion is always welcome, and hopefully the Governor and the DNR will continue to speak to the concerns of the tens of thousands of Iowans whose lives are adversely affected by corporate hog confinements.)

In 1995, as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I helped lead the charge against HF 519. The influence of campaign contributions became painfully clear during that debate. Jeff Hansen, CEO of one of the largest confinement operations, gave $42,000 to then-Governor Terry Branstad. Similarly in 2002, large donations from Hansen to Republican legislative leaders played a pivotal role in moving SF 2293 forward.

And in 2004, special interest groups - including Tyson, Monsanto, Syngenta, Iowa Select, Sparboe Egg and the Agribusiness Association of Iowa - gave over $50,000 to legislative and statewide candidates, both Republican and Democrat. By investing in key political leaders over the past decade, the confinement industry continues to reap huge benefits at the expense of Iowa's air, water, family farms and rural communities.

Let's look at the data to put things in perspective. Since 1995, the number of hogs produced in Iowa has gone up by only 20%. However, the number of farmers raising hogs has fallen by a staggering 73%! The 15,000 hog farms lost were mostly family operations forced out because of HF 519 and SF 2293. They have since been replaced by high-density, high-pollution confinements. And while I have empathy for some of the smaller operations owned by farm families who live on their land, the growing concentration of hogs in the hands of fewer and fewer large, mostly out-of-state corporations is a major concern.

Yet we're making progress. Last week, in addition to Vilsack's positive statement, a citizens group in Dickinson County stopped a Minnesota confinement operator from building a large hog factory just a few miles from Iowa's Great Lakes. Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn!

WHAT YOU CAN DO. (1) Thank Governor Vilsack and Iowa DNR director Jeff Vonk for their work on this issue. (2) Ask candidates for the Legislature and other state and local offices where they stand - and don't settle for an answer that's wishy-washy! (3) Write a letter to your local paper letting them and other readers know how you feel.

- Ed Fallon, former candidate for Iowa governor

No probably cause

To the editor:

My friend Fats asked me the other day what a "pedestrian check" probably means. He was speaking, of course, about a certain news item, in the 5/20/06 Pilot-Tribune, where it was noted that the Storm Lake police department conducted a "pedestrian check" at 2 p.m. (on May 15) of a certain citizen that was found to be in possession of marijuana, and was busted and sent to jail.

I told him that probably means the police didn't even have "probable cause" to stop that citizen in the first place, because if they did have actual cause for the "check", they would have conspicuously stated in the police report what "cause" they probably had. Since they called it a "pedestrian check", they assumed that the public would just be glad that another drug user was caught, red-handed, and now off the streets, and probably nobody would notice that instead, this is just another case of police state activity, and a further erosion of our constitutional right to be free of "unreasonable search and seizures."

Now, to be fair, I think that if the police see a person walking outside at 2 a.m. in the morning, at the same place they got this guy at 2 p.m., they might have had better justification to stop the man and ask him to empty his pockets... at any rate, the 2 p.m. stop starts to sound rather thin, to me.

On a clear day, what with good lighting and all a 2 p.m., any given police officer would get a really good look at the individual and they would see, really quick, that the guy was age 26, was obviously a foreigner, probably not born in town, not driving a fancy car... that is where race and age discrimination becomes very palpable indeed.

- Paul Peterson, Storm Lake