Living in Society

They Forgot Education is About Educating Children

Woman Writing Letter

The Republican elected officials who represent me have forgotten the most important thing about education: its purpose is to educate children.

On Nov. 9, 2021, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks introduced the CHOICE Act (HR 5959) which is a bill that takes federal money from public schools for private schools in states like Iowa. This bill is going nowhere if Democrats hold the majority.

I asked a group of parents and educators whether they had heard of the CHOICE Act. They had not. It is a distraction from the main goal of educating our children. What is the congresswoman up to?

Miller-Meeks seeks to acquire some more Iowa Republican extremism in education to garner a few votes in the midterm election.

Iowa Republicans support discrimination against a class of young children (HF 2416), seek to lock up teachers who don’t do what they want (SF 2198), and play three-card monte with childcare by doing nothing except raising the number of children each provider can serve (SF 2268).

No public dollars should go to private schools. We should focus on educating children, not playing political games with their future.

~ Published by the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Feb. 24, 2022

Living in Society

Participate in the School Board Election

Editor’s Note: The plan for Solon School Board election coverage is to post at least one weekly article on Saturdays until the election. I am looking at data provided by the county and will have an analysis soon. I’ve been told there will be a candidate forum and like in 2019 I plan to attend and cover it. Both the Solon Economist and Iowa City Press Citizen indicated they will provide some coverage of the campaigns. All of my posts about the 2021 school board election can be found here.

I encourage readers to participate in the Nov. 2 Solon School Board Election. In 2019 we had record voter turnout. It would be great if voter turnout improved this year.

The seven candidates are Erika Billerbeck, Tim Brown, Dan Coons, Kelly Edmonds, Stacey Munson, Michael Neuerburg, and Cassie Rochholz. Their addresses, emails and telephone numbers were posted on the Johnson County Auditor’s website. We increasingly live in a do-it-yourself news environment so I recommend if you have questions about policy, go directly to the candidates.

The main controversy in the district has been handling of the coronavirus pandemic by school administration. The board hired Davis Eidahl as superintendent in 2015 and renewed his contract at least once. Eidahl and his predecessor Sam Miller spent time together as principals in the Davis County school district near Ottumwa. Based on their common background it is clear continuity has been important to the school board. COVID-19 threw administration a curve ball and the fallout has not finished. Will this be a change election? That depends upon participation.

What the school board does is important whether or not we have children of school age. One thing is certain: Solon cares about school board elections.

~ Published by the Solon Economist on Oct. 7, 2021.

Living in Society

Cleaning Up The Mess

Woman Writing Letter

The debt ceiling is in the news. Once again, for the same reason: a Republican president ran up the debt on the American people and a Democratic president is left cleaning up the mess.

At the same time, Iowa is participating in its decennial redistricting process. Voters in the Iowa Quad Cities aren’t sure who their member of congress might be. Currently it is Mariannette Miller-Meeks. If the first redistricting map is accepted by the legislature, it could be Ashley Hinson.

Both congresswomen have joined the Republican block to say they will not vote to raise the debt limit. Shame on them. They should focus on solutions, not obstruction.

While neither was in office when the 45th president and the Congress ran up our bill, it is clear from this statement by both and from their voting record earlier this year, their interests lie more with Washington Republicans than with Iowans.

Both voted against the American Rescue Plan Act which benefited many Iowans. One expects them both to vote against the Build Back Better Act when it comes up for a U.S. House vote in the near future.

Regardless of the redistricting outcome, they both need to find other work.

~ Published by the Quad-City Times on Sept. 27, 2021.

Living in Society

Get to Work Congresswoman

Woman Writing Letter

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks appears to be dodging constituents in the Second Congressional District.

According to her congressional website she has two constituent offices available: in the District of Columbia and in Ottumwa. That’s not enough. It’s time for the congresswoman to be more accessible by staffing offices where her constituents live.

Ottumwa is Iowa’s 20th ranked city by population. Also in the Second Congressional District are Davenport (third ranked), Iowa City (fifth), Bettendorf (15th), Clinton (18th), and Burlington (19th).

I understand a slow opening while the election was being contested. Yet she won and it’s time to provide more inclusive access. At a minimum she should open an office in the Quad-Cities which is the biggest population center in the district. She should also open one in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa which is an economic engine for the region.

Miller-Meeks needs to get to work doing the business of Iowans. That is, unless she doesn’t care what constituents who don’t share her politics think.

~ First published in the Little Village on Aug. 10, 2021. After publication, the congresswoman’s website was updated with the location of a Davenport office.

Living in Society

Congressional Exaggeration

Woman Writing Letter

Mariannette Miller-Meeks sounds like she’s having trouble dealing with a narrow win in her 2020 election. On June 22, she said on FOX News, “Democrats want Americans to believe state election laws are broken so they can then sell their ‘Corrupt Politicians Act’ as a means to fix the ‘broken’ system.”

The appeal Rita Hart made to the certified election results is evidence election laws are working as they were designed. I understand neither Miller-Meeks nor prominent Iowa Republicans liked the appeal. They should have let the law play out as it is designed to do and as it ultimately did. Instead they complained and made exaggerated claims like this one on FOX News.

“Corrupt Politicians Act” is the same framing used by the right wing Heritage Foundation to characterize the “For the People Act.” Miller-Meeks likely used the Heritage talking point because it’s curious she rolled out this opinion piece at the same time Heritage used the phrase to activate their followers to oppose S.1.

In her FOX News statement, Miller-Meeks naively admitted the irony in proposing the “For the People Act”: Democrats demonstrated the legislative process is not broken. With a slim majority, Democrats walked through the front door and proposed to stop recent Republican-passed laws that aim to modify the voting process.

Agree or disagree, it is the hallmark of our form of government. Miller-Meeks should spend more time in her district talking to voters from all parties to build on her six-vote margin in 2022.

~ Submitted to several local newspapers. First published in Little Village on June 24, 2021.

Living in Society

Vote June 8

Big Grove Precinct Polling Place Nov. 5, 2019

Thank you Solon Economist for the articles about the June 8 special election to fill the board of supervisors vacancy created when Janelle Rettig resigned.

Turnout in special elections is always light, and that makes your vote count even more.

I listened to the May 19 Johnson County League of Women Voters forum and all three candidates appear to have qualifications to be a supervisor. I favor the Democrat Jon Green who was nominated at the special convention. Who do you favor?

I did my patriotic duty serving in the U.S. Army and plan to vote on or before June 8. Now it’s your turn to do your duty as a U.S. citizen and vote June 8.

~ Published in the Solon Economist on May 27, 2021.

Living in Society

Be Neighborly, Get Vaccinated

Woman Writing Letter

Last week we located our scars from the polio vaccine. It was fun as we reminisced and discussed a friend who got polio as a child. It was important for everyone who could to be vaccinated against polio.

Today it’s important everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

My perspective is from serving six years on the county board of health. Vaccines can and do prevent illness, of that there is scientific evidence.

Why get the vaccine? First, it reduces the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 which causes sickness and sometimes death. That’s motivation enough for most. Being vaccinated also decreases the amount of time we must live with social restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone I know is tired of the restrictions now in their second year.

Some people pooh, pooh the vaccine and the pandemic and while illogical, that’s their choice. At the same time, we would all like to get out of the pandemic and return to a semblance of normal. People who don’t or won’t get vaccinated are holding the rest of us up.

Eventually the population will reach what’s called “herd immunity.” Medical experts are not sure if a person gets COVID-19 once they will be immune because people have contracted COVID-19 multiple times. As you may have read, the vaccines currently approved by the FDA are very effective.

We’re retired so we can wait out herd immunity as evidenced by a drastic reduction in the COVID-19 case count. People want to get on with a more normal life, though. So we did the neighborly thing and got vaccinated. I encourage readers to do likewise if they can.

~ Submitted as a letter to the editor of the Solon Economist

Living in Society

New Type of Patriotism

Woman Writing Letter

On Sept. 22, 2008 The Cedar Rapids Gazette published my letter to the editor, titled, “Americans should reject new type of patriotism.” Too few people got the message, so here it comes again.

Americans should reject new type of patriotism

Most veterans don’t talk much about their service. Concerned that we might lose our lives in combat, we signed up and mustered out hoping to make the military a better place by devoting our best efforts to it in the defense of our values. We did it for duty, honor and country, and this is the essence of patriotism.

Patriotism does not belong to a political party. Veterans pay attention to where the country is going, engage in public discourse, and believe it is our responsibility to do so.

Yet there is a new form of patriotism that is unacceptable: the patriotism that proclaims “America first.” True patriotism concerns itself with ethics, law and devotion to the common good.The new patriotism concerns itself with the moral responsibilities toward other members of “our” group and by definition diminishes responsibilities toward non-members. New patriotism manifests itself in English-only legislation, poor treatment of returning casualties of war, and blindness to the effects of war on foreign populations.

New patriotism can accept extreme poverty, famine and genocide in African countries. New patriotism says, “what’s in it for me?” without regard for the impacts that wish fulfillment may have on the rest of society.

As a veteran, I will have none of this new patriotism, nor should any of us if we care about our country.


Support A New Fire Station

Firefighter Uniforms

It’s been almost a year since the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory reported the first three positive test results for COVID-19 in Iowa on March 8, 2020. The pandemic continues and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting cabin fever. The lingering snowfall hasn’t helped.

I read the report of fund raising challenges for a new fire station for the Solon Tri-Township Emergency Response Agency. The fund raisers can’t get in front of people due to the pandemic. While the $1.2 million raised so far is positive, there is a long way to go. I encourage people who can to give generously to this project.

Thursday I put on my Carhartt jacket, the U.S. Army-issued scarf I wore in the Fulda Gap, my seed supplier logo stocking hat, a pair of Army boots I got in basic training, my buckled overshoes, and ventured into the unbroken snow. It was more work than expected to deliver two five-gallon buckets of compost to the bin. I felt better once it was finished, some relief from cabin fever. Now I need to figure out how much I can afford to give for the fire station.

The new fire station is designed to better meet our needs. Our volunteer fire fighters could use the support. Please give what you can.

~ Submitted to the Solon Economist

Living in Society

Need Some New Sawhorses

Woman Writing Letter

I read with interest three letters in the Dec. 10 Solon Economist about the Second Congressional District election in which Mariannette Miller-Meeks won by six votes, according to Secretary of State certified results.

Give it a rest folks.

If Rita Hart wants to pursue her legal rights by appealing to the U.S. House for a new recount, she has that option, it has been used before, and it is perfectly legal.

Hart explained in clear terms why she is appealing to the House: to count every vote. The letter writers apparently didn’t get the message. There will be political consequences for Hart for taking the issue to the House. I don’t think she’s worried about that now.

Republicans better find a new whipping post than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, though. In November she was nominated for another term as speaker and indicated the next congress could be her last. Time will tell, but if she does announce her retirement before the midterms, those old Pelosi-demonizing sawhorses won’t cut wood any more.

By the way, urging folks to contact their congressman with demands is fine. Just remember ours is still Dave Loebsack who supports Hart’s quest for a recount.

~ Published in the Dec. 17, 2020 edition of the Solon Economist