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Letters to the editor
Mar. 14, 2023 10:20 am
Bad idea to renovate Orchard Hill
So, three of the Washington Supervisors have decided to spend $7 million on “renovations” at Orchard Hill versus purchasing the Federation building. The Federation building was offered at $800,000. There is approximately 16,000 sq. ft. in this building.
I know some people will say I will profit from the sale of the building because I am a shareholder in Federation Bank. Let me explain how that works. The building is on Federation’s books for $1 million. If it is sold for $800,000 Federation would have to charge the shortfall of $200,000 to income which would lower the value of the stock and may affect dividends going forward. So this is a moot point.
I have a lot of questions about the thought process here. 1. Why would we even think about moving the services and employees at the courthouse out of town? 2. How much room for expansion do we really need? 3. Couldn’t the $4 million in ARPA money be much better spent to actually benefit the citizens of Washington County? 4. Couldn’t we pay for the Federation building out of current rent being paid for the County Health space and save the county $7 million?
Let me provide my answers to these questions.
1. In the past there has been talk of consolidating courthouses by region. The first argument was always “we couldn’t afford to lose our courthouse, the economic impact would be too great.” So, what has suddenly changed?
2. With computer capacity and capabilities do we really need more room to operate? Records should be scanned and stored on computer so we shouldn’t need a lot of extra space for record storage. Every business I know of is attempting to use computers to reduce staff and the space they need. Maybe we need to do an actual space study.
3. If the ARPA money is used, where is the other $3 million going to come from? There should be a vote or a referendum on this issue. I bet I have had 50-75 people talk to me about this issue and NOT ONE PERSON was in favor of moving the courthouse to Orchard Hill. $4 million could go a long way for road, bridge improvement or how about child care which is a major issue?
4. Currently the County pays $73,000 annual rent for the top three floors at Federation to house County Health. If the County were to buy this building for $800,000 and issue a bond at 4% the bond would be paid off in 15 years and the payment would be $71,016 annually. Even if there were improvements for $200,000 it could be paid off in 20 years using the rent money for payments.
Are the Supervisors listening to the public? If there is someone out there that thinks it is a great idea to “renovate” a $7 million building please contact me. I would be interested in your thoughts.
Has anybody talked to or taken a survey of the current employees? I don’t know how they feel about this as I have not talked to them. But, it seems prudent to me that they should be involved in the process.
The article in the paper said the difference in square footage from the Federation Building versus “renovation” is 2,000 s.f. So, we are going to spend $6 million for a gain of 2,000 s.f. That is a cost of $3,000/s.f. What a bargain!!!
This whole proposal is so fiscally irresponsible it is ridiculous.
I would urge you to contact your supervisor and let them know your thoughts.
Focus on cancer, not culture wars
The Southeast Iowa Union of March 8 gives us the regular weekly rant of spoon fed talking points of Iowa Republicans. Column by column we see the repetitive strategy of culture wars.
Our state senators and representatives engage in endless whine as to children using bathrooms, sex change, dismantling diversity, books in school libraries and now, prohibiting investment in environmental causes.
Not one of them breathes a word as to the significant and troubling Southeast Iowa Union account of a week earlier: "Iowa has 2nd-highest cancer rate in nation." (SEIU March 2, 2023). The highly respected Iowa Cancer Registry also reveals that "Iowa is the only state with a rising cancer rate." Our state has in the interest of our public health collected and analyzed data on cancer for fifty years.
The Registry adds …"Iowans have a higher body mass index than the national average; engage in less physical activity than the rest of the country; do more binge drinking; and smoke more." These are all overarching public health concerns and solidly the province of the governor and legislature. And, whatever smoke the Des Moines spoon feeders try to peddle on public health it clearly is not enough.
The number of children using the wrong bathroom in Iowa is less than negligible. The number of Iowans suffering from cancer is huge and unacceptable.
It is evident culture war issues are picked that get us fighting among ourselves. It's time the politicians pick a fight all Iowans find worthy: ending cancer.
When it’s not safe to be yourself
To my former neighbors, teachers, classmates, coworkers, and church members:
I lived in Washington for most of my life and it was an okay existence. I excelled in school and extracurriculars; spent much of my time at the United Presbyterian Church participating in youth programming, volunteering, learning, and worshiping; and participated in many YMCA, Optimist, & Rotary Club programs. I worked at Systems Unlimited for over 6 years while also being a caretaker for my parents who were chronically ill. I was busy in the community and was known and loved by many.
I was also living in the closet. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I saw the abuse that was hurled at my best friend when he came out as gay in 2001 and I vowed not to come out as queer until I moved out of Washington, and I didn’t. I also hid my gender identity (I am nonbinary) which led to increased suicidal ideation because forcing yourself to be someone you aren’t causes an internal crisis; it made me have extreme gender dysphoria. If I had felt safer in my hometown, I may have been able to explore my gender identity while I lived there but I didn’t feel safe. I still don’t when I come visit.
Washington, you voted for state representatives who are doing horrible things for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming youth. You might think they are doing the right thing to keep your kids safe but trans youth are much more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. The trans and nonbinary youth in Washington (they do exist) are counting the hours until they can move away and be safe because they know it isn’t safe to be themselves in Washington. They are worried about being a victim of a hate crime. I know that when I visit, like I said previously, I don’t always feel safe when I visit Washington.
If you care for all youth, I implore you to contact your representatives and ask them to think of the lives of the trans youth whose lives they have in their hands with these pieces of law they are proposing & passing.
If you knew me once, know I’m still who I was; I always fight for those whose voices are silenced.
Jamie Helmick (they/them/theirs)
North Liberty, Iowa, formerly of Washington, Iowa (1988-2013)
Attack ad on Dickey was misleading
The recent ad opposing State Senator Adrian Dickey for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) tort reform was uninformed, misleading, and unfair.
SF 228 doesn’t make it more difficult to sue, but places a $2 million cap on noneconomic damages victims can receive in suits against CMV firms whose employees caused accidents. This bill does NOT cap medical expenses, lost earnings, or punitive costs, AND increases the percentage of punitive costs going to victims from 30% to 100% (the State would receive nothing, instead of the current 70%).
Trial lawyers like Nick Rowley of Decorah, or Nate Boulton in the legislature, leading the bill’s opposition, typically earn 40-50% of settlements. This cap lowers exorbitant lawyer revenue, reducing suits. No evidence is given that Adrian supported this bill for just personal reasons, or for the state trucking industry, Iowa’s second largest employer: anything hurting trucking hurts everyone with higher costs, truck bring everything we buy. Huge judgements for personal injury have been an issue for years, versions of this legislation were introduced long before he was elected.
Supply chain issues cause up to 2 years’ delay to get equipment, CMV owners pay up to 2 years of registration fees without that equipment. HF 2038 would allow them to pay registration when they receive it.
The extra categories of compensation SF 2259 gives are fair: CMV companies’ insurance deductibles are often $50,000; individuals often $500, because CMV companies are more prone to be sued: they must first meet that higher deductible before paying for the replacement rental vehicle. One-man trucker companies whose truck is damaged often can’t afford a rental truck during repair. Without revenue, they can go out of business. Rental vehicles aren’t available in most of Iowa, so companies must take a revenue-losing day to drive to the nearest large city.
Seven of the nine lobbyists opposing this bill represented attorney organizations, 98 other lobbyists didn’t oppose it. Nick Rowley gave the IAJ nearly $300,000 the last 4 years, including $225,000 last year. Many of Rowley’s lawyers are members of the IAJ. State Senator Nate Boulton was IAJ’s VP, and its IAJ Board of Governors 11 years. See the connections?
Moneyed Democrats are running expensive ads harming the less wealthy (anything that harms the economy, harms the less wealthy most). The $2 billion in settlement revenue earned by lawyer Nick Rowley of Decorah the past 10 years means $1 billion in revenue. According to an article in trialbyhuman.com, Rowley's successes include a $8,600,000 verdict for a young man who fell from a hotel balcony while intoxicated. There’s more to this issue, but Is it fair for the intoxicant to receive all the money, and the hotel pay all the money? Is $8.6 million fair?
Lawyers’ campaigns against lower caps hurt themselves, in the big picture: we’re all part of society, and in the long term, their settlements are unsettling, not to anyone’s advantage, not even theirs, not even their clients.’ How litigious will we be? “As you sue, so do you reap.”
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