Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This old chestnut of a state needs to change

Question: What do the following three news stories have in common?

(Editors note: we know, there are four news stories. It is -- and we are -- a work in progress.)

Up in Floyd County one farmer held up the development of a $100 million ethanol plant because, according to farmer and anti South Dakota ethanol plant activist, Bill Vorhes, the plant owners haven’t picked their butts in Floyd County all their lives. From the Mason City Globe Gazette...

... The request, by VeraSun Energy LLC, was defeated over concerns about potential liability if Marble Rock farmer Bill Vorhes, who leases the county-owned land, should sue the county. Vorhes has refused to sign an agreement with VeraSun, saying the county should hold out for a locally-owned ethanol company instead.

“It’s not about money,” Vorhes said later. “It’s about the community. VeraSun’s not letting the community have anything other than 50 jobs and tax money 20 years down the road (referring to a state tax exemption for which the company is eligible). I just don’t feel for this time that it’s the right plant for the right place.” ...

In Waterloo yesterday, G.W. Jim Nussle, blah, blahed his way through the usual political lunch and missed an opportunity to throw down on the education funding debate. From the WCF Courier

With several educators and former educators in the crowd, it was no surprise that schooling was a major topic Monday.

Nussle said only 48 percent of government money spent on education makes it into classrooms.

"One thing that all of us know is that we have been throwing money at education for quite some time without much success because in part the money is not getting where it needs to go," Nussle said. ...

Just say it: WE SHOULD BE SPENDING AT LEAST 50% OF OUR K-12 APPROPRIATIONS ON CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION, NO EXCUSES. What is so hard about that statement? But, well, politics….

… "We have about the same population of school children in Iowa as the city of Philadelphia, and they have one superintendent. I'm not suggesting that we should go to one superintendent, but I am suggesting there are other models, other situations out there that we can learn from," Nussle said. …

Back in Des Moines, all sorts of nerves are fraying with a couple of potential issues tossed around for the upcoming Iowa legislative session.

People are still talking about National Vilsack's comments on increasing the number of days in an Iowa school year. We’ve said it before, on its face, it’s a good idea – it’s just the politics. From the QC Times

… The governor said earlier this month that he wants to lengthen the school year beyond the current requirement of 180 days, though he didn’t say how much.

Some young people made their views known a few days later, booing Vilsack during the Iowa State Fair parade. The idea is also unpopular with businesses that depend on tourism.

But the opposition hasn’t stopped lawmakers from taking a close look.

“Is it a concept that at least warrants exploration? Yes,” said Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Clarion, a former member of the Dows School Board. …


… there are more than just educational considerations, which is why Sen. John Putney, R-Gladbrook, vows to fight any proposal that would diminish summer vacation. He’s executive director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation, a non-profit group that supports the Iowa State Fair.

He unsuccessfully pushed for a bill this year that would have required schools to start after Aug. 22, which he argued would help the economy by extending summer jobs and encouraging tourism.

“I think it’s a shame when we’re trying to promote tourism and economic development in Iowa, then we turn around and take away the month of August,” Putney said. ...

And you have Rants practicing politics. From the AP via Gazetteonline

Key lawmakers are crafting legislation that would make the state Agriculture Secretary an appointed position, ending its status as an independent elected official, House Speaker Chris Rants said Tuesday.

Rants said the timing is right because the office is coming open next year as Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge runs for the Democratic nomination for governor. The Ag secretary has been elected position in Iowa since 1923.

"There's no incumbent, you're not taking it away from somebody," Rants told The Associated Press. "There are no current officeholders of other positions who are talking about running for it, so you're not jabbing anybody in that way."

The idea drew immediate opposition from Judge, and more importantly from Gov. Tom Vilsack. …
It’s smart strategy, you have current Ag Secretary Patty Judge running in the Democratic primary for Governor, so think up a cheap (meaning inexpensive) way to focus attention on her record prior to the primary. If the Iowa House pushes this idea, they’ll tie Judge up in Des Moines making her hang around the Statehouse to fend off a presumed attack on her office. And really, the boyz don’t want to let Patty get out of June alive – they know that’s trouble.

Nevertheless, the best part is the Vilsack speak.

… "I think there is and has been coordination," Vilsack said. "I'm kind of surprised the speaker has resurrected this old chestnut."…

“this old chestnut”. What? How old are you?

Answer: We live in Iowa, change is evil.

Nice post. I'm in total agreement, I'll take change in a direction that I don't agree with over no change at all.
Will we ever get there? ... I don't think it's our leaders that hold up change as much as it is the lower level 'crats & quasi'crats that have a VERY vested interest in the status quo. And we don't have a rate of growth or decline that forces change on these guys.
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