Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hog Lots & Hog Czars

I keep swatting off those rabid Chet “AP Calls It” Culver Fans, so I have a lazy blogger’s post because I cannot spend my entire free time thinking up stuff to slap up on a blog. Anyway, I’ve cut & pasted part of Todd Dorman’s recent post from his blog franchise, the Statehouse Snippets.

Iowa’s Legislature has offered us two very different views on private property rights in the past few days.

One was on Friday, when state lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to override Gov. Tom Vilsack’s veto of a bill curbing government’s power to seize private property for economic development. Legislators nearly trampled each other rushing to microphones to proclaim their allegiance to the little guy.

The other scene came Monday in a Department of Natural Resources conference room, where the state Environmental Protection Commission was meeting.

Several residents from the Clear Lake area who live near a proposed hog confinement project urged commission members to step in and stop the facility from being built. They argued the facility would have a negative impact on water and air quality.

Residents went to the EPC because their local elected officials have no authority over where confinements are built. But there’s also nothing the commission can do because the proposed confinement will house fewer than 2,500 hogs. Only larger facilities require state construction permit. …

Read it.

Dorman makes a series of well thought out points that expose an interesting contradiction in the current eminent domain debate. It’s easy to be ‘pro East Village vintage record shop’ when Archie Brook’s mug is looming, but start messing with hog confinements’ siting “matrix” and you’ll create a political stampede to the legislature’s door.

But something doesn’t smell right in this most recent, well-publicized hog lot dust up. It’s a common story; farmers and rural residents are often at odds over ag & land management issues; small town residents always gossip about the latest ag moves by the 1000-acre guys. In small, ag oriented towns the environmental debates – minus the Green Peace speak – are hot topics over morning coffee in the back of the gas station/fast food shop.

You could read this as Democratic campaign-maneuvering intended to cut into the GOP’s expected rural margins. By ginning the hog confinement debate the Vilsack Democrats are working to set up a wedge issue in rural areas. They intend to peel off enough votes to make up some of the Polk County votes they’ll lose to the CIETC mess.

It shouldn’t be lost on the political brains that the hog confinement at issue is near Clear Lake, and that part of the state, going east from Mason City, trends blue. Moreover, the state appropriated funds this year to support dredging Clear Lake, part of a major environmental overhaul of the lake and surrounding area.

Environmental issues making the political radar screen in rural Iowa? It could happen, although Jeff Vonk as “hog czar” might be enough to kill any political advantage for the Democrats.

You're right-it is kind of Democrat agitated.

I agree, however, that the confinement issue puts Republicans on the horns of seeming if not real contradiction.
Thank's Ted. I like to be right, or at least right enough, although I sincerely doubt I could ever be right enough for Deace. Nice spin, BTW
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