Ban fireworks in SL

BY ART CULLEN

To reiterate, while the ears still ring: Storm Lake’s experiment with legalized fireworks was a disaster. We have stated our opposition many times to fireworks in town. They burned down Spencer, which caused the Iowa Legislature to ban their sale some seven decades ago. We were afraid our neighbors might burn down our house as bottle rockets soared over rooftops the past two weeks, well after the curfew of 10 p.m.

They keep babies from sleeping. They scare the you-know-what out of pets indoors. They further traumatize veterans who have heard enough explosions for nine lifetimes.

Babies, pets and veterans. If that can’t move you to give up on your juvenile predilections, then we have forgotten what it means to be a neighbor in friendly Iowa.

Residents complained to the city council on Monday, just as the sun started to set and the town started to sound like Raqqa. Council members duly noted the complaints and would sleep on it. If they could sleep that night.

When they wake up, they should declare their study complete and ban fireworks in Storm Lake.

If people could stick with the curfew. They proved over the past two weeks, and will confirm this week, that they don’t care. It doesn’t bother the shooters that the police were called out scores of times to waste their time chasing down fools with fireworks when the neighbors call.

We don’t mind if people want to shoot off fireworks in Hayes Township outside Storm Lake. That’s why you live outside of town, to be able to freely annoy your neighbors without a city council impinging on your right to be inhospitable. We can’t hear it in town. If you want to burn the barn down with cherry bombs, have at it. But don’t burn down Cayuga Street, please. Leaving Irving Steet the quiet little alley it was designed to be. We understand if you want to kick your Harley on a fine spring Sunday just to hear it roar after a tough winter. Let the pipes belch and grumble. It’s an occasional thing, and at least the Harley gets you somewhere in style. You go.

As we said before, it used to work fine. Those pyromaniacs who know what they are doing, and who care enough, enjoyed the day trip to South Dakota to the stands to buy a cache of Chinese imports. They could be nickel-and-dime smugglers over the Big Mo to Iowa, like boys smoking behind the shed. They could pick up some cheap smokes, too. And they would come home to fire them off discreetly, usually on the Third and Fourth of July, when everyone had braced for the minor onslaught. The cops put up with it. Few people called in, because the folks who knew what they were doing did not pop them off after curfew. They would try to outdo the show off Chautauqua Park jetty, and most everybody was okay with that.

The Iowa Legislature did not need to undo 70 years of good sense and pragmatism in this fit of pseudo-freedom. The Storm Lake City Council did not need to be as ignorant of history or as callous to serene community relations. It has all the authority it needs to craft an ordinance that allows fireworks on the Third and Fourth of July. That’s it. No fireworks after 10 p.m. Hard and fast. No more education by police, tickets from now on. The past two weeks have been miserable for many. We banned burning leaves for the same reason. It worked out. Everyone was happy. The study has been complete. It was disastrous. The people have spoken directly to the council. Members should listen, if they can hear above the din.

Greeting rural voters

We were delighted Tuesday to greet Andy McGuire, Democratic candidate for governor, at Buena Vista University where she was lined up waiting for the Big Parade and mingling with the Buena Vista County Democrats. If progressives hope to discover their old inroads into rural Iowa, it starts with showing up and asking for our vote. It has alarmed us in recent years how the party abandoned Northwest Iowa and has the electoral lumps to prove it. Iowa is better when we have strong statewide contests. The Democrats used to win in the 39 counties of the Fourth Congressional District (remember Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell). But then they quit showing up. And the statehouse now is completely controlled by one party.

We are likewise delighted that John Norris, who also seeks the nomination, selected Storm Lake to kick off his announcement tour on Monday, 8 a.m. at King’s Pointe.

Anyone who reads this space knows that we are fans of McGuire and Norris. Any McGuire with roots in Holstein has our vote, except .... John Norris was delivering for Storm Lake while chief of staff to Gov. Tom Vilsack. We never forget kindnesses shown, and Norris was full of them. We relish the anguish we have in selecting one over the other. And then there is Fred Hubbell of Des Moines, a tremendous Iowan who wants to run but who yet has not spent much time on the hustings.

One reason we love them both is that they understand where Iowa is rooted: in places like Storm Lake. They are taking the fight to the gravel roads and blacktops where they belong. The Democrats are waking up and staking their claim to sustainable rural communities, health care for all, healthy schools and clean water. That’s what rural voters say they want. McGuire and Norris, at least, are speaking directly to those concerns. Welcome to them both.