Moving ahead

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Storm Lake is turning a page and moving forward. We have a new city manager who communicates clearly and amicably without the use of smokescreens. Soon we will have a new mayor, perhaps Mike Porsch, a Storm Lake native, former business owner and all-around nice guy of good intentions who has never been about himself. A solid finance director has settled in. We will hire a new public works director now that our current man is moving to Indianola. This is all good.

Our streets are falling behind. The dredging operation has been cancelled for mismanagement; it’s a relief that it is not on the new city manager’s plate but regretful nonetheless, and we will be relieved to quit dumping money into the dark recesses that are somebody else’s pockets. Sales tax revenue will be freed up to address streets. Opportunities will arise. We should not have to redo infrastructure projects. Good, solid local professional consultants (engineers, we think mainly) might get in the door again at city hall.

City finances were a mess. They are getting straightened out quickly. We should not be hit with big, successive property tax increases again with concomitant program service reductions. These have been a tough few years.

Porsch could be a great mayor. He invites public involvement. He will present Storm Lake graciously to the state. Other civic-minded candidates may emerge. His running will create an open seat in the November city council election. We will have a new council member. We hope that people who want to build Storm Lake step forward with constructive plans of action. Somebody will.

It all adds up to a lot of change at the top of city government, all to the good.

We have a fairly new county engineer who is getting after deficient bridges. He is friendly and pro-active. He takes suggestions and follows through.

We have a new president of Buena Vista University who is a good salesman, a Midwestern farm boy who understands small private colleges. Josh Merchant is making all the right sounds about making Storm Lake home.

Erika Dierking intends to return to the school board to fill a vacancy left with the retirement of Marcella Koth, who has been a dedicated public educator. She brings enthusiasm and vision to a tremendous school board.

And, we have a lot of institutional memory on board to manage the change. Our schools and public safety departments are models for the state and nation. Buena Vista is an innovator in education delivery to rural and non-traditional markets. City Hall has been an unparalleled leader in water quality protection and improvement in the Upper Midwest and is largely responsible for the incredible lake dredging success. We are doing tremendous work and it will only get better.

We are the fools

The joke is on us. President Trump told Mexican President Peño Nieta that Peño Nieta could not rebut Trump’s claim that Mexico would pay for a massive border wall. “Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important to talk about,”  Trump said, according to a transcript obtained by the Washington Post. Trump’s entire campaign was built around that wall and Mexico paying for it — a patent absurdity, proving P.T. Barnum right again.

Voters in Iowa, which Trump won, took him seriously. They take Steve King seriously. They believe those guys can get this wall built — at a cost of around $6 billion, with a “b” — and we won’t have to pay a dime. We wonder what they think when they realize they are taken for fools.

People in Wright County are beginning to wise up.

They voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The same candidate who said he would burn the North American Free Trade Agreement. The same candidate whose first act as president was to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, on which Prestage Pork reputedly predicated the construction of its new pork plant near Eagle Grove. Prestage is worried as the foundations are dug that the Asian pork market could shrivel up. The firm had bet on growth in exports, but the opposite is happening. Corn and pork growers are tremendously worried what he might do to NAFTA. Prestage acknowledges that when its plant comes online it will cannibalize from the existing pork supply market, which involves Tyson in Storm Lake. We said from the start that the government should not be subsidizing Prestage to the tune of about $225 million because it would be used to undermine the existing pork infrastructure that is not currently subsidized. And it will, thanks to President Trump with the conspiracy of former Gov. Branstad and Rep. King.

Republicans used to be about freedom — freedom to move, to work where you wish, to hire who you want, to trade as you would like, and to not worry about government subsidizing your competitor. Now they are about restricting movement and labor, protectionist trade policy and subsidizing mature industries such as pork slaughter or fertilizer manufacturing. They don’t know what to believe anymore, except that their base will believe anything.