McKenna’s legacy

It is with great regret that we report today the resignation of Storm Lake School Board President Ed McKenna. He will step down at the end of the month as his wife, Nicki, suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It will end nearly 20 years of service on the board that included construction of the elementary school. He was the one who led the call for renovation of the high school from which he graduated and construction of a performing arts center.

Everyone wishes Ed and Nicki all the best.

She told him over the years that he had served long enough. But there was always something left to tackle: hiring a new superintendent (Carl Turner was a good one), tacking down the costs on the new elementary school or refurbishing the baseball/softball complex.

He was talking up an auditorium for the past 10 years. This guy was the chief Tornado athletic booster, but he argued as hard for the fine arts.

McKenna brought the perspective of a businessman to the board. He owned Lake Apothecary for many years and more lately has served as pharmacy director at Hy-Vee. He understands the property tax burden as well as anyone, and that might be one reason why school district levies have not shot through the roof.

Despite his busy personal life, McKenna always found time to listen to the public — whether at the pharmacy drive-up or on the phone from home. He never minced words, either, about important issues facing the district.

He and Nicki can look around Storm Lake and see all they have done for the community. We hope when they do they feel our gratitude.

A gift to Storm Lake

Storm Lake received a wonderful Christmas gift from the family of Eloise and the late Jim Prichard, good people who go back generations here and genuinely love The City Beautiful. The family donated a lot at the end of College Street that will allow public property to connect Sunset and Circle parks along the lakeshore. Their good will is remarkable, considering that they were rebuffed earlier when attempting to trade this lot for a strip of land along Shoreway Road that serves as a public access to the lake after neighbors objected to the trade.

The family could have sold off this valuable property to someone. Instead the Prichards gave the land to their hometown.

We want to thank the Prichard family for their generosity to Storm Lake and warmly wish them a Merry Christmas indeed.

Latham retires

Most Iowa political types said they were stunned when US Rep. Tom Latham, R-Clive, announced that he will retire from Congress after one more year of service. Latham, whose district for several years included Buena Vista County, is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and a close friend of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Stunned is not the word that describes our reaction. Or even surprised. He said he has spent far too much time away from his family first with Latham Seeds and now with politics. Enough is enough. We believe him.

But if he were having a blast in the House he might run again from a district that is highly competitive between the parties. He would have been a shoo-in for re-election in 2014 against Democrat Staci Appel. Now Appel has to be considered the favorite.

His friend Boehner has been cursed by the Tea Party and bedeviled by dissension in the majority caucus. It had to work on Latham’s gut. This is not a man who likes constant war, within his own party or with the Democrats. It had to get tiring.

And that’s too bad for Iowa. We lose a pragmatic, business and ag friendly leader in Congress. We lose a representative with considerable experience and influence as an appropriator. His alma mater, Iowa State University, will especially feel his absence (as will Buena Vista University, to which Latham lent a friendly ear).

We need more people like Tom Latham in Congress and fewer ideologues. He knew how to work with Democrats in the minority and the majority. He held his conservative principles close to his heart but he never tried to burn down the House over them. He defeated the similarly-amiable Rep. Leonard Boswell with a respectful campaign.

If Republicans want to retain his seat, they would do well to find a person of similar temperament.