We’re with you


One can despair in the face of the news. We naturally do. Then Storm Lake gives you a quick one-two slap: no time for grousing, roll up your sleeves and get to work. That’s what we love about The City Beautiful. Over recent weeks and months the immigrant community has become unsettled over what the Trump Administration has done or will do. The recent ban on all refugees entering the country for 120 days is causing immediate hardship here, and it stokes fears. But then from city hall to the schoolhouse to the church Storm Lakers stand up and say, “We’re with you.”

We have had town meetings to assure residents that the Storm Lake Police will not come to round up the undocumented and deport them, at least not until ordered to do so by some higher authority. Church organizations are counseling and aiding those in the shadows. Support groups have formed among the children of undocumented. Catholic Charities and The Bridge of Storm Lake continue to attempt to resettle refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and other war-torn places.

Here is the absolute best thing we heard:

Storm Lake School Supt. Carl Turner said that if the district learns of an undocumented student, “We’d only try to help them. We’re a pro-kid organization.”

It’s that simple. These children are in our charge. We will try to protect them and nurture them.

It could all sound so smarmy. When it comes down to it, though, this is what makes a community.

The school board gives Turner the flexibility to help children that many in power do not want to help.

Public Safety Director Mark Prosser will travel to Washington, DC, to continue his work on a white paper with the National Immigration Forum on law enforcement perspectives. The forum counts Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Az., a member of the Judiciary Committee, among its participants.

The city council gives Prosser the leeway, indeed the direction, to work with and for immigrants to build a stronger, more tightly bonded community.

That gives us limitless hope.

Mainline Protestant, evangelical and Catholic Christians have all stepped up to support our new neighbors — whether they’re Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Missouri Synod.

That doesn’t make us a sanctuary city, it makes us a sympathetic city. A Christian city, Jesus might say, an American city in deist (not Christian) Jefferson’s Enlightenment way of thinking.

Interesting that everyone has taken care not to embrace the “sanctuary” label. We are, instead, pragmatic.

World economic and political currents blew waves of immigrants into Iowa to work in agriculture and food processing. The door cracked open when Gov. Bob Ray started the Iowa Cares program, which resettled refugees from the Southeast Asian War (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). CIA operatives who did our fighting in Laos ended up cutting loins in the IBP plant in Storm Lake. (Iraqi agents who helped our intelligence and military forces have been told to go back under the Trump refugee ban.) Lakeside Presbyterian Church became a haven and sponsor. Then came the Latinos. St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Evangelical churches became their havens and de facto sponsors.

And then people from the four corners of the world, the latest from Myanmar and Cuba.

But long before that Iowa welcomed the Prussian draft dodgers, the refugees from the starvation of Ireland, and the Italians and eastern Europeans who could see what was coming before World War II.

Cedar Rapids is home to America’s first mosque. Storm Lake and Des Moines are home to Iowa’s two Buddhist temples.

Welcoming the refugee is a long and proud Iowa tradition.

Storm Lake lives up to it.

Our message to our new neighbors:

We’re with you.

Not conservative principles

Republicans were not elected to full control of state government to increase property taxes. But that is what they are about to do by short-changing K-12 schools and community colleges. Appropriators in the legislature this week cut back Gov. Branstad’s recommended state aid increase of 2% back to 1.1%, which is below the inflation rate. The past two years have seen aid increases in the range of 1-2%. Further, Republicans plan to cut — to actually decrease — the appropriation to community colleges next year by some $3 million.

The result? Supt. Turner says a property tax increase probably will be necessary to cover salaries. Iowa Central Community College President Dan Kinney is all but sure he will ask the board for a property tax increase. Plus, Iowa Central will have to jack up tuition yet again on trades students from blue-collar families — those who can least afford it.

Republicans are supporting property tax increases and more debt for young people just getting started in life. Republicans used to be fiercely opposed to tax increases of all kinds — especially the property tax that hits farmers so hard during these lean years. Conservative people generally are leery of accumulating debt, especially for something so intangible as an associate’s degree. But this is what the GOP is recommending to us: higher taxes and more personal debt.

Remember that next time you vote.