Alta pulling together

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

What a relief to see the community of Alta pulling behind residents of a dilapidated trailer court ignored by its owner who lives far away in Canada. The city council last week endorsed efforts by the residents to clean up and make Westview Mobile Home Park safe for everyone. The residents can only do so much without the landlord doing his part, and the council has come to that clear understanding. The city’s entire efforts are well-directed at owner Roy Worbets, who has allowed the situation to fester and can muster only lip-service about improvements.

Working with the city, there is just the outfit that can get his attention: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, working through their affiliated community organizing group TeamCAN. That’s the group that organized the residents to come up with their own plan to present to the city to avoid the park getting cleared out. The city has been so frustrated that at one time it considered mass eviction. TeamCAN was able to bring those factions together and aim at the right target: Worbets. He is the one who controls infrastructure in the park and garbage collection. The residents cannot control these things, or their ever-rising lot rentals. Would that he spent even a portion of it on improvements at Westview.

TeamCAN has planted its flag in Alta in an attempt to organize people left at the margins. It asks for no dues. It bargains for no working contracts. It organizes the people to do their own bidding, effectively. That’s what rural immigrants need, because nobody else is organizing them. Somebody needs to be able to stand up against arrogance and power, and TeamCAN is willing to do it. A renewed presence of organized little people in Alta, Storm Lake and Buena Vista County is nothing but a good thing. It got results in Alta.

It is safe to expect that Worbets will realize his little gold mine for what it is after a visit with an organized group of renters who have been able to hire a lawyer thanks to the Teamsters, who are well-organized in Canada. He will clean it up, we bet, and never want to hear a peep out of Alta again.

This continuing episode brought church pastors and school officials to the defense of hard-working parents with children just needing a roof over their heads. It reminds us of why Alta and Iowa are such great places to live, where everyone has a shot at happiness and safety so long as we stick together.

Faulty information

This startling revelation comes to us from Bleeding Heartland, a liberal weblog based in Des Moines: The Iowa Department of Human Services cannot vouch for the accuracy of data it provides to the public about the Medicaid programs it hired private companies to run. We believe that the privatized Medicaid costs the state treasury at least $100 million more annually than the former system, administered by the state. Nobody knows, or is saying, how much the system actually has cost over the past couple years.

We do know that health care providers, nursing homes and Medicaid clients all are unhappy about late or denied payments, and denial of service. The Reynolds Administration would prefer to talk about tax cuts, and not how much this program actually costs.

One of the three companies running the program pulled out because it was losing too much. The other two stayed. We don’t know how much more they got paid. We are told that there are still secret discussions going on between DHS and the insurance companies managing the program. This has been going on for a year or more.

In the meantime, any data you see about the Medicaid system cannot be trusted. This is not our language. It was language adopted by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for the Department of Human Services. You cannot trust what the government is telling you about Medicaid. That is a fact. They say so in public warnings about any data the department provides. Such a warning was issued on April 30 to the Associated Press.

We might never know how much this Medicaid boondoggle has cost Iowa taxpayers until Reynolds is defeated or Republican legislators develop some curiosity. Don’t believe what you read — if it comes from the Iowa Department of Human Services.