Sidewalk sales

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Three cheers to the Storm Lake City Council for finally loosening up on sidewalk sales along downtown Lake Avenue. The council has agreed to allow merchandising, within limits, on the sidewalks and for café seating outdoors — a touch of the City of Lights in The City Beautiful. It should create a little more festive atmosphere downtown and invite people to linger.

The city for several years had been defensive about it for liability reasons and for reasons we couldn’t even remember anymore. Change does not come easily in Iowa. Our mother and father would not eat outside because civilized people don’t do that. Now, people like to eat outside. Let them.

The next step is to find all these downtown customers a place to park. It is especially difficult in some blocks downtown because renters who live above the storefronts park their cars in the parking slots on Lake Avenue all day. You can drive around the block for 15 minutes and not find a parking space. The city should fix this. It is talking about it. The sidewalk sales will flop if nobody can get to them. The council can figure out a way to correct this. Merchants are losing sales because of it, and that weakens the downtown.

Sales will be restricted where sidewalks are not wide enough, and that is most places off Lake Avenue. This is a no-cost way for the council to support local business.

Get rid of fireworks

We have had two years worth of experiments with legal fireworks, and we still hate them. Last year Storm Lake sounded like a war zone for two to three weeks. The city council tightened it up for use of fireworks just around July 3 and 4. Still, the dogs were terrorized hiding in the closets and basements at 10 p.m. and we could not get to sleep for the cherry bombs at 11 p.m.

It was stupid and haphazard to legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa. But the legislature is nothing if not often stupid and haphazard. We can’t do anything in Storm Lake about the sales. But we can control the use. We should again ban the personal use of fireworks inside the city limits except for sparklers and the like. No more firecrackers going off, no more bottle rockets or Roman candles shooting over our rooftops, no more bombs that give PTSD sufferers fits.

It strikes us as odd that we are in a trade war with China but all our fireworks for our celebration of independence are made in China. Why not just wave American-made flags?

We would make all fireworks illegal if we could. They are dangerous. Children do lose fingers over it — adults, too. Neighbors are put off by it, the council has heard aplenty. We’re plain sick of them. Let the Spectacular committee shoot them off on the Fourth so we can enjoy fireworks safely. Other than that, the city council should ban their personal use.

A class act

As many Democrats seemingly mourned the death Monday of former Gov. Bob Ray as did Republicans. “He was a class act,” former Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, said of his late peer. Culver said it better than anyone. Ray championed civil rights and civility. He was president of Drake University when they needed him in a pinch, and he was mayor of Des Moines. He was a nice man. An honest man. He put Iowa above party. He brought the Lao to Iowa, specifically to Storm Lake, through Iowa SHARES. If he should be remembered for anything, it is saving the Tai Dam from terror and bringing them to safety here.

Most of us remembered him for his civility. So many of the comments pined for the days when we could speak to each other and be proud of each other as Iowans. Bob Ray set the standard. He was not out to destroy Don Avenson, Ray was out to improve the University of Iowa or our community colleges. The fact that so many of us wish for the time when we could work together in government, to see each other as neighbors no matter where we come from, and to know when to gracefully bow out gives us faith that Iowa will return to its senses. That’s what Bob Ray would campaign for.