Expecting results



Housing is a problem in the Storm Lake area, which is an important center for Iowa’s most important business: food production and processing. The city council has made it a priority for 20 years or more, but development has been awfully slow and in spurts. If we are to continue to attract workers to our state’s most important industry, they need a place to live. But to build, the wage structure has been an impediment to the market responding properly. That’s why the state needs to help rural housing to achieve economic development goals.

For a long time, the state hasn’t done much. It appears that Debi Durham, who oversees the state economic development authority and, now, the housing finance authority, is serious about getting something done, finally.

She has called us a couple times since we published an editorial griping about how the Iowa Finance Authority pays short shrift to Storm Lake. She wasn’t arguing about it. She said she wants to get moving. She suggested a meeting with interested parties here. That is being set up for late April by City Manager Keri Navratil. But we have had plenty of meetings — we need money.

We suggested that Durham contact Jesse Case, a Storm Lake native who leads most of Iowa’s Teamsters out of a Cedar Rapids local, and who founded an affiliate of the union called TeamCAN. This community organizing outfit helped to save dozens of residents at Alta’s Westview mobile home park from eviction due to code violations. Case took a personal interest and helped organize the residents to clean up the park on their own and press the Canadian landlord for structural improvements. TeamCAN is doing the same thing in Columbus Junction and in other small towns where immigrants are threatened over housing.

Case said he was surprised when he got a call from Durham recently asking TeamCAN to help. She told Case that the state may be able to offer the seed money necessary for TeamCAN to help make a real difference in rural communities with affordable housing.

Last year, the Republicans who control state government were trying to disable unions. Now, Durham and Case are talking about a partnership that goes around politics and gets to helping real people. Case is talking about a new model for labor: first, organize communities to affect improvement; second, do what it takes to help people regardless of politics.

Durham hopes to bring private industry on board to help, as well.

This is real progress, when we get labor and management and government all putting their shoulder behind the plow.

That’s what Iowans expect. Results are likely.

Any of them is fine

A reporter for National Public Radio asked the other day, “What are Iowans looking for in a presidential candidate?” Our answer should have been, “That’s why we have elections.” But we weren’t thinking that fast. So we said, “Ultimately, Iowans are looking for someone who is earnest and honest.” We made a big mistake with Trump, but we understand that many people were voting against Hillary Clinton. Farmers should have had their fill by now, what with the trade wars that snuffed out commodity markets. Union workers didn’t get much of that tax cut, and farm implement makers have been crimped by steel tariffs. Most Iowans are pretty modest people and don’t think much of Trump’s remarks about women and sex. And, they are down deep uncomfortable with the terror we have created at the border.

In short, just about any candidate could beat Trump in Iowa.

We voted for Nixon until he told us a pack of lies. We then embraced Jimmy Carter.

Trump is an inveterate liar. Not all politicians are, despite what the cynics say. Iowans will listen for the tune that rings true. Most people we know are sick of the deceit and vulgarity.

We’re not so certain that policy positions matter that much. Most of the candidates are cut from the basic progressive cloth. Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, is way smarter than the President. Joe Biden is way wiser and more decent. Beto O’Rourke actually knows what happens at the border. John Delaney actually started a successful business and worked like a madman to succeed — honestly. Julian Castro is a self-made Latino man. Elizabeth Warren worked her way from single mother to US Senator. Any one of them can beat Donald Trump.

The Washington Post headline said that Sherrod Brown, who recently dropped out of the race, was the Democrat with the best chance of winning, as if Ohio and Iowa are forsaken. The race has barely begun, and the field is full of riches. We are just looking for that honest man or woman who has the capacity to care with the courage of saying what is right. Iowans will figure that out.