The following editorial was published in the Des Moines Register on Oct. 10:
A thistle to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for his flip, insensitive and unhelpful comments about dairy farming.
“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” and even 100 cows might not be enough to turn a profit, he recently told a gathering of dairy farmers in Wisconsin, according to Iowa Public Radio reporting.
Such remarks from the Trump administration official rub salt in the wounds of an industry that continues to face losses and bankruptcies. Farmers should remember Perdue’s words when they cast ballots next November.
A rose to everyone who participated in the 13th annual NAMIWalks Iowa event at Terra Lake Park in Johnston. They raised more $117,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Iowa. The nonprofit organization’s mission: advocate, educate, support and raise awareness so everyone affected by mental illness can lead better lives. It also lobbies for mental health legislation and works to break down stigmas.
“The more we talk about it, the more we’re gonna be able to eliminate stigma,” said executive director Peggy Huppert. “And when we eliminate stigma, then people are going to seek help.”
A rose to Josh and Colleen Byrnes for providing shelter and food for monarch butterflies migrating through Iowa. The rural Osage family has an acre of land planted with milkweed and flowers. It is designated by the nonprofit Monarch Watch as one of more than 26,000 way stations in North America.
Monarch eggs usually have a 1-in-100 chance of making it to the butterfly stage due to predators, herbicides and the weather. The family collects eggs and takes them into the house so they can hatch into caterpillars and go through their chrysalis stage. When they emerge, they are released outdoors.
The Byrnes have released 114 monarchs so far this year, up from 10 monarchs four years ago when they started. They are also tagging the butterflies to help scientists track flight patterns.
A thistle to Iowa lawmakers for their failure to start the process to amend the Iowa Constitution to automatically restore voting rights to felons. The constitution’s language punishes and alienates people who have served their time for wrongdoing. It also creates inconsistencies and confusion for Iowans, including election officials.
A recent Des Moines Sunday Register investigation was yet another reminder of the mess Iowa has fostered on this issue. Stephen Black was convicted of mail fraud in Illinois nearly a decade ago and served prison time. Our neighboring state then rightly and automatically restored his voting rights. Though Iowa is supposed to recognize voting restoration rights by other states, Black is among dozens of people on a list of felons ineligible to vote here.
Neither the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office nor the governor’s office answered the Register’s questions about why some but not all of the out-of-state voter restorations are recognized by Iowa.
A rose petal to the governor on this issue: Her aide came forward after the Register article and offered to help Black get his voting rights restored. But individuals who have paid for their crimes should not need to get the governor’s OK to vote. Do newspapers need to write about every single disenfranchised person to prompt action?
Last legislative session, Reynolds called on lawmakers to address this serious problem that strips people of their constitutional rights. But the GOP-controlled Legislature ignored her request. Reynolds is right that the better, more permanent solution is a constitutional amendment. But in the face of legislative intransigence, she should sign an executive order to automatically restore voting rights — just like former Gov. Tom Vilsack did before former Gov. Terry Branstad rescinded it.