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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archives May 21 2015, Page 5

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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - May 21, 2015, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Thursday, May 21, 2015 œ The Gazette 5A INSIGHT LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Length limit : 250 words Email: editorial@ thegazette. com Mail: Box 511, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406 Questions?: ( 319) 398- 8469 Letters guidelines Jennifer Hemmingsen, Insight editor; Vicki Decker, letters editor; Elizabeth Schott, director, editorial relations; Todd Dorman, columnist; Lynda Waddington, columnist; Chuck Peters , company president; Joe Hladky , company chairman The Gazette Editorial Board © 2015 The Gazette S ome believe today’s black problems are the continuing result of a legacy of slavery, poverty and racial discrimination. The fact is, most of the social pathology seen in poor black neighborhoods is new. Today the overwhelming majority of black children are raised in single femaleheaded families. As early as the 1980s, three- quarters of black families were two- parent. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black families were two- parent. Today’s black illegitimacy rate of nearly 75 percent also is entirely new. In 1940, black illegitimacy stood at 14 percent. By 1980, the black illegitimacy rate had grown to 56 percent, and it has been growing since. Much of today’s pathology seen among many blacks is an outgrowth of the welfare state that has made self- destructive behavior less costly for the individual. Having children without the benefit of marriage is less burdensome if the mother receives housing subsidies, welfare payments and food stamps. Plus, the social stigma associated with unwed motherhood has vanished. Ignored in all discussions is the fact that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994. Black youth unemployment in some cities is over 50 percent. But high black youth unemployment also is new. In 1948, the unemployment rate for black teens was slightly less than that of their white counterparts — 9.4 percent compared with 10.2 percent. During that same period, black youths either were just as active in the labor force or more so than white youths. Since the 1960s, the labor force participation rate and the employment rate of black youths have fallen to what they are today. The minimum- wage law and other labor regulations have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Put yourself in the place of an employer and ask: If I must pay $ 7.25 an hour — plus mandated fringes, such as Social Security and workers’ compensation — would it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate as to possess skills that enable him to produce only $ 5 worth of value per hour? If black teens are going to learn anything that will make them more valuable employees in the future, they aren’t going to learn it from their rotten schools, their dysfunctional families or their crime- ridden neighborhoods. They must learn it on the job. œ Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University and a syndicated columnist distributed by Creators. Comments: wwilliam@ gmu. edu WALTER E. WILLIAMS I SYNDICATED COLUMNIST New trouble in black communities M ay is National Foster Care Awareness month. During this month, and throughout the year, Iowa KidsNet hopes more people answer the call to become foster parents. Iowa KidsNet is a statewide collaboration of six agencies in coordination with the Department of Human Services. Four Oaks is the lead agency. Iowa Kids- Net works to recruit, train, license and support Iowa’s foster and adoptive families and to match children by careful consideration of their immediate and long- term needs. Being a foster family may be one of the toughest jobs in the world, but it also is an incredibly rewarding way to make a difference in a child’s life. All children need love and care. They need to know they have a future and hope. Foster parents are there to ensure children stay safe from harm and neglect. Foster care is a temporary placement, which means stability for each foster child is very important. Foster parents need to know patience, learn acceptance, understand trauma and ask for support when needed. They also need to be persistent. Persistence means not giving up on a child, realizing the small incremental changes, celebrating those changes and accepting the children for who they are. Iowa KidsNet is deeply committed to find and support stable foster care placements for children, even under urgent circumstances when the challenges of time and distance do not favor stability. Some foster children don’t have an option to return home and need another permanent family. Sometimes foster parents choose to adopt such children. Foster parents are urgently needed to make sure every child and teen in our community has a safe, nurturing place to call home. If you would like more information, please contact Iowa KidsNet at 1-( 800) 243- 0756 or go to IowaKidsNet. com for more information. œ Anne Gruenewald is president and CEO of Four Oaks, a child welfare and juvenile justice organization with programs in 15 Iowa cities, helping 15,000 families each year. Comments: agruenewald@ fouroaks. org GUEST COLUMN I ANNE GRUENEWALD Consider fostering our youth Time to end auditor, supervisors feud The Linn County supervisors versus the auditor feud needs to end. Not only because it’s getting old and tiring, but because it smacks of democracy going awry. In 2012, residents voted for Joel Miller to be county auditor instead of his opponent, Garth Fagerbakke. Since that time the supervisors have transferred 32 employees from Miller to Fagerbakke, the facilities manager. The facilities manager has an assistant facilities manager. The supervisors have done this under the guise of more efficiency and control. What are the duties of the auditor, facilities manager and assistant facilities manager? The job descriptions should be clearly defined. With the present flexibility of interoffice transfer of employees, it appears that the job descriptions are “ willynilly” ( not well defined). The facilities manager and the assistant facilities manager are selected by the supervisors, via human resources and not by taxpayers vote. The supervisors have the power to usurp the duties of the auditor. This is not democracy. I suggest we settle this sparring with a contest, best of five is the victor. To paraphrase a childhood expression, “ Five against one is nobody’s fun.” For the contest to be fair, we need a spokesman representing the supervisors. I suggest Linda Langston. Since this is a gender mismatch, it should not require physical strength, like boxing or arm wrestling. More appropriate would be one that requires the proper skill level like chess, checkers, cat and mouse or Tiddlywinks. You decide which contest provides the proper skill level. Ivan Hardt Cedar Rapids Expect a ticket if you speed on I- 380 My response to the May 10 article “ Is C. R. getting national rep as speed trap?” about Cedar Rapids’ Interstate 380 cameras and the poor folks that have gotten speeding tickets is: If you speed, what do you expect? In Cedar Rapids, expect to get a ticket. There is no rational objection to this. The signs are clear for both the speed limit and the fact that cameras are in place. Drivers need to own up to the fact that there are laws ( not just guidelines) that govern how cars are to be operated, and there are consequences to breaking these laws. Maybe you don’t agree with the speed limit, but that does not give you the right to randomly go over the limit without expecting to get busted, especially when you are forewarned. To top it off, tickets are not issued unless you go 12 mph over the limit. Slow down, or expect to get what you deserve: a ticket. Jody Meyer Iowa City Schools, teachers can change lives Many years ago, I had the good fortune to assist an elderly couple with legal and financial items before their deaths. They had been outstanding volunteers at the Indian Creek Nature Center, where I worked, and had no living relatives. I became somewhat their surrogate son. I sat beside her the day before she died at Mercy Medical Center when she said, “ I’ve had a wonderful adult life that followed a troubled childhood. My mother was a prostitute and even she didn’t know who my father was. I was raised in a series of foster homes. None were pleasant, but I had the good fortune to attend Garfield Elementary School. The Garfield staff and teachers made my life. It was the only place I felt safe, loved and appreciated. I was happy there and the teachers exercised compassion, responsibility, dedication, generosity and hard work. From them I learned these things that were lacking in my home but helped make me a better adult. Garfield remains a bright spot in my memory even many decades later.” Her remarkable declaration is a wonderful testament to teachers of yesterday and today who work tirelessly to make the lives of students safe, pleasant and productive. Hats off to teachers, and congratulations to Garfield and Arthur schools for a century of outstanding education. Rich Patterson Cedar Rapids Editorial cartoonist Joe Heller is based in Green Bay, Wis. Comments: Hellertoon. com 24- HOUR DORMAN TODD DORMAN T here was a refreshing shot of honesty at this week’s Environmental Protection Commission meeting, where members again talked about scrapping a rule requiring builders to put 4 inches of topsoil back on most finished building sites. “ Topsoil is something we deal with every day of the week,” said Mark Watkins, vice president of McAninch Corp., a Des Moines earth mover. “ It’s just a line item on our bid form.” For Iowans concerned about runoff and water quality, topsoil is essential for soaking up and cleaning up. For homeowners who might like to plant stuff in their yards, or grow grass without bags of fertilizer, topsoil also is essential. For building interests pushing hard for a new state rule that will allow them to basically do what they please with it, topsoil is simply about money. A line- item on the bid form. Always bet on money when it comes to any regulatory battles officiated by the Branstad administration. It helps when Watkins and three others representing homebuilding interests are appointed by the administration to pack a seven- member group rewriting the rule. And judging by Tuesday’s brief EPC discussion, it’s a good bet commissioners will vote in June to erase the 4- inch rule and replace it with language weakly directing builders to restore topsoil “ unless infeasible.” Infeasibility largely will be in the eye of the bulldozer. “ It doesn’t seem to be clearly defined,” Commissioner Nancy Couser said of “ infeasible.” Commissioner Bob Sinclair asked if the change would mean more oversight and inspections by the Department of Natural Resources. “ It would take some effort,” said Joe Griffin, stormwater coordinator for the DNR, cautiously toeing the party line. His department has endorsed the rule change. But no one on the Environmental Protection Commission asked if the rule change would be good for the environment. And, truth is, there won’t be much to oversee or inspect because there will be no measurable standard. All builders have to do is keep soil “ on site,” somewhere in a development, anywhere, but not necessarily on anyone’s yard. “ I think the current proposed language leaves a lot to be desired. It’s ambiguous at best,” Brian Stineman, natural resources manager for Davenport, told the EPC. “ Basically, what they’re asking is for us to take their word.” Stineman joined commissioners on a tour of two Davenport housing developments on Monday, one subject to the 4- inch rule and one subject to previous rules. Stineman said one had piles of dirt awaiting replacement on lots, and the other had sod sitting on top of compacted clay. The differences were obvious, he said. But not persuasive, evidently. Luckily, Davenport has a local 4- inch topsoil rule that will remain even if the state scraps its standard. “ They can be more stringent than we are,” Griffin told the EPC. Most cities rely on the state rule, including Cedar Rapids. There’s been some talk of a stronger local rule. “ We’re just waiting for ( the state) to make a final decision,” said Kasey Hutchinson, stormwater coordinator in Cedar Rapids. Unfortunately, I think it already has. œ Comments: ( 319) 398- 8452; todd. dorman@ thegazette. com Soil rule running out of time

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