Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - September 1, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Arms race between police end criminals?
Sunday, September I 1974
‘Sunshine' law: mediocre
AS CUSTOMARY readers of these columns doubtless have noticed, Iowa’s so-called open meeting law is viewed here as falling a good deal short of the candor-in-government standards its authors envisioned. The main flaw, as illustrated by occasionally furtive public boards and agencies, is the broadbrush provision allowing executive sessions (secret meetings) for some exceptional reason so compelling as to override general public policy in favor of open meetings.
That loophole, big enough to steer a school bus through, apparently is the reason why Iowa's open meeting statute draws a. mediocre rating in a 48-state overview conducted by John B, Adams, journalism dean at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Adams assigns this state’s law a lackluster 6 score, compared with a perfect score of ll accorded top-ranking Tennessee
Five other states also score six (Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming) while seven receive scores of 5, five are given 4s and two are scored I. Two states, West Virginia and Mississippi, have no open meeting laws. They quite justly receive flat zeros.
Iowa’s law is not singled out for comment in Dr Adams’ review — at least not in a wrapup published by the trade weekly, Editor and Publisher. But the statute obviously is lumped among the majority deemed to be flunking a very important requisite for openness, provisions for open executive sessions; that is, sessions at which media representa
tives are present, working under disclosure - of - information ground rules agreed to by newsmen and public policymakers.
Only five states forbid closed executive sessions, according to Adams: Florida, Minnesota,
North Dakota (inferred) and (on the state level only) Colorado. Fifteen states, of which Iowa is one. commendably provide that no final action may be taken during closed sessions. Other criteria considered necessary for an ideal law include provisions for an open legislature and open legislative committees, city councils, county boards; avenues for legal recourse to halt secrecy; and a provision declaring action taken in unlawfully secret meetings be null and void.
Adams concludes with this observation: . . it would seem that
most states’ laws might be appropriately remedied to provide more openness or more enforcement potential. (One is reminded that so far in Iowa, there has been no conviction of any public agency for violating the open meeting law.) The status of open meeting laws in most states is marginal. Very few states, by law at least, go beyond minimal provisions for openness ...”
Certainly the stress on “more openness and enforcement potential' is apropos here. The Iowa legislature would be remiss if it let the 1975*‘76 session slip by without shoring up the law. As noted here before, the flaws seem to inhere not from the provisions as intended, but from escape hatches developed by certain boards and agencies in practice
The argument favoring
public financing of congressional, as well as presidential, elections has been reinforced substantially by a recent Common Cause report.
Common Cause, the national citizens lobby, did some digging into campaign finance reports filed by incumbent senators for the seven-months’ period that ended last May 31. These reports show that incumbent senators have raised between S5 and $10 for every $1 raised by their challengers. They show that, in total, the 28 incumbents seeking re-election this fall raised $8 6 million — for the May 31 reporting period — com part'd to $3.2 million raised by their 78 challengers, or mearlv three times more.
Some individual discrepancies are even more lop-sided. For example. Senator Rollings, South Carolina Democrat, raised a whopping $126 14 for each dollar raised by his opposition. Democratic Senator Allen of
People's forum‘Land swap impossible'
To the Editor
This is in reply to the letter (Forum Aug. 25) from Mrs Lester L Bolt/ of Waterloo criticizing my stand on the controversial issue of catlin owners being evicted from state land in Northeast Iowa
Mrs Bolt/ failed to tell the whole story She relate only the part she wanted told In the past I have strongly defended the cabin owners in their disputes with the state over boundary lines However this time the case is much different There is no question who owns the land which the cabin owners occupy The Iowa conservation commission has approved plans for developing the land which the state owns into a roadside rest stop for all the public to use The cabin owners object and want to trade nome other land to the ICC in exchange for the land they now occupy
Ender questioning at the recent ICO meeting, the spokesman for the cabin owners admitted they have no specific land to trade My question is, how can you trade land you don't own in the first place for land you admit you don’t even have to offer to trade’
Alabama reported $60 77 for every dollar raised by his opponent.
Even with this kind of advantage incumbents sometimes can be beaten Two incumbents who fell this year were Senators Fulbright of Arkansas and Met-zenbaum of Ohio, both Democrats, who raised $809,066 and $788,617 respectively for their primary election campaigns. Fulbright lost to Gov. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, who received $290,692 in contributions, while Metzen-baum lost 'to Astronaut John Glenn, who raised $473,649.
But more often than not the incumbent wins and a major factor in his victory, generally speaking, is financial resources
Public opinion polls show the public far out in front of congress in favoring a public financing law that would treat incumbents and challengers alike. And what the public wants from congress it generally gets — sooner or later. It may take another session
I said before and I say again, the conservation commistion is absolutely correct in refusing such an offer (Acting to the contrary would la* in violation of the Iowa code chapter 111 12 ) The cabin owners are wrong in expecting this kind of unusual treatment and the legislator involved was totally wrong in suggesting the idea of a trade in the first place
Floyd Robinson State senator. 14th District Cedar RapidsAchievers conference
To the Editor
Recently seven Cedar Rapids and five Iowa City junior achievers attended NAJAC — the 3lst National Junior Achievement conference in Bloomington. Ind I was fortunate to be one of the 12 who attended
In Bloomington, we met more than 2 4<Ml top achievers from throughout the Ended States and from various foreign countries We learned new ideas from daily workshops and seminars alined at publicizing and improving J A and recruiting new students into J A
Other discussion and workshop topics included new J A products, consumerism, future careers, international and J A public relations
The conference was a great experience for all Iowa delegates Thanks to all of the people responsible for the success of
By Tom Tiede
IIT ASH INGTON - In the past when a
» * policeman told » suspect to "halt or I II blow your head off" he was merely
parroting a figure of speech Today, sadly, it’s more than tough talk
Hundreds of police departments in the nation have traded their traditional 38 caliber revolvers for awesomely more powerful 357-magnums. In addition, niftily of the departments are now issuing hollow nose ammunition, similar to dum-dum bullets, which mushroom on impact and do ghastly things to human flesh In combination, the new gun and bullet can indeed blow a head from a body
The Connecticut state police is one of the latest departments to upgrade its sidearm capability. Tests there indicate the 357 is so atomic it can shoot through an automobile engine block The hollow nose, it has been shown, will not pass through a human being with a neat little hole, as with the "weak" old .38. but almost explode on striking so as to confine its massive damage, as a spokesman puts it. "inside the perpetrator " Connecticut cops are deUghted.
But no one else should be The trend toward larger, more powerful police
weapons is dangerous at best, insanity at worst. Police say the new weapons are needed to better protect the citizenry from desperados and that anything that does the job quicker and more effectively is progress The rationale boggles the mind. Following it, next they will want howitzers mounted on squad cars, for. God knows, a ('(fl5-mm shell would really do the job more quickly and more effectively.
Certainly the cop must protect the citizenry, and himself. Evil goofs with gats seem around every corner in the nation and, though it s sickening, the polite revolver is often the only defense the good guys have. But the policeman is only human, he can only do so much The average cop is given 2.000 hours of training (vs. about 4 (MHI for the average barber), thus he's not a weapons expert nor, even a police expert (living him bigger and bigger guns and telling him he is therefore better able to stop crime is a noisome hoax.
It would not Im* a hoax, admittedly, if upon hearing of new police weapons, criminals would all back off in fear But they won t. lf anything, thugs will get new weapons of their own
"What can result." says David Steinberg of the National Council for a Responsible Firearm Policy, "is a kind of arms race. Even non-criminals could get
involved We know that many law-abiding minority people, as example, see police as their enemies and actually arm themselves against irresponsible police lf they hear the policemen now have magnum weapons, they may get magnums of their own Something like this could go on and on The question is, where does it end"
Ideally, it could end bv the application of federal leadership. Dozens of national agencies exist for the sole purpose of trying to reduce bloodshed in the landInsights
Valor lies just half way between rashness and cowardice
I ^fortunately, shin kingly, al l**asl one of the agencies - the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration — encourages rather than discourages police arms es-(alation
The Connecticut police, as example, used an LE AA recommendation as one of the arguments for adopting the hollow-nose bullet. This bullet is so cruel (it s normally used by hunters to kill large beasts) that a Geneva Convention outlawed its use in war. yet the federal government says it s perfectly all right, even desirable, to use it in New Haven
Guns have become one of America s major social diseases Statistics unlit ale there are as many private weapons as people in the land Fifteen thousand people are murdered or die accidentally from guns annually, 4(1 percent of the fatalities are children between ages I and IM The I S gun death rate per KH).(NHI people is ti H8 as opposed to a mere IO iii Great Britain. Clearly, the national movement should be to limit not est alai* such carnage A nation of Dirty Harry cops, blowing people’s heads off, may •satisfy the sadists hut it won t do one damn thing about crime except make it bloodier
Ne*soaDni Entererne As%n
When oceans become puddles
American tradition: man vs. the elementsLone Eagle s' flight: one-of-a-kind feat
By Don Oakley
TT IS ALMOST impossible for a * generation that takes the tune — arid distant-. — annihilating jet and even space flight for granted to appreciate the tremendous excitement with whu-6 the world heard the news on May 21, 1827. that one man in a small, single-engine airplane had flown across the Atlantic ocean.
The only thing that compares with it is the first landing on the moon But that was a vast team effort, the culmination of years of preparation involving the expenditure of billions of dollars The flight
of the moon capsule "Eagle" had been worked out to the most minute detail, its crew was in constant communication with earth, even their breathing and heartbeats were continuously monitored Millions watched the actual landing on television.
The Dine Eagle, ( hades Augustus Lindbergh, did it all by himself — W/ hours from New York to Paris with no radio, only the crudest of navigation aids and no "backup systems" in case hi*, craft. "The Spirit of St Louis," faltered in mid-ocean
His exploit, coming less than 23 yearn after the Wright brothers gave men their first fragile uncertain wings, was a one-of-a-kind event in the history of aviation Lindliergh was an authentic hero. bursting upon a cynical decade ripe for his kind of heroism
Only 25. handsome, modest, taciturn the unknown Minnesota farm boy and former barnstorming pilot found himself
J A in the Cedar Rapids area I hope they will continue their support in the hest practical business and economic education available to high school students in America
Greg Conderman 1258 Golfview drive NEFood Stamp Flaws
To the Editor
May I point out some of the inconsistencies of the food stamp program'* I do not receive stamps but many of my tenants do
The program excludes two Kerns es sential to modern civilized life. toilet tissue and soap, while allowing some completely non-essential items, pop candy and potato chips
It is true that toilet tissue and soap are not foods, but I doubt if some ,t( the eligible items are either For instance coffee, tea diet pop. artificial sweetener-, and vinegar All of these contain practically zero calories and are therefore not capable of nourishing the body One would starve trying to live on them On the other hand, beer contains many calories and is therefore truly a food but is excluded So is dog food^ which a per son could eat in an emergency
Robert D Smith, Route I Swisher
suddenly elevated to a dazzling fame he neither expected nor wanted nor could ever accept Kings and presidents sought him out New York went wild upon his triumphal return.
He could have become an instant millionaire had he been a different type of man and been willing to sell his name to the makers of a host of products who clamored after hfm
Instead, Lindbergh devoted himself to the further progress of aviation, serving as America’s flying emissary of goodwill He wooed and won the brilliant \nne Morrow, daughter of the I S ambassador to Mexico. Together, they pioneered future airline route-, across the Pacific to the Orient,
Then. in !932. came tragedy in the form of the kidnap-murder of their firstborn son. and more notoriety of the most vicious kind Lindbergh withdrew even more from the public eye. emerging a few years later as a spokesman for the isolationists who wanted to keep America out of Furope's looming war
Many could not understand this in a man who had turned the Atlantic into a puddle, who knew better than anyone else the capabilities of the modern airplane He was no longer the hero He was called pro-Na/i because he had visited Germany and reported Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe to be invincible
So great was the bitterness that when America did enter World war IL Lindbergh’s offer to serve was at first refused. Only years afterward did" it become general knowledge that he had conducted a valuable survey of the I S aircraft industry for the army in 18.38 and that, while ostensibly a civilian, had flown some hi combat missions in the Pacific.
In later life, Lindbergh continued to live in seclusion with his family in ( on necticut. pursuing interests in conservation. ecology and anthropology. as well a-aviation Not until 185.3 did he publish the full story of his 1827 flight, a book he gave the name of his famous little monoplane The lengthy list of honors awards and medals he received includes the Distinguished Fly ing ( toss the Distinguished Service Gross, the Medal of Honor and the French legion of Honor
The death of ( harlem A Lindbergh writes an end to an era in which it was possible for the lone individual, in daring exploit, to capture the imagination of the world. There will never be a hero quite like him againDaredevil cult: panache wanted; Evel complies
By Richard I. Worsnop
EVF.L KNIEVEL, the motorcycle daredevil, is the latest embodiment of a long American tradition of stunts-manship As everyone over the age of three surely knows by now, Knlevel will attempt to cross Idaho's Snake river canyon Sept. 8 in a rocket-powered "Skyeycie " It is the first time such a feat has been attempted, and the risk involved is self-evident.
Robert Truax, who designed the Sk.veycle. says Kmevel will make a safe crossing "if the engine valves work, if the vehicle doesn’t roll over, if there s no major structural failure, if the parachutes deploy properly, if the cycle comes straight down and hits level ground and doesn t fold up around his neck."
Kmevel publicly rates his chances of survival as no better than 50-50 and he appears resigned to the possibility that his boldest stunt may also he his last, lf disaster strikes. "I’ll just get where we're all going quicker than you," he told an interviewer, "and FII sit there having a beer while I'm waiting for you."
That is precisely the sort of statement that endears daredevils to their legions of fans. It is not enough that a stunt be dangerous; the man or woman attempting it must possess a certain panache
Kmevel has panache to spare and so. apparently, did Sam Patch, one of the early great American stuntmen Patch s speciality was jumping into bodies of water from high places The apex of his brief career came on Oct. 12. 1828. when he leaped from the top of Niagara Falls and not only survived but swam to shore One month later, on Friday, Nov 13. Patch jumped from Genesee Falls at Rochester N Y His body was not found until the following March
Numerous stuntmen since Patch have also been drawn to Niagara Falls One of the best known was Jean Francois Gravest. a French tightrope walker who billed himself as The Great Riondin Gravelet won worldwide renown when, on June 30. 1858 he traversed a I ,288-foot rope slung across the Niagara Falls gorge in 17l2 minutes.
Like all true stuntmen. Gravelet was not content to rest on his laurels He repeated his feat juanv times over the
years, always adding some embellish ment. He crossed the gorge blindfolded and on stilts, did somersaults and handstands. and pushed a wheelbarrow On one crossing he oven earned his business manager piggyback And he came through all this in one piece.
The same cannot be said of many of those who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The first to do so was Annie Fd-son Taylor, a Michigan schoolteacher who took the plunge rn I8til. Upon being extricated from her barrel, she -" id "Nobody ought ever do that again ’’ Her advice, alas, was not heeded. Several of the later falls-jumpers were killed And most of those who survived seemed ever afterward to lead tragic, jmx-riddpn lives.
Great stuntmen, however, cannot allow themselves to be intimidated by jinxes or superstition Shipwreck Kelly, the great flagpole-sitter of the 1820s and 19.30s,
Richard L. Worsnop
made a point of staging some of his more daring stunts on Friday the 13th On one occasion he stayed aloft 13 days. 13 hours, and 13 minutes. On another, he stood on his head and ate 13 hand-fed doughnuts to promote National Doughnut week
No one knows wha! impels a Shipwreck Kelly or an Fvel Kmevel to do such outlandish things All one can do is cross all fingers and fervently wish them luck
to* Btwatrti ReoorHIsn t it the truth?
Sy CoH dtblo*. (f
If you or I did nothing in a job for which we were paid, we would get our tail booted out of there rn a hurry Why. then, do we continue to put up with a congress that mostly shuffles and snuffles’ We must place the blame on ourselves, an electorate indifferent to the target location of congressional posteriors or afraid of hurting its foot
fleas con be tough) nearly everything a congressman can. "
— Mark Twain
inter Ocean Prt$j Syndicate *
Traffic at three o clock...and I guess we won t ever see the likes of him again