Archive for the 'Local' Category

Holy smokes, human trafficking in Iowa?

May 15, 2008 in Iowa, Local, Women

In our age of information and communication, so many can remain trapped and unable to cry out for help.

-jb

Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain

Oct 19, 2007 in Iowa, Local, Politics, Uncategorized

Makin’ Iowa look real good on the national stage. One of the things that makes Iowa great is its even temperament; the Beatles didn’t go there, but Chet Baker played Des Moines. The hysterical tone that both coasts love to spoon-feed the public doesn’t govern your average Iowan day. Anybody who’s ever worked in Iowa ag, even for a season, knows that the dudes from the country don’t usually say anything at all unless they really feel like it needs to be said. (It should be noted that this makes for disastrous family dynamics.) Undoing over 150 years’ worth of hard work by repressed Lutherans, some joker from Sioux City decides to make Iowa look like Kansas. Or should I say Colorado? Anyway, thanks, bud. The very thing midwestern conservatives need is to come off like 4th-string cable news guests so thrilled to find themselves on camera that they can hardly contain their glee, and so obsessed with Senator Clinton that one rather suspects they have well-worn posters of her taped to the insides of their closet doors.

-tt

Window of opportunity.

Sep 01, 2007 in Iowa, Local

Unless Representative Steve King shows up with a bazooka, I will be attending my first gay wedding this Wednesday (but not these two). I’ll have more info after it actually happens.

Besides the occasional job interview, I only wear a suit to weddings and funerals and since I’m more or less a simple guy I’ve got only two suits. One of which I prefer over the other because it’s a custom tailored Paul Stuart that makes me look a lot more respectable than I actually am (and I don’t mind saying that I look quite dashing in it). The other is a suit I bought from Banana Republic and had fitted by the local Korean tailor (Bunsun Alterations of Iowa City). A tie, of course, has always been optional. 2007 has played out in true sitcom fashion for me. Not only have I had three friends die, two friends and my sister have all gotten married so you can imagine my dry cleaning bill! With a stroke of luck I’m hoping to end this year with a score of 4-3, weddings versus funerals, and with a bill at the cleaners well into the three figures mark I’m anxiously awaiting 2008!

-mg

Dead Moans

May 21, 2007 in Iowa, Local, Local Politics

Bleeding Heartland, in regards to the devastation the Jordan Creek Mall has brought, asks the following question:

Polk County residents might have some clue that the new shopping out west is hurting the older malls and businesses in the metro area, but are they aware that they have paid for much of the infrastructure supporting these new shopping centers west of Des Moines?

The answer is a resounding “KINDA!”. I can’t speak for the denizens of Des Moines proper but I can tell you from anecdotal experience that the residents of Urbandale, West Des Moines, Clive, etc. have long fetishized the irrational expansion of Jordan Creek because they sincerely believe that success equals the number of chain restaurants a given community can support. Having said that I’d like to additionally add that Valley West Mall and Merle Hay Mall brought suit against the city of West Des Moines over the building of Jordan Creek Mall on the grounds that they were illegally using tax increment financing to improve upon the surrounding infrastructure. The case was dismissed by the Iowa Supreme Court. Here is the ruling. So I don’t think a majority of the population gives a damn. They’re too enamored with the Cheesecake Factory to care but obviously somebody is paying attention.

-mg

Once again, conservatives appluad (while ignoring) the free market.

Mar 07, 2007 in Environment, Global warming, Local, Local Politics, Uncategorized, War on Terra

yeah...it's real

For all of the blustering about “free markets” conservatives (as usual) don’t pay much attention to the genuine article when it conflicts with their ideological devotions. They’re more interested in their own egos than they are with immediate realities. So it goes with global warming; a phenomenon even the Pentagon and a majority of the business community considers real. Why? Because the invisible hand indicates to them that they will not function well within an environment that is not hospitable to their presence.

Gander Mountain understands this simple equation. I divy up my local outdoorzy retail purchases between two places; Fin and Feather (located on Highway 6 in Iowa City) and Gander Mountain (closest one being Cedar Rapids). Gander Mountain has more of a selection but the down-side is that they’re twenty miles away.  Fin and Feather, though being within a convenient two miles of my house, have the disadvantage of inflated prices and condescending sales staff. It’s always a toss-up between driving half-an-hour and paying less or listening to some geezer tell me how if I’m fishing with anything less than a Shimano Stella I might as well give up walleye fishing (even though I’ve been fishing for twenty five years) rather than share some useful information with me. Considering the circumstances I choose driving to Cedar Rapids nine times out of ten.

Gander Mountain also understands that if there are no areas to fish or hunt they will soon be out of customers who enjoy fishing and hunting.

That is why, as a consumer and sportsman, I’m going to stop shopping at Fin & Feather in Iowa City. Gander Mountain is the type of business that understands that renewable energy goes hand in hand with the true concept of conservativism and, to a greater extent, liberty.

You meet some of these old-school types down on the water. They’re usually sitting on a five-gallon bucket with a few dinks complaining about how they used to be able to fill that bucket full of crappies or walleye or how the river used to be clear and the fish were plentiful. These are the same type of guys that took it for granted, then and now, that the past will mirror the future and they’re the same types of people, that with filthy rivers and empty creels, will lament the encroachment of insidious liberals. These are the same types who keep everything they catch, edible or not, younger generations be damned. What they don’t realize is that the markets they adore extend beyond their own opportunities to consume. That the world isn’t an infinite resource nor an infinite garbage can.

-mg

I *heart* Joel Bolkcom

Feb 20, 2007 in Corporate shenanigans, Iowa, Local, Uncategorized

Ever rent an apartment in a college town?  Then you’ve probably been ripped off by a shady landlord or property management company.   Withholding some or all of deposit funds under flimsy pretexts is all too frequent in any community that has a largely transient population.  Landlords take advantage of the fact that student renters commonly lack the sufficient resources (both monetarily and the time associated with litigation) to pursue unfair treatment.  It’s also a pretty safe risk considering the lack of any meaningful penalties for those caught stealing.  That’s why I applaud this legislaton recently introduced that would give renters a fairer shot at representation and recompensation :

“First, the proposed bill would change the legal condition to win damages in court to proving the deposit was retained “wrongfully,” as opposed to in “bad faith.” At present, the court must be convinced that the landlord acted with “malicious intent” in withholding the deposit beyond the 30 days allowed by law. But under the bill, the tenant would only have to prove the landlord retained the deposit beyond the 30-day period without justifiable reason.

Second, if passed, the bill would increase the maximum damages for wrongfully withholding a deposit to double the amount of the deposit or the portion of the deposit wrongfully retained, or $500, whichever is more.

This would effectively set the minimum punitive damages a tenant could receive at $500. The current maximum reward a plaintiff can receive under current law is $200.”

Joe Kelly, a lobbyist representing the Iowa Landlord Association, the Manufactured Housing Association of Iowa, and Landlords of Iowa isn’t thrilled:

The most ‘egregious’ part of the bill, in his opinion, is the change of legal standard from ‘bad faith’ to ‘wrongfully,’ because that would give a judge little discretion in rewarding damages if a landlord made an honest mistake.  “When you put a straitjacket on a judge like this, it’s hard for us to support it.”

I’m sure the above was said with a straight face.

-mg

North Liberty protests Coralville annexation

Feb 03, 2007 in Iowa, Local, Local Politics, Uncategorized

The Johnson County residents that live in between North Liberty and Coralville are voicing concerns about being annexed by Coralville and it’s no wonder why. Coralville city planners lack the vision to endeavor anything for their community beyond the standard formula :

  1. Annex land for development
  2. Develop cheap, high-density housing that is only accessible via car
  3. Annex strips of property to accomodate commercial demand (only accessible by car)
  4. In ten years time when the desirability of your cracker box “homes” start to wane go back to step one.

When I first moved to Iowa City I used to read the dismal Press Citizen and was amazed on several occassions at all of the unprovoked letters to the editor denouncing what Coralville residents perceived to be an Iowa City elitism. It reminded me of the type of inferiority complex I witnessed by my then-girlfriend’s West Des Moines parents. They were always quick to shun the decrepit state of neglected downtown Des Moines and point out how “progressive” and “forward looking” the western suburbs were in comparison. Valley West Mall being a favorite example. That is until the new Jordan Creek developments were proposed. Then their attitudes rapidly changed.

Coralville is much the same in that they sure are proud of their big fucking mall. So much so that they’re the only community that I know of that puts an aerial view of the mall on a postcard (I shit you not) just in case you’re so overcome with consumer bliss that you absolutely must send your friends and relatives a bird’s eye view of the air conditioning units and tarred roof of the Coral Ridge Mall. The problem is that Coralville planners look to a town like West Des Moines and can’t wait to make the exact same mistakes.
North Liberty have fucked things up to a similar extent by building atrocious looking condos and cul-de-sacs all up and down the 380 (embarrassingly referred to as “The Corridor” by the local media) but it can’t be as bad as anything Coralville has planned. At least North Liberty has sidewalks.

-mg

A tale of two cities.

Jul 20, 2006 in Local, Uncategorized

My good friend Matt S. has always manned the front lines in the war to defend Ames, Iowa.  Not that he has to defend the town to me, necessarily.  I went to school at Iowa State University and have many fond memories (most associated with the conspicuous consumption of alcoholic beverages and recreational pharmaceuticals) of my years spent living there.  I mean, how many people can claim that they threw a party so raucous that it prompted the fire marshall to shut down the Lost and Found Lounge?  Still, my friend thinks that Iowa City folks have a pretentious attitude towards Ames and to be quite honest he’s probably right but I’ll never give him the satisfaction of admitting it because he’s one of my best friends.

Sure, there are a few things that Iowa City has that Ames doesn’t but overall I’d say you could boil the differences down to two distinct categories:

  1. Bars – We got more and…
  2. Girls – We got more of them to pack into the above

Beyond the obvous the differences can be seen in the recent treatment of Wal Mart and their efforts to open super centers in both cities.  In Iowa City there has been a heated debate as to whether or not we need another big box retailer sporting low wage jobs and shipping local money out of town.  Ames, on the other hand, is concerned with how Wal Mart is going to dispose of their filthy water.   Specifically, whether or not the waste water will poison some wells in the immediate vicinity of Ames or whether they should divert it to communities down stream.

-mg