The front page of Sunday’s Telegraph Herald presented a good news-bad news report.
The bad news: Midway through 2019, the number of incidents in which gunshots have been fired has already exceeded the total for all of 2018. There were eight.
The good news: That 2018 total (5) was quite a bit lower than recent years. From 2012 through 2017, the number was at least 10 per year. It peaked at 33 in 2015.
The very good news: The shooters apparently are not particularly good aims. Shots-fired incidents thus far this year have resulted in one injury and no fatalities.
While we would all much prefer that the number of shots-fired incidents be zero, Dubuquers should take some comfort that the numbers are far lower than those of 2015 and that, when shots are fired, more arrests are occurring.
That trend is not just dumb luck. It’s the result of responsive police work and — a critical tool — the City of Dubuque’s extensive investment in video cameras around town, especially in areas where police are most frequently summoned.
Just a few years ago, citizens clamored for city officials to do more toward protecting public safety. They’ve gotten it — a larger police force and more cameras — and are seeing the benefits.
If your drinking water comes from a private water supply, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources advises, test that water source at least annually.
As a side note, the American Dental Association advises that you floss every day.
In neither case is the advice being followed faithfully.
We’ll leave your flossing habits to you and your dentist, but note that the percentage of us who floss daily is only 30%.
But that’s great compared to the testing habits of the owners of private water wells. The DNR estimates that fewer than 7% test in any given year.
Considering the serious health risks associated with contaminated drinking water, and the prevalence of nitrate- or bacteria-contaminated wells, especially in northeast Iowa — see a map at bit.ly/2YyJpGA — that’s a dismal and dangerous number.
Yet, that 7% figure might be less surprising when noting that, after a new well is inspected, further testing is entirely voluntary. It’s up to the well owner whether and when to have the water tested.
Given all we have learned about the health hazards of water contamination, which the DNR attributes to “natural processes and human-related activities” — the agency avoids direct reference to farming — is voluntary testing sufficient?
Republicans have a longstanding aversion to increasing the burden of government regulation on citizens. And Iowa Republicans control the Legislature and governor’s office. But even the GOP should question whether entirely voluntary testing of private wells is in the public interest. Legislation requiring testing just every three to five years — far longer than the recommended one year — would be one step in the right direction.
While on the topic of government mandates, it shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get parents to not leave children locked inside parked cars or trucks, especially during warm weather.
But then again, maybe it does.
As of a week ago, 16 children across the U.S. have died of heatstroke while left in parked motor vehicles on hot days. Actually, experts will tell you that temperatures don’t have to be all that high for fatal consequences to occur.
In many of these tragedies, the driver left the child in the vehicle inadvertently, forgetting about the young passenger inside. With today’s design of many car seats, in which the child faces the back of the vehicle, the driver doesn’t have direct line of sight of the young passenger, who might be sleeping or otherwise quiet.
In other cases, the driver figured to be parked “for just a minute” while taking care of an errand or some such. And besides, it wasn’t all that hot.
Whether unintentional or a miscalculation, the outcome is tragic.
The issue has the attention of some federal lawmakers. The Hot Cars Act was introduced in the U.S. House by Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, New York Republican Peter King and Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky. In the Senate, the co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill are Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell, Massachusetts Republican Roger Wicker and Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal.
This legislation mandates that new cars be manufactured with equipment that detects and alerts drivers of a child left in a vehicle.
The measure has the endorsement of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, whose president, Cathy Chase, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, we have learned that public education alone cannot overcome the serious risk of children being unknowingly left in hot cars.”
The legislation merits a full hearing. However, its consideration should include debate over placing another burden on automakers and the car-buying public. Could a more aggressive public education campaign, including tips to help drivers to remember to check for young passengers, go a long way toward eliminating these tragedies?
In this era of distracted driving, we have an issue of distracted parking. Forgetting about kids in parked cars is an issue. But to what extent it’s automakers’ problem to solve should be debated.