It wasn’t that long ago, it seems, that city and civic leaders envisioned earmarking land in the newly revitalized Port of Dubuque for entertainment and tourism. After all it took to move out a logging operation and other aesthetics inconsistent with that vision, the city wasn’t going to let just anybody move in.
And then educational publisher McGraw-Hill wanted in. Handed the choice of allowing an existing major employer to build in the Port of Dubuque, or risking those jobs through a move to another community, the city relented.
And then Flexsteel Industries wanted in. Similar choice. Today, the Port of Dubuque is also home to Flexsteel’s corporate headquarters.
In both cases, honest to goodness jobs — existing jobs, local jobs — were on the line. Yes, the office buildings don’t conform with the vision of exclusively tourism and entertainment venues in the Port. And their existence might make it tighter to someday site a minor league baseball park. But it’s worked out OK.
But, even as Dubuque is greasing the skids to become more “pet friendly,” can we draw the line before permitting a dog park in the Port of Dubuque?
A group of dog lovers the other day unveiled a proposal to create such a facility on more than a dozen Port of Dubuque acres.
To its credit, the organization, the Friendly Intelligent Dog Owners — FIDO, get it? — of Dubuque has taken time to examine various ideas for a dog park. And, as dog parks go, it would be top drawer. Dog parks are increasingly popular and necessary in cities, and Dubuque’s, at Bunker Hill Golf Course, is small and inadequate.
So, yes, Dubuque should have more space for dog park(s). But, no, it should not be in the Port of Dubuque, where the parcel in question is assessed at $2.5 million but has a market value closer to $8 million.
Not surprisingly, Kate Larson, dogs’ best friend among Dubuque City Council members, thinks it’s a good idea. “It’s time for Dubuque to go big,” she said. “We have a lot of catching up to do to be pet-friendly. And the city has already identified the need.”
The need has been identified. But does it need to go into the Port of Dubuque?
Though a few previous decisions chipped away at the earlier vision for the Port, for the purpose of job retention, that is no reason to let more of that prime real estate go to the dogs.
It seemed inevitable that more of the story would come out regarding Jerry Foxhoven’s termination after just two years as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Of course, there are different sides to the story.
Foxhoven claims he got the heave-ho in June when he resisted continuing an arrangement to have his budget pay a big chunk of the salary of Paige Thorson, who doesn’t work for the department but is Gov. Kim Reynolds’ deputy chief of staff.
The governor, who two years ago hired Foxhoven, ostensibly to clean up the privatized Medicaid mess that she helped create, isn’t saying what soured her on one of her first high-level hires as governor. She pretty much sticks to the time-worn and vague reference to desiring a “new direction.”
No story about Iowa politics would be complete without an odd twist. The governor also denies that the affinity of Foxhoven, a 67-year-old white male, for the music of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, which was expressed in Foxhoven’s department-wide emails and “Tupac Fridays” in the workplace, had anything to do with his departure.
Also odd is Reynolds’ contention that she has been up-front and transparent about her reasons for Foxhoven’s termination. It’s within her authority to fire someone she hired, and she can choose not to explain any of it. But there can be legal and political consequences.
But claiming transparency is not the same as transparency.
Reynolds has not been transparent.
“I don’t need to go through a list,” she said last week when reporters pressed for specifics. “Go back and look at some of the articles that you’ve written.”
We’ve read those articles — and written several of them. They reflect problems that would take a department director — not to mention a lieutenant governor turned governor — more than two years to fix.
As Foxhoven’s lawsuit over his termination begins its journey through the courts, it will be interesting to see what thus far Reynolds is choosing to not share with her constituents.
Chuck Grassley can be partisan when he wants to be. Just ask former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
But the senior U.S. senator can be bipartisan, too,
especially when the issue directly impacts his native Iowa.
And so it happened last week that Grassley, a Republican and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, invited as a hearing witness fellow Iowan Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. Vilsack, of course, is a former two-term governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration.
The topic was trade — specifically, the United States-Mexico-
Canada Agreement, congressional approval of which Grassley has been pushing.
The senator has an ally in Vilsack, now head of the U.S. Dairy
Export Council, who urged lawmakers to “swiftly” ratify the agreement. “Whatever helps the U.S. food and agriculture industry helps the country,” he said.
It was refreshing to see two leaders of opposite political persuasions on the same page. And both Iowans to boot.