Welcome to The Exchange, on Siouxland Public Media. I’m Mary Hartnett.
It has been a busy week in Siouxland in terms of politics. There has been a continuing question as to how Woodbury County will continue to deliver mental health and disability services after it disengages from the Sioux Rivers regional organization. The county agreed to bow out of that group as of June 30th. Woodbury County has been given provisional approval by the seven county group Rolling Hills, however it wouldn’t be able join until next year. So there is a yearlong gap in coverage. Yesterday, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors took action to try and bridge that gap. At their meeting yesterday, the supervisors approved a motion to seek approval from the state Department of Human Services for Woodbury County to provide services on its own until next year. Supervisor Jeremy Taylor explained the situation.
“There’s a gap year, from July 1st 2018, to July 30th 2019, and so this motion would ask for approval from Iowa DHS for exemption.”
Woodbury, Sioux and Plymouth counties formed the Sioux Rivers group in July 2014. Over the subsequent months, Woodbury officials described a poor working relationship with the two counties.
Taylor says he’s talked to supervisors from Sioux and Plymouth counties about the plan.
“I think that they believe as well that standing alone, away from us for a year is a better alternative, than being part of a three county region, they know we are trying to exit from. So we need to have our focus on high quality mental health services, and that will help us to move forward in that interim.”
Woodbury will probably join Rolling Hills as its eighth member on July 1, 2019. While the Rolling Hills board voted March 7 to begin the admission process, but, three more sets of votes are required to complete it.
The Rolling Hills board yesterday approved a resolution that will be forwarded to each of the seven county boards of supervisors. If a majority of those boards approve the resolution over the next 60 days, the issue would then return to the Rolling Hills board for a final vote.
You’re listening The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media. I’m Mary Hartnett. This is an election year and there are two seats on the Woodbury County board of Supervisors that are up for a vote. District 2, currently occupied by Republican Jeremy Taylor, and District 4, currently occupied by Mathew Ung, are open to new candidates. And there are some. NAACP President and former Sioux City Community Schools board member Flora Lee announced her bid for District 2 yesterday. Speaking in the rotunda of the Woodbury County Courthouse, Lee said her decision to run was based on her belief that she was the best qualified person to represent the interests of Woodbury County.
“Woodbury County has a history of being a leader in the state when it comes to addressing the needs of its citizens who live in this county, and we need to return our focus to that.”
Lee went on to outline her experience in working with others to serve the needs of the people.
“I have a masters of science degree from Wayne State University, I worked at Jackson Recovery Center for 18 years, and currently I’m employed at the Northeast Area Education center as special education strategist.”
Asked about the controversy over Woodbury County leaving the Sioux Rivers Group that provides mental health and disability services, Lee said she had recently been to a meeting at the proposed Rolling Hills group and she was impressed with the group’s efforts to find out what their providers need.
“They interviewed and surveyed their providers . . . I thought it was interesting that they would ask their input prior to their making a decision, and moving forward, and I think that’s part of the process and I’m not sure Woodbury County has done that.”
Lee said that being a woman on an otherwise all male board would make a difference.
“Sometimes women bring a different perspective and when we talk about diversity, not just racial or ethnic diversity, there’s always good to have another point of view, and that’s what I bring to the table. And also, I’m out in the county, I’m out in the city, I see what’s going on, and I hear from people about the issues that are impacting our citizens.”
Another challenger is Democrat Garie Lewis. The entertainer and activist says he has been asked to run for the 4th district seat currently held by Republican Mathew Ung. Lewis will formally announce his candidacy today.
The election for local, state and federal races is set for November sixth.
You’re listening to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.
Iowa’s state senators and representatives are up for re-election this year as well. 13th district Democratic representative from Sioux City Chris Hall is running for his fifth consecutive term. Speaking last Friday at Western Iowa Tech Community College where he is employed, Hall said over the last several years he has been proud to represent Sioux City in a number of ways.
“In the legislature I’ve put a lot of effort into working on economic development, on job training programs, supporting the economy and really seeing a lot of the revitalization that we’ve seen in downtown Sioux City.”
Hall said he’s worked on bullying issues and a lot of the core issues that Sioux Citians are concerned about.
“Adequate funding for public education, supporting higher education, our colleges and community colleges, and private colleges in Sioux City, and my work this past year has been devoted to try and fix the fiscal mismanagement.”
Hall said that the state’s overuse of tax credits is costing the state more and more each year.
“And it’s also resulted in the underfunding of public schools, critical services like nursing home inspections, and domestic violence shelters have taken cuts, we saw the closing of a department of corrections facility in Sheldon last year because of financial problems with the state. And my belief is that our first and core responsibility in the state legislature is creating a responsible budget. We need to be responsible to tax payers and how their dollars are used, and also make sure that the public receives the core services they expect from state government.”
Asked about his lawsuit against Governor Kim Reynolds concerning her alleged mismanagement of funds when trying to balance the budget, Hall said it’s going forward.
“We still feel very confident in the grounding of our legal case against the governor, we know that, frankly, her office has acknowledged that she has broken the law, and state legislators, including the speaker of house, has acknowledge that she broke the law when she made that transfer happen. We’re proceeding with it in the hope that maybe the lawsuit will be dropped, but the fiscal issue at hand would be resolved, and that would be my preferred outcome and the preferred outcome for taxpayers as well.”
Hall said he is also concerned about the financial struggles that families are going through to make ends meet.
“They’re dealing with food insecurity and hunger issues, they’re dealing with households that have water coming in through the roof, and they might not even have sound heating through the winter months, they might not be able to heat their homes. The issue of poverty is something that effects about 15 percent of families here in Woodbury County, and it’s something we all need to be paying attention to and it should not be a partisan issue.”
Hall said he’s somewhat underwhelmed with the progress made this year by the legislature.
IN “Public funding for . . .”
Out: “. . . in the right direction.”
Hall added that it was unfortunate that Republicans, who control the House and Senate, couldn’t find common ground.
In: “The real story . . .”
Out: “ . . the senate.”
Looking ahead to this fall’s election, Hall said he was confident that Democrats would gain some seats.
In: “I think there’s a very good chance . . .”
Out: “. . . currently being done.”
Hall is running unopposed for the 13th district seat.
You’re listening to the Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.
On Saturday, four Siouxland lawmakers met with constituents at the Sioux City Public Museum. Third district Republican Senator Jim Carlin, sixth district Republican Jacob Bossman, thirteenth district Democrat Chris Hall and 14 District Democrat Tim Kacena answered questions from those in attendance. One the biggest issues was tax reform. Carlin defended the tax cut measure.
You’re listening to the Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.
Our legislators from Siouxland have been spending time visiting with constituents in the past week. Last Saturday there was the legislative forum at the Sioux City Public Library. This Friday, there is a luncheon with legislators at Morningside College. Valerie Hennings is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morningside. She says the luncheon will be informal and open to everyone.
That was Morningside Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morningside College. – The Col. Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement at Morningside College will host a legislative luncheon at noon on Friday, March 23, in the Yockey Family Community Room in the Olsen Student Center, 3609 Peters Ave.
The event is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be provided.
The nature of truth in politics and elsewhere is explored in the new book, "Truth: How the Many Sides of Every Story Shape Our Reality." I talked with author Hector MacDonald about his inspiraiton for the book.