Nino Erba: Candidate for Dubuque City Council 2019

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts by candidates for local offices in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

Greetings, Iowa!

My name is Nino Erba, and I’m a candidate for Dubuque City Council this year. I’m running in Ward 4, which encompasses downtown and the wealthier households over the bluffs of our city. I’m running because after being involved for so long in city politics and understanding what’s going on in our city and why things happen, it’s time for a radical change. And I believe I’m best equipped for bringing about that change.

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Weekend open thread: Sledding ban edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

After an unusually dry December, most of Iowa finally got a decent blanket of snow this week. Meanwhile, a classic winter activity became the unlikely center of a public policy controversy. The Dubuque City Council moved to prohibit sledding at 48 out of 50 city parks, generating some national media coverage and debate over whether city officials over-reacted to worries about litigation.

Contrary to the exaggerated claims of some authors, no city has banned or outlawed sledding within its jurisdiction. Iowans in Dubuque and elsewhere are free to sled on private property and on some public land. The “ban” applies only to certain public parks.

That said, I agree with those who say Dubuque leaders went way too far and set the penalty for unauthorized sledding too high at $750. In fact, City Council member David Resnick was probably right when he warned, “Crowding all [these] sledders into two areas is actually increasing the safety hazard and I don’t think we should limit our potential [liability] by increasing the safety hazard for kids.” I hope the controversy leads to higher turnout in the next Dubuque local election.

According to Katie Wiedemann’s report for KCRG-TV, local leaders say unhappy Dubuque residents should talk to state lawmakers:

“Iowa law protects cities from liability in the event someone gets hurt on city property while biking, skating or skateboarding. But there’s no protection if someone gets hurt while sledding. Some lawmakers attempted to fix that during the 2013 legislative session, but the bill failed.”

However, Iowa Association for Justice Executive Director Brad Lint argued in today’s Des Moines Register that “the city already enjoys fairly broad liability immunity under Iowa law.” After the jump I’ve enclosed excerpts from Lint’s op-ed column, which also addresses broader issues such as unwarranted fear of litigation and groups “begging” Iowa legislators “for protection from the often nonexistent lawsuits in their fields.” As one Bleeding Heartland reader suggested privately to me this week,

Hopefully people will eventually see the sledding thing for what it is…another cynical attempt by the insurance industry to use people to twist the arms of their legislators to exempt the insurers from paying claims even in cases of negligence….

P.S.- Sledding is a common cause of serious childhood injuries during the winter. I know someone whose son nearly lost an eye and developed a life-threatening infection behind his eye socket after a sledding accident in her own backyard. I love sledding almost as much as my kids do, but keep these safety tips in mind when you play in the snow.

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FAA closing Dubuque air traffic control; Waterloo, Sioux City spared for now

The Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that beginning on April 7, it will close 149 air traffic control towers across the country. The Dubuque Regional Airport tower is the only Iowa facility on the list (pdf). An airport official told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald that service in and out of the airport will continue. I haven’t seen any reports confirming which facility will route air traffic in and out of Dubuque after April 7.

The cuts are related to the “sequester” of federal budget funds, which began last month. Originally the FAA had planned to close more air traffic control towers, including those in Waterloo and Sioux City. However, a press release stated that the agency decided “to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.” Another salient fact is that Dubuque “hires privately contracted employees,” whereas “Waterloo and Sioux City employees are unionized FAA workers.”

I’ve posted the whole statement from the FAA after the jump, as well as Representative Bruce Braley’s comment. The first Congressional district includes Dubuque and Waterloo. Braley voted against a continuing spending resolution on Thursday, in part because it did not reverse the “sequester” cuts.

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Six links to mark the International Day of Action for Rivers

March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers. These stories about water pollution and the economic potential of healthy rivers are worth a read.

Contrary to what agribusiness industry lobbyists would have you believe, a majority of Iowa farmers “support expanding conservation requirements for soil erosion and the control of nitrogen and phosphorous runoff.”

Iowa’s confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory livestock farms) create more untreated manure annually than the total sewage output of the U.S. population.

Aging sewer systems in urban areas also allow too much sewage to leak into watersheds. The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding initiative (signed into law by Governor Chet Culver) included some money to improve sewer systems in Iowa, but we need to do much more on this front.

Iowa Rivers Revival Executive Director Rosalyn Lehman recently published a call to revive Iowa’s rivers in the Des Moines Register. I’ve posted excerpts from her guest editorial after the jump.

The Metro Waste Authority has created an Adopt a Stream website, with “resources to help you organize a stream cleanup in the Greater Des Moines area.”

Dam removal as part of a river restoration project supports local economic activity as well as the environment.

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Sequester could shut down Waterloo, Dubuque, Sioux City air traffic control (corrected)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned yesterday that air traffic control across the country may be severely disrupted if the “sequester” goes into effect. Budget cuts may prompt the Federal Aviation Administration to shut down air traffic control towers at three Iowa airports as early as April.

CORRECTION: Closing the air traffic control towers would not necessarily shut down all traffic at the affected airports. On the other hand, “many corporations won’t fly into airports that don’t have an active tower.”

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