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Page 8 The Advocate News (Wilton-Durant, Iowa) Thursday, February 23, 2012


It takes a village to catch a crook

o the person (or persons) breaking into homes in the Wilton and Durant area, I can say two things: 1) its only a matter of time before good things come to an end for you. 2) now its personal. Upon learning that one of the four Wilton homes to be robbed belonged to family of mine, my desire to see the crook(s) caught has increased 10-fold, especially with regard to speed. I had lengthy meetings last week with both area police chiefs Tim Leathers of the Wilton Police Department and Doug Cook of the Durant Police Department and what I can tell you is that both departments are taking these break-ins very seriously. There have been 13 robberies in Durant and Wilton since Jan. 26. I would encourage all our readers to see the story we did this week on the break-ins (located on page one). Anxiety is up. Patrol is up. Law enforcement is eagerly awaiting your calls. To hear that the police think it may involve a juvenile makes me shake my head in disbelief, disgust and disappointment. Our youth just dont understand how good they have it living in quiet, quaint communities like these. On the same note, learning that more than half the victims have been snow birds (people who travel south for long periods of time in the winter months), makes me scratch my head. Is it possible our robber(s) knows whos home and who isnt? I doubt it. But is it possible that he/she is walking the streets marking homes and watching them for days on end to get a sense of activity? Perhaps. To the snow birds out there AND your families, Im calling on you to make frequent checks of your properties in Wilton and Durant. Make sure stoops are clear of anything that could be piling up, whether it be newspapers, mail and other packages, etc. When we get here. Many things can happen, especially in snow, ensure that it is taken care of. Turn on darkness late at night. Be very aware of whats lights and have someone randomly check on going on around you. Are you expecting comyour homes. pany from a friend or family member? Do you Another message I would give to the have unannounced visits at your home? Think culprit(s) is be afraid. One thing I talked about about those things at length with police is the fact that homeownThe bottom line comes back to what Durant ers are using the words gun or firearm police chief Doug Cook told me Please when talking about these robberies and the bother us. robber in particular. If you think there are CALL THE POLICE IF YOU SEE no people in this town ANYTHING SUSPIsleeping with one eye CIOUS! I should just open or keeping guns be writing that over close to the night stand, and over again here. think again. Another great point And if you still dont Leathers made is when believe me, Id invite he asked how well do any of our readers to we actually know our come to the many poneighbors? Do you By Derek Sawvell litical forums I cover. know your neighbors? I cant get through one Do you tell them when NOT ONE without several audience you are going to be out of town for a few days? members talking about firearm use, the second May be good habits to form. amendment, being able to protect their homes Im reminded of an old African proverb: from intruders with force, etc. It takes a village to raise a child. That same Death isnt the answer but I can honestly proverb inspired the title to a book by Hillary say that I feel our robber may just break into Clinton entitled It Takes a Village. the wrong home at the wrong time and walk Let me play with that proverb a bit and into a very scary situation. That will be a sad insert my own phrase here: It takes a village day for Durant or Wilton if that happens. to catch a crook. Be observant while youre Chief Leathers agrees. Ive been trained walking or driving around town. Look out the with my weapon to hesitate to pull the trigger. windows as you walk through your houses (day Its so easy to say if they get in, Im going and night). If you hear things outside, check to shoot them, said Leathers. People with them out. As Leathers says, be your brothers guns get so tunnel-visioned and I believe in keeper watch out for your neighbors and the second amendment. But I would hate to neighborhoods. see a family member or friend get shot. Remember, this isnt Muscatine where To those of you sleeping in the easy chair there may be numerous police on duty at once. with a pistol on the end table, let me say that This is Wilton and Durant, where there is one I want justice as much as you do. And for the cop at-a-time on shift for the most part. They record, I support the second amendment. cant be everywhere at once and it only takes All Leathers is saying is be very careful a moment for your home to be robbed one of the most violated feelings a person can truly have. Lets band together to catch a thief. If anyone sees anything or anybody out of the ordinary, CALL THE POLICE. You can call 732-2311 in Wilton or 785-6049 in Durant. And of course, in an emergency, dial 9-1-1. Case in point: About six-eight weeks ago, before these robberies were an issue, I noticed a strange vehicle outside my house, pulled into my driveway sideways It sat for a matter of minutes before slowly pulling away. I did nothing. Within 15 minutes, the same vehicle was back in the same location. I noticed an interior light come on in the vehicle, which looked to contain teenagers that were staring off into yards other than mine. I then dialed 9-1-1. Of course by the time I got done with all the questions from the dispatcher, the car had driven away. But I did have a Wilton police car patrolling my area within minutes. (On a side note, Leathers and I agreed that our dispatchers need to dispatch the police first and then ask questions to callers while police are en route.) Leathers, Cook and I would tell you the same thing this is why we pay them. Be inquisitive. Be knowledgeable about your neighbors. Be watchful, and this goes for day and night, as it is expected that some of these robberies have occurred during the day. Many families are comprised of parents that work and children who are in school so there are plenty of empty homes during the day. Again, it takes a village. For us local folks who may go home for lunch or retirees and/or spouses who stay home during the day know whats going on around you. Be vigilant. We all want justice and we should all want it the right way.

Case in Point

Open for discussion on traffic camera reform

Thank you for all of your messages about traffic cameras. I received more than 230! On a 2:1 margin, you did NOT want them banned, but by an equal margin you wanted reforms. I am open to discussion on a variety of reforms such as a standard cap on violations. (It is ridiculous that Sioux City charges $195 for a ticket and the city has already bonded against camera fine revenues.) I am also open to limit the cameras to areas of the city where safety is a problem, ensure an easy and free appeals system, alternate uses of revenue, standardization of the time of a yellow light, and preference to inBy Rep. Jeff state companies as soon as they are available. Banning the cameras has lost momentum, but reform and changes in their use should be debated. Work continues to try to get the Senate to come to the table to negotiate a compromise on the property tax reform and relief bill. Unfortunately misinformation and sometimes outright fibs continue. Let me say this again in the strongest words possible: The House bill will NOT shift higher property tax to residential. This bill is the only alternative right now that reduces residential property taxes, rolls back commercial rates (second highest in the nation), and at the same time allows cities to take in more revenue than they do today. Having said this, I want to make clear that the House is willing to negotiate and compromise on ANY aspect of the bill. The key to a new law stop the extremist talking points, begin to negotiate and everything is on the table. We cant fail Iowans on this unique opportunity to do something monumental on property taxes. If you have an idea, share it. If you want to use party politics and scare tactics to stop conversation on this crucial issue, then you have lost my attention. With a $2.3 billion increase on its way, this is no time for games. Another issue we are discussing right now is TIF (tax increment financing). It is an economic development tool used by cities to entice businesses and incentivize economic growth. It works by using the money that would be the growth in property taxes and investing it for infrastructure projects. In my opinion, areas like Coralville have pushed the limits of the original intent. They used TIF money to pirate businesses in neighborKaufmann ing communities, enter into ownership of businesses that compete with the private sector and create district boundaries that are counter to common sense. There is consensus on the right and left that we must have reform, but at the same time, our communities need this economic development tool. We will try to craft reforms that make TIF more transparent, more effective and have reasonable sunsets and results that create jobs, not just grant a business request for taxpayer money. Some of the potential reforms include: sunset dates, thorough financial and economic viability studies, official conduit for comment by other entities affected like schools and counties, anti-piracy clauses, end the practice of cities competing with private enterprise, refocusing on economic development projects, residential TIFs only allowed in very specific circumstances of need, and most importantly, greater transparency so that all citizens and interested parties know exactly what is happening and the fiscal costs to all. We are in the beginning stages of this bill in the House and I will do my best to not hurt our community effort to create jobs, but also address a program that needs long-overdue reform. Capitol Visitors: Tom Weiland, Stanwood; Kirk Trede, Durant; Jerry Melick, Sandee Buysee-Baker, West Liberty; Shirley Geadelmann, Clarence; Ann Neville, Tipton; Craig Bieber, Muscatine. Contact Information: E-mail: Write: State Capitol Des Moines IA 50319. Call: 515-281-3221.

'Is this really necessary?'

Editor: No issue is more important, a greater threat to your wallet and the future of funding our schools and our cities than the movement, spearheaded by our Republican Governor, Terry Branstad, to reduce commercial property taxes. Is this really necessary? Iowa is an economic bright spot with relatively low unemployment, a robust farm economy and new businesses are locating here. There are many reasons why businesses locate in Iowa and some of them are a result of property tax revenue, which creates great schools and good roads, streets and other infrastructure. Branstads plan, now supported by House Republicans (HF2274), would reduce commercial property taxes by 40 percent. This would cost Cedar County $1.5 million in tax revenue. Our schools, which receive 50 percent of that tax revenue, would lose $750,000. This could result in the loss of 18 teaching positions in Cedar County. Our cities and the county would lose an equivalent amount, which would lead to loss of personnel, repair of streets, roads, etc. The Governor says he would replace some of this money from the state treasury for a few years. We need to ask wheres that money coming from and what happens when that runs out? Guess who will be left holding the bag? Local school districts, their boards, our cities and their councils, thats who. And to continue to provide the quality of education we Iowans are so proud of and to maintain our city streets and county roads as well as other needs, guess whose taxes will have to be raised? Yours if you live in a house or own farmland. Iowas mayors are opposed to this across the board commercial tax reduction, as should be all school boards and concerned citizens. Iowa has a lot of retired citizens living on fixed income, trying to maintain their own home. They cant afford higher property taxes shifted onto them so Branstad can give tax breaks to Wal-Mart, John Deere, Quaker Oats, General Mills, Rockwell Collins and all the million dollar insurance companies located in Des Moines. There is a better way as proposed by Senate Democrats, and that would be to target small businesses where tax breaks would provide the most benefit and give them a tax credit on their property taxes from the state. This targeted approach gives relief where needed most and does the least to curtail important services. That way, Cedar County will be able to maintain its funding of schools, roads, cities and other necessities while assuring that higher taxes will not be shifted onto those least able to afford them. Now would be a good time to pay close attention to this issue. Detailed financial impact is available from the Legislative Services Agency. Contact your State representative to see where he stands on this. Larry Hodgden Tipton, IA

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