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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | NOVEMBER 02, 2010 7:15 AM

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21-only endangers students

As a Johnson County paramedic who has worked 911 calls for more than eight years, I have seen the effects of alcohol overconsumption firsthand. The most harmful and risky behaviors occur in houses, apartments, and dorms — not downtown bars and restaurants.

First responders cannot help someone who is ill or injured until made aware of the emergency. I attribute the recent decrease in alcohol-related medical calls to those needing help not getting it for fear of reprisal.

A private party has several factors that make it inherently unsafe — most importantly, lack of sober supervision. Oftentimes, an intoxicated person will wait before calling for help or avoid calling at all. That’s when people get hurt and people die.

Help me keep the young adults of Iowa City safe and vote “yes” in today’s election.

Ryan From
Coralville resident

Potential bias at UI College of Law

Whether Iowans should vote to retain three Supreme Court justices has been much in the news.

Those advocating a “no” vote in these retention elections argue the justices unconstitutionally “made law” because of their politically correct liberal bias and their desire to substitute their views for those of the vast majority of Iowans and democratically elected lawmakers.

However, a more fundamental issue is how these judges came to have such a distorted view of their role in our constitutional republic, how law schools are indoctrinating these political elites, rather than properly educating them.

Here in Iowa City, our taxpayer-supported law school is currently being sued for political bias. The National Association of Scholars has posted documents from this case, Wagner v. Jones, which includes an e-mail by former UI Associate Dean Jon Carlson.

In this message, he worries “that some people may be opposed to Teresa [Wagner] serving in any role in part, at least, because they despise her politics … I hate to think that is the case, and I don’t actually think it is, but I’m worried that I may be missing something.” [Editor’s note: A U.S. District Court judge dismissed Wagner’s case earlier this year; she appealed the decision this summer.]

The Iowa Association of Scholars, the National Association of Scholars’ affiliate for our state, believes this case raises serious concerns about the hiring practices at the UI College of Law and the supposed impartiality of our legal institutions generally. Would it not be better public policy if future lawyers heard from professors with a variety of political and ideological perspectives instead of only one point of view?

Don Racheter
Iowa Association of Scholars president

Retain all three Supreme Court judges

When you vote in this election, be sure to turn the ballot over to vote on the retention of judges. It is not just a technical issue. It is a question of vital importance, because the political independence of our judges is at stake. Some people upset with the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v. Brien are campaigning against retaining the judges, especially the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot. They want to inject heavy-handed political control into our judicial system.

As one who studies legal systems around the world, I know how political control over judges subverts judicial independence and makes a mockery of the rule of law. Judges decide many controversial cases. Do we want judges deciding those issues by looking over their shoulders to see which groups may make trouble in a retention election? Don’t we want judges to be guided by the law?

How can you find out enough about this issue to make up your own mind? See the Iowa State Bar Association’s video at iabar.net explaining Iowa’s current system and the dangers of the direct-election system it replaced in 1962. Then look at the association’s judicial plebiscite to see how attorneys rate each judge on a series of factors relating to professional competence, demeanor, and fairness. All judges on the ballot scored high marks.

Vote for the judges. The group campaigning against the judges will be voting, so if you don’t vote, you'll effectively be giving them your vote on this issue.

John Reitz
UI College of Law professor

Vote ‘no’ — keep ordinance in place

As a longtime resident of the near-downtown East Side (and, if one could officially be a Pedestrian Mall rat, I’d have the framed certificate), I became a supporter of the 21-ordinance when it was first on the ballot a few years ago. Skeptical but cautiously optimistic, I figured it was worth a try, because nothing else seemed to stem the tide of increasing degradation of downtown.

In the few months since the City Council enacted this modest measure, I have seen none of the dire predictions of its opponents (no roving hoards of thirsty students looking for mega-house parties next door). What I have noticed is even more promising than I’d expected: a decline in weekend ER calls, OWI arrests, and assaults. A cleaner, safer, and better-smelling downtown area is a bonus which bodes well for businesses trying to attract a wider variety of patrons.

The City Council has also lent support to the vital downtown music scene without detracting from public safety with the split-venue and entertainment-venue ordinances.

Keeping the ordinance in place is good sense. Vote “no” to repealing this ordinance. Vote “no” to keep the bars 21-only after 10 p.m.

Holly Hart
Iowa City resident

Retain 21-ordinance

Since the implementation of Iowa City’s 21-ordinance, I’ve noticed the improvement in our downtown sidewalks. Last winter, I was going to my favorite coffeehouse — which is next to a bar — at 6:30 a.m., and there was pink frozen vomit I had to skate over to enter the coffeehouse.

It is particularly appalling that a stain from the vomit has lasted through this fall. As I am handicapped, I found it very difficult to get over the frozen vomit with my cane.

I told Connie Champion, a downtown store owner and councilor, how sad I was that she had to close because of customers who were fighting and being contentious in front of her store on the afternoon of an Iowa football home game.

Please do not overlook your right to vote. This matter is of the utmost importance. Vote “no” to repealing the 21-ordinance in today’s election.

Claudia Horick
Iowa City resident


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