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December 23, 2010

Selling off the riverfront

Our new construction barbarians have all but ruined the amazing architectural heritage the Des Moines Founding Fathers and their sons left this town. They may have been as mean as any “bastards in business” (and records prove they were). However, they were culturally aware and proved their good taste by hiring world-class architects to design and supervise our buildings and parks. Until around the last two decades, Des Moines had an architectural heritage notable as the best blend in the Midwest (west of Chicago).

Too many architectural grads settling in Des Moines — too many ruthless lawyers, uneducated politicians, tasteless “builders” — all interbreeding and robbing the taxpayers in Polk County not only of their cash but their heritage, now almost obliterated. I get physically ill whenever see what’s happening to the old Library — once our ‘Princess of the Riverfront’ public buildings.

Henry Mencken
Des Moines


Sabbaticals should be placed on hold

While I certainly agree that sabbaticals (“Civic Skinny,” Dec. 9) have value to broaden the teaching experience and research credentials of our state universities, the numbers this year certainly don’t fall in line with the economic realities of both our state budget and the nation as a whole. Using the salaries of the six professors cited in your column by averaging them and dividing by half to account for a semester’s absence from school, the average pay would fall around $38,000 per semester-long sabbatical. While this formula is certainly not scientific or even probably accurately reflecting the true salaries of all 95 professors requesting sabbaticals, the base estimated cost of $38,000 per professor adds up to $3.61 million dollars that the State of Iowa will spend in sabbaticals, not accounting for the $250,000 needed to replace these instructors. At a cost of $3.86 million, perhaps this is the area where state universities can find savings.

Nicole Riggs
West Des Moines






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