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How would gun-toting commercial play out with an African-American male?


Iowa and Iowans seem to have long been at the forefront of legislation to ensure equality. A quick Internet search provides numerous examples both past and present:

1839 – Territorial Supreme Court: Man could not be sent back into slavery;

1851 – Iowa General Assembly: removed ban on inter-racial marriage;

1851 – Iowa “Code of 1851: gave married women property rights;

1857 – Iowa Constitution affforded African-Americans “same rights” as every citizen;

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1868 – Iowa Supreme Court, “Clark v. Board of Directors”: A 12-year-old girl could not be barred from a Muscatine school on basis of race;

1869 – Iowa Supreme Court: Arabella Mansfield could not be barred from practicing law due to gender. She became the first female lawyer in the U.S.;

1884 – Historic First: Jennie McCowen, one of first U.S. women medical graduates (University of Iowa);

1965-1969 – U.S. Supreme Court, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District: Freedom of speech includes black arm bands protesting the war in Vietnam; and

2009 – Iowa Supreme Court: Same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa on April 3.

Laws may change overnight, but attitudes and perceptions/prejudices come about more slowly.

The recent commercials with Jodi Ernst pulling up on a motorcycle, taking off her helmet, shaking her hair free and then heading straight to the shooting range to unload a 15-round clip all after a day of castrating pigs got me thinking. I wonder how this same commercial would play out with a man in the same role? How about if it was an African-American male?

Perhaps more importantly, how does her hair look so good after wearing those helmets?

Mike Rowley


DM lacks common sense in EV development

I try not to complain (at least publicly) and generally fully support most of the development that goes on within our downtown area, as I realize that it’s for the greater good. However, due to poor planning and failed foresight, I’m going to say something. In the last six or so months, the East Village has lost about 80 parking spots in a two-block area, and further plans of losing perhaps 50 more with a boutique hotel being built at East Fourth and Grand, with no preliminary plan for parking. Only with numerous concerns from the businesses and residents of the Village, a “parking study” was done with little more than an online survey with results proposed for sometime in June.

These development deals were made months ago, but parking was not included in any of them. Why not, you ask? Because the zoning code requires no off-street parking for our area. Furthermore, the assistant city manager was quoted by local media stating that there is “plenty of parking if you look for it.” If there is so much parking, then tell people where it is! Of course he has no issue with parking, because the City Hall has ample parking in its surface lot, but where’s that leave the rest of us?

Perhaps all this available parking would be better utilized if there were something to indicate where it is. The “if you build it they will come” idea might be prefaced with, “unless they can’t find somewhere to park.” The East Village is where people go to spend their free time, but if most of it is spent looking for parking, they will be leaving as soon as they get here.

Actually, there is parking in the East Village. But the problem is, it’s not close to anything, nor can you use it, as most of it is private so people run the risk of being towed. So here’s a couple suggestions from someone who actually lives and works in the Village: 1) Replace the confusing “back-in” parking with front-end, 2) Work a deal with all these private lots that remain empty to use them for visitors and 3) Put up some signage to show where they are. Even better, while you are pushing all this development, include a couple parking garages to accommodate the additional people it will bring. Another option would be to make the East Fifth and Locust crossroads a pedestrian mall to make the area even more pedestrian friendly and increase foot traffic with parking outside of the core.

Whatever it is the City of Des Moines decides to do, I hope it makes sure to let the rest of us know beforehand. Lack of communication and education are two major downfalls with our city government. If you’re not paying attention, the East Village will end up over-developed and underutilized and back in the same condition it was 25 years ago.

Bryan Smith
–Des Moines


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