Congressman King Defends Display Of Confederate Flag

Washington, DC — Republican Congressman Steve King says he regrets the “tragic, evil and brutal” murders of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church, but he opposes efforts to ban the Confederate flag from Civil War cemeteries run by the National Park Service.steve king forster center


(as said) “I have been listening to this debate over the last week or so and it troubles me greatly over symbolism that has been redefined by a lot of members of the opposite party,” King says.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa this past week made clear he does not want the party of Lincoln associated with the Confederate battle flag after the driver of a Marion County parade float last weekend displayed three Confederate flags on his truck. King, however, says he sees the situation differently.


(as said) “I grew up in the north. The Confederate flag always was a symbol of the pride of the south from where I grew up,” King says. “My family, my predecessors, my ancestors were abolitionists. They went to war to put an end to slavery.”

One of King’s five-times-great uncles served in the Civil War and his grandfather from five generations ago was killed fighting for the Grand Army of the Republic.


(as said) “This country has put this behind us,” King says. “We’ve been through this brutal and bloody battle. We’ve gone back together for the Reconstruction and we’ve healed this country together and I regret deeply that we’re watching this country be divided again over a symbol.”

King says in a free country, “we have to tolerate” speech and symbols that some find offensive, so that people not only have the right to burn “Old Glory”, they have the right to fly the Confederate flag.


(as said) “When I go to Germany and they’ve outlawed the swastika, I look at them and I think: ‘We have a First Amendment. That can’t happen here in the United States because we’re open enough,'” King says.

According to King, the country cannot “erase” history, but should “keep it in front of us” so it can be evaluated by each new generation. King considers the Confederate battle flag to be “part of the country’s heritage.”


(as saied) “Everything about America’s history is not glorious. Everything about our history is not right in our judgment, looking back in hindsight, but none of us know what it was like for the people to live in that time and that era,” King says. “We can accept our history, we be proud of our history, we can unify our country, we can grieve for those who were murdered and we can preserve our First Amendment rights.”

King made two speeches on the topic on Thursday on the floor of the U.S. House. After objections from Democrats, House Republican leaders tabled a vote on a budget bill that would have allowed the limited display of Confederate flags in cemeteries that are adjacent to Civil War battlefields and maintained by the National Park Service. The Republican speaker of the House says he wants to have a bipartisan review of the issue and that will include whether the Confederate flag and its image may continue to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol. The State of Mississippi’s flag is there, for example, and it bears the image of the battle flag of the Confederate Army.

As this debate was raging in Washington, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley approved legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia, and the flag was removed by an honor guard on Friday morning.

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Senator Takes Heat For “Quit Whining” Remark

Ocheyedan, Iowa — A northwest Iowa state senator is taking heat after an email exchange earlier this week.

David Johnson 2015
Iowa State Senator David Johnson (R – Ocheyedan)

A high school science teacher in Waterloo sent an email to Republicans in the Iowa Senate, outlining his concerns about state funding for public schools and he was told to “quit whining” by one of them. Vaughn Gross had just ordered supplies for the coming school year when he found out Governor Branstad vetoed nearly 56 million dollars in funding for public schools. Gross then sent a mass email to 23 Republican senators, asking them to support a special session to boost school finances.

Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan replied, saying Gross lacked the courage to reveal where he was from and he told the teacher to “quit whining.” Gross posted the exchange on his Facebook page. He says, “I was surprised by kind of the tone. I didn’t think it was actually him and then gave him a post and, you know, gave him a chance to reply and he said it was him and wasn’t really apologetic about it,” Gross says. “That was pretty shocking.”

Senator Johnson says he gets a lot of unsigned email and he stands by his “quit whining” message. He calls it a “test” to see if the email was genuine — saying, “Sometimes, in order to have a constructive conversation — especially about education, you have to put your foot down and I did,” Johnson says.

Johnson and Gross had an email exchange on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. It was “much more civil” according to the teacher.


(as said) “Had a decent exchange of some ideas,” Gross says. “I mean obviously we have some areas of disagreement, but it was straight-forward and kind of what I expected the first time.”

The senator says the two had a “constructive” conversation, but Johnson says he’s getting plenty of inappropriate messages from others.


(as said) “I’ve been called so many vulgarities,” Johnson says. “I did not engage in vulgar, obscene language.”

Some of those came via email and, while Johnson isn’t on Facebook, Johnson says he’s been told what’s been posted there. Johnson has been a member of the legislature since 1999.

Johnson serves Senate District 1, which covers Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto counties.

Story from Radio Iowa

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Months Until Bird Flu Facilities Can Restart

Washington, DC — Two Iowans who testified at a Senate Ag Committee hearing on bird flu Tuesday say it will still be several months before their facilities are re-stocked and operating again. James Dean of Sioux Center is the chair of United Egg Producers, and says they want to be sure all the farms around them have the infected birds hauled away before they bring in new birds.
bird flu barns

(as he says)”The worst thing that can happen to us is that we get our farms clean and sanitized, re-populate and then re-infect the farm,” Dean says. “So, we have to make sure that we do have a time period here where farms around us are clean as well.”

Dean says they could have to wait until the end of the year to get new birds in.


(as he says)”We’re hoping that we can start re-populating sometime in November and December. And we feel that it will take us 12 to 16 months before we are re-populated at our farm,” according to Dean.

Turkey farmer Brad Moline of Moline Farms in Manson, says once they get back up and running, they know cool weather could bring another outbreak.


(as he says)”Yes, we’re still very concerned that this could happen again. The last thing we want is this happening again. Frankly, many producers can survive this once, they could not survive a second time,” Moline says.

The bird flu virus is believed to be carried by migratory birds, and thrives in cooler conditions, so the concern increases for another outbreak as the seasons shift.


(as he says)”Maybe not so much this fall — depending on the speed of the migratory birds heading south — but boy we could certainly be in this area next spring for sure. And other parts of the country have to be aware of this,” according to Moline.

Iowa’s U-S Senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, requested the hearing after at least 77 poultry operations in the state were hit by bird flu in 18 counties. More than 31-million birds had to be destroyed after the outbreak.

Story from Radio Iowa

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Low Propane Prices Spell Good News For Users

Des Moines, Iowa — There’s good consumer news for Iowans who use propane — from backyard grillers to farmers and homeowners. Propane prices are at an all-time low, according to Harold Hommes, an energy analyst at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Hommes says those who grill probably won’t notice a difference, but he says the impact will be significant for the thousands of Iowans who heat their homes with propane.
propane tank lid

(As above) “People are just now taking advantage of summer fills and buying opportunities where they try to lock in their needs for the winter,” Hommes says. “I think they’re going to be fairly happy with the results and where they can lock in those values.”

Just how good are those values? In the winter of 2013, propane prices hit a record five-dollars per gallon due to increased exports and high demand from farmers needing it to dry grain. This summer, Hommes says many suppliers are offering the gas significantly cheaper.


(As above) “Depending on different locations in the state, anywhere from 70 to 95 cents and the dollar mark,” Hommes says, “but certainly a very favorable value compared to where we were at just a couple years ago.”

Just like gasoline, Hommes says propane inventories are up and foreign investors are not finding it as attractive as it’s been in the past.

Incidentally, Hommes is a northwest Iowa native, who grew up in Rock Rapids.

Speaking of Rock Rapids, officials with the NuStar petroleum pipeline terminal there say they are installing propane tanks and will begin storing propane for delivery to large tanker trucks. Other improvements include upgrading of the terminal buildings and painting of the massive petroleum tanks west of Rock Rapids.

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Branstad’s Federal Request Denied

Washington, DC — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration to assist with the impact of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza — has been denied.
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Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s disappointed that Governor Branstad’s request was denied by the Obama Administration. Grassley says that after Tuesday’s Agriculture Committee hearing, where he listened to testimony from producers who were affected, he says it’s very clear that this outbreak caused a “significant magnitude of damage throughout the state.”

Grassley goes on to say that the Administration’s own chief veterinarian said that it was the largest animal health emergency in the country’s history. He says those in attendance heard from one Iowa producer who lost two-thirds of his birds to the disease, and he is not alone.

The Senator goes on to say that granting a disaster declaration would have made several forms of federal assistance available to these producers. Iowa has suffered great losses from this catastrophic outbreak, says Grassley. And he says he’s “very disappointed that a disaster declaration wasn’t granted to help deal with the impact.”

Sioux County was one of the counties included in the disaster declaration request.


Jones Plea-Taking Pushed Back

Sheldon, Iowa — The case of the Sheldon optometrist accused of assault has reportedly been pushed back again.
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At a pretrial conference on Thursday, May 28th in the case of 68-year-old Dr. Allen Jones, an order setting plea was set for Thursday, July 9th. Osceola County Attorney Bob Hansen, who is representing O’Brien County and the State of Iowa in the case says that while he cannot discuss terms of the plea agreement, he can confirm that a plea bargain has taken place. But Hansen notified KIWA on Wednesday, July 8th, that the plea taking would not be happening on Thursday, and that no new date had been set.

According to the Sheldon Police Department, Jones was charged with Aggravated Assault, a Serious Misdemeanor, in connection with an incident police say happened at a Sheldon business in December.

Jones’ original written plea of not guilty was taken at an arraignment in February.