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OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is steering clear of comments by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney describing supporters of President Barack Obama as dependent on entitlements.
The Democrat Biden, on the second day of a two-day trip to swing-state Iowa, stuck closely to his standard campaign speech. While he did criticize Romney, Biden did not specifically mention Romney’s comments from a private fundraiser, recorded without his knowledge and made public by Mother Jones magazine on Monday. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims,” Romney said, in part.
Biden routinely describes Romney as out of touch, and continued that line of attack Tuesday in Ottumwa.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Newly hired Police Chief Wayne Jerman says he is “very keenly aware” of the technological tools that a police department can use to make its officers more effective and a community safer.
On Tuesday afternoon, the City Council unanimously approved Jerman, who has been assistant chief of the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, as Cedar Rapids’ new police chief.
During an interview after the vote, Jerman strongly endorsed the city’s use of cameras to enforce speed limits and red-light running, saying Montgomery County has “a very large” camera-enforcement program that it is expanding.
Jerman said the Maryland department — with six times as many sworn police officers as Cedar Rapids — also employs 22 license-plate readers. That technology uses cameras on squad cars to photograph license plates, to instantly determine if the vehicle is stolen or the owner is wanted.
Jerman, 55, said he will look to see if the plate reader technology, which has raised privacy concerns elsewhere in Iowa, can become part of the equipment used by the Cedar Rapids department.
“I feel like the license plate reader is a fantastic tool,” he said. “They’ve proven themselves time and time again as an effective force multiplier and crime-fighting tool.”
He said a rigid policy that restricts the use of the information to law enforcement agencies will protect people’s rights.
“If it makes Cedar Rapids a safer place without violating rights, what’s the argument against it?” Jerman asked.
Council member Justin Shields warned Jerman that the city likely would need him to lobby the Iowa Legislature on law-enforcement issues. During the 2012 session, lawmakers made an effort to force cities with traffic cameras to remove them.
But Jerman said making the case for the cameras is simple.
“It’s effective in reducing speed, and when you reduce speed, you reduce collisions, and when you reduce collisions, you reduce injuries. And isn’t that what it’s all about?” he asked.
Jerman said his “style” would not be to make broad changes quickly. Instead, he said he would listen and observe and get to know the employees.
He said a “workload analysis” might be useful to determine if the staffing level of 203 sworn officers is optimal to allow officers to work safely and make the community safe.
City Manager Jeff Pomeranz identified Jerman as his choice for police chief out of an initial 35 applicants for the job.
“I think he’s the person for the job at this time,” he told the council. “There’s no question that he will be successful.”
Pomeranz and two other local representatives traveled to Montgomery County to talk to those who worked with Jerman there. The city manager said he was impressed by “the closeness” of the relationships that Jerman, as assistant chief, had maintained with “officers in the field.”
Jerman told the council, “I love being a cop.” After 32 years as police officer, he said, he still enjoys coming to work every day.
Jerman and his wife, Terri, have a daughter, Bridgette, 18. She plans to enroll at the University of Iowa, he said.
Jerman’s first day on the job will be Oct. 29.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Tuesday tried to defuse the uproar caused by his boss’ comments about Americans’ dependency on the federal government.
“It was an inarticulate way to make this point: Too many people are having such a hard time getting back on a path to prosperity,” Ryan said about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s comment that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and depend on government services.
“Because of the stagnant Obama economy, more and more people are becoming dependent on the government,” Ryan told KCRG-TV9’s Beth Malicki during an interview Tuesday. He said he and Romney are pushing proposals for “reigniting economic growth … to get people from government dependency into lives of prosperity and upward mobility.”
His comment came a day after the release of a leaked video from a private Florida fundraiser in which Romney appears to dismiss President Barack Obama’s backers as those who take no responsibility for their lives and think they are entitled to government handouts.
Democrats jumped on Romney’s remarks, suggesting they are evidence that the former Massachusetts governor is out of touch with the American people.
“It’s hard to serve as a president of all Americans when you fail the character test and write off and insult half the country you want to lead,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky of Coralville. “It is extremely difficult to imagine how a person who seeks the office of the presidency would be so divisive and have such contempt for his fellow Americans.”
While he conceded — repeatedly — that Romney’s remarks were “inarticulate,” Ryan said the opportunity Americans need to get ahead is being lost in the current economy, where unemployment has been above 8 percent for 43 months, 43 million people are looking for work and 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty.
“So it could have been better said, but the point remains, we want to get people from having to be dependent on government for their livelihoods to aspiration, opportunity, social mobility,” Ryan continued. “We want an opportunity society … where you can get a good job that pays good wages and gets you on a path of prosperity.”
And when people move up the economic ladder, Ryan and Romney want them to pay lower taxes. Their plan calls for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. However, Ryan said, those with higher income likely will pay more as tax loopholes — including tax shelters that are used disproportionately by higher-income earners — are closed.
“If you close these tax shelters, then more of their income is subject to taxation,” he said. “That allows us to lower tax rates for everybody.”
Ryan also called for extending the federal Farm Bill. He agrees with the bipartisan sentiment that direct subsidies to farmers should be “reformed out” while maintaining crop insurance “that farmers can bank on.”
End of an era.
Well, not yet exactly, but the final stage has been set.
Wartburg wrestling co-head coach Jim Miller officially announced Tuesday during a press conference at the school in Waverly that he will step down after more than two decades as leader of the Knights’ program. Miller will continue his role through the 2012-13 season, handing it over to Wartburg’s co-head coach Eric Keller, who has held that distinction since March 2010.
Miller, 59, made his decision in mid-August, but determined staying on for the season allowed for a smoother transition and adequate time to find a replacement. He also didn’t want to field the regular questions about his status from other coaches, supporters, alumni and media.
“Sometimes in life you know without having specific reasons,” said Miller, noting he has been considering resigning for five years, especially after his son, T.J., graduated in 2008. “I loved every minute of it. I’m healthy. Everything is going good. I just really feel it’s the right time to do it.”
The plan has been in place for a few years. After 36 seasons of coaching high school and college, he didn’t experience last-second reservations making the announcement.
“We had a 20-year reunion two weeks ago. It was awesome and so cool to see everybody back,” said Miller, estimating the wrestling banquet drew 270 people, including 130 former Wartburg wrestlers. “I still felt the same way after that, so I knew it was the right thing.”
Miller has coached 34 NCAA champions and 138 All-Americans. Seventy Knights wrestlers have earned National Wrestling Coaches Association honors under Miller, who has led Wartburg to a 394-34-2 dual record in 21 seasons. The Knights have won nine NCAA team titles since 1996 and six National Wrestling Coaches Association national duals championships during Miller’s tenure.
The accomplishments alone could define Miller’s legacy, but not for the coach. All the trophies, which awed Miller at the wrestling reunion, paled to the culture that surrounds the program. Miller watched current wrestlers share a bond with team members from the early 1990’s, despite not being born when they competed for the Knights. Former parents and boosters share the inclusion in the tradition.
“We didn’t just have a team we had a family,” Miller said. “It’s the thing I enjoy the most.”
Between the old dogs when he took over in 1991 to the young bucks who have challenged his 20-year Iowa Conference championship streak, Miller has tamed them all. The Knights have been atop Division III’s premiere wrestling conference, posting a 157-dual meet win streak that started in 1994.
“Part of the Iowa Conference’s Vision Statement speaks to academic and athletic success nationally, and that’s exactly what Jim Miller has done during his time at Wartburg,” IIAC Commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen said in a news release. “Our league, overall, has been strengthened by Wartburg’s remarkable success in wrestling. It’s been an honor and pleasure to get to know one of the coaching giants in our league.”
Wartburg was one of the first D-III programs that proved it could compete at any level, facing numerous NCAA Division I foes in duals or various tournaments. Three-time NCAA champion Byron Tate was a D-III wrestler to compete in the NWCA All-Star meet last year. Kodie Silvestri is expected to represent the Knights in the dual, featuring top NCAA wrestlers.
“We had not set any limits on ourselves,” Miller said. “The whole premise we don’t set a limit on what we can accomplish.”
Six Halls of Fames have inducted the Waterloo native, including the University of Northern Iowa and Waterloo East Athletics Halls of Fame. Miller was a two-time NCAA Division II champion (1974 and 1975) for the UNI, posting a 128-22 record. He was a Panthers assistant from 1983-1991 before taking the Wartburg post. Miller expects to remain active in the NWCA and wrestling, while playing an undetermined leadership role at Wartburg.
“Jim is hearing a new call, and we’ll support his process of discernment,” Wartburg President Darrel Colson said. “I’m delighted that he’s called to stay here at Wartburg.”
He will be close to offer advice, if needed. Keller, a former UNI wrestler who has been on the Knights staff for a total of 12 years, said it would be illogical not to use Miller as a resource.
Keller, 37, a former UNI wrestler who has served on the Knights staff for a total of 12 years, learned about the decision in August. He was excited, but wanted Miller to be certain he was ready to relinquish the reins.
“I just wanted him to make sure, more than anything, he was 100 percent confident and ready,” Keller said. “I wanted it was on his terms and the time was right for him.’
The progression has seen Keller promoted to associate head coach to co-head coach. He has also assumed more of the day-to-day operations. Keller said Miller had groomed him for this moment, delegating addition responsibilities to him in previous seasons.
“He does such a good job of letting young coaches take on more and more,” Keller said. “That’s a great thing about him and why I feel so prepared because he has given me more to do each year. I think it’s a great way to do it.
“I’m thankful for that.”
Keller, who earned Rookie Coach of the Year honors as head coach at North Central (Ill.), said Miller’s role as mentor isn’t going to end at the conclusion of the season. He will use Miller as a resource.
“I’d be crazy not to,” Keller said. “I want him to feel as welcome and part of the program as much as he wants to.”
When it comes to coaching, many say you don’t want to be the one to replace a legend. Keller doesn’t view it that way. Instead of replacing a significant part of the Knights wrestling tradition, he sees an opportunity to continue Miller’s winning ways.
“I see it more as an expectation than pressure,” Keller said. “For me, I’m not all that concerned with making it my stamp or my legacy. I just want to keep this thing going.”
For one more season, he’ll have Miller along for the ride.
IOWA CITY — The roll call for running back on Saturday isn’t what you’d have expected back in August. Then again, it’s Iowa running back.
Up is down. Black is gold. It’s the running back apocalypse every other game. They change ACLs more than some of us change T-shirts.
Sophomore fullback Mark Weisman again will be the man when the Hawkeyes (2-1) play host to Central Michigan (1-1) this weekend. Weisman (6-0, 235) didn’t start out as the man last week, but ended up being the last man (running back) standing in Iowa’s victory over Northern Iowa.
“I went to dinner with my family and just hung out with friends,” said Weisman, who worked harder against UNI (113 yards, three TDs) last Saturday than he played Saturday night. “We watched some football. They’re my friends, they gave me a little crap, but it was all good and fun.”
Of course, Weisman was slotted into running back after sophomore Damon Bullock (concussion) and true freshman Greg Garmon (elbow) were injured in the first half. Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Bullock is doubtful for this week; Garmon has a chance if he practices well. (If you do a quick historical look at Iowa running backs and concussions, Adam Robinson missed two weeks in 2010.)
With really nowhere else to turn, Iowa running back has a shot to grow from this. When the other backs return and Weisman slides home to fullback, there will be video that shows him as a bruising runner with decent hands and excellent blocking skills. Opposing defenses will need to note that Iowa fullback isn’t just guard No. 3.
“That’s the only good thing that comes out of this. Someone has to go in and play. It forces our hand,” Ferentz said. “We learned a lot more about Mark. We learned a lot more than we knew going into the game, so that’s a good thing.”
After the walk-on fullback who transferred to Iowa before last season from the Air Force Academy, who totaled 146 yards offense in his first extended action, who left the Academy because the life, including making his bed, was too rigid for his taste, it really gets interesting for Iowa running back this week.
Michael Malloy, also a walk-on, is No. 2. He’s a 6-0, 180-pound true freshman who’s never stepped on the field in a game. He might’ve played last week, but he sat out with flu symptoms.
No. 3 this week would be junior fullback Brad Rogers. Hey, why not? The fullback worked out pretty well last week.
No. 4 is where it gets even more interesting. Junior Andre Dawson isn’t eligible, Ferentz said, because he has a non-athletic scholarship that would be forfeited if he played.
“It’s a complicated deal, so we are limited on that one,” Ferentz said. “It’s a rule, NCAA rule.”
That brings us to Jordan Canzeri.
Canzeri suffered a torn ACL at the beginning of spring practice in March. Ferentz has maintained all along that his surgery and rehab have gone exceedingly well. Canzeri, a 5-9, 188-pound sophomore, returned to practice prior to Iowa State. He was in uniform and on the sidelines last week.
“He was cleared to play last week,” Ferentz said. “He looked OK [in practice]. To the casual observer, you wouldn’t know he was injured, but he hasn’t done a great volume of work, either.”
For the ACL math you have in your head, yes, roughly six months for Canzeri does sound extremely fast. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL last December and played on opening day this year for the Vikings. That’s a nine-month span, which is considered industry standard.
For an outlier example, take a look at former Hawkeye Jermelle Lewis. He suffered a torn ACL in March 2003 and returned to the field Oct. 18, which was around seven months. It was unrelated and nearly a full calendar year later, but Lewis did suffer a torn ACL in his other knee in October 2004 that essentially ended his football career.
Ferentz emphasized Tuesday that this decision doesn’t lie with the coaches. He added that there’s “medical clearance” and actually being able to play the game.
“The medical people tell us when it’s safe for a player to return. They’re the experts, not us,” Ferentz said. “Then, our job is to look at the player practice and perform. It’s conceivable that a guy could be cleared medically and then not by us. It depends on the position, the injury, that type of thing. It’s just a day at a time. . . . Part of it is player’s level of confidence, too.”
In a perfect world, Ferentz would love to redshirt Canzeri, allow him more than a year to recover and continue to build his body (he is a true sophomore). Iowa running back isn’t a perfect world. You saw Saturday. It’s more like the zombie apocalypse.
It’s all limbs on deck.
“I don’t think we are going to have that luxury this year based on [last] Saturday,” Ferentz said of Canzeri. “I think whoever can help this team win is going to help, and I just didn’t even allow myself to think about it during the course of the summer just because I didn’t think it was realistic [Canzeri's return], but he’s been cleared now, so it’s a matter of when he’s ready to play.”
IOWA CITY — Seventeen projects, $158 million: That’s the tally for flood-mitigation projects the city of Iowa City has identified.
None of the projects discussed during last night’s work session is new, but city staffers gave the City Council its first comprehensive flood update in a while.
The projects result from the Floods of 2008. Iowa City is on its third city manager since then, and only two of the seven council members from that time are still serving, Public Works Director Rick Fosse noted.
“It’s been a long time since the flood,” he said.
The city has received commitments for $102.8 million in federal and state funds toward the $158 million total. A voter-approved local-option sales tax is estimated to generate another $32.8 million for flood projects over its four-year life, Fosse said.
The projects discussed last night are intended to combat future flooding, and Fosse drew a distinction between those and recovery projects.
They include the $54.8 million relocation of the north wastewater treatment plant, which flooded in 2008, to the south plant. It’s the largest public works project in city history, Fosse said, and is 10 percent done and scheduled for completion in spring 2014.
That project comes in second to Iowa City’s top public infrastructure priority: the elevation of Dubuque Street and the Park Road bridge, to start construction in 2014 and finish a year later. The current $32 million estimate for what the city is calling the Gateway Project likely is low because of the complexity of the work that will be needed with the bridge, Fosse said. An updated estimate is not yet available.
Near the street and bridge is Taft Speedway Street, upon which the city has proposed building a levee. That would leave nine homes on Taft Speedway between the levee and the Iowa River. Those homeowners, along with some from the Parkview Terrace neighborhood, have been fighting against the levee. Meanwhile, owners of units in a condominium complex the levee would protect are advocating for its construction.
A study looking at the effects of the levee is in draft form and should be ready for review in October or November. The council will then be asked whether it supports the levee.
The one-hour discussion was intended as a presentation and the merits of the projects were not debated. But council members asked the most questions about the Taft Speedway levee, including the history of buyouts, flood insurance and whether the $8 million secured for the levee could be used on another project.
David Purdy, a community development planner for the city, said the state has said the funds could not be automatically transferred to another project, but the city could ask the state to let the money go toward something else.
Mayor Matt Hayek praised the amount of work city staffers have put into flood recovery and mitigation.
“It’s incredible to look back four-plus years and recall that time,” he said.
More than half of Iowans will be obese by 2030, with a corresponding increase in chronic disease and health care costs unless current trends are stopped, according to a report released today.
“It’s really mind-boggling,” said Katie Tharp, clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa College Public Health.
“We just keep hoping some of our efforts will have an impact,” said Cathy Lillehoj, research analyst with the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Just keep plugging away at the problem, and hope we can have an impact.”
The report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation says 54 percent of Iowans will be obese in 18 years absent a significant change in diet and exercise habits. That would rank the state 31st in obesity in 2030, but it’s a higher obesity rate than the nation’s current fattest state, Mississippi (35 percent).
About 29 percent of Iowans were obese - defined as having a body-mass index of 30 or higher – last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 36 percent are overweight, with an index of 25 to 30.
The study offers an achievable goal: Iowa would save 7.1 percent in health care costs, or $5.7 billion, if state residents lowered their body-mass index by 5 percent. That’s the rough equivalent of a 10-pound loss for a six-foot-tall person weighing 200 pounds.
“The critical piece is not that people know they should be engaging in more physical activity or making healthier food choices it’s whether their environment is supporting them in making those decisions,” said Stephanie Neff, deputy director of Linn County Public Health. Neff also chairs the advisory team for Cedar Rapids’ Blue Zone initiative aimed at improving the city’s and state’s health.
Those efforts emphasize healthier eating and exercise for all ages, but anti-obesity steps aimed at younger children may be the state’s best chance of improving its overall health, Lillehoj said.
“We didn’t have all these concerted efforts with the people who are adults now,” she said. “We’re trying to have an impact with children, especially younger children. That’s where we have a better shot at having an impact.”
“Preventing someone from becoming obese is a lot easier than treating them after they become obese,” said Tharp, but she warned it will take a more sustained effort to be as successful as anti-smoking campaigns launched in the 1960s.
“Nutrition’s a lot more complicated than tobacco control, but we’re hoping that with all the effort with nutrition and exercise and having healthy environments, that will have a big payoff,” she said.
Other findings from the report:
- Obesity could contribute to 367,691 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 857,998 new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, 765,455 new cases of hypertension, 494,563 new cases of arthritis, and 120,441 new cases of cancer in Iowa by 2030.
- Obesity-related health care costs in Iowa could climb by 3.7 percent, which could be the third lowest increase in the country.
If Iowa residents indeed reduced their body-mass index by 5 percent, it would spare these new cases of major obesity-related diseases:
- 77,783 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes,
- 67,065 fewer cases coronary heart disease and stroke,
- 60,940 fewer cases hypertension,
- 34,635 fewer cases arthritis.
- 5,849 fewer cases obesity-related cancer.