Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The view from here

Unless you come from a small rural area, it is hard to appreciate the difference that a city and farm country can bring. Although my family wasn’t farmers, we did our share of farm activities. I barely know anyone that didn't grow up walking beans, bailing hay, or detassling corn.

My father probably gets credit for being one of the smartest people on the planet when he encouraged me to go to college. "Son", he said, "perhaps you should go to college. You just aren't very good using your hands". It was wise advice, but maybe not a revelation since I can barely change a light bulb let alone work on anything mechanical. It's those types of memories that make the political world of Las Vegas seem so amazing to those of us not from the big city.

Amazingly, in the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday, there was an article in the Nevada section detailing the history of corruption that Clark County Commissioners have shown. The headline reads "Class of 1999: Vote (by Clark County residents) most likely to succeed..." (p. 1b).

Along with the headline was a picture of the commissioners at that time. In 1999, the commissioners were Lance Malone, Dario Herrera, Erin Kenny, Yvonne Atkinson-Gates, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Bruce Woodbury and Myrna Williams. Since then Dario Herrera, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Erin Kenny, and Lance Malone are either currently serving prison sentences or on their way. Atkinson-Gates is under scrutiny for enriching herself although she has not been charged with any crimes. Bruce Woodbury is the only commissioner still serving, and to his credit, he is apparently above all the scandal that plagues the commission.

It probably isn't a surprise to most folks from the Las Vegas area that such things take place here. It appears to be part of the local culture. Nevertheless, for a small town person from rural Iowa it is a real revelation.

Back home I remember some controversy when the town mayor was found letting off fireworks on the 4th of July. Certainly it may have been patriotic, but the town mayor committing such an act? Many were aghast at such scandalous behavior. Lately that former mayor is constantly in the news for suing the city for allowing a fence be put up in a vacated alley. He argues that it infringes on his use of his own property. Right or wrong, I don't know but certainly as exciting as it gets for back home.

I remember moving back to Iowa right after I received my undergrad degree from Northwest Missouri State University. At the time, there was controversy everywhere about family farms. I know the issue is still troubling for many back home.

However, I'll never forget the first time I saw the following signs while driving down Interstate 80 towards Des Moines. As I recall, the first sign said "Urban Sprawl ain't too pretty", a while later was another sign "save our farms, build in the city". I believe there was a picture of a farm animal, tractor, or such along with it. However, the next signs were even better: "Building homes on rural ground" "How 'bout raisin hogs downtown". Those farmers really had a sense of humor, but that was the controversy we had at the time.

I can only imagine the signs politicians in this area may use as a catchy slogan: "Taking money from special interests", "save our state recall Gibbons".

Well, I'm sure it needs work, but that's how I see it.


Mark said...

Small towns and rural living are the life! The little things that make the news are a trip when you think of what is going on in major cities. The simple things in life are sometimes missed by the hussle and bustle of work and prestige. In our town, the doctor still makes house calls. What do you think?

vegasviaiowa said...

Absolutely right. In my hometown newspaper they have a section where people call and talk about what they did during the week. The section might look like this: Greg, Andrea, and Matthew were the overnite guests of his parents, Gary and Nina. Or, Ms. Scott was the winner of the ladies bridge game. I have yet to see such things in the Las Vegas Review Journal. They could take some lessons from The Guthrie County Vedette. Greg

anita said...

I have friends who live in Koskie, Idaho.Two years ago I went to visit them and they came to visit me for Thanksgiving of that year. Two weeks after their visit they sent me a copy of the local Koskie newspaper. In the paper was a picture of me walking down the street with a caption stating that I was a visitor along with a small article that John and Susan had been to visit me near the Seattle area. Sounds similar to your Iowa hometown newspaper.

Marcie said...

The Guthrie Center Times is where it's at, baby... T-I-G-E-R-S!