- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

The Des Moines Register. Mar. 24, 2016

Immigrants create, not take, American jobs.

To those who say immigrants are “taking American jobs,” here’s a morsel to mull over: Immigrants drove the creation of more than half the current U.S.-based technology startups valued at $1 billion or more, according to a new report from the National Foundation for American Policy.

The nonpartisan think tank examined 87 privately held companies tracked by the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource. Forty-four had at least one immigrant founder. These companies were collectively valued at $168 billion and created an average of 760 jobs each in the U.S. At 62 of the companies, at least one immigrant helped the company grow and innovate.

“The billion-dollar startup companies with an immigrant founder excel at job creation,” according to the report. From California to Illinois, these companies employ Americans in sectors including technology, health, energy and financial services. Uber, co-founded by a Canadian immigrant, directly employs at least 900 people, but reported having more than 162,000 “active drivers” in the United States as of December 2014.

Instead of being displaced by immigrants, Americans are being employed by them.

Of course, this flies in the face of the anti-immigrant sentiment being spewed by some high-profile politicians in recent days. Instead of talking about “building walls,” Washington leaders should be doing more to welcome international students to our universities and finally expand access to H-1B visas that allow skilled foreign workers to remain in this country.

Nearly one-fourth of the 87 startup companies examined in the study had a founder who first came to America as an international student. Again this year, the federal government’s lottery to obtain one of the 85,000 H-1B visas available is expected to hit capacity within only one week.

The United States should make it easier for the best and brightest entrepreneurs to permanently locate here. Yet some politicians would make it more difficult. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz introduced legislation requiring those seeking a visa to not only have an advanced degree, but also to have worked outside the United States for at least a decade.

This legislation “would have guaranteed that almost none of the billion-dollar startup companies with an immigrant founder would have been started in the United States,” according to the study.

American politicians talk about leading the world in innovation, job creation and economic development. Yet thousands of foreign nationals are unable to work and open businesses here. It makes no sense.

Visas can hamper entrepreneurs

The report “Immigrants and Billion Dollar Startups” profiles several foreign-born entrepreneurs. Among them is Jyoti Bansal, who graduated from India’s top engineering school and has received more than 30 patents related to complex software systems. He founded AppDynamics, a California-based company valued at $1.9 billion that employs 900 people.

He arrived in America in 2000 and received an H-1B visa, which allowed him to work long-term for a company here. Yet the visa generally does not allow people to start their own companies.

“I waited 7 years for my employment-based green card and I wanted to leave my job and start a new company but couldn’t,” he said. “What is most frustrating about the green card process is you have no control over a major part of your life. I have friends who became frustrated with the uncertainty and after years of waiting, they finally left the United States.”___

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Mar. 27, 2016

County’s decision to hire civilian jailers a good one.

Any time government can lighten the burden of taxpayers without adversely affecting services, it’s a winning move.

We feel that is the case with Sheriff Tony Thompson’s plan to hire civilian jailers to replace some sworn deputies at the Black Hawk County Jail.

Thompson estimates the change will save $150,000 to $200,000 or more per year through lower costs for training, pay and benefits. In announcing the move this month, Thompson noted Black Hawk County is one of only two or three counties in the state that doesn’t have civilian jailers.

“This move will be made slowly through attrition, replacing sworn deputies with civilians over time,” Thompson said. “While the county has enjoyed the professionalism and dedication of having sworn deputies in these positions for several decades now, I also recognize the beneficial financial impact for the taxpayers of Black Hawk County.”

Finding savings for taxpayers should be an ongoing endeavor. Making the best use of resources is always critical.

Years ago, we applauded then-Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark’s bold move to merge leadership positions of city departments, cutting down on the number of directors and saving Waterloo taxpayers that cost.

The plan to use more civilian jailers goes along those same lines. It’s a case of maximizing efficiencies to save money for taxpayers without losing effectiveness.

The plan is also meant to address hiring challenges faced by the Sheriff’s Office. Applications for sworn civil service positions have dwindled from several hundred early in Thompson’s career to a couple of dozen now - not all of them qualified. New deputies traditionally are assigned to the jail. Thompson hopes the move will slow turnover and increase applications from deputy candidates not interested in jail assignments. That is as important as the cost savings, Thompson said.

It’s important to point out the move is made possible by the recent completion of labor contract negotiations with unionized deputies. The Board of Supervisors approved new contracts with deputies represented by Teamsters Local 238, which proposed the move in collective bargaining after years of discussion.

Civilian staff will be trained in-house and will have to pass drug and background checks. Thompson said deputies would still be involved with prisoner transports and other duties and will be available in emergencies.

Saving the taxpayers a couple of million dollars over a decade’s time is significant, especially if we are looking for efficiencies in other areas as well.

It also makes sense to fill the positions through attrition so as not to affect livelihoods of current sworn officers.

In these tough financial times, when benefits and pensions are taking up large parts of municipal and county budgets, it remains important we continue to look at viable alternatives.

This program, as long as it is tightly monitored, should be a smart way to save taxpayers’ money.___

Quad-City Times. Mar. 25, 2016

Klipsch must lead on gun violence.

A rash of gun violence is Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch’s first real test since taking office in January. And with his city averaging roughly three shootings a week in 2016, Klipsch must do more to stem the violence.

Of course, Klipsch would rather talk about economic development. No doubt touting the revitalization of Davenport’s downtown flows better from the tongue. But the string of apparently disconnected shootings threatens Davenport’s burgeoning rejuvenation.

City Council members earlier this month forced to the forefront an issue that’s been at the top of residents’ minds, albeit with a probably meaningless letter to state officials. Citing one alleged shooter out on bond, the City Council wants the Iowa Legislature to require cost-prohibitive, cash-only bonds for anyone charged with a gun-related felony. Then, this week, Alderman Ray Ambrose rightly hijacked a debate and, again, forced the crime wave into the public discourse.

“This has been getting worse and worse,” Ambrose said. “To me, it’s like the final hour.”

Few topics pose a more difficult challenge to local governments and police than gun violence. Unregulated access to firearms is the Holy Grail for an entire political movement that’s gaining traction throughout the states. With enough guns circulating to arm every man, woman and child in the country with 40 million to spare, according to The Washington Post, we are literally awash with weapons solely designed to kill. It’s a unique designation in the industrialized West.

On the flip side, the tough-on-crime crackdowns of the past century were, by-and-large, monumental failures. Entire communities were ripped apart by mass incarceration. But the drugs and violence often persisted.

The fact is, there is no good answer to the sudden spate of gun violence. Some appear gang-related, cops have said. Others were totally random. The shootings aren’t confined to any one neighborhood or side of town.

There’s no obvious string binding together the incidents.

That’s why we’ve held our tongue. That’s why we hoped the countless hours of police investigation would uncover the missing link. And it’s also why Klipsch is so wary of hashing out the in-progress chaos.

Klipsch’s caution must not become a blind spot.

There’s probably an economic component, some say. Perhaps the drug war is coming home to roost, as the children raised in homes shattered by the prison industrial complex are coming of age without guidance and options. Maybe listless, hormonal teens are just looking for a thrill.

In at least some of the cases, any or all of these explanations could be partially true. The fact is, we don’t know. And that’s the problem.

Klipsch was elected in November to lead. His tenure wasn’t greeted with the smooth sailing he wanted.

No, we don’t have many answers. The painstaking efforts of police have resulted in several arrests. But, still, the cultural genesis of sudden violence remains a mystery, one with which the justice system can’t possibly cope. Only an open, honest and transparent discussion among residents can shed light on what’s driving Davenport’s youth and others to such unspeakable aggression.

Klipsch should immediately appoint a task force empowered to uncover the social gears driving the bloodshed. He should lobby the Legislature to heed his council’s plea for stiffer penalties for alleged shooters. He should hold weekly public news conferences detailing the city’s efforts to end the violence.

Klipsch should embrace the conversation at every turn. After all, only crisis tests a leader’s true mettle.___

Sioux City Journal. Mar. 27, 2016

Trump shares responsibility for violence at rallies.

We aren’t naive enough to believe or suggest protests at rallies for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this year are entirely spontaneous acts. To the contrary, protest spontaneity is, we believe, the exception, not the rule at Trump events.

MoveOn.org, for example, is actively involved in organizing Trump protests.

Do Americans have a right to protest? Yes. Should they infringe on Trump’s right to speak at rallies or on the right of Trump supporters to hear him? No. Have some protesters at Trump rallies crossed the line into unacceptable disruption? Yes. When they do cross the line, should they be removed from the venue? Yes.

However, violence we have seen inflicted upon some of them at these events is, in a word, appalling, and Trump shares responsibility for it.

Simply put, words matter. The words they use and the high-profile podiums and platforms from which they speak afford candidates for the office of president of the United States a powerful position from which to inspire … or incite.

Trump, in our view, is doing both.

On the positive side, Trump’s overall campaign pledge to “make America great again” resonates in optimistic fashion with many voters.

On the negative side, though, continued incendiary language from Trump at his rallies about protesters contributes to the ugly, unacceptable reactions of some supporters we have witnessed at these events. Trump language, according to published reports, like this:

- “Part of the problem … is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”

- “You know what I hate? There’s a guy - totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that in a place like this? They would be carried out in a stretcher, folks.”

- “Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it.”

- “I’d like to punch him in the face …”

- “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK?”

Is this rhetoric acceptable for someone who wishes to be the next president of all Americans? Should a candidate for president tacitly approve of violence by some Americans against other Americans for, in essence, voicing their opinion?

We believe the answer to these questions is an emphatic “no.”

Trump says he doesn’t condone violence at his events, but it’s hard to believe he’s sincere given the kind of stuff he says from the stage. To us, it’s akin to professing your opposition to pornography as you emerge from an adult bookstore or X-rated movie theater.

We don’t give organized, disruptive protesters at Trump rallies a pass. They, too, have an obligation to ratchet back agitation at these events, no question. We don’t absolve individuals who react violently toward protesters of personal accountability, either.

Still, turning down the temperature should begin with Trump. He needs to tone down the “tough guy” talk and speak out at his rallies in stronger fashion against any violence directed at protesters by those who support him. In other words, set the proper tone, in unequivocal fashion. If trouble begins, event security should deal with it, not audience members.

No place exists in our democratic process for violence at presidential campaign events. Let’s put a stop to this before it escalates further and someone ends up dead.

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