SIOUX CITY | A proposal that would significantly limit the number of days Sioux City residents can shoot fireworks on holidays received unanimous approval from Sioux City Council members Monday.
The council voted 5-0 on the first reading of an amendment to its current fireworks ordinance that will allow residents to shoot them only on Dec. 31 and July 3 and 4, a steep decrease from the 13 days currently allowed in the existing ordinance.
The vote came with relatively little fanfare compared with a boisterous discussion on the same topic in July, which came when the council initially considered tweaking the ordinance. That discussion had drawn dozens to the council chambers, many of whom shared noise concerns and suggestions.
Monday, as the council took its first consideration of formal ordinance changes, only one community member spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance change and one other spoke against it.
"I was one of the people that didn't get much sleep in this 10-day span (over July 4), and I just wanted to say thank you for re-looking at the situation," resident David Johnston told the council Monday. "Frankly, I'd like to see it less than two days, but I appreciate you re-looking at it."
Brett Watchorn, a candidate in the October City Council primary, told the council he strongly opposed the limitation, saying many people work the night of the holiday, limiting their time to discharge.
"Personally, I worked both the third and fourth (of July) last year. If you're going to cut it down, at least cut it down to a week," he said.
Under Sioux City's proposed ordinance change, residents could discharge fireworks on private property from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on both July 3 and 4 and from 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Last summer, after the state ban was lifted, the city had allowed residents to set off fireworks for a 10-day period, between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. from June 25 to July 4. Revelers were given an extra hour on the Fourth of July and the Saturday and Sunday preceding the holiday.
New Year's discharges were scheduled to be allowed during the same hours Dec. 30 through Jan. 1, with an extension to 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day.
The 10-day window resulted in several noise complaints and prompted discussion at the council level on whether to shorten the number of days allowed before next year.
Councilwoman Rhonda Capron told Watchorn she is more concerned about people having to put up with the noise for extended periods of time than those missing out due to work.
"I'm worried about disrespecting your neighbors. I'm worried about keeping people up," she said.
Mayor Bob Scott said he believes Sioux City's proposal is fair, pointing to the bans in the other large cities in the state -- Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Iowa City all currently prohibit fireworks discharge.
The ordinance must still pass second and third readings, a move that will likely come next week. Council members debated Monday whether to approve all three readings at the same meeting, but a motion to do so died after three council members voted against it to allow for more community input.
In other action, the council approved by a 4-1 vote a list of fees that Sioux City's EMS Division will use to bill for service calls when it assumes in-town 911 services Jan. 1.
The fees mainly mirror the current charges that Siouxland Paramedics Inc., which is providing 911 services through Dec. 31, bills to patients. One exception will be an additional $186 to $327 charge for when patients are treated at a scene but not transported. The cost would vary on the level of care needed.
Jim Haden, who will serve as director of the city's new EMS division, said that charge will help the city recoup some of the costs to provide care at the scene. Nothing would be charged if an ambulance responds but the patient does not require medical intervention that uses supplies, he said.
Scott voted against the fees, saying he has taken issue with the process of forming the division, including the city not looking at bids for the work, and believes it will be an expensive undertaking.
The council also voted 4-0 in favor of a food services contract with Spectra, the Philadelphia-based firm set to take over management of operations at the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre early next year. Scott abstained from the vote.
The contract approved Monday will cover food and beverage services at the Tyson Events Center, Sioux Gateway Airport and IBP Ice Center. It must go into effect Jan. 1 because the city's contract with its current caterer, Centerplate, expires at the end of the year.
The city will consider a separate contract for management of the Tyson and Orpheum next week.
VERMILLION, S.D. | David Lane wanted to study political violence and criminal behavior.
When he started graduate school, he planned to explore topics related to deviance, but along the way was steered into studying tattoos and he became an expert in the culture and social aspects of the tattoo business.
"I'm a sociologist who went to grad school to study crime and violence," said the University of South Dakota assistant sociology professor. "Somehow I've become one of the movers and shakers in this area."
His research led to the creation of Marks of Civilization: A Cultural Examination of Tattooing, an honors class he offers to USD students every other year. It's likely the only one of its kind taught on a U.S. college campus and allows students to examine the culture of the people who do the tattooing, how they learn their craft and abide by a loose-knit set of unwritten rules of professional self-regulation.
It may strike some as an odd field of study, and Lane understands their puzzlement. He had a similar reaction when two of his University of Delaware professors suggested he study tattoos.
Lane decided to give it a try, but after a few weeks of reading what research was available, he discovered that nearly everyone who had studied tattoos wrote about interpreting the final product, figuring out what a person's tattoos mean and say about him or her.
After spending hours in tattoo parlors talking to tattoo artists and having some of his own tattoos done, Lane realized there was a much more interesting aspect to the culture that researchers were missing. Artists would visit each other's shops, sharing tips and techniques with one another. Nearly all of what they know is passed through human relationships, not textbooks.
"This is something they're all learning though an honor-based system and word of mouth," said Lane, whose own arms are covered with tattoos.
He would rather learn about who makes the tools, the pigments used in tattooing and how one gets a license rather than try to figure out what tattoos mean.
"Everybody was talking about what tattoos mean and I valued it differently," the Baltimore native said. "Once I got to seriously studying this, I realized I can do something with this. I try to present tattooing as a cultural activity."
He initially thought he'd write a book about the subject, but when he came to USD five years ago, his research followed him and he developed the tattoo class so that curious students could learn more about what went into those images that many of them were having tattooed on their bodies.
When first offered two years ago, the class filled up with the maximum 15 students. This semester, he has 14 students, many of them sociology majors, but also some art students and a history major. They interview Sioux City tattoo artists and observe them, learning about the culture of those who come into the shops and how the artists serve them.
Throughout the class, they discuss the negative stigma of tattoos. Lane laughs, acknowledging that to some people, his study of tattoos is actually a study in criminal behavior, given the long association between tattoos and crime.
But he's quick to point out that in the late 1800s, tattoos were a big fad among the culturally elite in the United States and United Kingdom, and it's hard to find any culture throughout history that didn't practice tattooing or some form of body mutilation.
The class leads to insightful discussions and findings, said Lane, who's finishing up that book about tattoo workers and their culture.
Once finished, he plans to focus on other interests in his research and continue to teach other classes in collective behavior and social movements, social problems, crime and pop culture and deviance.
"I do think it's time for me to grow and branch out as a scholar," said Lane, who has been studying social problems recently.
But he'll never leave tattooing behind because it's fascinating to him, and he's grown to love the culture.
"I'm lucky," he said. "I get to study what I love, and I've made a career out of it so far."
You could say he's left his mark, one that might be as permanent in his field of study as the ink under his skin.
DES MOINES -- Gov. Kim Reynolds and state lawmakers likely are going to have to consider mid-year budget adjustments ranging from $50 million up to $90 million after a state panel Monday left its current revenue-growth projections unchanged and slightly lowered the expectations for fiscal 2019.
The three-member state Revenue Estimating Conference decided to keep its fiscal 2018 revenue growth projection at 2.4 percent, or slightly more than $7.128 billion through June 30 but lowered its fiscal 2019 growth estimate by $9.3 million to nearly $7.416 billion - figures that by law become the numbers the governor and Legislature must use for budgeting purposes in the upcoming legislative session.
"Iowa revenues, while still growing, are disappointing for the first five months of the fiscal year," said REC member Holly Lyons of the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. "There is nothing, however, to indicate that the revenue growth will turn negative, but growth is very slow, slower than the revenue estimating conference forecasted last October. Most Iowa economic indicators would suggest slow but steady growth."
While unchanged from October, the revenue spelled some bad news given that the estimates then were scaled back by $133 million while overshot this year's projected ending balance and could portend cuts or more borrowing from the state's cash reserves to keep the ledger balanced, officials said.
"Some mid-year adjustments will be required yet this fiscal year," said David Roederer, a REC member who also directs the state Department of Management and is Reynolds' budget director. "Even before October, we were saying (to state agency heads) you need to be prepared, so it's not like this is catching anybody by surprise."
Conference members said Iowa's economy continues to grow, but Iowans' personal incomes and wages are not increases as rapidly as projected while sluggish farm prices continue to pose challenges and manufacturers are constrained by a lack of skilled workers to fill vacant positions. Added to that is uncertainty over federal tax changes and trade agreements that impact the state's revenue situation.
"We're very firmly on the side of we're not sure what's going to happen," Roederer said in concluding his fiscal analysis during Monday's Statehouse meeting.
The state revenue projections form the backdrop for new budget discussions for Reynolds, majority Republicans and minority Democrats when the 2018 General Assembly convenes on Jan. 8.
"Agriculture plays a large part in our economy and when corn is selling for $3 per bushel, it's going to have a significant effect on the budget like we're seeing now. This is not unique to Iowa and many surrounding states are dealing with this challenge as well," said Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"While revenue estimates can be unpredictable, House Republicans are not," Grassley added. "We will continue to live within our means and pass a responsible budget that funds Iowans' priorities."
For their part, legislative Democrats said they were willing to work in a bipartisan manner to make a "mid-course correction" that would invest in successful job-creation initiatives by paring back some tax credits.
"The state budget has become an embarrassment to all Iowans, regardless of their political beliefs," said Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. "Paychecks and family income are stagnant. Iowa now ranks dead last in the country for economic growth and the next legislative session will be spent paying off $144 million of debt."
Reynolds' office countered the Democratic criticism by issuing a statement noting that Iowa was named the third best-run state in the nation according to a financial analysis issued Monday that cited Iowa's 17-year low unemployment rate, the strength of the state's pension fund, its AAA credit rating, and the state's low poverty rate.