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Sioux City Council could vote to increase garbage collection rates, end senior discount

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council is expected to vote Monday on increasing garbage collection rates and ending the senior discount.

Under the proposed ordinance changes, the base rate for solid waste collection would increase from $16.30 to $16.63 per month. The extra container fee would increase by 6 cents to $3.05 per container, while solid waste stickers would cost 8 cents more, $1.08.

In December 2015, the council amended a contract with Gill Hauling Inc. to allow an annual 2 percent increase in solid waste collection fees. Solid waste collection rates, which were last increased in January 2016, have remained steady for three years. The collection rate increases will accommodate the increase in contract costs payable to Gill Hauling, according to city documents, and generate additional revenue for Environmental Services Division activities.

If the council approves the changes, some 4,200 seniors, who are currently charged $12.05 a month, would pay the regular base rate for solid waste collection, an increase of $4.58 a month.

Special investigation

According to Melissa Campbell, an environmental services analyst for the city, staff hadn't recognized in the past that the senior discount could be putting the city at risk for a class action lawsuit. Other Iowa cities also stopped offering senior discounts after the state auditor's office released a report in August 2016 on a special investigation of the Cascade Municipal Utilities.

"We don't necessarily want to make this change. I know it's going to be unpopular, but we do have to follow state law," Campbell said.

According to the state auditor's report, providing discounted utility service to certain customers based on age is considered a discriminatory rate and does not comply with requirements established by section 388.6 of the Code of Iowa, which states that: "A city utility or a combined utility system may not provide use or service at a discriminatory rate, except to the city or its agencies."

"As a result, the city is required to establish and provide consistent billing rights to all customers," Campbell said.

Raising awareness of abuse
West High's Love Revolution to raise awareness of abuse in relationships

SIOUX CITY -- Cheerful, articulate and full of energy, Rosario Chaclon doesn't seem much like a rabble-rouser.

Yet, the 10th-grader is the brains behind a Love Revolution taking place, all week long, at West High School.

"I met with Rachelle Rawson (advocate and volunteer coordinator with the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) who gave me some startling statistics," the 16-year-old Chaclon explained. "Rachelle told me that whether it was mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, one teenager out of three has been in an abusive relationship."

Even though it never happened to her personally, she's had friends who've been in such toxic relationships.

Wanting to bring attention to an underreported problem, Chaclon, a member of West's student council, began brainstorming ideas.

"I knew abuse was an issue facing many teenagers," she said. "If we put a spotlight on the problem for an entire week, we could bring it out of the shadows."

On Monday, students will be encouraged to wear rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.

"There's always been a stigma with abuse in straight relationships," Chaclon noted. "In some ways, the stigma's even greater in LGBTQ relationships."

On Tuesday, students will be encouraged to wear orange in support of February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

The revolution will continue when the Wolverines boys basketball team takes on the Dakota Valley Panthers later in the day.

"Fans from each school will take turns reciting stats during the game," Chaclon said.

Statistics will also be important on Wednesday, when students will be encouraged to wear anything with a number.

"It will be a very special day," Chaclon explained. "If only one student experiences violence, that's one student too many."

On Thursday -- Valentine's Day -- kids will be encouraged to dress in red or pink. On Friday, school pride will be exhibited by wearing green, black and white.

"West is the most diverse school in the city and domestic abuse is something that can impact anybody," Chaclon said. "By approaching the topic from all angles, we didn't want to leave anyone out." 

Hiatt Holman, a West 12th-grader and student council president, can't help but smile at Chaclon's enthusiasm.

"Rosario knew exactly what she wanted Love Revolution Week to be," he explained. "The student council essentially said all of these were great ideas. OK, how can we help out?"

However, it wasn't just the school who wanted to offer assistance. Area businesses will also lend a helping hand.

For instance, Texas Roadhouse, 5130 Sergeant Road, will donate 10 percent of its food purchase sales to the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence for diners who mention the Love Revolution. Also Starbucks Coffee and Hy-Vee will be selling orange wristbands with "Love Right," "End Violence" and "#Loverevolution" printed as inscriptions.

Like Holman, West 12th-grader and student council sergeant-of-arms Cristina Valadez has been blown away by Chaclon's ambition.

"Every time you thought Rosario was done with ideas for the Love Revolution, she'd come with something new," Valadez said. "Rosario is simply incredible."

That's a notion the modest Chaclon quickly deflects.

"Anyone with love in their heart knows it has the power to overcome hate," she explained. "I think you can start a revolution through love."

The eldest child with four brothers and two sisters, Chaclon said both love and leadership came naturally for her.

At a time when most of her contemporaries haven't a clue about life after high school, Chaclon already has hers mapped out.

"I want to go to the University of South Dakota to study pre-med and, then, go to the University of Michigan and become a dentist," she explained without a moment of hesitation. "Once I become a dentist, I want to work as a missionary, performing dental work in third world countries."

But, first things first. Chaclon has an entire Love Revolution to supervise.

"When you're a teenager in an abusive relationship, you feel like it is your fault or you think this only happens to you," she said, shaking her head. "Neither is true. If we can shine a light on such abusive behavior, then love will win out over anything else."

Monday’s Briefing
Monday’s Briefing

Chimps make ladder, escape Belfast Zoo

LONDON — Zookeepers say a group of chimpanzees used branches weakened by a storm to make a ladder and escape from their enclosure at the Belfast Zoo.

Video filmed Saturday by visitors to the Northern Ireland zoo showed several primates scaling a wall and perching atop it, with one walking down a path outside the enclosure.

Zookeeper Alyn Cairns said trees in the chimps' enclosure had been weakened by recent storms, allowing the animals to break them and fashion a ladder to escape. He told the BBC "they're intelligent primates and know they're not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves."

5 alleged Hitler watercolors go unsold

BERLIN — Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler from his early days as a struggling artist have failed to sell at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg, possibly over fears they could be fakes.

The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported Sunday that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of between 19,000 euros ($21,500) and 45,000 euros ($50,900).

Three days before Saturday's auction, prosecutors seized 63 other paintings attributed to Hitler from the auction house to investigate allegations they were fakes.

As a young man, Hitler unsuccessfully struggled to succeed as an artist in Vienna before World War I.

-- Associated Press


Woodbury Central's Beau Klingensmith controls Hinton's Wyatt Skoudas early in the first period of the 113-pound semifinal match at Saturday's Class 1A district wrestling tournament in Sibley, Iowa. Klingensmith got the pin shortly after.

As clock ticks, new hurdle emerges in border security talks

WASHINGTON — Bargainers clashed Sunday over whether to limit the number of migrants authorities can detain, tossing a new hurdle before negotiators hoping to strike a border security compromise for Congress to pass this coming week. The White House wouldn't rule out a renewed partial government shutdown if an agreement isn't reached.

With the Friday deadline approaching, the two sides remained separated by hundreds of millions of dollars over how much to spend to construct President Donald Trump's promised border wall. But rising to the fore was a related dispute over curbing Customs and Immigration Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in appearances on NBC's "Meet the Press" and "Fox News Sunday," said "you absolutely cannot" eliminate the possibility of another shutdown if a deal is not reached over the wall and other border matters. The White House had asked for $5.7 billion, a figure rejected by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and the mood among bargainers has soured, according to people familiar with the negotiations not authorized to speak publicly about private talks.

"You cannot take a shutdown off the table, and you cannot take $5.7 (billion) off the table," Mulvaney told NBC, "but if you end up someplace in the middle, yeah, then what you probably see is the president say, 'Yeah, OK, and I'll go find the money someplace else.'"

A congressional deal seemed to stall even after Mulvaney convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Camp David, the presidential retreat in northern Maryland. While the two sides seemed close to clinching a deal late last week, significant gaps remain and momentum appears to have slowed. Though congressional Democratic aides asserted that the dispute had caused the talks to break off, it was initially unclear how damaging the rift was. Both sides are eager to resolve the long-running battle and avert a fresh closure of dozens of federal agencies that would begin next weekend if Congress doesn't act by Friday.

"I think talks are stalled right now," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Sunday on "Fox News Sunday." "I'm not confident we're going to get there."

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who appeared on the same program, agreed: "We are not to the point where we can announce a deal."

But Mulvaney did signal that the White House would prefer not to have a repeat of the last shutdown, which stretched more than a month, left more than 800,000 government workers without paychecks, forced a postponement of the State of the Union address and sent Trump's poll numbers tumbling. As support in his own party began to splinter, Trump surrendered after the shutdown hit 35 days without getting money for the wall.

This time, Mulvaney signaled that the White House may be willing to take whatever congressional money comes — even if less than Trump's goal — and then supplement that with other government funds.

"The president is going to build the wall. That's our attitude at this point," Mulvaney said on Fox. "We'll take as much money as you can give us, and we'll go find the money somewhere else, legally, and build that wall on the southern border, with or without Congress."

The president's supporters have suggested that Trump could use executive powers to divert money from the federal budget for wall construction, though it was unclear if he would face challenges in Congress or the courts. One provision of the law lets the Defense Department provide support for counterdrug activities.

But declaring a national emergency remained an option, Mulvaney said, even though many in the administration have cooled on the prospect. A number of powerful Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have also warned against the move, believing it usurps power from Congress and could set a precedent for a future Democratic president to declare an emergency for a liberal political cause.

The fight over ICE detentions goes to the core of each party's view on immigration.

Republicans favor tough enforcement of immigration laws and have little interest in easing them if Democrats refuse to fund the Mexican border wall. Democrats despise the proposed wall and, in return for border security funds, want to curb what they see as unnecessarily harsh enforcement by ICE.

People involved in the talks say Democrats have proposed limiting the number of immigrants here illegally who are caught inside the U.S. — not at the border — that the agency can detain. Republicans say they don't want that cap to apply to immigrants caught committing crimes, but Democrats do.

In a series of tweets about the issue, Trump used the dispute to cast Democrats as soft on criminals. He charged in one tweet: "The Border Committee Democrats are behaving, all of a sudden, irrationally. Not only are they unwilling to give dollars for the obviously needed Wall (they overrode recommendations of Border Patrol experts), but they don't even want to take muderers into custody! What's going on?"