Category: Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor – Roger White

To the Editor:
Under the Affordable Care Act (what some call Obamacare), nearly 200,000 Iowans have access to healthcare through Medicaid expansion. These are hard-working Iowans who don’t receive group health insurance at work and who earn such low wages they couldn’t afford to buy individual health insurance. What will become of these hard-working Iowans when Senator Grassley, Senator Ernst and Representative Blum destroy the Affordable Care Act? They are tossed out into the cold with no relief since the current plan is to repeal the existing law before there is even hope of a qualified replacement. Such action is unconscionable, but seems to be par for the course among Republicans this year.
Candidate Trump made lots of promises about healthcare features that would be preserved (young adults staying on family plans, no lifetime caps, no denial of coverage because of illness, etc.). Even though Trump promised many times to “repeal and replace with beautiful health care” in the end he’s doing nothing. Grassley, Ernst and Blum continue to push repeal without replacement causing catastrophic results for ordinary Iowans. Some hard-working Iowans voted for Trump based on his promises, but they will be sorely disappointed now when Republicans act.
Roger L. White
Cedar Falls

Letter to the Editor – Gary Murphy

To the Editor:
I’m responding to the two letters published in The Progress Review, the first from an inmate (published on January 11, 2017), the second from a veteran (January 18, 2017).
To the veteran: Sir, I have a couple of things that I would to THANK YOU for.
One: SERVING OUR COUNTRY. Reminding people it’s not easy being in the service. Or being away from home and family. Not easy all around. THANK YOU.
Two: Thank you for telling this inmate and others, “after their debt is paid to society. Put this mistake in your history book as a lessen well learned and move on with your life… It’s not too late.”
This letter is not to get a war of words going, but to do some comparisons. With no actual military or prison experience, I may be way off target, or closer than I think.
MILITARY SERVICE: Positives include three meals a day, a bed (maybe not comfortable), exercise (physical training), self-defense training, stationed around the world, discipline (as well as self-discipline), money for school, weapons training, friendships with people around the world (different ethnicities), regular daily schedules, being THANKED FOR YOUR SERVICE.
Negatives include the possibilities of going to war, dying, losing limbs, suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, being hazed in boot camp, being dishonorably discharged, not eating or sleeping for long periods, not seeing families for holidays or again, not getting great feasts for holidays, and BEING FORGOTTEN.
PRISON INMATES: Positives include three meals a day, a bed (maybe not comfortable), exercise (weights, maybe basketball, softball), cards, some schooling for General Educational Development (GED) tests, maybe some general education classes
for college and developing some friendships.
Negatives include daily counts (at least twice every day) for guards to know exactly where you are, sleeping behind
bars, very little contact with the outside world, being hazed when not getting along with someone or a group of people, dying, being forgotten by family and friends, treated like dirt when they get released.
SERVICE also has some extra things that kind of help remember them also: Veterans Day, Remembrance of Pearl Harbor, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (not just for Veterans). All the war memorials that honor those who have served. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR SERVICE.
INMATES: Nothing extra
Therefore, I don’t think this inmate was looking for empathy. Just don’t forget about family and friends that are incarcerated. Send them a letter to let them know you’re thinking about them, just like you would do for a service member that is on your mind.
To the incarcerated, some of us think of you daily.
Gary Murphy
La Porte City

Letter to the Editor – Dave Nelsestuen

Editor’s Note: The following letter was written in response to a letter published in the January 11, 2017 edition of The Progress Review. Click to view the original letter. -MW
I’m responding to your letter in The Progress Review on January 11, 2017, referencing incarcerated prisoners during the holidays. I tried to be compassionate and understanding while reading your letter, and to some degree I was. I don’t know why you are in prison, but because you are it tells me that you did something serious. I say that because confinement in prison is the punishment that courts most commonly impose for serious crimes, such as felonies. The courts usually impose short-term incarceration in a local jail for lesser crimes.
You stated that it isn’t empathy you want, yet your letter felt to me like that is exactly what you were hoping to gain. You said you understand how we (society) sees you, that you aren’t the animal we make you out to be and that you have just spent your second Christmas incarcerated.
Then, for whatever reason, you found the need to reference inmates and people serving their country. Not sure why you associated the two, but they are indeed, my friend, two different things. You first wrote, “I can’t speak for those serving for our country because I have no idea what that is like.”
Then later in the letter you wrote, “we are just as important as those who serve our country or have passed away.”
Let me tell you what it was like being a veteran who spent two Christmas’ in a combat zone, eating c-rations at the age of 18 and 19; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent who has a son in a combat zone, eating MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) not one Christmas, but two Christmas’; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent with another son overseas for two Christmas’; It sucks!
In all three comparisons, and like every other service man or woman, we would have rather been home in the living room with our families, but it was a choice we made. The difference is every service man and woman that is serving their country hopes to return home safely, unlike an inmate. The difference is they made the choice of defending their country, allowing others to be free and make choices in their lives, unlike an inmate.
So, I want you to know and understand you are important as a human-being, but in no way under the present circumstances can you compare yourself to being as important as someone who is serving their country.
I do feel sorry for the bad choices you chose that ultimately got you incarcerated, but I’m not sorry for you because you are incarcerated. I do wish you had taken a different road, but it is too late now.
Speaking for myself, I don’t see you any different from anyone else, other than someone that made a bad choice and is now paying your debt to society. I judge a person on what they do and how they act after their debt is paid to society. Put this mistake in your history book as a lesson well learned and move on with your life…it’s not too late.
Dave Nelsestuen
La Porte City

Letter to the Editor – Patty Beiner

To the Editor:

Did you ever love someone who was disabled? Did you ever have trouble finding them sufficient housing?
John Hansen’s sister Tammy, my best friend died before John could get an abandoned nursing home in Fredericksburg remodeled. Not many people are aware of the desperate need for handicapped accessible apartments in rural areas.
John bought the nursing home in April of 2015 and used all his retirement SAVINGS to purchase the building and some remodeling. Tammy passed away in May of 2016. When Tammy got sick they looked for handicapped accessable apartments, but could not find any in the area. Tammy was looking forward to living in Fredericksburg and being close to relatives.
The city of Fredericksburg has no money to help John and he is in dire need. He has started a GoFundMe page on Facebook. The first $50,000 he intends to start remodeling again as the building will make about twenty apartments.
Honor Tammy with John fulfilling his lost dream for her. Reach John at or send donations to 2977 Odessa Ave, Fredericksburg, IA 50630. Thank you so much.
Patty Beiner (formerly ‘Kate McGuire’ from 92.3 KOEL-FM)

Letter to the Editor – Justin Murphy

Editor’s Note: The following letter was among several submitted for publication in The Progress Review with a request they be published as part of a series entitled “Notes from Prison.” While space constraints and other factors will not allow for the publication of every letter submitted, the following composition draws attention to the challenges the state of Iowa has for managing its prison population. According to Iowa Department of Corrections Daily Statistics, there were 8,335 individuals incarcerated in Iowa prisons as of January 4, 2017. With the capacity of the facilities that house them rated at a maximum of 7,286, Iowa’s prisons are considered to be overcrowded by 14.4%. In addition to those who are incarcerated, there are more than 28,000 other individuals that fall under the Department of Corrections’ Field Services classification, with the majority of these individuals either on probation or parole. Given the current strains on the system, the treatment of offenders in Iowa remains a complex issue, as there are very real human and financial costs associated with the decisions made regarding those who have been convicted of committing a crime. -MW
So many people in the U.S. every year are away from home for the holidays. Whether it be because they are serving for our country, or have passed away, or like myself, are in prison.
I can’t speak for those serving for our country because I have no idea what that is like, but I can speak for myself and prisoners throughout the state and country. I myself, have just spent my second Christmas incarcerated. I’ve made a mistake and put myself in prison. We as prisoners don’t want your empathy. We understand how society sees us. There are many inmates who will spend anywhere from two to the rest of their holidays incarcerated.
Sure they [the State] give us a special meal, something we don’t normally get, and some sort of gift. May it be a candy cane or a 20 cent package of Ramen noodles from the State, it isn’t the same as home. It’s one time of the year when whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and all other races come together. Friend or foe, we come together and keep peace between everyone. It may only be for a day, but isn’t that what the holidays are for, coming together and celebrating?
We are a community of our own in here. We take care of “our own” as we say. The less fortunate, the ones who have no family willing to support them, are helped this time of year by the fortunate. Yes, we are prisoners, but we aren’t the animals people make us out to be. We are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, grandkids and even some grandparents. So during this time of year, don’t forget about us. We are just as important as those who serve our country or have passed away. We are all equals no matter the circumstances or past mistakes.
From myself and all of us incarcerated this holiday season, Happy Holidays and a safe New Year. Thank you.
Justin E. Murphy – Newton, Iowa


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