The stage is being set for
American leadership throughout the world. Our cities and towns
pulsating with energy and linked together with transcontinental
lines of railway, are, on one hand, converting the power that helped
win the war into a power that should dominate the arts of peace.
Our cities and towns are ready.
Back and away from
these market places, on the other hand, lies the country, fenced off
into more than six million food-producing farms. On the
220,000 farms of Iowa there are 194,000 automobiles.
Our farms are
Between farm and
market place the highways are filled with mud and dust -- with ruts
and holes and bumps, interfering -- many times altogether
obstructing -- the passage of produce. In Iowa alone this is costing
the producers and consumers of food thirty million dollars a year.
Our roads are not
Sooner or later they must be
improved in order to complete our transportation system. In
improving, we must recognize the demands of the traffic that is
here, today -- and the greater traffic that is to come.
We should discuss these
matters in every community in Iowa -- but we should discuss them
fairly, and without prejudice. Road improvement is not a problem if
we will apply calm business judgment.
Upon the Greater Iowa
Association has been placed the responsibility of coordinating the
state-wide desire for road improvement. Manifestly there must be
developed one general plan that will conform to the ideas of a
majority of the people of Iowa, or progress will continue to be
retarded. This association has a county chairmen in each of the
ninety-nine counties of the state. Some of these chairmen are
farmers, some are merchants, some are lawyers and some are bankers.
They have been selected because they have evidenced an unselfish
interest in the public welfare. They know what the sentiment is in
their respective counties.
These chairmen were called
for a conference at Des Moines on December 12, but the meeting was
indefinitely postponed because of the influenza epidemic. The
conference will be held as soon as health conditions permit.
The purpose of this
conference was to ascertain the predominating sentiment in the state
toward highway improvement, as reported by these county chairmen; to
prepare a plan of procedure that would meet the approval of the
majority, and ask each chairman to return home and place the plane
before the people of his county for discussion. The suggested
plan, together with the result of the referendum meetings in each of
the ninety-nine counties, would then be placed before the roads
committees of the house and senate in the Thirty-eighth General
Assembly, with the thought that this information would be helpful to
the members of these committees in preparing proposed road
Surely this is not
"dictating" to the legislature.
On the contrary, this is
merely carrying out the avowed purpose of democracy. In the years
gone by we have not gathered at community meetings and discussed
such matters as road improvement. If Iowa will rediscover the
old "town meeting" habit; if the rural and urban business men will
get together every now and then and discuss state affairs -- and
county affairs -- we will be making great headway toward the ideals
Let us make a
test case of the road question.
If we can get together
on that -- we can get together on anything.
The Greater Iowa Association
has not prepared or endorsed any particular plan for road
development. This necessarily must await the conference of county
chairmen and the subsequent county referendum meetings. A
sub-committee of the Highways Improvement Bureau of the Association
met at Des Moines, November 27th, and recommended that as a
basis for real road improvement in Iowa, that the "Florida Plan" be
adopted, in so far as possible.
This sub-committee was composed of
W. J. Tobias, a farmer of Cass County; John G. Abraham, a farmer, of
Henry county, and W. W. Powell, head of a large insurance agency, of
Cedar Rapids. The committee met with Joe L. Long, chairman of the
bureau. Here is the report of the committee:
"We recommend that the Association
give its endorsement to the so-called Florida plan of 'selling roads
marked in plain figures.'
"That in order to make this
effective, the Iowa law must be so amended as to restrict
expenditures outside of current revenues to extraordinary
emergencies, and provide that any board of supervisors may, with the
approval of the state highway department, advertise for bids and let
a contract for any road improvement they may desire to undertake;
such contract to be conditional upon a favorable vote at a general
or special election, within thirty days after such contract is let,
and due notice given, on this question:
" 'Shall the board of
supervisors of ____________ County be authorized to issue not
more than $________ in bonds, to pay for ____________
The Florida plan was explained in
detail in the September issue of THE IOWA MAGAZINE.
Do you think Big Bill Haywood,
notorious leader of the I. W. W., should be released from the
Do you think Debs and Kate
Richards O'Hare, whose Socialist preaching' convicted them of
disloyalty to our country, should be released from the penitentiary