A letter from the editor

There is much I need to do today — real work even though it’s Saturday. But since I can’t get this letter to the editor out of my head, I’ve decided to blog about it and put the work aside for a bit.

First, at only 68 words and three sentences, it packs a wallop. I wish more letter writers could say so much in so few words. Heck, I wish could do it more often, too. Also, I am in a service club with Ed Siering, the writer of the letter, and have worked with him on many volunteer projects. His heart is in the right place.

All that being said, it is a cheap shot to question the professionalism of firefighters simply because many — maybe all — of them belong to a union that supports Rep. Nathan Reichert, D-Muscatine, who is facing a re-election challenge from Muscatine Republican Mark Lofgren.  Because of when I received this letter and other work I was juggling, it was published on 9-11, which makes it seem even more gratuitous.

It would have been better to publish the letter next week, as I think about it now, and Ed is not to blame for that decision.

Still, I’m not sure what he means by the last sentence of his letter. Yes, firefighters are paid with tax dollars. Some of their wages go towards paying union dues. And some of those dues were presumably used to put up Reichert signs.

Have we really become so partisan in this country that it’s OK to question how a government employee spends the salary he is paid for doing his job? If so, maybe we should also tell him in which supermarket to shop and where to buy his next car.

The better question, it seems to me, is to question the wisdom of putting up the signs in the first place. And I think that’s what Ed really meant to do. It it were me, I’d give money to the candidate of my choice, but I would not endorse any candidate in such a public way. And for the record, I have never given money to a candidate, nor have I ever put a sign for one in my yard.

For what it’s worth, I have dealt with both Reichert and Lofgren. In their own ways, either would make a fine legislator. Predictably, however, the most-vocal readers who have posted anonymous comments about this letter at muscatinejournal.com mostly agree with Siering in criticizing the union and Reichert.

Since some of those readers don’t like it when I weigh in on the Journal’s website, which I moderate, I decided to pontificate here — on my time and on a blog where my name is at the top. This is not being done on behalf of the Journal. It is merely my thoughts about a letter in the Journal. I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say.