Axios Des Moines
May 26, 2021
👋 Hey, Des Moines, it's Wednesday.
- ☀️ Today we've got clear skies, full hearts, can't lose — finally! High of 79.
🚦 Question for you: As traffic ramps back up — what roads do you dread commuting through? Hit reply and we'll share your thoughts in a future newsletter.
- 👀 Ankeny, we're looking at you.
Today's Smart Brevity count is 921 words, a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Des Moines' growing immigrant population
Des Moines is number two in the country for the fastest-growing immigrant population in the last decade, according to a study by Heartland Forward, a think tank based in Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Our immigrant population increased nearly 50% between 2010-2019, rising from about 40,000 to nearly 60,000 people, the study found.
Why it matters: Immigrants are important to local economies. They fill job shortages and help grow specific industries like agriculture and manufacturing.
- Plus: Their children typically achieve significant upward mobility. A 2016 population survey showed 38% of second-generation immigrants completed college versus 32% for first-generation and 33% for third-generation or higher.
The state of play: A large portion of immigrants moving to Des Moines in the last 20 years were likely recruited by a company and already had a college degree, says Ross DeVol, president of Heartland Forward.
- About 32% of jobs in Des Moines require at least a college degree — higher than the national average, according to Moody Analytics.
- To fill those positions, financial companies like Nationwide, Principal or Wells Fargo have likely recruited talent from outside the country, DeVol said.
Yes, but: Outside of Iowa's metros, it's a starker picture for rural areas, which have suffered population loss for decades.
- But even there, immigrants have helped us avoid huge losses, thanks to an influx of refugees taking ag jobs, like at Tyson in Columbus Junction.
2. About that police de-escalation decision
Civil rights advocates are questioning DSM's unexpected announcement late Monday that police de-escalation training would no longer be taught by its own officers.
Among the questions being raised:
- How was a Washington, D.C.-based group selected instead?
- What's the price tag?
Why it matters: Transparency is important to help assure the public that police decisions are in the best interest of the community.
Context: DMPD has been under fire for months for appointing officers to teach de-escalation who themselves have histories of excessive force or have been accused of racial profiling.
DSM defended its decisions to place the officers in a training role as recently as late last week after another lawsuit was filed against Sgt. Michael Fong alleging excessive force.
Yes, but: Police Chief Dana Wingert sent an email to council members Monday afternoon announcing that Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) would take over future trainings.
- Mayor Frank Cownie announced the change during a public comment portion of a Monday night meeting, saying he wants the public to know the plans but that a formal proposal isn't yet ready.
What they're saying: Groups like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement yesterday called for transparency and community input in training decisions.
- "I'm not really sure if this was a quick knee-jerk decision," Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP told Jason.
What we know: PERF was launched about 45 years ago to advance police professionalism. Its board is made up of law enforcement executives.
- Competitive bids are not required when contracting services but DMPD reached out to several potential vendors, City Manager Scott Sanders told Axios yesterday.
What's next: The "logistics for implementation" will come this summer, Wingert said in the email to council members.
3. Court Avenue security will cost you $320k
The cost for those extra security measures and blockades along Court Avenue on weekend nights will cost $320k this year.
- Des Moines on Monday allocated $170k.
- Polk County plans to allocate $150k.
Details: The 9pm to 2am Fri.-Sat. street closures are in place following shootings that left multiple people injured last month.
- Last weekend was the first time the plan was used and it worked well, Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith told Jason yesterday. (It continues through Sept. 4.)
The intrigue: The street closures have resulted in some extra entertainment opportunities.
- Expect a lot more live band performances in coming weeks, Hockensmith said.
What's next: This year's extra security plan came together quickly because of public safety urgencies.
- Supervisors agreed yesterday to seek private donations and sponsorships to help pay for the extra security measures next year.
4. The Ear: Ears what's poppin'
- Pork producers are asking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to challenge a federal ruling that will prevent meatpacking plants from speeding up processing lines. They say the ruling would cost them $83 million a year. (Des Moines Register)
- Polk County Supervisors yesterday allocated $1 million to help pay for water quality improvements to the planned Central Iowa Water Trails project. More than $25 million of the $117 million plan has been raised.
- A pedestrian died after being hit by a dump truck east of Pleasant Hill on Tuesday. (WHO-TV)
- "We're broken down" — The owners of Warrior Lanes in Waukee said they're dropping mask requirements following violent outbursts from customers. (WHO-TV)
(Today's great pun is brought to you by Christine Marchand of Cumming.)
5. Slipknot is coming home
Get ready maggots — Slipknot is launching their own music festival in Indianola this September and they're bringing a star-studded list of talent with them.
The state of play: Our most prolific local musical talent is launching a "monumental return home" right on the National Balloon Classic Field on Sept. 25.
- Other bands include Faith No More, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Suicideboys.
What they're saying: "A home show is always insane, but a home 'Knotfest' show will be on a whole other level. Prepare. See you soon for the new reality," Clown, aka Des Moines' own Shawn Crahan, said in a news release.
Tickets: Pre-sale is open now through June 3, starting at $79. General admission opens June 4 at $99.
What's next: Slipknot also announced they're returning to the studio to work on their next album release.
Our take: Hey, they've been wearing masks this whole time!
🙃 Our sign of summer: Linh found a snake ball in her backyard. (Don't Google it if you don't like creepy crawlies.)
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