May 26, 2021

Axios Des Moines

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Today's Smart Brevity count is 921 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Des Moines' growing immigrant population
Data: Heartland Forward; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

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

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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'

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  • 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

Slipknot performs a live concert in Copenhagen. Pictured here: Clown. Photo: Avalon/PYMCA/Gonzales Photo/Nikolaj Bransholm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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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