The Ottumwa Courier

September 5, 2012

Guest editorial: Who should speak at Labor Day rally?

‘Petty partisan politics’ should not taint event


OTTUMWA — On Aug. 27, I called Joe Rush and requested to attend the non-partisan Labor Day event. Joe agreed and said he would call me back with a time.

On Aug. 30, the day before the event was to start, Steve Siegel called to inform me that he was “the person really in charge” and I was not welcome to be there. I next received the following email:


Please advise us as to how you have supported organized labor. You sponsored a bill to do away with Chapter 20 and all public sector unions; you sponsored a bill to make it illegal for members of private sector unions to voluntarily contribute to their political action committee; you referred to Iowa’s public schools as Nazi propaganda centers.

Please advise us of what you have done to support organized labor and its members and we will consider your request.

Steve Siegel

My response is below:

Hello Steve,

Thank you for asking. I have consistently supported local control in government and the empowering of teachers, police, fire fighters, judges and all those that labor to support their families and make Iowa a great place to live. It is wrong to mandate from afar and irresponsible not fund required programs.

I am working with the community college system to expand access to extended vocational programs.

Chapter 20 is broken to the point that it is no longer followed and there is a cowardice from both parties to update it.

Any citizen that wishes to contribute to a PAC should be able to do so but the state should not be the fiduciary agent.

I never referred to Iowa schools as Nazi propaganda centers and clearly said just the opposite which is I do not want a top down education system in the state of Iowa.

As for supporting labor directly, I paid my way through college as a union carpenter and my father has just retired from the carpenters union in southern California. I know what it means to work hard for a living and I am proud that as an entrepreneur, I have created an environment that as an employee I would be excited to work in.

I am using my experience as a job creator to help the state of Iowa grow the private sector and bring more opportunities to workers across this great state.

I have always lead by example and will continue to do so.

Senator Mark Chelgren

On Sept. 1, I saw Steve and requested to know the final decision. He responded that I would not be allowed to attend. He went on to question why I would want to be at “his fundraiser.”

I believe it is my job to work for the citizens of Iowa and to listen to their concerns. Apparently, Steve does not understand what it means to be a public servant.

I did not attend the event because my goal is to promote Ottumwa. It it not to cause dissention. I understand from reading the Ottumwa Courier that Mr. Siegel spoke at the event and spent a generous amount of time attacking me. He complained about nine votes with wind energy tax credits named specifically.

I did vote against expanding the wind energy tax credits because it is in reality a SCAM. Iowa taxpayers give money to produce wind energy that is sent to Illinois where their taxpayers pay money to use the wind energy. Effectively the wind dealers are double-dipping taxpayer pockets. The wind industry exists only to spend tax money and buy political influence. It is important to note that I also do not support tax credits to oil companies, coal companies or any companies for that matter.

I live by a simple rule and teach it to my children. It takes courage to stand up to your enemies, and it takes integrity to stand up to your friends. Petty partisan politics should not have tainted the Labor Day event.

Mark Chelgren is a state senator from Ottumwa and business owner.