Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

In-depth reporting appreciated

October 19, 2006
In-depth reporting appreciated
 
Date October 19, 2005
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

Thanks to the Newton Daily News for their in-depth reporting about Newton’s financial situation. The editor clearly paints a bleaker picture of Newton’s budget than earlier reported by Mayor Allen. The dollar amounts Newton will lose if The Maytag Corporation closes its doors are staggering. Our city will face enormous, economic challenges.

It is no surprise that Maytag corporate leaders are involved in underhanded and immoral money shenanigans during the final stages of the Maytag buyout. As Max Tipton plainly pointed out, it is to Mr. Hake’s shame that he has done this.

Newton’s future, with or without The Maytag Corporation, should be addressed honestly by city officials. Mr. Schornack’s candid interview with the editor was a good place to start.

Deana Williams

Newton

Sen. Black and Rep. Bell deserve credit

July 12, 2006
Sen. Black and Rep. Bell deserve credit
 
Date July 12, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

On Friday evening, we attended a meeting in Altoona where Gov. Vilsack was the speaker. The governor made several references to Newton and the changes that will occur as the result of Whirlpool’s acquisition of Maytag.

During his talk, the governor gave full credit to Sen. Dennis Black and Rep. Paul Bell for their proposal that the Iowa Values Fund be used to “jump start” Newton’s incentives for seeking new and expanded business and industry with a $10 million state grant. Their proposal, announced by the governor, was later approved by the Values Fund Board, and Newton is now eligible to use those funds for the intended purpose.

On Monday, we talked with Sen. Black and asked if his constituents were aware that he and Bell had instigated the funding to the city. He told us that they probably did not, although a news release had been issued the day the governor was in Newton at the city hall. That news release was never printed.

We want the people of Newton and surrounding communities to know that it was our senator and representative that went to bat at the statehouse to ensure our local economic developers had state money available to them for seeking new or expanded business in our city that was so hard hit with the layoffs and loss of Maytag.

We are proud of the work Black and Bell do in Des Moines to represent us. We are fortunate to have two representatives that work so hard for our interests. Both need to be returned to the capitol in the election on Nov. 7.

Fritz and Carol Kramer

Newton

Conduct an autopsy on Maytag death

June 22, 2006
Conduct an autopsy on Maytag death
 
Date June 22, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

The failure of Maytag is causing major problems in a very large number of lives.

The death of one person results in an autopsy many times but only affects a relatively few number of people.

Since it is almost inconceivable that a robust, well-managed corporation could fail, shouldn’t an autopsy of some sort be performed to determine the cause of death? At the very least, other companies might learn how to avoid the same fate.

Could the governor appoint a group of knowledgeable former Maytag managers to perform this service?

Wouldn’t this be in the best interest of the people?

James Kirwin

Franklin, Tenn.

Lot of reasons for Maytag’s failure

June 12, 2006
Lot of reasons for Maytag’s failur
 
Date June 12, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

There is a lot of conjecture over how a once well managed and cash abundant Maytag corporation could have come to this end.

Amoung a lot of bad decisions lies an over riding fault.

The last group of CEOs were not willing to use the expertise of their knowledgeable staff. For some reason many CEO’s rise to the top from one area of expertise and right away think they have the same expertise in the other facets of the corporation.

As we know, profit is what is left over when the cost of sales is deducted from the sale of products. Since the vast majority of cost is generated in the manufacturing operation (labor and purchased materials), it would stand to reason that the manufacturing costs be given the highest consideration. Not so the last years at Maytag.

The biggest inefficiency in manufacturing comes from the cost of changing production rates. It generates line downtime, wasted management time, scrap, overtime, extra workers, layoff costs, etc. But instead of stabilizing the production rate, they dictated that rates be set at the highly unreliable marketing forecasts. Typically, this resulted in prodction rate changes.

In short, rates should have been set by what marketing’s feet were doing not their mouth. The CEO’s didn’t understand that the entire plant is staffed to build the given number of products each day and every time one unit doesn’t come off the end of the line the cost of everyone’s labor in the plant must be spread over the rest of production driving up the cost per unit and eroding profits.

Now, they did dictate that “lean manufacturing concepts” be adopted. They took these principles out of context from the Toyota system –just-in-time, Kaisens etc.

The authors of that system specifically state that these efforts will fail if production rates aren’t stabilized, and how right they are.

Another case in point was the decision to change all the computer systems in the corporation to the AS400. I don’t know if this made sense in financial or marketing but it was disastrous to manufacturing because it was unfriendly to the flow of materials causing line downtime and a fantastic amount of management time trying to make it work instead of working on productive endeavors. Again they wouldn’t listen to manufacturing.

In more than one instance, they threw millions at “upgrading the facilities.” These caused major interruptions in production and even if successful, wouldn’t have saved near as much as stabilizing production,which costs nothing to implement, if done right.

The litany goes on but this is where the major fault is, here and an inept board of directors. Then these same people walked away rewarded beyond belief.

Let this be a lesson to others lest it happen to them, and alas, it will.

Jim Kirwan

Franklin, Tenn.

Don’t squander Newton’s future

June 7, 2006
Don’t squander Newton’s future
 
Date June 07, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

Yesterday while driving past the skeleton of the Newton shopping center to pickup groceries at the soon-to-be-closed Aldi’s, the popular Bruce Springsteen song, “My Hometown” played on the radio. The troubled, haunting lyrics forced me to pull into the mall parking lot and privately mourn the destruction of my hometown.

Springsteen’s lyrics capture the essence of Newton’s tremendous loss, “Troubled times had come to my hometown … Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores, seems like there aint nobody wants to come down here no more. They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks, Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they aint coming back. To your hometown.”

Newton is my hometown. A town overflowing with myriad childhood memories of sitting on the steps of the old Churchill Hotel watching the Greyhound buses roll in, or riding my single speed Schwinn bicycle to the Newton Carnegie Library to checkout a Nancy Drew book, or stopping by Bigelow’s restaurant after school (Central Middle School) for a cherry coke. Today, these memories are but pictures in my mind, as Newton’s history has been effectively obliterated by Newton economic developers and city council members.

Somewhere along the way Newton transplants formulated a plan to re-structure my hometown. The results are quite obvious; the previous, incompetent decision-makers were replaced by, in my opinion, more inept, self-serving leadership. While Pella, on the other hand, embraced and capitalized on its heritage, Newtonians watched horrified as its history was being erased.

During Monday’s city council meeting Bryan Friedman, Newton’s Community Development director delivered his department report. In the course of his presentation, he remarked that hopefully Newton’s disappointment with Whirlpool’s decision to pullout would not taint Maytag‘s legacy and landmarks. Friedman cited the possibility that Newton citizens could eventually refer to the Maytag Park and the Maytag Bowl as the “M park and the M bowl,” by refusing to utter the name Maytag.

This startlingly revelation was a bona fide eye-opener, that perhaps the individuals at the helm of my hometown demonstrate a dysfunctional mindset about Newton’s future. I highly doubt that those of us who love our hometown would ever adopt this mentality. Fred Maytag is etched in genuine Newtonian minds as a revolutionary, visionary entrepreneur, whose conventional wisdom allowed this community to successfully thrive. Maytag‘s landmarks are a testament to the Maytag family’s contribution to my hometown, Newton.

As Andy Karr’s article reported, I was extremely critical of certain city council members and the manner in which they continually conduct business with taxpayer’s money behind closed doors. I’m certain countless Newton citizens agree with that opinion, while others may disagree. Yet, I firmly believe that it is my constitutional right to express my opinion, without being admonished by those in power. The wise old saying reminds us that, “The truth hurts.” Morgan and Hansen’s “bristled response” that city business is not pre-planned may very well validate this writer’s opinion. Please do not squander Newton’s future.

Deana Williams

Newton

Rates keep going up

June 5, 2006
Rates keep going up
 
Date June 05, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

You know it is is really great when the city of Newton is on the down side with a lot of fixed income people, Maytag selling us down the tube and the utility rates keep going up.

I guess the big shots just want to keep their billfold full and the heck with the rest of the town.

Jerry Rouze

Newton

Go for it

June 5, 2006
Go for it
 
Date June 05, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

As a native of Albia, Iowa, I was concerned when I read of the death of Maytag in Newton, a great employer in central Iowa.

Hope your industrial development team looks into the establishment of an ethanol plant — definitely in the future for corn rich Iowa.

Go for it.

Jerry Judge

Chula Vista, Calif.

Why Whirlpool bought Maytag

May 30, 2006
Why Whirlpool bought Maytag
 
Date May 30, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

The vote (recently) on the $70 billion tax relief bill for corporate America was generally split down party lines. The Republicans passed it in both houses. California Representative Drier (R) bragged that he was born to cut taxes. He was oh so proud. The spiel — “This tax relief was badly needed because, to keep this great economy booming, corporate America needs that extra money for research and development and to expand and to hire more people to work in that expansion, etc., etc.”

Well, people of Newton, Iowa, certainly understand that Republican reasoning. We know now that Whirlpool bought Maytag to create more jobs. Whoops. I mean Whirlpool bought Maytag because they needed to add a good, hard-working workforce. Whoops. I mean they spent their hard-earned tax relief to buy up jobs and kill them (the jobs). Well, at least they spent their hard-earned tax relief on facilities. Whoops. I mean they bought the outdated Maytag facilities as leverage to get our governor to build greatly needed updated facilities. Whoops. Wrong again. Whirlpool has no use for any new facilities.

Well, research and development is vital to any company; number one reason Republicans give for needed tax relief. This must be the reason Whirlpool bought Maytag. Whoops. Wrong again. Maytag‘s R and D lagged behind Whirlpool’s. No need for last century’s technology.

So what did Whirlpool buy with their hard-earned tax relief windfall? Than answer is obvious. The only thing Whirlpool didn’t have was Maytag‘s market share.

I’ll quit with the sarcasm and be blunt. Whirlpool didn’t acquire Maytag, they killed Maytag. Maytag could have been sold to the investment group that planned to fix mismanagement and resell Maytag as a viable company. It wasn’t because then current management would not have been able to plunder and vote themselves millions of dollars.

Now, Maytag‘s market share, along with its jobs and facilities, can be buried and disappear. The only thing to reappear in Whirlpool’s pocket is Maytag‘s market share.

Thank God for Republican tax relief. Whoops. More sarcasm.

Stuart Allspach

Baxter

Newton man says leaders must take a stand for labor rights, standards

May 25, 2006
Newton man says leaders must take a stand for labor rights, standards
 
Date May 25, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

As I ponder the collapse of Maytag in Newton, I am trying to remember when I first encountered the phrase “worse case scenario thinking.” I believe it was during my first six weeks of Air Force training at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, in 1968. Reflecting on possible events such as a full nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union was not pleasant. But sometimes it is helpful for even the most optimistic person to be prepared for the worst.

When Matthew 19:26 attributes to Jesus the statement “… for God all things are possible” I think we have to assume that the word good could have been included — for God all good things are possible.

However, to say that some event is possible is not the same as saying it is probable.

Some politicians of both parties could use a dose of realism. Many elitist Republicans have a disturbing view of globalization. They seem to think capital should pursue low wages all over the world. In their view, wages should be driven down all around the world ad infinitum. Free trade may be a good idea, but the United States needs to use a full court diplomatic effort to get countries such as China to give a higher priority to labor rights and labor standards. The appliance industry may be extremely competitive on a global basis. But to maintain dignity and prosperity here in America, we need political leaders who will make negotiations over labor rights and labor standards as integral parts of ongoing international negotiations.

Michael Thielmann

Newton

Newton woman remembers the Maytag family

May 25, 2006
Newton woman remembers the Maytag family
 
Date May 25, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
Brief  
 
To the Editor:

Through the years I’ve heard different views on how Maytag has treated the labor force. Some of the workers felt they were unfairly treated while others were happy to be working where they received good wages, a good medical plan and a good retirement plan.

Years ago, the employees were proud to be working for Maytag and one of the reasons was the demeanor of Fred Maytag and his wife, Ellen.

There are those that can tell you about Fred Maytag. He was well known as a man who would stop by a construction site and showed interest in what the workers were doing and why.

When he went on a cruise, he would strike up conversations with fellow passengers and ask if they wouldn’t like a Maytag washer. When the delighted acquaintance would accept, Fred would reach in his pocket and hand over one of the many Maytag advertising washers he had stashed in his pocket.

Mrs. Maytag was also no snob. One day she entered a shop in Newton. One of the clerks was busy with another customer and did not notice Mrs. Maytag. When the clerk realized Mrs. Maytag was waiting, she apologized profusely. Mrs. Maytag then told her, “If I ever see you neglecting a customer to wait on me, I just won’t come into your shop again.”

Their housekeeper and cook, Mrs. McClelland, was a member of our local club. When it was her turn to host our club, she told us that Mrs. Maytag had told her to have us come into the Maytag mansion for our meeting. We were welcome to bring our swim suits and take advantage of the pool. As we were sitting by the poolhouse, eating refreshments off Mrs. Maytag‘s fine china and drinking tea from her fine crystal, one of the members asked what she thought of us meeting there. Mrs. McClelland replied, “She’s in at the sink, washing dishes right now.”

Fond memories of the Maytag family. It is sad that we have no such memories of the latter managers of the company.

Betty Snook

Newton