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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gazette Editorial Board
The case of the speeding car carrying the state's top two elected leaders gets a bit curiouser by the day. And the longer it drags on, the more inflated its significance becomes.
The speeding incident became public a week ago. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Gov. Terry Branstad were traveling in a state SUV driven by a state trooper on April 26. An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent, Larry Hedlund, spotted the vehicle and informed a nearby state trooper, who clocked the SUV going 84 mph along U.S. 20 west of Cedar Falls, where the speed limit is 65 mph. The trooper didn't make a stop, and Hedlund complained to supervisors. Not long after, Hedlund was placed on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.
The Department of Public Safety is investigating the actions of the two troopers. Branstad has remained neutral, saying he doesn't want to “micromanage” troopers. On Monday, Reynolds said that “an ambitious schedule” she and the governor keep sometimes forces trooper drivers to break the speed limit. They usually don't notice, she added, because the two leaders are working in the back of the car, and “I'm not really watching the speedometer.”
We understand how that can happen. But it doesn't excuse excessive speeding, unless there is an emergency situation.
As the facts stand, the car was clocked by a trooper at 19 mph over the speed limit. No stop was made. Why?
Minus other overriding facts, it seems clear that a different standard was followed than the one enforced for other Iowans. All of which harms the credibility of the Iowa State Patrol and the governor's office.
The incident demands swift accountability.
Issuing a ticket, paying the fine and moving on would get more public respect than excuses and foot-dragging.
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