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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 23)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 24, 2014 at 16:55:00 PM CDT

Another commitment kept me away from my computer for most of the day, but after the jump I've enclosed the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Democrats slightly extended their statewide lead in absentee ballot requests and regained a small lead in absentee ballots returned to county auditors, after Republicans had held an edge of a few hundreds ballots the previous day. However, Republicans now lead in absentee ballots returned in Iowa's third Congressional district as well as in the fourth. Here's hoping some of the Republicans who have already voted in IA-03 followed the lead of conservatives who oppose David Young.

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IA-04: Steve King/Jim Mowrer debate liveblog and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 18:57:58 PM CDT

In a few minutes, six-term Republican incumbent Steve King will debate his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer in Storm Lake. Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" is hosting the debate, and C-SPAN is also televising. King hedged for weeks about whether he would participate and refused to accept the Sioux City Journal's invitation, so this will be the only time the two candidates appear on the same stage. King debated his 2012 opponent Christie Vilsack, but before that he had never agreed to debate any of his Congressional challengers.

I'm liveblogging after the jump, where I have also enclosed the latest commercial King's campaign is running.

UPDATE: You can watch the debate video on the "Iowa Press" page.

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Branstad Beer - It's All About the Dirty Water

by: Mark Langgin

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 11:28:13 AM CDT

(I saw this ad on cable in the Des Moines area this morning. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I've had enough.

Gov. Branstad continues to spread misinformation about his record on water quality. The simple fact? He vetoed $20 million in funds that would have improved Iowa's natural resources and protected water quality of our rivers, lakes and streams.

With full disclosure, I'm the Director for Citizens for a Healthy Iowa. We are a non-profit (c4) organized here in Iowa and we work primarily on water quality issues - public education & issue advocacy. More about our new ad, and campaign, after the jump ....

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IA-Sen: Ernst campaign preparing for possible recount

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 11:13:03 AM CDT

As the latest opinion polls show a close U.S. Senate race in Iowa, representatives of Joni Ernst's campaign have requested detailed information about ballot-counting and recounting procedures in at least five Iowa counties that have often produced Democratic vote margins, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports today. In Johnson County, which includes the Iowa City area, the auditor was asked to provide

(1) all election training manuals, and any documents stating: (2) the SOP for counting ballots (absentee, Early and normal ballots); (3) for handling absentee ballots; (4) listing each and every polling place (early and normal); (5) all aspects of the recount process, (6) a copy of all requests for documents served by Bruce Braley's campaign; and (7) all documents provide to the Braley campaign, the state party, the DNC or the Dem Sen. Campaign Cttee.

Erin Jordan and Chris Earl reported that auditors received similar requests in Linn County (Cedar Rapids area), Polk County (Des Moines area), Woodbury County (Sioux City area), and Clinton County (just north of the Quad Cities).

A public records request from a political candidate isn't unusual, but the volume of materials Ernst's campaign is seeking right before an election isn't typical, several auditors said. [Ernst's senior adviser Derek] Flowers asks auditors to notify him if they can't provide the materials within five days - which may be a challenge for some counties.

"It's going to take some time we don't have, because the people who would do it are getting ready for the election," said Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

[Johnson County Auditor Travis] Weipert said he did not think his office would be able to compile all the requested materials before Nov. 4. His staff are consulting with Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, he said.

Looks like Ernst's team are trying to set the stage to claim there was voter fraud in high-performing Democratic areas. I don't recall any previous statewide recount in Iowa. The recount after Minnesota's U.S. Senate race in 2008 was an ugly mess.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 22)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 09:35:28 AM CDT

Six weeks ago, Bleeding Heartland argued that it was too soon for Iowa Democrats to celebrate a lead in early voting, in part because Republicans had plenty of time to catch up. Yesterday, the number of absentee ballots registered Republicans had returned to county auditors exceeded the number of ballots returned by registered Democrats. A press release by a GOP consultant noted that it's the first time Iowa Republicans have ever led in early voting.

Democrats still lead in absentee ballots requested, but Republicans also claim that in recent days, they have generated more ballot requests from Iowans who did not vote in the 2010 general election.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Plain gentian (cream gentian)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 20:47:38 PM CDT

Some late summer wildflowers are tall enough be seen from a mile away, some catch your attention with masses of flowerheads, and some make up for being low to the ground with brilliant-colored blossoms. Today's featured wildflower is none of the above.

Plain gentian (Gentiana alba) is native to much of the Midwest, including Iowa. Also known as cream gentian, yellow gentian or sometimes white prairie gentian, it "grows in well drained soils of moist meadows, prairies and open woods with full sun to partial shade." The plant usually is only 1 to 2 feet tall, and the white blossoms are either closed or barely open at the ends. According to the website of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minnesota, "When the corolla lips are closed or just partly open it takes a large bee to force them apart to reach in for the nectar."

I would have walked right past the plain gentian amid the taller grasses in a prairie patch at Whiterock Conservancy last month. Fortunately, Eileen Miller showed me some flowering plants. Only a couple of my pictures came out, and I've enclosed those below. I don't know what kind of insect chewed up some of the leaves; mammalian herbivores are thought to avoid plants in the gentian family.

As a bonus, I included a picture of wild cucumber fruit, which Eileen showed me near a bank of the Middle Raccoon River. Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) is a native vine and an interesting plant, but a warning to foragers: its fruit are not edible.

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Two views of changing Iowa demographics

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 19:14:56 PM CDT

Today's Des Moines Register features a long front-page story by Daniel Finney and Jeffrey Kummer on Storm Lake (Buena Vista County) as one of Iowa's most diverse communities, and expected trends in the state's demographics between now and 2020. I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing. After the jump I've enclosed a few excerpts and one graphic from the feature. Separate, shorter pieces examine diversity trends in the Des Moines metro area (Polk and Dallas counties), Webster County (including the Fort Dodge area), and Butler County (the least diverse in Iowa).  

On Monday, Michael Barbaro of the New York Times examined Iowa's population shift from rural to urban and suburban areas as "a potent but unpredictable undercurrent in a closely fought Senate race." I've enclosed a few excerpts at the end of this post. Barbaro interviewed people northwest Iowa's heavily white Pocahontas County, as well as in downtown Des Moines, the far western suburbs in Dallas County, and Denison (Crawford County), a town where almost half the residents are Latino.

I spent some time in Denison last fall and was impressed by the vibrant downtown, with more locally-owned shops and restaurants than I've seen in most Iowa towns of similar size. One resident told me that approximately 75 percent of students in Denison's public schools are Latino. That has helped the area avoid the steep enrollment declines and school closures seen in Pocahontas, as Barbaro recounts, and in so many other communities.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 21)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 09:45:00 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post the latest early voting numbers, as compiled by the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. I enclose below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

As of yesterday, Republicans have nearly caught up with Democrats in ballots returned to county auditors. Democrats lead by a little more than 18,000 in absentee ballot requests, but early votes only count if the ballots come back in.

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Iowa House Republican candidate James Butler has history of abuse, misconduct

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 07:35:07 AM CDT

Yesterday the Iowa Democratic Party published online several disturbing documents about James Butler, the Republican nominee in Iowa House district 26. Butler narrowly won a GOP primary and faces first-term Democratic State Representative Scott Ourth. The seat covers most of Warren County, including the cities of Indianola and Carlisle (a detailed map is after the jump). House district 26 is one of central Iowa's most politically balanced state legislative districts. As of October 2014, it contained 6,421 active registered Democrats, 6,802 Republicans, and 7,046 no-party voters.

Before the primary, I didn't hear much about Butler beyond the information in his official bio, which highlighted his career with the Des Moines Police Department. This summer, the Republican Butler defeated in the primary, Eric Durbin, flirted with running for House district 26 as an independent, and I saw some grumbling on social media about Butler's past. I dismissed that chatter as likely to be sour grapes coming from Durbin's supporters.

The official documents uploaded yesterday by the Iowa Democratic Party shocked me. First, a court order of protection that Butler's ex-girlfriend received in 2005 details physical abuse and threats by the police officer. Second, a lawsuit filed by apparently the same woman against Butler, which details further abuse, harassment, and threats, including violation of the no-contact order. Butler allegedly told the woman there was no point in calling law enforcement because he was a police officer. Third, Civil Service Commission and Polk County District Court documents related to Butler's brief suspension from the Des Moines police over an incident in 1997, when he was working as an off-duty police officer at a convenience store. The Civil Service Commission and later the district court judge validated Butler's suspension over severe misconduct.

As far as I'm concerned, that kind of record should be disqualifying in a candidate for political office. How is it possible the public is only now hearing about Butler's background, two weeks before the election and nearly a month after early voting began? The Des Moines Register ran a brief story about Butler's candidacy in March, based on his press release. Just this week, the paper ran a short profile of Butler as part of its "meet the candidate" series, again using information supplied by the candidate. Maybe I'm naive, but I would have thought the Register would be checking court records and public documents for mentions of state legislative candidates. I also would have expected Butler's GOP primary opponent to have brought some of this information to light.

UPDATE: I forgot to raise another question: why was Butler able to remain a police officer with this kind of record?

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Who would joke about feeding people into farm machinery?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 21:04:49 PM CDT

Besides a sociopath, that is. The answer is Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, speaking at a campaign event yesterday.

"Do you know how many lawyers it takes to grease a combine? Only one but you gotta feed him in real slow."

According to Kathie Obradovich, the crowd of about 50 people in Boone found this quip funny, along with State Representative Chip Baltimore's follow-up crack about seeing trial lawyers on combines in the countryside. Obradovich added that in her view, the governor's joke was "a groaner, not to mention in poor taste." That's putting it mildly. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch was more in the ballpark when he called Branstad's comments "offensive and sickening."

In a statement Hatch said "a governor should be focused on promoting farm safety during harvest and not making offensive jokes that play on the tragedies all too common with farm machinery."

I'm sure Branstad wouldn't laugh at any tragedy happening to a "real Iowan." He just enjoys portraying attorneys as lower life forms.

This lawyer's daughter is mortified that any public official, let alone the most senior person in state government, would think it's funny to joke about grinding up people you don't like. I get it: half the Iowa GOP campaign strategy this year is stirring up cultural resentment against "elitist trial lawyer" Bruce Braley. He supposedly doesn't represent "Iowa values," unlike Joni Ernst, the "farm girl" and Sunday school teacher whose husband cracked a joke about trying to murder his ex-wife.

If any Iowa Democratic official or candidate made a self-styled humorous appeal for violence, I'd be the first to call them out. Don't hold your breath waiting for some Republican to condemn our governor's sick sense of humor.  

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Iowa candidate web videos need "paid for" attribution statements

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 17:15:16 PM CDT

Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Executive Director Megan Tooker has determined that state law requiring "paid for by" attribution lines for political advertising also applies to videos posted on free websites such as YouTube. David Chung, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee, had filed an ethics complaint against Brad Anderson, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state. (Chung is from Cedar Rapids, as is Anderson's GOP opponent Paul Pate.) Anderson's television commercial contains the standard attribution line, but some of his web videos did not. After the jump I've posted the relevant portion of Iowa Code.

Tooker informed Anderson that in her opinion, campaign videos available online should also include a "paid for" statement. Anderson's campaign immediately altered the videos to comply. Jason Noble reported for the Des Moines Register, "So long as Anderson republishes the videos with appropriate attribution statements or publishes a corrective notice in the newspaper, he will not face a fine or penalty."

Responding to my request for comment, the Anderson campaign noted, "Although state law is ambiguous related to requiring disclaimers on free YouTube videos, in the abundance of caution we have added disclaimers to all of our YouTube videos and will continue to moving forward."

In a press release yesterday, Iowa GOP Co-Chairman Cody Hoefert thundered, "we now learn that Brad Anderson either ignored Iowa's election laws or does not believe they apply to him. Either way, this only goes to underscore the fact that he is not someone Iowans can trust to uphold the integrity of their elections." News flash for Hoefert: the Anderson campaign was able to point to many web videos that lacked "paid for" statements while promoting the Iowa GOP and/or Republican candidates and office-holders. For instance, Governor Terry Branstad's campaign produced a video featuring Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds in order to drum up 2014 Iowa caucus attendance. In that video, she urged supporters to help elect Republicans up and down the ticket in 2014. Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has also promoted his candidacy through web videos without attribution statements. The Iowa GOP itself produced a video promoting State Auditor Mary Mosiman without any attribution statement.

Obviously, Chung and the Iowa GOP were only playing out a stunt to gain an edge for Pate in what looks like a close contest for secretary of state. Nevertheless, it's useful for Tooker to clarify that this portion of state law applies to web videos as well as to television commercials.  

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Latest ads for Chaz Allen in Iowa Senate district 15

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 13:38:34 PM CDT

To gain control of the Iowa Senate, which has had a 26-24 Democratic majority for the last four years, Republicans have to win two Democratic-held seats and retain control over all seats they currently hold. The top two targets for the GOP now appear to be Senate district 5, held by three-term Democratic incumbent Daryl Beall, and Iowa Senate district 15, covering most of Jasper County and eastern Polk County. This seat is open because longtime Democratic incumbent Dennis Black is retiring. Both Democratic candidate Chaz Allen and Republican Crystal Bruntz started running positive radio commercials the same week early voting began. Last week, Republicans started running a negative ad on Allen that is still playing on Des Moines area radio stations.

Allen now has a positive television commercial running in the Des Moines market as well as a comparative radio spot. I've enclosed my transcripts of both ads after the jump.

Any comments about competitive state legislative races are welcome in this thread. I've been listening to live-streams of radio stations in other targeted Iowa Senate districts (in the Fort Dodge, Ottumwa, and Washington areas) but haven't caught many political commercials.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 20)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

As of yesterday, absentee ballot requests from Iowa Democrats now exceed the total early vote by Democrats in Iowa's 2010 midterm election. Ballot requests from Republicans and no-party voters surpassed those groups' 2010 early vote totals over the weekend.

Convincing supporters to vote early is important, but it doesn't matter if they don't mail in their ballots. Democrats now lead Republicans by more than 15,000 in absentee ballot requests but by less than 2,000 in absentee ballots returned to county auditors.

Follow me after the jump for the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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National Republican Congressional Committee going for IA-01, IA-02 (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 21:35:05 PM CDT

Ed Tibbetts reported today for the Quad-City Times that the National Republican Congressional Committee announced plans to buy television air time in Iowa's first and second Congressional districts. The NRCC says it will spend $900,000 on air time in the Cedar Rapids and Davenport markets to influence the IA-02 race, plus $400,000 in the Cedar Rapids market for IA-01. Although the NRCC gave IA-01 nominee Rod Blum and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks top-tier status in its program for challengers this summer, up to now the committee has only been advertising in Iowa's third district, widely considered a tossup race.

Typically NRCC commercals focus on negative messages against the Democratic candidate, just like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mainly spends its advertising dollars attacking Republicans. The expenditures announced today will likely go for attacks on Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02), rather than on positive ads about Blum and Miller-Meeks.

Miller-Meeks desperately needs the help, because she is way behind Loebsack in cash on hand. So far this year, only one group (the Teaparty Leadership Fund) has made independent expenditures on her behalf in IA-02. It's worth noting that the 24 counties in this district are located in five different media markets. Loebsack has been advertising district-wide. The NRCC ads will reach the largest cities in IA-02 but not voters who watch television stations based in Des Moines, Ottumwa-Kirksville, or Quincy, Illinois.

Blum has had only a little more outside help so far, mostly from the Teaparty Leadership Fund, the National Right to Life PAC, and the Faith Family Freedom Fund. As of September 30, Blum had somewhat more cash on hand than Murphy, but last week the DCCC announced plans to spend some $600,000 in IA-01. At this writing, only about $110,000 of that money had been spent.

The NRCC didn't do much in IA-01 or IA-02 during the 2010 campaign. That year the dark money 501(c)4 group American Future Fund spent over $1 million against incumbent Bruce Braley in IA-01, most of it on tv ads.

During the 2012 cycle, the NRCC ran some tv ads against Braley but pulled out of the IA-01 race in late September. The NRCC spent more than $600,000 against Loebsack in 2012, most of it in September and early October. I'm a little surprised to see so much money moving into these races so late this year, and I assume the decision reflects NRCC confidence in various other House races around the country, where ad time had been reserved.

The DCCC spent more than half a million dollars defending Loebsack against Miller-Meeks in 2010 but was never worried enough to spend money in IA-02 in 2012, despite putting Loebsack in its incumbent protection program early in that cycle. I have not seen any ad buys from the DCCC in IA-02 this year, but Tibbetts reported today that the committee "joined with Loebsack to air a television commercial targeting Miller-Meeks."

UPDATE: The DCCC will spend another $420,000 on Cedar Rapids television, according to Roll Call's Abby Livingston. It's not clear how much of that money will go toward Loebsack's race and how much toward the open seat.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 13:33:28 PM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, the third-quarter campaign finance reports for Iowa's four Congressional districts are all online at the Federal Election Commission's website. My big takeaways:

In the open seat race in IA-01, Democrat Pat Murphy has out-rased Republican Rod Blum, both during the third quarter and in the election cycle to date. But Blum went into the home stretch with a cash advantage, for two reasons: 1) he has put more than $200,000 of his own money into the campaign, and 2) he didn't have to spend heavily before the June primary--unlike Murphy, who had to spend most of the early money he raised to get past four Democratic rivals.

In IA-02, Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack ended the quarter with far more money to spend than his GOP challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks. One reason is that as of September 30, Miller-Meeks had not put much of her own money behind her third Congressional bid. In contrast, she put more than $500,000 into her 2010 Congressional campaign.

In IA-03, David Young would be dead in the water without his personal loans to the campaign and the immense support he is getting from corporate and conservative political action committees. He entered the last five weeks of the campaign with more debts than cash on hand.

In IA-04, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raised six-term Representative Steve King yet again. Even more impressive, Mowrer raised more from individuals this quarter than any other Iowa candidate for the U.S. House. But King went into the home stretch with more cash on hand, after waiting much longer than Mowrer to start running television commercials.

Follow me after the jump for many more details from all eight major-party candidates' filings. Bleeding Heartland will cover the independent expenditures in to four U.S. House races in a future post. IA-03 continues to be the main focus for outside groups, but more money is coming into IA-01 as well. The bad news for Miller-Meeks is that IA-02 isn't drawing a lot of interest this year, in contrast to 2010.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 19)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 09:37:36 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland is posting early voting numbers for all of Iowa and in each of the four Congressional districts. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. The latest tables are after the jump. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Absentee ballot requests from Iowa Republicans and no-party voters now exceed the total early vote from those groups in Iowa's 2010 midterm election. Ballot requests from Iowa Democrats are only about 4,000 below the total early vote cast by Democrats in 2010.

Three big unanswered questions remain: which party is generating more absentee ballot requests from "unreliable" voters who otherwise would not participate in the midterm? Which party has mobilized more of the independents who are voting early? And which party will do better in making sure its supporters not only request an absentee ballot, but also return it to the county auditor on time?

All 99 county auditors' offices are open for in-person early voting during regular business hours through Monday, November 3. Larger-population counties also have satellite voting locations, often in public libraries or community centers. Click here (pdf) for the full list of Polk County satellite voting locations, with dates and hours. The last day for in-person early voting at satellite locations in Polk County is this Friday, October 24.  

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Weekend open thread: Senate polls and polling challenges edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 18, 2014 at 16:15:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've been reading about opinion polls, and specifically, the polling industry's growing challenge of sampling a group that looks like the electorate. Almost every day, a new poll appears on Iowa's U.S. Senate race. Since last weekend's Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News, which showed Ernst up by 1 point, three other polls have shown small leads for Ernst, while one showed Braley slightly ahead. How Iowa's no-party voters are leaning is anyone's guess; some polls have shown Ernst leading among independents, others have indicated that Braley is ahead.

All of these surveys are reporting results among "likely Iowa voters," but which, if any, have correctly identified a representative sample? The statistical margin of error means little if the pollster is systematically oversampling certain voters while not reaching other groups. As Nate Silver discusses here, data since 1998 show that polls of U.S. Senate or gubernatorial races are less accurate than presidential polls.

Media orthodoxy says reporters and pollsters can never admit their own organization's poll might have been an "outlier." Rather, readers are told that all trends apparent from some group's poll reflect real shifts of public opinion. So we get the Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs saying Braley "has begun to overcome some of the vulnerabilities detected in the Iowa Poll two weeks ago," going from a double-digit deficit among independents to a slight lead, and going from 25 points down among male respondents to 16 points down. Really, is it likely Braley surged so much in two weeks, as opposed to the previous Des Moines Register/Selzer poll overstating Ernst's advantage overall and among certain groups?

Similarly, Quinnipiac's latest Iowa poll shows "independent voters backing Rep. Braley 48 - 43 percent, a shift from Ernst's 50 - 43 percent lead among these key voters last month." Did no-party voters really change their minds in large numbers over a few weeks, or did Quinnipiac's findings change because of statistical noise?

After the jump I've posted excerpts from several articles about polling and some revealing comments by Ann Selzer, a guest on a recent edition of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.  

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Iowa Income: Who Gets What?

by: daveswen

Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 17:15:29 PM CDT

(Thanks to daveswen for this post. Facts don't support widespread beliefs about Iowans allegedly being too dependent on federal programs. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Depending on where you live in Iowa and who you interact with, you may have some quirky conclusions about how income gets made.  It’s common and correct to conclude that many folks get along with the help of public assistance: many in fact wouldn’t get along at all without public aid.  But most of us don’t have a clue how money gets made in this state, let alone who the recipients of public assistance are.  We go to annual estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to get the numbers.

Here's how $138.34 billion in 2013 total personal income was divided up: Two-thirds ($91.3 billion) came from total earnings, which are wages and salaries, payments to proprietors, and the value of all employer-supplied benefits like medical insurance and retirement contributions.  Investment incomes (dividends, interests, and rents) made up 18 percent ($24.7 billion).  And transfers – payments by the federal government or, to a lesser extent, state government to individuals either in cash, vouchers, or direct assistance – were 16 percent of state income. 

Stated differently, 84 percent of our incomes came from market activity, and 16 percent came from governmental tranfers.  Market incomes trumped government payments to individuals by a ratio of better than 5 to 1.  

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UNI, ISU among country's most affordable "eco-friendly" universities

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 16:03:11 PM CDT

The University of Northern Iowa ranks third and Iowa State University twelfth on Best Choice Schools' list of "50 Great Affordable Eco-Friendly Colleges. The website evaluated more than 300 universities to find 50 that had an "estimated net price of under $25,000 a year" as well as "unique structures or lifestyle characteristics that make them leaders in sustainability." The schools included "have all earned formal 'green' ratings from one major agency or another, and most have been recognized by respected groups such as the Sierra Club." The schools were ranked from least expensive to most expensive, and UNI's tuition of $15,232/year secured third place. Best Choice Schools commented,

University of Northern Iowa's on-campus organization c.a.r.e. (creating a responsible environment) promotes Eco-friendliness and sustainable living through a number of on-campus initiatives. In dining services, most disposable items were eliminated and a refillable mug program introduced. A local buying program was also introduced and has successfully reduced packaging and shipping wastes while simultaneously supporting local vendors. The University itself has done its part, too. Currently, a whopping 23 campus buildings are undergoing energy-saving retrofits or renovations.

ISU's tuition of $19,281/year was affordable enough for twelfth place on the list:

Iowa State University has proven itself willing to go above and beyond when it comes to campus sustainability. Ambitiously, it requires all new construction and major renovation projects to achieve LEED Gold certification. So far, it has succeeded, with two of its buildings achieving the even higher status of Platinum. The implementation of tray-less dining services reduced food waste by more than 50%, and the food that is wasted is composted at the University's very own compost facility. Active student groups include a Solar Decathlon team, The GreenHouse Group, and Keep Iowa State Beautiful.

Click here for more information on sustainability initiatives at UNI and here for more information on ISU's Live Green! efforts.

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Fired Iowa Senate Republican staffer files sexual harassment lawsuit

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 12:30:00 PM CDT

Former Iowa Senate Republican staffer Kirsten Anderson filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court yesterday, claiming she was subjected to "sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act." Anderson served as communications director for the Iowa Senate GOP caucus from February 2008 to the middle of May 2013. Bleeding Heartland covered the circumstances surrounding her firing here and here. Anderson filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission last year. She is suing the State of Iowa, the Iowa Senate, the Iowa Senate Republican caucus, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, Iowa Senate Republican senior staffer Eric Johansen, and Ed Failor, Jr., the primary advisor to Dix since shortly after Dix was chosen to lead the GOP caucus in late 2012.

William Petroski's report for the Des Moines Register includes a link to the 20-page court filing, which can be downloaded as a pdf file. Pages 3 through 7 list many incidents supporting Anderson's claims about a hostile work environment and sexual harassment, starting in 2010. Several current and former lawmakers are named. The lawsuit paraphrases inappropriate comments by former GOP Senators Shawn Hamerlinck and Merlin Bartz. Senator Tim Kapucian is said to have laughed at an unnamed senior analyst's inappropriate comments about a "loose" female Democratic senator. Senators Joni Ernst and Sandy Greiner allegedly "did and said nothing" after witnessing "sexual innuendo and inappropriate behavior exhibited by their male colleagues." Ernst denied that charge in a written statement, which I've enclosed after the jump. She suggested Anderson was perhaps "being exploited ahead of the election."

Speaking to the Des Moines Register, Anderson's attorney Mike Carroll

denied any political motivation behind the timing of the lawsuit. He said that before a lawsuit could be filed, his client had to file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The complaint was filed last year. The commission issued a letter in July giving Anderson 90 days to file a lawsuit, and the filing deadline was set to expire Oct. 29, he said.

In her own statement, Anderson said, "As to the suggestions that I am a pawn in a political drama, that is not the case. I am standing up for my rights as an employee; a right to work in a place without inappropriate and discriminatory conduct."

Pages 12 through 17 of the court filing include a memo Anderson handed to Johansen on the morning of May 17, 2013, suggesting that her work was being criticized because she had complained about a "sexually hostile work environment" that "no private sector workplace would tolerate." Later the same day, in Dix's presence, Johansen gave Anderson a choice of resigning or being fired. Pages 17 and 18 list six causes of action under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Anderson is seeking back pay and benefits, compensatory damages, a ruling that her termination was unfair and/or discriminatory, and injunctive relief requiring (among other things) new training procedures for Iowa Senate staffers.

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