Looking for leadership in West Des Moines: A case for change

Local elections are coming up this Tuesday, November 7. Julie Stauch shares her perspective on the candidates running in West Des Moines, the largest Des Moines suburb and eighth-largest city in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Last winter, in response to the bill by Representative Jarad Klein that went after the Des Moines area water utilities, I became involved to stop that horrific piece of legislation. I went to my first Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement meeting and learned that West Des Moines was one of the suburbs where our leaders had not spoken out against the legislation. I volunteered to go to the next city council meeting and make what I thought was an easy ask – oppose this legislation.

And I learned firsthand of the dysfunction of our system of government and the deceit of our city leaders.

That led to a desperate need to find actual leaders – people who will represent the people of the city and not just themselves – which has taken me down the path of civic activist in a way that I haven’t traveled since the 1980s when we lived in Mason City. I’ve met and connected with a great group of West Des Moines residents seeking leaders who will be thoughtful, engaging and listen to all points of view.

Here are my thoughts and recommendations for West Des Moines residents. We need you to vote! Change begins here and now. Below are my assessments and recommendations on our candidates.

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Courts reject legal challenges to Iowa collective bargaining law

Two Polk County District Court judges have dismissed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law. Although the plaintiffs are likely to appeal the rulings, the bar will be high to convince four Iowa Supreme Court justices the state had no rational basis to enact changes affecting some public employees more adversely than others.

I enclose below the court rulings and key points, along with reaction from leaders of AFSCME Council 61 and the Iowa State Education Association, which filed the lawsuits earlier this year.

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GOP law fails to break Iowa's largest public-sector unions

One of the most transparent union-busting provisions of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law has failed to significantly reduce the number of workers covered by the state’s two largest public-sector unions: the Iowa State Education Association and AFSCME Council 61.

Unofficial results posted today by the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board show large majorities of public employees voted to continue to be represented by their unions.

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Voter suppression is the issue

Adam Kenworthy shines a spotlight on two upcoming events focused on the threat to voting rights. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Washington Post editorial board on August 19 declared voter suppression the civil rights issue of this era. The Post’s article directly relates to the violence and hatred that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia and to President Donald Trump’s repeated statements and actions to excuse and empower white supremacists. One key aspect of those efforts is the president’s phony “election integrity” commission, headed by Kris Kobach.

In order to understand the magnitude of the current drive to suppress votes, we must recognize that such policies, while still heavily relying on and drawing from the tactics of racial oppression, are now motivated by one distinguishing factor: party.

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First votes signal loud and clear: Iowa educators want to keep their unions

Educators in the first thirteen bargaining units to hold recertification votes under Iowa’s new collective bargaining law overwhelmingly opted to keep the union, the Iowa State Education Association announced today.

In a blatant Republican attempt at union-busting, the new law requires recertification elections before every new contract, which for most public unions would occur every two or three years. To stay certified, the union must be approved by a “majority of the public employees in the bargaining unit,” not the majority of those casting ballots.

Of the 1,291 Iowans eligible to vote in this round of recertification elections, 1,101 voted to keep the bargaining unit, 27 voted against, and 147 did not cast ballots. Results for each bargaining unit are in a table at the end of this post.

Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro called the recertification process “an arbitrary and punitive test” of public-sector unions’ strength and support. Noting that “anyone who failed to participate was automatically counted as a ‘no,’” Wawro added that the lawmakers who passed this legislation would not have been elected under similar rules. Scroll down to read her comments in full.

The state’s largest teachers’ union is seeking to overturn the new collective bargaining law, on the grounds that three important provisions violate the Iowa Constitution. That lawsuit claims the “undemocratic election system” for unions representing public workers, which “counts votes based on population instead of number of votes cast,” violates the substantive due process guarantee of Article I, Section 9.

Another 483 public union bargaining units will hold recertification votes in October, the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel reported today. The Public Employment Relations Board has hired an outside vendor to conduct voting by phone and online, rather than by mailed-in paper ballots, as for this month’s elections.

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Yet another Iowa Republican budget atrocity

The hits just keep on coming from the health and human services budget Iowa Republicans enacted this year.

As if big spending cuts to public health programs, child care assistance, social worker field services, the closure of four Planned Parenthood clinics, and ending on-site ombudsmen visits to nursing homes didn’t do enough to harm vulnerable people, that budget bill also called for short-changing Iowans who sign up for Medicaid.

The Reynolds administration is moving forward with the plan to end decades-long practice on covering health care for new Medicaid recipients.

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