Events coming up this weekend and next week

Iowa county fair season is in full swing, and the Association of Iowa Fairs posts the schedule here. You may even run into some local candidates and elected officials.

The Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter has nature hikes and other group outings scheduled around the state this summer. Click here to view the calendars for your area.

The Johnson County-based group Backyard Abundance provides advice and educational events for people who want to grow food in urban environments or want to transform their yards into a low-maintenance, eco-friendly landscape.  I’m a big fan of letting native Iowa plants take over your yard.

Democrats are out canvassing most weekends from here through the November election. Iowa Democratic candidates, please send me notices of your upcoming public events, fundraisers or volunteer opportunities if you would like me to include them on these calendars.

Details for some political and environmental events are after the jump. Please post a comment or e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT if you have something to add.

Seeing the announcement about Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith’s picnic next weekend reminded me of the latest political rumor going around Des Moines: former third district Congressional candidate Dave Funk is expected to challenge Hockensmith in the next supervisor’s race. I’ve seen no public confirmation of the rumor, though.

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Wayne Ford announces retirement; House district 65 open

State Representative Wayne Ford announced today that he will not seek an eighth term in the Iowa House. He plans to "to devote more time to expand statewide, nationally, and internationally" the non-profit organization Urban Dreams, which he founded 25 years ago. After the jump I posted Ford’s press release, which recounts some of his accomplishments. His work on a 2007 law requiring blood screenings for lead poisoning has benefited thousands of Iowa families and will spare many children from the many harmful effects of lead exposure, which may even emerge decades later.

During this year’s legislative session Ford introduced a bill to restore the use of Tax-Increment Financing to its original intent: redeveloping urban, blighted areas. Unfortunately, it didn’t go anywhere, but it was a great idea that would also have saved the state money.

Yesterday Ed Fallon alleged that Iowa Democratic Party officials were trying to keep Ford’s retirement secret in order to avoid a competitive primary in House district 65. Candidates have until Friday to file nominating papers with the Secretary of State’s office. The Democratic primary will in effect determine Ford’s successor because of the district’s strong partisan lean.

UPDATE: Former Iowa teacher of the year Ruth Ann Gaines becomes the first declared candidate to succeed Ford.

LATE UPDATE: covered Ford’s farewell speech to the House. Worth a read.

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We may need a new candidate in Iowa House district 65

Ed and Lynn Fallon’s I’M for Iowa organization sent out an e-mail blast today containing the following tidbit:

Monday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, we talk about politics, and expose what appears to be a sneaky effort in the 65th House District in Des Moines to keep Wayne Ford’s retirement a secret so party insiders can hand-pick a successor. We also talk about the Des Moines Register’s love affair with Senator Grassley, Jonathan Narcisse’s love affair with himself, and Iowa Senate Republicans’ burning love for coal.

Tom Beaumont’s latest piece on Chuck Grassley for the Des Moines Register was egregious. He depicted Grassley as an old-fashioned bipartisan hero instead of the disingenuous double-dealer he has become. But that’s a topic for another post. I’m more interested in Fallon’s take on Iowa House district 65, which covers a heavily Democratic area of Des Moines (map here).

Jason Hancock listened to today’s radio show and wrote up the story for Iowa Independent. Fallon alleges that seven-term incumbent State Representative Wayne Ford has decided to retire, but is keeping his intentions secret so that there won’t be a competitive Democratic primary in the district. Republicans have no chance of winning House district 65, but in a Democratic primary with multiple candidates, someone other than the party insiders’ choice might win.

Hancock contacted the Iowa Democratic Party for a reaction and got this comment from communications director Ali Glisson:

“Whatever a member of the legislature decides to do, it is a personal decision that I will not speculate about,” she said. “But, I can assure you that the Iowa Democratic Party is not something out of Bond movie. No ‘cover up’ is going on.  We remain confident that the Iowa House will remain under Democratic control.”

In high school debate we would have called that a “non-response.” Did Fallon say the IDP was like something out of a Bond movie, or that they were “covering up” wrongdoing? No, he’s saying they don’t want to roll the dice on a competitive primary and would rather hand-pick someone to succeed Ford. And Fallon’s allegation regarding House district 65 has nothing to do with whether the Democratic Party will retain an Iowa House majority. This is about who will determine Ford’s successor, if he retires: voters or insiders. If Ford wants another term, he should say so. If not, he should give other Democrats time to start a campaign.

Whether or not Ford plans to retire this year, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to for a progressive Democrat to collect 50 signatures (plus a few extra) in time to file nominating papers by this Friday. Community organizer Tyler Reedy won about 36 percent of the vote in his primary challenge against Ford in 2008. He worked hard in that campaign and deserves another shot if he is willing to run again.

Share any other suggestions or opinions in this thread.

UPDATE: Ford could have put this matter to rest by answering Dave Price’s question about whether he plans to run again. Four days before the filing deadline, he refused to say. If he isn’t running, he owes it to his Democratic constituents to give other potential candidates an opportunity to file for an open seat.

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Events coming up this week

I didn’t manage to compile calendars the past couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on track today, because there are lots of newsworthy events happening in the coming week around Iowa.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the DAWN’s List reception honoring outstanding Iowa Democratic women tomorrow. I’d appreciate it if someone who attends would post a comment or a diary here about the reception.

Other notable events this week include a symposium in Des Moines about Iowa’s 2008 floods, a sustainable communities conference in Dubuque, and a public workshop in Ankeny about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Details on those and other happenings are after the jump.

Keep checking John Deeth’s blog for news about statewide, Congressional and state legislative candidate filings, which continue through March 19.

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Open thread with events coming up this week

I didn’t have time to pull this together yesterday, but here’s a late weekend open thread. Share whatever’s on your mind.

(UPDATE: If you think you know American history, see how well you do on Charles Lemos’ Presidents’ Day trivia quiz. Each president is the correct answer to only one question.)

After the jump I’ve posted details on many events coming up this week. I hope to attend the screening of the “Big River” documentary in Des Moines on February 18. It’s a sequel to the must-watch “King Corn,” and the screening is a joint benefit for the Iowa Environmental Council and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

If you are a Democratic candidate in Iowa, please e-mail me your list of upcoming events so I can include them in these threads. (desmoinesdem AT

Oxfam America “is seeking Des Moines area volunteers to lend 5-8 hours of time per week to help them raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on global communities and encourage action to alleviate it.” If you’re interested, you need to contact them by February 15 (information below).

Have a laugh at this from the Onion: New law would ban marriages between people who don’t love each other.

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don’t Love Each Other

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

Remember, the off-year Iowa caucuses are this Saturday, January 23, at 1 pm. Democrats can click here and enter your zip code to find your caucus location. Polk County Democratic Party executive director Tamyra Harrison explained the benefits of attending an off-year caucus here.

Some non-profit advocacy organizations have drafted resolutions for supporters to offer at their precinct caucuses. If adopted, these resolutions will be forwarded to the county platform committee. For example, 1000 Friends of Iowa is encouraging supporters to offer this resolution on responsible land use.

I noticed some job listings and other helpful information in the Iowa Environmental Council’s electronic newsletter.

Value Chain Partnerships, an “Iowa-based network for food and agriculture working groups,” has a new website:

The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) is hiring “a Policy Advocate to work in our Des Moines office to promote clean energy, clean water and conservation projects in Iowa. […] For more information, visit… or email Andrew Snow at Application Deadline is Jan. 30, 2010.

Plains Justice is hiring “a Resource Director who will report to the CEO and work co-operatively with the Board, attorneys and other staff and volunteers to raise, manage and evaluate effective use of financial resources. Demonstrated fundraising success required. […] Contact for detailed job description. No phone calls please.”

There’s a position open for an “Iowa Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator,” who “will work in Spirit Lake, Iowa, to manage and coordinate the implementation of the objectives of a water quality conservation project and activities, conservation planning and application of practices, information and education and other related activities essential to the district and NRCS.” Application Deadline: January 26, 2010. For a complete job description, salary, hiring requirements, and how to apply, go to…

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is hiring someone to support its Upper Mississippi River project. “Successful candidates will have relevant academic training in the natural, agricultural or social sciences and experience in environmental advocacy. The position is located in Ames, Iowa. A strong commitment to natural resource conservation, environmental protection, and public health is essential. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to  For more information and a job description visit”

Calling high school seniors: Keep Iowa Beautiful is offering up to four $500 scholarships. “Students across Iowa enrolling in an Iowa college or university to major in community enhancement or environmental areas of study are eligible. Students can download the application on-line at http://www.keepiowabeautiful.c… Deadline for application: must be postmarked by February 1, 2010. Please contact the KIB office at 515-323-6507 with any questions.”

Details about events coming up in the next ten days are after the jump.

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