Organizing the Indivisible Iowa Network

Lauren Whitehead explains Indivisible Iowa‘s unique approach to acting on the wise words, “Don’t mourn, organize.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Did you know that there is a network of Indivisible chapters covering all 50 state Senate districts in Iowa? Here’s how it came about.

Like most readers of this blog, I was invited to join around a thousand progressive resistance startup groups during the weeks following 45’s election. My Facebook feed became an overwhelming and relentless stream of calls to action, warnings, memes, speeches, and existential angst as we all processed what had changed on November 8. Post-election, aside from the emotional fallout of such a horrible outcome, I was exhausted from 2 years of organizing for the election. I thought I might not be able to do it again. I thought that perhaps it was all pointless.

But unsurprisingly, I just can’t quit political activism, and over time I started to sort through the groups I had joined to find the diamonds in the rough–the groups that I felt had the most potential for focused and efficient accomplishment. Ten years into my amateur activist life, I was not in the mood for a group that couldn’t get it’s shit together, even though I felt the value in the organic gathering all around me. I wanted to be a part of group that offered something unique, and not a replication of the info every other group was sharing, one that was taking that frenetic energy we were all feeling and channeled it into a structure with goals.

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IA-Gov: Ron Corbett's think tank running online ad campaign

When Ron Corbett announced in December that he will not seek a third term as Cedar Rapids mayor and will consider running for governor, he promised a “big surprise” at the end of his final “state of the city” address on February 22.

Corbett has long been positioning himself to run for governor. Since creating the conservative think tank Engage Iowa in late 2015, he has given dozens of speeches around the state, most often to Rotary clubs or members of local Iowa Farm Bureau chapters and Chambers of Commerce.

After Governor Terry Branstad confirmed plans to resign in order to become U.S. ambassador to China, many Iowa politics watchers speculated that Corbett would decide against seeking higher office next year. Instead of competing for the GOP nomination in an open primary, he would have to run against a well-funded sitting governor, Kim Reynolds.

To those who don’t share my view that Corbett will take on the challenge of running against a Republican incumbent, I ask: why is Engage Iowa spending money to promote Corbett’s name and catchy conservative slogans online?

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Governor Branstad's exiting chapter

Attorney James Larew assesses the Republican assault on collective bargaining rights in Iowa, a moment driven by “eager political cruelty.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Governor Terry E. Branstad’s gutting of Iowa Code Chapter 20, upon his signing of Senate File 213, will be remembered as the most destructive blow to our ability to govern ourselves fairly and efficiently in nearly half a century.

His unprovoked legislative assault will be recalled for its radical and disruptive contrast to the foresight of Branstad’s venerated Republican predecessor, Governor Robert D. Ray.

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The real reason Iowa Republicans want to break public unions

On Tuesday the Iowa House and Senate took up companion bills seeking to destroy every significant aspect of collective bargaining for more than 100,000 public employees. Although police officers and firefighters would be exempt from some provisions of House File 291 and Senate File 213, they too would lose important workplace protections.

As Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson explained in his written comments to Iowa lawmakers, the collective bargaining system that has been in place since 1974 works well. Local governments don’t need the legislature to be “big brother to us by dictating our collective bargaining rules.” Oleson characterized the Republican bill as a “solution in search of a problem,” driven by “pure and raw partisan politics”: “This bill takes a sledgehammer to the pesky fly that has been labor leaders you dislike. And that’s what this really is…payback! Political payback.”

Here’s what Republicans stand to gain by smashing that fly.

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County Leaders Against Partisan Attack On Collective Bargaining

Linn County Board of Supervisors Chair Brent Oleson submitted this written statement in lieu of a speaking slot at this evening’s Iowa Legislature Public Hearing on Collective Bargaining Changes. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I graduated Burlington High School in 1989. I said then and I say now, that Mr. David Wendt was the best teacher I ever had. He had a huge impact on my life. He just retired last year from Keokuk High School with more than 35 years of service, with a pension he earned and the satisfaction of having educated and positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands young Iowans. The most important concept he taught me was to truly critically think….to critically think, an invaluable skill.

Mr. Wendt was my speech and debate coach. I blame him for driving the two hours here to speak for 3 minutes. Mr. Wendt always said, if you don’t stand up and say something well-informed, intelligent and persuasive, then the status quo, good or bad…or very bad, will win the day.

I’m not here as some political stooge for the unions and I’m not here as some stooge for the now in-vogue anti-union groups. As an elected official in Iowa’s second largest county and city, I have been on the management side of negotiating contracts for the taxpayers. I wasn’t able to secure an endorsement from AFSCME this last election, presumably because I took my high school teacher seriously when he encouraged us to truly develop our abilities to critically think. As a negotiator for management of Linn County, I operate in the realm of negotiating in good faith for a win-win outcome for the taxpayers and those providing the services that the taxpayers demand and prioritize. In my 8 years we have never once went to arbitration. Not once. We have never once given away the store either. Quite the contrary.

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Iowa House leaders Upmeyer, Hagenow have held no public forums this year

Four weekends in a row, Iowans have turned out in large numbers to challenge Republican lawmakers about cuts to higher education and other state services, a historically small funding increase for K-12 schools, a bill to discontinue funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services, and most recently, plans to sweep away every meaningful aspect of public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

The two people with the most influence over events in the Iowa House won’t be found in any images of packed legislative forums carried by local news outlets or shared on hundreds of social media feeds.

That’s because House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow haven’t scheduled any meetings open to the public since the 2017 session began.

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