Pharmacy group didn't disclose reception for governor, lawmakers

Groups that throw receptions for Iowa legislators are supposed to file a disclosure report within five business days of the event, but the Iowa Pharmacy Association filed paperwork for its February 10 reception only this week. Why now? Journalists have been asking about the event that preceded State Representative Kerry Burt’s drunk driving arrest around 2 am on February 11. Burt told an Ankeny police officer that he’d been drinking with the governor that evening.

I agree with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s disclosure violation once again demonstrates the need for campaign finance reform. I’ve posted a press release from Iowa CCI after the jump. Excerpt:

Several years ago, state lawmakers voted to strip oversight powers from the nonpartisan State Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and task the House and Senate Ethics Committees with oversight responsibilities.  Since then, the number of reported filings have gone down, as has the amount of money spent at lobbying events.

“What other profession in the state is allowed to regulate themselves,” asks Ed Rethman, Iowa CCI member from West Des Moines.  “Are doctors allowed to license themselves?”

The Des Moines Register reported in April that many interest groups are providing free food and drink to legislators without properly disclosing how much they spend on these events. Usually, the public never finds out about these events, because no one gets arrested afterwards.

Wining and dining legislators is only one of many ways to buy influence at the Iowa statehouse. Many interest groups hire expensive lobbyists. Some pay legislators’ expenses for out of state trips. Then there’s good old-fashioned contributions to political parties and campaign funds, which are unlimited in Iowa. These methods bury a lot of good ideas and get some bad ideas signed into law.

Meanwhile, what passes for campaign finance reform in the Iowa legislature is a joke.

Any suggestions for making progress on this issue are welcome in this thread.  

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Iowa legislature pretends to care about money in politics

On March 18 the Iowa House voted 96 to 0 to pass a bill banning candidates from using campaign funds to pay themselves or immediate family members a salary. This measure closes the so-called “Ed Fallon loophole,” named because Fallon received $13,750 from his gubernatorial campaign between June and November 2006 after losing the Democratic primary.

The Iowa Senate approved Senate File 50 in February (also unanimously). Governor Chet Culver is expected to sign the bill and may have done so already, but I did not find confirmation of that on the governor’s website.

Looking at the text of Senate File 50, I noticed that it defines “immediate family member” as “the spouse or dependent child of a candidate.”

I’ve been told that at least 20 members of the Iowa House (including Democrats and Republicans) employ either their spouse or child as a clerk. Apparently it is fine for spouses and children of state legislators to draw a salary from taxpayer dollars, but it becomes a terrible ethical problem for a candidate to draw a salary from money voluntarily contributed by supporters.

I have more to say about this farcical bill after the jump.

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Kiernan can't do it alone

Congratulations to Des Moines City Council member Michael Kiernan, who was elected to chair the Iowa Democratic Party on Saturday, along with First Vice-Chair Sue Dvorsky, Second Vice-Chair Chris Peterson, Treasurer Ken Sagar and Secretary Dori Rammelsberg-Dvorak.

I was pleased to read Kiernan’s remarks from his first press conference:

“We have over 100,000 new registered voters in this state who are Democrats, hundreds of new activists. I think our key is to keep these folks in the party, to bring them home permanently. I think they’ve stopped by for a visit, and it’s our job to reach out to those new voters and bring them home permanently.”  

Kiernan said Democrats will use new technology, social platforms and grassroots engagement to bring additional people into the party and bring newly registered Democrats home to roost.

“Now it’s about telling these folks that they’re welcome in our party and making sure that they know they have a seat at our table permanently” […]

Kiernan echoed these points in the press release from the Iowa Democratic Party, which I’ve posted after the jump.

It’s good to know the IDP’s leader understands that we can’t count on first-time Democratic voters to continue to support the party. This is especially true because President Barack Obama will not be on the ballot in 2010. Many newly-registered Iowa Democrats were mobilized by Obama’s presidential campaign.

Kiernan noted his family’s tradition of “Democratic public service” on Saturday. He seems to be no more than two degrees of separation removed from anyone who’s anyone in Iowa Democratic circles. Tom Harkin held one of his first steak fry events at the Kiernans’ family farm.

I expect that this political legacy will greatly shorten Kiernan’s learning curve as the new party chairman. His mother, Joan Kiernan, has been a Democratic activist for decades and served as the IDP’s secretary in the past.

Michael Kiernan has also had a close-up view of election campaigns at all levels. His father ran successfully for the Madison County supervisors. His mother was involved in Dick Gephardt’s presidential campaigns. Michael Kiernan managed Chet Culver’s first bid for secretary of state in 1998 and Preston Daniels’ successful mayoral campaign in Des Moines the same year. He also won a special election for a seat on the Des Moines City Council in 2004. (He has not disclosed whether he plans to seek re-election to that position this fall.)

With this extensive campaign experience, Kiernan has seen what works and what doesn’t work for Iowa Democrats. That’s bound to help the IDP’s “coordinated campaign” going into the 2010 midterms. The national political environment is likely to be less favorable for Democrats than it was in 2006 and 2008, so the IDP will have to be at the top of its game in getting out the vote. (It can’t hurt that Kiernan is on good terms with labor union officials.)

Turnout is always lower in midterm elections. In 2006, about 1.05 million Iowans cast ballots for governor, whereas turnout in the most recent presidential election was about 1.5 million. Clearly not all of the newly-registered Democrats will vote in 2010, but even if only half of them turn out, that could give Democrats a significant advantage.

Kiernan and other party leaders can do plenty to build on the IDP’s success with early voting, but the mechanics of GOTV efforts won’t be enough to keep new voters in the Democratic fold.

Here’s where Governor Chet Culver and the Democratic leadership in the state legislature come in. Coasting on the usual advantages of incumbency is not going to be enough, especially if the economy is still in bad shape in 2010.

The best way to change Iowa from a purple state to a blue state is for Democratic elected officials to deliver real, lasting change. That will involve taking on some big problems despite the political risks. In a time of budget scarcity, state legislators can’t just throw money at a lot of popular programs.

Nothing succeeds like success. If Democrats can show that their governance made a tangible difference in the lives of Iowans, it will be easier to give voters a reason to back Culver and Democratic legislators again in 2010. I’ve got a few suggestions:

-Reduce the influence of money in politics by approving a voluntary “clean elections” system on the model of Maine or Arizona;

-Reject new coal fired power plants (as several of our neighboring states have done) and increase our capacity to generate wind and solar power;

-Allow “local control” of large hog confinements (agricultural zoning at the county level);

-Make progress toward providing light rail in the Ames/Ankeny/Des Moines and Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridors.

I can’t say I’m optimistic about the Democratic leadership taking on any of those tasks, because powerful corporate interests could line up against them.

But I am convinced that we need to have something big to show for four years of Democratic control at the statehouse and Terrace Hill. Give Kiernan something to sell to the voters he’s trying to keep in the Democratic fold.

The IDP’s press release announcing Kiernan’s election is after the jump.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

Monday, January 26:

The Iowa Environmental Council has organized a Legislative Reception at the Quality Inn, Rotunda Room, 929 3rd St., Des Moines from 5:00-7:00 pm.  Come talk with members of the Iowa legislature about environmental issues that are important to you.

Tuesday, January 27:

From Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement:

BIG Rally & Lobby Day

Mark your calendars and plan to be at our Rally & Lobby Day at the State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 27. We need you there to show our legislators that thousands of Iowans will be holding them accountable this legislative session to issues like local control, clean elections, homeowner protections and the rights of all workers.

Decisions made at the Statehouse impact us every day. This is our chance to put our issues at the top of the legislative agenda. Join with us today – click here for more information and REGISTER TODAY!

From the Center on Sustainable Communities:

Tuesday, January 27th

Green Home Interiors Seminar Hosted by COSC

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

DM Green Demo Home

1347 Forest Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50314

The Center on Sustainable Communities is hosting an Interiors seminar on Tuesday, January 27 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm presented by Jeani Lee of Kitchen, Bath & Home and Jamie Malloy of Wells & Associates.  This project is a collaboration between CHDC, COSC, and the City of Des Moines along with many supporting sponsors.  Cost: $10, light refreshments will be served, $5 for COSC members.  Please register by Friday, January 23rd by clicking here or by emailing info@icosc.com. See www.icosc.com and CHDC’s blog for more details.

Thursday, January 29:

From the Iowa Environmental Council’s e-mail newsletter:

Green Networking

Join us January 29 at the Gateway Market in Des Moines, at 5 p.m. Green Drinks of Des Moines has a lively mixture of people from academia, government and business. Come along and you’ll be made welcome. Just say, “Are you green?” and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there. It’s a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making new contacts. Everyone invites someone else along, so there’s always a different crowd, making Green Drinks an organic, self-organizing network. These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had moments of serendipity. Green Drinks is the last Thursday of each month at Gateway Market on MLK & Woodland at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, January 30:

Congressman Bruce Braley is holding a town hall meeting on the economic stimulus at 10:00 am at the Grand River Center (meeting rooms 2 and 3), 500 Bell Street in Dubuque. Braley’s town hall meetings on the economy are free and open to the public.  Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at http://braley.house.gov.

From Polk County Democrats:

The Ankeny Area Democrats and The Polk County Democrats Present An Inauguration Celebration Dinner At The Iowa State Historical Building

Friday, January 30, 2009

Catered by Baratta’s Restaurant

Social Hour begins at 6:00 PM

Dinner at 7:00 PM

Live music through the Musician’s Union

Tickets $25 per person

Tickets include chicken / pasta dinner and sides, soft drinks, coffee, iced tea or water

Semi-formal attire encouraged, but not required

Tickets available by calling Tamyra at 515-285-1800 or Mary Oliver at 515-964-1227

Email polkdems@gmail.com or Ankenyareadems@msn.com

Saturday, January 31:

From Iowa Rivers Revival:

IRR is developing a River Stewards Program to address concerns about the public’s general disconnect from rivers.  We have conducted a couple of brainstorming sessions in recent months and have envisioned River Rascals, a river steward program that will offer opportunities for youth to learn more about the importance of rivers and problems associated with them.  We want to engage educators and anyone interested to help develop and implement a program for youth that focuses on river appreciation, recreation and stewardship. We invite you to the upcoming planning session to help make the vision a reality!

River Rascal Program Planning Session

Saturday, January 31, 2009, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Polk County Conservation Board’s Jester Park Lodge, 11407 NW Jester Park Drive, Granger, IA

Agenda: Provide ideas and feedback on draft program details, including curriculum, educators/presenters/partners/mentors, potential participants, venue options, and funding options

No cost (pizza and beverages will be brought in – small cash contribution welcome)

RSVP: rlehman@iowarivers.org or 515-202-7720

Tuesday, February 3:

One Iowa is organizing a forum on marriage equality at 7:00 pm in the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 834 Broad St. in Grinnell.

Wednesday, February 4:

From Iowa Rivers Revival:

Iowa Rivers Revival invites you to join us for a legislative reception to engage Iowa legislators about the importance of our rivers and how they provide many economic, environmental and recreational resources for our state.  Come and share your river experiences. […]  

Our first reception held in January 2008 was a great success – over 50 supporters, including bi-partisan representation from at least 15 Iowa legislators, attended the last-minute event.  This reception provides an opportunity for Iowa’s political leaders to recognize that rivers have representation and an increasing base of support advocating on their behalf.  The purpose of this reception is to raise awareness and to continue having conversations about the issues concerning Iowa’s rivers and our connections to rivers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Noodle Zoo Café

E 6th & Locust, Des Moines

4:30 – 6:30 PM

No cost

RSVP: rlehman@iowarivers.org

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

The Iowa Recycling Association is sponsoring an Educators Conference on February 4, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, at Plymouth Church, 4126 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines. Topics and Speakers include “Green Streets”:  Jeff Geerts, Iowa Department of Economic Development; “Marketing Programs on a Budget”:  Mark Signs, Trees Forever; “Character Counts”:  Eric Martin, Character Counts; “Partnerships for Effective Education”:  Mary Gillespey, Darven Kendell, Bev Wagner. Pre-registration is required. Registration fee is $30 before January 1, 2009 and $40 after January 1. A waste free lunch will be provided. Register online at http://www.iowarecycles.org/co… and send payment to: Iowa Recycling Association,  PO Box 10954, Cedar Rapids, IA  52410. For more information contact: Bev Wagner, beverly.wagner@loras.edu or 563-588-7933.

Friday, February 6:

The Iowa Network for Community Agriculture is holding its 14th Annual Local Food Conference on February 6-7 in Clear Lake. The conference is an opportunity to connect the local food “dots” in North Iowa, expand your local food knowledge with dynamic workshops, and celebrate the capacity to sustain ourselves and our communities. Come meet and eat with other local food enthusiasts. Full conference information at http://www.growinca.org.

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Savanna Workshops for Teachers and Naturalists

Join us for the workshop: Iowa’s Roadside Native Communities: Savanna, on Feb. 6-8, 2009 and Apr.24-25, 2009 at Baymont Inn, Coralville, IA. Learn how to help your students explore and improve Iowa Prairies/Savanna. For primary through Community College teachers and naturalists. Participants receive 2 UNI graduate credits, materials, meals and housing for only $180 due to grants. For more information please visit http://www.uni.edu/ceee/eii. Request a paper brochure at bollwinkel@uni.edu, or call 319-273-2783.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) or post a comment if you know of another event that should be added to this calendar.

Sunday, January 18:

From Blog for Iowa (click the link for more details):

On Sunday, January 18, the Iowa City Environmental Film Festival and Sierra Club will sponsor a screening of Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars.  The film portrays how Texans formed unlikely coalitions to fight the construction of nineteen coal-fired power plants being fast-tracked by the state’s governor, Rick Perry.  The film, narrated by Robert Redford, has received numerous awards.

Representatives from two groups instrumental in challenging the construction of the two plants in Iowa will lead a discussion following the film.  Mike Carberry, Sierra Club, will be joined by Carrie LeSeur, founder and Executive Director of Plains Justice, to talk about what is being done and what Iowans can do to stop construction of the coal-fired power plants.   Plains Justice, a public interest law center, was founded in 2006 in part in response to the Waterloo, Iowa Coal Plant Proposal, which has now been withdrawn.        

[…] Sunday, January 18th at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Room A at 3:00 PM.

The screening is free and open to the public.

Monday, January 19:

From Polk County Democrats:

From Vern Naffier

Come to the Pre-Inauguration Celebration

Friends:  Join me Monday night at 7 pm at the State Historical Building for an inspiring event celebrating Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Barack Obama’s inauguration, and the beginning of an era of peace, reconciliation, and social justice throughout the world. See announcement below.

RENEWING AMERICA’S PROMISE

Rebirthing King – Rebirthing America

A pre-inauguration celebration

State Historical Building

600 East Locust

Des Moines

January 19, 2009

7-8 pm

Come join the effort to reclaim the dream of America free from racism, militarism, and materialism. Come join the candlelight march for Martin’s memory and Barack’s beginning.

The Iowa Obama Presidential Inauguration Committee invites you to bring items for the DMARC Food Pantry.

Sponsored by the King Birthday Celebration Planning Committee

Tuesday, January 20:

George W. Bush’s presidency will finally end as Barack Obama takes the oath of office. What are you doing to celebrate? There must be many parties going on all over this state.

Urban Dreams Presents

Brown, Black & The Blues People’s Ball

Celebrating the Inauguration of

President Barack Obama

Together through the diversity of our community

Jnauary 20, 2009

8:00 PM until…

Hotel Fort Des Moines

1000 Walnut Street

Des Moines, IA  50309

$25 / person

Dress to Impress

Featuring Musica Latina, Soul and the Blues

A nonpartisan event open to the whole community

for more information please call 515-288-4742

The Brown, Black & The Blues People’s Ball is brought to you by

Project V.O.T.E. (Voting Opportunities Through Education).

PLease call Hotel Fort Des Moines at 515-243-1181 if interested in room reservations.

From 1000 Friends of Iowa:

There will be a Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Public Input Meeting in the DMAMPO Meeting Room, Merle Hay Center, 6200 Aurora Avenue, Suite 300W, Urbandale, IA. Click here for more details about what’s on the agenda and why you should care.

Friday, January 23:

For bicycling advocates and enthusiasts:

Iowa Bicycle Summit

January 23-24, Des Moines

Iowa Bicycle Summit will be held in Des Moines at the Holiday Inn, Downtown, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday’s session features Steve Durrant from Portland, Oregon, a registered landscape architect and planner with over 30 years experience helping communities become better places to live. A Friday Bike Night fundraiser will feature a presentation by mountain-biking legend Gary Fisher at a dinner and silent auction. Saturday is geared for grassroots bicyclists who want to better their communities. Sessions include Safe Routes to Schools, Bike to Work Week, legislative issues and more. Primary sponsors are the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. Participation is limited. Find out more or register at the Iowa Bicycle Summit webpage, http://www.iowabicyclecoalitio…

From the Iowa Environmental Council newsletter:

Winter Solstice Workshop: No Child Left Inside

January 23-25, Honey Creek State Park

The Iowa Conservation Education Coalition’s annual Environmental Education Workshop, Winter Solstice, will be held on January 23-25, 2009.  The workshop title is No Child Left Inside.  Winter Solstice will be held at the Honey Creek State Park Resort on Lake Rathbun. This new resort features motel rooms, a restaurant, an indoor water park, and most important for ICEC, a wonderful conference center. Our keynote speakers include: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder; Connie Mutel, author of The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa; and Jim Pease and Susan O’Brien author of Environmental Literacy in Iowa. For questions about the workshop, please contact Gail Barels at gail.barels@linncounty.org or Heather Niec at adminicec@hotmail.com.

Saturday, January 24:

For those who enjoy public art:

Design a Dragonfly on Ice at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

January 24, West Lake Okoboji

Filmmaker Chad Branham will design this year’s Artslive’s People Project on Saturday, January 24, on the ice in Miller’s Bay, beginning at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. This ephemeral art project will line people up on the ice on West Lake Okoboji, in the shape of a giant 100 foot dragonfly. This design will take over 225 people to complete. Once everyone is in place the dragonfly will be photographed from an airplane by Judy Hemphill. Due to limited parking at Lakeside, participants are asked to gather at Peace Corner, at the corner of Highways 9 and 86, at 12:30 pm, and take a shuttle bus to the project site at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. People are encouraged to dress warmly and, if possible, in bright primary colors.  To sign up to participate, or for more information about participating in this year’s ArtsLive People’s Project, contact Jen Johnson at (712)332-6502 or jen@activeokoboji.org, or visit artslive.com.

Tuesday, January 27:

From Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement:


Jan. 27, 2009  

BIG Rally & Lobby Day

Mark your calendars and plan to be at our Rally & Lobby Day at the State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 27. We need you there to show our legislators that thousands of Iowans will be holding them accountable this legislative session to issues like local control, clean elections, homeowner protections and the rights of all workers.

Decisions made at the Statehouse impact us every day. This is our chance to put our issues at the top of the legislative agenda. Join with us today – click here for more information and REGISTER TODAY!

Friday, January 30:

From Polk County Democrats:

The Ankeny Area Democrats and The Polk County Democrats Present An Inauguration Celebration Dinner At The Iowa State Historical Building

Friday, January 30, 2009

Catered by Baratta’s Restaurant

Social Hour begins at 6:00 PM

Dinner at 7:00 PM

Live music through the Musician’s Union

Tickets $25 per person

Tickets include chicken / pasta dinner and sides, soft drinks, coffee, iced tea or water

Semi-formal attire encouraged, but not required

Tickets available by calling Tamyra at 515-285-1800 or Mary Oliver at 515-964-1227

Email polkdems@gmail.com or Ankenyareadems@msn.com

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Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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