Twelve depressing facts about racial disparities in Polk County

The Des Moines metro area has received top-ten rankings from dozens of national organizations or publications that evaluate the job climate, housing markets, or other factors affecting the quality of life.

Unfortunately, extensive research on the State of Black Polk County revealed “significant racial disparities in the traditional economic and financial indicators including banking, savings, employment, and housing.” The Directors Council and State Public Policy Group coordinated the yearlong project, producing the first-ever “snapshot of the financial stability and well-being of African Americans and Africans living in Polk County.” Iowa’s largest county is home to more than 31,000 black people, a little less than 30 percent of the estimated statewide African-American population.

I first learned of this study, now nearly six months old, when Teree Caldwell-Johnson presented key findings to congregants at Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Des Moines during a break between Yom Kippur services on September 30. The full report is after the jump. For each portion, I’ve highlighted the facts and figures that most struck me.

These numbers partially explain why analysts for 24/7 Wall Street ranked the Des Moines metro area the country’s ninth-worst city for black people in 2015 and the third-worst last year.

On a related note: The Fifth Annual Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities, co-sponsored by the NAACP, is happening in Ankeny next Tuesday, October 10. More details are here and near the end of this post.

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Seven more pitches for seven Iowa Democratic candidates for governor

To all the Democrats who want to hear directly from each contender in the Iowa governor’s race before deciding how to vote next June: this post’s for you.

Since Bleeding Heartland published seven pitches for gubernatorial candidates from a major party event this summer, Todd Prichard has left the race and Ross Wilburn has joined the field.

All seven Democrats running for governor appeared at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Des Moines on September 10, speaking in the following order: Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, John Norris, Ross Wilburn, Jon Neiderbach, Andy McGuire, and Nate Boulton. I enclose below the audio clips, for those who like to hear a candidate’s speaking style. I’ve also transcribed every speech in full, for those who would rather read than listen.

As a bonus, you can find a sound file of Brent Roske’s speech to the Progress Iowa event at the end of this post. With his focus on single-payer health care and water quality, Roske should be running in the Democratic primary. Instead, he plans to qualify for the general election ballot as an independent candidate, a path that can only help Republicans by splitting the progressive vote.

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IA-Gov: Read the messages Fred Hubbell is testing with Iowa Democrats

Are Iowa Democrats more likely to support a successful businessman who is not a politician? Are they sympathetic to the argument that a self-funding candidate for governor is less susceptible to influence by special interests? Are they more impressed by private- or public-sector jobs Fred Hubbell has held, or by his charitable giving to causes like Planned Parenthood?

A recent survey of Democratic voters appears to be the Hubbell campaign’s first attempt to answer those and other questions.

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Iowa scientists warn humidity rising due to climate change

“Uncomfortable humidity, water‐logged spring soils, extreme rain events, mold, and mosquitoes are all expected to become more prevalent in Iowa due to a rarely discussed impact of climate change: increased humidity,” 190 scientists at academic institutions warned last week. In the sixth annual Iowa Climate Statement, science faculty and researchers from 39 colleges and universities noted that “Increases in humidity have been measured across the Midwest and in Iowa across all seasons and at all long‐term monitoring stations.”

High levels of humidity create hazardous conditions for Iowa workers and sensitive populations through the danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Allergic rhinitis and asthma are worsened by heightened exposures to mold and dust mite allergens in humid environments. There also is evidence for increased aggression and societal violence associated with hot, humid weather.

For Iowa agriculture, increased warm‐season humidity leads to increased rainfall, extreme rain events, water‐logged soils during planting season, soil erosion, and runoff of chemicals to waterways. Rising humidity also leads to longer dew periods and higher moisture conditions that elevate costs of drying grain and increase populations of many pests and pathogens harmful to both growing plants and stored grain. Increased nighttime temperatures coupled with humidity causes stress to crops, livestock and pets and, in extreme cases, heat stress can cause loss of life.

I enclose below the full text of this year’s Iowa Climate Statement, with references, along with the news release highlighting key findings. You can view the names and academic affiliations all who signed here.

P.S.-The Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa, which has coordinated the release of the Climate Impact Statement, is set to lose much of its funding in 2022. This spring, Republican legislators approved and Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a bill eliminating a small tax on investor-owned utilities, which has supported the CGRER and the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University for 25 years.

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Ross Wilburn makes eight Iowa Democratic candidates for governor

Ross Wilburn joined the field of Democratic candidates for governor today, promising to focus on health, education, and economic opportunity. In a news release enclosed in full below, the former Iowa City mayor and city council member said he would govern in an inclusive way, drawing on skills gained through community work and service in local government. He pledged to listen and build consensus, “bringing together sometimes disparate interests,” as opposed to the “fighting” and “divisions” often seen in Iowa politics at the state level.

Wilburn’s campaign is on the web at justbeiowa.com, on Twitter @letsbeiowa, and on Facebook at Ross Wilburn for Governor.

In alphabetical order, the other Democratic candidates for Iowa governor are:

Nate Boulton (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Cathy Glasson (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Fred Hubbell (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Andy McGuire (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Jon Neiderbach (website, Twitter, Facebook)
John Norris (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Todd Prichard (website, Twitter, Facebook)

Glasson is technically still in the exploratory phase, but she has hired campaign staff and spoken to audiences around the state this summer, including the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event last month.

Supporters are welcome to submit commentaries here advocating for candidates in Democratic primaries. Please read Bleeding Heartland’s guidelines for guest authors before writing.

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Meet Austin Frerick, who may run for Congress in IA-03

“This is what I think Democrats need to be talking about,” wrote Austin Frerick yesterday, sharing the link to his latest guest column in the Des Moines Register: “To save rural Iowa, we must end Monsanto’s monopoly.”

Frerick has been warning for some time that economic concentration, especially in the agricultural sector, hurts rural Iowa. He has also highlighted lack of competition and little-known pharmaceutical company practices that keep drug costs inflated, so powerful corporations can overcharge Medicare under the guise of helping sick people.

He may soon be raising those and other issues as a Democratic candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district.

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