Keeping all our options open: A vision for a "new century farm" in Johnson County

Thanks to Kurt Friese for this perspective on a controversy that brings together concerns over land use, local foods, and affordable housing. Fellow Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan explained his vote on the proposal here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

It what might be called the most contentious vote of my time so far on the Board of Supervisors, on June 23 we chose one of three potential concepts for “phase 2” of the planning for the historic Johnson County Poor Farm. The concept, titled “New Century Farm,” is the most ambitious of the three, and is the only one of the three that keeps all our options open.

What it does not do is sell off public land to private developers, nor “pave the poor farm,” nor create urban sprawl. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a little background.

Continue Reading...

Patty Judge enters the US Senate race in Iowa. It's about Citizens United.

A fourth Iowa Democrat joins the race to un-seat republican US Senator Chuck Grassley. Her name is Patty Judge. US Senate candidate Tom Fiegen — a Sanders Democrat — issued a warning to progressive Iowa democrats this week about the Big Money influence pulling the strings of this latest candidate to enter the race.

“I welcome Lt. Governor Judge to the race because of the contrast between us. Her political base is big money industrial agriculture interests where poisoning Iowa’s waters is part of the deal. The majority of Iowans want clean drinking water and small family farmers growing more fresh healthy local food. A majority of Iowans want Citizens United overturned. Make no mistake, this election is a choice between status-quo politics where everything is for sale to the high bidder and the politics of putting the needs of working people ahead of Super PACs.”

Continue Reading...

Why Not Just Feed Babies Arsenic? - Think Progress

The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would drastically cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and severely limit the agency’s ability to protect human health and the environment.

Known as the 2012 Interior-EPA Appropriations bill (H.R. 2584), it would delay critical clean air rules by more than a year and prevent the EPA from regulating toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Our congressional delegation is generally pretty divided along party lines when it comes to major public health issues such as this – generally, Braley/Loebsack support the independence of the EPA and King/Latham oppose. Boswell is typically a swing vote. More below the fold if you are interested in taking action!

Continue Reading...

Muscatine Mother for Clean Air - Stories from Rural Iowa

From time to time I run across editorials, letters to the editor, and other random environmental news that I find interesting.  This piece I found particularly compelling and I wanted to share. It comes from a community activist in Muscatine, IA who is really fighting to improve air quality in Muscatine – and throughout the state. Her name is Michelle Marine and you can read her blog at: Simplify, Live, Love

By: Michelle Marine 

In 2006, my husband and I and our four children moved to his hometown of Wilton in Muscatine County. We've lived in lots of large cities, both in the US and abroad. We chose rural living for a variety of issues, one being for an overall healthier lifestyle. I was saddened to learn that the air quality here in rural Iowa is sometimes worse than in the big cities we lived in the past. I started a blog at Simplify, Live, Love.

The blog focuses on frugal living, homeschooling, grammar, and living green. I became interested in the air quality issue after realizing how badly the air smells at our house in Wilton some days. I researched the issue more in depth when Healthy Child, Healthy World asked for bloggers to blog on air quality.

I was shocked at what I learned about the air quality in Muscatine County. Muscatine County has the highest levels of particulate matter, a hazardous air pollutant. Our residents are exposed to the lowest air quality levels in the state of Iowa. And as we know, many of our friends and neighbors suffer from air-pollution related illnesses, including an unclassifiable upper-respiratory disease physicians have come to call the “Muscatine Crud.”

Continue Reading...

Mississippi River Floods -- The Branstad Connection

(State Senator Rob Hogg has been calling for more investment in watershed projects.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

With floodwaters along the Mississippi River in the southern U.S reaching historic levels it’s time for Iowa to take a leadership role in helping prevent future flooding by investing in watershed improvement programs and conservation in Iowa.

Many people might not know what a watershed is. A watershed is basically a basin defined by highpoints and ridges that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea.

According to the EPA:

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:

“that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.

This is the connection between watershed and land management practices in Iowa and recent flooding on the Mississippi River. …more after the jump…

Continue Reading...

Former NH GOP Chairman: So Long Iowa!

On Friday, Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party wrote an article in the Union Leader which basically said what we've all been thinking: Iowa Republicans are currently driving their party off a cliff and are hurting our entire state by marginializing our caucus system.

This article, "So long Iowa, it was nice knowing ya," is a must read for everyone who has been watching with dred as social conservatives pushed out fiscal conservatives, and presidential candidates began to "reevaluate" their early state strategy.

Here are some of the important excerpts:

Two conditions make the early states in the presidential nominating process work. First, all candidates must believe they have an equal opportunity to succeed. They might not be happy with the outcome — most of them lose, after all — but they all have to feel like they had their shot and were given a fair hearing by voters. Second, the electorates have to be broadly representative of the party as a whole. This gives a win meaning and legitimacy.

The Iowa caucus may once have met those conditions for Republicans, but today it does not. Iowa Republicans have marginalized themselves to the point where competing in Iowa has become optional.

… This week came another troubling sign that Iowa Republicans are outside the party mainstream: a birther epidemic. A Public Policy Polling survey found that 48 percent of Iowa Republicans don’t believe President Obama was born in the United States, and another 26 percent said they weren’t sure if he was or if he wasn’t. It’s hard to talk about real issues when three quarters of the audience wears tin foil hats.

…Iowa Republicans didn’t set out to marginalize themselves, but it’s happened — to New Hampshire’s benefit. With several major candidates likely to bypass Iowa, and the odds rising that Iowa’s skewed caucus electorate could support candidates with limited general election appeal, the likelihood of New Hampshire being called upon to make a correction grow.

Currently, reporters in Iowa continue to ignore the harm that far-right Republicans are doing to our state with their social litmus tests. We’ve seen a few bold Republicans like Doug Gross and Kevin Hall speak out publicly, but they are few and far between.

Continue Reading...
View More...