Events coming up this week

I couldn’t keep up with posting weekly calendars at the height of campaign season, but I’m determined to get back on track.

Events that got lost in the shuffle include the 1000 Friends of Iowa annual meeting in late October, where the 2010 Best Development Awards were announced, and the grand opening of the Roshek Building in Dubuque on November 9. This historic building holds several local businesses and offices for about 1,300 IBM employees. The redevelopment project earned the city of Dubuque a U.S. Commerce Department award for economic development excellence.

I also wish I’d flagged the recent groundbreaking of West Union’s Green Pilot Streetscape.

“Today is certainly a milestone, not only for the people of West Union and Fayette County, but for all Iowans and, in fact, much of the nation,” David Yocca, senior partner of Conservation Design Forum, later agreed. “The reconstruction of a significant portion of the public realm of West Union as planned is one of, if not the most integrated, wholistic, forward-looking efforts that has been done on any street anywhere in this country.”

He explained that the future West Union downtown district will represent an emerging example of green infrastructure, which will serve communities by creating safer, more comfortable, walkable and bikable streets; improve the health of local water, air, and soil;

Restore hydrology and the natural environment; provide long-term cost savings and value over convention infrastructure; support local businesses and job creation; and provide a more beautiful, authentic setting for outdoor use and enjoyment.

The improvements in downtown West Union will be fantastic. Unfortunately, Republican candidates all over Iowa misrepresented this project to spread lies about Democrats funding “heated sidewalks.”

Details on some of this week’s events around the state are after the jump. Pleast post a comment or e-mail me directly about other events worth noting.  

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"Road diet" hasn't affected commute on major Des Moines artery

When the city of Des Moines put Ingersoll Avenue on a "road diet" last month, some locals warned the change would inconvenience drivers and hurt area businesses. I drive down Ingersoll several times a week and have noticed no change in the traffic flow. Now a new study shows commuters have hardly been affected:

In early May, Ingersoll was “re-striped” between Polk Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, decreasing the number of vehicle lanes from four to three. There is one lane in each direction, a center left-turn lane and bicycle lanes on both sides of the street.

In the worst case, travel times increased roughly 20 seconds for westbound motorists traveling between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and 42nd Street during the afternoon rush hour, said Gary Fox, the city’s traffic engineer. There were essentially no changes overall and slight improvements in midday vehicle travel times, he added. […]

The Ingersoll plan is part of a broader “complete streets” initiative that aims to make Des Moines streets more accessible to bicycles and pedestrians.

Giving people safe alternatives to driving is the main reason to adopt “complete streets” policies, but this re-striping also created about 50 additional on-street parking spaces, which helps Ingersoll business owners and their customers. Click here for more information on road diets and here to learn about complete streets. Like Des Moines, the small town of Cascade, Iowa City and the Johnson County Council of Governments have also adopted complete streets policies. Earlier this year, Dubuque received a federal grant to help residents of the historic Millwork District commute to work on foot, bike, or via public transit.

LATE UPDATE: On June 24 I had to drive west almost the whole length of Ingersoll just before 5 pm, which must be around the worst time for “rush hour” traffic. I didn’t notice any problems, and hardly saw any congestion except for the stretch between 24th and 31st streets. Even that wasn’t bad.

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Massive Iowa Legislature linkfest (post-funnel edition)

The Iowa Legislature has been moving at an unusually fast pace during the shortened 2010 session. It’s time to catch up on what’s happened at the statehouse over the past three weeks. From here on out I will try to post a legislative roundup at the end of every week.

February 12 was the first “funnel” deadline. In order to have a chance of moving forward in 2010, all legislation except for tax and appropriations bills must have cleared at least one Iowa House or Senate committee by the end of last Friday.

After the jump I’ve included links on lots of bills that have passed or are still under consideration, as well as bills I took an interest in that failed to clear the funnel. I have grouped bills by subject area. This post is not an exhaustive list; way too many bills are under consideration for me to discuss them all. I recommend this funnel day roundup by Rod Boshart for the Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Note: the Iowa legislature’s second funnel deadline is coming up on March 5. To remain alive after that point, all bills except tax and appropriations bills must have been approved by either the full House or Senate and by a committee in the opposite chamber. Many bills that cleared the first funnel week will die in the second.  

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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Great things are happening in Dubuque

The Dubuque mayor and city council decided in 2006 to make the community "a Sustainable City." Last week federal officials recognized the progress made toward that goal. From an Environmental Protection Agency press release on September 17:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion kicked off their three-city Sustainable Communities Tour today. The officials, representing the administration’s DOT-HUD-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, announced proposals during stops in Chicago and Dubuque that will help communities to improve access to affordable housing, provide additional low-cost transportation options, and protect the local environment.

Also on September 17, the city of Dubuque and IBM

outlined their plans to partner in the development of new “smarter” technologies and implementation strategies to create an international model of sustainability for communities of 200,000 and under, where over 40 percent of the U.S. population resides. Dubuque, a city that is recognized as a national leader in sustainability with its forward-thinking public policy, together with IBM, will address the ever-increasing demands of cities to deliver vital services such as energy and water management, and transportation, all while reducing the community’s impact on the environment.

More details about the recent events, along with some background, are after the jump.

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