Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Flowering plants gone to seed

“This was my worst year ever for getting out with my camera,” I told a friend in October.

“It’s been the worst year for a lot of things,” she replied.

Most of the wildflower posts I’d planned for this fall never came together. Day after day, I kept finding reasons not to drive to a prairie or go for a bike ride on nearby wooded trails. So instead of closing out this year’s series with my own pictures of late bloomers like asters and goldenrods, I am sharing images of plants that finished flowering months ago. Katie Byerly, also known as the “Iowa Prairie Girl,” gave permission to publish the photographs enclosed below, which she took in Cerro Gordo County in early October.

Iowa wildflower Wednesday will return sometime in the spring of 2021.

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Exclusive: Iowa's official COVID-19 website undercounts deaths

The state’s official website on the coronavirus pandemic regularly understates the number of Iowans who have died of COVID-19, Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control data indicates.

The Iowa Department of Public Health submitted information to the CDC indicating that 2,099 Iowans had died from COVID-19 through the week ending November 7. The latest figures published on coronavirus.iowa.gov show 2,206 total deaths, but account for only 1,920 deaths through November 7.

Sara Anne Willette, who maintains the Iowa COVID-19 Tracker website, has noticed the same discrepancy. It may explain why IDPH communications staff never answered Bleeding Heartland’s many inquiries about how the state counts coronavirus fatalities.

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Momentum builds for 100% DSM clean energy initiative

Raihan Rashidi, a clean energy field organizer for the Iowa Environmental Council, wrote this post, which first appeared on that organization’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Reading incessant news about climate-related disasters across the country and here in Iowa has made me wonder if we are just going to sit idly and hope the world miraculously recovers while we maintain our current ways. Or if we are going to accept the science and quickly act to prevent prolonged power outages or severe crop damages the next time a storm or drought hits us. Despite the many challenges 2020 has thrown upon us, I am hopeful it will be the latter.

This is where the 100% DSM movement comes into play.

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U.S. census delay should not derail Iowa redistricting

The U.S. Census Bureau is unlikely to deliver state population totals on its usual timetable, Michael Wines and Emily Bazelon reported for the New York Times on November 19. The news was encouraging for those who support an accurate, complete census, because a delay beyond January 20 would stop the Trump administration’s unconstitutional plan “to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up [U.S.] House seats […].”

I wondered how an adjusted timetable could affect Iowa’s redistricting. Could Republicans who retained control of the Iowa House and Senate use a delay as a pretext for bypassing our state’s current nonpartisan process?

Not without changing state law.

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Broadlawns board should respect voters, appoint Dave Miglin

Tony Leys had the scoop for the Des Moines Register: having lost his re-election bid for the Broadlawns Medical Center Board of Trustees, Bill Taber is hoping to remain on the seven-member board through an appointment.

Though it may be tempting to pull strings for a colleague they’ve worked with for years, board members of Polk County’s public hospital should respect the will of the voters and name Dave Miglin to fill the vacancy.

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Recount confirms Sarah Trone Garriott won Iowa Senate district 22

The only Iowa legislative race to go to a recount in 2020 was resolved this week. Democrat Sarah Trone Garriott won the open seat in Senate district 22 by 23,110 votes to 22,946 for Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena (50.1 percent to 49.8 percent), according to updated numbers on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. The initial results following the canvass had Garriott ahead by 23,113 votes to 22,946. Cirksena called Trone Garriott on November 20 to concede.

The result gives Republicans a 32 to 18 majority in the upper chamber, for now. Trone Garriott was the only Democrat to win a GOP-held seat. Republican Jeff Reichman defeated Democratic State Senator Rich Taylor in Senate district 42. However, if Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks wins the second Congressional district race, which is now in a recount, she would resign from the legislature, setting up a special election in Senate district 41 early next year.

Trone Garriott will join the largest ever contingent of women in the Iowa Senate. In January they will number thirteen with Miller-Meeks or twelve without her.

Senate district 22 is among Iowa’s most over-populated legislative districts, due to rapid growth in the western suburbs of Des Moines during the past decade. While most competitive state Senate races had between 27,000 and 35,000 ballots cast, more than 46,000 people voted in Senate district 22. Trone Garriott won the Polk County side (precincts that are part of House district 43) by nearly a 10-point margin, 9,620 votes to 7,885. Cirksena won the Dallas County side (House district 44) by about 5 percent, 15,061 votes to 13,490.

When Iowa adopts a new political map next year, this Senate district could become more Democratic, assuming it loses territory on the Dallas County side. On the other hand, the next map could put Trone Garriott, a Windsor Heights resident, in the same district as fellow Senate Democrat Claire Celsi, who lives in the part of West Des Moines that’s currently in Senate district 21. I’ve enclosed both of those maps below, along with the news release announcing Trone Garriott’s victory.

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