Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Sawtooth sunflower

I’ve wanted to write about Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus) since the earliest months of Bleeding Heartland’s wildflowers series in 2012. Large colonies thrive at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City. But for one reason or another, I’ve never managed to catch them at the height of their blooming period.

After I visited the refuge in early August, I was determined to get back there a few weeks later to capture the sawtooth sunflowers. Again, life got in the way, and I feared these prairie plants had eluded me again.

The first weekend in October, I called the refuge and spoke with a volunteer, who assured me that some sawtooth sunflowers were still blooming near the main parking lot. I took most of the pictures enclosed below there or near the Highway 163 ramp that leads to the refuge (exit 18).

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Julian Castro stands up to injustice and discrimination

Bonnie Louise Brown is an elected member of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee and a civil rights activist in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Right now, in this country and in our home state of Iowa, we have a crisis. Hate crimes are on the rise, we have concentration camps on our southern border and Americans are strapped down by their student loan debt. We need strength to overcome this, we need courage to do what is right, and most importantly, we need a leader who will fight for every American.

Secretary Julián Castro is that leader. He has a plan to make the United States of America a home for all its citizens and put us back on a path of moral clarity. He is the strong candidate we need, a candidate who will stand up for what is right and end the terrible discrimination against immigrants and people of color in this country.

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The Des Moines Register poll shows Buttigieg can win Iowa. But...

The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom did what November Des Moines Register polls often do: shake up perceptions of the presidential race.

Buttigieg’s historic rise (I will show how historic in a minute) is stunning. While I am skeptical he is really ahead of everyone else by 9 points–another poll released on November 17 showed him 1 point behind both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden–the idea that he leads and is well over 20 is believable. But the horse numbers underestimate what Buttigieg has accomplished. He is the best-liked candidate as well as the one being considered by the most voters.

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Iowa's Ag department ignored repeated warnings from state auditors

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) has not acted on advice to improve its management of financial transactions and databases “to prevent losses from employee error or dishonesty.”

For ten years running, under three different state auditors, reports have warned Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig or his predecessor Bill Northey that the IDALS accounting system does not conform to best practices and does not ensure that some divisions are collecting and depositing fees appropriately.

IDALS leaders have responded to each report with boilerplate excuses and non-sequiturs, instead of changing internal procedures to address the concerns.

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Guilty or not guilty? You decide

Miriam Kashia of North Liberty was one of five people arrested in June 2019 while attempting to enter a West Des Moines venue where President Donald Trump was headlining a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa. The activists were seeking to call out the president’s climate denial to the hundreds of people in attendance. -promoted by Laura Belin

On November 12, I was tried for a simple misdemeanor trespass, along with four others. Our “crime” was for entering a privately owned parking lot while protesting for climate action at a Trump fundraiser in West Des Moines and refusing to leave. We pled “not guilty” based on a clause in Iowa Code that says in essence: if you are justified in trespassing, it is not illegal.

At this writing, the judge has not announced the verdict from the bench trial. I was not allowed to read the statement for my defense that I had prepared for the trial. I am sharing parts of it with the public here, so you can decide: guilty or not guilty?

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