When the floodgates open

Mar 26, 2019

Dam Removal?

I’ve thought what would happen if those dams were removed. There is very little practical knowledge on it that I’m aware of. The sediments behind the structure are undoubtedly full of poisons, including heavy metals, ag chemicals and their decay products, and other stuff. There are probably millions of tons of mineral dirt behind the oldest ones.

Given all that, I really don’t have any good answers. We may be stuck with them for a few centuries. So no, that wasn’t my intention, to argue for large-dam removal. It was merely to point out that, after four to six decades, they either haven’t worked or they no longer work, as far as flood control.

It’s all a sad story. The big dams on the Missouri in the Dakotas were sited on important native American sites (what a coincidence), and the flood pools have eroded or covered many more such sites. A lot of those prehistoric and historic sites belonged to the Middle Missouri Tradition and were traceable to existing tribal groups. It was their village sites and cemeteries that were destroyed.

Worse was the forced removal of villages and towns on reservations that were in the flood pools. Several were in North Dakota. The history of forced removal for large impoundments has not left the removed people in better circumstances. Outside North America, that is true in the Amazon region, in northern India, along China’s Yellow River, and in areas of Africa. I’m almost certain that the same thing has happened elsewhere, but I’m going from cases that I know about.

I guess the lesson is this, regarding large dams: don’t build them. Don’t build anything unless there is a reasonable means of undoing it. The the shortterm human costs are too great, and the longterm human and ecological costs, as far as we can tell, are as bad or worse.

Rod Blum’s internet business, other firms tout identical “success stories”

Feb 24, 2018


I figured that such distortions and deception were part of Business As Usual in many sectors. It’s still maddening to me, a small business owner. I have a web presence, but I reject all emails regarding enhanced SEO performance because I will not work with any such company unless I initiate the contact AND oversee their promotion methods.

In other words, I’m an ethical business person, which means I’m not taking advantage of the unethical means that Blum and the SEO company promote. For me, good business is based on competence in the areas of service expertise I offer, reputation, and other old-fashioned values.

I hold in low disregard those who put glossy covers on their business as the primary ruse to gain customers. The numbers must indicate something meaningful, something substantive about how a business conducts itself. In Blum’s case, the numbers are devoid of meaning and substance. They are gimmicks in the worst sense of that word.

The business world should nail him to the wall as an example. However, I fear it will only let him go down as a kind of cover for their own offenses.

Those of us who run competent, legitimate businesses and analyze their performance ethically should give this serious thought as to what we are up against.

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Pointed-leaf tick trefoil

Aug 09, 2016

Legumes in Prairie Province Ecosystems

These have shown up more than once in Scott County. They are present in the woods at Wapsi River Environmental Education Center and elsewhere. I don’t think we can overestimate the importance of legumes in prairie and woodland ecosystems. Certainly tick-trefoils, bush clovers, milk vetches, false indigos, leadplant, purple vetch, and others offered nectar to pollinators, and some take advantage of furry mammals (or clothed ones) for seed transport. At least some of these would have increased available nitrogen in the soil, although I haven’t look at the scientific literature to figure out which.

Iowa Supreme Court rejects county supervisors’ scheme to evade open meetings law

Mar 19, 2016

No Requirement to Think out Loud in Public at All Times

The decision does not require boards “to think out loud in public all the time.” It does not prevent discussion among any number of members of a governing body.

What it DOES prevent is cloaked policy discussions that are intended to persuade AND arrive at a conclusion, without public oversight or input. This distinction is very, very clear in Wiggins’s writing for the majority. In the case of persuasive or decisive actions, “agency” exists on the part of members of the governing body, while it does not exist in mere discussions and exchanges of factual information. Agency also exists when a proxy carries out these functions of persuasion, policy change, and decision, as it clearly did in the involvement of the Warren administrator as go-between.

Three Republicans join Iowa Senate Democrats in vote to terminate Medicaid privatization

Feb 11, 2016

Call Majority Leader Upmeyer

I suggest a campaign of phone calls to Linda Upmeyer, the Republican House Majority Leader, urging that the Senate bill be brought to the floor for debate. As noted above, she has suggested that it won’t see light of day because of an impending Branstad veto. So what?

We Iowans need to see where our elected officials stand on this important issue. What’s more, we need to see which of them has the fortitude to stand up to Branstad. And what’s more, we need the chance to participate, by calling our Representatives (especially the Republicans) and Ms. Upmeyer to let the democratic process occur. She won’t represent us at all by holding up the bill.

Call the House Switchboard at (515) 281-3221 and ask to be connected to her staff.

How the Governor Could Invest in Water without Raiding Other Priorities or Raising Taxes

Jan 08, 2016

Branstad's Recalcitrance

Branstad is clearly attempting to split the environmental community from the educational community, in a classic divide-and-conquer move. The article above suggests an alternative that keeps both groups together in a united front against the Governor’s pernicious strategy. But I doubt he’ll cave unless key Republican leaders take up some reasonable compromise and push him on it. His ties to Bruce Rastetter, for one, were made visible in a Register article when Mike Kilen described how Rastetter picked up the phone and made an appointment for Kilen to meet with Branstad. This suggests a very unethical backdoor access to power that most of us do not have in regard to policy formulation and decisions. Branstad’s capacity to forgive DNR penalties against his brother for a manure spill are also a public matter. These are weak spots that smell of nepotism, cronyism, and political incest. I’d like both Dems and Repubs to use these, by the back door if need be, to push Branstad toward better policies for the state. He is there to do well by all of us, not just the ag and business communities, and not merely the high rollers and campaign donors. Without some pressure on his low-level corruption, he’s not about to back down from this and other tactics of division (his rural versus urban warfare comments about the Water Works law suit), suppression of the majority (the approval of the 3/8ths sale tax for environmental purposes), and furtherance of the wants of the Iowa elite.

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