Posts 0 Comments 111

FBI Infiltrated U of Iowa Anti-War Group

The Des Moines Register reported an FBI informant and undercover police officer infiltrated a peace organization at the University of Iowa prior to the RNC convention in August 2008.  It is reported that that surveillence began as early as the fall of 2007.

Confidential FBI documents obtained by The Des Moines Register show an FBI informant was planted among a group described as an “anarchist collective” that met regularly last year in Iowa City. One of the group’s goals was to organize street blockades to disrupt the Republican convention, held Sept. 1-4, 2008, where U.S. Sen. John McCain was nominated for president.

The undercover Minnesota deputy who traveled to Iowa City was from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, which infiltrated a group known as the “RNC Welcoming Committee” that was coordinating convention protest activities in St. Paul.

The undercover officer accompanied two activists from the Twin Cities who attended the University of Iowa in April 2008 for a Midwest campus anti-war conference.

The Iowa City Police Department was not aware that an FBI informant was monitoring local anti-war activists last year, Police Chief Samuel Hargadine said. But he confirmed to the Register that he was notified by Ramsey County authorities last year that they were sending an undercover officer to Iowa City.

Read the entire story for more details.  

It is pretty amazing national security resources would go to monitor a peace group in Iowa.  As one of the people in Iowa said, “There are not a lot of bomb throwers in Iowa City.”

Continue Reading...

Iowa School District Cancels School Next Week Due to H1N1 Flu

The Marshalltown School District is cancelling school next week due to 6 reported cases of the H1N1 flu in the county, including students at several schools. From the Des Moines Register

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health said none of the patients required hospitalization. But Marshalltown’s schools are being closed to try to prevent more infections. The news came a few hours after Gov. Chet Culver declared a public-health emergency in the state. Culver’s declaration was based on federal confirmation of an Iowa case of the disease, also known as swine flu. The confirmed case involved a southeast Iowa woman who became ill last week after returning from a vacation in Mexico, where the disease first cropped up. Culver’s declaration allows the state more flexibility in trying to slow the disease, also known as swine flu.

The Marshalltown Times Republican says officials are waiting on more test results to be confirmed.

Marshall County Public Health now reports six probable cases of the virus in the area with five more tests pending results. Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center has set up an emergency call center for those with H1N1 virus symptoms at 641-754-5270. Hospital officials recommend those who believe they are infected to call the number first. They have also set up an emergency flu clinic in a remote area of the hospital.

Continue Reading...

Marshalltown Considers Banning Non-biodegradable Plastic Bags

The city of Marshalltown is following Marshall County’s lead and is considering banning non-biodegradable plastic bags. Marshall County took action to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags last summer.

The Marshalltown Times Republican covered a joint meeting with the city council and the county supervisors and has quotes from Marshalltown Mayor Gene Beach…

“It is still my desire to discuss a plastic bag ordinance here, which would somewhat resemble the ordinance in the county,” Beach said.

The mayor went on to state, “I think it [the county ordinance] is a solid ordinance, frankly.”

Beach said that sometimes irresponsible behavior creates the need for ordinances, and he is still noticing plenty of plastic bags blowing around, even out in the county. Further adding to the need, according to Beach, is there is no incentive to recycle plastic bags.

“It costs less to make a new plastic bag than it does to recycle an old one,” he said.

Supervisor Pat Brooks said the county’s ordinance has garnered a lot of attention. Most recently, the city of Indianola asked to review a copy of what the county passed last year.

Brooks also said the two businesses affected in the county have not been significantly hurt by the issue.

“We have not prohibited plastic bags,” he reminded those in attendance. “We have prohibited those plastic bags which do not degrade.”

This would make Marshalltown the first city in Iowa to have such an ordinance. I would have thought a city such as Fairfield or Iowa City would have moved to adopt an ordinance like first, not Marshalltown.

This ordinance is a common sense idea that is a win for the environment and a win for the state of Iowa since the biodegradable plastic bags are made from corn.

Boswell Pushing for Expanding Amtrak in Iowa

Rep. Leonard Boswell is pushing for a feasibility study of Amtrak service from Chicago through Iowa to Omaha.

Iowa's Third District Congressman Leonard Boswell has asked that AMTRAK study the feasibility of extending a proposed Chicago to the Quad Cities passenger train not only to Iowa City and Des Moines, but also on west to Council Bluffs and Omaha. This is the first time that AMTRAK has been asked by a government official to consider extending service beyond Des Moines. AMTRAK, at the request of the Iowa Department of Transportation, is looking at the feasibility of a Des Moines to the Quad Cities and Chicago train. […]

If passenger train services returns in Iowa between the Quad Cities and Council Bluffs-Omaha, it would use the former Rock Island line. Cities along the route from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River include Davenport, Iowa City, Grinnell, Newton, Des Moines, and Atlantic.

I am definitely on board with this idea.

Continue Reading...

It Was All Worth It

After watching Barack Obama's speech last night I realized that it truly was worth it. It was worth the all the miles I drove to hear all the candidates speak, all the time I volunteered, all the phone calls I made, and all the doors I knocked days before the Iowa caucuses in below zero weather.

Inauguration day was about the show, the monuments, the weight of the presidency, and the historical moment in our nation.

Election day was about the people, the volunteers, and the excitement.

The night of the Iowa Caucuses was about the beginning of a movement.

Last night, though, it all came together. Barack Obama called all Americans to the table to act. He spoke, not as a member of a political party, but as our President. President Obama was no longer making promises on a campaign trail, but instead laying a vision for our country, a path back to prosperity.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: The full transcript of Obama's speech is after the jump. 

Continue Reading...

Rooting for Failure

Rush Limbaugh is not a big fan of Barack Obama. That part is not surprising.

However, this quote from Rush is…

I want everything he’s doing to fail … I want the stimulus package to fail … I do not want this to succeed.

I was not a big fan of George W. Bush, but it wasn't always that way. I began not to like Bush after numerous failures during his prescidency. There was the Iraq War, Mission Accomplished, Katrina, tax cuts for the wealthy, torture, domestic spying, just to name a few. I didn't root for him to fail even though that is all he seemed to do as president.

What Rush and the Right is doing is completely different. They are rooting for Obama's failure because it would lead to their personal gain. Rush would get better ratings and more money. Republicans would have a better chance at getting elected. It would also lead to the demise of our great country.

I am sorry, but putting one's own well being before country is what I call unpatriotic.

Continue Reading...

Centrists cut 600,000 Jobs from Stimulus Bill and Bankrupt States While They're at It

Yesterday, I wrote about the compromise made on the Stimulus bill by Centrists in the US Senate that helped win the vote from 3 Republicans needed for the bill to pass.

John Nichols summed up the cuts that were made…

The bottom line is that, under the Senate plan:

* States will get less aid.

* Schools will get less help.

* Job creation programs will be less well funded.

* Preparations to combat potential public health disasters — which could put the final nail in the economy’s coffin — will not be made.

In every sense, the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

At a time when smart economists are saying that a bigger, bolder stimulus plan is needed, Senate Democrats and a few moderate Republicans have agreed to a smaller, weaker initiative.

Paul Krugman wrote this morning that the cuts made as part of the compromise will be cutting approximately 600,000 jobs.

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending – much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast – because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects – and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The cuts made by the Senate include $40 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization, $16 billion for School Construction, $7.5 billion of State Incentive Grants, and $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity.

The most troubling cut is the $40 billion in state fiscal stabilization.  Iowa is looking at a very tight budget and we are hardly in the worst shape out there compared to other states.

This report by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities was written BEFORE the cuts were made by the Senate and says the money is the Stimulus will help, but is not enough.  Now that a chunk of that money has been cut.

The state fiscal situation is dire.  Revenues are declining, and demand and need for services such as Medicaid is rising, as people lose income and jobs.  State deficits are projected to equal $350 billion over the next 30 months.  Because nearly all states are required to balance their budgets, states have begun to cut expenditures and raise taxes – both of which create a drag on the economy and threaten to counteract part of the intended federal economic stimulus.

The Senate economic recovery package recognizes this fact and includes substantial assistance for states.  The amount of funding that would go to states to help them maintain current activities is approximately $160 billion to $165 billion – or roughly 45 percent of projected state deficits.  Most of this money is in the form of increased Medicaid funding plus most of a “Fiscal Stabilization Fund.”  This funding would likely be sufficient to deter many states from making the most severe spending cuts and to moderate state tax and fee increases.  But states would still have very large gaps to close on their own.

On Meet the Press this morning, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said that these cuts will essentially lay off police officers and firefighters because States will have to cut their State budgets.

Give Sen. Grassley a call at 202-224-3744 and tell him to support more money for States and for schools in the Stimulus bill.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: This graph shows that many more jobs are being lost in this recession compared to other recent recessions.

Continue Reading...

The Next Iowa Democratic Party Chair will be Michael Kiernan

Dave Price of WHO-TV posted on his blog that Des Moines City Councilman Michael Kiernan will be voted to be the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. The State Central Committee will be voting on this on Saturday.

Kiernan has been recommended to the position by Governor Culver.

O. Kay Henderson writes that Kiernan has a history of working with Culver and Judge in the past…

As a young adult, Kiernan worked behind the scenes in Iowa politics. Kiernan served as newly-elected Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge's communications director, but he had a very brief tenure in the IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship). Judge, as you may know, is Culver's lieutenant governor. Kiernan managed Culver's 1998 campaign for Iowa Secretary of State. Kiernan had previously managed one of former Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels' successful campaigns.

Henderson provides a great deal of background info on Kiernan. He is married to WHO-TV anchor Erin Kiernan. Kiernan is an at-large member of the Des Moines City Council and is up for reelection in 2010.

Continue Reading...

Obama for Sensible Priorities

If you attended any political events leading up to the Iowa Caucuses you know about Iowans for Sensible Priorities. They are the ones that handed out the pens with the pull out charts, had the pie chart car, and passed out cookies with pie charts on them. There goals were to…

Increase funding to meet the needs of our children and children around the world (at no additional taxpayer expense) by reducing money spent on the Pentagon for Cold War weapons systems no longer needed to protect America.

Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff, has recently said that the Obama administration plans to cut Pentagon spending

Withdrawing from Iraq, and cutting $300 billion in other defense spending, would wipe out the increases in military spending under the Bush administration. It would even reduce military spending to a smaller percentage of the federal budget than it was during the Clinton administration.

It is great to have a President with sensible priorities.

Continue Reading...

Should Iowa ban Junk Food from Schools?

The Iowa Board of Education is thinking about banning junk food from schools in an attempt to teach healthier eating habits. However, opponents say that snack bars are big money makers in cafeterias.

Now, I thought banning junk food was a pretty drastic step. Then I read this…

''I don't think anybody should tell you what you can and can't eat,'' said Megan Brady, 15, a student at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines. ''That's horrible.''

Brady skips the lunch line nearly every day to buy vanilla ice cream and shortbread cookies from the snack bar.

Sorry, but if you are eating ice cream and cookies for lunch everyday then someone needs to tell you what you can and can't eat.

Ideally, a system could be put into place where a student can buy ice cream sundaes or nachos only after they buy a more healthy main dish.

Students need to learn about a balance diet and it seems schools could get creative and come up with point systems, punch cards, or tickets that could be used for students to earn a trip to the snack bar.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: They are discussing this proposal over at La Vida Locavore.

Also, the the Des Moines Register has more information about how the public can weigh in on this proposal:

Iowans can comment on the Iowa Healthy Kids Act at a public hearing on Feb. 3. Comments about the nutrition recommendations will be taken from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Comments about physical activity recommendations will be taken from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Iowa Communications Network room on the second floor of the Grimes State Office Building, East 14th Street and Grand Avenue, Des Moines, or at remote ICN sites in Council Bluffs, Creston, Elkader, Johnston, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux Center and Sioux City. For more details, call the Iowa Department of Education at (515) 281-5295.
COMMENT IN WRITING: Deadline for written comments is 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 3. E-mail comments about the nutrition recommendations to or by mail: Julia Thorius, Iowa Department of Education, Second Floor, Grimes State Office Building, Des Moines, Ia. 50319-0146. By fax: 515-281-7700. E-mail comments about the physical activity recommendations to or by mail: Kevin Fangman, Iowa Department of Education, Third Floor, Grimes State Office Building, Des Moines, Ia. 50319-0146. By fax: 515-281-7700.


Continue Reading...

Are Area Education Agencies top-heavy?

In an editorial today, the Des Moines Register asks…

Why would the number of administrators at Iowa's Area Education Agencies grow to 95, nearly four times as many as there were five years ago?

I don't know the answer, but my guess the answer is because of No Child Left Behind.

Iowa's 362 school districts don't have the budgets to employ the necessary math and reading specialists to help districts when they are declared as a school in need of improvement. A math teacher I had in high school retired and became a math specialist for the local AEA. He traveled to school that were deemed in need of improvement around north central Iowa to help them develop building and district plans to improve tests scores.

Since No Child Left Behind is a massive unfunded by the federal government, the state is forced to pick up the cost. In Iowa that means they increased demands of AEA's and paid for it by raising property taxes.

Continue Reading...

Iowa's Greenest Library Opens in Marshalltown

The new Marshalltown Public Library opened its doors today. The $5.75 million dollar building will be Iowa's first LEED-certified library and claims the title of Iowa's Greenest Library.

The building includes 90 solar panels. The 15.75kW system makes the library the largest photovoltaic array in the state. The system would be large enough to power a large residential consumer or small farm, but only will provide a small percentage of the power to the 35,000 square foot building. However, there is room to install more solar panels in the future.

The decision to go green was made with the help of a grant from the Vision Iowa board…

While a sustainable building had been under discussion, the decision to do so was accelerated when a Vision Iowa Board member asked, “Are you building green?” The USGBC awards “green” points in broad categories of energy and atmosphere; indoor environmental quality; sustainable sites; materials, and resources; and water efficiency.

The new library is situated downtown on a “recycled” building site, previously used as a parking lot. Its location will permit pedestrian access. In addition to the donated heating and cooling units, the solar panel photovoltaic array will convert sunlight to electricity. Sunscreens and high-performance glazing on the large exterior windows will maximize sunlight and minimize the heat passing through the glass.

Continue Reading...

Braley to Start a Populist Caucus in the U.S. House

Bruce Braley is once again showing leadership in Congress.

Braley sent a letter to colleagues in the U.S. House about becoming a founding member of a populist caucus to help the middle class and working families.

The letter outlines six goals…

1. Fighting for working families and the middle class through the establishment of an equitable tax structure, fair wages, proper benefits, a level playing field at the negotiating table, and secure, solvent retirement plans.
2. Providing affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans.
3. Ensuring accessible, quality primary education for all American children, and affordable college education for all who want it.
4. Protecting consumers, so that Americans can once again have faith in the safety and effectiveness of the products they purchase.
5. Defending American competitiveness by fighting for fair trade principles.
6. Creating and retaining good-paying jobs in America.

Both John Edwards and Mike Huckabee were described as being populists during their presidential runs and that helped them do well in the Iowa Caucuses. This shows the issues outlined have some support on both sides of the aisle.

Matt Stoller has more at Open Left how this populist caucus compares to the Progressive Caucus and the more conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Stoller points out how, historically, Populists have been more rural-based and the Blue Dogs tend to represent more rural areas.

Continue Reading...

High Cost of Benefits Show the Need for Universal Health Care

Republicans are saying the Big Three are going under because they have to add nearly $2,000 per car to pay for union negotiated health care benefits. They are saying this extra cost puts US automakers at a disadvantage compared to foreign automakers who don't have to pay for health care benefits.

Republicans are once again pointing out the problem, but fail to have any ideas on how to solve it. They are basically arguing that America workers don't need health care benefits while ignoring the reason foreign automakers don't have to pay health care benefits.

Foreign automakers don't have to pay for health care benefits because their countries have universal health care. Our employee based health care system puts our companies at a disadvantage on the global market. US automakers should be able to focus on making the best cars, just like automakers in Japan, China, Korea, and Germany do.

Our companies will be at a competitive disadvantage until we have universal health care.

DNR Denies Permit for Hog Confinement in Davis County

I wrote back in September that the winds are changing on the issue of hog confinements after the DNR denied permits to 2 confinements in Dallas County.

Last week, the DNR denied a permit to a hog confinement in Davis County.

From Iowa CCI…

On October 24th, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) denied a 4,960-head hog factory proposal in NW Davis County near Drakesville because, according to the DNR, the permit applications did not meet the minimum legal requirements in the Iowa code. One of the main reasons the DNR denied this proposed hog factory was that it would have been built within the minimum separation distance of 1,875 feet from a neighbor’s residence.

In September, as a result of nearly unanimous public opposition, the Davis County Board of Supervisors recommended that DNR deny this hog factory proposal. The supervisors also challenged the applicant’s master matrix score, the scoring system that large factory farms must pass in order to be allowed to build…

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) and other local residents opposed the proposed hog factory for a number of reasons. They challenged the permit application based on the potential for water pollution to nearby wells and water sources and the likelihood of the underground manure storage pit developing cracks and leaking into underground water sources. In addition, several nearby neighbors raised serious health concerns, concerns for loss of property value, decreased quality of life and the damage the factory farm truck traffic would do to the rural roads.

The Board of Supervisors in both Dallas and Davis counties voted against the hog confinements before the permits were sent to the DNR. Unfortunately, the current laws prevent local Board of Supervisors from having any authority on large hog confinements locating in their counties.

Local control would have worked in both cases, yet the current only adds another layer of bureaucracy and limits the voices of local residents.

Continue Reading...

Sen. Obama, Please Come to Ames and Help out Becky Greenwald

Barack Obama will be making a trip back to Iowa on Friday and holding a rally in the Des Moines area.  

I am hoping that they hold the rally in Ames on the campus of Iowa State University.  A visit by Obama to the 4th District would be a huge boost to congressional candidate Becky Greenwald.  A poll over the weekend showed Greenwald down by just 5%.  
The same poll showed Greenwald and Obama barely beating Tom Latham and John McCain among voters under 30.  A rally at Iowa State would draw huge crowds and create a loud buzz around campus the weekend before the election.

Obama Cancels Trip to Iowa on Thursday

Just got this email from the Obama campaign about Obama's scheduled campaign stop in Des Moines on Thursday…

Senator Barack Obama’s visit to Iowa on Thursday has been cancelled. Please see the below statement from Senior Adviser Robert Gibbs.

“Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life. Along with his mother and his grandfather, she raised him in Hawaii from the time he was born until the moment he left for college. As he said at the Democratic Convention, she poured everything she had into him.

“Recently, his Grandmother has become ill, and in the last few weeks, her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious. It is for that reason that Senator Obama has decided to change his schedule on Thursday and Friday so that he can see her and spend some time with her. He will be returning the the campaign trail on Saturday.”

Continue Reading...

Kerry Campaigning for Obama in Marshalltown

On Wednesday, I hurried out of school at lunch to go see John Kerry at the Iowa Veterans Home. Kerry was in Iowa today campaigning for Barack Obama. He made stops in Waterloo, Marshalltown, Ames, Waukee, and Des Moines.

The event was scheduled to start at 11;30, but I couldn't leave school until 11:40. Knowing there was a good chance that the event would start a few minutes behind schedule, I thought I'd get to see a good portion of it. However, the event must have started on time because I only caught the last few questions.

Kerry was asked by a veteran about the possibility of another economic stimulus check. The person said many residents of the Iowa Veterans Home were not eligible for a stimulus check and if they give out another one if something could be done. Kerry said that the government needs to focus on creating jobs and not on writing more checks.


Kerry was then asked by a man, who is supporting Obama and is Catholic, about the abortion issue.

As I was walking out, there were veterans registering to vote and filling out requests for absentee ballots. I didn't get a head count of how many people were there, but you could feel the excitement for the upcoming election in the room.

New KCCI Poll has Obama up 55% to 39% in Iowa

A new KCCI poll done by Research 2000 shows Barack Obama with another large lead in Iowa.

The new poll interviewed 600 Iowans on Monday and Tuesday who regularly vote in elections for opinion on the upcoming presidential election.

The latest KCCI poll shows that if the election were held today, 55 percent of those surveyed would vote for Obama, 39 percent for McCain. The poll has a magin of error of 4 percent.

Obama has lead in Iowa by double digits in 4 of the past 5 polls done since the conventions.

However, the McCain campaign is seeing things differently…

“We've seen such a variety of polls. Sometimes we're up. Sometimes we're down. I think the bottom line is this is going to be a very close election,” said Dave Roederer, McCain's Iowa campaign state chairman.

I think it is safe to say that no other state, besides Obama's home state of Illinois, knows Obama as as well as Iowa.

The poll shows that Iowans believe Obama is qualified to be president. 65% of Iowans think Obama is qualified to be president compared to 63% for McCain. 55% of Iowans think Joe Biden is qualified, while just 37% think Sarah Palin is qualified.

Continue Reading...

Elesha Gayman: 40 Days Until Election Day

I received this message yesterday from Elesha Gayman's campaign saying there are just 40 days until the election.  That means today there are just 39. 

Early voting started throughout Iowa yesterday and we need to do everything we can to support strong progressive candidates.  

Iwould like to encourage people to donate to Elesha's campaign or to Tim Hoy, Eric Palmer, Jerry Sullivan, and Sharon Steckman through the Iowa Blogs: Expanding the Majority page on Act Blue.  With your help we can help expand the Democratic Majority in the Iowa House.

We have forty days until the polls close and the ballots are counted. I am asking you to pledge $40 or 40 hours to the campaign between now and election day! If you can even do $4 or 4 hours your help will make the difference! (

We have a lot of money left to raise and we have everything from knocking doors, making phone calls, placing yard signs, and helping with data entry. The Republicans are throwing everything and the kitchen sink my way and the negative attacks have begun.

Please send an email to my campaign manager, Matt Singer, at or call 734-846-0302 if you can help!

You can make donations online by visiting my website at and clicking on contribute. Or you can mail donations to: Elesha Gayman for Iowa, PO Box 2567 – Davenport, IA 52809.

Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated!


Continue Reading...

SD 22: Sodders Holds Fundraiser with Sen. Harkin

Last week, I attended a fundraiser for Steve Sodders with Sen. Tom Harkin. It was a well attended event for being on Monday morning at 8 am.

Sen. Harkin stressed how important it is to elect good people to the statehouse and highlighted all of Steve's great work in the community. Sodders is a deputy sheriff in Marshall County, is on the Red Cross board, serves on the Youth and Shelter Services board, and coaches middle school wrestling.

Then Harkin went on to discuss rising energy costs. Harkin cited increased production of cellulosic ethanol in the 2008 Farm Bill and discussed the potential of renewable energy. One example heused was making ethanol out of algae. He also mentioned how we can't drill our way out of this problem.

I have attended a couple of events for Steve Sodders this year. This was one of the first ones he gave real campaign speech at and I think everyone left impressed. I got the whole speech on video, but the sound didn't come out. Since I was taping the speech, I missed a lot of the details, but here is the gist of the speech.

Sodders told a story of him growing up. There was an elderly lady that lived down the block and he and his brothers would mow her yard and help with yard work. When they'd finish, the lady would get her checkbook out and ask them how much they were worth that day. Steve then made the connection to present day Iowa, saying that he believes Iowans are worth a quality education, health care, and a state where young people want to stay in after graduation. To keep young people in the state, it requires good paying jobs. Sodders said we have a great opportunity to create good paying jobs through the research and development of renewable energy in the State.

Sodders is running for the State Senate in District 22 that covers Marshall and Hardin Counties. The seat was formerly held by Republican Larry McKibben who has retired. Sodders is facing Republican Jarret Heil.  Democrats consider this seat to be one of their top chances to pick up a seat in the Iowa Senate this year. 

Proposed Hog Confinements in Dallas County Show Need for Local Control

Usually considered a rural issue, two proposed hog confinements Dallas County are making urban lawmakers pay more attention.

The proposed hog confinements would have a total of 7,440 hogs in rural Dallas County, which is the fastest growing county in the state. These confinements will produce as much waste as a town of 30,000 people and it will go untreated.

Earlier this month, Dallas County Supervisors voted against allowing these proposed hog confinements, but in reality there isn't much the local people can do about the hog confinements that will be owned by the out of state company, Cargill.

Dallas is among 70 counties that have adopted a system of requirements used by state regulators to determine whether construction of an animal confinement is allowed, which means the Board of Supervisors and dozens of residents who live near the proposed buildings provide input but have little say over what happens in their backyards.

The so-called “master matrix,” created in 2003, awards points based on how a confinement will affect the air, water and community. Both proposed Dallas County confinements garnered enough points for approval, which county officials must submit to the state by Monday.

Residents say the grading system creates an illusion of local control. “In reality, the county has very little control over this,” said Jim Thompson, who lives near one of the proposed sites west of Perry.

Applications to build animal confinements are submitted to the county, where officials score the matrix. If an applicant gets the needed points, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approves the application. If the county issues a failing grade, the state rescores the matrix and can overrule the decision.

In the past some state legislators from more urban districts stayed away from this issue, saying that it was a rural issue. However, these proposed hog confinements demonstrate that hog confinements are moving into more urban areas and can be put up anywhere without little control from local citizens.

Hopefully, this will force urban lawmakers in the Iowa legislature to start pushing for the need for local control.

Continue Reading...

John Nichols Calls on Iowans to Continue to Lead

Last weekend I attended the Iowa CCI convention where John Nichols was the keynote speaker. Nichols gave a great speech that made all of the Iowans in attendance proud.

His theme was that citizenship requires action, that it is more than just voting a couple times each year. It is Iowan's responsibility to pursue progressive goals that move the nation forward because Iowans has always been on the frontline of progressive change in the country.

Nichols outlined how Iowa has been leading the nation on the big issues ever since it became a state in 1846 and declared that it was not going to be a slave state. Wisconsin and Minnesota followed suit and this was the beginning of the end of slavery.

He then told the story of Smith Wildman Brookhart (Yes, Wildman was really his middle name.), who ran ran for the United States Senate in 1922 as a Republican with a populist message, saying…

Wall St. is a greater threat to America than any foreign enemy.

Brookhart won a close election and was seated in the Senate until he pissed off party leaders and the election was overturned. He is the only person ever to have the election results overturned after already being seated as a US Senator. Broookhart didn't give up though. He ran in 1926 against longtime Senator Albert B. Cummins, who was the chair of the Judiciary committee. Brookhart went on to beat Cummins in the Republican primary and went on to win in the general election.

Nichols then talked about Henry Wallace and I shot this video of him talking about Henry Wallace. I used my cell phone to take the video, so the quality isn't the best, but here it is anyway.

Nichols quoted George McGovern, who had this to say about Henry Wallace…

The only thing Henry Wallace did wrong was believe that America could be as good as Americans were.

Nichols then told how Harold Hughes spoke to end the war in Vietnam and against the strong-armed tatics being used by the Chicago police.

That led up to the 2008 Iowa caucuses. Nichols said that Iowans did what only Iowans can do. We asked the tough questions at the small town cafes and in the end, showed the rest of the nation Barack Obama could win.

Nichols stressed that our duties don't stop there. We must continue to push ahead on the issues of clean elections, local control of hog confinements, clean water, and worker's rights. If Iowans do that then the rest of the country will follow.

Continue Reading...

Reversing Iowa's Brain Drain is Critical to Rural Iowa

Tim Hoy, Democratic candidate in House District 44, responded to my post earlier this month about Iowa's brain drain. Hoy says reversing Iowa's brain drain is critical for rural Iowa.

Iowa has a long and proud history of providing education to our youth; education at its highest standards. But, in recent decades, those young, accomplished people of Iowa have left this great state to pursue financial rewards elsewhere, often never returning.

The brain drain effect is more disproportionally felt in rural communities. This is reflected on main streets in rural Iowa; communities that are dramatically losing population.

State government has numerous tools at its disposal to foster economic incentives to make this possible. This must take place at both private levels as well as governmental levels. We must also re-evaluate our tax code and take a look at a decentralization of government employees.

For Iowa’s future, we must stem and reverse this “brain drain,” if we truly want to have the future of Iowa as bright as its past. This bright future must be provided not only in our major cities, but our rural communities as well.

Hoy is running to replace the retiring Polly Granzow in Hardin and rural Marshall County. In 2006, he was 260 votes short of winning the district.

Please help expand the majority in the Iowa House by donating to Tim Hoy or these other great candidates we have featured in the past few months: Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, and Jerry Sullivan.

Continue Reading...

Expanding the Majority: Hoy Creating an Environment That Encourages Young People to Call Iowa Home

One issue that I have blogged about extensively at Century of the Common Iowan is Iowa's brain drain. Tim Hoy understands this issue and how it effects rural Iowa.  He is running to create an environment that encourages our young generations to view Iowa as a place to call home.

To create an environment that encourages young Iowans to call Iowa home, something must be done about the amount of student loan debt our college graduates accumulate, there must high wage jobs, and there must be ample recreation opportunities in the state (which means we must have clean waterways).

If you want to create this kind of environment in Iowa, please donate to Tim Hoy's campaign.

The 2nd fundraising period ends on Tuesday, July 15th.  We have a goal of 15 donors by the 15th and are currently at 11 donors. Since my post asking for donations last Thursday, we have raised $565, but are still short of our goal of 15 donors.

Please help expand the majority in the Iowa House by donating to Tim Hoy or these other great candidates we have featured in the past few months: Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, McKinley Bailey, Jerry Sullivan, and Nate Willems.

Expanding the Majority: Tim Hoy HD-44

The end of the second filing deadline is coming up on Tuesday, July 15th. We are featuring Tim Hoy in House District 44 on the Iowa Blogs Expanding the Majority Act Blue page.

The race in House District 44 is one of the top pick up opportunities for Democrats to expand their majority in the House. It is an open seat formerly held by Polly Granzow. Running on the Democratic side is Tim Hoy. Tim was narrowly defeated by Granzow in 2006 by a mere 255 votes.

House District 44 covers all of Hardin County, Western Marshall County, and piece of Franklin County. Tim grew up in Hardin County and currently owns and operates the Ahoy Soda Fountain and Pharmacy in Eldora. He served on the city council and as mayor in Eldora.

Back in May, 7 people had donated to the Iowa Blogs Expanding the Majority Act Blue page.  Hopefully, we can get a total of 15 donations by the 15th.

Please consider donating to Tim Hoy and other great candidates today and help expand the Democratic majority in the Iowa House.

Special Interests Spend Thousands to Influence Iowa Lawmakers

Special interests spent thousands wining and dining lawmakers during this past legislative session…

Well-heeled interest groups, businesses and some government agencies spent nearly $195,000 wining and dining lawmakers and their staffers during this year’s legislative session, according to new financial disclosure forms.

Groups ranging from the Iowa State Bar Association and the Greater Des Moines Partnership to Union Pacific spent a total of $194,848 on receptions, dinners and other social events during this year’s session, according to reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Some of the groups that spent the most were the Iowa Business Council, The Principal Financial Group, Iowa Gaming Association, the Iowa Wholesale Beer Dealers Association, and Hy-Vee Inc.

Now when you look at some of the big issues that were debated by lawmakers this past session you can see why these groups were so interested. These issues include: changes to collective bargaining, expanding health care to uninsured children, if casinos would be included in the smoking ban or not, and the expansion the bottle bill.

The article goes on to tell about the dramatic influence lobbyists and PAC's have on lawmakers and helping them get elected.

Disclosure reports for the year ending last June 30 showed that there were 610 groups who paid lobbyists a total of more than $8.5 million to influence lawmakers.

That financial influence was also shown in political action committee disclosures filed this month, with PACs having already given $872,509 to candidates this year.

I don't think I have heard a better reason for the need for clean elections and campaign finance reform in Iowa. Yet, political leaders refuse to allow the VOICE bill to come up for a vote. The VOICE legislation would bring voluntary clean elections to Iowa.

I'd love to sit down for dinner with Governor Culver, Sen. Gronstal, Rep. Murphy, and Rep. McCarthy and talk about the benefits of the VOICE bill, but I don't think I have enough money to afford it.

Continue Reading...

Boswell is Hardly a Loyal Democrat When it Comes to the Issues that Matter Most

Leonard Boswell is airing TV ads in the Des Moines market where he highlights his opposition to Bush on funding cuts to the college loan program and says he is a loyal Democrat.

That is commendable, but where was Boswell on the issues that matter  most to Iowans?

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats and supported Bush's failed Iraq policy.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats to approve torture in the Military Commissions Act.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats to repeal the estate tax.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats to make it harder for people (and easier for corporations) to declare bankruptcy.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats and supported No Child Left Behind.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats and pushed to give Telecom companies immunity for illegal wiretapping Americans.

Boswell continues to support NAFTA-like free trade agreements.

Boswell voted against the majority of Democrats to give oil and gas companies $14 billion in tax breaks.

Sorry Rep. Boswell, but voting against the majority of Democrats in Congress on the issues that matter most to Iowans does not make you a loyal Democrat.

Odor Study Stinks, Wastes Taxpayer Money

The Iowa House passed a bill to see if hog manure stinks. The study will cost taxpayers $23 million over 5 years.

You don't need to spend $23 million to tell you that hog manure smells bad. Just drive around rural Iowa with your windows down and you will be be able to tell that hog manure reeks.

To make it worse, taxpayer money was spent in 2002 for a similar study.

Previous studies, including one in 2002 by Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, have linked respiratory illnesses with large animal confinements. The 2002 study, requested by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, was overseen by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The study recommended that manure be largely covered by soil immediately upon field application.

The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate. If you already know that hog manure smells bad and don't like to see taxpayer money wasted, call your Senator and tell them the Odor Study stinks.

Continue Reading...

Counter Corporate Attacks and Donate to Iowa Democratic Blogger Approved Candidates

The end of the first fundraising quarter is Monday, March 31st and I thought I'd ask my readers to consider donating to one of the candidates on the Iowa Democratic Bloggers ActBlue page.

The candidates that I would like to ask you to consider donating to are Elesha Gayman, McKinley Bailey, and Eric Palmer. These three candidates have been targeted by a group funded by RJ Reynolds, Mid American Energy, and other corporations. Negative ads have been running throughout their districts on the issues of property tax relief and fair share.

These candidates are all serving in their first term in the Iowa House and are top targets by state Republicans. Please chip in to help these great candidates counter the corporate funded attacks and win re-election this November.

Click here to donate.

Obama Gains Delegates at Iowa's County Conventions

Each of the 99 counties in Iowa held their County Conventions yesterday and Barack Obama cleaned up the number of delegates that move on to the district and state conventions.

Here are the results from the conventions…

Barack Obama: 52.1%
Hillary Clinton: 31.5%
John Edwards: 16%

It looks like pretty much every Edwards delegate that went to a new candidate went to Obama.

The final delegate count after the conventions is Obama 23, Clinton 14, Edwards 6.

To put this into perspective, Sen. Hillary Clinton netted nine delegates out of Ohio after her big win there, while Obama netted 7 delegates in Iowa, while Clinton lost one.

Continue Reading...

60,000 Iowans Register as Democrats for Iowa Caucuses

Thanks to record turnout at the Iowa Caucuses in January the Iowa Democratic Party has 60,000 new registrants. The Republicans gained 7,600 new registrants, while 49,000 people are no longer registered as no party.

This makes the current registration totals in Iowa as of March 1st: Democrats – 701,285; Republicans – 615,576; and 761,201 No Party.

This Democratic Wave should bode well for Democrats in the 2008 elections, as they look to expand majorities in the Iowa Senate and Iowa House, and compete for Congressional seats.

How Obama Gets to 270 Electoral Votes

As the primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton moves on, the question of electability will become more and more important. 

This moring at Century of the Common Iowan, I took a look at the 2008 electoral map.  Using these numbers, Obama would be at 259 electoral votes by adding up the states that are strong democratic, likely democratic, and lean democratic. 

Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
Maine (4 electoral votes*): Lean Democratic
Wisconsin (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
Michigan (17 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
Minnesota (10 electoral votes): Lean Democratic
Oregon (7 electoral votes): LeanDemocratic
New Hampshire (4 electoral votes): Likely Democratic
Washington (11 electoral votes): Likely Democratic

Obama would then need to win 21 more electoral votes to get to 270 and win the election.  Here are the states that are the article considered as toss ups…

Colorado (9 electoral votes): Toss-Up
Virginia (13 electoral votes): Toss-Up
Missouri (11 electoral votes): Toss-Up
Ohio (20 electoral votes): Toss-Up
New Mexico (5 electoral votes): Toss-Up
Iowa (7 electoral votes): Toss-Up

Obama losing Ohio this week has brought some to question if Obama will be able to win Ohio.

By looking at recent poll numbers in these states, Obama would be able to win the nomination without winning Ohio and Florida.

Iowa (7 electoral votes)

Des Moines Register poll on 2/24
Obama 53%
McCain 36%

Survey USA poll on 2/19
Obama 51%
McCain 41%

Rasmussen on 2/21
Obama 44%
McCain 41%

New Mexico (5 electoral votes)

Survey USA poll on 2/19
Obama 55%
McCain 40%

Colorado (9 electoral votes)

Rassmussen on 2/13
Obama 46%
McCain 39%

Virginia (13 electoral votes)

Survey USA poll on 2/19
Obama 51%
McCain 45%

Rasmussen on 2/21
Obama 44%
McCain 49%

Missouri (11 electoral votes)

Survey USA on 2/19
Obama 49%
McCain 43%

Rassmussen on 2/13
Obama 40%
McCain 42%

These poll numbers suggest that Obama would win Iowa (7), Colorado (9), and New Mexico (5).  This would give Obama exactly 270 electoral votes. 

Continue Reading...

RJ Reynolds, Mid American Energy, and other Corporations Target House Democrats

A group funded by RJ Reynolds, Mid American Energy, and other corporations is running TV and radio ads that attack a handful of incumbent House Democrats that includes Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, McKinley Bailey, Bob Kressig, and Art Staed.

The ads have run on cable TV and are paid for by the Iowa Leadership Council, a group organized under the Internal Revenue Code that allows it to raise unlimited contributions.

The council raised $214,550 in the last six months of 2007, according to IRS records, with the largest donors the Reynolds American tobacco company, which gave $40,000, and MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which donated $25,000.

These ads are applauded by Cyclone Conservative who goes searching for a slogan Republicans can spin in the election. He says that Republicans need to start the attacks now and repeat a slogan over and over again.

The slogan that he comes up with is that Democrats are against property tax relief and against keeping jobs in the state. This is absolutely ridiculous. He makes it sound like Democrats want all Iowans to be unemployed and want to force them to hand over all of their money in property taxes.

After running on slogans like “God, Gays, and Guns” for years now, Republicans should realize by now that they no longer are working. Republicans need to forget the slogans and focus on ideas. All of their ideas have run there course and now what is left, is an empty party that is only able to push wedge issues, while they attempt to come up with more meaningless slogans.

Continue Reading...

Des Moines Register Poll: Obama Beats McCain, McCain Beats Clinton

The Des Moines Register released results from a poll that shows Barack Obama would win Iowa in the general election against John McCain. However, the poll shows McCain would win in a matchup against Hillary Clinton.

Obama 53%
McCain 36%

Clinton 40%
McCain 49%

These results are similar to Survey USA's poll released earlier in the week.

The most interesting thing from the Des Moines Register poll was Obama's strength throughout the entire state of Iowa and among woman voters.

Other good news in the poll for Obama includes a decided advantage among female voters, who preferred him over McCain by a margin of more than 20 percentage points.

Obama also beats McCain in each of Iowa's five congressional districts, including the GOP-heavy 5th District in western Iowa. Obama also pulls more support from the opposing party than either of the other two candidates, with 14 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for him.

These numbers show that Obama would help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Having Obama on the ballot would be a boost to Congressional candidates in Iowa's 4th and 5th Districts and help Democrats get a larger majority in the Iowa House.

Continue Reading...

You get what you pay for

A popular topic of discussion in my town seems to be how crappy the roads have been all winter. The discussion has moved into the local newspaper and into the city council chambers.

I have to agree with a lot of the criticism because many of the roads that I drive on everyday are pretty bad. However, I do not blame the city council or the city workers for the ice covered and snow packed roads. I put the blame on the anti-tax crowd that gets all worked up about any discussion of property taxes. Every time a new budget is discussed the anti-tax gets all riled up about property taxes without stopping and thinking about what we actually spend our money on. This lack of rational debate has caused us to become a low-tax minimal-services society.

If you think it is a wise investment to pay overtime for city workers to hop into their snow plows in the middle of the night to clear the roads, then you might just have to pay a couple more dollars on your property taxes.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of all taxes. I understand that our tax money is wasted over and over again by the federal, state, and local governments. I don't like the fact that $9 billion of tax payer money is missing in Iraq. I don't like the fact that the state promotes corporate welfare if the company promises to locate jobs in the state. I don't like if cities abuse TIF districts that divert tax payer money away from schools and other services. It is too bad the anti-tax aren't as vocal on these issues.

The question isn't how much we pay in taxes, the question is about the the quality of services we receive from those taxes. Unfortunately, we have become a low-tax minimal-service society. So if you complain then you need to understand that you get what you pay for.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Poll Shows Obama Beating McCain, McCain Beating Clinton

A new poll by Survey USA shows Barack Obama winning Iowa over John McCain by 10%. The poll shows Hillary Clinton losing to McCain by 11%.

Obama 51%
McCain 41%

Clinton 41%
McCain 52%

I am not surprised that Obama would win Iowa. However, I am surprised about how far behind Clinton is. McCain barely even campaigned in the Iowa. I thought some Iowans might hold that against McCain and some might not know him well enough to decide to support him over Clinton. It looks like I was wrong.

Continue Reading...

State Senator Larry McKibben Contemplating Retirement

Iowa Politics has a story up about the possible retirement of State Senator Larry McKibben in Senate District 22.

Sen. Larry McKibben, R-Marshalltown, chose not to seek the Senate minority leader post in September because of work-related responsibilities. He said Thursday he hasn't decided if his name will appear on the November ballot.

“I am talking it over with my family,” McKibben said. “I will make my decision in the next couple weeks.”

McKibben won reelection in 2004 by less than 800 votes, in a race where over $425,000 was spent. McKibben might not be looking forward to another long summer and fall on the campaign trail or the time trying to raise that much cash.

Democrats already have a candidate who announced his campaign for McKibben's seat in Steve Sodders, a Deputy Sheriff in Marshall County. Sodders has been knocking on doors throughout the district this fall and has been working hard raising money. Sodders has two fundraisers coming up in the next few weeks.

Continue Reading...

Strong Action Needed in Iowa to Cut Energy Use

Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley is being strongly urged by his top energy advisor to take aggressive steps to cut energy consumption, and the state should create a multimillion-dollar fund to give homeowners an array of incentives to use less power.

The blueprint, to be released by the Maryland Energy Administration, will offer 20 proposals to help O'Malley (D) deliver on his ambitious pledge to reduce the state's energy consumption by 15 percent in seven years and stave off rolling blackouts that experts predict could occur in three years.

The report recommends that the state encourage the fledgling solar and wind energy industries to invest in the region and help Maryland more than double its use of renewable power.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has been a proponent of renewable energy, creating the Iowa Power Fund, the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, and saying he wants Iowa to become the renewable energy capital of the world.

Culver has made a goal for Iowa to produce enough wind energy by 2015 to power 500,000 homes and cut carbon emissions by more than 7 billion tons per year. It seems that a program like the one in Maryland would help Culver and Iowans reach this goal.

Instead there are plans to build coal-fired power plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo that would emit more carbon into the air.

If Culver was serious about making Iowa into the renewable energy capital, one would think he would be stressing cutting energy use.

Richardson Ends Presidential Bid

Yesterday Bill Richardson announced he was ending his presidential run and dropping out of the race. Richardson was hoping to do well Nevada next week, but was polls weren't favorable. Richardson had nothing to gain to by getting blown out in Nevada. Plus, the New Mexico legislative session is starting up soon and he can get back to his duties as Governor.

Richardson was one of my final 3 choices. Out of all of the candidates, I agreed most with his plan for Iraq. Richardson understands that US troops in Iraq are targets, stuck in the middle of a civil war, and unfortunately are adding fuel to the fire over there. He also was very strong on education issues. He had the strongest position against NCLB, saying the law is unworkable and needed to be tossed out. He pushed for a minimum wage for teachers of $40,000.

In the end, Richardson's campaign was too focused on the issues and lacked an overriding theme. Richardson should have used his background as a diplomat and made diplomacy the them of this campaign. He could have created a vision of bringing people on all sides together to successfully end the war in Iraq, solve immigration, improve education. Instead he focused on his plans to solve these issues.

Continue Reading...

Obama Wins Support from Marshalltown UAW

Barack Obama has won the support of UAW Local #893 in Marshalltown, which includes 3,000 members and retirees.

Dennis Stewart, President of UAW Local #893 in Marshalltown, had this to say…

The Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs have been in charge for too long. This week, here in Iowa , their desperate attempt to control the political process is all over our televisions. Now more than ever before, working families know Barack Obama is the only candidate in this race who’s not getting any help in Iowa from Washington lobbyists, special interest PACs, or the shadowy outside organizations known as 527s. That’s why working families can trust Barack to change Washington , tell the truth and win in 2008.

This is big news for Obama in Marshall County. Chet Culver had the support of the UAW in the 2006 Democratic Primary for Governor and Culver won over 50% of the vote in Marshall County with the help of the UAW. Obama had already built strong support in the county and this might just push him to victory in Marshall County on January 3rd.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie Endorses Obama

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie endorsed Barack Obama today. Cownie has become a leader on the environment in promoting a green economy to combat global warming.

The real promise of Senator Obama’s presidency isn’t just the plans he’ll bring with him into the White House, it’s the visionary leadership he’ll demonstrate once he gets there. Barack Obama will put an end to the bitter partisanship that’s stopped us from making progress on the urgent challenge of global warming. He’ll tell the American people what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. As President, he’ll restore America’s standing in the world and lead a global effort to meet this challenge once and for all.

Cownie was re-elected this year with 80% of the vote.

Cross posted at Century of the Common Iowan

Continue Reading...

Who Should Run in Iowa's 4th District?

Last month, Selden Spencer surprised many when he announced that he would not run again in Iowa's 4th district. That left Democrats searching for a candidate to unseat Rep. Tom Latham, who votes with President Bush nearly 90% of the time. I know party leaders have been asking different people about a possible run, but with no luck.

William Myers from Humboldt is an Iraq Vet who is considering a run, but he is virtually an unknown among Democratic activists in the district. Also, Kevin Miskell, who is Vice President of the Iowa Farmer's Union, is considering a run, however rumors have it that party leaders in Des Moinesaren't jumping at him possibly running.

I thought I would rank the possible candidates that could run in the 4th district. My criteria are experience and location within the district. One problem with Spencer's campaign was it was very Ames (Story Co. ) centered. The size of the district (28 counties) means the candidates must do well in Ft. Dodge (Webster Co.) and Mason City (Cerro Gordo Co.) and not just Story County to win. The candidate also needs a hook that would make them credible with rural voters.

Here are my rankings of possible candidates to run against Latham in Iowa's 4th District…

1. Daryl Beall- State Senator from Ft. Dodge. Would help win Webster County and probably has better name recognition throughout the northern parts of the district. Not up for reelection in 2008.

2. Jack Kibbie – One reason Democrats might be having a hard time recruiting a candidate is because it is the expected the 4th district will be redistricted out when Iowa loses a House seat in 2012. Running for Congress could cap off a long political for Kibbie, who first served in the Iowa House in the 1960's and then later ran for the Iowa Senate in 1988. Kibbie currently is the Senate President and is up for reelection in 2008.

3. McKinley Bailey – Bailey was elected to the Iowa House in 2006 and is only 26 years old. However, his experience serving in Iraq would instantly make him credible on the top issue in the campaign. Bailey represents Webster County, an area Democrats must win to beat Latham.

4. Lisa Heddens – Heddens is currently an assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa House, where she has served since 2002. Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or as Governor and Heddens would be a strong opponent. She is from Ames and would need to campaign hard in northern Iowa. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and there is a large turnout among woman, Heddens could win.

5. Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald's brother, Michael, is the State Treasurer. Since he is up for reelection as County Sheriff, he'd be a longshot to run.

Continue Reading...

2007 Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner Liveblog

Cross posted at Century of the Common Iowan

The big news in Iowa this weekend is the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Dinner held in Des Moines tonight.  I attended the event and here are some notes I jotted down throughout the speeches. 

Lt. Governor Patty Judge said we are building a bio-based economy here in Iowa. I wonder how 2 new coal-fired powered plants fit into that.

Governor Chet Culver outlines the accomplishments that were made during the last year including raising the minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, lifting the ban on stem cell research, expanding health care to children. Culver said in Iowa our dreams do come true.

Now onto the Presidential candidates.

Continue Reading...

Winners and Losers From the Democratic Debate in Philly

Last night's Democratic Debate in Philadelphia provided the most dialogue. Along with the YouTube Debate, this one was the best debate so far this election.

Here are my thoughts on the winners and losers of the debate…

Chris Dodd – He seemed the most presidential and stressed his leadership and experience. He successfully drew distinctions with Clinton and questioned her electability without sounding like he was on the attack. He mentioned the need for public financing of campaigns.

John Edwards – He pressed Clinton all night on her double talk on numerous issues and stayed on message. He made strong points against the culture of Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests and tied that to Clinton's campaign. He had a great line about Hillary's vote on Iran…

So.. to put pressure on the Bush Administration is … to vote yes on a resolution that [looked as if it] was written by the neocons? Has anyone read this thing?

Continue Reading...

Early States are Even More Important

Political Wire is reporting that the early states are even more important this time around because the large states have moved up in the nominating schedule…

For months, politicians in big states like California, Florida and Michigan have griped about their lack of influence in the 2008 presidential race, pushing up their primaries to try to diminish the sway of Iowa and New Hampshire,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Now, thanks to those efforts, Iowa and New Hampshire appear more important than ever.”

This has been my feeling all along.

If larger states really wanted more influence, they would be moving their primaries and caucuses back to March.  Let the early states act like the preseason where some candidates get cut and some make the team. Then the regular season starts up with the bigger state in mid February and early March.

Continue Reading...

Clinton Campaign's Revolving Door in Iowa

From City View's Civic Skinny

Hillary Clinton’s deputy state director and caucus manager Angelique Pirozzi has left the Iowa effort to pursue “other opportunities,” Skinny hears. Pirozzi’s departure comes on the heels of the campaign’s former state director JoDee Winterhof getting demoted in favor of Teresa Vilmain, who consulted for Tom Vilsack’s short-lived presidential campaign. Clinton people tell Skinny that at least a half dozen field organizers — the supposedly smiling faces of the campaign — have also left recently. Skinny isn’t sure what to make of the revolving door.

Winterhof's change in job title puzzled me. Now more people are moving around and leaving will surely cause a few bumps in the road for the campaign in Iowa. The campaign staff that has been on the ground has built key relationships and it will take a new person to establish those relationships again.

To win the Iowa caucuses you must have a strong organization and then hope to get hot at the end. These personal changes can't help Clinton's organization in Iowa in the short term.

Continue Reading...

Why Iowa Needs to Be First

Iowa should not pick the next president. I don't think my opinion should matter more than those in other states. However, I do think Iowa and New Hampshire should go first because they are small states that are won on the ground with retail politics. If Iowa and New Hampshire weren't first, then Joe Biden and Chris Dodd would not be in the race and maybe even Bill Richardson and campaigns would be won with TV ads, large donor fundraisers, and even more mud throwing.

You don't need a ton of money to do well in Iowa, just look at Mike Huckabee's performace at the Ames Straw Poll. Huckabee had less than half a million dollars on hand at the end of the July. In some states, one TV ad costs more money than Huckabee has. Huckabee is still able to gain traction in the race because Iowa is first.

I see Iowa's job to narrow the field down. Let everyone and their brother/sister/mailman campaign in Iowa. We will attend the events at the coffee shops and in the city parks and ask the tough questions. Those that can't make it through this game of retail politics and meet the people face to face will drop out and those that can, will move on to the other states.

What needs to happen is to spread the nominating calendar out. Back in '68 things didn't get heated up until May and June. Now we will have this thing decided by early February. Whomever comes out on top will then get pummeled by the Republican Noise machine for 6 months before the convention. That is not good the democratic process or for the Democratic Party.

Progressive States Network Gives Iowa Top Ranking on Progressive Policy Gains

The Progressive States Network ranked each state on the progressive policy gains they made in the past year.  Iowa received the top ranking as a Star state

With Democratic leadership of both legislative chambers and the governorship for the first time in forty years, the result in Iowa was a series of landmark legislative achievements, with a promise of even greater achievement in 2008: 

·  One of the signature bills of the session was the creation of the Iowa Power Fund, a $100 million investment in the state's renewable energy industry.


·  Iowa approved Election Day Registration, a key reform to improve voter turnout in future elections.


·  Along with raising the state minimum wage in line with likely federal increases, the legislature approved an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 7% and made the credit refundable.


·  Iowa became the 18th state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and the 11th state to ban discrimination based on gender identity.


·  Teacher salaries will advance to the national average, a $250 million teacher pay increase.


·  The legislature voted to end paperless electronic voting and move the state towards voter-marked paper ballots.


·  The Senate approved a resolution opposing the President's escalation in Iraq.


On health care, the state raised the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, allowed small businesses to band together in purchasing pools, and encouraged embryonic stem cell research by repealing a 2002 law that prohibited human cloning.  More comprehensive health care reforms were turned over to a committee to recommend changes for the 2008 legislature.


On the downside, the legislature failed to enact pro-union reforms of Iowa's “right to work for less” law and failed to enact a prevailing wage law to raise wages on public construction projects to match the wages paid in the private sector.

Continue Reading...

When Democrats Attack in Iowa

Howard Dean was at the top of the polls in Iowa leading up to the 2004 Iowa Caucuses. Richard Gephardt was polling well, but trending down. Gephardt had placed all his bets on Iowa and had to find a way to win. So Gephardt started running ads going after Dean. Dean countered back with ads attacking Gephardt.

While Gephardt's and Dean's ads turned Iowans off from their campaigns, John Kerry and John Edwards kept focusing on the issues and organizing. The night of the caucuses saw Kerry and Edwards come out on top with Dean and Gephardt coming in 3rd and 4th. Iowa was witness of a murder-suicide of the Dean and Gephardt campaigns.

After this week's spat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I can see this scenario happening again. It is important for Clinton and Obama to finish ahead of the other one in Iowa. As the Iowa caucuses approach, whoever is behind is likely to air ads attacking the other. There is a good chance Clinton and Obama will do exactly what Dean and Gephardt did and we will see yet another murder-suicide scenario.

So with Obama and Clinton mainly focusing on beating each other and seemingly willing to do whatever it takes to do so, there is an opening for other candidates to have big victories in Iowa.

Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan. 

It was brought to my attention that David Yepsen had a post yesterday that had basically the same connection to the Dean-Gephardt attack ads back in 2004.  I had not read his post nor had heard about before posting mine.  I got the idea from reading Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not be Televised about the Dean campaign last week.


Marshalltown Union Leader Arrested on Immigration Charges

Earlier this month, 4 more people from Swift and Co. were arrested on immigration charges, including Braulio Pereyra-Gabino, who is vice president of Local 1149 of the food and commercial workers union.

“This is the first time a union employee has been charged in an immigration case,” Cashen said. “We're concerned and we're anxious to get all the information to make sure he's not being held accountable for things that are not his responsibility. We don't hire. We're not required to check immigration status.”

The Des Moines Register had a special editorial yesterday on Pereyra-Gabino's arrest.

Union representatives or citizens have no duty to report someone they suspect isn't legally in the United States, according to immigration attorney Lori Chesser of Des Moines.

“Union officials typically do not hire workers, so they don't have the employer-employee relationship that requires them to ask, 'Are you legal or not?' ” Chesser said.

To the contrary, unions believe they are bound by law to represent all workers in the Marshalltown Swift plant.

“As elected representatives of the workers at Swift and elsewhere, we are legally responsible to represent those workers,” Cashen said. “We can't discriminate. We can't pass judgment on who we will or won't represent.”

It would be interesting to ask all of those presidential candidates that are visiting Iowa about this case.

After having 1,200 workers nationwide arrested on immigration charges last December, Swift and Co. has yet to be fined or charged with anything.

Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan

Continue Reading...

Washington Post: Rural Support for the Iraq War Declines

The Washington Post has a story about the decline of support in rural areas of the Iraq War. The story looks at Tipton, Iowa that has had 2 soldiers die in combat in Iraq and has quotes from Rep. Bruce Braley.

It is “the intensity and passion” of the desire for an end to the war that strike Braley as new.

“There's more unity in the opposition now,” said Braley, whose district adjoins Tipton. “It was always easier to find optimists about the chances of success in Iraq two years ago. You don't now find people talking that way, even the most ardent supporters of the president's policy.”

Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan.

Romney's Big Lead in Iowa

Politico takes an in depth look at the Republican field in Iowa and concludes Mitt Romney has a commanding lead in the state. They discuss McCain cutting back staff, ask if Rudy is taking Iowa seriously, and they take a look at the darkhorse campaigns of Brownback, Huckabee, and Tommy Thompson.

Politico does point out a possible winning strategy for Giuliani…

For Giuliani, his best caucus hopes may lie in the politics of pluralities. Should Thompson play in Iowa, conservatives may split their vote between the actor/politician and Romney, with some second-tier candidates also picking up support.

Romney has put together a good organization in Iowa, has raised the money, and was the first one airing TV ads in the state. That has obviously helped him gain support. However, one reason Romney looks so strong in Iowa is because the other candidates look so weak. Romney's lead is as much from his work as it is because of the other candidates lack of support.

The second tier candidates haven't been able to spark much enthusiasm. I don't see the excitement on the Republican side in Iowa that I do on the Democratic side. That could be from the quality of candidates, it could be from Bush's sinking poll numbers, or it could just be how each party sets up their campaigns.

In the end, they quote Sioux County chairman, where they say…

There are still a number of conservatives who are looking for somebody that they can rally behind,” Lundberg said. “At some point, you'll make a decision to back somebody and you're going to put time and effort into it — and it's tough to put time and effort in a losing cause.

What I want to know is what Republicans plan on doing if they decided all the candidates are losers?

Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan

Continue Reading...

New Poll Shows it is a Race Between Clinton and Edwards in Iowa

A new poll came out today showing Hillary Clinton and John Edwards way out in front of everyone else in Iowa.

Here are the results from the American Research Group (May's support in parenthesis)…

Clinton 32% (31%)
Edwards 29% (25%)
Obama 13% (11%)
Richardson 5% (8%)
Dodd 2% (2%)
Biden 2% (3%)
Kucinich 1% (4%)
Gravel 1% (1%)
Clark 1% (1%)
Undecided 14% (14%)

At first, I was surprised Hillary was leading with over 30% when other polls show her around 20%. However, if you look at the trends, Hillary has consistently been in the low 30's in this poll, except for May when she had just 23%. In fact Hillary is basically right where she was back in December before her campaign even started (32% to 31%).

Ezra Klein seems to think John Edwards' support is declining, but when you look at the trends in the American Research Group polls, it shows Edwards gaining support. In the past month he increased by 4%. Overall, he has improved from 20% back in December to 29% in June. 9% is the largest increase from any candidate.

If you look at Obama's trends in the American Research Group polls, he peaks at 23% in February right after he announced. He has been on a downward trend since then. I think Obama's support is stronger than the 13% he is polling because the polls is of likely caucus goers. Obama has made a big splash with younger people who would not be included in this poll.

Another interesting thing about this latest poll is looking at the preference by party. Among those who identified themselves as no party, 39% were in favor of Edwards, 31% in favor of Clinton, 11% in favor of Obama, and 3% in favor of Richardson. Edwards' support here only strengthens his campaigns claim that Edwards is in the best position to win independent voters and in red states.

Here's analysis from past ARG polls in May and March .


Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan

Continue Reading...

Show the DC Bigwigs Selden Spencer is the Real Deal

After winning the 1st and 2nd Districts in 2006, Iowa Democrats have their sights set on Tom Latham's seat in Iowa's 4th District.

Dr. Selden Spencer is committed to running again in the 4th district, a district Gov. Culver won with 59% of the vote. In 2006, Dr. Spencer had a winning message, but he entered the race late and was fighting an uphill battle. He is starting early this time around and has been busy raising money. 

This week Dr. Spencer sent this email out to supporters …

“This may be the most important date of this election for taking back the 4th District for the people of Iowa. June 30, 2007 is the second quarter filing deadline for the Federal Election Commission. On this day, all federal campaign committees must report their donations. Together, we can elevate this race to the national level. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other national groups, will be looking at this quarter to find the candidates and campaigns to target to win in 2008…and they want to help our race here in Iowa. We need to show support in the district now. I am fully committed to winning in 2008, but my commitment is not enough. It takes more than one person to create change. I am asking you to match your previous donation of $ or send $25, $50, or $100 to show Washington we are serious about 2008. It may seem early, and like I mentioned before, this is a big quarter to show support. Your contribution now means more support from the national committees who will elevate this race to the most competitive level in 2008.

Every dollar you can send will show the DC bigwigs that Dr. Spencer is the real deal. Every dollar you can send has the chance of turning into more money for the Spencer campaign down the road. Please help out Selden Spencer's campaign by donating whatever you can before Saturday's deadline.

Image Hosted by

Continue Reading...

Richardson Moves Ahead of Obama in Iowa

The Richardson campaign sent an email out this afternoon with this surprising bit of information from internal polling they have done…

The Governor has rocketed up 10% among likely Iowa caucus goers in just three months, and now stands at 13%. No other Democratic candidate has made gains anywhere close to that over the same time period. In fact, amongst the likeliest caucus goers (those who attended the 2004 caucuses, voted in the 2006 primary and are definite to attend next year's caucus) the Governor has overtaken Senator Obama for 3rd place.

Richardson has been moving for the past few months in Iowa. It just shows what a couple million dollar of good, creative TV ads can do.

What is surprising about this, however, is that Obama's numbers are falling in Iowa.  He has been traveling the state, doing smaller events, yet he isn't moving up in the polls.

The Richardson campaign is also saying they will outraise John Edwards this quarter. If they do and if they are ahead of Obama in Iowa, I think it would mark that Richardson has officially entered the 2nd-tier and is knocking on the door of first-tier status. 

Continue Reading...

Why are Immigration Detainees Being Sent to Atlanta?

Many of the people detained in the immigration raids that took place in December are being detained near Atlanta, where they are awaiting hearings.

According to a Des Moines Register story a few days after the raids…

Most were believed to have either been deported to Mexico or to a federal detention facility outside Atlanta, Ga.

The Des Moines Register had this story last month about a man, whose fiancee had been detained.

Braun's fiancee, Dulce Hernandez Vazquez, 33, was among the 99 undocumented immigrants netted in the Dec. 12 raids at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Marshalltown. She has spent the last few months in a rural Alabama jail awaiting an immigration hearing before a judge in Atlanta.

With 220 Judges that hear immigration cases, why are these people awaiting hearings in Atlanta?

Continue Reading...

Edwards Calls for Halt on Coal Plants

John Edwards called for a halt on coal-fired power plants in Marshalltown, where a proposed $1 billion, 600 mw coal-fired power plant is being proposed by Alliant Energy. 

Edwards said…

…we need to use coal sequestration technology and not build anymore coal plants until this technology is available.

I assumed Edwards was not informed about the proposed power plant in town when I first heard this comment. However, after the event, I overheard a local reporter ask if Edwards was aware of Alliant's proposed coal-fired power plant. Edwards said he doesn't believe in changing his position based on what town he is speaking in. This makes me think Edwards knew about the plant was once again taking a principled stand on the issue.

Continue Reading...

Liveblogging John Edwards in Marshalltown

I am at a John Edwards event in Marshalltown. The room is packed. Probably around 200 people are here. People are standing in the doorways and out in the halls. I see a couple of city council members and local leaders from the UAW and ISEA here. Edwards is coming from Des  Moines where he is taping an episode of Iowa Press that will air on IPTV tonight at 7:30 pm (Friday, June 15th) and on Sunday, June 17th at 11:30  am.

Edwards has arrived and says Elizabeth is on her way to Iowa right now and sorry she can't be here now. He says he is going to be focusing on health care, but feel free to ask him about anything.

In his health care plan you can stick with private insurance or enter a government plan that is basically Medicare plus. In his plan preventative care is 100% covered, which receives a loud applause. Currently, 30 to 40 cents on every dollar spent on health care are administrative costs. Everyone is covered in this plan which would be mandated by the government.

$90-$120 billion per year and mostly paid for by repealing Bush's tax cuts for people that make over $200,000 a year, which gets a lot of applause. 

Continue Reading...

Report from the Iowa Progressive Network/DFIA Conference

Yesterday, I attended the Progressive Iowa Network/DFIA conference in Iowa City. There were probably 50 people in attendence, mostly from Iowa City/Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. There are representives from the Obama, Richardson, Biden, and Kucinich campaigns.

State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) was introduced and as soon as he got to the podium Rep. Dave Loebsack came in and bumped Sen. Bolkcom. Bolkcom graciously gave up the podium and Loebsack promised this will be the only time this happens.

Loebsack thanked the people in attendance and said he knew a lot of the people here. Thanked Joyce Shulte, who ran against Steve King in 2006. Loebsack said…

I know some of you aren't happy with everything the Congress has been doing. If I was elected in a district where 60% of the people voted for Bush, it would be a lot harder to do what I have been doing. I don't have extraordinary political courage.

Loebsack will be speaking at the ceremony for departing troops in Ottumwa on Sunday. He said the war must come to an end and he is doing everything he can to end it. Bush is not treating properly. Democrats are trying to do that in House and Senate.       

Continue Reading...

Grassley Votes Against Habeas Corpus, Against Freedom

Habeas Corpus, written in 1670, is called the Great Writ. Supreme Court Cases have…

“recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.'

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary passed the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act out of committee by a vote of 11-8. All Democrats voted for it, plus Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). The rest of the Republicans voted against it, including Iowa's Charles Grassley. Maybe Grassley is against individual freedom or maybe he is in favor of lawless state action.

Continue Reading...

Is Loebsack Vulnerable in 2008?

Political analyst Larry Sabato released a list of 15 Freshman Congressman that are vulnerable in 2008.

Sabato writes…

The strong anti-GOP waves we witnessed in 2006 may be somewhat tempered by the time of the next slate of elections. So it follows that several freshman Democrats in districts that are essentially toss-ups–or even normally favor Republicans–could be in grave danger if political winds shift.

One of the 15 Congressman named is Iowa's 2nd District Representive, Dave Loebsack.  Here is what Sabato says about Loebsack…

Continue Reading...

Rep. Mark Smith Touts Education Improvements

My State Representitive Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) put out a press release this week citing the improvements in education made during the last legislative session. As a teacher, I am very excited about many of these.

Smith highlights expanded access to pre-school, higher teacher pay, and more affordable higher education. Many would think I would be most excited about the teacher pay since I am a teacher. However, I think the expanded access to pre-school and affordable higher education will have the most long lasting benefits and are the most significant achievements. Don't get me wrong, the extra money I will be getting next year and beyond will be nice, but you don't go into teacher to earn a lot of money.

The expanded access to pre-school will greatly help students come to school prepared to learn. This will make my job easy. I teach 2nd grade and this year I had 5 students reading at a kindergarten level at the beginning of the year. Of these students, only 1 had attended pre-school.

I have written numerous times about the rise in cost of a college education and our debt for diploma system.  If we want to keep our young adults in the state, affodable higher education must be a priority.

It is great to see education once again become a priority in our state. These efforts will only strengthen our state in the future.

Continue Reading...

Dave Loebsack on Iraq from DFA training

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

Dave Loebsack spoke over lunch at the DFA training in Cedar Rapids today.  Loebsack was very well recieved and thanked the group of activists that helped him get elected in the 2nd district.  Loebsack talked a lot about the Iraq War and the funding bill that was passed yesterday in the US House.

Continue Reading...

Report from Edwards Event in Newton

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

Yesterday, I attended the Community Meeting John Edwards held in Newton. The event was held at the UAW Hall and close to 200 people were there. Check out Iowa for Edwards for video of the event and links to news stories.

Edwards opened by saying that our next president needs real ideas and vision, but more importantly needs to be someone with honesty, openess, decency, and someone we can trust. Edwards showed that he is going to be open about his ideas throughout this campaign saying…

When you to caucus in January of 2008, which I hope is for me, you will know where I stand. Not just on health care, but also Iraq, energy, jobs, and global warming. You will know where I stand.

Continue Reading...

Rants Kicks Republican Out of Republican Caucus

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

I teach 2nd grade and occasionally have to settle arguments that take place on the playground. The incidents usually begin with 2 students disagreeing with each other over little things. Then the students will say they don’t want to be friends with each other and one says the other can’t play with them anymore.

This is basically what happened in the Iowa House last week when Minority Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) kicked out Walt Tomenga (R-Johnston) from the Republican Caucus debate on raising the cigarette tax. Tomenga favors a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax, a move that Rants has been working hard to stop.

Continue Reading...

Swift and Co. Thinks They are the Victims of the Immigration Raids

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

I couldn’t believe this story I saw in the newspaper on Saturday. I guess that Swift and Co. thinks they are the victims of the immigration raids that took place last December.

  President and CEO Sam Rovit told the Greeley Tribune in Friday’s editions that the government rejected the company’s offer to help investigate alleged identity theft.

  “They were looking for a marquee to show the administration it was tough on immigration,” he said.

I am sorry Mr. Rovitt, if the administration was looking for a marquee to show that it was tough on immigration your company would have been fined for employing over 1,200 illegal workers. So far Swift and Co. has gotten off the hook and are able to go back to hiring the cheapest labor possible. Our illegal employer problem will continue unless the companies that hire illegal workers are fined.

Continue Reading...