Urban blight....a photo essay

Tanya Keith makes her case for the local option sales tax on the Polk County ballot. Cross-posted from the Hat Trick Renovation blog. -promoted by desmoinesdem

When we first moved into River Bend, I owned a baby shop downtown called Simply for Giggles. We had only lived here a couple weeks when I realized I had to close my store because I wanted to spend more time with my family, and in my neighborhood. I feel so comfortable and happy in this place, it made me sad to go to work every day. I also realized that this neighborhood needed my skill set. I love to take risks, I have a degree in Interior Design, and I’ve done construction. There were so many houses in my neighborhood….heck…on my block, that needed a champion. Hat Trick Renovation is the continuation of that idea.

My work gives me a heightened awareness of the urban blight problem Des Moines means to address with the 1 percent sales tax vote on Measure A this Tuesday, March 6th. City Council member Josh Mandelbaum wrote a great breakdown of how I feel about the measure elsewhere on Bleeding Heartland. One of the biggest reasons I’m voting yes is I hate getting to the store and realizing I’ve left my 30-40 percent off coupon at home. I want roughly 1/3 of this money to come from outside the county.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. I’ve seen many people pose the question that we don’t need this money in the first place. We just need to belt tighten. This view is so out of sync with my daily worldview, I had to take people on a visual tour of what I see every day to show why I feel voting yes is the least regressive option. Des Moines’ urban core needs our help, and this sales tax is the lowest impact way to help those neighborhoods.

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Save the Iowa State Historic Tax Credit

Adapted from a post Tanya Keith wrote for Hat Trick Renovation, the blog for her company, where she works to restore historic houses in the urban core of Des Moines. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The current version of the Iowa Senate tax bill would reduce the Iowa State Historic Tax Credit from $45 million to $35 million, starting next fiscal year, and repeal the tax credit in 2025. That would be a huge loss for neighborhoods and main streets in Iowa. Many of our projects at Hat Trick Renovation are only viable because of state historic tax credits. Often older buildings need so much work, it can cost more to restore them than the building will eventually be worth. However, once restored, these buildings become beautiful, irreplaceable structures that will last far longer than modern day construction.

Not only are tax credits a vital part of our work in saving historic buildings in Des Moines, they are also good for the financial health of our state.

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How a "pre-existing condition" almost wrecked my perfectly healthy family

The author is a longtime personal friend. I can confirm this post accurately conveys what happened to her family. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I never worried about pre-existing conditions before the fall of 2008. We were young, healthy, and gainfully employed with employer-provided health insurance. What was there to worry about? It’s a little painful to admit how self-centered and over-confident I was, but there it is. Just keep a job with insurance or be sure to make COBRA payments and there was no problem. At the time, my husband was an engineer in working as a VP in manufacturing, and I owned two stores. Oh to be young, financially secure, and over-confident!

Then one day in September, I stopped to fill a prescription for my daughter’s eye drops and the pharmacist told me my insurance had been cancelled.

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School choice isn't really a choice

Tanya Keith does the math: tax credits to support “school choice” would mainly help families who can afford to send their kids to private school anyway. -promoted by desmoinesdem

When I hear people talking about “school choice,” I wonder if they really know what’s involved in choosing a school that’s not your neighborhood public school. We knew we wanted our oldest of three kids to attend the Downtown School, an open enrollment school within Des Moines Public Schools, and we put her on the list before she was born. I was thrilled to learn that she made the list in Kindergarten, but I was naïve to the effort it would take to complete her education there.

We are raising the only grandchildren in a family where both grandmothers are experts in early childhood education, so I was willing to go the extra mile for a top quality education for my children. What I didn’t realize is I would be going the extra 12.2 miles, every day, all school year long. Our first five years, we drove 6.1 miles each way to get our child to school. Let’s do a little math with that:

12.2 miles x $.54 (the IRS mileage allowance for 2016) x 174 school days = $1,146.31

That’s one child at one school, but that’s not the end of the expense.

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My Hillary Clinton Retrospective

Tanya Keith has volunteered for many Democratic campaigns in Des Moines and was a precinct captain for Barack Obama before the 2008 Iowa caucuses. -promoted by desmoinesdem

We’re into the last two days of this campaign and as Hillary released her “Story of the Campaign” video, I began to think about my journey through this campaign. The lead up to the Iowa Caucus was a turning point in my life. My third and likely final child, a daughter, was born in April of 2015, just as my oldest was becoming a teenager. I realized that this was the last Presidential election that my oldest will not vote in, and I decided to push myself to show her how to engage in politics, even through the fog of early motherhood. My first venture on this mission was a trip to Newton, Iowa when the baby was 12 weeks old.

When my first was born, I was starting my own company, and with my second my company was going strong and I barely took any time off. My third born gave me the opportunity to indulge in staying home with her without the immediate pressure of working. Reaching 12 weeks, when American families who qualify for FMLA must return to work after unpaid leave was taking an emotional toll on me. My daughter was still so small, and I felt a personal responsibility to take advantage of the Iowa Caucus stage to shine a light on the absurdity of United States being the only industrialized nation to not offer paid family leave.

As Clinton wrapped up her speech and began taking questions, I stood up with my baby girl in my arms.

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