Rest in peace, Leonard Boswell

Former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell passed away on August 17 at the age of 84. He had long battled a rare cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei. Boswell publicly speculated in 2015 that exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War could have caused his abdominal tumors. According to a former staff member, a link to the powerful herbicide was later confirmed. In a recorded message to Iowa Democrats last year, Boswell said his doctors agreed that his disease stemmed from getting “pretty well soaked” while flying a crop-duster mission.

Surviving two tours of duty as an assault helicopter pilot in Vietnam was itself beating the odds. Boswell received numerous honors for his actions in that extremely dangerous role.

Following 20 years of military service, Boswell became a cattle farmer in southern Iowa. First elected to the Iowa Senate in 1984, he served three terms in the legislature, the last as Senate president. He was well-liked in Democratic circles. When I met him briefly during the 1994 campaign (he was the lieutenant governor nominee on a ticket with Bonnie Campbell), he seemed to have a larger-than-life personality.

After winning an open U.S. House seat in 1996, Boswell represented parts of central and southern Iowa in Congress for sixteen years. His proudest legislative accomplishment was sponsoring the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which President George W. Bush signed in 2007. Though he belonged to the conservative “Blue Dog” caucus, Boswell voted for the major legislation of President Barack Obama’s first term, including the economic stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act.

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Democrats face tougher path in two crucial Iowa Senate races

Prospects for Democrats to gain ground in the Iowa Senate took a sharp turn for the worse over the past week. The party’s best pickup opportunity became a more difficult race when GOP incumbent Rick Bertrand unexpectedly decided to seek a third term after all. Meanwhile, Republicans landed their strongest possible candidate for a Democratic-held seat now open because of Senator Chaz Allen’s unexpected retirement.

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Expungement clinic makes debut in Linn County

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and Mahder Serekberhan, a recent graduate of Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, describe efforts to break cycles of hardship stemming from encounters with the criminal justice system. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Linn County Board of Supervisors, the City of Cedar Rapids and Iowa Legal Aid have teamed up to offer a legal clinic this fall for Linn County residents seeking relief from the consequences stemming from encounters with the criminal justice system. This Expungement and Employment Barriers Resource Clinic will be held Saturday, September 22 in Cedar Rapids at the Linn County Community Services Building located at 1240 26th Ave Court SW.

Anyone who has experienced Iowa’s criminal justice system and needs help with expungement, court debt, background check issues, or obtaining a driver’s license or vehicle registration can sign up by visiting the Linn County Board of Supervisors website at www.linncounty.org, or by calling Iowa Legal Aid at 515-243-1193. In addition, the clinic will host several community organizations that will offer assistance with housing, financial planning, education, and other issues.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Purple prairie clover

Whereas some summer wildflowers are difficult to distinguish from one another, you can’t mistake purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) for anything else when it’s blooming. Beginning in June or early July, tiny purple flowers “bloom together as a flowery wreath” at the bottom of a cone-shaped spike, moving upward as the weeks pass. Sometimes known as violet prairie clover, this plant is native to much of the U.S. and Canada, except for states along the west and east coasts.

Many kinds of pollinators are attracted to purple prairie clover. The Minnesota Wildflowers website says the species “does well in a sunny home garden in average to dry soil.” The Illinois Wildflowers website notes, “The soil can contain significant amounts of loam, clay, sand, or gravel – this plant is rather indifferent to the characteristics of the soil, to which it adds nitrogen. Foliar disease is not troublesome. Purple Prairie Clover is slow to develop, but is fairly easy to manage if the site is well-drained and there is plenty of sun.”

Fun fact I hope no Bleeding Heartland readers will ever need to know: according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Tea can be made from vigorous taproot to reduce fever in measles victims. This plant is highly palatable and nutritious.”

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Part 2: How to corrupt the Iowa House

Second in a series by Tyler Higgs, an activist and former candidate for Waukee school board. He previously explored how to corrupt a school district. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s say that you are a shady politician, and you want to take a whole lot of money from one source. Normally, campaign laws would require you to disclose your donor’s name, which could be problematic or politically damaging. Here’s how you can get around the laws:

    1. Have your shady donor(s) hire an attorney to create a Limited Liability Company (LLC). That way, the business isn’t in the donor’s name and can’t be traced back to them.

    2. Have your shady donor(s) put their money into the the LLC.

    3. Accept all the money you want from the LLC. It doesn’t have to disclose who donated!

    4. Hope your donor doesn’t send threats to people, exposing who they are.

A similar process seems to have occurred in Waukee.

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