Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges

Justyn Lewis is a candidate for Des Moines City Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I attended East High School in Des Moines, I played cornerback on the football team for three years. My senior year had arrived and it was time for me to step into the coveted starting role I worked so hard for. During training camp, I was asked by my coach to make a switch to defensive end–a position I knew little about–in order to round out the strength of the starting lineup. While this was not the role I dreamed of, I understood it was for the greater good of the team. I knew if one of the 11 positions on the field was not at its best, it affected the whole team. There was no doubt my team needed me here and I would answer the call. 

Hello, my name is Justyn Lewis, and I am running for Des Moines City Council At Large. Born and raised in Des Moines, I know that the communities of this city are equally valuable and unique. However, several of our neighborhoods have been unjustly left behind and are facing systemic barriers to fulfilling their basic needs.

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Five under-reported climate change stories

Tyler Granger is a climate change activist in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

Between the presidential election, the special U.S. Senate elections in Georgia, the Capitol insurrection, the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, and Joe Biden’s inauguration, political happenings have overshadowed many other newsworthy events. Several climate change stories received little media attention but are worth noting.

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Momentum builds for 100% DSM clean energy initiative

Raihan Rashidi, a clean energy field organizer for the Iowa Environmental Council, wrote this post, which first appeared on that organization’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Reading incessant news about climate-related disasters across the country and here in Iowa has made me wonder if we are just going to sit idly and hope the world miraculously recovers while we maintain our current ways. Or if we are going to accept the science and quickly act to prevent prolonged power outages or severe crop damages the next time a storm or drought hits us. Despite the many challenges 2020 has thrown upon us, I am hopeful it will be the latter.

This is where the 100% DSM movement comes into play.

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Iowans deserve a plan from MidAmerican to phase out coal

Katie Rock is the campaign representative in Iowa for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, based in Des Moines. You can follow the effort on Twitter at @IABeyondCoal and @KatieRockIA. -promoted by Laura Belin

This year has pushed us all to reconsider what it means to be a safe, resilient and just community in the 21st century. And while many of us anxiously look to the future, we should remember the tremendous opportunity we have to take control of our path today. It is time for our city of Des Moines to accelerate the transition to clean energy by passing a resolution committing to buying 100 percent renewable power by 2030.

MidAmerican continues to own and operate one of the largest coal fleets in the country right here in Iowa, selling coal-generated power for the benefit of their shareholders, while Iowans pay the price of the pollution to our air and water. The company currently owns more generation than it needs to reliably keep the lights on. The time has come for MidAmerican to walk its talk and make a plan to retire its coal fleet, starting with its most uneconomic plants. 

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Large Iowa cities spending more on police, less on social services

Iowa’s seven largest cities are spending more on policing per capita and a greater portion of their municipal budgets on law enforcement compared to the 1990s, according to a new report by the Iowa Policy Project. Over the same time period, spending on social services per capita and as a share of the municipal budget has declined in six of those cities.

Colin Gordon and Peter Fisher authored “Policing, public safety and community priorities,” published on July 22 (also available in pdf format). They examined budgets for the 24 Iowa cities with populations of at least 20,000, because “it is in our larger urban settings in Iowa that the problems with policing — including a well-documented pattern of disproportionate minority contact — are most acute.”

Seven of the cities studied are “metropolitan”: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, Council Bluffs, and Dubuque. Seven are suburbs in large metro areas: West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale, Bettendorf, Marion, Coralville, and Johnston. Three are college towns: Iowa City, Ames, and Cedar Falls. Seven are micropolitan cities: Mason City, Marshalltown, Clinton, Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Dodge, and Ottumwa.

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Des Moines hiring practices don't reflect community's diversity

Joe Henry is a community activist who served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission from 2013 to 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

The City of Des Moines’ hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of our community.

Nearly 90 percent of the city’s police department employees (472 total) are white. Only 57 officers are Black or Brown. In addition, the majority of police officers do not live in the city and have never lived here!

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