Why I will caucus for Elizabeth Warren

Matt Chapman is a Democratic activist in Waukee. -promoted by Laura Belin

A few years after the great recession kicked in, I was listening to the latest Ry Cooder album while mowing my lawn and came across the song “No Banker Left Behind.” It spoke perfectly to the mood of the time, and I remember shutting the mower off and going inside to listen to it a couple more times.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill had passed a year earlier, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created (an idea Elizabeth Warren came up with). At that time, Professor Warren was asked to help set up the bureau, made a temporary chair, and given some liaison responsibilities. But she was never given the role of director.

Luckily for us, efforts to recruit Warren to run for the Senate instead paid off. Now she is campaigning to be our first woman president.

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Why didn't Cory Booker take off in Iowa?

My father used to say the most optimistic person is the guy on the brink of bankruptcy. He’s always thinking the next sale or the next deal will turn everything around.

Cory Booker remained “incomprehensibly upbeat” on the campaign trail, in the words of Rebecca Buck, who spent a year covering him for CNN. The senator from New Jersey wasn’t just another unsuccessful candidate falling for his own spin. Booker made believers out of many who were closely watching the campaign.

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No crystal ball needed to predict Iowa legislative moves

Bruce Lear predicts five ways the Republican-controlled legislature may impact public schools and educators this year. -promoted by Laura Belin

There’s no need for a crystal ball, Tarot cards, or tea leaves to predict some of the public education moves the Iowa legislature may likely make during the 2020 session.

But educators need to do more than hold their collective breaths until the legislature adjourns in April or May.  Hope is not a strategy. Here are some thoughts on what might happen. To prevent these predictions from becoming a reality, educators will need to team up with community members and use their teacher voices to protect the profession. 

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Iowa needs one insurance plan for all public employees

Randy Richardson argues that it’s time to revive an idea first proposed for public school districts four decades ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I started teaching in 1976, I received fully paid family health insurance as part of my benefits package. That coverage included a $100/$200 deductible. Although this was considered to be a “Cadillac plan,” it was not uncommon to find similar coverage at schools across Iowa. The teachers in my district felt this insurance plan was very important and, over the years, often sacrificed salary increases to keep the coverage.

Shortly after I left the district in 1996, one of my former co-workers was diagnosed with a serious illness and claims from that incident ran well into six figures. Insurance premiums skyrocketed and, in an effort to keep premiums at a reasonable level, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses increased.

Today that district offers a high deductible insurance plan with a single deductible of $3,250 and a family deductible of $6,500. Teachers in that district who wish to have family coverage must contribute more than $1,000 per month to receive that coverage. That alone would be tragic. Even worse, the same scenario has played out in every school district in the state.

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The 19 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019

Chasing traffic never has been and never will be my primary goal for Bleeding Heartland. If it were, I’d publish weekly posts about puppies or Casey’s pizza instead of Iowa wildflowers.

And anyone who has worked on an online news source can vouch for me: a writer’s favorite projects are often not the ones that get the most clicks.

Still, people do ask me from time what posts tend to do well, and I find it fun at year-end to recap the pieces that were particularly popular with readers. Since I started this exercise a few years ago, I’ve always uncovered some surprises.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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