Gender balance should be happening on local boards

Poweshiek County Soil and Water Commissioner and farm manager John Clayton comments on a recent study showing that men continue to be over-represented on Iowa’s county-level appointed boards and commissions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Des Moines Register recently ran an Associated Press story about how most Iowa counties are not in compliance with the gender balance law.

In this same regard, many Iowa cities, including the City of Grinnell, also reveal themselves as not progressive.

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Republican desperation in action

Republican operatives have no shame when it comes to voter suppression tactics.

Iowa Independent reported today that Republican attorneys challenged the validity of 50 absentee ballots filed by Grinnell College students.

Did they have reason to believe the voters in question were not really students enrolled at Grinnell? No.

Did they have reason to believe the voters in question were trying to cast ballots in more than one location? No.

Did they have reason to believe the voters in question were not entitled to vote for some other reason? No.

Poweshiek County Auditor Diana Dawley said the ballots were challenged on the grounds that the students do not reside at the address they listed when they registered to vote.

The students registered to vote at 1115 8th Ave., which is the address on campus where they receive mail. However, it is not the physical address of their dormitories, Dawley said, which brought on the challenges.

The Grinnell College Campus Democrats claimed in an online posting that students who voted early at satellite voting stations were told by Poweshiek County elections officials to register in that way because the inability of students to receive mail at their physical address made it difficult to produce proof of residency.

This challenge is pathetic. Of course these students will list the address where they receive mail, rather than an address the post office wouldn’t recognize.

Republicans should be ashamed of such a scheme to deprive citizens of their right to vote. What a great introduction to politics for college students who are voting in their first presidential election.

I remember how excited I was to fill out my absentee ballot in the 1988, the first year I was old enough to vote for president. It is despicable for Republican attorneys to challenge voters on such flimsy grounds.

I’ve got news for the Republicans: the House district 75 race between Democratic incumbent Eric Palmer and former state representative Danny Carroll isn’t going to be close enough for them to steal.

Make a statement against voter suppression by sending a few bucks to Eric Palmer’s campaign.

UPDATE: This Daily Kos diary has more details on the situation in Grinnell. Also, it mentions that apparently Republicans in Virginia have challenged ballots cast by college students who listed their dorm address rather than the address at which they receive mail on campus. It figures that they are just trying to find any excuse to throw out students’ votes.

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Main Street redevelopment benefits whole communities

This article from Wednesday’s Des Moines Register is worth your time: Grinnell theater renovation sparks projects downtown

Bill Menner, a Grinnell area economic development leader, points to the $2 million renovation and expansion of the city’s longtime theater as a turning point.

The 2004 redevelopment of the Strand Theater attracted Washington, D.C., developer Dick Knapp. The 1976 Grinnell College graduate is buying his third building in downtown Grinnell.

The theater project attracted a $7 million investment from the city for new sewers, water mains and streetscape in downtown. It attracted small businesses such as Grinnell FiberWorks, a quilting shop that receives busloads of shoppers.

Redeveloping the theater “got people excited and brought people downtown,” said Jim Ramsey, president of Grinnell Private Investment Corp., the group that organized efforts to reopen the theater. “It’s hard to find a place to park, even during the middle of the week.”

[…]

The theater, owned by 20 investors including former owner Fridley Theatres, “is holding its own” financially. It was expanded from one screen to three with a donated building next door.

Ramsey said it also brings business into downtown restaurants, shops and coffeehouses and has generated excitement about downtown.

Businesses like Fareway rebuilt its grocery store near the city’s core. Also, some businesses that located on Iowa Highway 146 are looking to relocate downtown, said Ramsey, president of Ramsey-Weeks, a real estate, insurance and investment company.

Investing in downtown helps revitalize local economies, and renovating existing buildings is more environmentally friendly than new construction at the fringe of town.

The Strand renovation was one of 1000 Friends of Iowa’s Best Development Award winners in 2005:

Originally built in 1916, the single-screen theater closed in 2002 and the operators suggested it might be economically desirable to build a multiplex on the edge of town, allowing for more parking than the downtown had to offer. A group of local investors (Strand LLC) were gifted the theatre by its owners, as well as an adjacent building shell (no roof following a 1998 snowtorm).  They committed to creating a three-plex on the site of the theatre plus the adjacent lot.  A local fundraising campaign generated $100,000 to restore the old 1916 façade. The total project exceeded $1.5 million.

The building is a beautiful testament to Grinnell’s commitment to maintaining its historic downtown and making efficient use of its existing infrastructure. The renovation is a delightful integration of historic elements with modern technology.

1000 Friends of Iowa is accepting nominations for the 2008 Best Development Awards through this Friday, July 25. Click here for more details about the categories and how to nominate a project.

Click here for information about the Main Street program at the Iowa Department of Economic Development. That page has links explaining some of the benefits of renovating the streets and neighborhoods where our historic buildings are located.

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