Derecho brings hotter summers to Cedar Rapids

Eric Gutschmidt has been a real estate developer for twelve years, is owner of Gutschmidt Properties, and serves as president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association in Cedar Rapids.

Am I the only one who noticed that it’s been hotter than usual this year in Cedar Rapids? When I wake up in the morning the weather forecast often projects temperatures in the 80s, but by midday it is already in the 90s. 

The forecast is based on historical weather data from back when we had trees, and well, that ain’t it right now.

As a landlord, I know tenants are having problems keeping their houses cool, even with the air conditioner running nonstop. It’s not just the increased temperature making the AC’s struggle. Many of my houses were shaded by nearby trees; now they are in direct sunlight.

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What local governments can do as evictions set to return

Eric Gutschmidt has been a real estate developer for twelve years, is owner of Gutschmidt Properties, and serves as president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association in Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Erin Murphy reported for the Cedar Rapids Gazette on June 28 that according to federal census survey estimates, some 41,000 Iowans fear eviction when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control lifts a nationwide moratorium on evictions at the end of July. If those numbers are accurate, shock waves are coming throughout the local housing market, which will continue the upward pressure on rents and home sale prices. 

How did we get here?

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Refunding Des Moines

Brandi Webber is a local artist, volunteer, mother, and candidate for Des Moines City Council in Ward 3. -promoted by Laura Belin 

A community’s priorities can be made visible by looking at the breakdown of the city budget. Looking at Des Moines’ city budget, you see that our largest single priority, at roughly 39 percent of spending, is policing.

With such a large portion of our budget devoted to policing, examining the effectiveness of police and their role in our community should be non-controversial. When we talk about “defunding the police,” many will conjure an image of a city in disarray as the pillars of society crumble to the ground. The reality is, our society relies too heavily on a policing system.

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Housing discrimination bill in limbo amid concerns over federal funding

Nearly six weeks have passed since Republican lawmakers approved a bill prohibiting local governments from banning “source of income” discrimination. Yet Senate File 252 still has not been sent to Governor Kim Reynolds, according to the legislature’s website.

While Iowa’s legislature is in session, the governor has three days to sign or veto any bill that reaches her desk, or it will become law without her signature. The governor’s staff often asks for an extra week or two to review a measure’s contents. But there is no recent precedent for the legislature to sit on a bill for this long.

The governor must eventually act on every bill the legislature passes. The unusual delay has fueled speculation that Reynolds may cast a rare veto of a bill approved by the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

Communications staff for the governor and legislative leaders did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about why Senate File 252 has been held up. But signs point to the bill jeopardizing some federal housing funds.

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Randy Feenstra's selective concern for farmers

Andy Kopsa: Iowa’s new member of Congress from the fourth district brags that he “delivers for farmers.” Unless you are a Black farmer, that is. -promoted by Laura Belin

Politicians love farmers. Every caucus season they prove it: they throw a foot up on a hay bale and stump to a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, shove a pork chop into their mouth, use the term “heartland” and “kitchen table” a minimum of 400 times.

Vice President Mike Pence and the Iowa GOP love farmers so much that he came to town just after the August 2020 derecho to launch the Farmers and Ranchers for Trump Coalition. Senator Joni Ernst and Governor Kim Reynolds took time out of their disaster recovery schedule to accompany Pence to Living History [not a real] Farms. Pence didn’t visit a single farm, but he found time to host an exclusive fundraiser in Urbandale before flying away home.

U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra (IA-04) also loves farmers a lot. He introduced an amendment to allocate more aid to Iowans impacted by the derecho last year during a House Agriculture Committee markup of the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Feenstra’s amendment passed by a single vote.

That vote came from Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), the lone Democrat to cross the aisle.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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