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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OSHA inspected five Iowa meatpacking plants on site

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff have conducted five on-site inspections of Iowa meatpacking plans during the past six weeks, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on May 28.

According to Mary Montgomery, who works in the office of Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts, OSHA inspectors examined COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo on April 20, the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction on April 30, Iowa Premium Beef in Tama on May 21, the JBS pork plant in Marshalltown, also on May 21, and the Tyson plant in Perry on May 26.

Montgomery indicated that a complaint prompted the Waterloo inspection, while “media referrals” led to the others. Asked to define that term, Montgomery said either “news items reported in the media” or information relayed “directly to OSHA by a media source” had prompted the site visits. She did not specify which news reports or journalistic sources influenced OSHA staff.

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Latinos now 1 in 4 of Iowa's COVID-19 cases

Racial disparities continue to widen as the number of novel coronavirus cases grows in Iowa.

Data published on the state’s COVID-19 website on May 17 indicate that Latinos make up 25.1 percent of Iowa’s 14,651 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That’s more than four times the share of Latinos in the state population (6.2 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimate).

Another 57.1 of Iowans who have tested positive are not Hispanic or Latino, while the remaining 17.8 percent of cases are pending further investigation of the person’s ethnicity.

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Racial disparities already apparent in Iowa's COVID-19 data

For the first time on April 14, the Iowa Department of Public Health released information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections by race and ethnicity. The results won’t surprise anyone who has been following the news from other parts of the country: a disproportionate number of Iowans with confirmed COVID-19 infections are African American or Latino.

Activists and some Democratic legislators had pushed for releasing the demographic information after a senior official said last week the public health department had no plans to publish a racial breakdown of Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers.

Meanwhile, Iowa reported its largest daily number of new COVID-19 cases (189) on April 14, fueled by the outbreak that has temporarily shut down a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction (Louisa County). At her daily press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds again praised efforts by meatpacking companies to slow the spread of the virus and keep workers and the food supply chain safe. However, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has highlighted unsafe workplace conditions for employees of meatpacking plants, a group that is disproportionately Latino.

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Troy Price resigning; who will replace him as Iowa Democratic Party chair?

UPDATE: The State Central Committee elected Mark Smith on the first ballot. Three other candidates were nominated: Joe Henry, Bob Krause, and Gabriel De La Cerda.

Troy Price will soon step down as Iowa Democratic Party state chair, he informed some 60 members of the party’s State Central Committee on February 12.

In that letter (enclosed in full below), Price apologized for “unacceptable” problems with reporting the Iowa caucus results, adding that “Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party.” He expressed a “desire to stay” on the job but recognized “it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult.”

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