Gone but not forgotten: Labor's struggle with itself

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese reflects on Workers’ Memorial Day and the troubling trend of “criticism and bad-mouthing of pro-labor candidates and their supporters BY their respective supporters and even by unions themselves.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Each year at the end of April, labor organizers across the country hold a vigil of remembrance called “Workers’ Memorial Day.” Here in Johnson County, it was just this past Friday. We gathered to remember and to hear speeches, but more importantly to hear the names and stories of the 36 workers who lost their lives on the job in Iowa in 2017.

Many in attendance lined up to read from a notecard about such a story. As each is read, the gathered crowd chants together, “Gone, but not forgotten.” It is indeed quite moving as those words repeat, like a solemn drumbeat, another echo for each story read, another worker dead, each name mentioned, each face shown on the screen, and again: “Gone, but not forgotten.” And again. 36 people who went to work one day but never came home to their families.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Political activity slows down a bit during the summer, but there are still plenty of things to do if you’re not spending hours a day training for RAGBRAI. Read all about it after the jump. As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I’ve left out.

If you live in the first Congressional district, consider attending one of Bruce Braley’s town-hall meetings on health care reform in Dubuque,  Oelwein, Davenport and Waterloo (click “there’s more” for details). According to a statement from his office,

Braley will discuss the draft House health care reform bill, listen to constituents’ concerns, and take questions.  Braley is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee in charge of authoring healthcare reform legislation.

Braley’s town hall meetings on healthcare reform are free and open to the public.

Attendees are strongly encouraged to RSVP at: http://braley.house.gov/townhall.

Speaking of health care reform, Moveon.org is looking for people to help deliver petitions this Thursday, July 9, to the Iowa offices of Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley. Click here to sign up.

UPDATE: I added information about Governor Chet Culver’s upcoming appearances in eastern Iowa to highlight I-JOBS and Rebuild Iowa projects.

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of some event I’ve left out.

Friday, January 30:

Congressman Bruce Braley is holding a town hall meeting on the economic stimulus at 10:00 am at the Grand River Center (meeting rooms 2 and 3), 500 Bell Street in Dubuque. Braley’s town hall meetings on the economy are free and open to the public.  Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at http://braley.house.gov.

From Polk County Democrats:

The Ankeny Area Democrats and The Polk County Democrats Present An Inauguration Celebration Dinner At The Iowa State Historical Building

with special guest Congressman Leonard Boswell and State Affirmative Action Chair Shenica Graham will sing a tribute song she wrote for President Obama, “I Believe.”

Special presentation of appreciation for 2008 candidates: Nita Garvin, Dr. Alan Koslow, Matt Pfaltzgraf, John Scarpino, Richard Sosalla, Jerry Sullivan

Friday, January 30, 2009

Catered by Baratta’s Restaurant

Social Hour begins at 6:00 PM

Dinner at 7:00 PM

Live music through the Musician’s Union

Tickets $25 per person

Tickets include chicken / pasta dinner and sides, soft drinks, coffee, iced tea or water

Semi-formal attire encouraged, but not required

Please bring a food item for the Des Moines Area Religious Council to be distributed to the local food pantries.

Tickets available by calling Tamyra at 515-285-1800 or Mary Oliver at 515-964-1227

Email polkdems@gmail.com or Ankenyareadems@msn.com

Saturday, January 31:

From Iowa Rivers Revival:

IRR is developing a River Stewards Program to address concerns about the public’s general disconnect from rivers.  We have conducted a couple of brainstorming sessions in recent months and have envisioned River Rascals, a river steward program that will offer opportunities for youth to learn more about the importance of rivers and problems associated with them.  We want to engage educators and anyone interested to help develop and implement a program for youth that focuses on river appreciation, recreation and stewardship. We invite you to the upcoming planning session to help make the vision a reality!

River Rascal Program Planning Session

Saturday, January 31, 2009, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Polk County Conservation Board’s Jester Park Lodge, 11407 NW Jester Park Drive, Granger, IA

Agenda: Provide ideas and feedback on draft program details, including curriculum, educators/presenters/partners/mentors, potential participants, venue options, and funding options

No cost (pizza and beverages will be brought in – small cash contribution welcome)

RSVP: rlehman@iowarivers.org or 515-202-7720

Tuesday, February 3:

Ed Fallon will discuss civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples on Jan Mickelson’s radio show. Mickelson is a local Rush Limbaugh clone, and I’M for Iowa is encouraging supporters of marriage equality to listen and call in. The show runs from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. on WHO Radio (1040 AM), and you can participate by calling (515) 284-1040.

One Iowa is organizing a forum on marriage equality at 7:00 pm in the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 834 Broad St. in Grinnell.

Wednesday, February 4:

From Iowa Rivers Revival:

Iowa Rivers Revival invites you to join us for a legislative reception to engage Iowa legislators about the importance of our rivers and how they provide many economic, environmental and recreational resources for our state.  Come and share your river experiences. […]  

Our first reception held in January 2008 was a great success – over 50 supporters, including bi-partisan representation from at least 15 Iowa legislators, attended the last-minute event.  This reception provides an opportunity for Iowa’s political leaders to recognize that rivers have representation and an increasing base of support advocating on their behalf.  The purpose of this reception is to raise awareness and to continue having conversations about the issues concerning Iowa’s rivers and our connections to rivers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Noodle Zoo Café

E 6th & Locust, Des Moines

4:30 – 6:30 PM

No cost

RSVP: rlehman@iowarivers.org

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

The Iowa Recycling Association is sponsoring an Educators Conference on February 4, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, at Plymouth Church, 4126 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines. Topics and Speakers include “Green Streets”:  Jeff Geerts, Iowa Department of Economic Development; “Marketing Programs on a Budget”:  Mark Signs, Trees Forever; “Character Counts”:  Eric Martin, Character Counts; “Partnerships for Effective Education”:  Mary Gillespey, Darven Kendell, Bev Wagner. Pre-registration is required. Registration fee is $30 before January 1, 2009 and $40 after January 1. A waste free lunch will be provided. Register online at http://www.iowarecycles.org/co… and send payment to: Iowa Recycling Association,  PO Box 10954, Cedar Rapids, IA  52410. For more information contact: Bev Wagner, beverly.wagner@loras.edu or 563-588-7933.

Friday, February 6:

The Iowa Network for Community Agriculture is holding its 14th Annual Local Food Conference on February 6-7 in Clear Lake. The conference is an opportunity to connect the local food “dots” in North Iowa, expand your local food knowledge with dynamic workshops, and celebrate the capacity to sustain ourselves and our communities. Come meet and eat with other local food enthusiasts. Full conference information at http://www.growinca.org.

There will also be a “slow food fundraiser” for INCA in the evening:

SLOW FOOD FUNDRAISER FOR INCA

FRIDAY, FEB. 6, STARTS at 5:30pm

LAKE COFFEE HOUSE – HWY. 122 (old hwy. 18), CLEAR LAKE, IA (next to Subway – please call if you need directions)

COST: $20

INCLUDES:

Two wine tastings

Fabulous Iowa-produced appetizers

Great Iowa-produced (and locally-made) soup

and… a Fabulous Iowa chef, author and Slow Food Extraordinaire – Chef Kurt Michael Friese

Additional tickets available at event:

Ticket for one glass of wine – $5

Ticket for 3 extra tastings – $5

Event begins at 5:30 with wine and appetizers.

At 6:30 we’ll hear more from our special guest, Kurt Michael Friese, who will share with us his journeys as chef and owner of local food restaurant icon, Devotay, in Iowa City.  Kurt will also read from his new book with us, A Cook’s Journey – Slow Food in the Heartland, published last August.  Kurt serves on the Board of Directors for Slow Food USA. We are excited to have Kurt join us for this weekend event.

To get tickets and information for Friday’s fundraiser, please contact:

Lisa Stokke

641-529-0445

slowfoodlisa@gmail.com

Send check made out to “SLOW FOOD CLEAR LAKE” to:

Lisa Stokke 909 2nd Ave. S., Clear Lake, Iowa  50428

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Savanna Workshops for Teachers and Naturalists

Join us for the workshop: Iowa’s Roadside Native Communities: Savanna, on Feb. 6-8, 2009 and Apr.24-25, 2009 at Baymont Inn, Coralville, IA. Learn how to help your students explore and improve Iowa Prairies/Savanna. For primary through Community College teachers and naturalists. Participants receive 2 UNI graduate credits, materials, meals and housing for only $180 due to grants. For more information please visit http://www.uni.edu/ceee/eii. Request a paper brochure at bollwinkel@uni.edu, or call 319-273-2783.

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Buy local open thread

Last month a new Iowa Food Cooperative opened at Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines. People who join the coop can buy lots of different food produced sustainably in Iowa.

Sustainable Table and Oxfam give you more details on the economic and environmental benefits of buying local food instead of food that’s traveled thousands of miles to your grocery store.

Speaking of which, if you’re lucky, you live in a community with a locally-owned grocery store. These have been on the decline for decades, and they are being squeezed even more now as consumers look for every way to cut costs.

I saw this diary yesterday about a much-loved grocery store closing in Reading, Massachusetts, and it reminded me that I heard Grinnell lost its independent grocer earlier this fall. Can any Bleeding Heartland readers in the Grinnell area confirm?

We are lucky to have several locally-owned grocery stores in the Des Moines area. I like Campbell’s, New City Market and the Gateway Market. Although those stores have a reputation for being expensive, you can save money by buying whole ingredients and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Highly-processed items like frozen dinners or just-add-water side dishes are usually more expensive than cooking from scratch.

You can also save money by cooking with meat less often (or never). Many independent grocers have sections where you can buy grains, beans, pasta and other items in bulk.

Even if you buy high-quality ingredients, cooking at home is usually cheaper than fast food. Via Jill Richardson’s community blog La Vida Locavore I learned that Iowa City’s own chef Kurt Michael Friese recently proved that he can cook a family meal of fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy for less than $10–thereby beating KFC’s “family meal” challenge:

The fast-food joint argues in its latest commercial that you cannot “create a family meal for less than $10.” Their example is the “seven-piece meal deal,” which includes seven pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits, and a side dish — in this case, mashed potatoes with gravy. This is meant to serve a family of four. [..]

I compared commodity products and organic ones, and calculated for each. The market had only one kind of chicken. It was far from the free-range, organic, local chicken I would normally use, but it was hormone-free from a network of family farms and faced nowhere near the cruel conditions suffered by KFC’s chickens. One of the latter would have been even cheaper than the $4.76 I paid for this one. In fairness I should note that the little girl in KFC’s ad asks the butcher for seven pieces, already cut up, but I have faith that a home cook can cut up a whole chicken. I should also note that KFC cuts chicken breasts in half, so there are 10 pieces in a whole bird (four breast halves, two legs, two thighs, two wings).

I rounded up everything I needed for chicken, biscuits, and mashed potatoes with gravy and totaled my costs, accounting for ingredients that were a fraction of a cent (small amounts of spices, for example) by rounding up to $0.01. I must admit I don’t know the seven secret herbs and spices, but as a professional chef, I know you can do an awful lot with salt and pepper. The bottom line? The KFC meal, including Iowa state sales tax of 6 percent, is $10.58. I made the same meal (chicken, four biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy) for $7.94 — and I got three extra pieces of chicken and a carcass to use for soup.

Even allowing for the whole batch of 24 biscuits, the meal still comes in at $8.45. In fact, using organic or other high-end items where the market carried them (flour, grapeseed oil, butter, milk), my total bill for the meal came to $10.62.

Click the link to find a GoogleDocs spreadsheet for people who want to check Friese’s math.

If you can afford to eat out, it’s nice to support locally-owned restaurants rather than national chains. Spending your money at local businesses will keep more wealth in your community. I also notice quite a few local restaurants sponsoring charity events or school activities.

The latest issue of the Washington Monthly has a good article by Phillip Longman and T.A. Frank on the resiliency and benefits of old-fashioned community banks. It turns out that

According to FDIC data, the failure rate among big banks (those with assets of $1 billion or more) is seven times greater than among small banks. Moreover, banks with less than $1 billion in assets-what are typically called community banks-are outperforming larger banks on most key measures, such as return on assets, charge-offs for bad loans, and net profit margin.

Small banks are also

a critical source of lending to small businesses. (Community banks make nearly three times as many small business loans on a dollar-for-dollar basis as do large banks, according to the Federal Reserve.)

Mr. desmoinesdem and I ditched Wells Fargo six or seven years ago in favor of a small Iowa-based bank and have gotten better service there. Several small business owners I know are also customers of community banks.

This thread is for any comments related to eating, buying or shopping locally.

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