# Newton

Thin skin plagues some Iowa officials

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

Around the time the famous movie “The Bridges of Madison County” premiered in 1995, author Robert James Waller was at a book-signing in West Des Moines. Between scribbling his signature for fans on copies of his novel, Waller answered questions from a Des Moines Register reporter.

At one point, the persnickety Iowan became peeved by the nature of the reporter’s questions. He yanked the notebook from her hand and flipped it aside. 

That led to a letter to the editor a few days later in the Register in which a reader observed that Waller should use some of his millions in book and movie royalties to buy himself a thicker skin.

Some local government officials in Iowa show signs of needing thicker skins, too, because they have tried to silence critics at meetings of city councils and school boards for making comments they did not like.

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Iowa Companies to Receive Over $10 million in Clean Energy Tax Credits

President Obama announced today that the Department of Energy will issue $2.3 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – the vast majority of which will be used to spur more energy efficient buildings, and wind and solar power. 183 projects in 43 states will receive tax credits to help create tens of thousands of high quality jobs and increase domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies. Among the leading recipients in Iowa is TPI Composites in Newton, which will get 3.9 million dollars to expand its production of wind turbine blades. (A list of all Iowa's recipients is available here.)
TPI's Newton plant, formerly a Maytag washing machine factory, is symbolic of clean energy’s potential to transform and revitalize Iowa’s manufacturing base and was the site of the President's 2009 Earth Day address. American Railcar Industries in Fort Dodge hopes to follow TPI’s lead and will receive 5.35 million dollars to transform a local rail car plant to produce 500 steel towers a year for large-scale commercial wind turbines.

Eric Nost, Environment Iowa state associate, released the following statement in response:

“Energy efficiency, wind, and solar power have the potential to revive the nation's economy, create millions of good jobs, and stop global warming. The President’s announcement today will help Iowa continue to lead the way toward a new, clean energy future.

“While the Administration’s actions and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are substantial first steps, Congress must follow the President’s lead and take immediate action. In order to create jobs and heal our ailing economy, right now the Senate needs to pass comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation.

“We thank Senator Harkin for investing in Iowa through the ARRA and urge him to work now to pass strong legislation that further encourages these kinds of clean energy projects and the jobs they create, makes us more energy independent, and cuts pollution fast enough to stave off the worst effects of global warming.”


Environment Iowa is a state-wide, citizen-funded advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.  

Open thread on Obama in Newton for Earth Day

I won’t be able to watch President Barack Obama’s Earth Day appearance in Newton live, but I’m putting up this thread so that others can talk about it.

Iowa Global Warming will be twittering the event here and will upload video at these sites:



I’m all for green jobs and boosting renewable energy production. Let’s make sure the jobs in this industry pay well with good benefits, though.

I’ll update with thread later with more details from and reaction to Obama’s speech in Newton.

UPDATE: The text of Obama’s remarks (as prepared) is after the jump. Lots of good stuff in there, such as:

“Today I am announcing that my administration is taking another historic step. Through the Department of Interior, we are establishing a program to authorize ­ for the first time ­ the leasing of federal waters for projects to generate electricity from wind as well as from ocean currents and other renewable sources,” Obama said to about 200 in at Trinity Structural Towers in Newton.

“It’s a win-win. It’s good for the environment. It’s great for the economy,”

he said.

Obama continued to advocate for a cap and trade policy to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Iowa Democrats twittered that the president called for connecting Des Moines to Chicago via high-speed rail, but I didn’t find that in the prepared remarks (just a general statement about investing in high-speed rail).

The Des Moines Register found it noteworthy that the president

didn’t mention ethanol by name.

In particular, ethanol interests might have hoped that Obama would at least put in a good word for the expansion of the allowable blend of ethanol with unleaded gasoline for conventional automobile engines from the current 10 percent to 15 percent.

But Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said he wasn’t upset.

“Frankly, the Environmental Protection Agency (which will make the E-15 decision) gets sued all the time and one of the things they’re hit with is that their decisions might be based on politics rather than technology or science,” said Shaw.

“So it is probably better for us that the President not mention E-15 today,” Shaw continued. “The science is on our side. But we don’t need people challenging the EPA later, after they make a favorable decision on E-15, saying that it was based on politics and using the President’s remarks as evidence.”

Maybe the Register meant that Obama didn’t mention E-15 by name, or maybe the president deviated from his prepared remarks, which included this paragraph:

My budget also makes unprecedented investments in mass transit, high-speed rail, and in our highway system to reduce the congestion that wastes money, time, and energy. And it invests in advanced biofuels and ethanol, which, as I’ve said, is an important transitional fuel to help us end our dependence on foreign oil while moving toward clean, homegrown sources of energy.

If you watched the video, please tell us what you thought.

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No more casinos in Iowa

Well, well, well. The Newton Speedway didn’t miraculously solve that town’s problems, so now there is a drive to build a casino next to the racetrack in the name of economic development.

Iowa has too many casinos already–20 according to the Des Moines Register article linked above. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission should say no to this and all other applications for casino licenses in the future.

How will a casino in Newton help the community? More likely it will just drain the wallets of locals whose family incomes already took a hit after Maytag shut down. People love talking about the jobs created by casinos, but they don’t like talking about the social problems that come along with increased gambling.

The advocates of this proposal say the location, visible from I-80, would be visible to some 10 million people who drive on that stretch of road every year. But I suspect a casino in Newtwon would primarily pull gamblers away from existing casinos in central, eastern and southern Iowa.