Des Moines Rotary members blackball Planned Parenthood employee

Des Moines Rotary voted down an applicant for the first time in the chapter’s history, Rekha Basu reported in her Des Moines Register column on Friday. Susy Robinette is well-known in the community as a former news anchor for Des Moines’ NBC affiliate and a former reporter, anchor and news director at the Fox affiliate here. Apparently 11 members of the club rejected her application because she is now the chief development officer at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (previously Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa).

Therese Wielage is club president and a personal friend of Robinette’s. “I think Susy would be a good member for any club, but I respect that she’s representing an organization that some people in the club have issues with,” Wielage said. […]

It only takes 11 “no” votes out of 334 members to torpedo a nominee, and that’s just what Robinette got. That disturbs member Joy Corning, the former Republican lieutenant governor. While calling the Rotary a wonderful organization that does good work in the community and world, she said, “It is very unfortunate that a very small minority has inserted their own personal convictions into the process and has done a hurtful thing to a notable woman who works for one of the outstanding non-profits in our community.”

Member Janet Phipps Burkhead, a lawyer and general in the Iowa National Guard, who sponsored Robinette, says she’s embarrassed for the club. “I don’t think that what took place is in the spirit of Rotary,” she said.

[…]The immediate past president of another Des Moines Rotary club, the Rotary Club of Des Moines, A.M., said though its members are conservative, they’re “very open.” In fact, said Dennis Linderbaum, president of the Iowa Health Foundation, he’d happily sponsor Robinette for membership there. He calls Planned Parenthood “a very important organization in regard to women’s health and to the strength of families.”

KCCI-TV reported on the story here. Officials would not release the names of the members who voted against Robinette, but Wielege said they are reviewing by-laws that allow 11 out of 334 members to block an application.

If you know anyone in Des Moines Rotary, you might want to mention that you were disappointed to learn that a small minority of people who dislike Planned Parenthood’s mission took it out on Robinette.

If you know anyone in the Rotary Club of Des Moines, A.M., you might want to mention that it would reflect well on them to welcome Robinette as a member.

Alternatively, please consider donating to Planned Parenthood in Robinette’s honor.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Food advice for the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23: The best deal on lemonade is at the honey producers’ booth in the ag building. The best ice cream is in the Bauder’s truck, not far from the ag building. Don’t miss popcorn with real butter.

If you’re looking for something useful to do in August, I’ve got lots of event details after the jump.

Please consider attending some town hall meetings with members of Congress. Don’t let right-wing astroturf mobs dominate all of this month’s town-hall meetings.

As always, post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you know of something I’ve left out. You can volunteer for Curt Hanson’s campaign in Iowa House district 90 any weekend this month. I noticed that Mariannette Miller-Meeks has been knocking on doors for the Republican candidate, Stephen Burgmeier.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks (updated)

Who else is looking forward to the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23?

If you’re looking for something useful to do in August, I’ve got lots of event details after the jump. As always, post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you know of something I’ve left out. You can volunteer for Curt Hanson’s campaign in Iowa House district 90 any weekend this month.

Please submit a comment to preserve public input on CAFO permits by Thursday, August 6. The Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter has made it easy for people to send comments to the right DNR official as well as all the members of the Environmental Protection Commission.

UPDATE: Added some public events featuring Democratic members of Congress. Don’t let right-wing astroturf mobs dominate all of this month’s town-hall meetings.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks (updated)

Political activity slows down during the summer, especially in an off-year, but there’s still plenty for progressives to do. Event details are after the jump. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of other events I’ve left out.

If you live near southeast Iowa, please consider volunteering for Curt Hanson, Democratic candidate for the September 1 special election in Iowa House district 90. UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin is headlining a fundraiser for Hanson on Saturday, Augsut 1. Details below.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers during the Iowa State Fair (August 13-23):

The Iowa DNR River Programs will be at the Iowa State Fair this year and requests your help to staff our booth at the DNR building. We will have a River Programs staff person there the whole time, but our space is much larger this year. Because of the large number of visitors who pass through the building, any help we can get is greatly appreciated. We are asking for a 5 hour shift from each volunteer. You may sign up for more than one shift if you’d like. The morning shift will be from 9:00 to 2:00 and the afternoon shift will be from 2:00 to 7:00.  What you get: A River Programs Volunteer Cap and a ticket to the fair the day you volunteer, and the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference.

Please respond by email or phone with your desired shift(s) and availability Thursday, August 13th through Sunday August 23rd to John Wenck, IDNR River programs outreach coordinator, John.Wenck@dnr.iowa.gov, 515-281-8969 or 515-491-9881.

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Events coming up during the rest of July (updated)

The RAGBRAI riders are enjoying some relatively cool weather this week, although last night’s rain may have been unpleasant for campers. If you’re riding and have any anecdotes to share, post them here.

Details on other events going on around the state are 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.

Occasionally I put a river clean-up on these event calendars, so I wanted to let the Bleeding Heartland community know about this opportunity:

The Iowa Whitewater Coalition today announced the Clean Rivers Team Stewardship Program (CRTSP) — a mini-grant program to help fund local river clean-up activities across Iowa.

Any community group or organization in Iowa is welcome to apply for a grant from the CRTSP for the purpose of paying expenses related to river clean-up activities. Grants are limited to a maximum of $500.

Details are available at www.iowawhitewater.org and a Letter of Application may be submitted at any time to Iowa Whitewater Coalition, PO Box 65453, West Des Moines, IA 50265. Questions can be addressed by Peter Komendowski at 319-269-8493.

UPDATE: Added details on the Iowa Politics forum for Republican gubernatorial candidates (July 22) after the jump.

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Late-term abortion provider murdered in church

An assailant shot and killed Dr. George Tiller at a church in Wichita, Kansas this morning. Tiller has long been demonized by the anti-choice movement because he performs late-term abortions. He was shot in 1993 and has faced numerous threats, and his clinic has been bombed and vandalized. The Wichita Eagle has background here and is updating the story. (Note: police arrested a 51-year-old male suspect about three hours after the shooting.)

Daily Kos user wiscmass discusses other violent attacks against abortion providers here. As wiscmass notes, every murder or assault is a deterrent to medical professionals considering whether to provide abortion services. By intimidating doctors, anti-choice activists can restrict access to abortion where legal and political methods have failed. I would add that even non-violent methods of intimidation can be effective. For instance, the Sioux City medical community has made clear hospital privileges will be denied to any local doctor who performs abortions at Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa’s clinic there.

Tiller was not only serving women in Kansas. Many states, including Iowa, lack any clinic where women with a compelling medical reason can get a late-term abortion. (Contrary to propaganda you may have heard, healthy women with healthy pregnancies can’t just walk into Tiller’s clinic and get an abortion in the third trimester.) I have no idea where these women will go now.

Incidentally, Tiller’s donations to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and her political action committee prompted 31 Senate Republicans to vote against confirming Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary in April.

Cecile Richards, leader of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told a story about Sebelius during a recent speech at Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa’s 75th anniversary celebration. Richards recalled a noisy group of protesters with graphic signs outside a Planned Parenthood event in Kansas. Everyone who attended the event, including then-Governor Sebelius, had to walk through the group of protesters. During her speech that night, Sebelius said she was glad everyone had to face those protesters, because it gave them a sense of what women in Kansas go through every day just trying to access reproductive health care.

Unfortunately, Tiller’s murder reminds us that standing up for reproductive rights in this country sometimes means putting your life in danger. I echo wiscmass in urging pro-choice Americans to support the organizations that are on the front lines in this battle.

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