# Tom Vilsack



Hey, politicians, are loan bailouts good or bad?

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

I try to stay atop the day’s news. But I must have dozed off last week — because I missed the response from Iowa Republican leaders to the Biden administration’s announcement of $1.3 billion in debt relief to 36,000 farmers who have fallen behind on their farm loan payments.

In making the announcement, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Through no fault of their own, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly tough circumstances over the last few years. The funding included in today’s announcement helps keep our farmers farming and provides a fresh start for producers in challenging positions.”

I am not here to question the wisdom of the federal assistance. But the silence from Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst is markedly different from their criticism after President Joe Biden announced in August that the government would forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for most borrowers.

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Iowa governor not even close to keeping one 2018 campaign promise

“If elected, will you commit to weekly press conferences?” a moderator asked during the first debate between Iowa’s candidates for governor in October 2018. “I do it all the time,” Governor Kim Reynolds replied.

Asked again during that campaign’s third debate whether she would hold weekly press conferences, Reynolds claimed to have already made that commitment, adding, “If there’s any ambiguity, I will.”

Bleeding Heartland’s review of the governor’s public schedule reveals she has not come close to keeping that promise for most of the past four years. After a period of greater accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds held just four formal news conferences during the second half of 2021. More than 40 weeks into this year, she has held only ten news conferences, the last occurring on July 12.

Reporters with access have sometimes been able to ask the governor a few questions at a “gaggle” after a bill signing or another public event. But most weeks, Reynolds has not scheduled even an informal media availability.

Avoiding unscripted questions on camera gives Reynolds greater control over news coverage of her administration, and keeps awkward moments mostly out of public view.

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Pigs, poker, and prisons: remembering Carlos Jayne

Marty Ryan first published this reflection on the life and legacy of his good friend Carlos Jayne (1935-2022) on his blog.

As he lived, he died—fighting authority!

Legendary NFL Coach Bill Parcells said, “A friend’s someone that knows all about you and likes you anyway.” Carlos and I liked each other, even though he was a big Green Bay Packers fan, and the Pack was my least favorite football team. Therefore, we never talked football. We had coffee and chatted for about two hours monthly. As his health slipped from him, the frequency of our visits diminished.

I first met Carlos when I was a novice lobbyist for the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Iowa) and a bill reinstating the death penalty was introduced. A fellow lobbyist pointed at Carlos and told me, “You need to talk to that guy.” I introduced myself to him and he said: “It’s about damned time the ICLU had a lobbyist up here,” and he turned, walked away, and continued to do what he did—talk to anyone who would listen.

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Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel retiring soon

Iowa’s State Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications to replace the longest-serving current Iowa Supreme Court justice.

Justice Brent Appel, who has served on the court since October 2006, will step down on July 13, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 72. Since Justice David Wiggins retired in early 2020, Appel has been the only one of the seven justices appointed by a Democratic governor.

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Rural Iowa and an approach to political dialogue

Charles Bruner: Democrats need to recognize rural Iowans’ frustration with the political system and start finding common ground.

Broadly generalizing, rural Iowans are good folk. They work hard and play by the rules, care about their neighbors, and seek to leave a future where their children can succeed and prosper. If an African American family moves in next door, they welcome them with fresh-based bread or cookies. They regard a child with Down syndrome reaching the age of majority as a part of the community and look out to see that youth is supported by and included in community life. They are entrepreneurs and tinker to be good stewards in preserving the land and community, in the context of a corporate agricultural economy.

Those qualities may not distinguish them greatly from city folk, but rural Iowans frequently have much more sense of and hands-on involvement in community life.

They also are older, whiter, and less likely to have college degrees than their urban counterparts. In 2008 and 2012, nearly half of Iowans outside large metro areas voted for Barack Obama for president. But a third of those who had voted for Obama switched away from the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. Donald Trump received about two-thirds of the rural Iowa vote in 2020.

Democrats have been wringing their hands over this shift – and the change in the county coffee shop conversations that must have occurred in small-town and rural Iowa.

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Lawsuit challenges English-only voting materials in Iowa

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa is seeking a judicial order declaring that the state’s English-only law “does not apply to voting materials, including ballots, registration and voting notices, forms, instructions, and other materials and information relating to the electoral process.”

The state’s largest Latino advocacy organization filed suit in Polk County District Court on October 27, according to the Democracy Docket website founded by Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias. His law firm is representing LULAC in this and other cases related to voting rights.

LULAC previously petitioned Secretary of State Paul Pate to allow county auditors across Iowa to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms. However, Pate’s legal counsel informed the group in late September that the Secretary of State’s office “is still under an injunction” from 2008 “which prevents the dissemination of official voter registration forms for this state in languages other than English.”

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