Remembering my dear friend, Jerry Tormey

Many central Iowa Democrats are grieving for Jerry Tormey, a tireless activist who passed away on July 23. Tamyra Harrison now works for The Salvation Army but got to know Jerry well as executive director of the Polk County Democrats, a job she held from 2004 to 2017. -promoted by Laura Belin

There are a lot of different people we meet on the journey through our lives. Some people bring joy to a room just by being present. Some people are so kind of heart they bring out the very best in those around them. Some people radiate joy. Some people always think of others, putting their needs, or that of a greater cause, above themselves. Some people give more of their time to make the world a little better than seems possible, yet always makes time for doing a little more when asked. Some people perform little, seemingly insignificant, acts of kindness every single day without even trying, just by calling to say hi, checking on someone who had bad news, being an ear when needed, remembering a birthday and so much more.

It is rare to find all of this in one individual, but that was Jerry Tormey. We were so blessed to have had our lives touched by him in so many ways, and his influence and legacy will live on.

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A house divided

Anyone who has knocked doors in Iowa has probably experienced the depressing phenomenon Allison Engel describes. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Saturday, October 27, as I was door-knocking in Johnston for Democratic candidates, I had a depressingly familiar experience. A middle-aged man answered the door, and I asked to speak to his wife, a registered Democrat, by name. He saw the campaign flyers on my clipboard and without a word, slammed the door in my face.

All volunteer canvassers get doors slammed in our faces occasionally, but in this election cycle, there is a noticeable and alarming trend for men not to allow their wives or adult daughters to come to the door to listen to us or receive our literature. It has happened to me every time I’ve door knocked over the past four months. A few weeks ago, I had a father brusquely tell me that his daughter wasn’t home when I could see her standing right behind him. To her credit, she said, “Yes, I am,” and proceeded to fill out an absentee ballot request as he seethed.

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Congratulations to Iowa CCI

John Nichols posted his annual “most valuable progressives” list at The Nation this week, and he named Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement as the “most valuable grassroots advocacy group”:

For three decades, Iowa CCI has built and maintained remarkable rural-urban coalitions to fight factory farms, urban blight and abuses of Latino and Asian immigrants. In the current financial crisis, the group has ramped up its activism on behalf of banking reforms that free up credit for small farms, businesses and families while cracking down on payday loan operations. When the American Bankers Association held its annual convention in Chicago, National People’s Action called for protests that declared, “We didn’t break the banks–the big banks broke us!” Iowa CCI, long a backbone member of the NPA coalition, showed up in force. Viewers of Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! got a flavor of the group’s in-your-face activism as Iowa farmer Larry Ginter brought activists from across the country to their feet with his cry, “If you are from rural America and tired of bank greed, stand up! If you are from urban America and you’re tired of bank greed, stand up! If you think it’s time to put people first and hold banks accountable, stand up!”

In January Jason Hancock profiled Iowa CCI for the Iowa Independent. The group has a very large statewide membership and works on a wide range of issues. However, at the state capitol they are outgunned by interests blocking campaign finance reform and increased regulation of factory farms.

You can follow Iowa CCI on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

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Pronoun trouble at Organizing for America

Around 5:30 on Friday afternoon I received a robocall paid for by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of Organizing for America. The voice informed me about a rally for health care reform, scheduled for Saturday at 6 pm just west of the state capitol building in Des Moines. Press 1 if you plan to attend.

I didn’t press 1 and stayed on the line to see what would happen. The voice came back, telling me “The president needs you to show support” for reform.

The folks at Organizing for America have some pronoun trouble. It’s not President Obama who needs us. We need him to show support for real reform.  

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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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