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Earth Day Is Coming April 22nd! Iowa Events

earth day april 22

Ed Fallon Invites All Iowans to Join Him At Grassroots Speak Out

Former State Rep. Ed Fallon will complete his 400-mile anti-pipeline walk across 18 counties on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, and he invites all Iowans opposed to the Bakken oil pipeline to join him at the State Capitol at 5:00 p.m. for a special Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline.

Who: Everyday Iowans
What: Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline
Where: People’s Park at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, west Capitol lawn, East 7th and Locust St.
When: Wednesday, April 22, 5:00 p.m.
Why: To stop the Bakken oil pipeline and save the planet

From the newsletter of Senator Rob Hogg:

Monday, April 20 – This is the deadline to apply if you would like to attend the Climate Reality training in Cedar Rapids May 5 to 7 with former Vice President Al Gore (see below). This is a unique opportunity for Iowans to learn more about climate change and get more involved in the effort to achieve a sustainable future. For details, or to apply, visit www.climaterealitytraining.org/iowa/.

Wednesday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. – Mt. Mercy University will host David Thoreson, an Arctic sailor and explorer who lives in Iowa, as the Earth Day Speaker at the Betty Cherry Heritage Hall. Although I will not be able to attend due to legislative commitments in Des Moines, I have seen David speak and highly recommend this event.

Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – EcoFest returns to New Bohemia [Cedar Rapids] with an eco-fair, live music, an owl and a hawk from the Raptor Center, tours of Mt. Trashmore, and many other activities. For more details, visit http://www.ecofestcr.org/.

Tuesday, May 5 to Thursday, May 7 – As indicated above, Vice President Gore will bring his Climate Reality training to Cedar Rapids. This training is one of four he will conduct this year, with other trainings in New Delhi, India; Toronto, Canada; and Miami, Florida. You must apply to attend by Monday, April 20 (see above).

Rep. Ourth: Lawmakers Are Breaking The Law

“No one should be getting fired because we aren’t abiding by the laws of this state.”

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio Headlines Progress Iowa Event

bill de blasioDes Moines – Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City will deliver remarks at an event for Progress Iowa on Thursday, April 16th at the Iowa State Education Association in Des Moines, Iowa. Mayor de Blasio will focus his remarks on the need to address economic inequality.

The event will be open to pre-credentialed members of the media. Those interested in covering the event must sent an email requesting credentials to matt@progressiowa.org by Wednesday, April 15th at 5:00 PM CT. A confirmation email will be sent to those receiving credentials.

WHAT: An Evening with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

WHEN: Thursday, April 16; Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Program begins at 6:15 p.m.

WHERE: Iowa State Education Association; 777 3rd Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309

Mayor Bill de Blasio is the 109th Mayor of New York City. From his early days as a young City Hall staffer, to serving on his local school board, to his most recent position as Public Advocate for the City of New York, Bill de Blasio has spent his life fighting to ensure that every New Yorker – in every neighborhood throughout our five boroughs – gets a fair shot.

Tickets to the event on Thursday are $25 each and available at http://progressiowa.org/billdeblasio.

Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization with a network of more than 60,000 progressives. Year-round, Progress Iowa advocates for a stronger middle class, first-class public education, and fairness for all Iowans under the law.

Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0530

Eminent Domain Bill Emerging In #ialegis

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

An eminent domain bill is emerging in the Iowa legislature. If it becomes law, it would impact both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line which share the issue of being merchant distribution lines for oil and gas, and electricity respectively.

Whether an eminent domain bill would be sent to the governor is an open question. The Iowa legislature is stymied over K-12 school funding, and the overall budget. Last weekend’s discussion was whether or not to send legislators home while a committee ironed out details.

“I think that’s unwise,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal in an Associated Press interview. “I think everybody’s voice needs to be heard. I think everybody should stay and work. I think it’s time to knuckle down and get to work.”

The legislature is required by statute to finish the budget before adjournment, so April and likely part of May will be a slow grind toward compliance. At this point, the parties can’t agree on a revenue number or on how to spend it. There appears to be time to work on an eminent domain bill while the budget is finalized.

Last Thursday, Ed Fallon completed his walk across Iowa along the route of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. In his daily report from the project, Fallon wrote, “eminent domain legislation is coming this week! I was in touch this weekend with two key lawmakers who assured me that, before week’s end, we’ll have companion bills with bipartisan support in both House and Senate. This is very encouraging. Stay tuned.”

The two lawmakers are State Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who chair the government oversight committee in their respective chambers. I confirmed the bills were sent to drafters with Kaufmann in a telephone conversation last night. Government oversight is exempt from the funnels that limit introduction of new legislation during session.

On April 10, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a 23-page ruling on Clarke County Reservoir Commission v. Edwin D. and Deloris A. Robins Revokable Trust, in which Justice Thomas Waterman wrote for the majority, “we strictly construe statutes delegating the power of eminent domain and note the absence of a clear legislative authorization for a joint public-private entity to condemn private property.”

Both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line are such public-private partnerships, so this court decision has ramifications for the projects. Notably, as Fallon described during his pipeline walk, many land owners along the route oppose the pipeline and eminent domain would have to be used to gain an easement. The legislation proposed by Hogg and Kaufmann includes definition of “merchant projects” and “public use,” which if enacted into law could effectively end both projects in their present form.

In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court found that projects initiated by private developers could use eminent domain as a tool, finding that “economic development did not violate the public use clauses of the state and federal constitutions.” However, as Kaufmann noted last night, if states have a stricter interpretation of eminent domain and the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution, such state laws would take precedence under Kelo. An intent of the proposed legislation is to create stricter interpretations of public use when used in the context of eminent domain, and to separate eminent domain uses for merchant projects from those of regulated utilities.

An eminent domain bill is emerging. With legislators divided over the Rock Island Clean Line and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and over eminent domain abuses in the state, there appears to be enough support to advance the bill.

For parties interested in eminent domain and in both projects, this will be one to watch.

Dave Loebsack Announces Coffee With Your Congressman Tour

latteCongressman Dave Loebsack will kickoff his Coffee with Your Congressman tour this Saturday, April 18th, with stops in Tipton, DeWitt and Eldridge. At each stop, Loebsack will mingle with local patrons at diners and coffee shops to chat one-on-one and hear directly from Iowans. The Coffee with Your Congressman tour will make periodic stops throughout Iowa’s Second District. The event is open to the public and media.

Tipton Coffee with Your Congressman Tour
Dozer’s Daily Deals Outlet Store and Coffee Shop
523 Cedar Street
9:00am

Dewitt Coffee with Your Congressman Tour
Whisk Away Cafe & Bakery
919 6th Ave
2:00pm

Eldridge Coffee with Your Congressman Tour
Grille 350
350 W LeClaire Rd
3:30pm

Hillary Clinton Is Running For President

We would be remiss if we did not post Hillary Clinton’s announcement video today.  It is surprisingly not bad.

 

Wiccan Says Opening Prayer; Christian Response Is Childish

Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard. (from radioiowa.com)

Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard. (from radioiowa.com)

Remember back in Civics or government class you learned that there was something described as “freedom of religion.” Most likely this concept was explained to you something like this:
Our government has no power to establish one religious sect over any other sect. All sects are equal before the government. Nor does the government have the right to force anyone to engage in religious rites against their will. Courts have ruled over the years that there must be a separation between church and state, meaning that government entities such as public schools or public functions should in no way be used as a time to promote one religion over another.

In the beginning of the country there were those who tried to keep religion completely out of government. Congress met on Sundays and religious holidays. Under Ben Franklin the Post Office delivered mail seven days a week.

Religious zealotry being what it is, it wasn’t too long before sessions of Congress and various legislatures were being opened with Christian prayers. As public schools grew so did the influence of religious folks who pushed hard for Christian prayer in public schools. Whenever these footholds of Christianity in public doings is challenged it is usually met with a hew and a cry such that you would think you had a whale in its death throes.

And so it was on Thursday morning when not-a-christian-but a wiccan named Deborah Maynard gave the opening prayer. Christians responded as expected – like a caged animal that had just been gored. Family Leader, the big kahuna of religulous political groups sent out a sort of call to arms email to its followers. FL’s followers were invited to the capitol to pray for (for?) the wiccan priestess. Other Christians took it upon themselves to battle the bad prayers of another group with their supposed good prayers.

Wish I had been there. Must have resembled some comic book art with zappings and thunder crashing all over the place. Apparently Ms. Maynard survived this proxy war of the gods without harm. Was she insulated by her beliefs, was her god stronger than the christian god or were the christians just horrible at aiming their strikes?

After the battle was over and and the wounded cared for, Republican Dave Heaton issued a statement that made a lot of sense:

“If we want to make a stink about who can do this and who can’t,” Heaton says, “we’re liable to lose the whole thing.”

The conclusion of the article on radioiowanews.com reminded us that:

In 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “sectarian” prayers before government meetings are constitutional, as long as the prayers are “not coercive” and do not require participation by people who do not share the same beliefs. Both the Iowa House and Senate begin their workdays with a prayer or some sort of moment of reflection. Some prayers are delivered by legislators themselves, but often legislators invite a guest to make the remarks.

As with most decisions of the Roberts Court, this one was about as wrong as it could be. Religious practices of any sort have no place in public business at any level. The founders were very clear about that. Our legislature needs to concern itself more with educating future generations and less with getting to their heaven.

But until then, I can hardly wait for the battle that will ensue when someone finally has the guts to invite a few atheists to give a – uh – prayer.

Humiliating The Poor

american poverty

This is now something we do in America. No more following the teachings of most religions and ethics. Poor people are to be treated as a pariah in America these days. Reasoning in America today says poor people are responsible for their lot in life and must be punish for bothering those of us not poor. Forget all that hype about Bush running the economy in the ground and sending good jobs to China.

And just in case you forget who is driving this much more hateful attitude toward the poor, let me remind you it is those who want to pay no cost of being a citizen (aka taxes). They are the same people that buy the the votes in congress and state legislatures so that laws can be passed to punish the poor.

Now, according to Robert Reich, the wealthy not only own congress, they are buying off non-profits and others who in the past may have been critical of the rich. If we wait long enough we may see that nasty “it is easier for a rich man to pass throughout the eye of a needle that to enter the kingdom of heaven” stricken from bibles.

From Reich’s article:

It’s bad enough big money is buying off politicians. It’s also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information, and social change, from criticizing big money.

Other sources of funding are drying up. Research grants are waning. Funds for social services of churches and community groups are growing scarce. Legislatures are cutting back university funding. Appropriations for public television, the arts, museums, and libraries are being slashed.

more =>

The Koch brothers now fund 350 programs at over 250 colleges and universities across America. You can bet that funding doesn’t underwrite research on inequality and environmental justice.

David Koch’s $23 million of donations to public television earned him positions on the boards of two prominent public-broadcasting stations. It also guaranteed that a documentary critical of the Kochs didn’t air.

If we didn’t know better one would almost think our once proud democracy has devolved into a oligopoly.

Sunday Funday – Blowing Into Spring

dress for sale - cheep!

dress for sale – cheep!

The winds of change blew last week and they blew very hard. Seems a little early here in Iowa to be getting such strong storms, but Mother Nature doesn’t do things by the calendar. If it wasn’t tied down, it may no longer be around. So be careful when you put the dog or the kitty out and make sure they have tags or a microchip for later identification.

Were you paying attention last week?

1) Hey Mon! Obama went to Jamaica last week. What museum was one of his first stops?

2) Cyclone nation’s got your back! What Cyclone coach will be undergoing a second heart procedure Friday?

3) Call the Republicans! We got another case of voter fraud! What presidential candidate lied on his voter registration form by listing himself as “Hispanic?”

4) A young man walking to work caught quite an event on his cell phone camera in South Carolina Monday. What was it?

5) In Altoona, Pa. a parishioner disrupted Easter Sunday mass by doing what?

6) Rarified air. What college basketball coach joined John Wooden as the only 2 to win 10 NCAA titles last week?

7) Touchy, touchy. What presidential candidate lost his temper with interviewers 3 times last week when he didn’t like the way a question was asked?

8) Truly a poorly held secret. What presidential candidate is expected to announce today?

9) Christians were pretty bent out of shape when a representative of what religion gave the opening prayer at the Iowa legislature Thursday?

10) To no ones surprise, who was convicted in the Boston Marathon massacre last week?

11) There are rules. Whose presidential announcement was taken down by youtube due to copyright violation?

12) What metropolitan area that includes an Iowa segment is slowly approaching 1 million residents?

13) Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of what tragic event?

14) The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee touched off a bit of a storm by recommending what kind of diet?

15) At a meeting next week a federal advisory group is expected to recommend the shutting down the harvest of what on the West Coast?

16) April 12, 1961 – who is the first human to be launched into space?

17) It is up and running again with twice the power. Coming off a two year shutdown following the discovery of the Higgs bosun what major scientific tool is ready to go again?

18) “The 18th of April of ’75. Hardly a man is still alive who can remember that famous day and year of” what?

19) A yacht race has been proposed for the summer of 2017 at what once impenetrable place?

20) The pizzeria in Walkerton, Indiana proved it – hate pays. How much was raised from an online site to support their stand?

In case you missed it, the Chicago Cubs opened yet another season with a loss. Wait til next century!

Answers:

1) The Bob Marley museum

2) Fred Hoiberg. He will have an operation at the Mayo Clinic Friday.

3) Jeb Bush

4) The murder of an unarmed black man by a police officer

5) Accidentally shooting a gun he had in his pocket

6) Geno Auriema, coach of the Connecticut women’s team.

7) Rand Paul

8) Hillary Clinton

9) wiccan or pagan

10) Djokhar Tsarnaev

11) Rand Paul’s

12) Omaha-Council Bluffs (or is it Council Bluffs-Omaha?)

13) the assassination of Abraham Lincoln

14) vegan – both for health and environmental reasons

15) sardines – overfished and none left for the sea lions to eat

16) Yuri Gagarin

17) The Large Hadron Collider

18) the midnight ride of Paul Revere

19) The Arctic Ocean. Some expect it to be free enough of ice by then to stage such an event

20) $842,000.

Webb, O’Malley Speeches Kick Off Iowa Caucus Season

Polk County Awards April 10Former U.S. Senator from Virginia Jim Webb and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley kicked off the run up to the Iowa Caucuses on Friday at the Polk County Democrats Spring Awards Dinner in Des Moines. Polk is a Democratic county where Bruce Braley won the 2014 U.S. Senate race with 50 percent of the vote. Democrats presented former Congressman Neil Smith with a lifetime achievement award at the pork chop dinner.

My press credentials were not approved, so I live-streamed the speeches of Webb and O’Malley on C-Span. The view was actually better than what I may have had in person. Someone in the room direct messaged me on twitter to ask where I was sitting, which was funny.

We all get to describe the event using the same English language, including depiction of “hoots and hollers,” usage of which I did not swipe from this CNN person I never heard of until last night.

My takeaway from the speeches was that O’Malley told a better story, but Webb had the better story, one worth paying attention to as the run up to the caucuses unfolds.

This Democratic event felt less like a scene from Alice in Wonderland as the mad tea party of Republicans often does.

According to multiple anonymous sources, Hillary Clinton will announce her second bid to become president in a twitter message on Sunday. Because of Hillary’s prominence in American society, there will be a media frenzy which may eclipse whatever good Webb and O’Malley did yesterday.

Here are some of my tweets from last night:

See the video on Cspan here