Archive for April 6, 2011
Saturday Legislative Forum Fun in Muscatine
by Dave Bradley
I spent last Saturday morning at the Muscatine county legislative forum. Since the panel of legislators consists of four Republicans and one lone Democrat, I was about to learn lots of stuff I had never learned before. This stuff may or may not be true, but it was pronounced from the panel as true and important.
As you can guess by my intro, there appears to be a fact gulf between Republicans and the rest of us. So let’s go to the forum and learn some new things.
After a contentious beginning, the forum had a questioner who tried to relay some facts that he had learned from the Iowa Policy Project. His question was, why are taxes for the corporations and the rich being cut while services for the poor etc. are being cut?
In answering, the main thing we learned was that commercial property taxes are very high in Iowa, ranked at #45 in the country. Every Republican hammered this home. We were also told that the IPP was a very biased group. Sen. Jim Hahn noted that the tax cuts must be backfilled. By cutting services, Sen. Hahn?
Thank goodness the Democrat brought some sanity back to this parade of sorrow for the over taxed business community by reminding us that less than a year ago, Forbes Magazine (not very liberal, mind you) rated Iowa the #3 state for business in the US.
The next question was from a woman who recently found out a relative was gay, and asked the legislators' opinion on gay marriage. Despite its dubious constitutionality, all of the Republican legislators called for a vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment. (BTW – did you know the first state laws concerning marriage were passed in Alabama shortly after the civil war? I’ll let you figure out why.)
Nuclear power was next. Should Iowa proceed with nuclear power, considering the situation in Japan? It was my question so I paid close attention when I was told that a time of fear is no time to react to a situation. (Isn’t this what our legislators do all the time? Often they create the fear, like the fear of gay people or fear of bankruptcy or fear of Muslims or fear of government takeover of health care, in order to hype an issue.) So not bending to the fear of a real situation, they all plan that we go ahead on the nuclear power. And it was termed as a progressive concept on power.
Something that surprised me here is that Sen. Hahn said that there is now a new nuclear plant that does not need another power plant to run the cooling system but is self-contained. And by golly, he was sort of right. I looked it up and Toshiba (Westinghouse) has a PLAN for such a thing on a very small scale. Will it work? Who knows? Just like any nuclear reactor, no one will insure it, so it may be on the drawing board for a while yet.
Next we learned of the voucher system for pre-K schooling. The amount paid scales up to the point where families with an income of over $67,000 / year will pay full price. Almost sounds like a blue print for slowly privatizing our school system.
Then for some reason, we were treated to Rep. Jeff Kaufmann repeating several times that he had made an appearance in Iowa City at the Chamber of Commerce. I guess he repeated it so we would get that this was an act of courage on his part to venture in to the lair of the left. I may be wrong, but going to a Chamber of Commerce anywhere doesn’t sound like an act of courage for any Republican.
This is from memory four days later, but I think I hit most of what were highlights to me.
HF589/SF431 – Recordings in Animal Facilities
by Mary LaHay, Iowa Voters for Companion Animals
In 2010, our organization worked with other concerned Iowans to improve oversight of Iowa’s commercial dog-breeding facilities, resulting in the passage of HF2280 (aka the Puppy Mill Bill).
Because photographic and video evidence was critical to documenting abuse of dogs in these high-volume breeding facilities and to subsequent passage of the puppy mill bill, we are understandably very concerned about the impact SF431, the animal-facility recording bill, might have on future companion-animal protection efforts and ultimately on any whistleblowers who witness and report crimes.
For the record, we recognize that most livestock producers do not abuse or mistreat the animals in their care. We also recognize that this proposed legislation offers these responsible producers “protection” they don’t need while it enables violators to abuse animals and not be held accountable.
On Thursday, March 24, we scheduled a press conference at the state capitol to voice our concerns, and I brought two large photographs of puppy mills as examples of the legitimate and necessary role such evidence plays in reducing animal abuse. This material was displayed on a table behind me, and while I was being interviewed, SF431 author Rep. Annette Sweeney approached the table and removed the photo. Unbeknownst to her, her actions were captured by WHO-TV news cameras. [LINK ]
When immediately challenged, Rep. Sweeney told us and the WHO-TV reporter that she removed the photo because it was “inaccurate.” After the video footage aired on that evening’s news broadcast, she changed her story and claimed that the photo violated a “no posters” policy within the capitol.
If any incident proves the value of video or photographic evidence, it is this. Rep. Sweeney acted recklessly because she thought no one was watching, which is exactly what those who would abuse animals hope for. With her actions recorded, she now has to backpedal out of her real intent, which was to censor information she didn’t want others to see. This would be inappropriate behavior from any thinking adult; from an elected public official, it is inexcusable.
Press Conference: March 24, 2011, 1PM – State Capitol Rotunda, 2nd Floor
As a companion-animal welfare organization we are greatly concerned about the impact the passage of HF589/SF431 may have on the conditions more than 23,000 dogs in Iowa’s 500+ commercial kennels are forced to endure. This bill seeks to criminalize the production, possession and distribution of records obtained in animal facilities without the owner’s consent.
Hundreds of our organization’s grassroots members lobbied hard for two years to gain passage of the 2009 “Puppy Mill Bill”. This new law has helped improve conditions for thousands of dogs. USDA inspection report data provided support for the bill in the form of disturbing details about the cruel and inhumane conditions in Iowa kennels; details such as dogs forced to live in slurries of their own waste, dogs living in cages too small to allow them to sit or lie normally, dogs living in darkness, dogs denied shelter from the elements, denied water, denied veterinary care. The list goes on and on (see www.iowavca.org for examples of inspection reports). But photographic evidence, much of it obtained by undercover operatives, breathed life into the abstract reports, giving these defenseless victims a face. If a law such as this had already been enacted, we (and the dogs!) would have been denied this important evidence.
Proponents of this radical and punitive legislation have argued that some of the abuse is actually perpetrated by animal rights activists in order to create “evidence” to capture on video. The author of HF589, Rep. Annette Sweeney, and other legislators have made this absurd and unsupported claim. We’ve requested, but have yet to receive, evidence to support it. Neither has anyone cited a single example where such “staged” abuse occurred.
The plain truth is that every industry contains the potential for illegal, abusive, or unsafe practices, and conscientious reporting of violations, confirmed by recorded evidence, is often a critical supplement to the oversight provided by regulatory agencies or law enforcement personnel. Should we also turn a blind eye to other crimes — exploitation of the elderly, financial fraud, building code violations? This bill isn’t just bad public policy; it’s corporate extremism by Iowa agribusiness, an attempt to silence its critics and avoid public accountability, and the dogs caught in the commercial breeding industry will likely be swept up in it all.
Our own US Senator Chuck Grassley has officially praised the “good works of whistle-blowers ” and called them modern day patriots. He has supported “Sunshine laws” and greater disclosure in many industries because “we need all the eyes and ears we can get to ensure accountability and transparency.” This bill aims instead to shut the doors and turn out the lights. Iowa’s animals and citizens deserve better.
We strongly oppose this bill and encourage Iowans to contact their state senator and request that they vote NO on SF 431.
HEALTH CARE BRIEFS ON THE NEW LAW:
COVERING THE UNINSURED
by Frank Samuelson
Covering the Uninsured. The new Health Care Affordability Act will extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans that now have no coverage. These fellow citizens now suffer, and often die prematurely without adequate health care. They also often end up in the emergency room where they must be treated, at excessive cost, with bills they cannot pay. This drives up insurance costs and taxpayer expenses for the rest of us. Don’t let opponents of health care reform take this sensible and humanitarian coverage away.
–from Faithful Reform in Health Care
These brief summaries of benefits in the new health care law were prepared by Progressive Action for the Common Good (PACG) of the Quad Cities, based on research by Faithful Reform in Health Care
which represents many churches and other faith communities. (See the
list of members on their website.) Faithful Reform seeks to speak the
“whole truth” about health care issues instead of the many half truths
that abound. If you, or someone you know, has had a personal experience
with this or another benefit of the new law, please share it with the
Health Care Reform Forum of PACG (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Frank Samuelson is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is a member of the Health Care Reform Forum of PACG and has been active in the Anti-racism ministry of the Northern Illinois Synod of the ELCA.
by John Shumaker
a questionable overseas corpse
well language has a different slant \ sometimes
ya have a world gone silent
on so many things
a soul crying for love
for your loved ones,
Community gone split from its Commons
by developers, contractors, real estate agents
Banksters, insane Hospital CEO'S carving up central city neighborhoods
smashing down with Caterpillar bulldozers just like in Palestine
noble, venerated old homes in old traditional neighborhoods
so their hospital can have another unneeded concrete mausoleum they call “parking lot”
in their insane worship of the automobile
concrete a KNOWN cause of global warming
a CARcinogen on the planet
well we had popious
someone we all thought was decent when we were kids
we were told every day so
who had questionable dealings with Nazi Germany
we weren't told so when we were kids
a questionable overseas corpse
and Mother Earth says Love One Another
Love Your Selfe
Love Each Other
Love the creatures
Love the critters
Love the Rivers
Love the Forests
Love the Oceans
Love the Prairies
Love the Mountains
Love the deserts
Love the Plains
Love the Moraines
Love the Canyons
Love the Arctic
Love the Tropical
Love the Temperate
Love the Equatorial
Love the Rainforest
Love the subarctic
Love the Coral reefs
Love Finned Ones
Love Winged Ones
Love Four Leggeds
Love Two Leggeds
this isn't popious Dear Friend
THIS is COPIOUS
is all there is
Love is all ya need
This Sunshine is GOOD Enough
for a Good Day