Archive for June 2012
I saw this online at democraticunderground and thought it so well written and thoughtful that i asked permission to publish it here. This may help in discussions that will be coming up concerning healthcare in America.
Attribution–Health Care for All—Washington
PO Box 30506, Seattle, WA 98113-0506
A friend and I did a single payer presentation for the VP of our local business round table
He was very skeptical of government. My colleague wrote down his major concerns, and we prepared comments on them as follows.
• Medicare is broke
• Government just messes things up
• WA workers’ compensation benefits are the highest in the nation and adding more taxes is too burdensome for state businesses
• Medicaid taxes are too high and the rising cost of Medicaid is causing cuts to education funding in WA state
• Most businesses are going to a high-deductible health insurance model with Health Savings Accounts as a more cost-effective way to provide employee benefits
• Public Utilities such as the Fire Department and Seattle City Light keep increasing their budgets and raising their rates. Contracting with private companies might lower costs by increasing competition.
• Healthcare is not as important as education or transportation infrastructure
MEDICARE IS BROKE
The Medicare risk pool is made up of retired and disabled individuals who require more health care because of their age and condition. By opening up the risk pool to include younger and healthier individuals, you can cover more people more cost effectively. Of course, younger and healthier individuals sometimes need expensive care as well, but again, by increasing the risk pool, the costs per person will decrease. Indeed, when the CBO crunched the numbers during the health care reform debate, they came to the conclusion that the only plan that would contain health care costs was a universal plan like Medicare. There is also an enormous liability in drug coverage due to price negotiation having been written out of the drug benefit legislation. Medicare should be able to obtain volume discounts similar to those that are available to large concerns in every industry. The cost controls of regional global budgeting are not now part of Medicare, but they would be under Medicare for All.
GOVERNMENT JUST MESSES THINGS UP
Yes, sometimes government programs don’t run as well as they should. The Medicare drug benefit is a case in point. As a result of lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry, the prices of Medicare prescription drugs could not be negotiated. The result was poor public policy, with burdensome costs to both the government and covered individuals.
In contrast, there are many government-funded programs that have been successful: the interstate highway system which fostered tourism-related businesses as transportation industries, the GI bill after World War II which enabled a generation of young Americans to complete college degrees and fuelled America’s world economic dominance. The catalog mail order business and mass market magazines were products of the Rural Free Delivery Act of the 1890s.
The entire computer industry was created by the government during WW II, and the government was the major customer for mainframe computers through most of the 50s. The hacker subculture that created the personal computer was entirely funded by the government at MIT and Stanford. The government created the internet itself, which has caused numerous spin-offs in all sorts of directions creating products and wealth barely dreamed of a generation ago.
The government also created the entire aviation industry and still pays for most of the infrastructure. Boeing’s civilian aircraft division didn’t make a single dime in profit for 20 years, subsidized by defense contracts the entire time. European governments realized that they would have to create similar subsidies in order to compete.
Notice what is true in all these cases—the government sets the specifications, pays the bills, regulates and may pay for ongoing infrastructure support, but the actual work is carried out by private businesses. This is how single payer health care would work.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS ARE TOO HIGH
Under a single-payer health system, all payments for medical care would be funded through the Washington Health Security Trust and all state residents would receive care as part of that coverage, thus reducing the overall cost of medically-related employee benefits.
MEDICAID TAXES ARE TOO HIGH AND THE RISING COST OF MEDICAID IS CAUSING CUTS TO EDUCATION FUNDING
WA receives funds from the Federal Government for Medicaid benefits. These funds would be channeled into and disbursed by the WHST. Given the savings projected to be generated by a universal health care system, all health care spending including Medicaid should decrease, causing more funds to be available for education and other important state programs.
MOST BUSINESSES ARE GOING TO A HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE INSURANCE BENEFIT WITH HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS.
For many years businesses have been concerned about the rise in health care costs. Some have tried the high-deductible plans and found that such plans did not serve them or their employees well. If employees are young and healthy, this is cost-effective. If not, the costs are just as great or greater than in a traditional health insurance plan. These plans are just an attempt to avoid having the healthy 85% majority pay for the care of the expensive 15% minority—this ratio holds in all age demographics, though younger groups are cheaper. This undermines the entire point of a shared risk pool, in which the healthy are forced to pay for the care of the sick. This is perfectly fair, as you have no way of knowing whether or not you will ever be part of the unlucky 15%. There is simply no way around this—we pay anyway, and at far higher rates. There was a very well known case of a child with an infected tooth in Maryland a few years ago. His mother could not afford $85 to have the tooth pulled, so he got blood poisoning. The emergency room spent $250,000 trying to keep him alive, but he died anyway. Is promoting high deductible plans really worth $249,915 to business?
PUBLIC UTILITIES KEEP INCREASING BUDGETS AND RAISING RATES
Fire and police services are part of the public safety expenditures of a society, and they get more expensive over time just like everything else. Levies are presented to voters periodically, and are routinely approved. Having a centralized source of public safety services ensures comprehensive coverage with reduced jurisdictional issues. Without regulation, utilities inevitably use their monopoly power to steal from the public. Seattle City Light is still paying for being shafted by California’s totally fake “energy crisis,” caused directly by deregulation. Areas served by publicly owned utilities had no brownouts, and there have been none since regulation was put back into place.
Increasing competition creates nothing but disaster in the production of public goods. Markets work only when you want more of something—fantastic if you are talking about hard drive memory or restaurant variety, but horrendous when you are talking about heart attacks, assaults and house fires. Two competing sets of capital equipment doubles the price of public goods right from the start. If a second cardiac center opens in a city well served by just one, people are not going to obligingly start having twice as many heart attacks. The single most important factor in surviving complex surgery is the number of similar operations performed by the surgical team. Cut the number of surgeries in half, and their competence is degraded by half.
HEALTHCARE IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS EDUCATION OR TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Whether that is true or not, the savings achieved by a universal state-wide health care system can help to restore funding for education and transportation.
First I am glad that as a nation we can now move ahead with the task of rolling out health care access to all Americans. Thus we enter the 20th century compared to all other industrialized nations. We have steps to go to join the 21st century, but at least the journey has begun finally.
Second, Republicans will still not give up their grip of controlling people’s health care. Those represented by the Republican Party believe their destiny is to control the lives of those of us who are not in their opinion able to control our own lives. They have various ways of maintaining that control, such as what decisions a woman can make about her reproductive system, who can vote, who can be allowed into the country, what we are taught and on and on.
Controlling people’s access to healthcare is a major way to control people. If a person can’t access health care, their ability to function as a full citizen is impaired as they are not able to control their own life. Now Republicans no longer have that power over others’ lives. This is a huge break in the control they have had. For example, people will soon be able to leave their jobs and still have access to health care on an affordable basis. The employer no longer will have the chain of health insurance to tether an employee.
Third, I simply can’t see a Republican Party that will hold together much longer with a platform of taking away access to health care, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid along with their traditional platform of denying the vote to classes of people, wrecking the public school system and things like teaching science. What they stand for as a party has become toxic to any sensient human. We can expect desertion from their ranks as they lose election after election.
Fourth, we were just handed a major issue for the statehouse. With the need for health care exchanges needing to be prepared at each state level, there is a stark question for the voter: Do you want the health care exchange (and any subsequent changes) to be made by representatives that want to make things work for all citizens, or by those bent on destroying the system? For me, the choice is obvious. As a stakeholder in this country, I want someone who will work their butt off to make the entity work to its best.
Finally, I hope that soon I will never see one of those canisters on the convenience store counter with a story of some poor child that has cancer, has no insurance and their family is now destitute due to the medical bills. If that isn’t just about the saddest commentary on America, I don’t know what is.
I can’t understand why, in what is by far the richest country in history, a small segment can choose to deny basic medical care to one-fifth of their own countrymen. I can think of no rational reason for doing so. Just as a couple of generations ago these same folks worked hard to deny citizenship to a segment of the population whose only sin was the color of their skin. The Chief Justice in those days was Earl Warren, a Republican appointee who was expected to stop change, became one of the leaders of change because it was the right and constitutional thing to do. Maybe John Roberts’ conscience has been awakened.
No doubt Republicans will be using this decision to raise yet even more money than the already enormous amount they have on hand. Please remember this is but one instance of where Americans are being freed from the control of others. if you help them out you are helping them take control of your life once more.
One last comment – why do Republicans hate people? What have we done that has made them so mad that they insist that 45 million of their fellow countrymen must live without insurance and the risks associated with that? Do we smell? Are we crazy? Are we so repugnant that we must never have the rights and privileges of full citizens? They want to limit our healthcare, they try to take away our votes, they send our jobs to China and cut the wages of those jobs that stay here, they try to deny food to those among us that are poor. Is their money so precious that they must starve their fellow countrymen? I am so tired of their politics of hate and exclusion. It is like an updated version of the old South gone national.
But I fear the battle will now move to the states where Republican governors – like our own Terry Branstad – will do all they can to deny health coverage to their own citizens. Outrageous!
We spent a lovely afternoon a few days ago at Rapid Creek Ranch, owned by Doug and Pam Darrow and managed by their son Justin Wade. The farm sits on a beautiful 280 rolling acres just south of Oxford and 10 miles west of Iowa City. Justin and his girlfriend Melyssa took our friends and my husband and me on a tour of their small environmentally conscious farm where they use managed rotational grazing.
First stop was the week-old chicks still in the barn with access to heat lamps. They will be moved to the pasture in a week or so when they are old enough to with stand any cool nights. Next we were into the SUV and off to see the broilers in the pasture under movable coops. These guys were big and just a week or so from harvest. We found them in the midst of a clover filled meadow where the coops are rolled to a fresh area of grasses, wild flowers and cow pies every day. The cow pie part is all about this rotational grazing. Currently the birds are harvested at a state inspected facility near the Missouri border although the ranch is looking for a closer processor and also exploring the possibility of killing and dressing some of the birds themselves for direct sale from the farm.
After a short drive across a pasture we came upon two group of laying hens that were wandering not far from their roosting wagons, or egg mobiles (hand built by Doug and Justin). During the day the layers are free to wander through the grass meadow and at sundown are put into their wagons. Justin indicated that the older group, the white ones learned to go into the wagon in less than a week. The new red layers were just purchased a few days ago and are still learning the daily routine. The layers also are frequently moved to a new part of the pasture.
According to the Rapid Creek Ranch website (still in process-Justin says he has been waiting for a rainy day and you know how that has been lately), their method is to be able to “run more animals on (fewer) acres, as well as improve the grazing environment for the animals”. Justin told us that this kind of grazing is really about grass farming, soil improvement and conservation.
The next jaunt in the SUV was across several segments of fencing requiring a steady hand to open the gates. The cattle are also moved almost every day to new pasture and all of this requires the seven miles of movable fencing that the ranch owns. The cattle were grazing on the other side of the creek, which they are kept from for conservation purposes. Water is piped in by hose. Five bulls were in with the heifers and babies and it was an active group. We had learned from Doug in a previous conversation that he has been in the cattle business for years starting as a young man herding cattle in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.
Rapid Creek is a small slice of heaven close to Iowa City and is run by kind and generous folk trying to improve their soil and water and produce their livestock in a chemical free environment. They produce some of the tastiest eggs, chicken and beef which are sold locally at reasonable prices. Remember supply can be seasonal as they are local, local, local.
Their eggs can be found at several local restaurants and all their products are for sale at the Iowa City Saturday farmer’s market (you can find them at the south end of the market under the College Street Bridge), the Iowa Valley Food Coop, and in Des Moines through a monthly buying club, run by Justin’s sister Lael Neal. She can be reached at email@example.com. For information for eastern Iowa contact Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Doug at email@example.com .
Martha Schut is an Iowa City resident with a passion for local food and Earth care/sustainability. Photos by Martha Schut.
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog–IN), Kathy Hochul (New Dem-NY), Ron Kind (New Dem-WI), Larry Kissell (Blue Dog-NC), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), Bill Owens (New Dem-NY), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Nick Rahall (WV), Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR), and Tim Waltz (MN)– voting AYE.
Nancy Pelosi, smartest gal in the room on Holder contempt charge: “I suspect it has more to do with tying the hands of the AG so that he will be unable to pay attention to things they are doing like voter suppression.”
Support FreePress. They are keeping vigilance over the media on behalf of Democracy.
By Timothy Karr
Television is at a crossroads.
There are two paths to choose from and two destinies for television viewers: one better, the other far worse. The path taken will have lasting political consequences.
One leads to a future where new technology offers millions of video channels streaming in and out of American homes via fast online networks.
The other involves a handful of local cable monopolies controlling what programming is aired — and blocking anything that might loosen their grip on viewers.
One future looks like the people-powered Internet, where choice is boundless and the audience is in charge. The other is a throwback to cable television’s “gilded age,” where powerful gatekeepers picked what people watched, when they watched it, and how much they paid for the privilege.
One future spreads power over information to the many, while the other concentrates it back into the hands of the few.
According to a recent comScore survey, the number of people watching long-form videos via the Internet grew by 47 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. This trend is the driving force for online video services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon, companies that allow viewers to bypass Big Cable — with its costly bundles of channels — and go straight to the videos they want to see.
The rise of online video is causing fits among executives at cable giants like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. They aren’t about to abandon monthly subscriber rates and premium packages to indiscriminately move data for Internet-empowered users.
They’ve instituted “data caps” to stifle the budding population of people who’ve tossed their cable remotes in favor of a browser-based television experience. Caps make it expensive for anyone wishing to tear down the artificial divide that separates a television screen from an Internet monitor.
And the cable companies aren’t stopping there. They’ve rolled out plans to disadvantage the upstarts that are building these alternatives to cable. In March, Comcast announced that some videos viewed on its own Xfinity service wouldn’t count against its customers’ Internet data caps. If you’re accustomed to using popular movie and television streaming services like Netflix, however, you’re out of luck.
Cable companies are also implementing verification systems to ensure that only cable subscribers are able to access certain types of online programming. These schemes allow cable companies to favor their online content while penalizing people who prefer going elsewhere.
“Increasingly, different powers and different institutions want to return us to the broadcast model,” University of Texas media scholar David Parry said during a recent Internet conference in New York. Parry’s top concern is that corporations prefer a “population that’s manipulated from the top down.”
What’s happening with new limits to information access, innovation, and choice goes beyond merely returning our television experience to a time before the public Internet, argues Parry.
Vertically integrated behemoths like Comcast/NBCUniversal are a new model of media consolidation in the Internet age. These companies not only control access to the Internet, but also own an empire of digital content that is transmitted via these networks.
It’s a dangerous combination with built-in incentives to take away user choice and dismantle the open and democratic architecture that’s made the Internet such a powerful force for users.
The unchallenged rise of cable is behind the Justice Department’s recent decision to investigate the anti-competitive conduct of these massive media companies.
While the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable have every right to profit from their investments and services, they shouldn’t abuse their dominant market share to remake our Internet in their image. If the democratic promise of the digital age is to be met, we can’t go back to the future. We can’t let new media come under the control of old gatekeepers.
Timothy Karr is the senior strategy director for Free Press, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to reforming the media. www.freepress.net http://www.otherwords.org/articles/big_cables_plan_to_lock_down_your_future
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org).
What would you do with your own local radio station?
Would you provide local news that no one else covers? Play music from local artists? Discuss and debate the issues that matter to your community? Revive radio dramas?
The Federal Communications Commission is about to open a rare window for non-profit organizations to apply for their very own Low Power FM (LPFM) radio station. Frequencies will open up in communities across the country and now is the perfect time to get involved to see what is possible in your area.
LPFMs are non-profit community-run radio stations that have a broadcast range of about 10 miles — a feature that ensures they serve local communities. LPFMs give local musicians an opportunity to be heard on the radio that they don’t have on corporate radio. And they are a great source for local news and emergency response.
Free Press is teaming up with the Prometheus Radio Project to help qualified organizations apply for their own community radio station. Fill out this form to get more information about the application process. Starting an LPFM isn’t easy — but we’re here to help.
Free Press is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. Learn more at www.freepress.net.
Germany is RIGHT NOW switching from nuclear to RENEWABLES!!! YEAH!!!
click on this link and then click on pdf file on bottom of page,
A REAL DEAL Q and A that answers all the naysayers questions, in REAL TIME
And the switch is being done RIGHT NOW as we speak,
check this out and pass along the GOOD NEWS! to kindred folks in your ecircle
remember, click on pdf file at bottom of page
in Parlance of Summer Solstice Speak,
click on this:
Ed is still doing great progressive talk radio. Check here for the Fallon Forum weekly broadcast schedule each and every Monday. You can livestream The Fallon Forum at www.fallonforum.com or WRLD.TV from 12:00-1:00, Monday-Friday. Podcasts available, too. And you can still catch Bradshaw right after Ed. [We assume from his note that Ed will be playing The Star Spangled Banner on his accordion live on the show but he didn't actually say that].
Nothing boils the hot blood of nationalism more – nor drills fear deeper into the hearts of terrorists – than a spirited rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Nothing, that is, except President Bush or Congressman Boswell rallying Americans to a patriotic shopping spree - as both did in response to the attacks on 9/11.
Until yesterday, I had never heard anyone perform the Star Spangled Banner on the accordion, let alone attempt to play it myself. Well, I can now check something else off the bucket list:
Perform Star Spangled Banner on Accordion at Country Music Concert.
No doubt, word has already reached terrorists lurking in caves in central Asia. No doubt, they are at present reeling from a new wave of bellow-shaking fear.
No doubt, to be safe in the knowledge that I have done my part to protect America, I am planning a gratuitous shopping spree. I might even buy another accordion. Take that, Osama . . . or whoever’s in charge these days.
Seriously folks, lots to talk about this week on the Fallon Forum. So much in fact that I haven’t yet sorted out topics and guests and matched them with dates and times. But I do know for certain that on Friday, candidates squaring off for the Iowa House in northwest Des Moines have agreed to a joint appearance/debate. Marti Anderson (Democrat) and Jeff Ibbotson (Republican) promise a contrasting yet civil discussion on a wide range of issues.
So, join the conversation, Monday-Friday, online from 12:00-1:00 pm on the Fallon Forum website. Call in at 244-0077, or toll free (855) 244-0077. Video and audio podcasts are available, too. And please tune-in to Bradshaw, Monday-Friday from 1:00-3:00, also on the Fallon Forum website.
Thanks! – Ed
Whether she’s right about what has been going on in Cedar Rapids or whether it turns out that she is incorrect, you can still be on the side of transparency and the people’s right to know. Why not get the facts and then decide?
Cedar Rapids Flood BACKGROUND:
In 2008, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (U.S.) experienced a historical flood of magnitude proportions – 10 square miles. Thousands of homes were flooded, as well as nearly every public facility- main public library, central fire station, police station, sheriff’s station, city hall, school district administration building, school district warehouse, an elementary school, county administration building, animal control, ground transportation center ….
No one knows the exact amount, but it’s in the billions the state received from FEMA and The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Iowa got $3.8 billion from the American Recovery Reinvestment Act. The Governor created a state I-Jobs program bonding nearly a billion dollars. With the help of those in charge of these funds, they were (ab)used and wasted, mostly by non-profits and developers, as well as our city building everything new, whether needed or not. This even included buying a hotel and building a convention center, building a year-round farmer’s market and an amphitheater playground.
While businesses were immediately handed $50,000 grants without question, the flood victims waited for help and were stuck with documenting every cent, while making immediate decisions about where to live, what to throw out and what to keep and clean (and where to put it), filling out continual paperwork, standing in line to get help, rehabbing their home, going to work, and watching their family.
Landlords did not get any assistance to rehab for nearly eight months, and then it came with strict conditions. They were also denied assistance with their carrying costs – loss of rent to pay their mortgage, insurance and property taxes. They are still denied this, unless they participate in the buyout.
After four years, this inequitable treatment still continues in extensive and broad ways, and the city wastes millions and millions more of our taxes to rebuild this city with their dream projects that were planned before the flood.
One by one, thousands of flood victims watched their Constitutional Rights disappear; specifically the 4th and 5th Amendments.
MY GOAL: Federal Disaster Recovery Reform.
Unfortunately, reform usually doesn’t take place unless 1) there is proof for the need. Proof for the need usually has to come from accountability of the abuse, fraud, or unethical actions; and 2) there is continual steadfastness to do so. After four years, I still have not let up on this goal. If it doesn’t happen, future disaster victims will continue to be abused as we (and other disaster victims) were, and trillions of tax dollars will be wasted to help the rich get richer, instead of going to the intended cause of recovery….
Excerpt from one of my written reports:
Six months after the flood, on December 10, 2008, the Cedar Rapids City Council approved dividing the flooded neighborhoods up into three zones:
The Greenway: This area consisted of 192 parcels, nearly all homes.It was closest to the river, and it was decided that this area would be on the “wet side” of the levee – once the levee was constructed.
The Construction Zone: This area consisted of 554 parcels, nearly all homes. It was in between the Greenway and the Revitalization Zone. It was told to the public that this area is needed to construct the levee.However, although the City discussed flood protection on both sides of the river and throughout the city, the Construction Zone in the Time Check neighborhood was predominantly larger than any others – actually larger than all other construction zones combined.
Revitalization Zone: This area consisted of the remaining flooded parcels and deemed as the area to rebuild.
The onset of inequitable treatment began immediately, especially in the lower-income neighborhood named “Time Check,” which included a high percentage elderly and disabled homeowners and renters.
(1)Building permits were denied to most households on the east side of Ellis Blvd. NW., which was closest to the river. Later, the City released this restriction. Commercial properties just as close to the river were not denied building permits.(This inequitable treatment between residential and commercial flood victims is expounded upon in a later section.)
(2)Immediately upon the passage of the December Council vote, the City and their third party administrator for Jumpstart residential assistance (Affordable Housing Network, Inc.) immediately began denying any and ALL disaster recovery funds to the hundreds of residential property owners living in both the Greenway and the Construction Zone.
Many of these homeowners had already begun using the FEMA funds and their own money to rebuild.All funds, including State, Federal and Local Government funds have still since been denied to them, while others outside of those zones were allowed funds from all sources. In addition, it is understood that because of their location in the Greenway and Construction Zone, banks would not loan them money to help them rebuild.
(3)In addition, volunteer groups, such as Hands On, Eight Days of Hope, Christian World Organization (the “Greenshirts”) came to Cedar Rapids to help and were required to sign up at the Linn Area Long Term Recovery Center. Those at the Center decided who got volunteer help and who didn’t. The homeowners in these two zones were also denied volunteers. [End of excerpt].
Approximately seven months after the flood, the city sent out “Right of Entry” forms to flood victims in the Construction Zone. (Since then, all persons on the buyout list received this form.) I went before the City Council and complained. The staffer overseeing these stated to the Council that this is only asking for permission to go on their property; not to enter any home. The Council directed her to send out a second letter explaining that. The second letter said to basically sign the first, but it did state that “right of entry” is a legal term asking to enter onto the property; “we are not asking to enter any structure on the property.”
The City, however, used this form as an opportunity to do just that. They hired environmental crews to go into these homes and trash them. They put large holes in the walls and ceilings in every room, tore off siding, gutters, and even doors. If a flood victim wanted to rehabilitate and go back, they couldn’t, because it would mean even more work, and people were just exhausted to even stand up to it.
The goal of the environmental crews were to deem the home an “imminent threat.” By doing so, then three things happen:
FEMA will pay for the demolition (thus saving Community Development Block Grant, CDBG, funds for other projects);
The demolition of these historical homes bypasses the Historical Commission for approval;
They can be demolished without paying the property owner first.
FEMA has “imminent threat” for those buildings that are actually an immediate public danger. (We all probably saw many images of this with Katrina.) Nearly all of these homes were NOT in any danger to the public! There is evidence of this.
However, the environmentalists would deem these an imminent threat due to such things as lead paint, asbestos, and even an added on garage falling down – the house was in great shape, and though the owners were still considering rehabbing it, they destroyed it to the point it could not be rehabbed. – Yes, we have photos! :-)
Before we were allowed to go back into our homes after the flood receded, the fire department and other non-qualified persons “inspected” our homes and taped colored placards on them.
There were four levels of placards:
Green – can go ahead and occupy;
Yellow – some damage, rehab it;
Red – some possible structural damage;
Purple – serious structural damage, must be demolished.
The purple tags are those homes that FEMA would consider as imminent threat/danger to the public, and need to be torn down immediately. However most of the homes that the City pulled this backdoor eminent domain on were yellow! They have even demolished green-tagged homes.
After the City purchased these properties with Federal funds, they have and are in the process still of giving hundreds of them away for FREE to their friends -developers, contractors, and non profits. The two non profits were the same two in charge of the residential funding for rehab and the volunteers. Interesting, isn’t it? This conflict of interest still continues to be ignored, even by the Federal Agencies.
When flood victims entered into the “voluntary property acquisition,” most homes were demolished usually well before the property owner was compensated. Some even waited two years to get paid. In 2010, over 500 homes were demolished; 80% of them were done before being paid for their home.
Yet, the City continued calling it a “voluntary acquisition.” Who is going to back out of an acquisition when their home is gone?
Those of us involved in the Time Check neighborhood (the largest neighborhood that was flooded) before the flood knew for years before the flood that the city wanted our property for redevelopment. The Army Corps told the City for decades that they were eligible to receive Federal assistance for a levee on the west side in Time Check – we, at that time, met the cost to benefit ratio required to receive Federal assistance for the flood protection. However, the City’s response was that they “did not want to detract from the aesthetics of the river.” The Army Corps even warned the City that we were not protected for even a 100-year flood. The city did not act on any of these warnings or recommendations.
Disasters, especially floods, have been utilized as an opportunity for the community to “economically cleanse” the area.
These residents were of lower income, elderly and disabled. They were taken advantage of and mistreated. Their Constitutional Rights were trampled on. It happened in New Orleans, and it happened here, and I’m sure it’s happened in nearly all the other floods that our country has experienced. I can guarantee it will continue to happen as long as nothing is done about it.
We must end this. On behalf of all disaster victims now and in the future, please help!
I have the tenacity to get this done, but I do not have the funds. I have spent four years and thousands of hours voluntarily researching, and although these funds will not be going to pay me or anyone else, I need them to get more public information. FOI is not free.
The funds I am requesting will go toward receiving documentation through Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) from Federal and State Agencies and Departments in order to build my cases more solid to achieve this much-needed change of direction in our country for disaster victims and disaster spending. It’s difficult to get Federal Disaster Reform without proof of the misuse of funds, fraud, and unethical actions that hurt those who the funds are intended to help. And it’s difficult to get FOI documents without money, especially when our city is charging well over the actual cost amount to deter me from getting the information.
Iowans have always strongly believed in education. As Iowa rebounds from the national recession, investing in education is more important than ever. That’s why the Iowa Legislature focused this year on creating jobs and growing our economy by improving student achievement and expanding educational opportunity.
We found bipartisan agreement on investing more in our community colleges. These local institutions continue to lead the way in preparing Iowans to fill local skilled job openings. At community colleges, Iowans can get the training, degrees and certifications they need to qualify for in-demand positions that pay well and offer a chance for advancement.
We also reached agreement on keeping college and university tuition affordable so that all Iowa families can take advantage of the educational opportunities that lead to great jobs.
And by investing in STEM—intensified science, technology, engineering and math education—we’re helping K-12 students prepare to be part of a skilled Iowa workforce that attracts high-quality businesses to our state.
Other efforts to help students become successful in the 21st century economy include:
** Ensuring Iowa kids are good readers by keeping class sizes small in kindergarten through third-grade. Smaller classes give young students the one-on-one time they need with their teachers. A new statewide Iowa reading research center will spread the best practices for teaching reading.
** Continuing our commitment to strong local schools by raising academic standards, increasing teacher and administrator effectiveness, and making changes that increase learning. This is a good first step in education reform, our multi-year effort to enhance educational opportunities for Iowa students at all levels.
** Investing in education, research, technology and training facilities necessary to prepare a highly skilled workforce.
In the Senate, I helped pass additional investments in student achievement, including an increase in basic state support for local schools. Unfortunately, the Iowa House did not take up this effort to help our schools pay for textbooks, heating bills, technology and other necessities.
I’ll keep pushing to strengthen Iowa education and job training. It is essential to helping Iowans become more productive, competitive workers, growing our economy and boosting job creation.
Fixing Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers
Business leaders say improving worker training is the most important thing we can do to keep Iowa’s economy growing. Simply put, when Iowa employers can’t find the skilled workers they need, they end up losing business to competitors, hiring from other states, or moving their businesses out of Iowa.
We want Iowans to provide Iowa businesses with all the skilled workers they need. Here are two facts from a new jobs report from Iowa Workforce Development that help show the way forward:
1. About half of all jobs in Iowa require an associate’s degree, a certification or an apprenticeship, but only about one-third of the current workforce fits that bill.
2. The demand for skilled workers is expected to remain strong. This includes the majority of “green jobs,” as well as a variety of work in in education, health care, finance and business services.
That’s why I’m working to expand technical training that will help under-skilled Iowans qualify for available jobs here in Iowa.
This year, we agreed to invest more in matching unemployed Iowans to job openings at local businesses. We asked our community colleges to help by using the experience they’ve gained in working closely with local employers.
In addition, we provided additional funding to help keep tuition affordable and kicked off education reforms to make our local schools stronger than ever. We are also intensifying science, technology, engineering and math education in our schools.
A new “Skilled Iowa” initiative will help Iowans take advantage of these opportunities. Skilled Iowa uses a nationally recognized approach to assess someone’s skills and abilities, assists them in their skill development and improvement, and matches them with employers who have job openings.
To learn more about what Skilled Iowa can offer job seekers and employers, go to www.skillediowa.org.
To see the complete report on Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, visit www.iowaworkforce.org/imsj2012.pdf.
Muscatine County receives funding to help Iowans with legal services
The Iowa Supreme Court has approved a $5,000 grant for Muscatine Legal Service to maintain their program of civil legal assistance to low-income residents. The grant is paid for through the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account program, which is funded without state appropriations and at no cost to lawyers or their clients. With this year’s grants, the Supreme Court has awarded over $23 million in IOLTA grants since the program began in 1985.
Food banks deserve our support
As Iowa recovers from the national economic recession, many Iowa families continue to struggle to put enough food on their tables.
A recent Feeding America study found that almost 150,000 Iowa children are not getting a healthy diet. On top of that, many Iowa seniors with fixed incomes often have to choose between buying food or buying medicine and other essentials. That just doesn’t seem right when you consider that one Iowa farmer feeds 155 people worldwide.
It’s time for the state of Iowa to help fight hunger. Our state is one of the few nationwide that fails to support local non-profit food banks and hunger-fighting charities like the United Way.
During the 2012 session, I successfully worked with Democratic and Republican legislators to approve legislation that invests state dollars in making sure Iowans have enough to eat. Unfortunately, Governor Branstad vetoed this modest bipartisan effort.
Next session, I’ll work to pass the food bank legislation again, and work harder to convince Governor Branstad that this is the right approach to fighting hunger in Iowa.
In the meantime, we can all help by contributing to our local food banks. If you’d like to donate or know someone in need of food, contact:
** River Bend Foodbank: (309) 764-7434 ext #2, serving Muscatine County.
** Food Bank of Southern Iowa: (641) 682-3403 , serving the counties of Des Moines and Louisa.
Learn more about how you can get involved in fighting hunger in Iowa at www.iowafba.org, the Iowa Food Bank Association’s site.
Buy fresh at your local farmers’ market
Why eat food grown thousands of miles away, processed and then shipped all the way to Iowa when you can eat fresh food grown by your neighbors?
More than 200 farmers’ markets offer Iowans a variety of fruits, vegetables and other food grown right here at home. Locally grown food is good for you, good for the environment and good for the Iowa economy.
During the recent legislative session, we voted to make these healthy local foods available throughout the year and boost business for Iowa farmers with year-round farmers’ markets. The new law means vendors will pay only one annual fee per county, rather than multiple fees per year.
Iowa is already fourth in the nation in terms of the number of farmers’ markets and second in the nation when it comes to farmers’ markets per person. Let’s all do what we can to make Iowa number one in eating healthy, locally grown food. It’s just one way Iowa can truly claim the title of “Healthiest State in the Nation.”
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601