Iowa Leaders Call on Senator Grassley to Hold a Confirmation Hearing for Judge Restrepo
DES MOINES & WATERLOO, IOWA – Iowa leaders today met with Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff in Des Moines and Waterloo to stress the need to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, and inquired why he is not among those being considered during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee meeting.
After meeting with Senator Grassley’s staff, a number of local leaders issued statements in advance of tomorrow’s committee hearing:
Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director, Iowa Citizen Action Network:
“When he took over the judiciary committee, Senator Grassley led us all to believe he would not play politics with our courts. Unfortunately, the Senator has let down Iowans and Americans by blocking a number of judicial appointments, including even holding a hearing for Judge Restrepo. We can’t afford to wait any longer while Senator Grassley delays, delays, and delays.”
Matt Sinovic, Executive Director, Progress Iowa:
“If justice delayed is justice denied, then Senator Grassley is responsible for denying justice to far too many across the country. Our courts should be free from political influence, and the kind of petty gamesmanship being shown by Grassley with his refusal to even hold a hearing for Judge Restrepo.”
Chris Schwartz, Director, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa:
“Senator Grassley is building a legacy of obstruction, if he doesn’t hold hearings soon his legacy as an obstructionist will be written in stone.”
Joe Henry, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa:
“It’s time for Senator Chuck Grassley to stop holding up the appointment of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo. This vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is considered a judicial emergency. Yet Senator Grassley who heads the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to hold a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s appointment even though the judge has the support of the senators from his home state and was unanimously appointed to his current position as a U.S. District judge by the U.S. Senate. Judge Restrepo has provided Senator Grassley with detailed responses to a long list of his questions, and has made many efforts to address any alleged concerns our senator may have. Our court system needs to be adequately staffed, and our government has an opportunity to do that with Judge Restrepo’s appointment. Senator Grassley has only let two of the seven people President Obama nominated to fill judgeships have hearings. Our senator needs to stop playing politics with our judicial branch and let these qualified individuals have their chance before the committee.”
Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa:
“Senator Grassley would do well to remember that Judge Restrepo is a respected veteran attorney and judge. Before his appointment to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he served as a state and federal public defender, a civil rights attorney, and a federal magistrate judge, among other accomplishments. Only two years ago, Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed for his seat on the District Court by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. We respectfully ask that Senator Grassley immediately schedule a hearing for Judge Restrepo, and all the other judicial nominees languishing on his watch.”
It has been more than six months since President Obama nominated U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Restrepo was born in Columbia, became a citizen in 1993, and earned his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to his current post as a judge in the Eastern District just two years ago.
Despite past public statements of support from home state Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, Senator Grassley has refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Restrepo.
Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee?
Long past time to let 3rd circuit nominee Restrepo have his hearing
We can thank Congressmen Dave Loebsack (D-2nd District) and former congressman Tom Latham (R-4th District) who co-sponsored H.R. 1147, the bill that allowed the FCC to license thousands of Low Power FM community radio stations across the country.
“You’re listening to Uptown Bill’s Radio live from Iowa City, Iowa.” Doesn’t that sound great! You can help make it happen.
Uptown Bill’s/Extend the Dream has received a license from the FCC to operate a radio station in Iowa City. In keeping with our mission, this is to be community radio for everyone — for people of all abilities.
Right now, we need to raise $15,000. That will pay for the costs of engineering and equipment to get us on the air.
Our goal is to be broadcasting by the end of the summer. Help us get on the air with a tax-deductible contribution.
Action Alert From Progress Iowa
We need your help to show Governor Branstad he can’t keep ignoring his constituents.
An independent survey released today showed that Iowans oppose his plans to shut down mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant (by a 68-12 margin) and his efforts to privatize Medicaid (by a 52-22 margin).
Unfortunately, Governor Branstad is better known for acting like a self-appointed emperor than for his responsiveness to constituents.
Will you help us spread the word and show how strongly Iowans feel about these issues?
Here’s how you can help:
Click here to share the news on Facebook (you will need to be logged in)
Click here to Tweet about Iowans opposing Branstad’s plans
Shutting down the mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant would be devastating to the patients who need care and their entire communities. And Branstad’s efforts to privatize Medicaid amount to nothing more than a dangerous corporate takeover of health care for more than 500,000 Iowans.
With your help today, we will make sure the Governor, and all Iowans, know how widespread the opposition is to these two dangerous proposals.
Thank you for all you do,
P.S. To read coverage of today’s survey in the Des Moines Register, click here. And be sure to send the story on to your friends and family as well!
House Leadership has “moral obligation” to allow vote on medical cannabis
Prepared remarks by Senator Joe Bolkcom given during floor debate today
I heard today that the Iowa House won’t be back at the statehouse, ready to debate until Wednesday.
Is that really true? I can hardly believe it.
Sick and suffering Iowans are asking for our help. The Iowa Senate has approved a responsible way to get them the medicines they need. And the Republican majority of the Iowa House is taking two days off?
That is appalling. It is shameful. This legislation is the ONLY chance these suffering Iowans have.
Denying them a vote, a vote which would likely be successful, would be cruel and mean-spirited.
Washington is broken on this issue. Washington can’t solve this problem. That’s why 23 states created their own medical cannabis systems. That’s why Iowa should do the same.
Families affected by cancer, MS, Epilepsy, AIDS, PTSD, and other painful, long-term conditions simply want a safe, legal, affordable way to access helpful medicines.
The overwhelming majority of Iowans are ready to help.
This isn’t just any issue. It is a life and death for many of these patients.
If the leadership of the Iowa House wants to deny medicine to Iowans who need it, they should at least have the decency to allow a vote on Senate File 484.
In fact, I believe House leaders have a moral obligation to allow a vote on medical cannabis before this session ends.
Dear Friends –
I spoke with State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann today on my talk show and he announced big news on the Eminent Domain Bill:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 noon in Room 22 of the Iowa State Capitol, a joint House-Senate sub-committee will meet to debate and possibly vote on SSB 1276!
There are three things you can do:
1. COME!! Sub-committee meetings provide one of the few opportunities for average Iowans to speak on and influence legislation directly. I will be there and would love to have a slew of pipeline fighters join me.
2. Share this message and the Facebook Event invite with as many people as possible.
3. Write or call sub-committee members. If you write, carbon copy your own Representative and Senator. To figure out who your Representative and Senator are, and get contact information for them, click Find Your Legislator.
Sub-committee members are:
– Senator Rob Hogg – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Julian Garrett – email@example.com or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Brian Schoenjahn – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Representative Bobby Kaufmann – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Greg Heartsill – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Mary Wolfe – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
My take is this: The bill needs to be simple and straightforward. All we are saying is that a private, for-profit business that does not provide a public service to Iowans should not be granted the power of eminent domain. My concern is that there is pressure from Big Oil’s friends at the Statehouse to craft a compromise that will weaken this core position.
The bottom line is this: We want the strongest possible bill to come out of sub-committee, as it becomes more difficult to strengthen it later.
Thank you! This is a pivotal moment, and I hope you can take a little time today and tomorrow morning to do what you can. And if at all possible, come to the State Capitol tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon!
Friday, April 17, 2015 – Newkirk, Iowa
Dakota Access is growing more and more aggressive, playing hardball with landowners who do not want the company coming on their land to survey for a pipeline.
And landowners are fighting back.
Randy Sieren, who farms in Keokuk County, called me today saying he found four surveyors trespassing yesterday. “I just caught them out in the field,” said Randy. “I told them they didn’t have any permission from me to be there, so they’d better hit the road.”
They left, but a pipeline staffer went to Randy’s home. “He told my wife they’d be back in the morning, and they didn’t want any confrontation. Well, to make sure there was no confrontation, I had the Keokuk County Sheriff stop by.”
“The following morning, they showed up again but never had a chance to get out of the car,” explained Randy. “They argued that the certified letter sent to me was all they needed. The Sheriff said it wasn’t, and told them to leave.”
Surveyors have yet to force their way onto Weslie & Teresa Phipps’ farm. Perhaps that’s because Weslie is the farmer who told the pipeline official, “They’d have to carry me out in a pine box before I’d let any oil pipeline people on my property.”
Weslie raises an excellent point: “I question the jurisdiction of the Iowa Utilities Board over an interstate oil pipeline of a private company. They are not a utility. The power of eminent domain was not given for private use. Any and all powers not delegated to government by the people remain with the people. Our rights are simply not for sale.”
A woman wrote to me, saying, “I totally understand the message about the aggressive and nasty reps of the pipeline company. Tell people to keep resisting, even if it means not being polite and nice, because the company reps don’t understand polite. They also don’t understand ‘no.’ I, too, received their packet and an offer. Mine came by mail because I wouldn’t let them come to my home when they called. I still get a call about once a week telling me they will be on my property to do some surveying and I say not by a long shot, stay off private property. (Sometimes my language might get a little more harsh, shall we say.)”
The woman went on to tell me, “One example of how nasty these people are was when they went into a nursing home and harassed an older lady to let them survey. The staff had to ask them to leave! True to form for ‘big oil’ and their money.”
Wow! I am hearing more and more such stories. All I can say to landowners is, stand strong – and to the rest of us, let’s continue to show our support for them.
Want one more example of why that’s important? On my Facebook page, one of my friends, Deborah Marlin, shared a news clip of my walk. Kim Luetkeman responded: “I don’t know you but thank you for sharing this. My family’s century farm is being affected by the pipeline. All the support we can get is greatly appreciated. It seriously means so much to have complete strangers help in our fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We aren’t about to give in and will fight for this as long as it takes.”
by Ed Flaherty
This week we celebrate Earth Day. It is a day to bring into the active areas of our brains the innate understanding that we have only one Mother Earth to live on, and that she needs our care badly.
We can each help in our own individual ways. We can bike, recycle, eat healthy, garden, plant trees, reduce our carbon imprint, etc. But how can we reconcile our own important but small efforts with our blindness to the fact that most of the discretionary budget of the U.S. federal government is devoted to the military? The U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other organization in the world.
Forget for a moment the disastrous environmental effects of war itself. Forget for a moment the erosion of moral and civil values as we accept the idea of perpetual war.
Ask yourself one question. Why devote most of our discretionary budget to fund the organization that is doing more than any other to destroy the security of the planet? Our splendid democracy should be capable of allocating our resources to efforts to secure our environment, and should be able to induce the Pentagon to adjust its mission to one of helping, not destroying, our only home.
Kaul weighs in on the 2016 campaign. Read the original article at otherwords.org/
The Road to Ruin
The race for the White House delivers either Republican presidents who favor the rich or Democrats who also favor the rich, but not as much.
By Donald Kaul
That harsh whine you hear in the background — like a buzzsaw getting ready for a log to come down the chute — is the vast right-wing conspiracy revving its engines.
America Rising, an opposition research Super PAC that lives to trash the Clintons, dashed off a press release challenging the notion that Hillary was going to “drive to Iowa” to start her campaign as she said she would. Hillary doesn’t drive, it said. Someone would have to drive her.
Not exactly the Teapot Dome on the scandal meter. But it’s a start.
Observers say that the main thrust of the Republican strategy will be an effort to make her into a Democratic Mitt Romney — rich, privileged, and clueless as to how real people live.
“How can she relate to the cost of gas?” asked Republican strategist Kevin Madden. “How can she relate to rising food prices when she doesn’t shop herself?”
And Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican hopeful, is about to run a series of ads accusing Clinton of “representing the worst of the Washington machine” that’s “destroying the American dream.”
In contrast, the former Hillary Rodham seems to be in a Mr. Rogers mood. She’s wandering around Iowa, meeting people, and saying, “It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood. Will you be my friend?”
Her announcement, by way of a video, was so low-key as to be boring. She made the obligatory genuflection to hard-working American families who are “struggling to get ahead.” She promised to be their champion. Ho hum.
Expect all of this to change in the coming months. The Republicans say they’re not going to get personal, but they won’t be able to help themselves. That conspiracy won’t let them.
You’re about to be inundated by a veritable tsunami of campaign garbage coming from the dozens of right-wing organizations that have been collecting ammunition for just such an assault. Whitewater, Troopergate, Vince Foster (If you don’t remember that White House aide, look up the name. Hillary Clinton was supposed to have killed him), sex in the White House, sex out of the White House, Travelgate, Benghazi, email-gate, her jet-setting ways.
All of this baggage and paranoia will come flooding back in its rancid glory. Lies will be mixed with truth, truth with exaggeration. There will be a lot of outright fantasy.
My own personal favorite anti-Clinton story is Bill’s former lover who claimed that the Clintons had killed her cat.
It’s the Republican way. Before, during, and after an election they attempt to delegitimize the opposition. Carter, Dukakis, Kerry, Clinton, and Obama all got the same treatment. It’s the only arrow in the Republican quiver.
At some point, however, Hillary will have to come out of her shell and go on the counter-attack. And I think she can do that. For one thing, she’s got a shot at amassing a reported $2.5-billion war chest.
So what if she’s rich? Pretty much all presidential candidates are rich. So what if she’s out of touch? Do you think Jeb Bush shops for his own dinner or washes the dishes every night? And if he did, how much better would he be able to deal with Iran?
The thing that this campaign will demonstrate yet again is that the way we choose U.S. presidents is broken.
We require our candidates to go around with a tin cup begging for money, promising this to that group and that to this other one. And then we expect them to be honest and principled once in office.
That’s unrealistic. If you’re lucky, you get a semi-honest, semi-principled person who campaigns for high-minded goals, without conviction.
Although I will never understand how the Republicans figure that getting rid of health insurance for millions of people qualifies as high-minded.
The ultimate result is either Republican presidents who favor the rich or Democrats who also favor the rich, but not as much.
I just don’t think that’s what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. At least I hope not.
OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OtherWords.org
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).