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April 2014
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DFA Night School: April 2014 Training Dates

dfa night

DFA Night School is our free online training program that allows anyone to learn the skills to win from their own home.

At the end of the day, winning comes down to our ability to turnout more supporters than our opponents do. On a grassroots campaign or for any grassroots organization, people are the key to building capacity and data can help us leverage our resources strategically. The sessions will cover the key skills and strategies to effectively IDing  voters, empowering your volunteers and harnessing widely available data.

Sessions begin at 9pm ET /8pm CT and run for one hour.

Monday, April 14th — Targeting your Voter Universe
Months before Election Day, a campaign should know how many votes the winner will need to receive on Election Day. This session will walk through how to find your win number, identify base and persuasion precincts and prioritize GOTV universes.

Tuesday, April 15th — Running an Effective Volunteer Program
A grassroots campaign is never run on staff alone, nor can any campaign be run entirely by an irregular volunteer force. Campaigns and grassroots organizations depend on well-developed volunteers. We’ll focus on showing participants how to develop and maintain a solid volunteer program.

Wednesday, April 16th — Precinct Organizing
Organizing from the ground up, starting at the grassroots, begins at the most basic of all electoral units, usually called a “precinct.” This session focuses on strategy and best practices for neighbor-to-neighbor organizing.

Thursday, April 17th — Putting the Voterfile to Work
In addition to the publicly available voter rolls, your local party may have access to a Voter File. A Voter File combines the publicly available data with information gathered through voter contact. This session will walk through pulling lists, cutting turf, managing volunteers and more.

Click here to register

Taking The Supreme Court Back

DFA-dean-mccutcheon-calloutWe already know that holding the Senate this November matters. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Wednesday underscores just how crucial holding our majority in the Senate is — and how the fate of our democracy could depend on who wins just a handful of seats in November.

The extreme right-wing justices on our current Supreme Court have made it clear that they want to eliminate every barrier restricting corporate shills like the Koch Brothers from controlling our political process. First, there was Citizens United. Now, the McCutcheon decision, which eliminated all aggregate caps on campaign donations. And in his opinion this week, Chief Justice Roberts set the stage for successful challenges of every single remaining element of campaign finance reform.

Fortunately, we have a stronghold that we can use to turn the Supreme Court around for good: the U.S. Senate, which single-handedly decides the fate of nominees to our nation’s highest court.

Turnover in the Supreme Court can happen without warning. Republicans have used these openings over the past several decades to build a court that tows the line for special interests and makes decisions based on ideology, not legal precedent. Now, we need to take the court back. But we can’t do it if we lose our majority in the Senate now.

The Supreme Court couldn’t have made the stakes more clear: If we are ever going to get our democracy back, we need to hold the Senate NOW. Pitch in $3 now so DFA can double our efforts in tight Senate races.

The debate over big business money in politics couldn’t be more personal to me. In 2004, my campaign was able to beat the odds and gain national prominence by ditching the special interests and focusing on the grassroots. Small-dollar donations and on-the-ground volunteers — not piles of corporate cash — made our organization as formidable as it was.

But that was before Citizens United. It was before McCutcheon. This new flood of special interest money makes it harder than ever to run people-powered campaigns that give working Americans a say the way mine did. And with every bad ruling, it will become more and more difficult for progressives to avoid turning to corporate cash to get their point across.

We deserve an America where every single person’s voice is heard — not one where the 1% get all the “speech” their billions can buy them. Together, we can turn these precedents around and give our government back to the people. The fight for our democracy starts now, with DFA’s support for progressive champions in the Senate up for reelection like Jeff Merkley and rising stars like Rick Weiland — who is running an inspiring Senate campaign in South Dakota driven by his opposition to Citizens United.

If we can help people like Jeff Merkley and Rick Weiland win in November, they will help us get the Supreme Court — and our democracy — back on track.

We know the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson won’t be sitting on the sidelines this year. We can hold the Senate — but only if we go all in right now. Donate $3 today to help our endorsed candidates keep the Senate securely in Democratic hands.

Thank you for fighting with us when the stakes are highest,

- Howard

Gov. Howard Dean, Founder
Democracy for America

Net Neutrality: Why It Matters To You

al franken on net neutralityThe January 2014 court decision by the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals that gutted the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules has given internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to not only slow, but also to legally block websites, content, and applications however they see fit.

Think of it. ISPs can now – legally – slow down or block Daily Kos, Huffingtonpost, and Blog for Iowa. They can make deals to chop it all up and divvy it back out in packages that they own and that you pay extra for, like cable TV. More people see Fox News than MSNBC because Fox is included in everyone’s basic cable package, while MSNBC is not. It’s not because Fox is so popular on its own. It’s the rigged delivery system.   Same with talk radio. Clear Channel ensures that every community in Iowa and beyond gets multiple hours every day of conservative talk radio, whether they want it or not. And virtually no progressive programming.

Can you imagine the internet like this? Not having access to everything on the web? It seems unthinkable because we’ve come to take for granted the free and open nature of the internet where you can go to any website, anywhere, any time, and so can everyone else. How amazing is that? The free and open internet is truly a wonderful thing.

Since the January court decision, that could go away. ISPs are now in charge. They have been lobbying hard for this moment. They are not going to waste time before they start parsing out the internet to those who can pay.

This issue is important to Iowans, particularly in rural areas, because the telecom giants are already backing away from their promise to provide nationwide broadband service. This makes the loss of a free and open internet a double whammy for Iowa and rural citizens everywhere who will have fewer choices than everyone else, if they have internet at all.

Being blocked from websites that you haven’t purchased in your internet package – and other horrors – are a very real possibility if net neutrality is not restored. I’m not worried about myself and my inconveniences. I’m worried about the consequences to democracy when millions of people soon have better, advantaged access to right-wing propaganda online, with less and less access to reality being available anywhere.

The free and open internet is where progressive political activism occurs:  Howard Dean’s ground-breaking grassroots presidential campaign, the Occupy movement,,, The Arab Spring. These are only a few examples of movements that were internet-based.  We need the internet, and we need every last website on the internet to remain equally accessible to everyone.

Marv Ammori, a respected authority on internet issues, said, “The internet is now, and will likely remain for some time, a free-fire zone for AT&T, Verizon, and others to block blogs, superimpose any content (including ads) over the existing content on any webpage, cut deals making Bing or Google the ‘exclusive’ search provider in our homes, and much more.”

This is what can be expected to occur unless informed people get involved and make sure it doesn’t.

How do we restore net neutrality?

According to Ammori, “At the time, those of us involved in fighting for net neutrality knew two things when we read the court’s decision.

(1) The FCC needed to adopt rules, rather than accept legal complaints based merely on an Open Internet press statement; and (2) Those rules needed a solid jurisdictional theory that was not Title I. We even knew what that jurisdictional theory was:  Title II, or reclassification.”

“Reclassification means that the FCC can put AT&T and Comcast in the same regulatory bucket that landline and mobile phone companies have been in since 1910, that dial-up internet access is in, and that DSL Internet access was in until 2005. This bucket is Title II of the Communications Act, a legal category that has forbidden blocking of phone calls and discriminating amongst users for a century. By classifying the carriers as subject to Title II for internet access, the FCC would have clear jurisdiction to stop blocking and discriminating, instead of merely requiring cable and phone companies to disclose when they are doing so. The FCC has the power to do this.”

In Iowa, Congressmen Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley both are on record as supporting a free and open internet. That is no longer enough. We all need to ask our representatives, even if we know they already support net neutrality, to go one step further. We need to ask them specifically to go on record in support of directing the FCC to reclassify ISPs (internet service providers) as common carriers, allowing them to be regulated. If the FCC does this, which is in its power to do, it will save the free and open internet. Contact your member of Congress today!

prairie-dog-logoReprinted with permission from the April 2014 issue of  The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter, available only in hard copy for $12/yr.!!  Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.

How We Can Win The War On The Free And Open Internet

net neutralityRSVP for a Free Press Member Call on Comcast, Media Ownership and Net Neutrality today, Thursday, April 3rd at 1:00 pm CST

Not a member? Click here to join Free Press

The Internet we love is under attack like never before. A federal court overturned the Net Neutrality rules and the nation’s #1 cable and Internet company — a longtime Net Neutrality violator — wants to buy its chief rival.
But it’s not all gloom and doom out there: The Federal Communications Commission just moved to curb media consolidation for the first time in three decades.

We’d love to talk with you about how all these developments are intertwined and what you can do to fight for your rights to connect and communicate.

Please Join Us on April 3 @ 1:00  for a Conversation About Comcast, Media Ownership and Net Neutrality.

Thanks for all that you do—
Mary Alice, Candace, Josh and the rest of the Free Press team

RSVP here!

P.P.S. If you haven’t already, please share our Comcast-Time Warner Cable action and these resources with anyone who doesn’t want the Internet to turn into a corporate playground.

Can’t make the call today?  You can still do something.  There is a bill, H.R. 3982, the Open Internet Preservation Act, that you can ask your representative to support.  Click here to find contact info. for Harkin, Grassley, Loebsack, Braley, King and Latham all in one spot.

Howard Dean: More Than Just A Scream

Elizabeth_Warren_10yearsApril is the ten year anniversary of Blog for Iowa, the original weblog of Democracy for Iowa, a state chapter of Democracy for America (DFA), Howard Dean’s grassroots organization that he formed following his presidential run in 2004.  BFIA’s first post, WELCOME TO BLOG FOR IOWA, by Linda Thieman, the original editor, went up on April 2, 2004.

This was pre-Facebook and Twitter when blogs and group list-serves were the online community and action centers of progressive organizing.  An entire nation of Deaniacs carried on a 24-7 conversation on the DFA blog. Back in the day,  Blog for America and Dailykos were the two best sources of information.

Some things just never die.  If you visit the DFA website today, you can still click to join two groups in Iowa, DFIA and DFA-Quad Cities.  You will also find the names of the group members and photos.

We at Blog for Iowa have been proud to continue Howard Dean’s tradition of people-powered Democracy. We will be celebrating the past decade of grassroots activism throughout the month of April, highlighting the Democracy-saving work of Howard Dean and DFA, and looking forward to another decade of progressive activism.

DFA-10 is gathering stories from members and supporters, and BFIA would also like to invite Iowa Deaniacs to feel free to share any special memories, photos and stories of what the Dean campaign and DFA has meant to you. Contact us at

And if you don’t believe us, maybe you’ll believe Elizabeth Warren.

What Howard Dean Did

Elizabeth Warren, a “Dean Dozen” candidate, describes what Democracy for America means to her.

I never expected to run for office. Ask around Washington, and nobody will tell you that the best way to get elected is by spending your career picking a fight with Wall Street.

So when I decided to run against Scott Brown for the Senate seat in Massachusetts, I knew I wanted to run a grassroots campaign powered by people, not by powerful interests. The same sort of campaign that my friend Howard Dean ran in 2004.

But I needed some help getting started. I was so grateful when DFA got behind our campaign early on, not only endorsing me but making me one of their “Dean Dozen” candidates. DFA members across Massachusetts and around the country donated more than $300,000 of their hard-earned money and volunteered hundreds of hours to make sure I could continue our fight for the middle class in the Senate.

The incredible support of DFA members and so many others is the reason I am where I am today — and it’s why I want to take a moment to celebrate DFA’s work after 10 years of amazing activism.

Over the last decade, DFA has played a critical role in getting 802 game-changing progressive candidates elected — including candidates in every single state. I don’t know how many progressive champions will run for office this year or in the years to come, but I know that I want them to have the same kind of hands-on, grassroots support that DFA members have given me.

Join me in saying “Happy Birthday” to DFA by donating $10 — one dollar for every year DFA has spent recruiting and supporting progressives like me to run for office.

DFA fought shoulder-to-shoulder with me to defeat Scott Brown in 2012, but that’s not the only way they’ve had my back. Over the past year, they’ve made my fight for the middle class their fight — and they have doubled down on leveling the playing field for working Americans, fighting with energy and passion.

When I introduced my very first bill, the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, more than 50,000 DFA members signed a petition supporting it. Together, we fought back against cuts to Social Security, helping President Obama decide to drop “chained CPI” from his budget completely.

And just a few weeks ago, I joined with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on a “DFA Live” national conference call. Together, we asked thousands of people gathered at 746 DFA “Inequality for All” Watch Parties to start local petitions to raise the minimum wage in communities across America. DFA members launched more than 500 YouPower petition campaigns in just 24 hours.

Real reform in Washington is tough, and making change is always an uphill battle. But when we fight, we can win. And that’s why we need strong organizations like DFA that will boldly advocate for progressive solutions today while training up young talent to fight for what we believe in tomorrow.

Let’s wish DFA a very “Happy Birthday” together. Please give DFA a $10 birthday gift today — $1 for every year DFA has been changing the country — and say thanks for a ground-breaking decade of activism.

Thanks for helping us build a better future together,

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Women Running For Office Seminar

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

Get ready to run for office!

50-50 in 2020 in collaboration with The Iowa State Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and The University of Iowa N.E.W. Leadership invite women who’ve thought about running for office sometime in the future to a two-day seminar at the Iowa State Capitol. The event will be held on April 8 & 9, 2014.

If you have ever thought about running for the state legislature, but find the prospect somewhat intimidating, here’s your chance to learn what goes on inside those legendary halls and hear from some of the people who make things happen. The two-day program will include a “behind the scenes” tour of the capitol, briefings from non-partisan staff who assist with bill-drafting and budget-crunching, opportunities to observe committee meetings and meet key legislators.

Seminar Details

Date: April 8-9, 2014

Location: Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa

Cost: There is no fee for the seminar. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, overnight accommodations, and meals.

For Registration information go to:


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

·         3:30 pm Gather, Inside the visitor’s entrance (South door, ground level)

·         4:00 pm Welcome, Room 304

·         4:15 pm Keynote, Room 304
Dianne Bystrom, Director, Iowa State Carrie Chapman Catt Center
“Women in State Legislatures: Making a Difference”

·         5:00 pm House & Senate Staff, Decorum, Rules, Attire, Room 304

·         5:30 pm Adjourn

·         6:00 pm Join women legislators for hors d’oeuvres and cash bar at local restaurant:
Open Sesame, Third & Locust

·         7:00 pm Dinner on your own

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

·         8:00 am Gather, Ground Floor, Senate Side
“Behind the Chambers” tour and visits to leadership offices

·         9:00 am Observe opening and debate, Senate Gallery

·         10:00 am or when scheduled: Attend Committee Meetings

·         11:00 am Briefing by Legislative Fiscal, Division & Legislative Services, Division, Small Dining Room

·         12:00 Lunch in the cafeteria

·         1:00 pm Meet with House Speaker, Majority and Minority Leader, Room 304

·         2:00 pm Meet with lobbyists, Room 304

·         2:30 pm Discussion & Final Remarks, Room 304

·         3:00 pm Adjourn

See the website for more information.
Kristen Corey | Program Planner

Office on the Status of Women | Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs
Iowa Department of Human Rights | Lucas State Office Building
321 E. 12th Street, 2nd Floor | Des Moines, IA 50319
W 515.281.4470 | F 515.242.6119

E  |

FCC Takes On Broadcasters

mark hyman the pointGood news on the media reform front if it happens.

The Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of rolling back consolidation in TV broadcasting for the first time in three decades.

On March 31, the agency is expected to close a loophole that has allowed companies to evade federal ownership limits. If this happens, companies like Raycom and the Sinclair Broadcast Group could be forced to sell off stations and open up the airwaves to more diverse voices. Free Press research has shown how these dangerous deals are destroying local news — and fueling the biggest wave of media consolidation in decades. We recently testified in Congress about the significance of the FCC’s move to examine these deals. Here’s what you need to know about the FCC’s decision to rein in media consolidation.

What’s Happening

At its March 31 meeting, the FCC will vote on a proposal that would limit the use of “Joint Sales Agreements.” JSAs are part of a suite of shady outsourcing agreements companies use to control as many as four stations in one community. That kind of consolidated ownership would normally be illegal. But companies like Gannett, Nexstar, Raycom, Sinclair and Tribune have set up shell corporations that they then sell some of their stations to — while maintaining control of much of the content and revenue. The letterhead may have a different logo but behind the scenes it’s just one company pulling the strings.

JSAs allow one station to sell ads for a competing station, but these deals almost always end up as de facto consolidated ownership. That’s why we’ve dubbed these sneaky deals “covert consolidation.” There are well over 100 examples of these types of deals around the U.S., so the FCC’s rule change would have a broad impact.

What Are the Rules

JSAs and similar agreements evade a number of the FCC’s ownership rules. According to Free Press research, companies use these agreements to evade the rules in nearly half of all U.S. media markets. In 78 communities, broadcasters have formed otherwise illegal duopolies between two of the top-ranked stations.

Here are the rules these companies have been violating:

Duopoly Rule: prohibits a single owner from controlling two or more stations in a market where there are fewer than eight unique owners

Top-Four Duopoly Rule: prohibits a single owner from controlling two or more top four-ranked stations in a given community

Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule: prohibits the joint ownership of a broadcast TV station and daily newspaper in the same market

The FCC has tried to gut the 30-year-old newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban three times in the last eight years, but we’ve blocked them in court and in the court of public opinion. The agency recently announced that it now has no intention of relaxing this ban, representing another important win for the public interest.

Why It Matters

We need an informed public for our democracy to function. Giving a handful of corporations too much control over the media is dangerous — especially since the airwaves belong to the people. Our policies have historically prioritized diverse, local and competitive media. In Associated Press v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the idea that the First Amendment “rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.” This is why we have limits on how much control one person or company can have over the media. Our research has shown that as consolidation soars, the number of diverse owners plummets.

Consolidation raises barriers to entry for new owners and makes it harder for existing small owners to compete for ad dollars. If the FCC can force the biggest TV companies to divest some of their stations, we should do everything we can to ensure these broadcast licenses go to local owners who represent the diversity of their communities.

The FCC’s decision to take on the broadcasters is historic. But the broadcast lobbyists and their friends aren’t taking this lying down. We have one week to make sure the FCC sticks to its guns and stands up for the public interest.

Iowans Speak About How Medical Cannabis Helped Them

With signs posted in the background, “Cannabis is medicine” and “Sick people are not criminals,” brave Iowans tell their stories.


Gronstal: Iowans Are Getting Screwed

“I cannot condemn in more firm words the actions of the Director to instruct administrative judges to screw Iowans out of their benefits. Of course our caucus is behind this.”