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Calls to Action

Children’s Mental Heath Coalition

Green RibbonCoalition for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa Releases Call for Action at Sept. 17 Press Conference

Thursday, Sept. 17, 3 p.m. in the Statehouse Rotunda, Des Moines – Followed by a public discussion in room 116.

The coalition is a group of individuals and organizations with expertise and lived experience in children’s mental health, education, law enforcement, safety, development and wellbeing. It was formed and organized by the NAMI Iowa Children’s Mental Health Committee in partnership with the Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council. This Call for Action is a guide for elected officials, community leaders, government departments and organizations working with and on behalf of Iowa’s children at the state, regional, county and local levels. It is a blueprint for positive and effective systems change that outlines a five-year plan for improving the lives of Iowa’s children.

Iowa’s Children’s Mental Health Crisis

• 50% of lifetime cases of severe mental illness begin by age 14, 75% before age 24.
• Early treatment dramatically reduces the disability of severe lifetime mental illness but the average delay between onset and treatment is 8-10 years and 64,000 Iowa children with Severe Emotional Disorder do not get help.

What this means for Iowa’s Future

High School Dropout
Half of students with mental illness drop out

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24 and 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

26% of the homeless population lives with severe mental illness (4 times more than the general population)

70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.

60-80 % of those living with mental illness are unemployed2 90% in the case of the most severe mental illnesses

33-50% of those with serious mental illness live at the federal poverty level.

For more information or to set up an interview please contact:
Tammy Nyden: 641-990-9974 or

Republican Brand Has A Bad Week


It almost feels as if the people of Iowa were strung along in a little show of political theater around school funding. Republicans can now go back to their districts and claim that they were all about not spending money based on their sticking to the meager 1.25% rise in school spending. They can also claim they really cared about schools when they agreed to a one time extra funding of $55 million. All the while they knew that Branstad would have their backs and use that tool known as line item veto to give Republicans just what they want.

Now they can smile to themselves knowing that they will look good politically to all sides, Branstad covered their butts and the chances of a special session with an override vote are probably nil. Now onto the business of strangling schools again next year.

So with revenue dwindling from all sides that leaves schools in Iowa to fund quality education with the old standbys of bake sales supplemented by the new revenue producing selling of old beater cars for junk. Always thought Branstad wanted to make Iowa into the Mississippi of the north. Looks like we are on our way.

Thus we have one example of the strange twists and turns the Republican party (aka Tea Party) is taking these days. Their policies are so internally inconsistent that it seems half of their day is spent trying to explain away what they did the other half of the day. At least try to explain them in a way that may be acceptable to their base. Actually their base really doesn’t care about policy. It has been a long accepted tenet of Republicans don’t say what they mean and they never mean what they say. When all is sorted out, their electeds do what they are told by those whose dollars fund the machine and those whose companies grease the talking point machine.

Over in Marion County last Saturday we had the spectacle of a Republican float in a couple of parades displaying the finally disgraced Confederate flag of treason. Even though that flag has always meant treason it was only a couple weeks ago that it became toxic. Sometimes news travels slowly when a person watches Fox. Explanations and negative reactions abounded through the Republican party a day later, but why did no one stop it beforehand?

It is hard to read the news or turn on a TV or radio without hearing the bleatings of Donald Trump. The more he speaks and the uglier his rants get, the bigger his following gets. Iowans are fairly use to this kind of talk. Much of it sounds like a Steve King speech. That may be OK for Northwest Iowa – obviously it gets him reelected every 2 years – but saying the things Trump says about people from other countries on a national stage is verboten. But Trump is the Republican Party’s owner’s worst nightmare. Someone they can’t control with their money. Trump is also someone who actually is saying what he means. Having thoughts like his being expressed publicly can be hard on the Republican Party. To see his popularity grow the uglier his statements becomes even worse.

Jeb Bush says Americans need to work longer hours. He didn’t mention whether they would get paid more or if the revenue produced from working longer would go to the folks at the top, like it has been since Reagan.

Don’t forget that Jeb has never really worked a job in his life. So Jeb must spend his days imagining how workers screw their bosses over at every turn. No doubt he gets the best data available from his billionaire buddies who must lose millions a year to nefarious worker. Too bad the billionaires never mention how they force their workers to work off the clock or get fired, nor how they keep their wages and benefits so low that workers must depend on the government to assist them.

But all these fumbles and stumbles doesn’t make Republicans less popular where it counts: in the hearts of the wealthy and therefore in the campaign wallet. Despite proving that brother George was not really the dumb sibling in the Bush family, Jeb continues to reel in the millions from the billionaires who are thoroughly convinced that money can buy anything. So far this year the wealthy have bet $114 million that they can buy the presidency for another idiot.

The country is moving forward without Republicans. Even their own hand-picked super conservative Supreme Court justices agree it is time for the country to move on. But the Republican Party will continue to work hard in word and deed to drag our democracy backward into a plutocracy run by their wealthy owners. They are using their old tried and true weapons of hate and fear. They continue to pit citizens against each other through making resources scarce for them. But the country is slowly catching on to the game and they are finally demanding that the quality of life be restored to what it was before Reagan.

Day Of Bakken Resistance Activities

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Route(Editor’s Note: The following invitation came to Blog for Iowa yesterday from Robert Nehman at the Allamakee County Protectors).

You’re invited to  a day of pipeline resistance activities on Thursday, July 9.

Objection Delivery:

At 10 a.m. we are hand-delivering to the Iowa Utility Board (IUB) 1375 E. Court Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319 about 2,000 objections to the pipeline.  We’d love to have you show up in full force to let the IUB know that we support clean water, a stable climate and healthy future generations – and that means we oppose this pipeline.

Strategy Session and Brown bag lunch:

At noon after the objection drop, we will gather at the offices of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement for a coalition-wide strategy session (2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines). We’d like to update you on the status of the IUB hearing, develop a calendar of strategic events and plan ways to guarantee that the IUB rejects this pipeline. But to do this well we need YOU! Please forward this message on to your networks.

Thanks friends! Let us know if you have any questions.

Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition

Twitter         @

We are a coalition of organizations representing landowners, community members, non-profits, and interest groups united to stop the construction of the Bakken Pipeline.

Robert Nehman, Executive Director
Allamakee County Protectors

Robert Reich To Keynote Working Families Summit In Ames

robert reichLAST CALL!! Working Families Summit Registration Deadline MONDAY!!

To attend, you must RSVP by Monday, May 11th

Feel Free to contact Sue Dinsdale with any questions!

RSVP online at: REGISTER NOW! or call 1-800-372-4817

Join us at the

Working Families Summit

Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Scheman Building, Iowa State Campus, Ames, Iowa


The event features keynote speaker and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Also speaking and leading workshops are leading civil and progressive rights advocates including Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice; Larry Cohen – President Communications Workers of America (CWA); Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO; Rich Fiesta, Executive Director Alliance for Retired Americans and many Iowa leaders.

Doors open at 9
9 am Registration

(Many organizations will have informational tables so come early and check it out!)

10 am: Summit Begins! Invocation – Speakers – Worker’s Stories – Discussion

11:30 am LUNCH


Workshops: presented twice at 12:30 and 1:30 pm – so you will be able to pick 2!

Common Sense Economics
The State of Latino, Immigrants, and Refugee workers
Wages and Wage Theft
Making Work Family Friendly: Child Care, Paid Medical Leave
Civil Rights and Your Rights
Education-The Future
Attacks on Workers
Will I Ever be Able to Retire??

Keynote Address by Robert Reich: Making America Work for the Many, Not Just the Few

Call to Action and Closing

If you want to see change and a better future for the 90 percent of Iowans who are not positively affected by economic gains, come to the summit and find out how to make a difference.

Donations to the Mid Iowa Community Action Food Bank (MICA) will be collected. Suggested items include: Crackers; Soups; Raman Noodles; Rice; Hamburger Helpers; Toilet Paper; Hygiene Products (shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste etc.)

GET ON THE BUS: buses will originate in the Quad Cities and Dubuque, with stops along the way in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids (QC Bus), and Waterloo and Cedar Falls (Dubuque Bus), possibly other locations TBD.

To reserve a seat on the bus, call 309-738-3196 or email

Availability on a first-come, first-served basis

For more information, contact Sue Dinsdale at or 319-354-8116

Updates will be posted on our website:

And on the Working Families Summit Facebook Page

RSVP online at:


Registration ends May 11

Sponsors include: the AFL-CIO along with many Iowa labor and advocacy organizations focused on concerns for working families in Iowa: the Iowa Federation of Labor; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Communications Workers of America (CWA); Iowa Postal Workers Union (APWU); Progress Iowa, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Iowa State Education Association (ISEA); Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN); Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Laborers International Union of Northern America (LIUNA); Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA); Iowa Policy Project; Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa; Iowa Community Action Association; Iowa Main Street Alliance; Fair Share-Iowa and the American Friends Service Committee.

Sue Dinsdale,Executive Director
Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN)
ICAN Education Foundation
1620 Pleasant, Ste. 225
Des Moines, IA 50314

Iowans Overwhelmingly Oppose Branstad Plan To Close MHIs

MHIAction 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,
Matt Sinovic
Progress Iowa

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!

Debt Ceiling To Be Reached Monday

garrison keeler on republicans

Amazingly, there has been little fanfare on this round of debt ceiling limit. While Republicans claimed we would never go through this again, we are about to go through it again.

There has been little fanfare most likely because the near monopoly that Republican backers have on our media understand that Republican hostage taking in the last iteration of the debt crisis was horribly received by the public. This may be an especially touchy time to force yet another crisis caused by bad governing when we just avoided shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a week or so ago. The public may be getting sensitive, so it is probably best for our media not to even bring it up.

Republicans are so divided at this point that they haven’t even gotten together to talk about just what hostages they plan to take in this crisis. One thing for sure, there is a faction of the current congressional Republicans who will in no way vote to keep the government running. Iowans should be proud, since that faction appears to be headed by our own Neanderthal (apologies to any surviving Neanderthals), Steve King.

Yep, Iowa politicians are making quite the name for themselves these days. King, Grassley, Ernst. They make folks think Iowa is a backwater once more.

Governing from created crisis to created crisis is a horrible way to govern. Why do we elect folks who vocally hate government to run the government?

Notice Of Public Hearing On HF 80

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa Legislature
Public Hearings
Legislative Services Agency – Legislative Information Office –

HF 80 – A bill for an act establishing the state percent of growth and including effective date
provisions. (Formerly HSB 58)
Sponsored by the Education Committee –
Monday, January 26, 2015
7:00 PM (introductions begin)
After introductions, the hearing will be for two hours in the RM 103.

General Requirements:

Speaking time per individual for the public hearing on HF 80 will be 3 minutes (written testimony is encouraged but not required). Written testimony or comments maybe emailed to

The cut off time to sign up to speak is 5 p.m. on Monday the 26th.

Persons wishing to speak or leave comments available to the public via the legislative website may sign up electronically at Public Hearings.

You may also sign up at the Legislative Information Office (LIO), Room G16, located in the Iowa State Capitol or call 515-281-5129 if you have questions. Please do not leave a recorded message by telephone.

Meghan Nelson, MPA
Assistant Chief Clerk
Iowa House of Representatives

Something For People Of Faith And No Faith

interfaith alliance[Note from BFIA … Just because you don’t have religion does not mean you have “no faith.”  One can have faith in many things.  But the point is, this event is for everyone!  And that is a good thing.]


A civility project of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa


Rev. SickelkaDavid
Incoming Chairperson, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

January 16, 2015

11:45 am – 1:00 pm
Plymouth Congregational Church (UCC)
Waveland Hall
4126 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines

$10 per person (payable at the door)

Rev. David Sickelka, incoming chairperson of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, will lead a discussion on how we will move the progressive voice forward together in our state.  Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is building toward the future with an exciting yet challenging new 3-year Strategic Plan, which addresses areas of Program, Outreach, Communications, Fund Development, and Human Resources.

How can progressive people of faith and no faith across Iowa be part of this movement for change? The discussion will be interactive and informative and we hope you will be part of it!

Reservations must be received by Tuesday, January 13, and may be made at or by calling 515.279.8715. If you make a reservation and are unable to attend, payment for your reservation is appreciated if you do not cancel by the Tuesday deadline.

hearing loopThis venue has a hearing loop and those with telecoils may use them.

Like Crossroads on Facebook!  You can find Crossroads on Facebook. We will have updated info on speakers for the coming months. Reservations will still need to be made by email or phone.

Crossroads is a monthly gathering of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. An opportunity to learn, to participate in civil dialogue, and to discuss issues at the crossroads of religion and politics.

Manure Spills Causing Toxic Algae In More Iowa Lakes

email inboxThanks CCI (Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement) for sounding the alarm on toxic algae!

First it was Ohio, then Lake Red Rock in Iowa, and now it’s Big Creek Lake – toxic blue-green algae has struck again.

A reader sent us this photo that he took at Big Creek Lake last week with this comment: “Can see from the photo that water quality is one of Branstad and the DNRs’ top priorities…”

The toxic algae’s unpleasant odors and potentially dangerous health effects cannot be ignored.

blue-green toxic algae EMAIL(1)This toxic algae growth is caused by runoff from corporate ag, including factory farms.

When we look at the number of manure spills, just in the past year, the growth of this harmful algae is not surprising.

55 manure spills since Sept. 2013 when the DNR signed the Clean Water Act Work Plan – that’s over 1 manure spill per week. ​​​

The DNR must issue permits to these manure polluters – here is one action you take right now:

Share this photo on FB to keep the #cleanwaterfight in the public eye!

October is going to be a busy month for the #cleanwaterfight – stay tuned!

They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up,

The Iowa CCI Crew

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
2001 Forest Ave
Des Moines, IA 50311-3229
515-282-0484 .

Medicare Still Working

save medicare
I am here to report that Medicare is still in full fettle. This month I joined up. What a feeling. I feel like I have just moved into a grand home with few worries. No more wondering if the landlord will toss us out on our ear because he can. In more practical terms it means I can go to see a medical person without the fear that we may lose our home and everything we worked for. For a cost way less than half of what some really bad “insurance” used to cost me, I can now get real medical care. Plus the system itself is doing well.

Even though the ACA was supposed to address problems with the health care system (or more accurately the health insurance system), insurance companies have done all and everything they can to subvert its mission. The policy I had for the past eight months was sold to me with one set of providers, but that was switched when I went to use it. Thus I was little better off than before. With Medicare that is not a worry.

Prior to the ACA, it was pretty much a given that if you were over 50 pretty much everything you would see a medical person for was a “pre-existing condition” and thus not covered by the insurance company. So for years I paid out big bucks for horrible coverage, just like most of the country. This is what led to health care being one of the central issues of 2008. Most people wanted and still want I believe a form of Medicare for everyone. What we got is protection for the health insurance industry with a few trinkets for the consumer.

Thus we are still the only major economy without universal health care and we still pay nearly twice what any other country pays per person while getting about half the results. Taking a chunk out for that middle man that adds nothing to the actual care of a patient really affects the system. Too bad a person has to wait to 65 to finally have access to decent health care in this country. Medicare is a great template for what this country should be aiming for.

No doubt Medicare is a popular program. So popular that Republican candidates for national and statewide offices have had to couch their once outspoken opposition to Medicare in phraseology that attempts to hide their real intent. Joni Ernst has a commercial that claims she favors Medicare when in reality she will be one pushing hard to voucherize Medicare. Her loyalty is not to get good medical access for Iowans young and old, but to deliver on what the Koch Brothers tell her to do. Lying about her position is not a problem when it may accomplish her goals.

We know how Steve King feels about medical care – it is just not for the poor and middle class. David Young is using the old and long debunked lie that Obama stole $700 billion from Medicare. Anyone who tells you that is an idiot, pure and simple. In the second district we see Mariannette Miller-Meeks lining up with libertarian tea bagger Rand Paul. Her policies have shifted way to the right of the years. Her views on Medicare have moved also. I really find it hard to believe that a doctor would work to restrict access to health care, but there she is to prove me wrong.

I must say I do not know where Rod Blum stands, but I could guess and I am sure I would be close. Most of the Republican candidates say they do not want to take Medicare away from those who have it. That is simple logic. That would be political suicide. But taking it away from a generation that Reaganomics has oppressed to the point where they have seen the middle class slowly disappear is fair game to them.

Just another in their war on the middle class. Now, I believe and I think most Iowans believe that Medicare and its companion programs Social Security, Medicaid and the current ACA, are social contracts between the government and the citizens. Remember we are the government and we do direct what our representatives do.

In case you have forgotten, Terry Branstad would have been ecstatic to dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA like all his Republican buddies. But he was forced to compromise and put in at least a form of the new Medicaid due to a gutsy stand by his now opponent Jack Hatch. Branstad would love to have a chance to roll back that decision. Electing Jack Hatch would give Iowa a chance to join those at the top tier of health care. We really owe it to ourselves to send Branstad packing and to put a man with vision for the common Iowan in the governor’s mansion.

If health care is still a concern of yours and your family, and it should be if you are human, there is little question that you should vote for Democrats this fall.