Follow BFIA on Twitter
Blog for Iowa Archives
Blog for Iowa Categories
Search BFIA by Date
February 2017
« Jan    

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Fight Media Bias


Iowa Rapid Response Action

First responders to biased, imbalanced or factually inaccurate media coverage

Iowans for Better Local TV


FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship

Free Press

News Corpse

Prometheus Radio Project

Radio for People

Save the Internet

Save the News

union busting

IPP Sponsors Two Events Exposing ALEC

A Legislator for Every Corp.

With all the damage ALEC is wreaking in Iowa these days it may be a very good time to make sure that everybody understands just what ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

As so often happens in Iowa during a time of great stress and change our friends at the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) are ahead of the curve. On March 6th and 7th IPP will be sponsoring an event discussing ALEC and their brother organizations on the evening of March 6th and March 7th.

The March 6th event is in Des Moines:
Time:      6:30 to 8PM
Place:     Public Library 1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

The March 7th event is in Iowa City:
Time:      7 to 8:30PM
Place:     Shambaugh Auditorium on the Pentacrest at the U of Iowa

Find out what is behind the union busting, the cutting of education, the “shoot your neighbor” laws and the voter suppression laws.

It will be well worth your time.

The Money, The Money, The Money


Last week brought the not too stunning revelation that the Iowa legislature seems to be under the direction of Americans For Prosperity, a Koch brothers front group.

Following the money, one of the most valuable lessons ever to learn in following politics, leads us to the Koch brothers and from them to a couple of their many, many front groups in this case Americans for Prosperity and ALEC.

ALEC provides the legislation – recently the union busting bill – and Americans For Prosperity provides the grease.

Bet you didn’t know when you cast a vote for a Republican for the state house or state senate you were in effect voting for Charles and David Koch.

Joe Bolkcom probably said it best:
“I think what it says is that the Koch brothers have taken over this state with the millions of dollars that they have poured into this state,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “Obviously, this bill was a big priority of theirs, and it shows that big money has taken over state government. Iowans should be very concerned about this.”

Does anyone remember your Republican legislator campaigning on taking away the collective bargaining for public employees? How about taking our tax money to pay for privatized education? Did they stand up and say “I will vote for a bill that may take away your ability to vote!”

Of course they didn’t. Who would vote for them if they did? So they spent last year’s campaign speaking in platitudes about freedoms and liberties and low taxes to us while speaking entirely differently behind closed doors to the folks with the money.

The money, the money, the money. Politics has always been tied to the corruption that money brings. Those with money are always around with baskets of money ready to put into the outstretched hands of politicians on the take.

When we see the gross miscarriage of power that we witnessed last week where Republicans acted as if they were one and refused to engage in serious debate, it almost looked as if the Republican party was acting as if they were employed to do a specific job by someone. I don’t think that impression is too far off.

Expect to see a very similar scene as the Republicans go after Iowa’s once world-class public school system in order to privatize it and make some more donors even wealthier. Drew Klein of Americans For Prosperity has announced this as his next objective. Wouldn’t be very surprised if it suddenly became the Republicans next objective. As if by luck you can bet that ALEC already has a bill already written and ready to go. What luck!

While the national administration is not the well oiled machine Mr. Popular Vote Loser claims, it sure seems like our state government surely is. From Charles and David to the front groups through a very friendly {wink, wink} legislature then landing softly on the governor’s desk who then signs it as a representative from the Koch brothers makes sure the deed is done.

Right now our legislature is doing something that would have seem unconscionable in Iowa just a few years back. The legislature is about to pass a “Stand Your Ground” law which has been shown to give those with guns a reason to shoot those they don’t like for whatever reason. Treyvon Martin’s death in Florida after being stalked and beaten by an unknown (to Martin) assailant stands as a very cautionary tale on this law. Let’s be honest, certain groups will become targets if this law passes. I am old enough to remember when lawmakers didn’t want citizens shooting each other. However, the object here is to increase gun sales.

Many years ago I stated the any and every action between a legislator and any lobbyist or outside interest group should be recorded and reviewed. That still seems reasonable to me.

You have to wonder which will happen first – the end of the democracy that was once the hope of the world under the weight of corruption or getting money out of politics. Right now – especially after the Citizen’s United ruling – it looks like the end of our democracy is leading the race by a large margin.


Republicans That Voted Against Iowa Workers

I write this just after learning that the Iowa legislature has set the state back about a century as they strip public unions of almost all rights they have in the workplace.

Republicans have their usual BS reasons why it was such a great bill – efficiency, blah, blah, saves money, blah, blah. All of these reasons have been refuted by economists. Iowans called en masse to oppose this bill. But all that means little to nothing to Republicans. They don’t have the 2 million or so Iowa voters to answer to. Nope, they answer to Charles and David Koch and the other members of ALEC.

In what had to be one of the oddest scenes in a whole strange week. Republican legislators went behind closed doors to get a pep talk from Wisconsin’s big union buster and puppet of the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker. This is time that could have been used listening to constituents. I jest of course. They don’t care about constituents. They care about Koch Brother’s money.

Rick Smith at the Iowa Daily Democrat has a great story that lists some of the major donors to Iowa Republicans through a Koch operation. For Republicans these are the people they work for.

Nor do they worry about being re-elected. The next order of business will be to restrict voting. I suspect they will really clamp down on student voting and make it much harder to vote absentee.

Busting the unions will most likely have a very deleterious effect on Iowa’s economy as pointed out in this study by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project.

Will businesses worry about the loss of business due to the cuts Iowa’s public sector workers will suffer? Well, then it is time for more tax cuts! Sadly these tax cuts may not do a lot of good for small businesses in small town Iowa but then someone has to take one for the team and I guess you were chosen.

And for an extra kick in the teeth, expect congressional Republicans to repeal and not replace the ACA. They have a promise of huge tax cuts for the wealthy and that is one promise they will most likely keep. Without the ACA the cost of health insurance will go up across the board to cover the cost of care for those who are no longer able to get insurance after the ACA is repealed.

So the state workers will get increasingly lousier insurance to “save money.” (remember those tax cuts? That was money.) Therefore the burden of higher copays and deductibles will fall back on union workers who will have no power to bargain.

Since this affects about 15% of Iowa workers, expect it to make a noticeable dent in our economy., especially in the small towns Iowa Republicans claim to love so much.

I frequently heard this fall how union members in Iowa were turning out for Republicans because they were going to shake things up. Well they did, didn’t they? Republicans never really told you what they were going to do.

However, if you are a working person and a union member you should have learned by now to always ask yourself when a Republican says he or she is going to help you out – Just exactly when has a Republican ever helped a working person out? I can’t remember a time, but then I have only been around about seven decades.

Iowa Republicans will probably get a special mention at the summer ALEC meeting in Denver next July 19th – 21st.

Perhaps the worst part of all this is that reversing insanity like this is not as simple as just voting for Democrats. Besides a massive turn in the legislature we also need a new progressive governor. Those have been a rarity in Iowa. Remember, voting will soon be different also. In power grabs like this, one of the most important things to do is to stack the deck in favor of your side.

So sad to see this happen to what was once a wonderful state full of wonderful and thoughtful people.

This Week’s Legislative Forums

The vote by the Iowa House and Senate has been taken, and the Governor has signed it. We can’t let up on these elected representative. They need to hear from you how you feel about their vote on this issue, and the many other attacks they are planning on Iowa working families.

Please attend as many of these forums as you can. Bring friends!

We are also asking every one to call the Governors office and let them know how your feel about this blatant attack on Iowa Working Familes. 515-281-5211

ALTOONA (Priority)
Saturday February 18 – 10 AM.
ALtoona HyVee Club Room. 108 8th st SW, Altoona

Saturday February 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum McOtto’s, 100 Chamber Dr, Anamosa

February 18, 9:00 AM
Arlington Community Center 853 Main St, Arlington

BOONE (Priority)
February 18, 8:00 Am
Ericson Public Library, 2nd Floor702 Greene St, Boone

State Representative Gary Mohr Constituent Meetings:
Every Friday 9AM at the Hyvee, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf, IA

Saturday, February 18: 9:30 AM
Legislative Forum at Burlington Library: 210 Court Street

Saturday, February 18: 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
Legislative Forum with Linn County Area Legislators at Mercy Medical Center in the Hallagan Ed Center, 701 10th Street SE.

Saturday, February 18: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
United Labor Alliance Legislative Luncheons at Carpenters Local 308, 305 Waconia Court, SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

February 23: 10:00 AM
Floyd County Courthouse 101 S Main St, Charles City

Saturday, February 18: 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
Legislative Coffee at The Depot

DECORAH (Priority)
February 18: 11:15 AM
Decorah City Hall, 400 Clairborne Dr. Decorah

DES MOINES (Priority)
February 19: 2PM
Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave, Des Moines

February 20: 8 AM
Grounds for Celebration 2645 Beaver Ave, Des Moines

Saturday February 18 – 7:30 AM
Fairfield Public Library, 104 W Adams Ave, Fairfield

February 18, 10am – 12pm
Where Elderbridge Agency On Aging, 308 Central Ave, Fort Dodge

February 21: 2:15 PM
Hancock County Courthouse, 855 State St, Garner

February 18, 9:00 AM
Glenwood City Hall, 5 North Vine st. Glenwood

February 18: 10:00 AM
Nishnabotna Valley REC 1317 Chatburn, Harlan

February 21: 7:45
Iowa Falls Fire Department, 218 South River St. Iowa Falls

February 18, 9:00 AM
City Hall 227 Main st, Janesville

Saturday March 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum. Newton HyVee Club Room, 1501 First Ave E, Newton

February 18: 8 AM
Northwood City Hall, 627 Central Ave. Northwood

February 18: 11:30 AM
Pearson Lakes Art Center

February 18, 7:00 AM
Red Oak YMCA, 101 Cherry St, Red Oak

February 18: 1 PM
Keokuk County Courthouse, 101 S Main St. Sigourney

Saturday, February 18: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Eggs & Issues at Spencer City Hall in the Council Chamber, 418 2nd Ave W.

Saturday February 18 : 9AM
King’s Pointe Banquet Room 1520 E Lakeshore Dr. Storm Lake

TRIPOLI (Priority)
February 18: 11:00 AM
Tripoli Library, 101 4th Ave SW, Tripoli

Saturday February 18: 10 AM
Legislative Forum- Washington City Hall 215 E Washington St, Washington IA

February 18, 9:15
West Burlington City Hall, 122 Broadway St, West Burlington

Busting Iowa’s Public Unions

(2 minutes)

Looks like Republicans will finally achieve one of Terry Branstad’s dreams: public unions are on the verge of being effectively destroyed in Iowa.

The Iowa Policy Project did an analysis of the effects of the republican attacks on collective bargaining. While some legislators no doubt deeply believe that they are serving a major smack-down to unions that are out of control and way overpaid, they seldom think of the ripple effects.

As IPP notes the ripple effects will be especially felt in rural areas where state and local governments are some of the best employment opportunities in this areas.

Public employees are a significant share of the Iowa workforce and live and work in every Iowa county, from the most urban to the most rural. Of the nearly 1.6 million nonfarm payroll jobs in Iowa, about 1 in 7 jobs — 238,500 — are in state and local government. These workers are important to the state’s economy, as taxpayers supporting local schools and state and local services, and as consumers supporting local businesses and other private sector jobs.

Potential impact of changes in a law directly affecting the working conditions of such a large number of Iowans, who are engaged in every aspect of essential public service from the local to the state level, will be significant and widespread. From snowplow drivers to nurses, teachers to custodians, police, dispatchers, fire fighters, county clerks, librarians, social workers, corrections officers, paraeducators, and many other public employees in communities across Iowa could see changes in their pay, benefits and working conditions. Such changes would, in turn, have consequences for local economies, public services, and Iowa’s labor market as a whole.

New limitations on collective bargaining predictably opens the door to erosion of wages, benefits, and working conditions in public employment, and corresponding spillover effects of downward pressure on wages and working conditions in the private sector. Such labor market effects have become evident in Wisconsin five years after dramatic collective bargaining changes were enacted, and lawmakers in Iowa should be wary of the statewide economic impact likely to accompany any such changes here. Since 2011, Wisconsin has fallen to 40th of 50 states in job growth, and 42nd in wage growth.[3]

Any decline in the number or quality of public sector jobs will have a disproportionate effect on Iowa’s rural communities because, as the USDA notes, the public sector is a “major source of earned income in rural areas” that tend to attract far fewer of the financial, professional, or information service activities concentrated in urban areas.[10] Eroding the quality of public sector jobs in Iowa will further exacerbate recent effects of unprecedented declining public-sector employment levels following the last recession, which USDA data suggests are already causing negative effects in rural counties, along with negative multiplier effects on private-sector employment.[11]

The article goes into much greater detail documenting the potential effects. The point is simply this: Unions have not caused any problems in the Iowa economy. They do not exist in a vacuum and the huge changes to the current system that will result in negative impact on the workers will have a great effect on the Iowa economy as a whole.

Drastic changes like this dovetail nicely with Republican long term goals of destroying unions. The major reason behind the destruction of the unions is the unions role as the main base for the Democratic Party and their legally recognized role as bargaining units. As bargaining units unions were once able to help the common worker achieve middle class and dignity.

Since unions were given legal backing during the New Deal, Republicans have had unions in their legislative sights.

Republicans have used a vast amount of lies to push for the end of unions. Now they are within grasp of that goal. This has been one of the main reasons that businesses and corporations have backed Republicans. Without legal recognition of unions, corporations believe that their profits will soar as they can get labor on the cheap. This is of course the logic behind moving their manufacturing offshore – cheap labor.

What they forget is that in order to sell their widgets and other crap, they must have customers. As wages stagnate and even depress, as other fixed costs such as health insurance and housing squeeze the family budget even more, the customer base is drying up. As with many things the small business person is hit first.

Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Republicans Have A Great Week

(6 minutes)

The Country Reels

They Have Been Dreaming About This One For Nearly A Century.

One can only guess what kind of wet dreams Republicans are having after this week.

At a national level they proved that qualifications mean nothing. All of the levers of government will now be controlled not by men and women of knowledge and experience but by those who have something much more important – the right ideology. The only logic I can get out of this is that they believe that there is something divine that will keep the US from erring, as long as they run the government with the right ideology.

At both the state and national level schools and teachers felt a real kick in the crotch and boot in the face as republicans started lining up the strategy to demolish the public education system.

Installing Betsy DeVos as education secretary was a double finger and a moon to Americans. This is Republican’s way of letting us know that our kids only have value to them as a commodity to fill their for profit schools.

In Iowa the ongoing starvation of education took a huge step forward as Republicans piggybacked on a shortfall in revenue to take the knife to education. Once upon a time in Iowa – in an Iowa that actually valued education – such a situation would be met with a temporary tax or at least a bi-partisan study to save the best education system in the land. Times like that seem like a dream.

Now on both the state and the national level, the push is to make public education looks so bad that parents will be begging for private for profit education systems to save their kids from the horrible public schools.

You may think this is an outrage and you would be very correct. So what are you going to do? Vote the scoundrels out? Sorry but they are a step ahead of the masses. While Democrats were tweaking existing voting systems to represent everyone, Republicans were busy destroying both the system and the confidence in it. Along with destroying our public education system Republicans already have several steps into making our voting system heavily in their favor.

With 32 states having the toxic combination of control of both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s chair, expect an onslaught of new voter restriction laws. Expect Iowa and many others to adopt the interstate voter cross-check strategy that threw millions of voters off the the rolls last election.

Expect the national congress to adopt some form of interstate cross check to national elections. What, you think somebody should stop that? Like who? The only agency in the federal government that had only a smidgen of power to stop such shenanigans is being destroyed by republicans in congress.

In the meantime, while The Netherlands announces that, due to hacking fears, they will do away with computer tabulation machines in favor of hand-marked, hand-counted paper ballots (“Democracy’s Gold Standard”) for their upcoming election, Republicans in the U.S. House moved to abolish the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the only federal agency tasked with setting standards for our nation’s oft-failed, easily-hacked electronic voting and tabulation systems.

See how Republicans are setting things up so that solutions such as privatized for profit schools are the only answer? Think they can’t do that to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? Think you can vote them out of office next election.

Now that the country has jumped in bed with the extremist Republicans ideologues it will not be easy to crawl out of that bed. Do you think Republicans are just going to let America walk away when they have a grip on its neck? Of course not. That is why they are restricting the vote. They will also ramp up the propaganda to an incredible level. Plus the lies will be coming fast and furious at a speed that will almost be impossible to keep up with.

Will we be able to stop this onslaught through public protests and court actions? One need only look at the lesson of Wisconsin to see that once the extremist Republicans gain power they don’t give it up easily. Immediately following Scott Walker’s assumption of the governorship in Wisconsin with a majority in both houses of the legislature.

Walker immediately went after unions and schools. None of his proposals were even mentioned during the campaign. More than 100,000 showed up to protest in the cold of Wisconsin in 2011. The protests lasted for months, but Walker and the Republicans waited them out. By summer the unions had been busted, the schools had been starved and the protestors had other stuff to attend to.

An attempt to recall Walker in 2012 was unsuccessful as huge amounts of money came pouring in to the Walker campaign thanks to the SCOTUS decision in the Citizens United case.

See how it all fit together for Walker? It is even much worse now. Republicans have literally worked for this moment for decades. You certainly do not expect them to see the errors of their way and walk away from the electoral and ruling frameworks they have set up do you? Their dreams of dismantling the New Deal, rolling back civil rights and privatizing everything is within their grasp. Their dream of a ruling elite is already here. The dream of corporations unfettered by laws is within grasp.

They believe and have said out loud that fatigue will set in on our side as it did in Wisconsin. They also believe with the apparatus they have set up for elections that it will be nearly impossible for us to ever gain an overwhelming majority. They already have mechanisms set up to stop legislation in most states and in Congress in the off chance that Democrats ever do gain power. Witness the incredible obstruction of the Obama years.

Their war against America is not just starting, but in full swing. Can we stop it? It will take a huge and sustained effort.

We need a fifty state strategy with a long range plan. At the same time we need an incredible effort to win in 2018.

And I didn’t even mention the media control which will soon be strengthened by ending of internet neutrality.

Robb Hogg: Stand Up For Iowa Workers!

Today, I am writing to ask you to help speak up over the next five days for our public workers – teachers, firefighters, police, correctional officers, human service social workers, sanitation workers, snow plow operators, and many others – who do so much on our behalf to make our communities and our state better.

On Tuesday, Republicans proposed SF213 which would gut the rights of our public workers to organize and negotiate contracts for wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions with local and state elected officials. You can read that bill at the legislative web site,

Among other things, this bill would make it harder for Iowa to recruit and retain great teachers and public workers, would drive down take-home pay for our public workers, and would take away the voice of our public workers.

Instead of attacking public workers, we should be considering legislation to improve the rights, wages, and benefits for all workers in our state. Unfortunately, Republicans are rushing this bill through the legislative process, and we expect they may try to vote on the bill on the floor of the Iowa Senate early next week.

When I sent out a survey to constituents in early January, 73% agreed that “Iowa workers should have the opportunity to organize and bargain for fair wages and benefits.” Only 16% disagreed. That’s why it is so important that you speak up now to help us find five courageous Republicans in the Iowa Senate and ten in the Iowa House who are willing to reject or soften this attack on our public workers.

Here are three events in the next three days where you can participate to help speak up for our public workers:

Mason City Rally for Iowa Working Families

With Senator Ragan and Representatives Steckman and Prichard
Saturday, February 11, at Noon
Mason City Central Park, N Federal and 1st St. NE, in Mason City

March for Iowa’s Teachers

Sunday, February 12, from 2:00 p.m.
Stewart Square near Iowa State Capitol

Public Hearing
Monday, February 13, at 6:00 p.m.
Iowa Capitol, Room 103
You can sign up to speak with this link:

You can also attend one of the legislative forums this weekend. For a complete list, visit:

You can contact state legislators directly. For contact information, visit You can call the Branstad-Reynolds Administration at 515-281-5211, and please speak up in public.

Finally, mark your calendars now for our next legislative forum in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, February 18, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Mercy Hospital, 701 10th Street SE, in Cedar Rapids. I hope to see you there.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, and I will do my best to respond.


Senator Rob Hogg

Senator Rob Hogg
Senate Democratic Leader
Cedar Rapids
(515) 281-3901 (office)
(515) 281-4610 (assistant)
(319) 247-0223 (home)

ALEC Convention Ends; As Usual No Reports

Rest assured that most of us are screwed.

A Legislator for Every Corp.

A Legislator for Every Corp.

ALEC ended what should be by any measure an illegal gathering of businesses and state legislators in Washington DC Friday. Even though this is a meeting where legislators are conducting business of the states, there are no outsiders allowed in. No reports of what transpires is allowed. There is a better chance of light escaping a black hole than information escaping ALEC meetings.

From what has resulted from past meetings we can take an educated guess what it may mean for an Iowa where there is no way to stop Iowa Republicans control of all branches of government. The insane tax breaks for business, the handing over of taxpayer money to private businesses for questionable reasons, the gutting of our public education system and of course the disempowering of unions will be big on the agenda. All these are ALEC’s wish list items.

Not to say everything will be bad. Most likely we will get the ability to shoot our neighbors for no good reason. Or be shot by a neighbor with a gun and an attitude.

Oh, and some of us will lose our vote based on our heritage. Expect some attempt to take the vote away from college students in the cities where they go to school.

If you want to see what Iowa will look like in a couple of years just look at the mess called Kansas to our south and west. Just google “Kansas failed government” and there are a slew of hits. One from last May from Mother Jones magazine tells of government budgets wrecked, jobs fleeing the state and schools way underfunded. This will be Iowa if ALEC and legislative leaders get their way.

Now we find out that ALEC is not only creating legislation for government bodies below the federal level, thanks to Jim Hightower and that ALEC is also working diligently to have a constitutional convention called. The purpose of this convention will be to install the vision of the Koch Brothers as the basic laws of the United States.

From inthesetimes:

A balanced budget amendment has long been a holy grail for the Right since the 1930s. In the 1980s, conservatives made a push for a balanced budget constitutional convention and, 20 years later, the idea was resurrected as part of the Tea Party platform. That’s when BBATF was formed (ed. note Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force) to carry the movement forward. With 16 resolutions held over from the previous wave of conservative activism, BBATF has since passed resolutions in Alabama (2011), New Hampshire (2012), Ohio (2013), Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana (2014), South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah (2015) and West Virginia (2016), bringing the total to 28. This year, BBATF is targeting 13 states: Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In six of these states Republicans control both legislative bodies and the governorship, making passage a real possibility and leaving BBATF one state shy of the magic 34.

A balanced budget amendment would greatly tie the federal government’s hands in times of crisis, especially depressions and recessions.

From Jim Hightower:

Last January, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed that he has penned NINE new amendments to the US Constitution. Abbott is proposing a Bill of Sale, effectively transferring our national government from The People to The Plutocrats. His “tweaks” would outlaw government actions that restrain corporate abuse of workers and consumers, while also preventing future Congresses from meeting crucial public needs such as health care, voter rights, and restoration of our national infrastructure.

However, Abbott is not the force behind this tampering with our Constitution. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – at the direction of the Koch brothers and their corporate cohorts wrote Abboty’s Bill of Sale. Back in 2010, ALEC’s board of directors approved a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to enact Abbott’s corporate humbuggery Abbott is now pushing.

Convening a convention, permitted under Article V of the Constitution, is a dream of those seeking an American Kochistan, and ALEC is spearheading a hodgepodge of right-wing groups that are close to succeeding. At the convention, they would attempt to rewrite our nation’s fundamental governing document. The changes would enthrone the “moneyed corporations” that Jefferson and other founders abhorred as destroyers of America’s democratic possibilities.

We actually believe that our government works in at least a shimmer of light. Now we find out that behind the scenes a private lobbying group (ALEC) has been working for years with legislators to bring about very fundamental change in our government without hearing anything about it.

If that doesn’t frighten you I don’t know what will.

Prepping For An Alec Agenda In Iowa

Pretty much every Saturday during the Iowa legislative session elected members of both houses convene at venues throughout the state and take comments and questions from the public. If you happen to have both Republican (Tea Party) and Democrats representing your area you can hear some pretty wide gulfs in opinion. Also if you listen closely enough you can hear the repetition of talking points and framing coming particularly from the Republican side of the aisle.

Last Saturday there was a legislative forum which featured 3 Democratic state senators and 3 Republican state representatives. There was a true contrast in how budgeting in general and for schools and road repair in particular are viewed. As can almost be expected I found most interesting the Tea Party representatives framing of issues. In particular the framing by Rep. Tom Sands was most telling. Sands heads up the Ways and Means committee thus making him a very powerful legislator since all spending must be approved by his committee.

For the most part there were questions abou the possibility of getting our roads and bridges fixed. They are bad, folks. Iowa ranks number 48 out of 50 for bridge integrity. We could wait until a bridge collapses and kills some folks before getting them fixed. Or we could do like we used to in the olden days – before Reagan – and have an ongoing maintenance program. The latter is not popular among the no tax crowd.

With bridges in such bad shape and roads obviously sorely in need of repair and an estimate of a $215 million shortfall this year for road repair, one would think that finding money to fix roads or upping the gas tax would be quite popular. Not true. Democratic legislators expressed support for raising the gas tax, provided such a tax is supported by a majority of Republicans. Republicans were much more hesitant. Rep. Sands went into a diatribe concerning taxes and the federal government ending with a really unsubstantiated charge of the economy being weak because of Obama. Sands was clearly against any new tax, citing the major tax cuts in previous years

School funding issues brought out the real anti-tax guns, though. Once again Rep. Sands led the anti-tax / state can’t afford it talking points. Sands noted that the state was not even liable for the mandated 1.25%. Democrat Chris Brace noted later that if a district falls short of the mandate they can assess local property owners. Democrats were solid in supporting a 4% allowable growth increase.

If Republicans have their way, Iowa will fall further down the list of per pupil spending from 35th to 42nd. This in a state that once set the standards for the country. Now we land in the middle and continue to head down. At public hearings held January 26th many potential problems of continued underfunding were pointed out. Larger class sizes and cutting of faculty were the top consequences. Many school will be looking at cutting electives which may put more pressure on Iowa students entering college.

Democrats work on a philosophy of determining public need and then developing means to achieve those needs. Republicans develop policies that favor their donors, develop legislation to implement those policies and then create the environment that could make such legislation applicable.

This is hardly a secret since it has been employed over and over again. This is where an organization like ALEC comes into play. ALEC is a a corporate funded entity. ALEC’s mission is to develop corporate friendly legislation. One often used strategy is to make governmental services seem incompetent, overpaid and costly to run. ALEC then has legislation to replace such government service with a private company alternative that is supposedly more responsive and nimble and reputedly cheaper. At the federal level we can see this at work in the way in which Republicans are going about a systematic dismantling of the U.S. Post Office. We can also see it at work in the attempted dismantling of Social Security and Medicare. We can see it at work in the attempt to defund the ACA.

So here on an Iowa level we see the Republican attempt to under fund our once proud school system. As the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and also a member of ALEC, Rep. Sands sits in a prime spot to see that schools continue to be underfunded. When schools are underfunded they cannot achieve the goals set for them as easily. When such goals are not achieved, politicians with an agenda to siphon off money to private schools will be lining up to publicly denounce the under-achieving school systems. This will then result in less funding.

Along with this strategy will be a campaign to undermine teachers and of course teachers unions. All this helps set the stage for the ALEC answer of privatized charter schools as a component of the public school system. This solution has already been put in in many states under the guise of “school choice.”

Whether charter schools are better or not often lies in the eyes of the beholder. Many studies find them to be less effective than public schools. That doesn’t stop supporters from pushing the propaganda by highlighting positives and ignoring negatives

However, in many cases charter schools have many different rules to play by versus their public school counterparts. In many states charter schools are not run by local school boards but by the parent company. Their funding is public and often less adversarial than funding for public schools has been. Teachers wages are usually lower and unions are usually absent. In many cases schools have some say in who makes up their student body. But most importantly, the focus is not on student achievement but on corporate profit. Let the buyer beware!

Let’s connect the dots then:
– Republicans have a solution. The legislators task is to help create the circumstances where their preferred solution seems doable.
– It really helps to create those circumstances if one of your members holds a crucial seat in the budgeting process.
– Underfund the entity or process that is the target
– Quickly use media to point out the failure of the targeted entity or process
– Repeat until the targeted entity cracks
– Offer ALEC created legislation with preferred solution
– Legislation creates very friendly situation which helps chances of success
– Funding for privatized entity much easier than for public entity.
– Move to next target, repeat process

BTW – the legislature is already late in meeting their obligation for producing school funding. This also throws extra stress on the public schools in planning. Republicans just have to throw our schools anchors instead of life preservers as they sink.

Say Hello To ALEC’s Little Brother, ACCE

just in case legislators forget what to do

just in case legislators forget what to do

Maybe you missed it because there was no birth announcement. The lack of a birth announcement is probably due to the fact that the parents, Charles and David Koch and their corporate concubines don’t want anyone to know. Just like ACCE’s bigger brother, ALEC, ACCE works best behind closed doors and under a rock. ACCE stands for “American City County Exchange.” This will allow the Koch to – shall we say – get involved in your local city councils and county government.

If the Kochs and their lackey congress critters can’t turn the government over to business at the national level, they will work to do so at the state level through their lackey legislatures. And now if they can’t turn government into their personal servant at the national or state level, they now have a new surreptitious organization to corrupt at the local level. If you feel that government is becoming responsive only to those with money, you are right. This is just what the Kochs want. After all they have the money and lots of friends with money.

ALEC and ACCE just completed a session meeting behind closed doors with corporate biggies rubbing elbows with legislators and now supervisors and councillors. Playing kind of a reverse Santa Claus where Santa sits on the knee of the legislators asking for presents. Later there will be campaign donations in a world where campaigns are conducted mostly on the expensive media.

While ALEC seldom announces their want list, we can make some informed guesses. However, the ALEC watchdog group at the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) PR Watch published what they believed to be on this year’s wish list. So from the the CMD, here is an educated forecast for what we may soon see popping up as “model legislation” for legislatures around the country:

Blocking Local Minimum Wage Increases
Citizens in red states like Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising their state’s minimum wage on November 4, as did Republican and Democratic voters in states like Wisconsin, where twenty communities supported advisory referendums in favor of raising the wage.

With such a clear divide between the policies that voters support and those that ALEC corporate interests like the National Restaurant Association (which has been fighting for a $2.13 sub-minimum wage) want legislators to implement, the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force will feature a presentation on “Minimum Wage Preemption Policies.”

ALEC has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act” to block city, county, or local governments from enacting progressive economic initiatives like a higher minimum wage. In light of the renewed grassroots push for fair wage laws, this bill to crush a local government’s ability to increase wages in their community will likely be a top ALEC priority in 2015. (ALEC legislators have also been active in banning local paid sick day efforts, passing 10 laws after Wisconsin’s paid sick days preemption bill was shared at ALEC’s August 2011 meeting).

Local Right to Work

The ACCE meeting will also feature a presentation titled “Local Right to Work: Protect my Paycheck.” ALEC has long pushed anti-union “Right to Work” laws, which allow non-union members to free-ride on union representation, reaping the benefits of union negotiations for wages and benefits but without paying the costs. Michigan’s right to work law, for example, was a word-for-word copy of ALEC’s model legislation and sponsored by ALEC members.

With ACCE, ALEC is now trying to promote this anti-union legislation at the local level.

In September, the Washington Examiner reported that “Conservatives are starting to push the idea that city and county governments can pass union-restricting right-to-work laws, even though it may not be legal and has been tried only a handful of times in the last 70 years.” It is unclear whether local governments have the authority to pass right to work under the Taft-Hartley National Labor Relations Act, but in August the Heritage Foundation issued a report arguing that they do. Heritage hosted a panel discussion on local right to work in August featuring representatives of ACCE, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, and highlighted what they viewed as opportunities for local ordinances in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Those are the two top wishes, but of course business asks for a big package which will also include:

Depriving Low-Wage Workers of Health Insurance

Electronic cigarettes – stopping legislation on vaping nicotine

Protesting “Global Taxes” on Tobacco

Regulating Ride-Share Companies – exempting Uber and Lyft from common carrier laws

Industry-Friendly Dental Bills – moving dental services to less trained “practitioners”

Rigging the Game for Insurers – pretty self explanatory

Free Trade! – again self-explanatory

School Privatization – one of ALEC’s perennials, but once more carving out new areas for business to control. From the article: As one ALEC member told an ALEC education subcommittee earlier this year, “we need to stamp out local control.”

Please go to the link and read the sickening details of how the Kochs and their compadres plan to subvert our government for their business interests.