A New Year, A New Bold

Dear Friends,

Things may appear the same on the surface, but Bold Iowa is a markedly different organization than it was last year. Regrettably, the story is filled with broken promises. Bold Iowa’s supporters deserve to know what happened. So here goes.

In 2014, Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb and I worked together when the Great March for Climate Action crossed Nebraska. In 2015, Jane joined me for a portion of the Pipeline Walk across Iowa. She approached me about expanding Bold here, and in March of 2016, Iowa became the first of four states to join the Bold Alliance.

Launching Bold Iowa together made so much sense. With my deep network of contacts built during three decades of political action, we jump-started Bold Iowa quickly. Jane’s connection to national funders landed a significant annual commitment to Iowa for five years. In return, the funders asked for a five-year commitment from me. I recall the funny conversation with Jane that sealed the deal. She asked if I could commit or if I was on the verge of becoming a full-time chicken farmer instead.

Our work went incredibly well. Bold Iowa received extensive state and national media coverage as we helped lead the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. By the end of the first year, we’d grown the Bold Iowa Facebook page to over 9,000 and built a strong grassroots donor base. Jane and I talked nearly every day, and the rapport among our core team was positive and upbeat.

The turning point came when Jane called me in November of 2016 to tell me she was thinking of running for chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party. She asked my opinion, and I told her candidly that I felt noone could direct a growing, multi-state, grassroots organization and run a state political party.

Jane ran for chair, won, and almost immediately our regular communication stopped. In mid-April of 2017, she called to tell me she was disbanding the network (she didn’t — only Iowa and Oklahoma got the ax), and Iowa’s last day as part of the Alliance was May 31. I was stunned. I asked her about the five-year commitment. She denied there had ever been such a commitment, even though our five-year plan is referenced multiple times in email exchanges.

This break-up would have been more manageable if Jane had allowed Iowa to keep the resources we’d developed: our Facebook page, email list, donor list, and website. Last May, she kept going back and forth on what, if anything, she would allow us to keep. In the end, she presented conditions that were impossible to accept and we were left with nothing.

After working for over a year to brand “Bold Iowa,” I wasn’t about to ditch what so many people had worked hard to create. So last June, I incorporated Bold Iowa with the Iowa Secretary of State, purchased a new domain name, and created a new website and Facebook page. The transition has been stressful, frustrating and slow.

I don’t mind being sued by fossil-fuel companies (twice in one year now), politicians, or others who put greed and power ahead of the common good. But it’s painful to be at odds with someone who’s on the same side of the fight. For three years, Jane and I had built a solid working relationship. I will always have great respect for her organizing skills. But what she did to Iowa is unconscionable. Worse, it’s counter-productive to the very goals and values she stands for.

I’ve thought long and hard about how to bring this matter to closure. I sought legal representation in Iowa and later in Nebraska. I wrote to Jane multiple times last month about why it was in our mutual interest to share the resources we developed. No response.

The bottom line is this: injustice — even if it’s an injustice committed by someone fighting for a just cause — must be challenged. Those of us struggling for a better world have to be brave enough to hold each other accountable.

So, if you want to be involved in rebuilding Bold Iowa, we could sure use your help. Visit our new Facebook page and website.

If you’d like to donate, use this link. (Some of you have tried to donate on the Bold Alliance site, but we’ll never see a penny of that.) With the all-important court case brought by landowners and the Sierra Club likely to come before the Iowa Supreme Court this spring, your involvement and support are needed now more than ever.

While we’re on the subject of calling out injustice even when it’s uncomfortable, check out the conversation on this week’s Fallon Forum (above) about workers getting sick at the TPI wind-blade factory in Newton. We absolutely need new power sources to move beyond fossil-fuels, but what’s happening with industrial wind raises grave concerns. Give the program a listen, let me know what you think, and please help me build our audience by subscribing to the Fallon Forum on iTunes or Stitcher.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (central Iowa).

Outside of central Iowa, listen here: FALLON FORUM LIVESTREAM AND PODCAST.

– Listen on other local affiliates:
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks!

Ed Fallon

My 2018 “WRAPs”

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! So far, so good. Let’s hope this deep winter cold continues to tromp the life out of some of Iowa’s most despised insect pests.

I’m excited about our first talk show of 2018. On this coming Monday’s Forum, we’ll talk with Des Moines Register investigative reporter Kevin Hardy. Hardy and Grant Rodgers wrote about workers at Newton’s wind blade factory who were sickened by chemicals. Listen live from 11:00 – 12:00 noon in Des Moines on 96.5 FM or online in the known universe.

Against the wisdom of better judgement, here are my Wishes, Resolutions and Predictions (WRAPs) for 2018, wrapped up in one tidy mess. If you want to make a game out of it, circle W, R or P indicating whether you think the item is a wish, resolution or prediction. If you get the most correct answers, I treat you to lunch on Ground Hog Day.

1. Trump will no longer be president by the end of 2018 . . . but with Mike Pence ready to assume the mantle, don’t don the party hats quite yet. W R P

2. The growing threat of climate change will become so evident that the full-scale mobilization humanity needs to survive will finally commence. W R P

3. Democrats will regain control of the U.S. Congress but not the Iowa Legislature . . . unless the IDP embraces an entirely new image and direction. W R P

4. Landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club will win their lawsuit against Energy Transfer Partners, and that victory will have huge ramifications not just for the Dakota Access pipeline but for other eminent domain battles. W R P

Over 200 march in frigid conditions, December 14, 2016.

5. I will finish my book, which way less than half of you will read and slightly more than half of you will like. W R P

6. Winter will mostly end by February 1st, regardless of what any groundhog says. W R P

7. By the end of the year, the Fallon Forum will air on twelve stations. W R P

8. Tom Brady will again win the Super Bowl, with the rest of the New England Patriots roster doing its bit part to help Brady out. W R P

9. I will not walk more than twenty miles at a time. W R P

10. A bear, a cougar, and a moose will walk into a bar in Des Moines, and . . . W R P

Ok, so that last one is in a class by itself. But I won’t be surprised to see at least one of those critters make it’s way into Polk County this year.

At any rate, we’ve got work to do on a number of levels, especially in response to the growing crisis of climate change. Remember to support the local businesses that make the Fallon Forum possible. I hope to see and/or hear from all of you in the New Year. Yeah, even you, Troy.

Onward! – Ed

One Year Ago Today . . .

Dear Friends,

Over 200 march in frigid conditions, December 14, 2016.

One year ago today, Iowans rallied at the Polk County Courthouse to support landowners suing state government over the abuse of eminent domain to build the Dakota Access pipeline. That case now advances to the Iowa Supreme Court. Its ramifications for other eminent domain fights, climate change and water quality are significant.

Today, one year later, Bold Iowa issued the following press release. Please take a few minutes to read and share it . . . and please make a donation to support our work as we rely almost entirely on grassroots support!

*******

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 14, 2017 — 11:00 a.m. CT,
Contact Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.com

Bold Iowa, other groups, continue to support landowners
Pipeline fight moves to Iowa Supreme Court

The lawsuit filed by Iowa landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club against the use of eminent domain to build the Dakota Access pipeline is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court sometime in 2018. Plaintiffs and observers feel landowners have a strong case, in part because a 2006 Iowa law prohibited the use of eminent domain by private companies. Many people, including numerous legal experts, feel the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) erred in granting Dakota Access eminent domain authority to take land by force to build an oil pipeline. That pipeline continues to be controversial, in part because it merely transports oil through Iowa without offering any direct public benefit to people living along the route.

“We feel the IUB’s decision was a clear violation of Iowa law,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa and a former Iowa lawmaker. Fallon’s last vote as a member of the Iowa House was in support of the 2006 eminent domain legislation clarifying that eminent domain was not to be used for a private purpose.

Other grassroots groups committed to building public awareness about the importance of this lawsuit include Indigenous Iowa, 1000 Friends of Iowa, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future. That list is expected to grow as interest in the lawsuit builds.

“The problem is most people don’t know about the lawsuit or its potential impact on all of our lives,” said Fallon. “With an aggressive campaign set to begin in January, Bold Iowa and other groups will push hard to increase public awareness of this potentially precedent-setting court case.”

Fallon and others believe the lawsuit has broad implications for other eminent domain battles, for private property rights, for Iowa’s water and land resources, and for climate change. “This case has historic implications for people across the state, yet few people are tracking it. Our challenge is to educate Iowans about what’s at stake and encourage them to pay close attention.”

Fallon indicated that he and others are working to flesh out the details of their effort and raise funds to make it happen. Strategies under consideration include:

    • Recruit supporters to write letters to newspapers across the state;
    • Harness online outreach to increase public awareness of the lawsuit;
    • Conduct ongoing research regarding the pipeline’s water and climate impacts, including a potential spill’s impact on local emergency responders;
    • Host a public meeting in each of Iowa’s four congressional districts; and
    • Hold a press conference or other key event in central Iowa each month.

Bold Iowa was formerly part of the national Bold Alliance and is now an independent non-profit organization that addresses the climate crisis, opposes the misuse of eminent domain to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and other private purposes, promotes individual and entrepreneurial efforts in renewable energy and energy conservation, and works to build a broad, urban/rural coalition of Iowans. The organization’s website is www.boldiowa.com.

Bold Iowa’s director, Ed Fallon, served in the Iowa Legislature for 14 years before running unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 and US Congress in 2008. Since 2009, he has hosted a talk show, The Fallon Forum, which airs on six radio stations and is available online. Ed has directed Bold Iowa since its inception in March of 2016.

# # #

Vote NO! on Sales Tax Hike

Hi Folks —

Before I tell you about the proposed sales tax hike in Polk County, please check out conversations with my excellent guests from this week’s Fallon Forum. Bleeding Heartland’s Laurie Belin and I discuss:

SEGMENT ONE
(1) Proposed changes to the Iowa Caucuses: Are they good, bad, or meh?
(2) Senator Grassley’s “women, booze and movies” comment, and whether Grassley is now competing with Rep. Steve King and Pres. Trump for the honor of “Politician Most Likely to Embarass America.”

SEGMENT TWO
(1) Trump’s toppling of national monuments: Will the courts prevail against him?
(2) Will Pence or Trump be the Republican nominee in 2020? Ed and Laurie disagree.

On this week’s program I also discuss the California wildfires with two women on the front lines of those fires: Mary Lensing and Andrea de Lange. Check out the podcast of our conversation at www.fallonforum.com/listen.

Ok, so let’s talk briefly about the proposed sales tax hike in Polk County. I’m agin’ it, but have no idea what kind of opposition exists out there.

So, today I created this Facebook page to get the conversation rolling. Who else in Polk County is against the proposed sales tax hike? If there’s enough of us, let’s organize to defeat it.

My reasons to oppose it are three:

1. We are already over taxed.

2. The sales tax is regressive and hits the poor the hardest.

3. Most local governments have the money to do what we need them to do, they just need to better manage it.

The powers that be want this new tax in a big way. They’re mobilizing to push it through with the least amount of public opposition. In fact, this election is scheduled on a date designed to minimize voter turnout, on March 6, 2018. Grr.

Who else is in to vote down this bad idea?

Ed Fallon

Democrats Need Corporate-style Shake-up

Dear Friends,

In an unfortunate holdover from primitive times, instinct often inclines humans to believe serious problems aren’t that bad. “That smoking volcano will never blow its top and bury our village,” finds its modern equivalent in, “Melting Arctic ice can’t possibly affect us here in Iowa.”

As much as I’d like to light a fire under you about climate change, today I’ll focus on another burning topic: the Iowa Democratic Party.

Curmudgeon. Gadfly. Self-serving phony. Debbie Downer. And my favorite: Doddering old socialist wind bag.

These are just a few of the compliments my fan club lavished upon me after my recent critique of the IDP Fall Gala. Just as the guy warning that Mt. Vesuvius would erupt proved an easy target for pummeling by the pampered people of Pompeii, we modern messengers of political reform are popular targets for defenders of the status quo.

Some of these defenders had great fun dissecting the critique point by point. Iowa Starting Line’s Pat Rynard even labeled it “ridiculous garbage.” (Read Rynard’s column and my rebuttal.)

But not a single critic confronted my core message: the IDP is out of touch, and not just with rural voters but with low- and middle-income working people, too.

With its ever-shrinking base, the IDP is headed toward permanent minority-party status. One only has to examine a few hard numbers to verify this diagnosis:

  • In December 2006, there were 19,110 more active Democrats than Republicans.
  • Today, there are 48,539 more active Republicans than Democrats — a shift of 67,649 voters!
  • In 2006, Democrats controlled the Iowa House, the Iowa Senate, the Governor’s office, three of five congressional seats, and one US Senate seat.
  • Today, Republicans control the Iowa House, the Iowa Senate, the Governor’s office, three of four congressional seats, and both US Senate seats.

The old guard wants you to believe the IDP will rise from the ashes if everyone in the Party simply learns to get along.

Don’t be fooled! “Get along” is code for “retain the status quo.”

What the Party needs is a complete shake-up, a head-to-toe makeover. It needs new blood and a radically different strategy. I’m encouraged that a fresh wave of energetic, progressive leaders now holds influential positions within the Party. But the old guard won’t give up without a struggle. They’re persuasive. They have money. They’re mostly nice people. And they’ll fight like mad if you try to take away their power.

But that’s exactly what needs to happen. We need to politely but firmly tell the old guard, “Thank you for your service. Here’s a beautifully framed certificate for your wall, but sorry, you need to step aside.”

Perhaps a comparison to the private sector would be helpful. A corporation fails badly. The board hands the CEO his head on a golden platter. The new CEO apologizes and changes the company’s logo. Public and shareholder confidence is restored. The corporation again becomes viable and profitable.

The same kind of purge needs to happen within the IDP. Campaigning on the issues people care about is meaningless if politicians don’t deliver on them. Voters aren’t fooled by that, and they’ve seen a lot of it from Democrats over the years. (For example, review the 2007-2010 Iowa Democratic trifecta and lack of any action on campaign finance, corporate hog confinements, workers rights, and other key priorities important to Democrats and most Iowans.)

Words and symbols are at least as important as issues. A “gala” doesn’t resonate with the shrinking middle class. Neither does a coastal comedian making fun of the guy most Iowans voted for for President. And few of us are going to pay $50 to eat dinner, let alone pay $50 to watch other people eat dinner.

I’m hardly the only one presenting this analysis of the IDP. Constructive criticism abounds. Consider this comment from Justin Yourison, one of many I received in response to my blog:

“I don’t understand this push by the left to rename everything, rewrite history, and shame people for being straight and white…then parade around Alec Baldwin because he makes fun of Trump in front of all the ivory tower Dems and wonder why you lose elections.”

More “ridiculous garbage?” If you think so, well then, we can just move on from this conversation. But if Democrats are serious about regaining relevancy, they’d better start taking the clamor for reform seriously.

Gala doesn’t connect with most Iowans

Dear Friends,

Maybe the Iowa Democratic Party’s (IDP) big annual event was a success in terms of generating funds for the Party and enthusiasm for its candidates. But in several signifiant ways, it was a colossal failure.

1. The sound system performed horribly, with much of the speakers’ messages lost in an echo chamber of garbled sound waves.

A typical gala. Whew! No poor people!

2. Not allowing the Events Center’s wait staff to stay and hear Alec Baldwin reeked of elitism. The decision was made by the facility’s management, but the IDP should have objected. Heck, the wait staff should have been paraded up to the stage and thanked with a standing ovation.

3. The Gala was clearly a pay-to-play deal and the IDP milked candidates with the most money, notably Fred Hubbell and Nate Boulton. From what I could tell, these two purchased hundreds of tickets and spent possibly tens of thousands of dollars. Kinda reminds one of the much-maligned Republican Party of Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, which Democrats have never been hesitant to slam.

4. Beyond the cost of admission ($50 just to sit in the bleachers and watch the higher-paying attendees eat), scheduling the Gala on a Monday excluded many rank-and-file voters, especially those far from Des Moines. As Paul Deaton of Johnson County tweeted, “#IDPFallGala schedule (Monday evening) not viable for working Ds outside Des Moines. Maybe that’s the point.”

5. Finally, the IDP’s decision to change the name of the event from Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to Fall Gala shows that the Party is pathologically out of touch with big chunks of Iowa’s electorate. A gala — defined as “lavish entertainment or celebration” — is not what the vast majority of struggling Iowans want or need right now. For further details, see Kevin Hardy’s excellent story in The Des Moines Register detailing the ravaging of most Americans’ incomes to benefit a thin upper crust.

From what I was able to catch of the candidates’ speeches, they all performed reasonably well — with the glaring absence of any discussion about the urgency of climate change. So far, Cathy Glasson has been the only gubernatorial candidate to speak out against the Gala’s pandering to money and privilege, saying, “People in our movement holding down two or three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend for a fancy dinner.”

That’s not an endorsement of Glasson, but I appreciate her willingness to challenge the IDP.

Democrats are giddy with enthusiasm at their electoral prospects next fall. But the fact that many promising young progressives won nonpartisan city council seats this month means little if the IDP can’t connect with those who feel abandoned by both major parties. For now, the smart money remains on continued Republican dominance of the Iowa Legislature, statewide offices, and Iowa’s congressional delegation.

Chickens Win Big on Election Day

Dear Friends,

The election winners in the City of Boone last night were . . . wait for it . . . CHICKENS! Of all the surprising and encouraging election results in Iowa yesterday, what happened in Boone tops the list. To be clear, no chicken’s actual name appeared on the ballot. But the right to responsibly own backyard hens was a pivotal factor behind voters’ decision to elect three new council members.

April Burch

Yup. Chickens have yet to win the right to vote, yet they sure made a difference in Boone this week . . . chickens and the fact that voters are tired of ineffective government, poor management of tax dollars, and politicians ignoring the life-and-death issues affecting more and more of us.

April Burch is one of 40-50 Boone residents who keep backyard chickens. I’ve seen April’s coop. It’s immaculate, spacious, and if I ever end up homeless again, I want to live there.

“Our flock has been an absolute blessing for our children,” says April. “Our kids have been through a lot in their young lives and what they call ‘chicken therapy’ has really helped them flourish and feel grounded here.”

Meme circulated in Boone prior to yesterday’s election.

For chicken advocates, the pivotal moment happened when a Boone police officer circulated a meme based on Gorillas in the Mist. It showed a rooster in place of the gorilla, and April in place of Dian Fossey, who was killed standing up against corrupt government officials complicit in poaching gorillas.

“The meme was shocking and carried a very sinister and implicit threat,” says April. “It felt like the officer was trying to silence us, maybe to keep us from appearing in front of the city council that night.”

On October 16, the group was scheduled to attend the Boone City Council meeting in response to 650 Boone residents who had signed a petition in favor of allowing chickens. The pro-chicken group’s request was quickly rejected by council members.

Josh Mandelbaum

The dismissive way the pro-chicken people were treated combined with the threatening meme led April to one conclusion: “The way the councilmembers and mayor treated us wasn’t reflective of our town’s spirit. They looked down their noses at us and wouldn’t even consider a compromise. They were brash and mean, and the officer was even threatening. I’d had enough, so I recruited a friend, Dean Erickson, to run against the mayor on a write-in campaign.

Though his name wasn’t even on the ballot and the write-in campaign was announced less than three weeks before the election, Erickson received 25% of the vote. On a write-in campaign! That energy helped translate into victory for three other reform candidates. 

Election results across Iowa were similarly positive. In Des Moines, renewable energy wizard Josh Mandelbaum won against a well-financed former city councilman. “Voters want someone to stand up for them in the ongoing water-quality debate. They want someone who’s going to create a more walkable, bikable city, too,” says Josh.

In Pleasant Hill, Ross Grooters squeaked out a victory for a council seat. I first met Ross during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since then, he’s continued his unabashed efforts as a proponent of many progressive causes.

Kate Larson

In Dubuque, Kate Larson ran to replace the only woman on the city council, Joyce Connors, who was retiring after 16 years. “This is a working class ward with a lot of diversity in race and incomes,” Kate told me. “I won because I’ve been standing up for issues people care about, especially during my four years on the Parks and Recreation Commission. We worked really hard to run a positive, people-powered campaign, and that’s why people turned out and were excited about it. Turnout was 18%, compared with 8% two years ago.”

I’m still trying to process all that happened last night. I’ve heard of upbeat election results in Ames, Iowa City and Muscatine. If you’ve got details on what transpired in your community, let me know.

Going forward, here’s a big question: What, if anything, do these results say about the 2018 General Election? Kate says, “Last night’s results reflect an awakening. Progressive candidates winning shows momentum that will definitely keep going through the midterms.”

Let’s not merely hope that happens, let’s make it happen. As April Burch showed in Boone, one person —  ok, one person and a handsome flock of chickens — can make a huge difference.

Vote Next Tuesday!

Dear Friends,

Kirsten Anderson

Kirsten Anderson is my guest on Monday’s Fallon Forum at 11:30 a.m. Kirsten’s the former Iowa Senate Republican caucus staffer who received a $1.75 million settlement in the high-profile lawsuit that exposed the “boys’ club” environment beneath the golden dome, where rampant sexual harassment was ignored by Republican supervisors and lawmakers alike.

Watch or listen to our conversation on Facebook, online, or at 1260 AM and 96.5 FM in the Des Moines metro.

Josh Mandelbaum and his family

And on November 7, wherever you live, please vote! Local elections don’t get nearly the amount of coverage as, say, an unhinged twitter fiend running for, say, president. But local elections are important, and city officials have a profound influence on our daily lives.

If you live outside Des Moines, I’d be interested in an update on candidates and ballot initiatives in your area. If you live in Des Moines, please support Skip Moore for the at-large council seat and Josh Mandelbaum for Ward 3.

Interestingly, The Des Moines Register’s endorsement of Josh and non-endorsement of Skip present the reasons you need to support both of them.

Regarding Josh, The Register praises “his knowledge of environmental issues and, in particular, clean water, one of the biggest issues facing Des Moines. As an environmental lawyer and lobbyist for the Environmental Policy Center, Mandelbaum entered the race criticizing [outgoing Council member Christine] Hensley’s support of the controversial Statehouse bill to dismantle the Des Moines Water Works.”

Skip Moore

I’ve known Josh since he was a student at Roosevelt High School in the mid 1990s and passionate about important causes. His life since has continued to show a deep commitment to working for a better world, particularly in the area of environmental protection and renewable energy. We could sure use more of that on the city council.

The Register’s non-endorsement of Skip says, “He’s been a strong voice for the neighborhoods… He can get in the weeds on such subjects as potholes, sewers and viaducts, but he can also speak forcefully for the interests of immigrants, minorities and others who don’t have a voice.”

Well, that’s enough reason to support Skip right there. He’s one of three council members I can count on to consistently return phone calls and follow through on commitments. Booting Skip off the council would be a huge step backward for Des Moines, especially since Josh will need Skip’s help addressing Des Moines’ water problem.

Thanks! – Ed

Wanted: Bold Iowans

Dear Friends,

I’m writing with an urgent appeal. Since March of 2016, Bold Iowa has been a key leader on climate change and eminent domain. In fact, our work is recognized not just in Iowa but across the country.

Yet for Bold Iowa to continue, we need your help NOW!

Bold Iowa’s march earlier this year built new bridges in challenging conditions.

We’ve built a powerful rural-urban network of environmentalists, farmers, Indigenous communities, landowners, and property-rights advocates. But our funding is perilously tight, and we truly need your support NOW! If even 10% of those receiving this message contribute $25, that would cover 20% of our annual budget. So, please TAKE A COUPLE MINUTES TO DONATE!

Our mission to build a broad coalition to fight climate change, protect land and water, and stand up for property rights against the abuse of eminent domain keeps our awesome team busy. Beyond the importance of your financial support, if you’re feeling really bold and would like to discuss joining our team, contact me at ed@boldiowa.com.

Much of our work has focused on stopping the Dakota Access pipeline. We’re deeply saddened that oil is now running under Iowa’s precious soil and water. But this fight is far from over. The lawsuit filed by nine Iowa landowners and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club is before the Iowa Supreme Court. This is a landmark case that could potentially put the brakes on the erosion of private property rights! (Read my recent blog here, and stay tuned for updates.)

Here are a few of Bold Iowa’s 2017 accomplishments:

January: We followed-up on the December, 2016 rally and march in support of the Landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit, continuing to build awareness of that lawsuit and the other pipeline fighter cases going to trial. Also, Ed and five landowners were interviewed by Eric Byler with The Young Turks in extensive national coverage of Iowa landowners’ resistance to the pipeline.

The march after the landowners’ hearing at the Polk County Courthouse, December, 2016.

February: We coordinated a statewide day of action to push back against Dakota Access, with meetings and non-violent direct action at 12 locations across Iowa, receiving extensive press coverage and resulting in four arrests during a sit-in at the Governor’s office.

March: We helped Little Creek Camp with promotion and fundraising. Also, part of Bold Iowa’s effectiveness includes plenty of “earned” media, including an appearance on WHO TV 13’s The Insiders.

April: We organized and led the eight-day, 85-mile Climate Justice Unity March to build bridges between urban and rural constituencies on climate, water and eminent domain. A national documentary crew is producing a video about the March.

Kids in Searsboro ham it up during the Climate Justice Unity March’s visit.

May: We organized the press conference for pipeline-fighter Heather Pearson’s trial in Rockwell City, which was covered by three media outlets.

June: Bold Iowa and several of our leaders are mentioned extensively in the TigerSwan memos released in detailed investigative reports published by The Intercept. The memos confirm the effectiveness of Bold Iowa’s “Bold Action Teams,” a strategy that slowed down pipeline construction considerably.

July: Working with Indigenous Iowa, we organized a rally and concert to demand pipeline accountability from Iowa’s elected leaders. The event featured renowned Native classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala.

Regina Tsosie opens the July 1 rally with song and prayer.

August: Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace, Bold Iowa and other organizations claiming damages of $1 billion. Our multi-layered strategy — education, protest, marches, civil disobedience, divestment, and political action — has had a clear and profound impact. Bold Iowa is honored to be tagged in this lawsuit, the second time in the past year ETP has come after us in the courts.

September: We discovered and publicized language in the Iowa Code showing that Gov. Branstad’s latest appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board, Richard Lozier, is unfit to serve because of “gross partiality” due to his work as an attorney representing the Dakota Access pipeline.

October: We began the process of contacting candidates for Governor and US Congress, with plans to endorse candidates who are strong on climate action, committed to fighting to protect our environment, and advocate for reining in the abuse of eminent domain. We also continue to stand in court with pipeline fighters Emma Schmit, Mahmud Fitil, and Kriss Wells who, along with Heather Pearson, were arrested last year and brought their cases to trial.

Heather Pearson testifies at her trial in Rockwell City.

Finally, we’re planning a “Picnic on the Pipeline” for October 29 — stay tuned for more detail on that — and we’re launching a series of house parties on solar energy.

Wow, right?! We’ve done a heckuva lot for a small, grassroots organization! Help build on this success by stepping forward:

Thanks! Together, let’s be bold and fight for an Iowa that puts our traditional values of community, hard work, and respect for the land and water ahead of the narrow, self-serving interests of bought-and-paid-for politicians and corporate bigwigs who are trying to run roughshod over our rights and our lives.

Ed Fallon

 

Sinking the Santa Maria

Dear Friends,

[Please come to the trial for Emma Schmit and Mahmud Fitil, pipeline fighters arrested last fall for blocking construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline during Bold Iowa‘s Farmers Defense Camp. For more detail, check out this excellent video by Rodger Routh. We’ve been asked not to wear pipeline shirts in the courtroom.]

I’ve never understood why Christopher Columbus was given a holiday. [Listen to Donnielle Wanatee on this week’s Forum.] I get why we celebrate the impressive lives of men (yeah, they’re all men, but let’s change that) like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. These men actually accomplished great things.

Statue of Columbus splattered with “blood.”

But a holiday for a guy who “discovered” America? I mean, really, you sail west from Spain and how could you miss it?

Columbus didn’t “discover” America. He pillaged it and opened the door to one of the most despicable genocides in human history. Such an “accomplishment” doesn’t warrant a national holiday. It warrants a national apology to the descendants of the Indigenous people Columbus and other European invaders slaughtered.

So I’m all kinds of excited about the movement to declare the first Monday of October “Indigenous Peoples Day,” which already has been approved in 55 cities.

Let’s keep that going. My prediction is by the middle of the next decade, Columbus Day will no longer be a national holiday and we’ll celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in its place. But in the interest of reconciliation, I suggest we give Columbus Day an honorable, merciful death by sending a flaming replica of Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, down the Potomac River and out to sea. Leif Erikson would be proud.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of Groundhog Day. America’s most overrated rodent is wrong half the time anyhow.