Supreme Irony

Dear Friends,

{Reminder: FILE A PETITION TO INTERVENE ON THE PIPELINE!! You have until July 27 to get the full volume of your voice heard in Iowa Utilities Board deliberations on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. Click here for a copy of the petition.}

Ah, political irony! You know it’s been a wacky week when the so-called conservative U.S. Supreme Court is your friend and so-called liberal President Obama isn’t. Consider the Court’s rulings on:

– The Affordable Care Act. In Iowa, 40,000 of us earning less than $47,000 a year will still be able to afford health insurance.

– Marriage equality. Eighty percent of Iowans say gays and lesbians marrying has either a positive impact or no impact at all on their lives. With SCOTUS’ ruling for marriage equality in all 50 states, maybe the rest of the country will come to the same conclusion, and, like interracial marriage, we can put this issue behind us.

Housing discrimination. SCOTUS determined that housing discrimination need not be intentional in order to be illegal.

All three rulings benefit Americans who largely voted for President Obama. While the Supreme Court was hard at work delivering hope and change to the President’s base, what was the President himself up to?

Why, he was busy cramming the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress, despite strong opposition from Tea Party Republicans, House and Senate Democrats and the vast majority of Americans. Referred to by some as NAFTA on steroids, “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its cross-hairs,” wrote Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.

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Dear Friends,

Business and political leaders in Iowa have been outspoken against bullying – a problem in our classrooms, on our playgrounds and in our streets. But these same leaders ignore – and actually enable – the corporate bullying tactics of Dakota Access in its aggressive push to build the Bakken Oil Pipeline.

This was on my mind this morning when, through bleary eyes, the above-the-fold Des Moines Register headline screamed at me:

“Firm: Most pipeline land secured”

Really? Sixty percent is “most?” If my kid leaves 40% of his dinner on his plate, he doesn’t get dessert. If I buy you a beer and you leave 40% in your glass, I’m unlikely to buy you another. “Most” involves a lot of grey area, but rarely does it mean a mere 60%.

Furthermore, as one reads the article, the 60% figure is highly disputed.

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Call Branstad on eminent domain bill

For over a decade, my farmer friends in Clarke County have been battling to stop the abuse of eminent domain for a recreational lake along Coyote Canyon. This year, a bill that would provide some protection to landowners – SF 449 – passed and is now on Governor Branstad’s desk. SF 449 would hold developers responsible for the amount of acres actually needed for a water supply, and would also require them to investigate alternatives so eminent domain would not have to be used.

The Governor has not yet indicated if he will sign or veto the bill, but he’s receiving huge pressure from local lake developers to veto it. On top of that, this is a pet project of Lt. Gov. Reynolds, so perhaps she also is encouraging a veto.

Please call (yes, call, because the Governor does not have an email address) Governor Branstad and ask him to sign SF 449 to help farmers in Clarke County who do not want their land condemned for a lake. Call his office at (515) 281-5211, and remind him that last year he ran an attack ad implying his SUPPORT for private property rights. Let’s hold him accountable to what amounted to a campaign promise! Thanks – Ed

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Action worth more than talk


Bernie Sanders speaks at Drake University this past weekend.

Dear Friends,

Whether it’s a seat at City Hall or residency in the White House, the lure of public office is powerful. In the desire to win, politicians utter all manner of things they don’t believe, won’t do or simply can’t accomplish. One of my all-time favorites is Terry Branstad promising population growth in all 99 counties. I never knew quite how Branstad planned to accomplish that. Apparently, neither did he.

o'malley pride

Martin O’Malley was the lone presidential candidate with a presence in Des Moines’ Pride Parade.

It’s not hard to imagine why candidates for President would spend tens of millions of dollars redesigning their image and message if they and their handlers thought it would improve marketability to voters. Indeed, the country is now infested with political consultants getting rich providing such a service.

So, how does the responsible voter sort fact from fiction, sincerity from pandering, deliverable promises from marketing ploys? How do we select the presidential candidate most likely to do what he or she says they’ll do? Easy answer, really: pay more attention to what they’ve done than what they say.

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Wearing my thistle proudly

Dear Friends,

Last month, when I asked Governor Branstad to meet with me to discuss the Bakken Oil Pipeline and the eminent domain bill, I believed that – historically at least – we had two things in common: (1) Criticism of Big Oil, and (2) Support for property rights and limiting the power of eminent domain.

Well, on Sunday, the Governor and I achieved a new milestone in common ground: We both received a thistle from The Des Moines Register. I’ll let the Governor fight his own thistle-battle. Regarding mine, the Register accuses me of wanting to “punish all politicians who don’t agree with {my} crusade against an oil pipeline.”thistle

Not true. I’m smarter than that, as the Register concedes (“Fallon is a smart fellow”). I don’t want to punish all politicians who disagree with me on the pipeline. I just want to send enough packing to change the political dynamic at the Statehouse, to let elected leaders know that people are tired of being taken for granted.

And it’s not just me that feels this way. Two days after the announcement of the campaign to target a few key lawmakers, $4,500 in unsolicited donations was pledged to the effort!

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Register Gives Me A Thistle

{As it appeared in the Sunday, June 7 2015 Des Moines Register}

Branstad should know: Diet soda won’t make us healthiest state

By the Register’s editorial staff

A thistle to Gov. Terry Branstad for signing on to a soft-drink industry campaign to dodge responsibility for America’s obesity problem. To be sure, the governor deserves heaps of praise for his Healthiest State Initiative (even if he set an unrealistic goal of being No. 1 in the nation). But part of that strategy should be an honest acknowledgement that sweetened soft drinks are a major factor in weight gain. The industry obviously wants to be seen as getting out in front of this issue, which is fine. But a governor who wants to lead Iowa to being the healthiest state in the nation should be more skeptical of claims that we can get there by simply cutting back on sodas or switching to diet drinks. Nor is advocating bottled water a better option: Tap water is far cheaper and just as pure, if not more so. Besides, the last thing Iowa ditches and landfills need is more empty plastic bottles.

A thistle to former state Rep. Ed Fallon of Des Moines, who wants to punish all politicians who don’t agree with his crusade against an oil pipeline. Fallon and other opponents of the proposed pipeline wanted the Legislature to pass a bill raising the bar on eminent domain powers, which would make it next to impossible for pipeline companies to secure needed right of way. The bill looked to be dead last week, so Fallon announced he will raise money and campaign to unseat legislators who opposed the bill. Fallon is a smart fellow, and we have praised him in the past for his principled dedication to a cleaner environment, but he knows better than to judge politicians on a single issue. Meanwhile, the legislation as proposed would make an unwise change in state law that could bar all utility projects, regardless of their merits.

A rose to fans of the old Riverview Park who are dedicated to preserving memories of the amusement park. Established 100 years ago, Riverview Park was tucked in between a lagoon and a sharp bend in the Des Moines River on the city’s north side. It was a popular destination for families, youngsters seeking thrills on the roller coaster and couples who danced away summer evenings at the Riviera Ballroom. Although it has been closed since 1978, Highland Park and Oak Park neighborhood groups and others have doggedly worked to redevelop the site. The latest concept is a park with a stage for weekly summertime concerts, shelter and playground. The Parks Area Foundation is hoping to raise $4 million for the project. “We’re shovel-ready,” foundation secretary Pam Thompson told the Register’s Timothy Meinch. “We’ve got all the drawings completed, our website [] and everything. We just need the money.”

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Political Action to Stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 10:30 a.m., Iowa State Capitol
Statement from Ed Fallon re:
Political Action to Stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline

The vast majority of Iowans overwhelmingly oppose letting a private corporation condemn farmland for an oil pipeline. Yet the Legislature’s leadership – both Republican and Democrat – refuses to bring up the eminent domain bill for a vote.

Thousands of Iowans have spoken out against the pipeline and in support of SF 506 and HSB 249. We have written our lawmakers, the Governor, the Iowa Utilities Board and our local newspapers. We have spoken out at public forums. Landowners have gone so far as to record conversations with pipeline representatives, called their county sheriff to prevent pipeline workers from trespassing on their property, hired attorneys, and many more actions that are courageous and commendable.

For my part, I walked 400 miles across Iowa along the path of the proposed pipeline and was arrested for refusing to leave Governor Branstad’s office. I am passionately committed to stopping this pipeline. As I considered what else could be done, I realized that our trump card is to hit the political leadership at the Iowa Statehouse on the two things they pay most attention to: money and votes.

So, today, I firmly commit myself to an action that will be more challenging and more time-consuming than walking across Iowa or getting arrested. Today, I commit myself to organizing landowners and other pipeline opponents to help defeat one or two Democratic Senators and one or two Republican Representatives who are opposed to the eminent domain bill.

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Time for “trump card” on eminent domain bill

Dear Friends,

With the legislative session likely to end this week and the eminent domain bill languishing, it’s time to pull out all the stops. I ask you to do three things:

(1) Call or write your state senator to ask Senate leadership to bring up SF 506 for debate NOW! Similarly, call or write your state representative to ask House leadership to bring up HSB 249 for debate NOW! If you’re not certain who represents you at the statehouse, go to find your legislator.

(2) Tomorrow, I announce the “trump card” in this fight, one that I believe has the potential to finally convince Iowa’s political leadership to do the right thing and pass the eminent domain bill. Help me get the word out TODAY by cutting and pasting this press release and sharing it online and with your local media:

9:30 a.m. Monday,  June 1, 2015
Des Moines, Iowa
For more information, contact Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404

Fallon to announce 11th hour “trump card” strategy on eminent domain bill
“It’s time to hit elected officials where they are most vulnerable.”

Tuesday, June 2 at 10:30 a.m. outside Governor Branstad’s office (Room GO9), former Iowa lawmaker Ed Fallon will announce what he calls the “trump card” strategy to move the eminent domain bill (SF 506 and HSB 249) forward. The bill would establish a fairer, more level playing field and provide some protections to landowners along the path of the proposed Bakken oil pipeline. In April, the bill easily passed a subcommittee of the Iowa House and a full committee of the Iowa Senate. But it since has stalled out, and leaders in both chambers are preventing it from coming up for debate.

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