My visit to Parkland, Florida

Dear Friends,

Three things strike me as I skirt the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, site of the most recent school shooting — the eighteenth of 2018!

First, the strong showing of local law enforcement. Given the circumstances, their presence is understandable and appreciated.

Next, the sprawling memorial to the seventeen students and teachers shot and killed on February 14. The memorial is a spontaneous outpouring of grief and respect — a colorful wall of flowers, urns, candles, stuffed animals, balloons, flags and signs stretching the length of the fence to the school’s entrance.

I talk with two students from a nearby high school. Like so many others, they’ve brought flowers to add to the growing tribute to those who lost their lives. They don’t understand why anyone should be allowed to own an assault weapon. Given the heightened national discussion in the wake of the Parkland shooting, they now feel hopeful.

Finally, the overwhelming throng of reporters and media crews toting cameras, microphones and notepads. The school has been closed since the shooting. Today, teachers return and join school board members and Robert Runcie, the Broward County Public Schools Superintendent, at a press conference. Robert is focused on the immediate well being of teachers and students and says, “We’re going to do what we can to relieve the stress, the pain, and the grief that we know our teachers are going through. And of course, when our students get back we’ll be ready to support them as well.”

I ask Anna Fusco, President of the Broward Teachers Union, about assault weapons. There are many, many aspects to the debate about gun violence, including concerns about mental health, violence in the media, and the extent to which Americans have become isolated from each other  and nature. To me, the most pressing issue, one of the problems we can and should fix immediately, is that nearly anyone can own an assault weapon — a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as quickly as possible.

“Teachers should not be armed,” Anna tells me. “To say that we should be the chosen ones to have a loaded gun on our campus with our students, it’s not our job, it should not be put on us, and I’ve not heard from one, not one teacher who wants to have a gun on their person.”

Anna Fusco

I interview Anna, and ask if she believes a ban on assault weapons is an accomplishable goal. “I believe it can happen,” she responds. “All it takes is sticking with it and being persistent and being relentless and making sure it goes through the process and the channels and things happen.”

Given the political clout of the NRA and the sad reality that the Republican Congress is its wholly owned subsidiary, it won’t be an easy fight. Until Parkland, it seemed that too many Americans had grown numb to gun violence. But something has changed. There’s momentum like never before, with a palpable shift in progress. Parkland students themselves, and the thousands of other students who have quickly coalesced into a national movement, may well bring this crisis to the tipping point where something meaningful finally gets done.

Because the only thing bought-and-paid-for politicians fear more than losing the financial backing of their biggest donors is losing the support of their constituents and being voted out of office. The polling on various gun control measures indicates an electorate increasingly ready for gun control. While we expect the NRA, Congress, and President Trump to continue to stonewall, it may no longer be possible for them to put the brakes on the momentum that’s building.

Parkland students and a wide range of allied organizations have called for a massive, coast-to-coast mobilization on March 24, including a March for our Lives rally in Des Moines. It’s important that all of us stand with them, even if we risk offending some friend or family member who has not yet grasped the urgent necessity for reform.

Yes, this is truly a historic moment. Think of the comparable points in time with Women’s Suffrage, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and most recently marriage equality where the collective consciousness had evolved enough — through both hard work and tragedy — that a paradigm shift was inevitable. We may well be at that point with regards to gun violence, and it’s important to keep pushing, and to push hard.

If by March 24 Congress has done nothing, I suggest the next step for this national mobilization be a general strike. It could start with students refusing to attend school until specific, significant changes are accomplished. If that happens, those of us who aren’t students must be prepared to stand with them. A general strike is one of the most powerful social change tools available. But to work, it has to be broad-based with massive public buy-in — and it has to be well organized.

In the meantime, let’s do all we can to encourage a huge turnout on March 24. In doing so, we not only honor those killed at Parkland and in other mass shootings, we honor our own children, and the children and families who will be spared the agony of losing a loved one to gun violence in the future.

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For US Congress . . . Eddie Mauro!

Dear Friends,

Eddie Mauro

Iowans living in the Third Congressional District are fortunate to have a talented field of candidates running in the Democratic Primary. But Eddie Mauro stands out as a genuine, authentic, caring person — the complete opposite of the bought-and-paid-for politicians running, and ruining, our state and our country.

I first met Eddie twenty years ago when I was bringing food, clothing, and other supplies to homeless men and women living along the Raccoon River. Eddie wasn’t there for a photo op. I learned that day that he spends a lot of time serving our most disenfranchised population.

Eddie’s commitment to help the homeless, the poor, and the downtrodden has persisted all these years. In fact, at two recent events for the homeless, Eddie was the only congressional candidate in attendance.

Three Eds are better than two: Mauro, Bloomer and Fallon

I’m passionate about a lot of issues, but none more than the urgent climate crisis. Eddie’s position on climate change is not only the strongest among candidates running in the Third District, it’s one of the strongest of any congressional candidate in the country! Check out Eddie’s white paper on The Climate Crisis.

Eddie truly understands the urgent need for bold action on climate change and the importance of creating clean energy jobs as climate mitigation becomes a driver of economic development. His message on climate is one that resonates with both urban and rural Iowans.

Beyond the specific issues that Eddie champions (learn more here), I’m impressed with his authenticity and leadership skills. I’m impressed, too, with the campaign he’s running. Frankly, Eddie is Iowa’s best prospect to beat David Young in the fall.

That means a lot. Winning a tough primary in June means nothing if you can’t win the general election in November. With the Third District listed as one of the pivotal congressional seats in the country, it’s tremendously important that Democrats put forth their strongest champion.

With Eddie Mauro, we’re fortunate that the strongest candidate to win is also the strongest candidate on the issues. Please join me in supporting Eddie. Let me know how you’d like to be involved. A grassroots campaign such as this requires ALL our voices and a whole lot of effort. Let’s make it happen!

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“Sabotage” bill a Trojan Horse for eminent domain abuse

Dear Friends,

About twenty years ago, growth-management advocates across the US were shocked when the Tennessee General Assembly enacted one of the nation’s strongest anti-urban sprawl bills. At the time, I was working on similar legislation in Iowa, so I traveled to Nashville to learn more.

Sitting in the office of a state lawmaker who helped champion the bill, I asked, “How did you make this happen?”

“Mah friend,” drawled the lawmaker as he drew on his cigarette, “if you want to accomplish something big, you have to manufacture a crisis.”

That conversation provided solid insight into the mechanics of back-room politics, which occasionally, but only occasionally, benefit the common good. I’ve since learned, however, that you don’t have to manufacture a crisis to accomplish something big. Sometimes, all you have to do is latch on to an existing one.

Such is the case with so-called “critical infrastructure sabotage” legislation (HSB 603 and SSB 3062) currently before the Iowa House and Senate. The proposal is  backed by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

ETP is fortunate not to have had to manufacture a crisis. Multiple acts of arson and vandalism against the pipeline in 2016 and 2017 provided the ostensible justification for this legislation, giving ETP the cover it needed to push for a bill that has nothing to do with sabotage and everything to do with silencing nonviolent dissent and influencing a historic Iowa court case.

Consider these key points:

1. Under Iowa law, arson and vandalism are already serious crimes. Remember Charles Willard, the man who torched a Catholic church in Stuart in 1995? He got 25 years — the same number of years prescribed in the proposed legislation. Further cracking down on arson and “sabotage” isn’t necessary. The Iowa Code already has it covered.

2. The legislation could potentially apply the 25-year sentence, plus a fine of up to $100,000, to completely peaceful and nonviolent protesters who “cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service.” ETP originally said oil would flow through its pipeline in the fall of 2016. Yet because of numerous delays, some caused by protesters, oil didn’t begin to flow until June of 2017.

It’s impossible to say how this legislation would be interpreted in a court of law, but ETP could argue that, given the delay, protesters caused an “interruption” of service and deserve the maximum fine and penalty. What a chilling effect that would have on the First Amendment!

3. This legislation legitimizes the Dakota Access Pipeline as “critical infrastructure.” It lumps a privately owned oil pipeline in with genuine public infrastructure, including lines that transport electricity, gas, broadband service, water, and wastewater.

That’s my biggest concern. More than anything, this legislation could be used to help defeat the lawsuit filed by nine landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club against the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for granting ETP the authority to use eminent domain to take landowners’ property by force to build the pipeline.

Of all the compelling arguments against the Dakota Access Pipeline, one of the strongest is that ETP is a private company merely transporting its product through Iowa. True public infrastructure is used by the people whose land it passes through. Whether it’s a road, a gas line, telephone lines, or a water line, people living along the route are able to use that service or product. Not so with the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Its highly questionable status as critical public infrastructure is ETP’s Achilles’ heel. It knows this, and it hopes Iowans either haven’t noticed or have stopped caring. If ETP can use its financial might to ram this legislation through quickly and quietly, it will effectively codify a private oil pipeline as a public necessity.

Even if you’re not concerned about the Dakota Access Pipeline, you should be disturbed by the broader ramifications of SSB 3062 and HSB 603. And you should be interested in the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit because if plaintiffs lose, all bets are off with how eminent domain could be used in the future.

During the thick of the pipeline fight, a farmer along the route said to me, “If ETP can call itself a public utility because some of the crude oil flowing through my soil may eventually find its way into my gas tank, what’s to stop mall developers from using eminent domain and arguing that they’re a public purpose because I might shop there someday?”

Great question. Conservative or liberal, Iowans ought to oppose this legislation. It’s a Trojan Horse that has nothing to do with sabotage.

It’s about cracking down on peaceful protest.

It’s about throwing open the doors to the abuse of eminent domain wider than ever before.

It’s a slippery slope — greased with oil and campaign donations — that will only lead to further erosion of Iowans’ property rights and put our land, water and climate at even greater risk.

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Check out this week’s Fallon Forum. We discuss:
1. “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” with David VanCleave
2. Why New England Patriots still best team ever
3. DREAMers find ally in conservative Christians
4. Mighty Earth vs Tyson, with Jessye Waxman and Lora Fraracci
5. Global warming kisses Paris accord goodbye
6. No one president can fix America’s deep disfunction, with Ron Yarnell

– 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).


– 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)

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Iowa Pipeline Fighters Head to Super Bowl to Pressure US Bank to Divest

Dear Friends,

Go Tom Brady! Yeah, I just had to get that out of the way. Across the country, people are turning up the heat on politicians and corporations intent on destroying our water, land, and planet for satiate their lust for power and money.

US Bank is one of them, and it’ll be in the spotlight on Super Sunday when the Pats and Eagles tangle at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The day before the Super Bowl — let’s call it Super Saturday — pipeline fighters, Native leaders, and property-rights defenders from across the upper Midwest will converge in Minneapolis to turn up the heat on US Bank. I’ll be there and, with cold weather forecast, will be wearing two hats. See photo on right. And see the release below for details about the action.

And “Go Tom Brady!” (Or did I already say that?) — Ed

Thursday, February 1, 2018 — 11:00 a.m. CST

Contact: Christine Nobiss at (319) 331-8034 or
Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or

Iowa Pipeline Fighters Head to Super Bowl to Pressure US Bank to Divest
High security, restrictions on freedom of speech, expected in Minneapolis

Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa will join a coalition of Native and non-Native organizations from across the upper Midwest this Saturday, February 3 at 12:30 at the headquarters of Minnesota at 2104 Stevens Ave in Minneapolis for a rally and action in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl game at US Bank Stadium. Native communities, farmers, landowners, and environmentalists fighting Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline are pressuring US Bank to stop financing oil pipelines.

“If US Bank has a moral compass, this should be a no brainer,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “US Bank is as complicit as Energy Transfer Partners for abusing eminent domain, trampling the rights of rural landowners, destroying farmers’ soil and crops, and threatening our water and climate. That can change. It needs to change, and we’re turning up the heat to make it happen. In Iowa, we’re educating people about the lawsuit filed by landowners and the Sierra Club. That case is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court this spring, and the ruling could well be historic.”

“US Bank is perpetuating the cycle of colonization that disenfranchises and oppresses those who are not ‘privileged’ enough to be part of middle and upper class American society,” said Christine Nobiss, founder of Indigenous Iowa. “US Bank funds the extraction industry and allows government-backed corporate conglomerates to move in to poor communities and create havoc. Not only does the extraction industry add to climate change and destroy local environments during construction, spills, and explosions but it also institutes ‘man-camps’ which bring added violence and sexual assault to local communities. As an Indigenous woman, I’ve seen and heard first hand what man-camps have done to our First Nation communities, and it is frightening. These camps are one of many institutions in society that contribute to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, men, and children. This is on you, US Bank.”

Last year, Nation of Change published an informative article about the nuances in pipeline infrastructure financing. That article also contains links to the contracts between Energy Transfer Partners, US Bank, and other financial institutions providing capital to allow the Dakota Access and other pipelines to be built.

Indigenous Iowa was founded by Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux from the Gordon First Nation. She is a decolonizer and also works with Seeding Sovereignty. One of the main goals of Indigenous Iowa is to raise awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas and coal have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy. Indigenous Iowa’s website is

Bold Iowa is 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. The organization’s website is

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