Paving Paradise

Dear Friends,

I have a dream. Not the ML King kind of dream. Well, I have that dream too, but I’m talking here about one of those subconscious adventures that sticks in your head long after most dreams have faded from memory.

Here’s the dream: I live in a small town, a beautiful place surrounded by field and forest, and so intricately woven into the fabric of the landscape that one can’t tell where town ends and nature begins. It’s peaceful. There’s an air of justice about the place. Everyone gets along. (Ok, this is beginning to sound like ML King’s dream after all. But wait.)

We wake up one morning to find that government officials and a developer have sneakily used eminent domain to take control over a large swath of our land. In the dark of night, they came with bulldozers (don’t ask how we slept through that), tore out trees and covered the bare ground with sand.

Yes, sand. They had determined the land could be improved by making it into a beach. The only problem is there was no water nearby, rendering the “improvement” economically and environmentally ridiculous.

Officials had screwed up. So, the next night they came again and dotted the now sandy landscape with huge plastic palm trees, a boulevard and a variety of tacky tourist amenities. I knew we had to fight back to keep them from taking the rest of our land, but I had had enough for one night. So sorry, I can’t tell you how The People fared against the combined forces of Corporate and Government evil.

What I can tell you is that those forces are always more potent – and less accountable – when conspiring together.

Not to say that all corporations are bad (the Fallon Forum is one . . . ok, a teeny one). Not to say that all government is corrupt or incompetent (I would like to thank City staff for maintaining the streets I use to bike to work). Not to say that business and government shouldn’t work cooperatively. But as corporations and governments grow bigger, the average person’s influence dwindles. And when that firewall between corporate board rooms and legislative chambers is eliminated, the little guy and gal get trampled.

Monday, we talk about Senator Harkin’s unexpected retirement, and what that means for the lay of the political landscape in Iowa. Also, Ron Yarnell joins me to discuss “inverted totalitarianism.” We also try to sort out Governor Branstad’s apparent contempt for the poor, as evidenced most recently by his unwillingness to expand Medicaid.

Tuesday, we talk with Glenn Lyons of the Greater Des Moines Partnership about the importance of passenger rail to central Iowa. Also, we dig into eminent domain and what can be done to stop its abuse (see above dream for a primer, sort of, on this topic).

(Note: Tuesday’s program will be rebroadcast Wednesday at 4:00 pm on KHOI 89.1 FM.)

Wednesday, we talk about how more and more banks are merging and why. We also talk with Carlos Jayne with Iowans for Gun Safety about New York City’s controversial gun control ordinance. And we discuss the recent student sit-in at a school in Columbus Junction to protest cuts in teacher pay.

Thursday, Ralph Rosenberg with the Iowa Environmental Council joins us to discuss water quality. Also, State Rep. Dan Kelley is with us for an inside look at the Statehouse. And we talk about Marriott International’s decision to phase-out confinement pork and chicken, and the impact that might have on producers.

Friday, we discuss lake restoration, and how Governor Branstad is threatening to renege on Iowa’s long-term commitment to protect our limited supply of public lakes. We also talk with Maureen McCue with Physicians for Social Responsibility about a promising development relevant to coal and climate change. And Heather Ryan joins us to talk about Mitch McConnell’s possible primary challenge. (Note: Heather must be one of the boldest human beings on the planet, having actually run against McConnell in the general election when she lived in Kentucky.)

So, every Monday through Friday, live from Des Moines – the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of the Continent – join the conversation online from 12:00-1:00 pm on the Fallon Forum website. Call-in at 244-0077 or toll free (855) 244-0077 and add your voice to the dialogue. And tune-in to Bradshaw, Monday-Friday from 1:30-2:30, also on the Fallon Forum website. If you miss a show, video and audio-only podcasts are available later in the day. Thanks!


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