GOP Shake-up No Big Deal

Dear Friends,

My take on the Iowa Republican Party shake-up? Purely cosmetic. Expect business as usual. Iowans will see the same anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-environment and anti-labor rhetoric and policy proposals that are standard practice for both Governor Branstad and the GOP-controlled Iowa House.

Sure, so-called “liberty movement” Republicans are out. Theocrats and big business Republicans are in. But there is no substantive difference, and real world problems will be met by the same lack of vision and lack of empathy for the common person that have become standard for modern-day Republicans.

I do need to give the ousted Ron Paul supporters credit for one thing. They weren’t afraid to challenge the power brokers within the Party. Of course, that’s a big part of why they were ousted.

One impact could be positive for Iowa – one based on image, not substance. National poobahs, both Republican and Democrat, will prognosticate that the Iowa Republican Party has transformed itself, has become more representative of the electorate. They’ll reason that Iowa has redeemed itself after the caucus fiasco of 2012. Thus, it’ll be harder for Iowa’s detractors to argue we are unfit to host the first-in-the-nation presidential contest.

For that reason, Iowa Democrats ought to send Terry Branstad a thank you note on a slip of paper. But make sure that slip of paper is pink, so it can double as notice that Branstad’s reign of error is finished.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Climate March in Jeopardy

Dear Friends,

Let me cut to the chase: The Great March for Climate Action needs to raise $50,000 during the next month if it is to continue. We have marched over 600 miles and have enough funds to get to Albuquerque. But the next critical stretch – Albuquerque to Denver, and then eastward toward the proposed path of the Keystone Pipeline – is in jeopardy if significant funds don’t arrive immediately. {Click here to donate now.}

I know that you – my long-time friends and supporters – understand the urgency of the climate crisis. I know that you appreciate the historic impact the March is having – and will continue to have as our numbers grow and momentum builds en route to Washington, DC. And I know that you appreciate the tremendous physical and personal sacrifices that I am making – that ALL of our marchers are making! – to bring this vision to fruition.

What you may not know is this:

We are already accomplishing tremendous things!

  • In the wake of our kick-off in Wilmington, California on March 1st, Valero (the company that threatened to drastically increase refining tar-sands oil in the Port of LA) withdrew its permit due to intense public pressure;
  • Press coverage has been extensive and favorable, not just along the March route but increasingly across the country (click here);
  • The town of Payson, Arizona rolled out the red carpet for us, and organizers there assured us we had a huge impact on the town’s conversation about becoming more sustainable;
  • Native American communities in Los Angeles, Parker and Phoenix have been very welcoming and engaging, and our state coordinator in New Mexico has arranged extensive dialogue with Native communities there; and
  • Our outreach through social media is growing by leaps and bounds.

And just this week, our young marchers released a compelling video, which is seeing broad circulation across the country: Reject and Protect.

I have given a lot to my home state of Iowa over the years. You – my friends, supporters and fellow climate patriots – have given me a lot, too. You have made it possible for us to work together to make a clear difference. Today, I am asking you in the strongest possible terms to step forward now, to donate as generously as possible to keep the Great March for Climate Action rolling.

The March’s impact on the crisis of our times will reverberate far beyond Iowa, from one end of our country to the other, and beyond our shores to a world looking to us for leadership and resolve. Please continue to help me and our dedicated core of marchers make that happen. Thank you!

Ed Fallon

Poll shows trouble for Terry

Dear Friends,

Popular wisdom has it that Governor Branstad’s armor is so thick it can’t be damaged by one lousy scandal. But what about a whole pile of lousy scandals? A poll released yesterday by PPP and commissioned by Progress Iowa spells big trouble for Branstad, with State Senator Jack Hatch polling a mere 5 points behind the 5-term governor.

More important, when poll respondents were asked about the recent scandals, Hatch trails by only one point. One point!

In other words, the Iowa governor’s race is a statistical tie!

That’s unprecedented. Branstad has been unbeatable in the past. He has always polled well ahead of his Democratic challengers. For Hatch to be this close six months before the election moves the race for Governor into a more prominent position in the national spotlight. It gives Hatch more credibility. It brings in new allies. And it will most certainly attract donations from individuals and causes favorable to the environment, campaign finance reform, health care reform and government accountability.

Whatever you thought about the Terry Branstad of the 1980s and 1990s, this millennium’s Branstad has taken political dysfunction and denial to new levels. Pundits who once thought Jack Hatch was either a sacrificial lamb or a long shot are having to rethink that viewpoint. With the legislative session about to end and Hatch free to bring his message of a fresh approach to governance to Iowans across the state, I’d say Branstad is in big trouble. This poll bears that out.

This week, we’ll talk about politics, issues and give you updates on the Great March for Climate Action on the Fallon Forum. Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 and add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Governor Denial

Dear Friends,

I received a welcome visitor in Payson, Arizona last week: my computer! As the Great March for Climate Action rolls across central Arizona, I am now able to resume regular weekly updates. I’ll continue to broadcast each program live from the March route, Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. On the docket for today is an analysis of this scathing critique of Governor Branstad by WHO news dude Dave Price. (And if you’ve got an opinion on this one, please call-in at 855-244-0077.) It’s spot on, so I’m just going to share the entire post and encourage you to view this link:

http://whotv.com/2014/04/08/political-fallout-governors-reputation-at-stake/

Writes Price:

Terry Branstad is Iowa’s longest serving governor. If he wins re-election, he would become the nation’s longest serving governor.

But he has to convince Iowans he’s still the best person for the job.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” Don’t believe everything you hear Governor Branstad warned us Monday.

It turns out, maybe we should have believed former state worker Carol Frank’s claims she was paid hush money.

The truth of her words makes the governor’s previous emphatic denial that the offer didn’t happen potentially more damaging to his reputation.

The governor said repeatedly he never knew about confidential settlements given to former workers affiliated with a dozen different departments across the state.

Other controversies

Denial has been a big part of the governor’s response in other key statehouse controversies.

When state troopers driving him got busted from driving far too fast, the governor said, “The lieutenant governor and I were both in the vehicle. We didn’t know anything about it. We didn’t know the incident even occurred.”

When news broke staff at the Iowa Juvenile Home kept troubled children locked in isolation cells for months, the governor said he didn’t know.

Five months after the home’s former superintendent left, when asked whether she quit or got fired the governor responded, “I don’t know the information on that. I don’t try to micromanage departments and agencies.”

Three high profile controversies, three denials from the governor.

Add them together and they give his long-shot challenger this to question the governor’s leadership. “I’m just wondering who’s in charge? He says he doesn’t micromanage. But the question is, does he manage at all?” gubernatorial contender Jack Hatch asked.

The governor faced criticism for letting two men remain on their jobs too long. Employees said Public Safety Director Brian London’s management style ruined morale. And they said Commandant David Worley bullied residents and staff at the Iowa Veterans Home.

The governor had initially praised both men. Both men eventually resigned.

Voters will eventually have a choice to make. Do they think the governor doesn’t have a good grasp on what his managers are doing, as Hatch claims? Or when the governor finds out there has been a problem does he take decisive action?

The DAS director has been fired, the speeding troopers were reprimanded and the governor closed the Juvenile Home.

Come November voters decide whether Governor Branstad remains the best person for the job.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Climate March – Day 1

Greetings DM,

If I could have conceived a more difficult start to the Climate March, I’m not sure what it would have been. In Southern California, where drought has plagued the region, who could have imagined three days of heavy rain? The worst day was today – the start of our 3000-mile March.
20140302-105400.jpg
On top of that, Day One was long – a 19.4-mile trek through Los Angeles’ industrial underbelly and some of its most impoverished neighborhoods. The start of the rally was an auspicious location: a park overlooking the towering infrastructure of the Port of LA’s oil refineries, which are poised to beef-up production at a time when climate models make it clear we need to cut back dramatically on fossil fuel consumption. Over 1,500 people turned out for an invigorating rally and the first two miles of marching. The rain held off. It was a glorious start.

Then the rains resumed.

It was like Iowa in June, complete with thunder, lightning and torrential downpours. The rain turned city streets into raging rivers. Crossing intersections often involved wading through water up to our calves. Two marchers had to stop due to the risk of hypothermia. Others bailed out for a variety of reasons, including the need for strong backs to extricate our gear truck from the mud at our previous camp.

I was able to walk the entire distance, with great difficulty, and made it to our overnight stop at All Peoples Christian Church at 9:30 pm. Due to weather conditions, church members at the last minute let us stay inside, a kindness that was extremely well received by marchers. I was too exhausted to do much other than wash up a little and crawl into my sleeping bag.

Day Two is only 8.4 miles. I’m not sure what to expect. Maybe the shorter distance will be a relief. Or we will still be too sore from Day One for it to matter. The rains are forecast to continue, so perhaps we should plan on being as miserable as yesterday.

From Los Angeles, Ed Fallon

Disenchantment with Obama Grows

Dear Friends,

If you think President Obama has been catching heat because of his indecisiveness on the Keystone XL Pipeline, his own supporters are about to turn-up the heat even further. Writes Peter Rothberg in The Nation:

“The {March 2nd} sit-in is expected to be the largest act of civil disobedience by young people in the recent history of the environmental movement and it will be led by just the demographic that helped propel Obama to the presidency. The protest, known as “XL Dissent,” is meant to send a clear signal to President Obama that the base that helped elect him sees Keystone XL as a decision that will define his entire legacy.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Great March for Climate Action kicks-off its 3,000-mile trek with a rally that thousands are expected to attend. With these two historic events and the many, many other key initiatives being led by Climate Reality Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 350.org and others, the President has got to be thinking Keystone is not just a bad idea in terms of climate but in terms of politics as well.

For my central Iowa audience, here’s something fun you can do this week to help the Climate March. Sean Glenn will be marching the distance in silence. If you’d like to hear Sean speak and sing, your last chance for the next eight months may be this Wednesday (February 19th), 7:00-9:00 pm at the Historic Firehouse, 1041 8th Street (just west of the downtown Holiday Inn). I’ll be accompanying Sean on piano and guitar. Free-will donation suggested.

And while we’re offering the President constructive criticism, get this on your calendar: In an event sponsored by American Friends Service Committee called “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” activist and author Josh Ruebner speaks and signs his book on March 4 at 7:00 pm at Drake University’s Olmsted Center.

Monday on the Fallon Forum, we’ll talk about Keystone and other climate-change news.

Tuesday, State Senator Jack Hatch, Democratic candidate for Governor, joins me to discuss the latest developments at the Juvenile Home in Toledo, including the impact of a judge’s favorable ruling on the lawsuit filed by Jack and other state lawmakers alleging that the Governor’s decision to close the home was illegal.

Wednesday, Dr. Charles Goldman joins me. Writes Charles, “President Obama, other Democrats and some Tea Party Republicans have actually found an issue that is engendering bipartisan support: reforming the draconian federal mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses that costs us $7 billion yearly and leaves 10% of Florida’s population without the right to vote due to prior convictions. While they are at it, how about increasing the likelihood that white collar criminals spend some serious jail time for their myriad offenses?”

Thursday, State Representative Dan Kelley joins me. Among other legislative happenings, I want to get Dan’s take on the proposal to extend the sales tax exemption at the Newton racetrack and his thoughts on the proposal to expand funding for preschool.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Business Sponsors
Anemometry Specialists
Corazon Coffee Roasters
Dianna’s Wedding Cakes
Fighting Burrito
Gateway Market
HoQ Restaurant
Ritual Cafe
Tally’s Restaurant Bar & Catering

Meet Brad Anderson

Dear Friends,

The office of Iowa Secretary of State used to be either (1) a job you applied for because you were passionate about elections (think former SOS Michael Mauro), or (2) a position you sought simply because you wanted to run for higher office (think everyone except Mauro who’s held the job since the 1970s). The current SOS, Matt Schultz, wasn’t even subtle about his ambitions for higher office, serving less than one term before announcing a run for Congress.

So, I’ve invited two candidates running for that office – Brad Anderson (a Democrat) and Paul Pate (a Republican) – to join me on the Forum to talk about what they’d like to accomplish as SOS. So far . . .

Monday, Brad Anderson joins us. Brad has worked in Iowa elections for over a decade. He and his wife, Lisa, own a speech therapy business in Des Moines. Brad shared with me his goal of modernizing the office and improving voter turnout. We’ll also get his take on Matt Schultz’ efforts to make voting more difficult for some Iowans – as critics have characterized his voter-id effort.

Tuesday, we talk with Carol Berry of Wolf-pac about efforts through the legislative process to get big money out of politics. Specifically, the group is working to pass a resolution calling for a states convention to propose a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution, to establish “free and fair elections and the reversal of Citizens United.”

Wednesday, Mandy Hilliman and Megan Day Suhr join me to discuss legislative efforts to help Iowa’s midwives.

Thursday, Channing Dutton and I talk climate change. In fact, I may just let Channing host the show and drill (pun intended) me on questions related to climate, sustainability, fossil fuels and the Climate March.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Business Sponsors
Anemometry Specialists
Corazon Coffee Roasters
Dianna’s Wedding Cakes
Fighting Burrito
Gateway Market
HoQ Restaurant
Ritual Cafe
Tally’s Restaurant Bar & Catering

Now do you hear us, Mr. President?

Dear Friends,The most important game-related news this week will not be the Seattle Seahawks decimation of the Denver Broncos. The lead story in the “game” genre happens today: the massive nationwide response to the State Department’s report on the Keystone Pipeline – because as Bill McKibben with 350.org has said, if Keystone is approved, it’s “game over” for the climate.What’s really meant by “climate,” of course, is “humanity.” No one knows for sure what life will look like for our species one hundred years from now if we don’t successfully grapple with the climate conundrum. It may not be “game over,” but it probably won’t be pretty. President Obama talks the talk on climate. But what will he do on Keystone? Keystone is the pivotal climate moment. The President’s decision will show whether he truly understands the urgency of the situation or is merely paying lip service.

With last week’s State Department report, the Great March for Climate Action comes at a critical moment in the movement. The March travels through Nebraska in mid-July, crossing the path of the proposed Keystone Pipeline during the window of time when President Obama could make his big decision.

What’s it going to take for President Obama to do the right thing? Over 200 protests are planned today in response to the State Department report (see here). Twenty-two cities have signed on to the fossil fuel divestment campaign (see here). Over 76,000 people have committed to do civil disobedience to stop Keystone (see here). If this unprecedented level of citizen climate activism isn’t enough to convince the President to say ‘NO’ to Keystone, perhaps the Climate March will convince him.

Over 225 people have signed up to march all or part of the eight-month, 3,000-mile trek across America. Participants come from 37 states and six foreign countries. Hundreds of supporters have donated a total of over $200,000, and numerous businesses and organizations are providing equipment, endorsements, and other types of assistance.

Marchers themselves are making tremendous sacrifices. Giving up jobs and homes. Deferring college. Foregoing other commitments. We’re preparing physically and psychologically to walk 14-15 miles a day through heat, rain and all kinds of adversity. We’re gearing up to sleep in tents night after night, to leave behind our families, friends and modern conveniences. We know that immediate action on the climate crisis is needed and that stopping Keystone is pivotal. We’re willing to do our part. We’re eager to see if the President will do his.

Monday, we’ll talk Keystone and start the show at 5:30 to allow attendance at the 6:00 vigil at the Federal Building in downtown Des Moines. (See here for details about events in Des Moines and Davenport.)

Tuesday, we look at the latest developments in the controversy over sand-mining operations in northeast Iowa.

Wednesday, we’ll talk about the latest nursing home industry lawsuit, and the cozy relationship that Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds maintain with industry honchos.

Thursday, State Rep Dan Kelley and the Iowa Environmental Council’s Nathaniel Baer discuss the bright prospects for solar energy in Iowa.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Business Sponsors
Anemometry Specialists
Corazon Coffee Roasters
Dianna’s Wedding Cakes
Fighting Burrito
Gateway Market
HoQ Restaurant
Tally’s Restaurant Bar & Catering

The Inequality of Climate Change

Dear Friends,

It’s pretty certain that in the State of the Union address (Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 pm CST), President Obama is likely to focus on income inequality. Sure, the issue polls well for him, and what politician can resist talking about an issue that polls well? Sure, the vast shift of wealth from most of us to the privileged few is a crisis that demands immediate action. After all, it’s what launched the Occupy movement in 2011 . . . if anyone still remembers.

But if Obama chooses to ignore – or merely pay lip service – to the even more pressing crisis of climate change, it will demonstrate a profound lack of wisdom and vision. If he wants to start off the conversation with income inequality, it isn’t difficult to move on to climate change and connect these two crises. Across the globe, it is the poorest populations who are being most adversely impacted by a warming world. And America’s poor aren’t immune from this reality either; consider the marginalized victims of Hurricane Katrina, or the farmers and ranchers in the path of the Keystone Pipeline.

Monday, Anita Payne of Perth, Ontario joins us for a Canadian perspective on the Keystone Pipeline. We’ll also get Anita’s take on the recent visit to the U.S. by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to push President Obama to approve the Pipeline.

Tuesday we are joined by Tarah Heinzen, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. We’ll talk about the DNR’s proposal to bring Iowa into compliance with EPA regulations to improve Iowa’s contaminated waterways. The long and short of it is the proposal hardly goes far enough.

Wednesday, Rob Hach with Anemometry Specialists joins me to debunk the oil-industry-financed anti-renewable propaganda espoused in a recent piece by Thomas Pyle.

Thursday, we’ll review the week at the Iowa State House, and see how well lawmakers did to fulfill their promise to accomplish as little as possible.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Business Sponsors
Anemometry Specialists
Community CPA & Associates
Corazon Coffee Roasters
Dianna’s Wedding Cakes
Fighting Burrito
Gateway Market
HoQ Restaurant
Ritual Cafe
Tally’s Restaurant Bar & Catering
The Book Store

Hatch for Governor

Dear Friends,

For three decades, Jack Hatch has been a strong progressive voice fighting for a better Iowa. Jack is an independent thinker who’s not afraid to challenge his own Party. Whether the fight is about creating jobs, getting rid of tax breaks for big corporations, expanding health care coverage or defending civil rights, Jack puts Iowans first.

His work in the private sector is equally impressive, and Jack has overcome all kinds of obstacles to build affordable housing in neighborhoods where it’s desperately needed.

Today, I’m endorsing Jack Hatch for Governor because he’s a strong leader with a solid track record and the determination to move Iowa beyond the failures of Terry Branstad. And I’m convinced he can win, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is and donating $100 to his campaign. Please consider doing the same. Speaking as one who ran for Governor, I assure you that it will make a difference.

Monday, Dr. Charles Goldman joins me to discuss medical marijuana. Charles writes, “Evidently it is hard to get a seat on a plane heading to Denver, as marijuana tourism takes off in the Centennial State. Here in Iowa, it is unlikely that we will see marijuana emporiums any time soon, but isn’t it time Iowa joined 20 other states and Washington, DC in formulating a humane state-regulated medical cannabis program? In advance of tonight’s program, you might want to view the video of Dr. Steven Jenison, who ran the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, at http://youtu.be/qYtxwPoAzwM.

Tuesday, Ambassador Ken Quinn of the World Food Prize joins me to discuss Howard Buffet’s “40 Chances: Hope for a Hungry World” exhibit, now on display at the WFP headquarters in Des Moines.

Wednesday, Michael Dietrick with the NRDC discusses climate change and the upcoming Citizen Advocates meeting in Des Moines.

Thursday, State Rep. Dan Kelley shares what’s happening at the Iowa Statehouse.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 4:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

Business Sponsors
Anemometry Specialists
Community CPA & Associates
Corazon Coffee Roasters
Dianna’s Wedding Cakes
Fighting Burrito
Gateway Market
HoQ Restaurant
Ritual Cafe
Tally’s Restaurant Bar & Catering
The Book Store