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

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Dems’ caucus review panel a joke

Dear Friends,

Last fall, Dr. Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP), approached me to discuss how to build a bridge to progressives and other disaffected voters who’d left the IDP. A few weeks later we met over lunch at Hoq Restaurant, where Dr. McGuire offered to convene a statewide meeting to hear the concerns of these voters. We stayed in touch and agreed to move forward with the idea after the Caucuses.

On February 1st, the Iowa Caucuses saw a virtual tie between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, followed by a slew of complaints about cramped venues, long lines and other glitches. That led to a clamor across Iowa and beyond to examine what went wrong and institute reforms. The IDP announced a task force. I told Dr. McGuire on two occasions I was willing to serve on it, and received encouraging responses that she would get back to me.

Well, she didn’t get back to me. A caucus review panel was indeed established, and its membership announced last Saturday.

Disaffected voters are nowhere in the mix. Of the committee’s 25 members, nearly every appointee is an IDP insider.

And the goal of the committee? As quoted in the Des Moines Register (April 2): “{P}arty officials — including those now serving on the committee — have all but ruled out major changes to the Democratic caucus process.”

That’s code for, “We’ll pretend to care, but let’s stack this committee to make sure nothing of substance gets done. And let’s minimize exposure by sending-out the press release on Friday — the slowest news day of the week.”

Like the Democratic National Committee and, presumably, state Democratic parties around the country, the IDP doesn’t get it. If Dr. McGuire was sincere about wanting to rebuild the Party and stem the hemorrhage of voters from its rolls, setting-up a rubber-stamp committee of insiders only digs the Party’s hole even deeper.

How deep is that hole?

– In Iowa in 2009, there were 111,000 more D’s than R’s.
– There are now 28,855 fewer D’s than R’s.
– “No Party” voters have solidified their spot as the largest voting block.
– Five of Iowa’s six congressional representatives are Republican.
– The Iowa House is solidly Republican.
– The Democratic majority in the Iowa Senate is razor thin.
– Four of six statewide elected offices are held by Republicans.
– Even my chickens have switched their affiliation to “No Party.”

If Party officials think they can woo back disgruntled former Dems with platitudes and rhetoric, they should think again. Want examples of what’s actually working?

Bernie Sanders. Look at the enthusiasm and political revolution his candidacy has sparked! Though it makes the corporate element of the Democratic Party quake in its gucci boots, THIS — not your phony caucus review panel — is the future of politics in Iowa and America.

– Speak-truth-to-power grassroots organizations like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. These folks have a solid string of victories for the people Democrats say they represent, but too often don’t.

– New grassroots efforts like the Bold Alliance, which is building rural-urban coalitions to oppose Big Oil and the abuse of eminent domain while working for clean energy solutions.

On June 7th, I’ll vote in the Democratic Primary for Rob Hogg for U.S. Senate and Desmund Adams for Congress. On June 8th, I’ll switch my voter registration back to “No Party” . . . unless Party officials demonstrate that they’re prepared to change their ways.

I’m not holding my breath.

Listen to the Fallon Forum Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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Copters for Kids

Dear Friends,

{Check out and “like” my Facebook Page for pics, videos and impressions of the presidential candidates . . . and for updates on my exploits with chickens and organic gardening.}

“Hey kids! Forget the pony rides. This year, Crazy Uncle Donald’s taking you for a spin in his monster-copter.”

And thus, Iowa’s premiere annual showcase of cultural, culinary and agricultural glory morphs from State Fair to Trump Fare. Hopefully, 2015 will be an anomaly, with future fair-goers spared the pomp, press and privilege of a Donald Trump visit.

Trump and Chopper

Trump and Chopper

Or, for that matter, a Hillary Clinton visit. Like Trump, Clinton refused to appear on the Presidential Soapbox. And unlike the other candidates, instead of entering the fairgrounds through a public gate, Clinton slipped in to an exclusive corner of the grounds, where the fair’s big-money donors park their RVs for the week. Welcoming Clinton to the fair was a hand-picked entourage including three of Iowa’s Democratic kingmakers: Tom Harkin, Jerry Crawford and Bill Knapp.

(Warning: incoming vent. “Democratic kingmakers” . . . unless the Democrat is too progressive, too critical of big business. In 2010, Crawford had no qualms backing Republican Bill Northey over Democrat Francis Thicke for Secretary of Ag. Similarly, Knapp had no qualms backing Terry Branstad over Jack Hatch for Governor last year. Really, the two aren’t so much Democratic kingmakers as they are Status-quo King-and-Queen makers.)

In terms of pandering to the national media circus, the Trump and Clinton campaigns can declare their Iowa State Fair visits a success. In terms of providing access to the voting public, both candidates failed miserably — by design.

Fortunately, most presidential candidates seem willing, if not eager, to submit themselves to the exposure and risk provided by the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox. Shari Hrdina and I listened to and/or spoke with six of the candidates. Here are my impressions.

Continue Reading →

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