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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Cars Matter More Than Kids

Dear Friends,

My birthday is next week, and in the great tradition of Hobbits – who instead of receiving gifts on their birthdays give them – I’m offering four of you a $50 gift card to either Gateway Market and Cafe, Ritual Cafe, HoQ Restaurant or Cinco de Mayo Restaurant. Just leave a comment on my website – HERE (scroll down to the end of the post) — and tell me what you think of my take on Des Moines’ “Cars Matter More Than Kids” day-care policy. I’ll randomly pick four names out of a hat. You can tell me how wrong I am and still win a gift card. Is this a great country, or what?

“So, cars matter more than kids,” you ask? Yes, I’m afraid so. Like soylent green, governments are made of people. And people not only taste bad, they make mistakes.

Like West Des Moines banning air B & B.

Like Aurelia vanquishing a Vietnam Vet’s service dog.

Like Ankeny outlawing chickens. (Note: Ankeny reports an average of 35-45 dog bites per year, yet zero chicken bites.)

This year’s Local Government Run Amuck Award (yes, the year is young, so this could change) goes to the City of Des Moines for limiting in-home day-care providers to six children. Why? Because one south-side curmudgeon complained about parking.

And the city has taken the curmudgeon’s side, possibly because he votes and kids don’t. One city official quoted in The Des Moines Register story claimed the restriction was needed to prevent “unintended consequences for neighbors, like too much parking, too many people on the streets, overcrowding.”

Seriously?? So, are these toddlers driving themselves to day care and hogging all the on-street parking? Or is even the act of dropping off and picking up one’s child deemed to be “too much parking?”

And since when is “people on the streets” a bad thing? A vibrant neighborhood has people on the streets. A dead, dying or decayed neighborhood has empty streets — streets that are less safe, I might add.

And “overcrowding?” In Des Moines? Give me a break . . . although this is likely to change when climate change forces refugees from submerged coastal communities to flee to the American Heartland.

This is a serious problem, folks. If the City Council refuses to budge, the number of in-home child-care slots in Des Moines would drop by around 2,000. That affects not only those kids and their families, but the employers those parents work for, too. It also affects in-home day-care providers like Tonja Boggs (featured in The Register story), whose income would be cut in half.

Finally, if none of that matters to City officials, they should care because this makes Des Moines look dumb and backward. How does the City expect that fancy new hotel it subsidized to achieve optimal occupancy rates if prospective visitors say, “Wow! Why hold our HUGE convention where they value cars more than kids when we can go to Minneapolis – America’s most bike-friendly city?”

Bike-friendly. Kid-friendly. Progressive. High quality of life. These things kinda go together. I thought the City of Des Moines would have figured it out by now.

*******

Check out podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum:
– Rampage in Kalamazoo
– Cars Matter More Than Kids|
– Chet Culver on Medicaid
– The Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, with Hattie Nestel
– Restaurant Renaissance, with Paul Rottenberg

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call 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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Pipeline Battle Moves to Courts

Dear Friends,

Keith Puntenney

Good news in the battle to stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline! Landowners and attorneys have formed the Private Property Rights Coalition (PPRC) to take the fight to the courts. PPRC’s lawsuit maintains that “the Iowa Utilities Board has no legal authority to grant eminent domain to Dakota Access,” and that “the Legislature did not intend for a nonresident interstate crude oil pipeline to be able to use our eminent domain laws to take farmland from Iowans and then not be subject to Iowa’s pipeline safety regulations.”

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