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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My 2018 “WRAPs”

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! So far, so good. Let’s hope this deep winter cold continues to tromp the life out of some of Iowa’s most despised insect pests.

I’m excited about our first talk show of 2018. On this coming Monday’s Forum, we’ll talk with Des Moines Register investigative reporter Kevin Hardy. Hardy and Grant Rodgers wrote about workers at Newton’s wind blade factory who were sickened by chemicals. Listen live from 11:00 – 12:00 noon in Des Moines on 96.5 FM or online in the known universe.

Against the wisdom of better judgement, here are my Wishes, Resolutions and Predictions (WRAPs) for 2018, wrapped up in one tidy mess. If you want to make a game out of it, circle W, R or P indicating whether you think the item is a wish, resolution or prediction. If you get the most correct answers, I treat you to lunch on Ground Hog Day.

1. Trump will no longer be president by the end of 2018 . . . but with Mike Pence ready to assume the mantle, don’t don the party hats quite yet. W R P

2. The growing threat of climate change will become so evident that the full-scale mobilization humanity needs to survive will finally commence. W R P

3. Democrats will regain control of the U.S. Congress but not the Iowa Legislature . . . unless the IDP embraces an entirely new image and direction. W R P

4. Landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club will win their lawsuit against Energy Transfer Partners, and that victory will have huge ramifications not just for the Dakota Access pipeline but for other eminent domain battles. W R P

Over 200 march in frigid conditions, December 14, 2016.

5. I will finish my book, which way less than half of you will read and slightly more than half of you will like. W R P

6. Winter will mostly end by February 1st, regardless of what any groundhog says. W R P

7. By the end of the year, the Fallon Forum will air on twelve stations. W R P

8. Tom Brady will again win the Super Bowl, with the rest of the New England Patriots roster doing its bit part to help Brady out. W R P

9. I will not walk more than twenty miles at a time. W R P

10. A bear, a cougar, and a moose will walk into a bar in Des Moines, and . . . W R P

Ok, so that last one is in a class by itself. But I won’t be surprised to see at least one of those critters make it’s way into Polk County this year.

At any rate, we’ve got work to do on a number of levels, especially in response to the growing crisis of climate change. Remember to support the local businesses that make the Fallon Forum possible. I hope to see and/or hear from all of you in the New Year. Yeah, even you, Troy.

Onward! – Ed

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Gala doesn’t connect with most Iowans

Dear Friends,

Maybe the Iowa Democratic Party’s (IDP) big annual event was a success in terms of generating funds for the Party and enthusiasm for its candidates. But in several signifiant ways, it was a colossal failure.

1. The sound system performed horribly, with much of the speakers’ messages lost in an echo chamber of garbled sound waves.

A typical gala. Whew! No poor people!

2. Not allowing the Events Center’s wait staff to stay and hear Alec Baldwin reeked of elitism. The decision was made by the facility’s management, but the IDP should have objected. Heck, the wait staff should have been paraded up to the stage and thanked with a standing ovation.

3. The Gala was clearly a pay-to-play deal and the IDP milked candidates with the most money, notably Fred Hubbell and Nate Boulton. From what I could tell, these two purchased hundreds of tickets and spent possibly tens of thousands of dollars. Kinda reminds one of the much-maligned Republican Party of Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, which Democrats have never been hesitant to slam.

4. Beyond the cost of admission ($50 just to sit in the bleachers and watch the higher-paying attendees eat), scheduling the Gala on a Monday excluded many rank-and-file voters, especially those far from Des Moines. As Paul Deaton of Johnson County tweeted, “#IDPFallGala schedule (Monday evening) not viable for working Ds outside Des Moines. Maybe that’s the point.”

5. Finally, the IDP’s decision to change the name of the event from Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to Fall Gala shows that the Party is pathologically out of touch with big chunks of Iowa’s electorate. A gala — defined as “lavish entertainment or celebration” — is not what the vast majority of struggling Iowans want or need right now. For further details, see Kevin Hardy’s excellent story in The Des Moines Register detailing the ravaging of most Americans’ incomes to benefit a thin upper crust.

From what I was able to catch of the candidates’ speeches, they all performed reasonably well — with the glaring absence of any discussion about the urgency of climate change. So far, Cathy Glasson has been the only gubernatorial candidate to speak out against the Gala’s pandering to money and privilege, saying, “People in our movement holding down two or three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend for a fancy dinner.”

That’s not an endorsement of Glasson, but I appreciate her willingness to challenge the IDP.

Democrats are giddy with enthusiasm at their electoral prospects next fall. But the fact that many promising young progressives won nonpartisan city council seats this month means little if the IDP can’t connect with those who feel abandoned by both major parties. For now, the smart money remains on continued Republican dominance of the Iowa Legislature, statewide offices, and Iowa’s congressional delegation.

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