Scenes From The Polk County Democrats Steak Fry

The Steak Fry returned to Iowa in style today, with perfect weather greeting about 1,500 Democrats to Des Moines Water Works Park. The Polk County Democrats pulled off a successful revival of the Tom Harkin tradition, recreating the feel of the annual event that often attracted national speakers and press. The white tents were pitched, candidates flipped steaks, a giant American flag flew behind the stage and campaigns marched noisy supporters into the event. A trio of national rising stars in the Democratic Party – Congresspersons Tim Ryan, Cheri Bustos and Seth Moulton – keynoted the event. And candidates for […]

Like Father, Like Son: Nate Boulton’s Campaign Is A Union Family Affair

When State Senator Nate Boulton received the endorsement of Steelworkers Local 310 at their union hall earlier this year, he was in a familiar place. Boulton and his family travelled from their home in Columbus Junction to the Des Moines labor headquarters for Christmas parties a few times when he was in elementary school. But growing up in a union family, he also saw first-hand the tough fights that organized labor went through, attending strikes and rallies. Those experiences shaped his life and his current bid to be Iowa’s next governor. Much of what Nate learned came from his father, […]

Don’t Let Foolishness Get Us Into Another War

A scab on the memories of lots of Americans was yanked off the other week with the airing of the first segments of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam war. The film brought to life the horrors and heartbreak of Vietnam and those events from 50 years ago that divided our nation like it has been divided few times in U.S. history. Each day’s installment of Burns’ history lesson — coupled with the headlines from that day’s news reports — had me reflecting on the current tensions with North Korea, on the rhetoric coming from our president and dictator […]

In Tough Days With Patients, Andy McGuire Saw Real Cost Of Insurance Crisis

It wasn’t long into Dr. Andy McGuire’s medical career when she came face-to-face with the impossible choices parents face in a country with a broken healthcare system. When a younger patient came in for an exam over a bad form of Thyroid disease, the parents stood nervously in the back of the room. Both farmers, they didn’t have insurance through their job and couldn’t afford it on their own. “I still remember the guy writing a check, and I said, ‘No, that’s taken care of somewhere else,’” McGuire told Starting Line. “But he was so concerned about the money. Most […]

Will Auditor Mary Mosiman Do Her Job On Funny Budget Numbers?

Something doesn’t add up with Governor Kim Reynolds’ budget numbers. After an entire year of state revenue coming in under predictions time and again, with Republicans making painful cuts to essential services and borrowing from the rainy day fund, Iowa’s fiscal situation suddenly drastically improved – just in time to avoid a special session. Despite Iowa looking at an $104 million shortfall when Fiscal Year 2017 ended this summer, the state found enough money through various accruals that it only needed $14.6 million more to finish off the year, easily under the $50 million that Reynolds had the authority to […]

Kim Reynolds Signals Willingness To Push Ugly Racial Issues In 2018

Beset by nonstop stories about Iowa’s worsening budget crisis, Governor Kim Reynolds has been looking for a way to change the discussion in local political news. So on Monday she took a page out of her favorite racist president’s playbook and criticized the players who were participating in kneeling protests at NFL games. “While I respect the First Amendment, I just think it is so disrespectful to the men and women who have served,” Reynolds said. “And I would encourage them to get out there and do something. Don’t take a knee, get out there and make a difference. Engage. […]

About Those 10 Reasons On Cassidy-Graham, Senator Grassley

At stake is health care access for millions, including people with pre-existing conditions. Surely these would be at the top of any list of concerns about Cassidy-Graham. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has made the point himself: The Cassidy-Graham bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has many deficiencies. “I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill should not be considered,” he told Iowa reporters. So, let’s look at some of the reasons, on the merits, why people might have concerns about Cassidy-Graham. People with pre-existing conditions would lose access to health care. Protection of these people […]

Can An Old Economic Justice Fighter Win Over The New Progressives?

Just about everyone who’s been involved in Iowa politics for more than a decade knows who John Norris is. But if you are a younger Democrat, a progressive who got inspired by Bernie Sanders’ campaign or just someone who became involved after the Vilsack years, you might not. And those folks might look at Norris’ resume through the lens of the 2016 presidential primary and see an old guard, establishment insider: former chief of staff to the governor, former IDP chair, a USDA official and utilities board chair. That, however, wouldn’t be an accurate read of the man who has […]

Outside Des Moines Bubble, Governor Race Opinions Still Mostly Unformed

Around the Des Moines metro, over tallboys at Carl’s and coffee mugs at Scenic Route, in the hallways of East Village consulting firms and in nonprofit board rooms, the Democratic gubernatorial race is the talk of the town. Outside of there? Eh, not so much. It’s been nearly nine months since the first Democratic candidate jumped in the race (Rich Leopold, who, along with several others, have since jumped out), with countless announcements, speeches and candidate cattle-calls since. We’re at seven candidates now, five of which are running full campaigns with staff and infrastructure and backing. They’ve filled Facebook feeds […]

Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Punts Over New Rules

The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) is a panel of nine citizens who are supposed to provide public policy oversight of Iowa’s environmental protection efforts. At their September 18th meeting they had an opportunity to pass major improvements in the rules governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Instead, they punted by voting no for any new modifications in the current inadequate guidelines. They chose to kick the can down the road rather than grabbing the initiative to clean-up Iowa’s impaired waters, protect local communities and stand in support of local control. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) and Food & […]