December 25, 2011

The officers and staff of USLAW wish you, your family and friends joy filled holidays and a new year that brings more peace, equality and justice to the world! NEA PandJ has been a member of USLAW for several years due to the donation of individual members on the Executive Board. You, too, can join this important group.
Peace and Justice Midwest wishes you a great holiday season.

December 15, 2011

Call Your Senator about the National Defense Authorization Act

HR 1540, the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), was approved by the House yesterday on a vote of 283 - 136. Democrats were split, 93 -93. Rep. Braley was the only Iowa legislator to vote no. This bill includes a lot of stuff, including authorization of almost $670 Billion for FY 2012 expenditures for the Pentagon and for the Afghan war. It also includes provisions that allow for indefinite detention of anyone accused of terrorism, and eliminates a previous amendment which specified no Afghan war after 2013. This bill no longer bears the threat of a veto by the President.
It appears this bill will come to a vote in the US Senate today Dec. 15th. Please call Senators Harkin (202 224-3254) and Grassley (202 224-3744) or your US Senator and urge a NO vote.. Ask your friends to do the same.

December 8, 2011

PEACEFUL Demonstration

What: Rally and Occupation of Pres. Obama's IA Campaign HQ in DM
Date: Sat. Dec 17, 2011
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Site: 621 E. Second St, DM IA

Please consider doing the Obama Pres. Offices occupation and risk
arrest. Or sponsoring someone from your group who can, by offering to
help pay a their fines and court cost. Please recommend to any peace
or justice groups and org. that you belong to sponsor someone in your
group to officially represent them at the occupation and risk

Come the last week of Dec. the whole world will be watching. This is
as good a time as I have ever sense in my 35 yr peace making career
when doing a simple nonviolent low risk civil disobedience witness can
make a big difference in the political life of our nation.

Anyone considering joining Elliott Admans, IA VFP's Ed Bloomer and
Jeff Strottman, Rev. Robert Cook and DMCW Frank Cordaro (The five
people so far who have signed on the risk arrest.) must contact Frank
Cordaro and / or Gil Landolt before hand.....

Please feel free to pass this invite on to others...

DMCW Frank Cordaro


Gil Landolt 515 333-2180; Frank Cordaro 515 282-4781

December 2, 2011

Small World

At this time of the year when giving is in so many minds, read what some are doing to make life better for children around the world.
Dear Friends,
I’m sharing this with you either because you are a parent, work with children or have demonstrated a commitment to our global community of children. My friend John is pioneering an initiative to create a global consciousness about the well being of children world-wide. Read and enjoy!
Today we are launching a new organization called Small World. The mission is to create a global community of parents and families committed to ensuring a peaceful, livable, just planet for all children on earth.
We invite you to join us as a founding member by signing the pledge for all children.
The threats to the present and future well-being of children are many, but they can be overcome by a much more powerful force -- the united power of love and concern in action for our children, for all children everywhere.
We know what a challenge it is managing the day-to-day demands of life, much less fitting in a rally or letter to the President. With this in mind, Small World will provide ways to take meaningful actions in concert with others from the global to the personal level. Small World will help create, cultivate and connect parent & family networks. We’ll share ideas, resources, strategies and actions to bring about a world that is worthy of the imagination, laughter, joy and dreams of each and every child.
Together, we have the power to create a world where every child lives without fear of war and violence, on a livable planet with a stable climate and healthy life support systems, in societies that provide the necessities of life for all children, everywhere in our one Small World.
We are just beginning. We welcome and encourage your ideas, energy and commitment to make this vision a reality. Please join us by taking the first simple step of signing the pledge for all children.
Alisa, Amelia, Ann, Ayize, Carolin, Dianne, Jacques, James, John, Jon, JP, Julie, Karen, Kathleen, Kim, Launa, Lynn, Mike, Pete, Rebecca, Steve, Zahara

Death Penalty

Mike Farrell was our guest speaker at the RA in 2009. He is an activist who is making a difference. Below is an update on
Working for alternatives to the death penalty

2011 has been a year of tremendous achievements, heartbreaking losses and, at last, real hope for change in California.

In March, Illinois followed New York, New Jersey and New Mexico and abolished the death penalty. Two months later, we at Death Penalty Focus were thrilled to honor Illinois Governor Pat Quinn at our Annual Awards Dinner. Governor Quinn, who had long supported the death penalty, spent two months deliberating on his decision. At our event he spoke eloquently about his change of heart. "If the system can't be guaranteed 100% error-free, then we shouldn't have the system," Quinn said. "It cannot stand."

April brought the incredible Jeanne Woodford to Death Penalty Focus as our new Executive Director. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Jeanne, please hear me when I say that she is our secret weapon for ending the death penalty in California - and beyond. As the warden of San Quentin State Prison, Jeanne experienced the pain of overseeing four executions. After leaving San Quentin, she was appointed to head the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Today, the more people Jeanne has the opportunity to meet and talk with, the more support we gain for ending the death penalty. It’s almost that simple. Put Jeanne in front of a group of death penalty supporters and before long their support begins to evaporate. We are thrilled to have her on board.

I am also thrilled that, last week, Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon halted executions in his state. In a simple but uncompromising statement, he echoed the growing distaste for capital punishment being heard in many of our courts, our legislatures, churches, and homes. "I am convinced,” he wrote, “we can find a better solution that keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values. I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor." Bravo Governor Kitzhaber!

September brought the heartbreaking execution of Troy Davis. Yet, even on that most awful day, Mr. Davis himself understood that his death would galvanize support for ending this barbaric practice. On his last day he said, "There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country…Never stop fighting for justice and we will win!"

November 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Let’s certainly not blame public employees for a financial crisis they had nothing to do with. And let’s not use this as an excuse to erode their bargaining rights. So whether it’s Wisconsin, the state of Ohio, I strongly disapprove.”

Barack Obama

November 2, 2011

Veteran's Day, 11-11-11

The Veterans For Peace Chapter #161 is sponsoring an Armistice Day Observance to be held on Friday, November 11th at the Clinton St. entrance to Old Capitol. The observance will begin @ 10:30AM, and bells will be rung @ 11:00 AM, as they were rung around the world at the end of WWI in 1918 and on each November 11th for decades thereafter. Armistice Day is a day to promote peace and to remember the victims of war, both veterans and civilians. The entire community is welcome. Co-sponsored by Iowa NEA Peace & Justice Caucus, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and PEACE Iowa. Celebrate and recapture peace on 11/11/11/11!

October 31, 2011 writes principles

General Assembly Approves Statement of Principles

Submitted by frodopwns on Mon, 2011-10-24 22:32
The Occupy Iowa City General Assembly approved the following statement of principles over the course of a two part discussion on Oct. 23 and 24, 2011.

In the fierce urgency of now:

We observe the destructive power of militarism throughout the globe, increasingly spurred on by national and corporate greed, fear, and desire for complete domination over people and resources.
We witness the greatest disparity in the distribution of wealth since the Great Depression.
We observe corporate and individual greed on an unprecedented scale, resulting in the upward flow of capital, the impoverishment of the working class, and the dismantling of the democratic process.
We witness the exploitation of the Earth and its natural resources, and its disastrous effects on climate, agriculture, food, waterways, and all living beings.
We witness concerted efforts to criminalize and oppress human beings on the basis of ability, age, class, gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
We witness political repression and incarceration of dissenting voices and political ideologies.
We witness the degradation of public schools which do not provide the skills needed for creative and free thought, or for full participation in economic or political systems.
We witness the infiltration of the profit motive into all spheres of life.

Therefore, Occupy Iowa City, based on the material and social conditions of the world today, and aware of the particular responsibility we bear as people who reside in the United States, articulates the following principles:

We stand in solidarity with the brave people participating in Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements throughout the world.
We affirm inherent human rights and recognize the utility of the United Nation’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as a model for the articulation of these rights, but additionally affirm the need for protection of diverse and indigenous cultures.
We affirm the need for safe and affordable housing for all human beings.
We affirm the right of human beings to choose where they live and work, and to engage in these activities free from intimidation or harassment from the state, employers, employees, financiers, or the community.
We affirm the need to protect the environment and believe that a just world requires all people and organizations to take full responsibility for the ecological implications of their actions.
We affirm the right of all people to have access to appropriate health care as well as clean and nourishing food and water.
We affirm our commitment to peace and the belief that entities, including nations, states, and private capital, should never pursue war or brutality of any kind.
We affirm transnational interdependence, which rejects colonization, military occupation, and economic and cultural imperialism.
We believe in the equitable and just distribution of all resources, opportunity, and wealth.
We affirm the necessity of affordable public education for all people, so that they may be fully informed, creative and curious participants in a just society.
We affirm our commitment to the process of democratic decision-making, and believe all people deserve an equal voice and vote.
We affirm the interconnectedness of these principles and seek new paradigms to bring about systemic change.
This is a living document and is not all-inclusive.

Meeting type:
General Assembly

Elizabeth Warren on class warfare.

"I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,'" Warren said. "No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own -- nobody.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory -- and hire someone to protect against this -- because of the work the rest of us did.

"Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless -- keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."1

I ask you to Check out her videos on "class warfare". She misses those who inherited millions and billions but don't forget, without our countries' regulations or lack thereof, the rich wouldn't have had it so easy, either. China demands joining forces with another company already established there before any other country can move in and take over corporate productions. That way, at least the Chinese profit, too. Now could that have something to do with the fact we are a debtor nation to China!? Mmm, government regulations and how it can help the that is a topic for discussion!

October 24, 2011

Chicago Substance News: Newsletter supporting Public Ed reports

The arrest of Occupy Chicago peaceful protesters demonstrates that some laws are more important to civil order for the top 1% than others. Rahm Emanuel runs for mayor without a home residence to live in. Mayor Daley funnels more than $3 million in taxpayer TIF money to his favored charities including his wife's. Between 1972 and 1991, 135 African-American men and women were arrested and tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers at Area 2 police headquarters, and Dick Daley as State's Attorney refuses to investigate. The city has paid out tens of millions of dollars in the last couple years to settle a variety of police abuse cases, but reforming Police Chief Jody Weiss – while improving all public safety numbers – run out of town on a rail because the police don't like his reforms. Daley destroys Meigs Field runways breaking federal laws and leading to $330,000 in fines for the taxpayers to cover. Last year, CME makes nearly $1 billion but gets $15 million in taxpayer TIF money to spruce up its building at 30 S. Wacker, and now Rahm is lobbying Springfield for CME to get more tax breaks while jacking up taxes on the rest of us. All of this waste and corruption is accepted by the powers that be. But Saturday’s arrests show that if you demonstrate peacefully against these iniquities you will be arrested for disorderly behavior. Do not let greed, corruption and unprincipled leadership silence our consciences and voices as taxpayers.

October 18, 2011

Op Ed in Press Citizen/Occupied by 99% of us and proving it

The following account is embarrassing to share, but I feel there is something instructive in it. About three years ago, I was laid off from my $65,000 a year job. At the time, my wife and I had credit card and other debts approaching $48,000, this in addition to a home mortgage of $151,000. In the eight months that it took me to find a new job, we went through most of our liquid assets to pay off many of our debts and to stay afloat while foregoing personal bankruptcy.

We cut every corner that we could and we availed ourselves of the Crisis Center's food bank because we literally didn't have grocery money. Unemployment compensation helped us too, but at about a third of my then normal take home, it was barely paying the mortgage. I'm not going to lie, it was a dark time for my wife and I, but not without moments of grace from caring friends and the gift of shared time together while I interviewed for jobs.
When I found a new job in town, it was nearly $30,000 less than what I was being paid and with less benefits. But I was (and am) grateful to have a job, to be able to continue living in Iowa City, and to keep our home.

Since then, I very much enjoy my job in that I can assist others in their job search and career planning, And believe me when I say that I have a lot of empathy for the people I have a chance to help. Also, I have been able to take on part-time work and our income is back up to 80% of what we used to bring home. Most recently though, I've seen the money in our retirement account decrease by 14% while witnessing corporate profits skyrocketing.

I support the College Green campers and other protesters across the state and the US because there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that unscrupulous organizations are able to continue to profit astronomically on people who play by the rules, try to be personally responsible, and still find themselves barely making ends meet.

Beyond Wall Street, state and national politicians who supposedly represent us on Main Street, have let us down. Too many people I know are also trying hard to keep it all together. I regret to say that I do not trust most politicians to make a difference for me, not when they benefit from corporate underwriting to win and keep office and allow those interests to write the rules that we have to live by. On the other hand, I trust that things can change through people paying attention and protesting in their way.

In the past, I have put a lot of energy into actively changing politics, but find that I have so little left in the tank because of the day-to-day worries of paying the bills and meeting obligations. To those who are camping out and marching, I hope you can understand why I'm not out there with you. My wife and I thank you for your sacrifice. To those of you who don't think that this occupying movement is the right course of action, what are you doing?

Garry Klein is a current board member of PEACE Iowa, and an Independent voter.

October 14, 2011

March ON!

Occupy Wall Street Marches Saturday, October 15, in Iowa. Meet at College Green Park at 10AM in Iowa City. Check sites for Des Moines and Dubuque!

October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street hasn't made specific demands yet but they've already won their first big fight -- big banks and their right-wing allies in Congress have taken notice... and they're scared of what they see.

Occupy Wall Street has inspired occupations in hundreds of cities across the country -- from Atlanta to Boston to Los Angeles. Now, it's time to expand the fight beyond major cities and into the suburbs, the countryside -- everywhere.

The problem is local occupations outside of major cities may never be able to reach the kind of critical mass that will turn heads and force elected leaders to respond. Yet small towns and rural areas standing up and getting involved is the most likely way to help build this movement to the next level.

So we've spent the week asking members of Occupy Wall Street and DFA what's the best thing we could do right now to help build the movement for the long term. The answer was clear. Help us show support for Occupy Wall Street everywhere -- including our own front yard. That's why we put together "We are the 99 percent" lawn signs so Americans everywhere can join the movement.

Iowa City and Des Moines have an Occupy Wall Street. We use the one in Iowa City to promote peace.

Get an Occupy Wall Street yard sign right now.

Normally we give merchandise away for free, but yard signs are expensive.

It costs $1.29 to print each sign. It costs $2.50 to package them. It can cost up to $9.75 to ship them, depending on where you live. And when buying signs in large quantities, it costs up to $1,000 just to add a second color to the sign.

When it's all said and done -- each sign costs $13.76 to print, package and ship directly to your home. So, we're asking for a contribution of at least $16 to help cover all the costs. If you contribute more, we'll use the additional money raised to support our continued involvement, spreading the message, and supporting the people on the ground in New York and beyond who started this bold movement.

It's October. In New York, Boston, and even Atlanta, Occupy Wall Street needs sleeping bags, blankets, medical supplies and so much more. Making a contribution today not only gets you a yard sign so you can show your support, it will help us deliver more of the resources that people on the ground need right now.

Get your "We are the 99 percent" yard sign right now.

Thank you for everything you do.


Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

P.S. Our lawyers say we need to make it clear that the total amount of your purchase is a contribution to Democracy for America under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Please contribute now and get your lawn sign today.

October 4, 2011

Support Labor in Egypt

The Egyptian revolution last winter was an inspiration to the whole world. And workers were at the heart of it. Their strikes brought down the Mubarak regime.

But today, Egypt's military rulers continue to criminalise strikes.

That hasn't stopped Egyptian workers from walking off the job in their hundreds of thousands. Today, a major strike wave is sweeping the country, with schools, hospital and public transport systems shut down.

Those workers face the risk of brutal repression unless the country's military rulers start recognizing their basic human right to join and form trade unions, and to strike.

Egypt's new independent unions and the International Trade Union Confederation have today launched a major campaign to pressure the new regime to enact a labour law that recognizes workers' rights.

It's extremely important that you and other members of your union act today by sending off a short message. It will take you less than a minute to do this.

Click link below to send off your message.

Please pass this message on to other members of your union.

Thank you!

Eric Lee

Link to support Egypt Labor

October 3, 2011

Come to Chiapas!

Support those who need your help!
Join us in the misty mountains and steamy
rainforests of the Mexican southeast!
J Help build freedom-loving Zapatista schools.
J Live and learn in indigenous Maya communities.
J Experience a profound people’s movement.
J Make friends with rebels from all over the world.

Chiapas Trips 2012
* Zapatista New Year’s Anniversary Celebration
Tues., Dec. 28, 2011 until Sun., Jan. 1, 2012
* Fruit Orchards & Reforestation Nurseries
Sun., Jan. 1 until Sat., Jan. 7, 2012
* Alternative Spring Break: Rainforest Ecology
Various dates during March 2012
* Mayan Corn and Organic Agriculture
Sun., July 29 to Sat., Aug. 4, 2012
* Zapatista Health and Education Systems
Sun., Aug. 5 to Sat., Aug. 11, 2012
* Special Chiapas Travel ~ You choose the date!
Chiapas Trips 2012
* Zapatista New Year’s Anniversary Celebration
Tues., Dec. 28, 2011 until Sun., Jan. 1, 2012
* Fruit Orchards & Reforestation Nurseries
Sun., Jan. 1 until Sat., Jan. 7, 2012
* Alternative Spring Break: Rainforest Ecology
Various dates during March 2012
* Mayan Corn and Organic Agriculture
Sun., July 29 to Sat., Aug. 4, 2012
* Zapatista Health and Education Systems
Sun., Aug. 5 to Sat., Aug. 11, 2012
* Special Chiapas Travel ~ You choose the date!
Chiapas Trips 2012
* Zapatista New Year’s Anniversary Celebration
Tues., Dec. 28, 2011 until Sun., Jan. 1, 2012
* Fruit Orchards & Reforestation Nurseries
Sun., Jan. 1 until Sat., Jan. 7, 2012
* Alternative Spring Break: Rainforest Ecology
Various dates during March 2012
* Mayan Corn and Organic Agriculture
Sun., July 29 to Sat., Aug. 4, 2012
* Zapatista Health and Education Systems
Sun., Aug. 5 to Sat., Aug. 11, 2012
* Special Chiapas Travel ~ You choose the date!
Chiapas Trips 2012
* Zapatista New Year’s Anniversary Celebration
Tues., Dec. 28, 2011 until Sun., Jan. 1, 2012
* Fruit Orchards & Reforestation Nurseries
Sun., Jan. 1 until Sat., Jan. 7, 2012
* Alternative Spring Break: Rainforest Ecology
Various dates during March 2012
* Mayan Corn and Organic Agriculture
Sun., July 29 to Sat., Aug. 4, 2012
* Zapatista Health and Education Systems
Sun., Aug. 5 to Sat., Aug. 11, 2012
* Special Chiapas Travel ~ You choose the date!
Call 619-232-2841 or email

September 16, 2011

Constitution Day

Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine brave men on September 17, 1787, recognizing all who, are born in the U.S. or by naturalization, have become citizens.

The LWV begins a four part study beginning tonight at the Iowa City Public Library at 7PM, September 16, addressing the Constitution. Visit the Johnson County League of Women Voters web site for more information.

September 11, 2011

Child Poverty Continues to Rise in America...Anybody Noticing?

From "The Kids Count" by William Fisher, Truthout

"Now, the Annie E. Casey Foundation gives us a set of hard and very grim data to support "60 Minutes'" anecdotal view. That data is very scary, very anger inducing and very heartbreaking. The new numbers on 2009 poverty among US children finds 31 million children living in families that are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Now, in 2010, they are higher still."

"The foundation's new report - "Kids Count" - tells us that poverty rates among children rose substantially, not just during the recession, but throughout the last decade. The official child poverty rate rose by nearly 20 percent from 2000 to 2009. And, in 2010, 11 percent of children lived with at least one unemployed parent.

That means that 20 percent of all American children are living in poverty. Twenty percent is 31 million kids. Think about it!

The foundation says that what's even more troubling in some ways is that the children who are on the edge of living in poverty, those children who live with families that are at 200 percent of the federal poverty level, now comprise 42 percent of all children living at that level."

Read the full article at this LINK!

Education: Our True Homeland Security

Sunday 11 September 2011
by: William J. Astore, Truthout | Op-Ed

Today's students see education as a means to an end, the end being a respectable job with decent pay and benefits.

And who can blame them? With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent (a percentage that doesn't include part-timers seeking full-time employment and those unemployed who have simply given up looking for jobs), students are understandably worried about career prospects.

Many college students are also worried about paying back their student loans; operating under such financial pressure, a focus on salary and the possibility of pay raises and promotions is hardly surprising.

Combine these personal pressures with a stalled economy and a political realm that increasingly sees public service as wasteful and unnecessary, and it's no wonder that education is being reduced to another for-profit venture: another fungible commodity in a world driven by money and the bottom line.

But education is much more than a commodity. At its best, education is a transformative experience. It opens new horizons to us; it helps us to envision new possibilities even as it serves to sustain our freedoms.

How do we recapture education's idealism in an environment driven by parsimony and focused relentlessly on short-term issues of solvency and relevance?

How about redefining education as our true Homeland Security? A security based not on military power or intrusive surveillance but on creativity and critical thinking and informed citizenship? How about stimulating and facilitating a lifelong pursuit of fresh ideas and innovative solutions to national and global challenges?


July 25, 2011

RA Report from Bill Balderston: The massive gathering that is the convention (representative assembly) of the National Education Association , the nation's largest union with 3.1 million members, came together in Chicago on July 1st-5th.. Despite a lower number of delegates in the last couple years, slightly less than 9000 (down from the ten thousand in earlier times), it is still the largest delegated decision-making body in the world. This fall-off is partly due to massive layoffs of education workers, combined with the difficult economic situation many locals face in these times. Part a P.T. Barnum like spectacle, the RA is also an impressive demonstration of a democratic decision-making body, that despite considerable leadership manipulation, still proves the ability of working people to build broad institutions which allow real input of members. Even while acknowledging the spectacle and lesser figure of participants, the Assembly still dealt with a number of matters which not only clearly impacted the working conditions of members (and the learning conditions of students) and the level of political involvement of the union, but also related to the overall struggle for union rights and public services throughout the US.
The context for these debates is all too evident. Public education is the major battlefield not only for struggles over adequate funding for public services (most education funds are from the state and local levels), but a critical ideological testing ground for understanding the value of government-run services and the workers/unions which provide them.This conflict in part centers on battles over union rights (which are certainly not limited to Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan) and are increasingly national, bi-partisan attacks; teacher unions are portrayed as the most rigid and intransigent, attempting to protect members (often the most senior) who are "incompetent' . Additionally, we are labeled as obstacles to 'real reforms', which are said to be in the best interest of student/parents, many of whom are facing blatant economic and racial discrimination (note the recent film "Waiting for Superman"). Rarely do we hear about how curriculum has been bastardized to conform to numbing standardized tests, how charter schools are massively subsidized under this new approach, receiving public monies even while showing little accountability to the public and being mainly non-union, how new policy pushes divisive merit pay and seeks to undermine seniority. All this, while more and more working class youth are pushed out of the education system and/or have their opportunities severely curtailed. At the center of all these policies is the Obama administration and its Department of Education, using legal/funding measures such as "Race to the Top" (really the basement) to further this agenda.
Despite such major attacks on the rights and influence of the teacher unions (including the American Federation of Teachers, the other mostly education workers' union), the union leadership seem to respond with a combination of an Ali-like "Rope-a-dope' passivity and a lemming-like desire to co-operate in their own execution.
This is justified by the desire to have a 'place at the table' and have these politicians 'see reason'; it totally ignores the fact that there is a consensus on the austerity/'neo-liberal' program pushed by both parties, although the Democrats seek to have unions and others of their institutional base actually agree to this self-destruction.
Which leads back to the NEA Assembly. There were two major items of controversy which received national visibility.. The first was the early endorsement of the Obama re-election bid; this was already advocated by the national leadership, despite some resistance from several state affiliates, including the California Teachers Association (CTA). Most of the debate during the RA occurred within the state caucuses which was very contentious, not only in California, but states like Tennessee and Oklahoma. As Steve Neat, an Oakland delegate stated, "I fail to see what leverage we have with an administration which can only be classifies as unfriendly to teacher rights and disdainful of teachers' opinions." In addition, the NEA leaders called in Vice-President Joe Biden to speak on July 3rd; not only did it significantly disrupt the RA, but was an insult to members from the person we now know is the administration's chief negotiator around slashing federal social spending. The final vote of 5,414 to 2,102 for early endorsement (with nearly a thousand not voting) is not an adequate expression of the level of anger and frustration felt by so many delegates.
The second major debate concerned a new revised NEA policy on "Teacher Accountability and Evaluation". This item allows for (yet to be developed) "fair" standardized tests to be used as part of a teacher's evaluation. While there was some strong language around teacher/union input and due process for probationary teachers, there was general concern that this measure would serve as mainly a bargaining chip in negoatiations with the Obama administration and various levels of the education bureaucracy. Though the NEA leaders vowed to resist any ultimate determining role of such tests in teacher evaluation and compensation, the recent speeches by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (and AFT President Randi Weingarten) indicate otherwise.
There were many other new business items focused on education policy. These included motions around encouraging parental resistence to the forced taking of standardized testing, and limiting the impact of programs such as Teach for America, which encourage a revolving door situation at most urban schools (whatever the good intentions of individual TFA participants). There was also considerable discussion on the impact of the Citizens United case which allows for unlimited spending on elections by corporations. As Jim Mordecai, one of those active around this issue, noted "Itis time to fight money power with people power." Although the NEA (and most of the AFL-CIO unions, supported the Supreme Court decision, since they are actually categorized as 'corporations'), one new legislative amendment passed at the RA calling for the NEA to support a Constitutional Amendment which would allow Congress and the States to regulate election expenditures and called for a fair system of campaign disclosure.
The NEA Peace & Justice Caucus raised a number of motions dealing with a wide range of issues . Nancy Porter of Iowa, speaking for the caucus called for the NEA to join the New Priorities Network and advocated for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said, "As long as the government continues to back corporate programs aimed at bank bailouts and wars of occupation, teachers and students will never receive the resources we need and will continue to face major cuts." This motion was referred to the NEA Board, as were a number of other items dealing with organizing around social justice. While the general tone at the RA on such broader issues (the rights of teachers/students in the Mideast, militarization in the schools, et al) remained fairly conservative, we did make some progress on policy around single-payer health care (which the NEA nominally endorses); the delegates voted to have the NEA join the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer and to adopt a policy advocating for a Medicare-like system for all US youth, 22 years of age and under. The P&J Caucus also hosted an event for representatives from CORE, the rank-n-file grouping within the Chicago Teachers Union which has recently gained leadership in the CTU; a number of NEA delegates attended a 'teacher fightback' conference initiated by CORE after the RA.
The Assembly re-elected the current NEA top officers - Van Roekel and VP Lily Eskelsen, by over 90%, although this was the first contested election for these positions in many years. Despite this overwhelming majority, it is clear that there is need for an oppositional force inside the NEA (and the AFT). This would center around a program for the rejuvenation of public education, centered on smaller class size, expansion of programs for career developmen, culture/arts classes, ethnic studies, greater access to higher education, with little/no tuition/fees for the students, defense of and extending preschool, afterschool and adult education programs, improvement of compensation and support for teachers (and greater recruitment of teachers of color) and other visionary measures. This must be combined with a call for political independence, advocating a 'tax the rich' response to the austerity, efforts at mass organizing between teachers and parents/students, and most certainly, greater demonstration of union solidarity in the public sector and fighting to increase and improve quality public services.

June 25, 2011

RA Update

On July 2, Saturday, our National Paul Mann Youth Activist Award winner will be introduced at our Caucus in room S 503 B at the Convention Center. CORE Teachers representing the Chicago teachers will also be present. The Core teachers are sponsoring a forum on July 6 that anyone can attend, if you pre register on their web site, discussing current ills and concerns of public educators and directions for helpful solutions. President Dennis VanRoekel will call a lunch break a little after 2:30 and we will meet then. Plan to attend.

Look for Peace and Justice in the Cafe and during significant lunch breaks (more than 20 minutes) in S 503 B and at our booth in both profit and non profit exhibitions.

June 20, 2011

Attend Town Hall Meetings

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will hold public town hall meetings in July before the Iowa Education Summit to listen to Iowans’ ideas about how to create world-class schools.

Please try to attend a town hall meeting to share your ideas about how to improve education. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 – 10 a.m. to noon
Waterloo Education Town Hall
Central Middle School, 1350 Katoski Dr.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Davenport Education Town Hall
Davenport North High School Auditorium
626 West 53rd St.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Sigourney Education Town Hall
Sigourney Junior-Senior High School Auditorium
907 East Pleasant Valley St.

Thursday July 21, 2011 – 10 a.m. to noon
Boone Education Town Hall
Sacred Heart Elementary Parish Hall
1111 Marshall St.

Friday, July 22, 2011 – 10 a.m. to noon
Corning Education Town Hall
Corning Elementary School Gym
1012 10th St.

Friday, July 22, 2011 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Carroll Education Town Hall
Carroll High School Auditorium
2809 North Grant Rd.

Saturday, July 23, 2011 – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Spencer Middle School Cafeteria
1400 10th Avenue East

June 15, 2011


According to Jeanne Mejeur, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, 820 bills seeking to restrict or eliminate collective bargaining rights of public workers have been introduced this year in state legislatures.  Joe Nigro, the national general secretary-treasurer of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association has called this a “…a national campaign" against organized labor. 

As the attack continues to broaden beyond the 13 states that have already made major changes to collective bargaining and worker rights (Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming), a look at the role played by the media in this assault is long overdue.

Speaking specifically to the collective bargaining fight in Wisconsin, but generalizing his comments more broadly to the national media in a post on the website, Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter David Cay Johnston wrote that:

“When it comes to improving public understanding of tax policy, nothing has been more troubling than the deeply flawed coverage of the Wisconsin state employees' fight over collective bargaining.   Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports…the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles. Governor Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to ‘contribute more’ to their pension and health insurance plans.  Accepting Gov. Walker’s assertions as fact, and failing to check created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something
extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers. How can that be? Because the ’contributions’ consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages - as pensions when they retire - rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan.”

Journalists nationwide continue to fall prey to the same “deeply flawed…lack of understanding of basic economic principles” that Johnston laments and their unwillingness to uncover the real truth about these issues affects public worker rights and negotiations. The fact of the matter is that most public employees pay “100 cents on the dollar” toward their insurance and benefits.   

In collective bargaining, the only relevant number for public accounting purposes is the total
compensation package.  Once that figure is collectively negotiated and arrived upon by labor and management, the individual line items on the accounting sheet such as salary, and insurance are simply irrelevant in terms of the cost impact to taxpayers. Last year (2010), for example, the Des Moines Education Association (the teachers union in Des Moines, Iowa) accepted a total compensation package that was a 1.98% increase over the previous year. In doing so the union was able to maintain fully paid single and family health insurance at the cost of greater wages. It is a tradeoff that members overwhelmingly supported in a yearly negotiations survey.  Why does it matter how the individual line items within that total compensation package are distributed?  How is it relevant to the public discourse? It is completely understandable why the total compensation figure itself should be a subject of debate among taxpayers since they pay the salaries and benefits of public workers and it is the proverbial “bottom line.”  If local newspapers or someone in a community wants to make the argument that those who teach our children are not worthy of a total compensation package like the 1.98% increase arrived at through collective bargaining in Des Moines, for example, where 43.7% of teachers took a virtual wage freeze, they have every right to do so and should feel free to make their case.  But, they should be honest when doing so because calls from politicians and newspapers for educators to “pick up some of the cost” of their health insurance are actually calls for teachers and public employees to take cuts in pay.

Furthermore, the economic inaccuracies reported in the media feed a political (not a fiscal) movement that seeks far more than sustainable state and local budgets. It seeks to attack all things public.  Numerous studies from organizations including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Economic Policy Institute have shown that salaries and benefits paid to public employees have contributed very little to state budgetary problems.  A recent study by the Iowa Policy Project concluded that there is “no correlation between state budget shortfalls and union negotiating laws…The thing that's driving budget shortfalls is the impact of the national economy on state revenues,…rather than union agreements.”  The media also ignores study after study showing that public sector wages and benefits continue to lag behind the private sector when levels of educational attainment are controlled for.

With the tacit, unquestioning approval of the media, many Governors have proceeded with attacks on public worker rights in the name of deficit reduction.  In states such as Iowa and Indiana that have been quicker to recover from the Great Recession, the entire notion of “budget shortfalls” appear to have been concocted by Governor’s to serve their own political purposes that often include busting unions and doling out corporate welfare.  Indiana’s legislature passed draconian restrictions on worker rights and collective bargaining despite a $1.4 billion budget surplus while handing out $80 million in corporate tax cuts.  Iowa’s legislature debated significant restrictions on collective bargaining in the name of reducing budget deficits despite a $950 million budget surplus, large chunks of which the Governor  decided to give away to out of state corporations who rarely reinvest such windfalls in the state in the form of jobs. The Iowa Fiscal Partnership noted that “Three-quarters of the corporate income tax is paid by multistate businesses…that are not domiciled in Iowa but sell goods and services at a profit in Iowa. Iowa’s corporate income tax actually ranks 40th among states in the amount of revenue it collects as a percent of private GDP. Corporations that pay Iowa’s income tax do so because they make a profit from sales to Iowans, even if their production facilities and employment are not located in the state. Reducing the corporate income tax rate does not provide a benefit to small, Iowa businesses unless they have very high profits.”

These Governors have very clearly placed their economic cards on the table: they are betting that tax giveaways to large out of state corporations will better grow the economy than investments in children and public education systems.  In Iowa, for example, the Governor has proposed $300 million in corporate tax cuts and zero percent allowable growth for Iowa’s schools?  This is a losing bet that will bust school systems all across the state.  “A review of… hundreds of survey, econometric, and representative firm studies” by the Economic Policy Institute “that have evaluated the effects of state and local tax cuts and incentives makes clear that these strategies are unlikely to stimulate economic activity and create jobs in a cost-effective manner” especially when compared to  expanding “the quantity and quality of public services.”  Even conservative economists like Alan Viard of the American Enterprise Institute are alarmed by the high stakes wager on corporate tax cuts: "I am just struck by the constant refrain about corporate tax cuts," he said in a Reuters story. "States are more eager to get businesses now when their economies are weak; on the other hand the revenue loss is troubling if they do it now."

At the local level, many of the people who frame this issue as a matter of teachers and other public employees needing to "pick up some of the cost of health insurance" do so with full knowledge of the reality that the total compensation package is the only relevant figure. This frame serves as a public negotiating tactic that seeks to drive a wedge between teachers and the general public that is unfair, unjust, inaccurate and counterproductive if the goal is to attract and retain excellent teachers and maintain excellent schools. These frames are usually accepted without question by the media.  As one enlightened school superintendent wrote: “While taking pot shots at public employees seems to be lawmakers' and journalists' sport du jour, the real problem is not that the benefits public employees have long earned and enjoyed with little or no objection are suddenly undeserved. The real problem is that the cost of what used to be an easily affordable and reasonable benefit has escalated in recent years at disproportionate rates. Instead of breeding resentment of teachers and other public employees, perhaps an exposé of out-of-control health care costs and legislative stinginess in the face of overflowing state coffers should be offered. And where do corporate tax breaks at the expense of funding for education fit into this scenario?”

On the national scene, some of the people who frame this issue in this way are now defending multi-million dollar bonuses for Wall Street CEO's and bankers who plunged our country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  What is their argument? These bonuses, they say, are necessary to retain and attract the best and the brightest on Wall Street.  Apparently benefit packages only retain and attract when they are in the multi-million dollar range and go to Wall Street CEO’s, bankers, and hedge fund managers living in gated communities and driving Ferraris. When it comes to public school teachers living in middle class neighborhoods, driving ’97 La Sabres, who collectively bargain $12,000 health insurance benefits for themselves and their families; or Education Support Professionals who, in many cases, earn wages below the poverty line and can afford to stay in the field only because of the benefits package, it’s time to ante up. 

Warren Buffett once said that “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is…People read the press to inform themselves-and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”  When it comes to coverage of state tax and spending issues as well as the impact of collective bargaining rights on state budgets, our journalists are failing.  As David Cay Johnston concluded: “Not every news report gets it wrong, but the narrative of the journalistic herd has now been set and is slowly hardening into a concrete falsehood that will distort public understanding of the issue for years to come unless journalists en masse correct their mistakes." From the Associated Press and The New York Times to Wisconsin's biggest newspaper, and every broadcast report I have heard, reporters again and again and again have written as fact what is nonsense. Compared to tax, this economic issue that reporters have been mishandling is simple. But if journalists cannot grasp the economics of this issue, then how can we hope to have an intelligent debate about tax policy?”  Since journalists appear to be uninterested in correcting their mistakes, it falls upon all public employees to work tirelessly to inform their communities, through all means necessary, exactly how collective bargaining works, how public employees pay “100 cents on the dollar” toward their insurance and benefits and why our hard-fought collective bargaining rights are essential to a thriving middle-class in America.

Dave O’Connor
Des Moines, IA Middle School social studies teacher


That war is unhealthy for women, children, and all other living things is clear to all who have eyes to see or brains to think, but do you suppose, as I do, that it is sometimes necessary anyhow?  If so, I hope your mind is more at rest about it than mine.

Theorists usually say that nations should always wage war as a last resort, it must be fought only to correct a wrong suffered, there must be a reasonable chance of success, the methods used must only be in proportion to the injury suffered, there must be no civilian targets, and the goal must be to not only re-establish peace but to have a better one than that prevailed prior to the war.  How’s that for setting the bar high?

How can accepting these basic precepts guide us today?  Clearly, our involvement in Iraq violated nearly all rules of a just war, so we’ll leave it.   Afghanistan is harder to call.  We clearly were attacked in that instance, but it was by al Qaeda, not the Taliban, yet it is the Taliban whom we fight in Afghanistan today although we continue to fight al Qaeda in Pakistan.  Has our damage to them exceeded what they did to us on 9/11?  I think so, perhaps many times over.  Have we targeted civilians?  Maybe not, but every time we drop bombs civilians are killed.   Is there a reasonable chance of success?  I think not.  Will a successful resolution create a better peace than what preceded it?  Perhaps, but maybe not.  It’s all very iffy, so much so that there is little justification for our prolonging the war.
It is generally accepted that self-defense is a basic criterion for retaliation in  war, but what if a powerful nation acts on behalf of a weaker one which is attacked or is about to be?  The U.S. coming to the aid of South Korea in 1950 comes to mind, or what about a powerful nation intervening to protect those suffering from a brutal dictator? Present day Libya comes to mind.  If we can justify them, should we then say we should intervene in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, the Ivory Coast, and many other places as well?
Once a nation begins a war, rules of warfare are often forgotten.  In World War II, the Germans and Japanese committed unspeakable atrocities, and the Brits and Americans wiped out whole cities with their bombing raids.  In Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Prince Andrey was once an idealist who believed he could fight the French in a just and honorable way, but he soon became disillusioned.
 “I won’t take prisoners….  If there were none of this playing at generosity in warfare, we should never go to war, except for something worth facing certain death for…. The object of warfare is murder.”
Prince Andrey had it right. War is in fact unhealthy for women, children, and all other living things. The object of war is murder, and we should never forget it. Let us, therefore, not enter into the next one lightly.

By Tom Wolfe, P&J Midwest Regional Director

June 10, 2011

Iowa Education Summit - Look Who the Governor Just Invited!

Shared from DMEA

The Governor decided to turn the Iowa Education Summit into a showcase for politics rather than education with the invitation of incendiary New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. What had been a panel of education experts has now added a polarizing figure that could turn the whole summit into a political sideshow rather than a reasoned discussion of the future of education in our state.

A quick look at the New Jersey governor's education "reform" ideas shows he supports:
- Vouchers to divert public money from public schools to private and for-profit schools.
- Performance pay based on student test scores.
- Billions of dollars in reductions in school funding.
- Elimination of senority.
- Freezing teacher salaries and pension contributions.

Need more? How about some of these quotes from the New Jersey governor....

Christie referred to the NJ Union as "political thugs."

Said teacher's unions are "universally self-interested" and “They’re there to protect the lousy ones so they continue to pay their dues every year.’’

Accused the NJ Union of being "completely out of touch" and "using students like drug mules" in school board elections

Called the union "a political thuggery operation" that is "Fat, rich and entitled."

Cut $1.5 billion in school aid in his first 3 months in office

Appeared at a Branstad fundraiser in Iowa and said "The NJ Union /is/ about pure, raw power, to keep their folks, even the worst of their folks, continuing to be employed, so they can continue to be dues paying members, so they continue to perpetuate their power across my state."

And called the union "bullies and thugs" saying he "doesn't know how they sleep at night."

One has to wonder why Governor Branstad thinks such a polarizing figure is going to be a productive addition to an Iowa Education Summit.

Contact Governor Branstad today and tell him to dis-invite Christie so that the Education Summit can be about our children and not politics! 

May 26, 2011

Raise Your Voice to Break Iowa Budget Deadlock

Call Governor Branstad TODAY at 515-281-5211 to urge compromise on cuts to education and job creation!

“Top Ten” items at stake:
1.   Our K-12 schools: Schools need 2 percent allowable growth.  Without it we are facing layoffs, larger class sizes, and reduced educational opportunities.
2.   Early education for four-year-olds: We need to fulfill our commitments to quality and access for all Iowa children, we should not cut funding and replace the current program with an inadequate voucher system that ignores quality and undermines access.
3.   Our public universities (UI, ISU, and UNI): We must maintain current funding, not make cuts that would force double-digit tuition increases on our students.
4.   Aid to private college students: It is important to maintain current funding; cutting $3.6 million from the Iowa Tuition Grant Program would take away support for Iowa students who qualify on a need basis for aid to attend private colleges.
5.   Community colleges: Making cuts would force huge tuition increases on Iowa students.
6.   Helping Iowans fill skilled job openings: Investing $10 million would take a successful job training pilot program statewide.  With this investment, Iowa’s community colleges could help unemployed and underemployed Iowans earn industry-recognized certificates to fill skilled worker shortages hampering Iowa businesses.
7.   Local workforce offices for the unemployed: In these economic times, we need to keep the current offices open to help the unemployed improve their skills and look for work, not cut many of the offices and “replace” them with a Web site.
8.   Iowa Values Fund for high-wage jobs: This successful program was created with strong bi-partisan support to help businesses create high-wage jobs in advanced manufacturing, informational technology, and biotechnology. In addition, this program provides essential job training at our Community Colleges and economic development at our Regent universities. We can not afford to shut the program down.
9.   Small business employee health insurance tax credits: A state tax credit to leverage federal tax incentives to help small businesses (with ten or fewer employees) provide health benefits for their employees has been proposed.  We need to truly support small business, not just pay them lip service.
10. Jumpstart local renewable energy jobs: We need to provide $10 million in consumer rebates to leverage existing federal tax credits which help homeowners and businesses install small wind and solar projects.  This means jobs for Iowa plumbers, contractors, electricians, and other small businesses.\

Call Governor Branstad at 515-281-5211 and tell him he needs to compromise to support education and job creation!

After you call, you can let us know how it went by sending us an email at SDinsdale@IowaCAN or calling 515-277-5077. 

May 24, 2011

Veterans for Peace president argues for end to needless wars

by Diane Heldt :: UPDATED: 20 May 2011
IOWA CITY — A national group that recently launched a second chapter in Iowa wants the U.S. government to better support military veterans but also to stop creating more veterans through unnecessary wars, the group’s president said Tuesday in Iowa City.

Elliott Adams, national president of Veterans for Peace, said his group works to make people aware of the costs of war, to support veterans and all victims of war, to reduce and abolish all nuclear weapons and to encourage the government to end unnecessary wars.

Adams uses the analogy that each veteran is like a drop of water falling into a pond, creating ripples across the larger area.

“What we’re dealing with now is like a rainstorm ripping up the surface of society,” Adams said during an interview with The Gazette Tuesday. “The social cost of war is unbelievably high and we don’t do well at seeing it.”

Adams was in Iowa this week for several events, including a conference on militarism and environment in Iowa City and the launch of a new Veterans for Peace chapter in Des Moines. Iowa City already had a Veterans for Peace chapter serving Eastern Iowa, and the Des Moines chapter is No. 163 nationally.

“We have all served in the armed forces and see a greater commitment to a higher cause, which is establishing peace,” said Adams, who was a paratrooper in the infantry, serving in Vietnam, Japan, Korea and Alaska.

The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the two longest wars in American history. The financial cost and human toll have not left us safer as a nation, Adams argues.

“The war in Afghanistan is not making us safer,” he said. “It’s making us less safe.”

And he worries the U.S. military presence is spreading in other countries, like Libya and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, veterans at home don’t have the necessary government support or resources to deal with alcohol problems, drug abuse, mental health issues and injuries and brain trauma, Adams and Ed Flaherty, president of the Iowa City chapter, said. Homelessness and suicide rates among veterans of the Iraq War, for example, far exceed those of the rest of the U.S. population, they said.

“We want all veterans treated well, but most of all we don’t want more veterans created needlessly,” Flaherty said. “We’ll never catch up” with the needs.

April 18, 2011

Nuclear Abolition Road Show...

..kicks off the 2011 Season and you are invited.

It is a different football game than what you may be thinking. What’s at stake is our future, our children’s future and life as we know it. It will require new thinking and new energy ..and the road starts here.

Join us for a preview:

Paul Deaton: a new narrative on nuclear abolition

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Meeting Room B

Iowa City Public Library

123 South Linn Street

Iowa City, Iowa More Info: (319) 331-0899

ACLU Iowa Events

Apr. 30, 2011 ACLU of Iowa 2011 Annual Dinner
Saturday, April 30, 2011

University Athletic Club

Iowa C

The 2011 ACLU of Iowa Annual Dinner is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, April 30, at the University Athletic Club in Iowa City. The Louise Noun Award winners will be the three Supreme Court Judges of Iowa who were recently voted out of office. They will attend and speak.

May 4, 2011 Equal Justice After Hours 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 5 p.m.

Temple for the Performing Arts

1011 Locust St, Des Moines

Featuring a Lecture by Morris Dess -- "With Justice for All"
Morris Dees founded the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971. The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Equal Justice After Hours is the annual fundraising event supporting Iowa Legal Aid and its work to provide justice for all Iowans.

Sponsor's reception with Morris Dees: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
General reception: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Program at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: -- Advance tickets required

* $ 50 for general reception and program.

* $125 for Sponsor's reception and program.

Event sponsorships available and welcome.

Book Signing: Mr. Dees will be available for a book signing after the event

Contact -- and to purchase tickets

Terri Bennett: 800-532-1275 x 1611, 515-243-2980 x 1611, or

April 1, 2011

State Revenue Forecast Improves

Citing a growing state economy, a non-partisan budget panel this week raised state revenue estimates by $86 million, with $48.6 million falling in fiscal year 2011 and $38 million in fiscal year 2012.

Two members of the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) were very bullish on the strength of Iowa’s economy, citing employment growth estimates at 1.4% for the current year and 1.7% for the next year. Iowa’s strong farm economy and agricultural manufacturing has help Iowa’s economy speed its way to recovery.

Iowa has sustained several months of growth and more workers are earning over-time income, which is also a sign of an improving economy. One member of the non-partisan budget panel was much more cautious in his remarks on the economy. Raising concerns with oil hitting $100 a barrel, unemployment rates still above historic levels, building permits low, and slow recovery.

The REC estimates that the State will collect $5.855 billion in net general fund receipts and transfers for fiscal year 2011, which represents a $222 million increase from FY 2010. The fiscal year 2012 net revenue is estimated to be $6.189 billion, an increase of $333.3 million over the new fiscal year 2011 revenue estimate.

Even with these new estimates, by law the Legislature will use the revenue estimates from the December meeting.

0% Allowable growth is not acceptable!

copied from IA Rep Vicki Lensing's update...note of 0% not acceptable, mine. Nancy

March 31, 2011

Josh Casteel and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Events

Thursday, April 14th
7:30 pm
Flaherty Community Room of Basile Hall
Mount Mercy University , Cedar Rapids

Friday, April 15th
Newman Center, Iowa City

Josh Casteel is a native Iowan who became a Conscientious Objector while a military interrogator in Iraq.
Bishop Gumbleton (retired) preaches every week, usually in Michigan, since late 2001 on a theme relating to peace, and posts the sermon at The Peace Pulpit at National Catholic Reporter (

March 30, 2011

We Are One Rally~"Defend the Dream"

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he was supporting sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. Today, that same demand is electrifying people across America. It's the demand of all people--black, white, Latino, and Asian American: The right to join together for our common dreams.

Join us at the Iowa State Capitol April 4, 2011, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the West Steps of the Capitol (1007 Grand Avenue), to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana across this nation where well-funded politicians are trying to take away the workers' rights Dr. King gave his life for. It's time to show: We Are One. For more information contact: IOWA AFL-CIO 515-262-9571 or

March 21, 2011

NEA's Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund

On March 11, Japan was hit with one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, soon followed by a massive tsunami. As all of us have seen in the news, the death and destruction have been enormous. During this time of crisis, NEA is working with Education International (EI) to establish a Solidarity Fund that will assist our colleagues at the Japan Teachers Union (JTU).

EI reports that the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima have suffered great damage. In addition to the immediate humanitarian needs around shelter and medical care, there will be longer-term needs around rebuilding communities and schools.

NEA is participating in the EI Solidarity Fund, which support education union members who are negatively impacted by natural and man-made disasters.

To donate, checks should be made out to the National Education Association, with “Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund” in the memo line.
Checks can be mailed to:

Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund
National Education Association
1201 16th Street NW, Suite 614
Washington DC 20036

All donations will be directed to EI to provide assistance in Japan. Thank you, in advance, for your generosity and good will.

March 7, 2011

We are under attack!

Dear Colleagues, we are in such a time when being under attack seems like a minimal statement. There is too much at stake for all of us not to stay in touch with our state and national directions. Please respond to the national need by March 8. Thank you.

The Coalition for Human Needs has spelled out the alternatives well--kids can’t afford an affirmative Senate vote on H.R. 1. Please read the following, and call your Senators today!

The Senate is expected to vote this week on alternative plans to approve spending for the rest of this year. They will vote on whether to agree to the extreme cuts passed by the House (H.R. 1) - $65 billion less than last year's spending for domestic programs. The House bill will deny vital services to millions of people, from young children to seniors. Please tell your Senators to VOTE NO on H.R. 1 and to vote FOR the Senate alternative. The proposed Senate bill cuts spending $6.5 billion below last year's levels, compared to more than $60 billion in cuts in H.R. 1. Most of the extreme cuts in the House plan listed below are not made in the Senate bill.

Call NOW toll-free 888-245-0215 (the vote could be as early as Tuesday)

Please call both your Senators and tell them to VOTE NO on H.R. 1 and FOR the Senate full-year FY 2011 bill. Tell them to vote NO on harsh and unprecedented cuts that will deny health care, education, food, housing, and jobs to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, while at the same time jeopardizing the economic recovery for all.

The House-passed cuts would be the largest one-year cuts in history. That is why it is so important that you call your Senators. Please forward this message to your networks.

If the House plan were to become law:
• 218,000 young children would not be able to receive Head Start services
• 10,000 people with long-term disabilities would lose their current rental assistance; most will be forced out of their homes
• 11 million patients would lose health care they've received at Community Health Centers (for more than 3 million, the loss of health care would be almost immediate)
• 20 million people, including 5 million children, 2.3 million seniors and 1.7 million people with disabilities, would lose some or all of the anti-poverty help now provided by community action agencies
• 9.4 million low-income college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants
• 8 million adults and youth would lose access to job training and other employment services
• 81,000 low-income people, mostly seniors, would no longer receive supplemental food packages
• 1.2 million poor households in public housing will see their rental units deteriorate further because of cuts to maintenance and repairs; some units will no longer be habitable.
That's not all. Many thousands of jobs would be lost (for example: 10,000 teachers, 5,000 health care staff, 55,000 Head Start staff). And the cuts would slow down the economy, threatening our fragile economic recovery, and costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, just as we've started to make some progress. And remember: there are far smarter ways to reduce the deficit. A combination of fair revenue increases (examples worth many billion$: collect more revenue now sheltered offshore, end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy) and reductions in wasteful spending (many examples in the military, as well as oil and gas industry subsidies, etc.) can reduce the deficit without hurting those most in need or threatening the economy.

Your calls will make a difference! A big vote against the House plan will help protect the vulnerable and the economy as Congress continues to negotiate. Your silence will mean the cuts will be worse. It's as simple as that.

For more information about the House plan and other budget background, see the CHN report,A Better Budget for All: Saving Our Economy and Helping Those in Need.  For state data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing the impact of the House cuts click here.

March 4, 2011

Barbara Lee’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Resolution Passes Democratic National Committee Without Dissent

By Tom Hayden, The Nation [Monday night]

The Democratic National Committee, whose leader is President Barack Obama, passed a resolution at last weekend’s Washington DC conference calling for an acceleration of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan more rapidly than the president’s current 2014 timeline. The policy resolution demands a “swift withdrawal” of troops and contractors starting with a “significant and sizeable reduction [of troops] no later than July 2011.”

The resolution may not be a game-changer, but certainly a shape-shifter in the months ahead, when war funding and exit strategies are debated in Congress and Obama announces how many troops he will “begin” withdrawing this July.

The goal of Democrats like Lee is to “change the president’s political calculus” and encourage his running on a 2012 platform promise of ending two wars – instead of the specter of trillion-dollar quagmires. Gen. Petraeus and national security hawks like John Nagl are lobbying for Obama to keep American combat troops in Afghanistan through 2014 or beyond. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has staked out a position supporting the generals.

According to Bob Woodward’s prescient book Obama’s Wars, however, the president himself told Sen. Lindsay Graham behind closed-doors last year that “I can’t lose all the Democratic Party. And people at home don’t want to hear we’re going to be there for ten years.” The president slipped his promise to begin withdrawals by July 2011 into his West Point speech in December 2009, without first informing the generals.

So why did the DNC just try to speed up the president’s clock.

First, the American public is catching up with Barbara Lee’s timetable. A January Gallup Poll shows that 72 percent of American voters prefer to “speed up” the withdrawal of troops from the 2014 date. Eighty-six percent of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 61% of Republicans favored the more rapid withdrawal. But Pentagon denial persisted. Nagl, the counterinsurgency expert who heads the Center for a New American Security, wrote in the New York Times [Feb. 21] that there was “surprisingly little objection” by the public to the 2014 deadline.

Second, despite the recently-revealed Pentagon “psy-ops” spin to visiting members of Congress, the war is not going well. The US is withdrawing from the Pech Valley in eastern Afghanistan which the Pentagon once described as “central” to the war against the Taliban. [NYT 2/24]. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point last Friday, said that any future Pentagon secretary who advises a president to fight wars like Iraq and Afghanistan “should have his head examined.” [NYT, Feb. 25]. In a book review this weekend, the New York Times lead war correspondent, Dexter Filkins, wrote that progress in Afghanistan would take a “miracle” over many more years. {Feb. 27]

Third, the US budget crisis cannot be addressed without facing the trillion-dollar war costs. Afghanistan military spending is projected at $200 billion minimum for the next two years, more than the domestic budget gap for the fifty American states combined. [NYT, Feb. 27]. If, as the president has said, “the only nation I am interested in building is the United States of America”, the spending on the Long War has become an albatross.

Little gets by the White House, especially party resolutions disagreeing with the president. In fact, when Lee first submitted her proposal to the resolutions committee, the DNC staff pushed back with an alternative draft which mirrored the official line. The staff version removed language noting that a majority of Americans opposed the war. Instead of Lee’s call for a “significant and sizeable reduction” to be announced in July, and “swift withdrawal” after that date, the staff revision asserted the 2014 deadline.

Lee’s staff argued back. Then something happened. The DNC staff objections disappeared. Democratic insiders like Donna Brazille and Alice Germond signed on as co-sponsors of Lee’s language. The resolutions committee reported out the Lee measure [Amendment #13, as it was known] in a package of measures designed for voice adoption. There was no opposition. One member of the Resolutions Committee told this writer in an email that “I’m quite sure the White House is okay with it.”

The president may be encouraging his party to become a counter-weight to the generals and Republicans who desire a long occupation. He then can claim, as he did in the Woodward book, that he can’t lose the Democratic Party. That would be more than shape-shifting. It could be game-changing.

But that’s only speculation. The next step is likely to be a follow-up letter from 100 or more Congressional representatives- including a few Republicans like prospective presidential candidate Ron Paul- asking the White House to heed the call to speed up the withdrawal and shift to a diplomatic peace strategy. Then will come debates and votes on war funding and exit strategies.

February 21, 2011

Education Votes

Please take a minute to sign this petition.

Education Votes

WI / Wear Red on Tuesdays

Dear Iowa Peace and Justice Friends, below is a letter from NEA President Dennis and a list of WI Peace and Justice members.  It would be great to show your support by sending a card or a phone or email message to our colleagues.  They need our support.  Life is not good for them and my personal opinion is that the media is not presenting a fair picture.  Roberta Rosheim was in Madison on Saturday and said it was a calm but powerful gathering for bargaining rights.  CA is sending a plane load on Wed - Fri, Davenport had a presence this weekend, some of us eastern Iowans plan to go there on Friday.

How about promoting the wearing of red...easy to do!!!  every Tuesday!  Wear Red for Public Ed!

Below is a message from the communications team on the ground in Madison that we are sharing for your reference:

--This protest is about public sector employees retaining a voice in their profession and Wisconsin's future. The proposed legislation strips away worker rights and destroys the collaborative partnerships that have been established between labor and management in Wisconsin. It's not about pay and benefits, pensions and health care.

--What is happening right now in Wisconsin is historic. Tens of thousands of citizens - unprecedented numbers - are gathering and speaking out to show their support for the state's public servants. They want to voice support for the third grade teacher who stays late to help a student with math - for the nurses who work every day to care for patients - for the firefighters who keep us safe -- and for the snow plow drivers who plow streets through the night so their neighbors can get to work in the morning. These public workers are on the front-lines everyday to support us - and they should have a say in their profession.

--The people of Wisconsin are asking the Governor and legislature to hear them out - and work with them to find bipartisan solutions that will address Wisconsin's challenges. Silencing the voices of public sector employees by busting up their unions is not a going to help Wisconsin move forward - and it will only divide the people of this state.

Because we know everyone is looking for a way to lend their voice to our collective fights,  here are three things you can do right now: 

o Have members sign the petition on Education Votes website: 

o Ask members to "Wear Red for Ed" to support public education beginning Tuesday, February 22nd , and every Tuesday this spring

o Email information about local or state solidarity actions to 

I encourage you to share this message with other Association leaders and members.
Again, this is a national fight for working people. We're leaders in this fight. Let's get this note out widely, take action together, support each other. We're going to win this fight.

In solidarity,
Dennis (NEA president)

February 19, 2011

A New American Workers Movement Has Begun

by Dan La Botz
Thousands of workers demonstrated at the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin on Feb. 15 and 16 to protest plans by that state's Republican Governor Scott Walker to take away the state workers' union rights. Walker cleverly attempted to divide the public workers by excluding police and firefighters from his anti-union law, and the media have worked to divide public employees against private sector workers. Yet, both firefighters and private sector workers showed up at the statehouse to join public workers of all sorts in what has been one of the largest workers demonstrations in the United States in decades. Only California has seen demonstrations as large as these in recent years.

Many demonstrators in Madison, taking a clue from the rebellions against authoritarian and anti-worker governments that are sweeping the Middle East, carried signs saying, "Let's negotiate like they do in Egypt." While the situation in Wisconsin is hardly comparable to the revolution in the Arab world, what we are witnessing is the beginning of a new American workers movement. Because this movement is so different than what many expected, it may take us by surprise.