Sleepless Nights

Linn Street

Linn Street

The month since the inauguration of our 45th president was characterized by sleepless nights, stress and constant weariness.

It’s not sustainable.

With that in mind, I’m planning to reduce the political content on this blog and focus on other, equally important issues.

How do we grow food as global temperatures steadily, predictably increase? What kinds of work will sustain us and contribute to a greater good? How can we contribute to peaceful coexistence in an increasingly torn society?

I don’t know the answers, and these topics are each political in a sense. I expect to write about them and more as I make the final workingman’s lap while eyeing hope beyond the finish line.

I’ll continue to write pieces for publication in friendly blogs and local newspapers and re-post them here… and letters, like this one to state representative Bobby Kaufmann prior to the Iowa legislature’s voting to reform Iowa’s collective bargaining laws this week. Friends said I was too polite, but unlike this bill, soon to be law, that’s no crime.


Every teacher I know is upset about this bill and the uncertainty of it. That includes a teacher in HD73 who doesn’t belong to the union and who voted for Trump because of his position on abortion. As I said Saturday in Lowden, I don’t understand the rush to passage and the lack of explanations to teachers and the general public. The bill dropped a week ago and a final vote is expected this week. That’s not reasonable.

On the other hand, I do understand. Republicans won a majority in the legislature and Governor Branstad has wanted a bill like this, probably since Chapter 20 was adopted. The Republican party has the political power to push the bill through and I expect they will.

Here are my issues:

I appreciate that in this letter you attempt to gain feedback from constituents. There is little evidence your colleagues have done likewise. Some say Speaker Upmeyer hasn’t held a forum like you do yet this session.

Your “listen to both sides” comment fails to take into consideration that the proponents of this bill are way out in left field. There is nothing moderate about the bill. There is not even a pretense of meeting “the other side” between the 40 yard lines to work out a reasonable compromise as was done when Governor Ray signed Chapter 20.

You can’t legitimately tell me this bill doesn’t come directly from the playbook of the American Legislative Exchange Council. We both know Speaker Upmeyer is a board member of ALEC and the governor has been involved with them as well. The fact that there has been virtually no Democratic input, combined with a tacit unwillingness to consider opposing points of view, makes this action a tops down, like it or leave it proposition. That’s not good for our house district or for Iowa.

Iowans don’t like what happened in Wisconsin during the recall election of Governor Walker. You tapped into it in your letter below by invoking “DC union lobbyists.” The photos of the capitol during the public comment time last night resembled those from Wisconsin a lot. If the political class, including union lobbyists, have faulty rhetoric, what’s worse is attention paid to them is a distraction from the employees who will be impacted by the legislation.

Finally, I think you are smarter than to draw false equivalencies about “both sides.” As you may recall from the Lowden forum, people with differing views can respectfully discuss issues that are important in our society. By my count, there were five Democrats, one Republican, one Independent and three people who didn’t indicate their party. Truth is it didn’t matter what political party people belonged to because most of the issues we discussed involve all of us. I believe that is the future of Iowa politics, unlike the zero sum game Republicans put forth in this bill.

Government support for citizens from the state has been significantly diminished since Governor Branstad was re-elected. The mental health consolidation has gone badly and the Medicaid privatization has been disastrous. Tax credits to business are out of control and negatively impact state revenue, requiring budget cuts.

I hope you will work within your caucus to enable stakeholders to have a say in revising Chapter 20. A lot more than union members will be watching to see how you and your Republican colleagues treat our public employees.

Thanks again for your work in the legislature. Thanks for asking for my opinion.

Regards, Paul

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