Listening is Important

Woman Writing Letter

The first funnel of the Iowa legislature is March 3, so it’s time to look at what our representatives Dawn Driscoll (SD46) and Brad Sherman (HD91) have been up to.

No doubt they won the 2022 midterm election, despite failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s warning about election integrity during a recent trip to Iowa. They won fair and square.

If I don’t agree with them in many cases, they each have explained some of their votes in their newsletters. Reading them helps me understand their point of view. I won’t convert from being a Democrat to Republican, yet listening to legislators with whom I disagree is important. It’s a way to improve civility that has been lacking in our politics.

Republicans hold legislative majorities, and the governor is pushing for major changes. Because proposed changes are substantial, it is difficult to get a grip on the reorganization of state government and education. Legislators should take time to consider the bills in public forums.

My hope for the rest of session is that Republicans listen to Democrats when they have something important to say, pay attention to details of what they propose, and do right by all Iowans. These are reasonable things to ask.

~ First published by the Marengo Pioneer Republican on Feb. 14, 2023.

Living in Society

Super PAC Hammering Bohannan

Woman Writing Letter

The election will be here before we know it and voters are forming into camps. I encourage anyone eligible to vote to do so. We should participate in our country’s governance because we can.

What I can’t abide is the money in politics. It is like the wind yet what you hear is the sound of money changing hands as the wealthy try to buy the election.

Christina Bohannan is getting hammered by false ads paid for by a group called Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC which is approved by Republican leadership in the Congress. They reported more than $109 million income this election cycle and spent more than $774,000 against Bohannan thus far, according to They are only one PAC.

What makes this Super PAC despicable is dark money groups, that don’t have to disclose donors, raise funds then contribute to this Super PAC that does. One might call it dark money laundering except they don’t come clean.

Super PACs shouldn’t be able to feed lies into our political discourse with impunity. A vote for Democrat Christina Bohannan for Congress is a vote for sensible campaign contribution reform, a vote for hard-working Iowans’ values.

~Published online in the Newton Daily News on Oct. 11, 2022

Living in Society

Single-issue Politics are Bad for Iowa

Woman Writing Letter

In Iowa there is more to living in society than any single issue or election. Unlike members of the Congress, we aren’t in a constant state of campaigning. We view those with whom we interact as people first, which makes life more tolerable. There are cultural nuances where we chose to live.

Some voters I know pick politicians based on their position regarding abortion. A significant part of the electorate finds that to be sufficient qualification to earn a vote and serve in elected office.

In Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court created a political mess with real-life consequences by upending established precedent in Roe v. Wade. Straightening the resulting mess will be part of the work of the 118th Congress.

Several years ago, I volunteered with a group that served the needs of older citizens. Almost everyone from the community volunteered to help in some way. The topic of politics almost never came up in conversation among volunteers. It was avoided. Such restraint was a form of glue that held the organization together enough to accomplish good work.

A focus on abortion alone does injustice to everything else we value. Where is the role in our politics for addressing environmental issues? What about economic issues? What about corruption? What about access to health care? Regardless of election outcomes, our work on these issues and more will continue.

Our values persist beyond a single issue or election cycle.

~ First published on Oct. 5, 2022 in The Little Village. A version also appeared in the Quad-City Times on Oct. 7, 2022.

Living in Society

Iowans Need a Voice not a Parrot

Woman Writing Letter

It’s time to elect a Democrat in the First Congressional District, one that will listen to voters after arriving in Washington. That person is Democrat Christina Bohannan.

With the close election of Nov. 3, 2020, decided April 1, 2021 when Rita Hart withdrew her contest from the House Committee on Administration, Mariannette Miller-Meeks had a choice. Either address the concerns of a divided electorate much as Representatives Jim Leach and Dave Loebsack did before her or do something else. What she did was unexpected and unwelcome.

Almost immediately the congresswoman became a parrot for Republican talking points, adopting an “all of the above” energy strategy developed by the oil, coal and gas industries. Society must stop using fossil fuels. This policy is bad for her constituents.

NOAA recently noted carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere hit 421 ppm and continues to increase — more than 50 percent higher than pre-industrial times, a level not seen since millions of years ago.

Miller-Meeks’ junket to COP 26 with the Republican Climate Caucus resulted in her parroting the “all of the above” energy strategy including development of more fossil fuel capacity. Since Russian fuel exports were sanctioned in its war with Ukraine, Miller-Meeks doubled down on this misguided policy.

Voters need a voice in Washington, not a parrot of right-wing talking points. Miller-Meeks works for us, not the fossil fuel industry. She had her chance. It’s time to elect Christina Bohannan on Nov. 8.

~ First published in The Little Village on June 7, 2022.

Living in Society

They Forgot Education is About Educating Children

Woman Writing Letter

The Republican elected officials who represent me have forgotten the most important thing about education: its purpose is to educate children.

On Nov. 9, 2021, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks introduced the CHOICE Act (HR 5959) which is a bill that takes federal money from public schools for private schools in states like Iowa. This bill is going nowhere if Democrats hold the majority.

I asked a group of parents and educators whether they had heard of the CHOICE Act. They had not. It is a distraction from the main goal of educating our children. What is the congresswoman up to?

Miller-Meeks seeks to acquire some more Iowa Republican extremism in education to garner a few votes in the midterm election.

Iowa Republicans support discrimination against a class of young children (HF 2416), seek to lock up teachers who don’t do what they want (SF 2198), and play three-card monte with childcare by doing nothing except raising the number of children each provider can serve (SF 2268).

No public dollars should go to private schools. We should focus on educating children, not playing political games with their future.

~ Published by the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Feb. 24, 2022

Living in Society

Participate in the School Board Election

Editor’s Note: The plan for Solon School Board election coverage is to post at least one weekly article on Saturdays until the election. I am looking at data provided by the county and will have an analysis soon. I’ve been told there will be a candidate forum and like in 2019 I plan to attend and cover it. Both the Solon Economist and Iowa City Press Citizen indicated they will provide some coverage of the campaigns. All of my posts about the 2021 school board election can be found here.

I encourage readers to participate in the Nov. 2 Solon School Board Election. In 2019 we had record voter turnout. It would be great if voter turnout improved this year.

The seven candidates are Erika Billerbeck, Tim Brown, Dan Coons, Kelly Edmonds, Stacey Munson, Michael Neuerburg, and Cassie Rochholz. Their addresses, emails and telephone numbers were posted on the Johnson County Auditor’s website. We increasingly live in a do-it-yourself news environment so I recommend if you have questions about policy, go directly to the candidates.

The main controversy in the district has been handling of the coronavirus pandemic by school administration. The board hired Davis Eidahl as superintendent in 2015 and renewed his contract at least once. Eidahl and his predecessor Sam Miller spent time together as principals in the Davis County school district near Ottumwa. Based on their common background it is clear continuity has been important to the school board. COVID-19 threw administration a curve ball and the fallout has not finished. Will this be a change election? That depends upon participation.

What the school board does is important whether or not we have children of school age. One thing is certain: Solon cares about school board elections.

~ Published by the Solon Economist on Oct. 7, 2021.

Living in Society

Cleaning Up The Mess

Woman Writing Letter

The debt ceiling is in the news. Once again, for the same reason: a Republican president ran up the debt on the American people and a Democratic president is left cleaning up the mess.

At the same time, Iowa is participating in its decennial redistricting process. Voters in the Iowa Quad Cities aren’t sure who their member of congress might be. Currently it is Mariannette Miller-Meeks. If the first redistricting map is accepted by the legislature, it could be Ashley Hinson.

Both congresswomen have joined the Republican block to say they will not vote to raise the debt limit. Shame on them. They should focus on solutions, not obstruction.

While neither was in office when the 45th president and the Congress ran up our bill, it is clear from this statement by both and from their voting record earlier this year, their interests lie more with Washington Republicans than with Iowans.

Both voted against the American Rescue Plan Act which benefited many Iowans. One expects them both to vote against the Build Back Better Act when it comes up for a U.S. House vote in the near future.

Regardless of the redistricting outcome, they both need to find other work.

~ Published by the Quad-City Times on Sept. 27, 2021.

Living in Society

Get to Work Congresswoman

Woman Writing Letter

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks appears to be dodging constituents in the Second Congressional District.

According to her congressional website she has two constituent offices available: in the District of Columbia and in Ottumwa. That’s not enough. It’s time for the congresswoman to be more accessible by staffing offices where her constituents live.

Ottumwa is Iowa’s 20th ranked city by population. Also in the Second Congressional District are Davenport (third ranked), Iowa City (fifth), Bettendorf (15th), Clinton (18th), and Burlington (19th).

I understand a slow opening while the election was being contested. Yet she won and it’s time to provide more inclusive access. At a minimum she should open an office in the Quad-Cities which is the biggest population center in the district. She should also open one in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa which is an economic engine for the region.

Miller-Meeks needs to get to work doing the business of Iowans. That is, unless she doesn’t care what constituents who don’t share her politics think.

~ First published in the Little Village on Aug. 10, 2021. After publication, the congresswoman’s website was updated with the location of a Davenport office.

Living in Society

Congressional Exaggeration

Woman Writing Letter

Mariannette Miller-Meeks sounds like she’s having trouble dealing with a narrow win in her 2020 election. On June 22, she said on FOX News, “Democrats want Americans to believe state election laws are broken so they can then sell their ‘Corrupt Politicians Act’ as a means to fix the ‘broken’ system.”

The appeal Rita Hart made to the certified election results is evidence election laws are working as they were designed. I understand neither Miller-Meeks nor prominent Iowa Republicans liked the appeal. They should have let the law play out as it is designed to do and as it ultimately did. Instead they complained and made exaggerated claims like this one on FOX News.

“Corrupt Politicians Act” is the same framing used by the right wing Heritage Foundation to characterize the “For the People Act.” Miller-Meeks likely used the Heritage talking point because it’s curious she rolled out this opinion piece at the same time Heritage used the phrase to activate their followers to oppose S.1.

In her FOX News statement, Miller-Meeks naively admitted the irony in proposing the “For the People Act”: Democrats demonstrated the legislative process is not broken. With a slim majority, Democrats walked through the front door and proposed to stop recent Republican-passed laws that aim to modify the voting process.

Agree or disagree, it is the hallmark of our form of government. Miller-Meeks should spend more time in her district talking to voters from all parties to build on her six-vote margin in 2022.

~ Submitted to several local newspapers. First published in Little Village on June 24, 2021.

Living in Society

Vote June 8

Big Grove Precinct Polling Place Nov. 5, 2019

Thank you Solon Economist for the articles about the June 8 special election to fill the board of supervisors vacancy created when Janelle Rettig resigned.

Turnout in special elections is always light, and that makes your vote count even more.

I listened to the May 19 Johnson County League of Women Voters forum and all three candidates appear to have qualifications to be a supervisor. I favor the Democrat Jon Green who was nominated at the special convention. Who do you favor?

I did my patriotic duty serving in the U.S. Army and plan to vote on or before June 8. Now it’s your turn to do your duty as a U.S. citizen and vote June 8.

~ Published in the Solon Economist on May 27, 2021.