Wendy for Governor Campaign

Wendy Barth is running for the Governor of Iowa on the Green Party ticket, along with running mate Richard Johnson candidate for Lt. Governor.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What can we do about Global Warming

Global Warming is real - the polar icecaps are melting and polar bears are drowning. And it's our fault - our lifestyle is warming the planet. So, okay, what can we do about it?
First, let's take a detailed look at how you are contributing to global warming.
The obvious and easiest to control is your direct consuption of fossil fuel. Typically these are:
  • gasoline in your automobile
When shopping for a new automobile, make fuel efficiency a priority. It doesn't change your lifestyle, and will save you money. It's more convenient to be able to drive further on a tank of fuel - fewer stops at the gas station! Take it a step further and consider alternative fuels: bio-diesel or ethanol.
  • LP or natural gas for heating your home, cooking, heating water, drying your clothes
Why are we in such a hurry to get our clothes dry? If you hang them up to dry, they will eventually be just as dry, and you'll save money and reduce your green-house gas emissions at the same time. Bring back the clothes-line!

Then there' s secondary consumption of fossil fuels:
  • to generate the electricity you draw from the grid
If your electric company offers you a "green" option, where you can insist that all the electricity you use be from renewable resources, take that option. If it costs a little bit more, you can offset that cost by replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent or LED lights that use 1/4 as much electricity for the same amount of light. This doesn't change your lifestyle at all, and although the replacement bulbs cost some money, they pay for themselves.
  • transportation of products you purchase
How much fuel did it take to bring all that stuff from China to Walmart? Look for locally produced products - you'll keep the money circulating in your own community, which is good for the community.
  • in the manufacturing of goods that you use
This one is the most difficult to see, and perhaps the biggest contributor - the proverbial "smokestack industries". Legislation, consumer advocacy, and shareholder activism are techniques that have had some impact.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The survey I didn't answer

A PhD candidate in Political Science whose dissertation is on political consultants/managers, specifically "comparing what political science theory says you're supposed to do to win a campaign with what political consultants actually do in the field" asked me to do a survey, and of course I said, "sure, glad to! " But when I sat down to do the online survey-monkey survey, I found several questions that I could not answer. Since the survey-monkey would not let me continue until I answered the unanswerable, I had to abort the survey. So I wrote them this email instead:
After looking at your survey, I find that it doesn't apply very well to my campaign. First of all, I am a Green Party candidate. There were more than 2 candidates in the race, as is common when Green Party candidates run, so your questions about "your opponent" are hard to answer - there were 5 candidates in the race, which one are you referring to? It is somewhat disheartening that even PdD candidates in Political Science assume and therefore implicitly support the two party system, which we Greens feel is detrimental to true democracy and to the good of the nation.

Negative campaigning in yesterday's election in Iowa was bad, perhaps as bad as it has ever been. The abuse of robo-calls was particularly frustrating for the common citizen. Furthermore, throughout the campaign the candidates from the two big parties tended to avoid meeting constituents and avoid talking about issues, preferring to sling mud at each other. Rather than focusing on the question of whether slinging mud is a winning strategy, and thus encouraging this shameful and detrimental practice, why not spend your research time looking for effective means to encourage the candidates to be honest, respectful, and to address the issues? Election reforms such as Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) could have a substantial impact. Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine requiring equal press time for all candidates would be a great step. True debates which include all the candidates on the ballot should be a requirement.

With the polar icecaps melting and the unsustainable havesting of just about every resource, I fear we are well on the path to turning the entire planet into the next Easter Island. While these problems are man-made and we have the potential to find solutions before it is too late, the situation gets more dire day by day. We might look to government to protect us from our own worst nature. Unfortunately the system is not functioning properly and tends to make the problems worse instead of better. If you can think of a solution to this dilemma, it would be time well spent indeed.

Please accept my apologies for not completing your survey, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I got emails at the last minute from people who wanted me to post on my web site a more detailed, more nuanced position on embryonic stem cell research. We exchanged several emails, because I wanted to understand their side of the issue. Their case is:
Wouldn't you have to agree about the sanctity of life and that opening the flood gates to embryonic stem cell research carries with it many risks of creating embryos to do research on vs. creating embryos for the purpose God intended (to create human beings)?

I think the question really comes down to protecting the sanctity of life. Doing research on already existing embryos that have no chance at life now is different from allowing embryos to be created for the sole purpose of research.

We don't want to see embryos being created for the sole purpose of being sold into the research market and, in turn, being killed. Killing a child for the purpose of research is wrong.
First of all, consider "God's intentions"
When Albert Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe."
Niels Bohr replied, "Who is Einstein to tell God what to do?"
God made scientists, gave them their brilliant minds with which to explore and understand various facets of the universe. Perhaps God intended for them to do this research.

Second, consider "the sole purpose of research"
Research for the purpose of curing diabetes, curing Parkinson's disease, curing multipule sclerosis, and a lot of other possibilities. Not research just 'cuz we're curious. In order to get funding for their research, scientists write grant proposals explaining why they want to do the research. If they don't have a good reason, they are denied funding. The scientists believe they can end a lot of human suffering with this research. If life is sacred, then isn't alleviating suffering a noble purpose? Is a life of constant pain and crippling deformities so sacred? If life is sacred, isn't the attempt to cure life-threatening diseases a way to protect the sanctity of life?

Third, compare "embryo" to "child".
Any time a researcher combines human sperm and ovum in a laboratory petri dish, thus creating an embryo, does that researcher have a moral obligation to implant that embryo in the womb of a woman, so that it can develop into a baby and be born? If that's your real concern, why limit your discussion to stem cells? Research in birth defects and research in fertility, I suspect, often mix sperm and ovum under various conditions. How many women are eager to be the mother of a science experiment? It's only recent advances in in-vitro fertilization that make it possible to confuse such an embryo with a child. In-vitro fertilization is what opened the floodgates to these moral dilemmas. Is this the way God intended children to be conceived?

Finally, "sold into the research market."
I share your concern that greedy people might use their patents and other exclusive trade mechanisms to extract excessive profits from researchers who do their work to further the public interest.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thanks to all my supporters - end the mud slinging

It's been a great summer and fall. I wish to thank my all-volunteer staff, the many organizations who welcomed me to their events, the citizens who turned out to vote, the papers, radio and TV stations who granted me time and space, and the Green Party.
I congratulate Chet Culver and the Democrats for their many wins in yesterday's elections. I've learned a lot in my first political campaign.

Thanks to the people who took me up on my offer to answer their questions, I hope that my forthright discussion of the issues has contributed to elevating the conversation and dampening the mud-slinging. Instant Runoff Voting would help to reduce that, since one candidate would be less likely to attack another if they hoped to be to be the second choice of the other's supporters. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine that gives all candidates equal time and space. Put a limit on the amount air time, newspaper space, postage, and the number of robo calls each camp can use, and make it a competition for the most effective and efficient use of those limited resources.

Don't be afraid to vote for your hopes and to work toward your dreams.

Wendy Barth

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Not my robo call

> Wendy,
> My son (age 15) got a call tonight (Nov. 6) that he
> said came from Wendy Barth and
> she said to vote for Culver because
> "he needs your help" or something like
> that.
> What's up?

It's not from me. If you have a couple of million dollars to throw around, you can find dishonest people who will do whatever you ask. Do you want such people to be in charge of your state?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Laws that are meant to be read

I got a call from a south-western Iowa, an area that I haven't had much contact with, so I was glad to receive the call. The caller read me this bible verse:

Deuteronomy 17:18-20
"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers, nor turn from the law to the right or to the left."

What good advice - the rulers should read the law, and follow it. Doesn't it make sense that lawmakers and law enforcers should know the laws? Unfortunately, too many laws, like for example the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act, are just too big and cumbersome. Senators and Congressmen vote without knowing he full scope of the laws that they are enacting. Wouldn't it be better if there was a limit on the number of words in a bill, so that everyone could read it and know exactly what they were voting on? It would prevent a lot of riders and earmarks that are just insidious in today's laws.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bring Back the 40 hour work week!

One of the biggest accomplishments of the labor movement in the 20th century was the establishment of the 40 hour work-week. With the slogan "8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for play" and after much organizing, rallying, negotiating and fighting, the standard was set nationwide - 40 hours a week is full-time. Recently, however, "manditory overtime" is eroding away that success. In some jobs, people are required to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week which equals 84 hours a week - more than two full-time positions! The employers figure they are saving money on the overhead of having two people work those same hours - overhead such as training and benefits. This is once again a false economy that the accountants come up with by failing to place a dollar value on quality of life issues and other factors that make workers more or less productive. Proper rest and recreation is necessary so that workers pay attention and don't make mistakes - critical for nurses and other medical personel. Furthermore, we are less likely to have workers falling asleep at their station or goofing off because they have not had adequate time for recreation. By limiting the time required of each employee, we spread the wealth among more members of our community, thereby limiting the need for social services for the unemployed. It is time to strengthen our worker protection laws so that no one is required to work more than full time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Paperless Voting


October 27, 2006

CEDAR RAPIDS - Iowa Green Party gubernatorial candidate Wendy Barth
offered a response to comments from Linn County Auditor Linda
Langenberg. In a recent news article Langenberg referred to those who
raise concerns about the accuracy of electronic voting machines as

"As a career software engineer, I understand just how easily errors in
programming code can be overlooked," Barth responded, "and how difficult
it can be to thoroughly test a piece of software this complex. In
addition, it has been demonstrated by several testing groups that these
machines can be compromised rather easily. Given this the concerns of
the public are legitimate, and are deserving of consideration by the
Auditor. I understand that Ms. Langenberg feels she deserves to be
trusted, but the voting public deserve more reassurance than a simple
'trust me.’”'

Barth's running mate, Richard Johnson, added, "Having spent the last
fifteen years of my career as a network engineer I can assure you that
the risk of intrusion into these computers is real. There are
documented instances where the computers controlling these voting
machines have not only been "hacked," to use the popular term, but where
results have been changed without the operators being able to detect it.
I cannot understand someone dismissing these threats so lightly."

Recent testing by Princeton University
(http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting) has demonstrated how vulnerable
these computers are, and how easily intrusion into these computers can
be hidden. There have also been numerous reports of errors from these
voting machines reported in Ohio, Florida, and Georgia. A number of
states and counties are requiring that the machines have a verifiable
paper trail that includes a receipt for the voter and a printed
verification report.

At a meeting of supporters in Cedar Rapids earlier today, Barth
announced, "Our campaign is calling for an independent audit of the code
used to program these machines by qualified software engineers, as well
as a real paper trail with receipt that can be verified by the voter as
they cast their ballot. Every electronic cash register in the state
prints receipts, so why not our voting machines? It is inexcusable that
the gambling equipment in our casinos, which must pass regular
independent inspection, is subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than
our voting machines."

For more information on the voting machine problems here in Iowa and
throughout the nation go to the following websites:

VoteTrust USA - http://www.votetrustusa.org/
Iowa Voters for Open and Transparent Elections - http://www.iowavoters.org/
Iowans for Voting Integrity - http://iowansforvotingintegrity.org

For more information or further comments on the issue:

Wendy Barth for Governor
P.O. Box 1234
Iowa City, IA 52244-1234

Wendy Barth, IAGP Candidate for Governor
Phone: 319-363-5345
E-Mail: iagp-campaign@usa.net

Rick Johnson, Media Coordinator and IAGP Candidate for Lt. Governor
Phone: 319-601-1364
E-Mail: seiowagreen@fastmail.fm

Moratorium on CAFOs

October 23, 2006


CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - Appearing before supporters in Tipton on Monday
night, Iowa Green Party candidate for governor Wendy Barth called for a
moratorium on the construction of hog confinement facilities (CAFOs) in
the state. “With many citizens mobilizing to oppose the expansion of
CAFOs across the state, it is time to stop and address their concerns,”
Barth said. “Iowans are demonstrating their concern for the air and
water quality issues, the public health issues, and the issue of
consistent rule enforcement that are being raised by this movement.”

Across the state Iowans are calling for the legislature to craft rules
that will protect the citizens of Iowa while providing consistency for
our pork producers. A grass-roots organization in Marshall County is
the most recent group to join in this effort.

“The only way to address these issues completely and forthrightly is to
impose a moratorium on the construction of confinement facilities until
the legislature has the opportunity to examine the facts surrounding
CAFOs,” candidate Barth said on Monday. “The air, water and land we
hold in trust for our children is at risk, and their future depends on
our actions today.”

For more information:
Wendy Barth for Governor
P.O. Box 1234
Iowa City, IA 52244-1234

Wendy Barth, IAGP Candidate for Governor
Phone: 319-363-5345
E-Mail: iagp-campaign@usa.net

Rick Johnson, Media Coordinator and IAGP Candidate for Lt. Governor
Phone: 319-601-1364
E-Mail: seiowagreen@fastmail.fm

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cedar Rapids Wastewater Permit - DNR Meeting

We had a good showing of concerned citizens last night at City Hall. There were about 50 people in the room, which included representatives from the DNR staff, the Iowa Enviromnental Council, the Sierra Club, Iowa Green Party members, Iowa Fly Fishermen's Association, neighbors that live downstream, and neighbors who let their children wade in the Cedar River at Palisades-Kepler state park. The Sierra Club and The Iowa Environmental Council brought lawyers and other experts who explained in detail how the DNR was not in compliance with the Clean Water Act and EPA standards with the proposed permit.

Cedar Rapids municipal wastewater treatment plant treats wastewater from 5 major industries in the city as well as all the domestic wastewater. Approximately 80% of the water treated is from big industry. The argument goes that if each of these industries had their own separate wastewater treatment permit, the total would add up to what was proposed in the new permit. However, the law has a "no backsliding" provision - you cannot go from cleaner to dirtier water without a compelling reason, which has not been offered in this case.

We need to protect the mussel population at Palisades-Kepler. The mussels, also known as fresh-water clams, are imperiled, and this action would wipe them out.
Fresh water clams require fresh water to survive, which this permit would deprive them of.

A representative from Cargill spoke in favor of the new permit. The manager of the wastewater treatment plant spoke and said that he would like to have a permit.
Big industries, especially publicly traded industries, are always under pressure to make more money. One way to do this is to "externalize" the cost of cleaning up your messes. It's a selfish and narrow understanding of efficiency. If you look at the big picture, clearly it is cheaper to clean up the mess at the source rather than trying to clean ut up after it has been dumped in the river. er and expecting the towns downstream to clean it up.

The DNR has extended the comment period. You can send your comments to:

Courtney Cswercko, NPDES Permits Section
Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources
Wallace Building
502 E 9th St
Des Moines, IA 52319

or email to: courtney.cswercko@dnr.state.ia.us

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The latest poll - 15 percent reject either

15 percent of Iowan likely voters polled, when asked to choose between Culver and Nussle, refused to do so.

Des Moines Register Poll

A new Des Moines Register poll shows Culver leading Nussle, 46 percent to 39 percent, among Iowans who say they definitely plan to vote, or who have already voted, in the Nov. 7 election.
The poll, conducted Oct. 8-11, asked the following:
If the election for Iowa governor were held today, and the candidates were Jim Nussle for the Republicans and Chet Culver for the Democrats, for whom would you vote?
Letter to the Editor of the Des Moines Register

The next time you do a poll of the governor's race, why not do a fair poll, and ask people:
Of the five candidates for governor on the ballot, whom will you vote for:
Democrat Chet Culver,
Republican Jim Nussle,
Green Wendy Barth,
Libertarian Kevin Litton, or
Socialist Worker Mary Martin?"

Is the Des Moines Register unaware that there are five candidates on the ballot? Many of the other papers in the state have figured this out by now.

Wendy Barth
Green Party Candidate for Governor.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Louisa-Muscatine School Technology Demo

Rick and I were at Louisa-Muscatine elementary school for the Technology demonstration, I as a candidate, and he as the technology director. This is a rural school which busses in all of its students, some riding as much as an hour each way to attend classes. It's a large elementary school with over 500 students. The building is relatively new, built in 1994, and was wired for computers from the beginning. They use computers a lot for drills and tutoring. The big new thing is the use of iPods for test taking. They especially tout the use by mainstreamed special students, who otherwise would need someone to read the questions to them - they can listen to the iPod and replay the questions as much as they want. This frees the teachers to be tending to the big picture.
Find out more at http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/louisamuscatine/

We were very well documented by several students with digital cameras who interviewed the candidates and recorded the presentation. I'm told that the report would be on the Flacon Network by the end of the week. There was someone from the newspaper there too.

I'm guessing that there is an opportunity for creating educational iPod content at the elementary school level.

David Korton

Friday October 6 we had a very good turnout in Cedar Rapids to hear David Korton promoting The Great Turning From Empire to Earth Community.
Mr Korton is very nice and personable, and he has spent a great deal of time focusing on the big dilemma of our time: how to turn the self-destructive tendencies of corporate power around, and replace our wasteful current system with a sustainable eco-friendly economy that respects us all.

I highly recommend you check out his work. at http://www.davidkorten.org/


I am quite impressed with the Dickinson County Clean Water Alliance. They are certainly a model for the rest of the state when it comes to clean water. I attended the Dickenson County Issues Forum on October 8. The topic was "The Water Cycle, You and Government." They are upgrading their sewer system so that the effluent will be "swimmable and fishable" when it comes out of the pipe and into Mill Stream. Something we all should aspire to, in my opinion.

They had some fantastic data of their watershed - topographical data at 1 foot resolution that they can animate in 3D, maps showing concrete and rooftop vs. green space, etc. They are using this information to protect the beautiful lakes that are foundation of their economy, especially by making adjustments to planned development to handle storm runoff. The data was collected with LIDAR, which uses lasers to get data similar to radar data.

The parking lot has a bioswale to collect and filter storm water before it reaches the lakes. It was raining so we got to see that in action, and the permeable pavement that allowed water to soak thru it.

I asked Mike Hawkins of the DNR if it was true that Iowa had some of the worst water in the nation. His specialty is lakes, and his reply was that we have some of the most nutrient rich lakes in the nation, which is a problem.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sioux City

The Floyd Boulevard Local Foods Market on Saturday morning is a friendly place. There is lots of good healthy organic or near-organic fruits, vegetables, and even meats. Lots of artists have booths there too. There is an old fire house that has been converted into a restaurant (Firehouse 29) which uses locally produced foods, and a meat shop (One Stop Meat Shop) that has an amazing variety of free-range, antibiotic free meats including buffalo, pork, beef, fish, chicken, lamb, turkey, duck, geese, and even elk!
We discussed decentralization, immigration issues, home schooling and education. Channel 4 TV was there, we did a quick interview and they caught some footage of me talking with vendors. The scene is: Two women artists with paintings of flowers and fruits. I introduce myself, give them my brochure, and point out the Ten Key Values of the Green Party on the back. The women read through the values, and seeing a value that she relates to, one woman raises her fist and says, "Yes!"

If Channel 4 will give me a copy, I'll try to get it up on the web.

It was a long drive from Cedar Rapids to Sioux City, we followed the full moon much of the way. we passed through Early fairly early in the morning, after sunrise, and just west of Early on highway 20 we passed through a stand of at least a hundred large wind generators stretching along the ridge, turning gently in the southerly breeze. It was beautiful.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cedar Rapids Water Pollution

The Cedar Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant is requesting permission to increase the amount of pollution it dumps into the Cedar River. The proposed permit would allow substantial increases in permit limits without complying with anti-degradation or anti-backsliding requirements of the Clean Water Act. These increases are proposed without explanation as to why they are necessary or whether alternatives are available. The proposed effluent limits would allow the City of Cedar Rapids to legally discharge concentrations of ammonia over twenty-five times greater than normally contained in untreated domestic sewage and the proposed daily cyanide discharge limit is nearly four times greater than the amount allowed in the previous permit. Increased pollution discharge limits are especially objectionable because the Cedar River is considered an impaired waterway downstream from the Cedar Rapids facility. See http://www.votewendy.org/CedarRapidsWastewater.doc for more details.

A hearing on this proposal is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Thursday October 19th at the Cedar Rapids City Hall, 50 Second Avenue Bridge, in the 4th floor Council Chambers.

Please join me there.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Proposed Coal-fired Electric Plant near Waterloo

There are plans to build a huge coal-fired electric plant near Waterloo. The electricity to be generated by this plant is not for Iowans – it will be sold to big cities outside Iowa. Why do they want to build this plant in Iowa, then? Because coal fired plants create a lot of air pollution, and the air in these cities is already polluted. Our air is much cleaner, so they want to dump their pollution on us! Here we are, putting up clean efficient wind turbines to generate our own electricity, and some out-of state corporation wants to pollute our clean air to generate electricity for their use!

They get the power, they get the profits, we get the pollution. That’s not a good deal for Iowa.

for details, see http://yellowbkpk.com/cleanairwaterloo/waterloo.php

Monday, October 02, 2006

Virtual Debate tonight


Iowa Green Party candidate for governor Wendy Barth will take part -
virtually - even if not present in person for tonight's gubernatorial
debate sponsored by KCRG-TV.

Iowa's debate sponsors have held with the 15% rule - if a candidate is
polling 15% or more, they will be invited to take part in the major
debates. However, Barth notes that, "without the same kinds of
financial resources the major party candidates have, it's 'virtually'
impossible for third party candidates to achieve enough awareness
among the general public to gain 15% in the polls."

It's a good thing access to the internet is less cost-prohibitive.
The former software engineer plans to view tonight's debate and answer
the questions by uploading her responses to her campaign website:

The "Debates" page should automatically refresh every 30 seconds, with
the latest - and perhaps the most "refreshing" - responses.

The Virtual Debate was originally created by Iowa Greens in 2002 and
has since been adopted by Green candidates nationwide.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iowa Environmental Council Conference

I joined a gathering of Iowa’s premier environmentalists, an impressive group of people who definitely get it.
The keynote speaker, William Rees, began with an insight about the Cartesian duality that defines Western Civilization, with a new twist. Usually the Cartesian duality is explained as the separation of mind and soul. It originated with Rene DesCartes, who arrived at a compromise with the Catholic church, separating science from religion. In Dr. Rees’ understanding, environmentalists are the scientists, doing research; and economists take the place of the church, explaining human behavior in terms of somewhat mystical market forces. To prove his point, he quoted leading economists who don’t believe that global warming is serious.
Dr Rees and his team have developed the concept of the ecological footprint, which for each person is the area needed to support their lifestyle, which he presented as the reciprocal of the concept of carrying capacity – the number of people the planet can support. The actual amount of land in Iowa per Iowan is about 12 acres. A typical ecological footprint for an Iowan is 22 acres.
The theme of the conference was "Reducing Iowa’s Ecological Footprint."
Some quotes that stuck with me:
"What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last tree say? … Our technology will save us?"
"Green is the new Red, White and Blue."
"Cities are the human equivalents of confined animal feedlots."

" What will our grandchildren say to us –
How could you not know?
If you knew, how could you not care?
If you knew and you cared, why didn’t you do something about it?"

One question – how can we get corporations to change? – the answer: Many corporate executives get it, but feel that they cannot do anything about it – the shareholders and the corporate structure conspire to trap corporate executives, keeping them from doing the right thing.

I came out of the meeting energized, with lots of ideas:

Pity the corporate executive who understands what his corporation is doing, but feels trapped, powerless to change the corporation’s practices. Pity us all, victims of the corporation that refuses be changed. Well, if the corporate executives cannot change their companies, we’ll have to change them from the outside. This is too important to let it slide. What can we do to change them?

  • Shareholder activism.
  • Buy local.
  • Reclaim our sovereignty.
  • Apply our religious zeal.
  • Make pop idols of the greenest amongst us.

How about we pass legislation that every automobile advertisement has to include the MPG of the vehicle – kinda like the surgeon general’s warning on tobacco?

Pop quiz: Paper or Plastic?
Answer: Canvas. duh! Bring your own bags to the store.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Saturday was Peacefest in Iowa City. At first it was rainy, but after a while the clouds broke, the sun came out and we had a wonderful day with a good crowd. It was nice to be among my fellow peace activists of eastern Iowa.

There was a lot of interest in my campaign - we gave away all the campaign buttons and most of the campaign yard signs that we had brought along. Had a lot of discussions. Animal rights activists were there, including one with an anti-CAFO poster.

There was music, and a great keynote speaker: Antonia Juhasz, who wrote the book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. She was an incredible speaker. I bought her book, haven't had time to read it yet. I hope she writes as good as she speaks.

I scheduled a few more campaign appearances while at Peacefest (so now I need to update my calendar on my web site): I'll be on KRUI radio Monday morning, October 16 with Ralph Siddell.
The Peace and Justice group at Mt Vernon High School invited me to meet with them October 1 after school.
I'm looking forward to these events.

Fairbank "Meet the Candidates" night

Last Thursday evening I went to Fairbank Iowa for a town meeting. Fairbank is a pretty little town cut in half by the county line between Fayette and Buchananan counties. There's a park with a nice-sized pond with an island, and a footbridge to the island, where there's a playground and picnic shelter. Just gorgeous.

There was a great turn out from the local candidates – especially the board of supervisor candidates from the two counties that Fairbank straddles. The candidates for Iowa house and senate for the districts were also there, as was the Pirate candidate for US Congress, and an Independent candidate for something – I should have taken notes. I guess Chet and Jim were busy that night, they weren't there.

The Big issue was – CAFO siting. All board of supervisor candidates are for local control, they don’t want bureaucrats from DNR telling them what to do. But currently the supervisors have no authority, they are at the mercy of the Iowa congress. The candidates for supervisor were quite passionate about this issue. In Fayette county, you have one landowner that plans to subdivide his land, build houses and sell them. Down the road not too far is another landowner, who has plans to build a hog CAFO. Someone call Hollywood, this should be a very dramatic situation.

There was a good discussion of white collar crime. Some discussion on money corrupting politicians. Advice from the other candidates:

When you hear a politician say “regulation” think “oversight” – it will give you a different perspective.

If you get campaign literature with the return address of K Street Washington DC, ignore it – lobbyists should not be involved in local issues.

Wendy’s Fantasy

After all this discussion, I had a dream, where I was elected governor and while I am governing a big CAFO has a big manure spill and 30,000 fish are killed. I get on the phone to the sheriff of the county where the spill occurred, and tell him I want the owner of that hog lot in his jail by nightfall. I drive out to the jail (in my hybrid car) and go in to visit the prisoner, a well-dressed man who is obviously not used to spending time in jail.

“Governor, I’m glad to see you.” He says. “There must be some mistake – I’m sure you can get me out of here.”

“Yes, there’s been a big mistake – manure from your hog confinement operation just polluted a 5 mile stretch of the river.”

“I’ll post a bond”, says he.

“sorry, you are being held without bail, because we believe you are a flight risk. Your crimes are too severe to let you go.”

“But I’m an important person” he objects.

Governor Wendy turns to the jail keeper. “Can you turn off the water to his toilet, so he’ll have to put up with his own sewage?” she asks.

“You can’t do this to me!” sputters the prisoner.

“The hunters and fishermen around here are very conscientious” the Governor explains. “When they kill something, they eat it. You’ve just killed 30,000 fish.” Turning to the guard, she says, “tell the kitchen to order a case of tartar sauce. And tell them to make sure the fish are well-cooked, we don’t want to risk his health.”

Turning to the other prisoners, she says, “anyone here got loved ones living in the nearby town?”
A few say that they do.

Well, this man has just polluted the drinking water of that town. Please make sure he gets the respect he deserves while he's staying here with you.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

QNN Interview

If you wonder what I sound like, you can hear an an interview with me on Quality News Network.
Tony Seton was a pleasure to talk to, and I recommend that the other candidates contact Quality News Network to be interviewed by him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Report from the Town Meeting in Fairfield

Last Night in Fairfield, we had an excellent town meeting. Both Richard and I were there, and it’s great to campaign alongside him. He’s a former Republican party member, and I was once or twice a Democrat, so it’s a good combination. The theme for the discussion was decentralization, with a sub-plot of contaminated spinach. Decentralization appears in this campaign at so many levels – local control is another way of saying decentralization, whether you are talking about school boards, pollution control, zoning ordinances, whatever. Decentralization means helping small businesses rather than large corporations. Decentralization even has a part to play in national security – compare one big coal-fired electric generating facility to 150 wind generators, generating the same amount of power. If the big plant is attacked, be it by tornado or by terrorists, the damage would effect many more electric customers than an attack against a single wind turbine. It’s a lot harder to cripple a decentralized system.

Decentralization would be good for the hog business too. The statistics I’ve heard is that Iowa is producing 20% more pork than we did 10 years ago, and have 80% fewer hog farmers. If we had kept the old system, and encouraged each hog farmer to increase his herd by 20 % which might have been, maybe 4 hogs, we’d have the same amount of pork coming out of Iowa, but the manure would not be concentrated in large leaky unmanageable manure lagoons. It would not have been possible to kill 30,000 fish in one big manure spill. And more people would be sharing in the wealth that is generated.

The Ottumwa Currier sent a reporter, who said her story would be in Wednesday’s paper.

Before the meeting we took a tour of the ecovillage, a planned community off the grid, growing vegetables for their own consumption and for the local CSA and farmer’s market. They have a wind generator, photovoltaics, and solar hot water heaters. They build their houses with green building techniques and materials. It looked like a very pleasant place to live.
We talked about electronic voting machines. The activists are now stressing that the electronic machines should create a paper ballot, something that can be counted, the same as the ballots we use in the optical scanners, rather than a simple paper receipt like you get from the grocery store. If the purpose is to facilitate recounts, it makes sense to have the machines create something that is easy to recount.
We talked about mercury in vaccinations, and how the childhood vaccinations which have mercury as a preservative are suspected of causing increased rates of autism and other child health problems. It was rumored that Mr. Nussle had voted on the wrong side of this issue. I’ll leave it to you to do the research on that.
We talked about instant runoff voting(IRV), which would allow people to vote for their hopes instead of against their fears. Here’s how IRV works: supposing in a three-way race for example, candidate A got 40% of the vote, B got 40%, and C got the remaining 20%. Nobody won a clear majority, so the procedure usually is to eliminate the C, who clearly lost, and hold a second "run-off" election with just the two contenders A and B on the ballot. This incurs all the expense of a election: printing ballots, calling up poll watchers, programming machines, etc.
If, in the original vote, instead of just voting for one candidate, each voter had ranked the candidates: 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd, then we could automatically take all the voters who voted for candidate C and give their votes to their second choice – with essentially the same result as holding a run-off election, without the added time and expense.

Many thanks to Patrick Bosold for arranging the meeting.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Are Peace Activists Demoralizing the Troops?

Chuck Grassley maintains that peace activists who protest the Iraq war are demoralizing the troops. If the troops feel demoralized, I can understand it.
It can be demoralizing to discover that you were sent on a fool's errand, looking for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.
It can be demoralizing, serving your fifth consecutive tour of duty, with no end in sight.
It can be demoralizing, knowing that when you do get home, it may take 6 months to get to see a doctor at the VA clinic.
But don't blame the messenger. Peace activists did not concoct the lie of WMD. Peace activists did not plan this war, if anyone did. Peace activists did not cut the funding to the Veteran's Administration.

Let's put the blame where it really lies. Who is responsible for demoralizing the troops? Those who advocate for endless war without a clear goal or mission. Those who miscalculated the ease of winning. Those who have no other solution but more bloodshed. They are demoralizing not only the troops, but the population at home as well. We used to be loved, now we are despised. As long as they hate us, there will be terrorism. I'm not sure if America can regain the international respect that we once had, but the only way to win the war on terror is to regain that respect.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wendy's Economic Plan

This morning the news has Jim Nussle attacking Chet Culver for a lack of an economic plan. I was looking for Jim Nussle's plan on the internet last week, and all I could find was reference to 5 points - I couldn't find the actual 5 points, so I don't know if Nussle's plan is any good, or if it is vaporware. Anyway, it seems like it is time to respond with my own plan.

Sustainable Economy – Wendy’s Economic Plan

As manufacturing dwindles, there have been several ideas on how to create a more robust job market in Iowa. Some of these plans amount to corporate welfare, giving away large concessions to big corporations with the promise that they will in turn provide jobs for local workers. Often the large corporation takes the money or concessions, and then defaults on its promises.

Meanwhile, the downsized worker, who may have planned to spend his or her life in a manufacturing job, has no choice but to seek other employment. More and more, there aren’t any corporate jobs, and they end up going in to business for themselves. The biggest employer in the US may be Wal*Mart, but the second biggest employer is eBay. We can no longer rely on the big corporations, who are abandoning many of us, overworking and underpaying those they keep on. In order to help the largest number of Iowans for each dollar spent in assistance, the state should be looking to help the small entrepreneur.

1. Help the small operations

Many times the assistance that we could give the little guys is in the form of relief from expensive and restrictive regulations. From my own experience, I used to buy fresh apple cider every autumn from the orchard on the edge of town. But a few years back, the state decided that cider had to be pasteurized, and the orchards could not afford the necessary equipment, so they stopped selling fresh cider. Cider was shipped in from Kentucky and other states. It’s a real shame. The fresh cider was better, and the money stayed in the state.

Another example is free-range chicken, some of the tastiest meat you can buy, and you can buy it if you are willing to pay two or three times as much as for factory chicken. Why is the price so high? Not because the chickens are so expensive to feed, but because the butchering has to be done according to regulations, and the regulations require expensive facilities with features that have nothing to do with the quality of the meat. The cynics among us believe that this is a deliberate attempt of big business to prevent competition. I don’t know if it is deliberate or not, but it does close off one more opportunity for a person to make a living by doing something worthwhile and rewarding.

With a minimum amount of investment, we could either modify the laws so that it is not so expensive to meet the regulations, or we could support co-operative efforts to provide the required facilities to the small growers so that they can meet the regulations without facing bankruptcy. Helping the local entrepreneur helps the local economy, keeping the money circulating in the area rather than shipping it out of state to some large corporation headquartered in Bermuda.

2. Jobs creation program – regulation of big industry

While the small chicken farmer faces high costs for butchering and dressing their product, in the big chicken factories, USDA inspectors are inspecting 1000 chickens an hour, spending less than 3 seconds per bird. I just don’t think they can do the job properly at that rate. We should have at least 4 inspectors doing that job, 250 chickens per hour is still a lot, that’s less than 15 seconds per bird. Similarly, he hog confinement manure management systems are woefully under-regulated, with the DNR short-handed. The consequence of that is 450 manure spills in the last 10 years, tens of thousands of fish killed, beaches closed, drinking water polluted. We could put people to work doing a valuable service to out state, preventing pollution of our water.

That's just two examples of public works programs that would put people to work providing a worthwhile service to the state.

3. Wise Growth

Unrestricted growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. The wiser path is to look for sustainability, to focus not just on creating jobs, but over the long-term, will this be best for Iowa? We have learned this lesson with regards to soil erosion, and we have turned that problem around to a large degree. We need to be ever vigilant that we don’t put ourselves into a similar situation with our other resources. Hypothetically speaking, if a new business were to set up shop and proceed to drain the aquifer, other businesses that rely on plentiful water would suffer. And there are many businesses that rely on a steady supply of water. Let us not be so desperate for jobs that we make the mistake of allowing an environmental or economic disaster in the name of growth or job creation.

4. Raise the Minimum Wage

I’m not opposed to people making money – to the contrary, I’m all for people making money. That’s why I support raising the minimum wage to a living wage. In order for the economy to thrive, people need to spend money. And in order to spend money, they need money to spend. When people don't even make enough to meet their needs, they are less likely to buy whatever you are selling. If you want customers, you want them to have the cash to spend, without the cash they can't be customers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Report from the IRENEW Energy Expo

We spent the weekend at the IRENEW Energy Expo in Solon. Although the weather was overcast and rainy, there was still a great turn-out. I talked to a lot of people, gave away a lot of campaign buttons and brochures, shook a lot of hands, went to a few talks.

I hear that, although net metering is the law in Iowa, some of the REC are not honoring their responsibility to pay the private owners of wind turbines for the electricity they are generating and putting on the grid. This is very disappointing. They better get this straightened out before I become governor, or they will wish they had!

I saw several rigs for sale to brew your own biodiesel fuel. If you collect used cooking oil for free from restaurants, I hear that you can make your own fuel for about 70 cents a gallon, and make enough to share with your neighbors as well.

I heard about a rig to brew your own ethanol from sorghum. The process is called sorganol. The yield per acre is somewhere between 500 and 1000 gallons of ethanol per acre, so the man says. And it's decentralized, so the little guy has a chance at making some profit.

I was shown a chart that showed more than double the yield (gallons per acre) for biodiesel when made from sunflower oil rather than soybean oil. Sunflower oil is easier and cleaner to get out of the plant, so the man says.

Makes you wonder what it will take to change people's attitude to get out of the corn and soybeans mindset.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Project Vote Smart NPAT survey posted

As promised, I have posted my answers to the Project Vote Smart's NPAT survey on my web site:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NPAT Survey

My copy of the Project Vote Smart NPAT survey went out via US mail yesterday. The form is long, and I haven't taken the time to type it all in to my web site yet. But since it's been a hot topic in the governor's race this week, I thought I'd share the experience with you.

First of all, on the subject of abortion, let me make my position perfectly clear.

Abortions should be legal:
  • In the first trimester, or
  • When the life or health of the woman is endangered, or
  • In cases of severe fetal abnormality
After all the formatted questions, they ask for, in 75 words or less, the two or three priorities of my campaign, and if these priorities cost money, how I would fund them. My initial response:

Priorities of the Barth for Governor Campaign

  1. Stop the rampant pollution from CAFOs. 450 hog manure spills in the past 10 years are 450 too many. Each CAFO will submit to regular inspections to confirm that their manure management plan is adequate and being implemented successfully. Registration fees will cover the administrative costs for this inspection. New inspectors will be trained, which will add many jobs to the economy. High fines will be imposed for manure spills that spoil surface water or groundwater. Improper management of manure will be fined as well. Air quality will be sampled regularly, and if found to be a health threat to the neighbors, a serious fine will be imposed.

  2. Universal single-payer health care. Note that I did not say insurance. Insurance is a great method for mitigating risk, but not suitable for routine maintenance. Does your auto insurance pay for your oil changes or your brake jobs? No, but you expect your health insurance to cover your annual checkup. My plan is to implement universal single-payer health care in two phases. The first phase separates routine health maintenance from health catastrophes. Routine care includes regular check-ups, diagnostic tests, childbirth, emergency treatment, and hospice, and would be paid for by the state. Catastrophic events include chemotherapy, open heart surgery, kidney transplants – these big ticket items will continue to be covered by the insurance industry, as this is what insurance does best. Doctors and hospitals will be salaried by the state. This will remove elaborate process that doctors go through trying to get insurance companies to pay their claims, which will reduce the expense of routine maintenance significantly. The cost will be covered by a payroll deduction tax which will at most match the reduction in premiums from the insurance, so people will see no difference in their take-home pay. As we get the system tuned, I expect the tax will be reduced as costs go down.
    In the later phase, several years in the future, the state takes over the catastrophic payments as well.
If you start to count the words, you don't even get half-way through the first issue before 75 words are used up. So I had to whittle it down quite a bit, like this:

Priorities of the Barth for Governor Campaign

  1. Stop the rampant pollution from CAFOs. Each CAFO will submit to regular inspections confirming that their manure management system is successful. Registration fees cover administrative costs. Impose high fines for manure spills.
  1. Universal single-payer routine health care separate routine health maintenance from catastrophes. Routine care covered by the state, catastrophic events covered by insurance. Doctors and hospitals will be salaried, eliminating billing expenses. Costs will be covered by a payroll deduction tax which will at most match the reduction in insurance premiums.
I'll leave it to the reader to decide which statement is better.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Meet my staff

The Greenest of the Green candidates strikes again. When the Channel 2 reporter asked how many people I had on my staff, he didn'’t say "paid staff"”. The volunteer staff of the Barth for Governor Campaign are:

  • Campaign Manager: Sue
  • Asst. Campaign Manager: Joe
  • Co-Campaign Managers of Winneshiek County: Uncle Kenny and Uncle Gordy
  • Treasurer: Holly
  • Petition Coordinator and editor: Daryl
  • Editor: Gail
  • Button Maker: Ted
  • Media: Rick
  • Events: Bob, Florence
  • Newsletter: Kerri
  • Advice: Kelley
  • Personal Assistant: Tom

With Cameo Appearances by:

  • Karen :– Campaign training
  • Jerry :– Agriculture Issues
  • Patrick :– Fairfield Event Coordinator
  • Keith –: Sioux City Event Coordinator
  • Jim and John : Waterloo/Cedar Falls Event Coordinator
  • Laila –: Cedar Rapids Event Coordinator
  • Rick : Burlington Event Coordinator

Gail and Daryl might prefer the title "“Writer"” but so far I'’ve been writing my own speeches, web-site and brochure content, with their wise council and editing.

All the staff has shown the kind of devotion that you just can'’t buy, and I am grateful, thank you all.

The Barth Campaign has paid the following people (although I don'’t think of them as staff)

Illusions Fine Portraiture Ann, the "“head shot"” gets a lot of compliments, thanks for the great work.

Idezin Digital Workgroup – Blair, the brochure and logo get a lot of compliments too.– Thanks for the great work.

Speed Print Eric, printing is one of those things that if it is done right, nobody notices, but if not, everyone gripes. No one has made any comments on the printing, which means your work is excellent, thanks for the great work.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Is there an anti-livestock sentiment in Iowa?

At the Iowa Farmer's Union meeting, I heard some people mention an "anti-livestock sentiment" - a phrase I had never heard before.

When I think "anti-livestock" I think of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their obnoxious "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign that really offended me. I have never supported PETA. Like most kids in Iowa, I learned the difference between livestock and a pet. While, like all good people, I am opposed to cruelty to animals, I accept that livestock gets slaughtered. That's why they were bred in the first place.

The Animal Liberation Front, whoever they are, freed laboratory animals in Iowa City at the University of Iowa's Psychology Labs. That's not anti-livestock. I haven't heard of them breaking into an egg factory and freeing thousands of beakless scrawny laying hens.

I know a few vegetarians. I respect their convictions. They talk about how we could feed 7 times as many people with the grain used to raise the meat. There may come a time, as the human population on the earth reaches 9 billion, when meat will be a luxury that we simply cannot afford if we are to feed everyone. But we are not there yet.

I don't believe there is much anti-livestock sentiment in Iowa, but I know there is an anti-CAFO movement, started by people who lost the value of their farms and their health, due to the outrageous air pollution from a neighboring CAFO. I know there is an anti-CAFO movement, joined by fishermen whose favorite trout stream or fishing hole was killed off by manure spills. I know there is an anti-CAFO movement, and the momentum is building with each community that faces the prospect of the stench, dirty water and manure from a CAFO that bullied its way into the neighborhood over the objections of the neighbors. I invite consumers to make the effort to find locally grown meat, grown the old fashioned way, and compare the quality. If you taste the pork from the pork guy at your local farmer's market, I think you'll join the anti-CAFO movement too.

Just how much manure do you suppose Iowans are willing to put up with?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Iowa Farmers Union Convention

I spent Friday evening and Saturday at the Iowa Farmers Union annual convention in Ankeny. What a great group of people! Their dedication to supporting farmers, their mastery of the issues, their convictions – I’m very impressed. Several people have asked for a copy of the speech I gave, (which was enthusiastically received) so I posted it on my web site, www.votewendy.org/ifu_speech.html

Let me share some of the things I picked up on while I was there.

The CAFO problem is worse than I realized. There’s a hog rush going on, like a gold rush but with a cloud of ammonia gas. Corporations are rushing to get their confinement buildings built before the next legislature writes stricter laws to rein them in. The corporate hog industry believes that if they build the buildings, they will get “grandfathered in” and not have to abide by the new restrictions that eventually will be passed. But hey, we took those faux slot machines out of the convenience stores after they were established, and we can shut down the these bad neighbors too. Just because you’ve been here a couple of years does not give you the right to make your neighbors sick and destroy their property value.

Not everyone is giddy with the prospect of corn-based ethanol, but there is some excitement for it.

Some people say they detect an “anti-livestock sentiment” in the ammonia-laden political wind, with opposition to CAFO siting as proof. Is being anti-pollution and anti-having knee-deep hog manure spread all over everything the same as anti-livestock? Is being anti-vertical integration anti-livestock? This is worthy of its own post, which I’ll get back to.

Bill Northey, the Republican candidate for Secretary of Agriculture, is firmly against allowing counties the authority to regulate where CAFOs may be sited, although they have that authority over other types of industry (this is what’s called the “local control” issue). It’s like:

“Hi, I want to build a factory in your county. Can we put a steel mill on this piece of land here?”

“No, sorry, that is not an appropriate use of that land. It is not allowed.”

“Okay, then, how about a confinement building with 30,000 hogs in it?”

“Well, that’s not an appropriate use of that land either, but I can’t stop you.”

Northey apparently does not believe that people living in the neighborhood should have any right to prevent the destruction of their property values or the quality of the air they breathe.

Jeff Vonk, Director of the Department of Natural Resources, believes his days in that position are numbered – no matter who wins the governor’s race, he will be replaced come January. It’s too bad, because the movement spent a lot of effort educating him. Vonk for President, anyone?

As illustrious an environmentalist politician as Joe Bolkum doesn’t realize that environmental issues are farmer’s issues. When he got their letter announcing that they wanted to give him their “Friend of the Farmer” award, he said he wondered, “What in the heck for?” The Farmer’s Union is wise to forge new alliances with urban politicians who coincidentally support positions favorable to farmers.

I heard from several people that the Farm Bureau is just an insurance company, they don’t really advocate for farmers any more. It’s similar to the fact that General Electric is mostly about financials and not making small appliances any more. It seems like they should change their name, rebrand themselves with a more accurate moniker. Suggestions?

Chet Culver came in, shook everyone’s hands, went to the podium and gave his prepared speech, shook everyone’s hands again and left without answering any questions. He did, however, finally recognize that there are more than two candidates for governor, asking me (from the podium) for the correct tally. Why should I know that better than the Secretary of State? (the rumor is that there are 5 - Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian and Socialist Workers.)

Chet blasted Nussle for living in Washington D.C. and then this graduate of a Maryland high school and a college in Virginia let us know that he is a real Iowan, since as a child he visited Effigy Mounds and Pikes Peak State Park. I love those parks. I also love Palisades-Kepler, Backbone, Wildcat Den, Makoqueta Caves, Ledges, and Dolliver. I like to take an afternoon and rent a canoe at Lake MacBride or Wapsipinicon. I feel a bit inadequate that I don’t know the parks in western Iowa very well. Western Iowans, please add a comment to this post and tell me - what are the best state parks in western Iowa? We could set a date to meet there and discuss issues. How about Oct 1, 2, or 3?

Chet’s suddenly all about pollution control. He promised $3 million towards cleaning up Iowa’s waters (which are a disgrace to the state, by the way. Rumored to be the worst in the nation.) I didn’t get a chance to ask him how he would spend that $3 mill, he left so quickly. If you see him, would you ask him about it? I mean, he could give all that money to a company like Halliburton and get basically nothing for it, if he’s not careful. Also, if you get a chance, please remind him that it’s a lot easier to keep the pollutants out of the stream than it is to take it out once it gets in.

To be fair, Republican Bill Northey also is concerned about pollution. He is especially concerned about run-off from city streets into streams. And he is right, the cities should do a better job of keeping lawn chemicals and motor oil out of the river. Bill points out that farmers plant big wide strips of grass between the field and the stream. When it rains, these grassy regions filter out the chemicals which leach off the field. Unfortunately, when city dwellers see a big wide strip of grass, they saturate it with chemicals. When it rains, the chemicals are going to wash out of the grass into the stream. As much as I’d like to see more strips of grass in the city...

A big thanks to Iowa Farmers Union. I had a great time and learned a lot.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions

"Why not start with a lower office, such as city council or state house, and work your way up to governor?"

A high profile race such as Governor gives the Green Party statewide visibility, and I hope, by my example, to give Greens throughout the state encouragement to run for office. The response to my campaign has been very encouraging. My campaign will pressure both of the big-party candidates to take a more progressive stand on the issues, and will highlight for the voters the undue influence of corporate power on our elections. True I have little experience governing, and the Iowa Green Party is small compared to the political machines I'm up against. But I am willing to publicly stand up for what we believe in, and that will force the other candidates to confess their beliefs or look foolish and deceitful. It seems to me the best strategy long-term for weaning our politicians from the corporate money - to rally the common folk who are being trampled in the corporate race to the bottom. Because, after all, votes trump dollars.

"Why run if you know you won't win?"
In order to be recognized as a political party in the state of Iowa, we have to get at least 2% of the vote for the highest office on the statewide ballot, which is either president or governor, depending on the year. Thanks to Ralph Nader, we had this in 2000, but we lost it again in 2002. During those two years, there was a check box for Green Party on the voter registration cards. The state collected the names and addresses of everyone who checked Green and gave that list to us, so we knew who our supporters are. There is the possibility of getting funds from the state for campaigns. All of this is very valuable to the future of the party. Becoming governor would be great. But just having the option to register Green means a lot to me, and would be a victory as well.

"Won't you just spoil the race so the lesser of two evil candidate will lose and the really evil candidate will win?"
I'm disgusted when I see lame candidates get into office just because the other guy is even worse. Iowans deserve the opportunity to vote for their hopes instead of their fears. The only way we can counteract that phenomenon is to run good candidates. Both Jim Nussle and Chet Culver have the opportunity now to convince voters that they are the right choice, and whoever the voters of Iowa choose, I'm fine with it. But they have to earn it. This is not going to be a "hold your nose and vote" election if I can help it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

upcoming campaign events

Some upcoming campaign events:

Iowa Farmer's Union State convention August 25-26 in Ankeny

I-RENEW Energy Expo, September 9 & 10 at Solon High School

University of Iowa Energy Expo September 27 in Iowa City

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ICCI candidates survey

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement sent me the following questionnaire. They requested that each answer be 50 words or less. Great for sound bites!


1. What is your position on air quality standards for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Iowa?

People who live in the vicinity of a CAFO are actually getting sick from the air pollution. This is intolerable. Anyone who creates such a stink that it imperils the health of their neighbors must be stopped.


2. What is your position on counties having the ability to site CAFOs in Iowa?

Local control is the heart and essence of democracy. Anything else is un-American.


3. Where do you stand on public financing of political campaigns at a state-wide level?

Public financing would be a step in the right direction. A free public forum for candidates to present themselves, and strict limits on the amount of advertising that could be done outside of that forum, would be even more fair. How much junk mail did you toss, unread, in the last campaign?


4. What is your position on energy policy changes to accommodate renewable energy sources?

I am in favor of supporting renewable energy, to:

· end our dependence on foreign oil,

· promote local business,

· curtail pollution, and

· to meet the goals of the Kyoto treaty.


5. What is your plan to address illegal drug usage in Iowa, including meth issues in rural areas?

The “war on drugs” is the wrong approach, it is filling our prisons with nonviolent offenders that would be better served with rehab and parole. Controlling the raw materials used to create meth is working. An anti-meth education campaign could be effective.


6. Where do you stand on combating predatory mortgage lending in Iowa?

Where do these weasels come from, and what makes them think they can get away with those kind of shenanigans here, in Iowa? We’ve got to draw the line on unscrupulous lending practices.


7. What is your position on undocumented students having access to higher education in Iowa?

Iowa welcomes people from all over the planet to study in our institutions of higher learning. A diverse student body is an asset to our colleges and universities. Positions should be filled based on talent, not politics.


8. What is your position on payday loan centers and check cashing stores?

I favor reinstating Iowa’s usury laws limiting the annual percentage that can be charged for loans. Check cashing should be free – no one should have to pay for access to their own money. We need to protect the people who can least afford to be taken advantage of.


9. What is your position on increasing Iowans’ access to healthcare?

Health care is a right, not a privilege. I support a single-payer Medicare-for-all type of approach. Insurance is for mitigating risk, it is not suited to the task of promoting healthy lifestyles.


10. Where do you stand on limiting the amount of punitive damages rewarded for non-economic damages in civil lawsuits?

How do you impose a meaningful punishment on a corporation that can afford to pay its executives millions of dollars in salary? What will stop them from willfully damaging their customers? Why should they care?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Working Families Win House Party, P.S.

See my previous post for a description of the Working Families Win house party that I attended.
What strikes me, as I mull over the event, is the dedication these working class people have for capitalism. Their focus, their intent, their faith lies in finding jobs with decent wages. There was no talk of anarchy, no Marxist overtones, and I was the one who brought up socialized services, to not much enthusiasm. Even their call for health care asks for affordable quality health care, not a hand out.

Does the executive class realize how valuable that sentiment is? Their faith in capitalism is what drives the working class to seek employment. If people lose faith in capitalism, the willing work force evaporates. If people despair of finding employment, they will turn to other means to provide for themselves, and that certainly won't be directed toward making the rich richer (as factory jobs inherently are.) The harder it is for them to make ends meet, the more resentment they have for the uber-rich. The executive class needs to take note, and realize that there is a partnership of sorts between these two classes. Treat your workforce with dignity and living wages, and they will reward you with dedication, loyalty and hard work. As you chip away at that dignity and force wages ever lower in a race to the bottom, you will lose that loyalty. This is one cost that in the long run you cannot afford to externalize - the cost to support the public's faith in the capitalistic system. For that faith is the glue that holds the system together and makes it work.