Change is due



Iowa needs change. There’s a hubris, if not a rot, that keeps this rich state from its potential and that obscures its history that values honesty, integrity and fair play above all. A former Senate Republican leader sits in jail for graft. A district court jury awarded a former Senate Republican staffer $2.2 million over sexual harassment, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said he will not reveal to the public results of a taxpayer-funded internal investigation into the toxic workplace that is the Republican caucus. We heard from one senator, Rick Bertrand, a Sioux City Republican, criticizing this secrecy, this absolute stench under the Golden Dome.

There’s that. And there’s this:

Rural communities are drifting into the sunset. Rural schools are in crisis with depopulation, consolidation and closing. Manufacturing jobs drained out of the industrial cities. Medicaid privatization is closing rural nursing homes and shorting rural hospitals. State sustainable ag research funding was zeroed out by the legislature. Urban interests are suing rural counties — the Des Moines Water Works — and that tension is not easing. Collective bargaining for public employees has been gutted — if street workers get paid like dogs, then the rest of us don’t feel so bad knocking down 12 bucks an hour.

Our leaders serve righteousness and fantasy while they wallow like hogs around the Rotunda.

Why are the voters cynical? Why do they believe that the state can do nothing to solve their problems? Why do they think that politicians are corrupt and sleazy?

We need a change around here, a good fall cleaning one year from now.

Women have an opportunity to rise up and vote for decency in the workplace. Teachers will be able to defend schools from a starvation budget of 1% growth a year, and defend themselves against an assault on their workplace rights. We say we value education, but the legislature tried to wipe out the Iowa State Education Association. Rural voters have a chance to stand up for their health and their community’s vitality.

This steady erosion of Iowa is driven by men who are on the take and who can’t keep it in their pants. Gov. Kim Reynolds is forsaken, calling politely for the Senate bulls to come clean. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says she wants to hire a human resources director, by golly, and that ought to take care of matters. File your complaint with HR and the Senate majority leader will get back to you on that.

The entire statehouse, public university and economic superstructure is funded secretly by an agribusiness cabal controlled by the remaining Branstad machine, with Reynolds ostensibly as its gatekeeper. They have so much power they think they can do about anything, like destroy Iowa State University’s longstanding reputation as the nation’s leading provider of unbiased research on soil and plant science. Or take a female legislative aide into the cloakroom for a grope.

Fortunately, there’s a solution at hand. It’s called the statehouse elections next November. Reynolds will have a whale of a time defending a culture of political payola, gross animal instinct and direct power plays over vulnerable people like the disabled and senior citizens in nursing homes. Democrat Andy McGuire won’t put up with fondling in state government for one second. Her colleague Fred Hubbell is opening his fat wallet to run TV ads condemning the avarice of Medicaid service destruction to the poor. Nate Boulton is a labor lawyer raising hell for public employees. And John Norris is out there defending the future of rural Iowa, rich soil and clean water. The campaigns present an opportunity for Iowa to re-energize and renew itself and blow out the hubris that Branstad built and that Reynolds refuses to recognize for her own security.

We need a change at the top. We need a change in the Iowa Senate. We need a voice for average workers and rural communities again. We need voters to rise up and say enough to the graft and arrogance. What an opportunity for Iowa to tell the world again that this is a tolerant and honest and pragmatic state where everyone has a seat at the table: the meatcutter along with the banker, the woman working in the office and the teacher in the classroom. That’s the change we need.