Monday, September 3, 2018

The rain needs to stop

I'm starting to get very concerned about flooding. The Corps of Engineers needs to release more water from the dam at the Coralville Res. It really shouldn't take a public relations campaign for them to do so. The Res will have raised about 20 feet in a week projected (before the last stroms) to get to 701, which is just 11 feet below the spillway.  I spent some of the Labor Day weekend last night studying river gauges and in/out flows. This is what a Supervisor does when everyone else in the house goes to sleep.

The rain needs to stop.

Friday, July 6, 2018

We need to stop building in floodplains

I'm a long-time supporter of jail alternatives and crisis intervention training and programming. In meeting after meeting, I have been supportive of additional funding for jail alternatives and crisis intervention. I supported buying a building over two years ago for crisis intervention and I would have had already had it opened there or in other buildings with a sobering unit, crisis stabilization, mobile crisis and low barrier shelter.

In the end the current proposal is to buy more land than necessary, build a brand new building and do all that in the floodplain. I vowed long ago (in the aftermath of the 1993 and even more so the 2008 flood) that government should stop building on land that floods. I also think individuals should stop building in floodways, but that is another story. We do not learn our lessons. With climate change, the Iowa River will have a monster flood again and it will be worse than ever. They will tell you this problem can be fixed with fill dirt. I happen to think filling in what should be wetlands is part of the problem with our state. We must restore flood plains and let the rivers flood. We shouldn't be increasing fill in floodplains.

We should lead by not allowing more fill in the floodplains and by not putting vital programs on flood land. Unless someone finds a fix for climate change and monster storms, this land and any expensive new buildings will flood someday.

I voted no twice to buy this flood land and will do so again on final vote. I very much believe the County should be a major funder of crisis intervention programming, but I do think the building can be done more affordably, quicker and out of floodplains. I want to invest in programming for this new program, not expensive new buildings that will flood. This land is a bad and expensive deal all the way around.

Photos are from the 2008 flood:

Friday, June 22, 2018

Johnson County Minimum Wage is $10.27

Latest Johnson County minimum wage increase to take effect July 1

Johnson County, Iowa – The Johnson County Board of Supervisors reminds employers and employees that the fourth increase in Johnson County’s recommended minimum wage will take effect Sunday, July 1, 2018. The rate will increase to $10.27 per hour.

Though the wage increase is symbolic in nature and unenforceable under State law, the Supervisors approved the increase to remain in line with their vote in September 2015 to begin phased increases.

Additionally, the Board of Supervisors has created a multi-year, multi-step process to increase the base wage rate for all County employees, including part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, and interns. The base wage has been set at $14 an hour for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1, 2018, and will increase to $15 an hour in FY2020

The State of Iowa’s minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour in 2008, ahead of the Federal increase to $7.25 in 2009, but has remained at $7.25 and is not indexed for inflation.On Sept. 10, 2015, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance (#09-10-15-01) establishing a Johnson County minimum wage. According to that ordinance, the minimum wage in Johnson County was raised in three steps – to $8.20 per hour on Nov. 1, 2015, to $9.15 per hour on May 1, 2016, and to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017.

On March 30, 2017, Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation eliminating the ability of jurisdictions within the State of Iowa to set a minimum wage above the State minimum wage. Johnson County had a higher minimum wage than the State for 17 months, including three months when it was $10.10 per hour.

In December 2017, the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, which was composed of members of the public and residents of Johnson County, presented the findings of the report, “Jobs and wages in Johnson County before and after the minimum wage increase,” at a Board of Supervisors’ Informal Meeting. The Committee found that the minimum wage increase did not appear to hurt businesses, which was a suggested possible negative consequence. Additionally, the wage increase benefited low-wage workers, who saw a larger increase in their average weekly earnings.

More information on the minimum wage ordinance is available at

Questions about the ordinance may be directed to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors at 319-356-6000 or


New CAFO in Johnson County

I'm being contacted about a new 2,499 hog unit confinement going up SW of Iowa City. It is near a subdivision. This is one animal unit under the state Master Matrix, not that the master matrix is worth much. That means the smallest bit of local review of the project is not allowed.

If you want more attention paid to water and air quality, than how many animals can be confined in CAFOs, then please get out and question candidates and vote.

Johnson County's only true ability to control the location of CAFOs is by limiting them to state defined agriculture exempt farms. When you see people arguing that Johnson County should make small acres "Ag Exempt" it sounds good until you find out how many people want to put CAFOs on small parcels of land. Every issue has pros and cons. This one could have a lot of unintended consequences.

I believe in local control. I also believe Iowa has way too many CAFOs. I also believe Iowans think Iowa has too many CAFOs. Let's vote only for candidates that agree.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hunger in Johnson County is Rising

I attended the Hunger Banquet Thursday night benefiting the Crisis Center. This is a fundraiser where one is assigned an economic status and that household income is divided up to what you are able to afford for dinner. We were served everything from nothing to lobster and steak.

9% of us have a household income of $15,000-24,999. That group was served ramen noodles.

9% are $25,000-34,999. They were served a salad.

28% are $35,000-74,999. They were served a hamburger and fries and no greens.

33% are $75,000-199,999. They were served a salad, chicken and gravy and vegetables.

6% are $200,000 and up. They were served salad, vegetables, lobster and steak.

And in Johnson County 14% of us are food insecure and have no idea where their next meals will come from. They were served nothing and had to rely on their tablemates for food.

Over 19,000 Johnson County residents are food insecure. That's a bit less than the size of Coralville. That includes 4,000 children. That is about four of our elementary schools full of children without enough food, let alone healthy food.

The Crisis Center serves over 1,000 families a week and distributes 1.6 million pounds of food. The Crisis Center also does mobile pantries and school based pantries. They do emergency assists of cash for rent, utilities, etc. They do vouchers and cash for clothing, fuel, tools, boots and more to help people get started to work.

As some of us are grieving celebrities that have committed sucide in recent days, remember the Crisis Center is there for all kinds of crises. The Crisis Line, Crisis Chat, education and mobile crisis are important to our community. Mental health crisis does not discriminate on the basis of wealth and Crisis Center is there for all.

Last night they showed some very moving videos featuring the words of past clients. There were many tears in the room and acknowledgements that most of us had moments in our life or still do that one lost paycheck could put us there.

I was tired and distracted when I rushed into the event. I carried only my phone, keys and sunglasses. After hearing all this and knowing how important Crisis Center is to our area, I wanted to dig deeper in that moment. Without a wallet, credit card or checkbook, I was just going to leave. Then I remembered, I usually have emergency money in my phone case. I counted it and found $35. I recalled that the Crisis Center can turn a  $1 contribution into 4 pounds of food. I decided they needed 140 pounds of food more than I needed that emergency money.

I always love giving to the Crisis Center. They can make humanity better for our neighbors with $5 or $500. Everything helps.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Some thoughts about the Primary Election

Some thoughts about the Primary Election:

Thank you to Mike Carberry for his service to the people of Johnson County. The County has worked on a number of very exciting progressive projects and initiatives the past few years and Mike was a part of these accomplishments.
Congratulations to Pat Heiden. Pat has been running for Supervisor for several years and has established herself as a good team builder and big fundraiser. It is difficult to take on incumbents and her team worked very hard. Let's take that energy and turn out a record Democratic vote in November.

Mostly I thank Mike and Pat for a hard fought, but cordial campaign. The four forums were about issues and not personal and I appreciate the lack of drama and attacks. Mike and Pat had many wonderful campaign volunteers and supporters and I thank all of them for being so active and engaged.
I wouldn't be here without the support of my spouse, Robin Butler, and my mother, Linda Rettig. They hit over 4,100 doors and worked so hard at events. They never signed up or had the bug for politics or public office, but they have always helped me with my passion.

I thank all of my supporters and organized labor for believing in me and trusting me. I am overwhelmed by all the kindness I have received in the recent weeks.

To our dog, CJ. Thank you for putting up with us. Your #Dogs4Rettig spreading into every animal and kid 4 Rettig clearly made the difference. We promise to throw more balls and frisbees to make up for lost time.
Thanks to the Auditor Travis Weipert, his staff and all the election workers. I don't know how they pulled off an unprecedented election turnout without trouble, but thank you all.
I'm missing my Father, Robin's Mom and her Father tonight. I know they would have loved tonight. May they rest in peace.

Congratulations to everyone that ran for office in this Primary. It isn't easy to put yourself out there and run. If this wasn't your day, please don't go away. We need you and there will likely be other seats that need you.

"You won the Democratic Primary, Janelle, so now what are you going to do?" I'm not going to Disney World....I'm going to the World Series of Poker and play Event #21. Wish me good cards and the ability to stay awake.
Thank you all. I know we can make Johnson County a even more caring and wonderful place to live, work and play. We all need to rest and then get ready for a huge, liberal progressive victory in November. It won't be easy, but Iowa, the United States and actually the world need us.

#united for a #bluewave  because #electionsmatter

The polls are now open


I'm also
A feminist

I'm all about
Fiscal Responsibility

Johnson County, I would appreciate one of your up to two votes today for Johnson County Supervisor.

The polls are open until 9 pm.

I will be at Shakespeare's on 1st Ave, Iowa City starting at 8 pm. Please join #TeamTeal for some socializing.

You can find sample ballots and polling locations here: