Friday, April 27, 2018

Workers Memorial Day

The Iowa City Workers Memorial Day was held today. The event is held annually to remember those Iowa workers that died while working. Today 34 workers were remembered that passed away or were murdered this past year.

I have attended this event many times and years ago it was often a dozen or so people standing around in a circle. Today's event packed ICPL Meeting Room A. There were also speakers talking about workplace safety and the importance of organized labor.

One speaker, Sergio Awan, said he had worked a number of low wage jobs and sometimes there would be a safety video. He went on to say he would hear about OSHA, but he had never seen anyone from OSHA. He said workers need to keep their safety in mind and advocate for safer workplaces.

I never attend this event without remembering Jean Martin. Jean helped organize this event many years and I believe attending it was her final public event before she passed away a few years ago. Jean was a tireless advocate for the environment and labor. She was my campaign treasurer. RIP Jean!

Organized labor has always advocated for safe workplaces and their work has brought the United States many advancements in workplace safety. Every injury and every death harms us all. Let's keep working for safe workplaces.

Thanks to the Labor Center and the Iowa City Federation of Labor for hosting this important event.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Solarize Johnson County starts April 26th

Solarize Johnson County kicks off tomorrow. There are something like 20 informational events scheduled all over the County. To participate or explore participating, you can attend any of these events.

This another green initiative of Johnson County. The County, participating Cities and non-profits are bringing this opportunity to everyone in Johnson County and West Branch. It is a group bulk buying project to make solar even more affordable.

The more homeowners that participate, the better discounts in bulk buying for everyone.

LWV Candidates Forum

The League of Women Voters Supervisor candidates forum was last week. The Press Citizen livestreamed it on their Facebook page and it was taped for various local government channels.

I really appreciate the LWV for all they do to help voters stay informed and getting all of us registered to vote. The LWV has been at the forefront of good government initiatives for decades.

One of the first public events I attended in Johnson County when I moved here in 1990 was a League Forum. I probably have attended more candidate and legislative forums than most people. It has always been important for me to hear and see candidates and elected for myself. Until Trump, I had also met personally every President and most of the candidates we had since Reagan.

I have been a League of Women Voters member for over 20 years and even served as the Treasuer in the 90s. League membership is open to everyone regardless of gender. Please consider joining and volunteering. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Here is a link to the forum:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Supporting Free Med

Friday night, we attended the Free Medical Clinic fundraiser. 

Many years ago Robin and I owned a retail store called Alternatives located on Market Street. Free Medical Clinic was located in Wesley House and we joined them and many others in forming a business association called Northside Marketplace. Free Med did outreach to the LGBTQ community and did confidential HIV testing back when that was controversial.  

We have been supportive of Free Medical Clinic for about 25 years. Thank you to the staff and many volunteers that bring health and dental care to those with limited options.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Breakfast with Steven at Agape Cafe

Agape Cafe is celebrating its 25th year of serving, hot made to order breakfasts from 7 - 8:30 am every Wednesday of the academic calendar. It is the mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, with additional support from Trinity Episcopal Church, New Song Episcopal Church, Table to Table, and CafĂ© del Sol.
I remember when it was first getting started and have attended a number of fundraisers over the years. It really is hard to imagine that 25 years has passed, but today they honored a volunteer that has been with the Agape Cafe from the beginning. It is estimated that John Cowen has cooked over 125,000 eggs for those in need of good food.

I sat with a gentleman named Steven in the back of the room. He wore multiple layers with an outer layer of worn Carhartts. I asked what he recommended for breakfast and he rattle off a long list. We spoke about the weather and how bitterly cold it was for April. He told me he picks up cans and scrap metal for a living. He gave me advice on where to sell metal so I wouldn't be ripped off. He said the other day that one house had $13 of cans and that certainly looked like they had a good party. I asked what his best day ever was and he said it was about $50, but it was hard to transport on his bike and trailer. He said he better get going and that since it was a rotten day, he might just head back to camp.

I found myself sitting alone when my breakfast arrived and I couldn't stop thinking about Steven and how hard his life is. Steven is why I want to continue to be a Supervisor. Over the years I have been a guest at several homeless camps and have met many Stevens. Unfortunately the haves and the have nots in our community are growing further apart. We can't allow Steven to get lost in the growth and progress of this great community.

Please help Agape Cafe if you can:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Trails, did someone say a two new trails?

I am by nature an impatient person when it comes to getting things accomplished. I see a road that needs fixed, I want it done now. I see a trails plan, I'm excited to get out there and ride it. Roads, bridges and trails take a lot of planning and often involve multiple funding streams. We create five year planning documents to prepare. I'm a big supporter of planning and preparing for budget impacts from capital projects. Planning for capital needs is one of my favorite things to do in my job. Financial reports and budgets are my all-time favorite, but planning is a close second.

Ten or eleven years ago, I was appointed to serve on the Johnson County Trails Advisory Committee. I was chair of that committee until I became a Supervisor. It is safe to say that everyone has been planning the Hoover Trail for a long long time. The Solon to Ely trail section has started and we anticipate it will be a two summer project. The Mahaffey Bridge Trail had to wait a few years for the availability of the federal grants Johnson County had secured. Mahaffey Bridge trail is now under construction and should be finished this year.

These photos may not look like much, but to me they make me smile. I see recreation, nature watching, biking, hiking, exercise, tourism and a whole lot of quality of life about to happen in these areas. The County and Cities of Johnson County are really coming together on trail development and tying it all together.

I'm impatient to get out and ride these new trails.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It is Solar Time Johnson County

Solarize Johnson County is a residential solar purchase program that will benefit local residents by using the power of bulk buying to further bring down start up costs for solar. Johnson County and partnering Cities are inviting residents to learn more about solar energy and consider investing in solar for their homes.

Johnson County, Johnson County Public Health, Johnson County Conservation, and six municipalities are teaming up with a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization to launch this program. Cities helping host free educational events, called Solar Power Hours, include Coralville, Iowa City, North Liberty, Solon, Shueyville and West Branch. While these are the hosts of the program, all residents of Johnson County and West Branch are welcome to participate.

Solarize Johnson County will kick off on Thursday, April 26 (my brithday), at 12 pm at the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building (HHS), 855 S. Dubuque Street, Iowa City,  2nd floor.

Additional Solar Power Hours are scheduled through the summer. You can visit to learn more, see the schedule and sign up for an estimate.

Solarize Johnson County is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) at no cost to the county. However, the County is investing a lot of staff time to bring residents this exciting opportunity for bulk discounts on renewable energy.

The County is currently under construction on our 6th solar array. Johnson County is also an investor in the Farmer's Electric Co-op solar gardens, to offset energy use at two rural road sheds down by Sharon Center and Frytown.

I have been a big advocate for the County using solar. The County projects, including the ones right down town, are demonstrating that solar can be a significant contributor to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and also save the taxpayers money. Please consider asking your City, School District and others to include solar in their projects. I'm a firm believer that we can improve climate change together with a lot of small and big changes.

One of the projects I would like to see the County do is solar carports on surface parking lots. I have been advocating for this for years, but in the beginning the kits for the carports were not available. I'm told that may be changing, so I may get to see my goal accomplished soon.

While Johnson County is leading in using and advocating for solar, there is trouble on the horizon. The President is applying/threatening tariffs on solar, which is making the market unstable. Many of the Republicans in Des Moines are talking about eliminating the tax credits you could use to pay for solar on your home. All this proves to me that renewable energy is so good, that if the word gets out it threatens traditional fossil fuel based energy. So let's get the word out and start building a cleaner, better and renewable energy system.

Please visit this website for more information:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I've Been to the Mountain Top (and didn't see Iowa)

Tomorrow the Board of Supervisors will remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize Islam Awareness Week. It seems fitting the two things will happen at the same meeting. King would have certainly been on the front lines standing with our Muslim neighbors fighting the hatred, discrimination and violence.

Today, I participated in the Veterans for Peace public readings of King's speeches. I read from "I've Been to the Mountain Top." Reading from his words out loud is a moving experience.

King not only stood for racial justice, he also stood for economic justice. Fifty years after his murder, it seems we are facing the same challenges. In 2018, most people keep their racial discrimination a little less public than we saw in the 1960s. But it is still there and dominates many injustices in our society.

Yesterday, the Iowa House passed a anti-immigrant, racial profiling bill. Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the Iowa marriage equality ruling. It felt like whiplash celebrating one part of social justice and watching them tearing down another. Today the Iowa Senate passed the same bill.

I've spent some time watching the Iowa Legislature the past two days and feeling a growing sadness about the direction and place our state is in. But, on the other hand, I have been highly encouraged by the Flip It Iowa events to take back the Iowa House. Flip It Iowa holds house parties in blue districts and raises money for good candidates that can win in other parts of Iowa.  There are a number of Flip It events coming up. Please consider getting involved.

I know we can make this a more caring place.