Our fight this week for what I have come to call “the Community Trust Resolution” met with a new and unexpected roadblock from the Iowa legislature, and some confusing signals from the Sheriff’s Office. Some understood one set of positions from that office, others understood something different, and hopefully all this will be ironed out in a work session on Monday, allowing us to ratify the language at the formal meeting Tuesday evening.
These caseworkers did nothing wrong. Neither did their clients. But the former are out of their jobs and the latter are in limbo with an 800 number because some distant CEO needed to pad their stock value. Can’t blame the CEO though, they were just doing what they were hired for. It’s the ones who did the hiring. And that, my friends, is Terry Branstad and the Republicans in the state legislature.
So here’s what happened. Like so many people, I was all jazzed up off the energy of the #WomensMarch last week, thrilled with my wife and many other friends who were in DC, other friends around the world standing up, and just being here in Iowa City with around 2,000 people, all of us being a part of what is undoubtedly the largest protest in human history. The next day I was looking for how to act up next. Knowing that writing to congress, especially to my own rep’s and sen’s, can be effective, I decided to get a couple friends together over a couple of pints at Iowa City Brewlab and write some postcards.
Now as you probably know I am a serial overposter on Facebook, so I created an event page there and shared it to a couple of activist sites last Sunday (Jan 22). Within a day or two over 100 people said they were coming. By Friday, the day of the event, 170 had clicked “going” and over 700 had clicked “interested.”
About 350 showed up.
This was far more than I expected, obviously, but perhaps I really should have expected that many. The Women’s March itself had been born of a simple Facebook post by a grandmother in Hawaii, and the energy in the air following the march was palpable. In any case, we generated well over 1,000 postcards to elected officials in DC and Des Moines, and got to meet each other, commiserate, protest and plan. A Facebook “group” called Postcards and Pale Ale was born which, as I type, sports a little over 450 members and growing. What follows is some lessons learned, some best practices, (a few of which may only apply to very large gatherings like this one) and some plans for moving forward.
As an active FB user I notice the responses (or lack thereof) that my posts get. In 10 years on the medium, I have never seen a response like I did on Saturday as a result of the #WomensMarch. By far the most likes, reactions, replies, reposts, etc. that I have ever received. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a chef and a politician, so I have a healthy ego, but even I know that the reason for this huge reaction has nothing to do with me. It ain’t the messenger, it’s the message.
This is a big job, and I’m going to make some mistakes.
Anytime a person applies for a new job, they know there are aspects to the job they cannot be aware of: the “known unknowns” that accompany any new venture. I knew when I announced my bid for county supervisor that there were aspects of what the county does of which I was not fully cognizant.
I wrote this guest opinion for the Press-Citizen at the peak of the Minimum Wage debate here in JoCo. With the wage about to go up to $10.10 on Jan. 1, and with the Iowa Legislature about to confuse things yet again, I thought I'd dig it back out.
Ever since I stood up at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting and said "I’m a small-business owner who favors raising the minimum wage," I’ve been getting a lot of feedback — on social networks, on the street, and in my restaurant. A lot of it was very positive, but some of it was: “How can you favor increasing your costs?” “It will force you to lay people off!” “Your taxes will go up too!”
My restaurant turns 20 years old on Monday, and a lot has changed about the food scene in Johnson County in those two decades. Eating locally was a fringe idea, not the hipster trend it became nor the mainstream mainstay it is now. All this progress needs to be protected, though, or it will vanish. That’s why two pending initiatives, revitalization of the historic “Poor Farm” and the proposed Food Enterprise Center, are important for the continued health of our foodshed.
Dear Representative Kauffman,
You and I have only met in passing once or twice, so I will not presume to know your motives in putting forth what you termed your “Suck it up, buttercup” legislation, which press reports say you plan to introduce when the legislature returns in January. What I can tell you, though, is that the proposal is intellectually, logically, and compassionately void.
If you care about this experiment we call America, a democratic republic that has continually overcome its flaws, improved itself progressively and lit the world for 240 years, that has survived a civil war, countless economic downturns and original sins of slavery and genocide, that is never perfect but always striving, then you know that the only thing that can destroy it is apathy.
I was never a particularly great athlete, but have spent plenty of time in locker rooms. I attended a private boys school in my adolescence, went to summer camp, was in a fraternity and have spent 37 years in the often wildly profane culture of professional kitchens. So yes, I have from time to time heard vulgar and sexist talk of the type our current Republican nominee has attempted to write off and “just locker room banter.” Except not exactly.
Bernie Sanders set a spark that ignited a revolution. The progressive movement has not seen this level of activism and support for nearly a century. There is nothing in American politics more important right now than to see the Political Revolution Sen. Sanders awakened continue. With Sec. Clinton as president, that revolution can continue to grow. With Donald Trump in the White House, there is zero chance of success for a generation or more.
This does not mean my campaign faces no opposition, though. Each of the major issues I have campaigned on – from land use to transportation to inclusive zoning to the poor farm to maintaining a living wage to even civil governance – faces opposition to my approach from one corner or the other. Therefor I shall continue to campaign hard this fall, and let this be the formal announcement: I still need your help and support.
Consider that an abridged list of the advances brought to you by the Labor movement would include: paid vacation, overtime pay, the minimum wage, sick days, child labor laws, safety standards, health benefits, unemployment insurance, social security, the 8-hour day (which is what the Haymarket gathering was about), and the weekend.
Presuming I am fortunate enough to be elected in November, as seems fairly likely at the moment, but you never know, once in office I will not debate County business on Facebook or any social network. This might complicate things for me, but, if I have to give up on being on social networks, then so be it.