The Des Moines city council is back pedaling.

After promising to get us their revised draft of the Welcoming City resolution — which they sat on for five months — they are now saying they don’t want to do it at all.

Instead all they want to pass is an inclusivity proclamation – a statement that has no substance, no action plan, and no real commitment to our community.

This ‘feel-good’ statement is not enough! Immigrant and refugee families in Des Moines cannot wait another day.

We’re asking you to fight back in two ways: 

1) Can you be at the city council meeting on Monday

We need as much community support as possible to stand with our immigrant and refugee neighbors and reject this proclamation. Welcoming City or BUST! 

Where: Richard A. Clark Municipal Building (1551 E. MLK Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50309)

When: Monday, October 9th at 4:30pm

RSVP here –> we need you there with us! 

2) Call your city council representatives before Monday’s meeting!

Tell them this proclamation is not enough and ask them to support our immigrant/refugee communities – pass the Welcoming City resolution! Please let us know how your call(s) go.

Mayor Cownie – 515-255-3644
Skip Moore (At Large)- 515-681-9804
Chris Coleman (At Large)- 515-276-7644
Bill Gray (Ward 1) – 515-274-0077
Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) – 515-988-4288
Christine Hensley (Ward 3) – 515-255-4716
Joe Gatto (Ward 4) – 515-402-2626

Our communities don’t need empty promises, they need bold leadership and meaningful action. 

True to Iowa CCI style – we’re not backing down. We’ll see you on Monday!


P.S. The fact is we have almost no foundation support for this work. We’ve been able to dedicate organizational resources to this campaign thanks to support from folks like you. Donate, join, chip in here to keep the fight going strong!

Iowa CCI members, residents in Clay and Wayne counties celebrate and demand moratorium on new factories
Des Moines, Iowa – On Monday, Iowa CCI members and everyday Iowans celebrated as Iowa Select — the largest hog corporation in Iowa and 8th largest nationally — withdrew permit applications for two massive hog factories in Wayne and Clay counties. Both applications, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents and county supervisors, were likely to be appealed at the October meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Locally organized opposition

Residents of Wayne County organized opposition, including a meeting with DNR director Chuck Gipp where over 100 neighbors demanded DNR deny the site, wrote letters to the editor, and successfully convinced their county supervisors to fail the Master Matrix and recommend denial to the DNR.  The DNR overturned the Wayne County Supervisors’ decision.  Wayne County appealed DNR’s approval of the factory farm, and a public hearing before the EPC was scheduled in October.

“We’re celebrating this big victory, but we know that Iowa Select will try to reapply.  We are relentless, and we’ll be ready.  We don’t want any factory farms and we will fight any that Iowa Select proposes to build,” said Pam Woollis, CCI member and resident of Wayne County.

In Clay County, local residents also organized, gathered petition signatures, and convinced their supervisors to recommend denial of the site, which again was overturned by the DNR.  Clay County’s Board of Supervisors was set to vote on appealing DNR’s approval of the factory farm at its meeting today.

“We are overjoyed at Iowa Select’s decision to not build their large hog factory beside our family. However, more importantly, the health of other farm familes and small towns is endangered by Iowa’s lack of regulations to protect the public health and our air and water,” said Sarah Lewis, who fought the 5,000-head factory farm near Spencer, Iowa. “We encourage our Supervisors to make Clay County the 18th Iowa county to call for a moratorium or changes to the Master Matrix until adequate regulations are implemented to protect our environment and familes.”

Iowa Select avoids scrutiny

“In its written notice to the Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Select cited several reasons for withdrawing, but we believe it’s because they are feeling public pressure and know that these appeals would further illustrate the failings of the Master Matrix,” said Erica Blair, community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI).

According to DNR’s construction review activity database, Iowa Select has seven pending facilities across the state in Grundy, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Buena Vista, and Greene counties.  CCI has received calls from residents of several of these counties asking how they can fight the incoming factory farms.

Iowa Select has a long violation history, including at least 150 manure or ammonia releases polluting air and water, according to DNR’s facility spill database.

“Iowa Select creates new LLCs, allowing the company to avoid scrutiny of past violations, making it difficult to know the true number of spills and violations,” said Patti Naylor, a CCI member and family farmer who lives in Greene County, where supervisors just approved a 7,490-head Iowa Select factory farm.  “They’ve become experts at using the Master Matrix to their own advantage.”

This news comes as many scandals are coming to the surface for DNR.  CCI members point to the EPC and DNR’s dismissal of the Master Matrix petition, former DNR employee Gene Tinker’s claim that he was fired for educating counties about the Master Matrix, and DNR’s discovery of over 5,000 additional factory farms in Iowa.

“It’s clear that we need a moratorium from this polluting industry. Our DNR, legislature, and Governor need to work for all of Iowans,” added Naylor.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.

On Monday, Sept. 18, the Environmental Protection Commission  the “citizen” board that oversees the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  is set to vote on our rule-making petition to strengthen the factory farm permitting process.

The petition asks for common sense changes to the outdated Master Matrix – a tool included in factory farm applications.

These changes are based on the experiences of and conversations with thousands of everyday Iowans who want to protect their air, water, and quality of life and supported by over 2,000 petition signers. 

>> BUT, late last week, we learned that Iowa DNR’s leadership is passing the buck and recommending denial of the petition we filed with our friends at Food & Water Watch.

Does reading that make you as mad as me?

Join us Monday morning to pressure the EPC to vote with the people, not the factory farm industry. RSVP here.

This fight is far from over.

The nine EPC members can vote with Brandstad/Reynolds’ industry-loving DNR, or they can vote with everyday Iowans. That’s why we need to pack the room with lots and lots of people!

Can you help us show up strong for clean water at the Environmental Protection Commission meeting Monday morning?

When: Monday, September 18, from 9AM to 12PM
Where: Iowa State Capitol, Room 116 (1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines)
Register: Click here to RSVP today

Shame on the DNR for trying to kick the can down the road. County supervisors from seventeen counties have also demanded action to address Iowa’s factory farm and clean water crises.

Iowans can’t afford to wait any longer!

Erica and the Iowa CCI crew

Learn more

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

TWEET and LIKE to stand up for a Clean Water Iowa!

On August 15, over 30 Iowans attended the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting, urging the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to grant a formal rulemaking petition submitted last month by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch to strengthen the master matrix, and deny proposed factory farms until the application process is improved. The DNR is currently reviewing the petition and has until September 16 to either grant or deny it.

So far, four county boards of supervisors have sent the DNR Letters of Support for the petition: Butler, Dickinson, Polk, and Johnson counties. This is in addition to fourteen counties that have already passed separate resolutions or sent letters calling on the DNR to strengthen the master matrix and/or suspend the construction of new/expanding factory farms.

>>>> Take action! Call your county supervisors and ask them to send DNR a Letter of Support for our petition. Find contact information for your supervisors here.

“Does the Iowa farmer actually feed the world? And if they’re actually feeding the world, are they poisoning it, too, with the chemicals they put on the ground and the antibiotics they put in the feed?” said James Berge, CCI member and landowner in Kensett. “We need you to take a step in the right direction by strengthening the Master Matrix.”

Created fifteen years ago by the legislature, the master matrix has failed to live up to the promise of giving communities a greater voice in the siting of factory farms and protections from the pollution they create. It has proven so easy to pass that it has amounted to little more than a rubber stamp: Applicants only need to satisfy enough of the listed criteria to obtain 50 percent of the available points – an “F” by most standards. DNR records show that only 2.2 percent of applications have been denied.

“I’ve been drinking poisoned water, and I don’t know for how long,” said Janis Elliot, CCI member from Avon, who discovered last week that her drinking water is contaminated with nitrates at 19 parts per million (ppm) – 9 ppm over the EPA’s safe drinking water standard. “Our legislature isn’t protecting us, and you’re the Environmental Protection Commission. I don’t feel like you’re protecting me, and I don’t know what to do.”

Citizens from Worth County also attended the EPC meeting to ask the DNR to deny an influx of seven new factory farms in their community.

“Worth County is the jewel and the crown of Iowa and we don’t have many CAFOs. We’re going to do everything we can to keep it that way,” said Edith Haenel, CCI member from Northwood who lives one mile from a proposed factory farm and has epilepsy that is triggered by air pollutants emitted by factory farms. “Your job is to protect Iowans – not moneyed interests.”

The petition proposals include:

  • A higher minimum passing score, requiring applicants to earn more of the possible points to obtain a permit.
  • A one-time enrollment for counties, rather than the current burdensome requirement for counties to readopt the master matrix every year.
  • Revisions to the point structure to incentivize practices that prevent or mitigate pollution.
  • New criteria that consider factors currently unaddressed by the matrix, such as karst topography, existing water pollution impairments, and water quality monitoring.
  • Elimination of criteria that do not provide meaningful environmental or community benefits.
  • Changes to strengthen existing criteria, such as increased separation distances from schools, homes, public use areas, waterways, and wells.

Iowa has over 10,000 factory farms, and more than 3,000 of these are large enough to be subject to the matrix by counties that adopt it. These factory farms produce 22 billion gallons of manure each year, and its disposal has widespread impacts on Iowa’s waterways and communities. The state’s latest impaired waters list shows that 750 waterbodies – over half of those tested – are impaired. The majority of these impairments are caused by E. coli bacteria and other pollutants associated with manure. Given the statehouse’s ongoing failure to address Iowa’s water quality crisis, DNR must do the next best thing and use its existing authority to strengthen the master matrix.

>>> Call your county supervisors today and ask them to support the petition to strengthen the Master Matrix! Find contact information for your supervisors here.

 

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

We’re excited to launch CCI’s clean energy and climate change justice organizing work and we’re coming to a town near you!

Next week we’re hitting the road to share what we’ve been learning about the clean energy landscape in Iowa and learn why you care about this issue. And, we’ll share our ideas for how we can — at the local level — organize to transition our communities to 100% clean, renewable energy that benefits 100% of the people.

And, we’re bringing along a special guest.

Ben Ishibashi is the Climate Organizer for the People’s Action network. He’ll share how communities across the country are fighting for and winning climate and clean energy solutions that put people first.

Click below to RSVP to the event nearest you:

Cedar Falls: Tuesday, August 22nd at 7pm at the Hearst Center for the Arts

Webster City: Wednesday, August 23rd at 6pm at the Kendall Young Library

Des Moines: Thursday, August 24th at 11:30am at the Central Library

Iowa City: Thursday, August 24th at 7pm at the Iowa City Public Library

Join us and learn how we can win!

P.S. Have you signed our petition? We’re calling on the Iowa Department of Transportation to use Iowa’s $21 million from the VW emissions scandal settlement to go to clean energy projects and not to investment in more fossil fuels. Sign here.


Are you looking for a way to make change in your community? We’re acting on a range of campaigns. Take a look at five ways to get involved in our people-powered grassroots movement.

 

August 2017

Job Title: Canvasser

 

Freaked out about the condition of water quality in Iowa? Upset with the decline of rural communities and the disappearance of the family farmer? Angry that Iowa’s politicians are not holding corporations accountable and think people like us should pay to clean up the water crisis?

Here’s your opportunity to do something about it, have a new experience every day, work with real people who feel the way you do and get paid while doing it! Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) is hiring full time canvassers for permanent positions in the Des Moines metro and surrounding area. We are looking for individuals who work hard and have a passion for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

Canvassers will knock on doors and make phone calls to talk to people about political issues, sign up dues-paying members, and help build people power to create a better future for Iowa. Canvassers generally work 35-40 hours per week, Monday-Friday.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) is a 42 year old grassroots, member-led organization that builds the power of everyday people to win social, economic, racial and environmental justice for all. We fundamentally believe that everyday people can be a powerful force for justice and that people most directly impacted by an issue should be in the driver’s seat – making decisions and taking leadership roles. We get things done on tough issues by being strategic, persistent, and by dealing directly with decision-makers.

Responsibilities:

  • Recruiting new dues-paying members to join the organization
  • Raising money on a daily basis and meeting fundraising goals
  • Administrative reporting
  • Participation in daily trainings and meetings

Qualifications:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Positive attitude
  • Resiliency, grit and thick skin
  • Persistence
  • Ability to work well with a team
  • Goal-oriented
  • Able to walk for long periods of time up and down steps and hills in variable weather (approximately 4-5 hours per day, knocking 80+ doors and talking to 25-35 people)

Salary and Benefits:

  • Base wage of $15/hour plus competitive performance bonuses
  • Health/dental/vision insurance benefits after 60 day probationary period
  • Training is provided

How to Apply:

Email resume, 2 references and cover letter to:
Tim Glaza, Canvass Director, timg@iowacci.org

Please put “canvasser” in the subject line.

Please apply by September 1, 2017.

Iowa CCI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, members of the LGBTQ community, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.