Wells Fargo employees are having meetings about us. Yes, we are starting to get under their skin.

A  member from Marshalltown, Maria Alvarez, called and reported on her interaction with the branch manager when she closed her Wells Fargo account because of their investments in private prisons, predatory lending, and giant executive bonuses.

The manager was angry at her and angry at CCI that we had published an advertisement in the Spanish weekly newspaper (photo), El Enfoque, calling on the Latino community to move their money. He said the allegations about Wells Fargo’s investments in private prisons are lies and people are uninformed.

He also told her that there was a meeting of all employees at their branch to train them on how to respond to people raising the issue of Wells Fargo’s relationship with private prisons!  They had seen our ad in the newspaper and a lot of people are talking about it.  He told Maria that some women asked him to prove that Wells Fargo was not investing in private prisons, and another man who said he was from Latinos en Accion de CCI came and closed his account last week!

Maria, armed with CCI’s facts, laid it all out: Wells Fargo is the #3 investor in GEO Group, the second largest private prison company in the nation, with 4.7 million shares.  Wells Fargo has a significant financial stake in private prisons, not just a couple of shares. And between March 2011 and March 2012 they added over 800,000 shares. Not to mention that they finance factory farms, pay day lenders, and were sued for discriminatory lending.

The private prison industry contracts with federal and state governments to manage jails and have specifically targeted immigrant detention as an area where they can increase their profits.  Prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) sat on ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task force which wrote Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill that passed in 2010.  Since then, copies of the law have been lobbied for and passed in more states around the country so that companies like GEO Group and CCA increase their profits from the suffering of immigrant families.  Organizations around the country are calling on Wells Fargo to divest from private prisons, but so far we have received a resounding NO.

Maria made sure to communicate that that she is not against him or other Wells Fargo branch workers, but the CEO John Stumpf and bank presidents who get giant bonuses and set the policies that value profit over people.

 

Join the Fight

Can you support our “Move our Money” team and join us for an action this Friday, June 15?

For more information on how to move your money, call Iowa CCI at 515-282-0484.

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Corporate lobby group’s proposed rule would weaken enforcement of environmental laws

 

Today, nearly 40 members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) delivered more than 600 public comments to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today demanding the DNR drop a rulemaking petition that would weaken enforcement of clean water laws and signal to the factory farm industry that the DNR is taking a “hands-off” approach to compliance.

A big-moneyed corporate interest group, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), has petitioned DNR to pass a new rule that will weaken the DNR’s ability to enforce Iowa law against factory farm polluters.  The proposed rule will make it more difficult for everyday people to ensure strong and effective public oversight of factory farm polluters in the future by formally codifying already lax enforcement policies in writing, even if priorities shift in two years with a new governor and a new DNR director.

“The proposed rule basically tells factory farm operators that they will not be fined or penalized for a manure spill, fish kill, or other environmental violation, which could lead to more risk-taking, more manure spills and, ultimately, more water pollution,” said CCI member Barb Kalbach, a 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.  “We need strong deterrents if we are serious about cleaning up our polluted watersheds and the DNR absolutely must not kowtow to the influence of big ag money if they want to preserve what little credibility they have left with everyday Iowans.”

CCI members also met with ABI president Mike Ralston earlier today and pushed him to withdraw the proposal.

Iowa has more than 572 polluted waterways, and there have been more than 800 manure spills in the last 15 years, according to DNR and CCI records.  A 2007 study by the Iowa Policy Project stated that factory farm manure “may be the largest agricultural polluter of Iowa’s streams and lakes”.

 

Take action

Join hundreds of fellow Iowans in telling the DNR to crack down on factory farms and say NO to the ABI’s proposed “hands off” rule. Take action here: http://j.mp/TelltheDNR

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  • This rule comes as Iowans are battling one of the biggest surges in new and expanding factory farm construction in years. Read the latest news and actions on our factory farm organizing.

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Click LIKE or TWEET if you want the DNR to crackdown on factory farm polluters.

 

Branstad has packed DNR and EPC with factory farm industry insiders

 

It’s official. Gov. Branstad has appointed former House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp (R-Decorah) as director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This is only the latest step in Branstad’s corporate agenda to stack the decks of state government with factory farm industry insiders hostile to strong and effective public oversight of the environment.

The shakeup at the DNR comes as rural Iowans are experiencing the largest surge in factory farm construction across the state in the past five years alone, a serious threat to the long-term health of our air, land and water.

Chuck Gipp’s never met a factory farm bill he didn’t like,” said Larry Ginter, an independent family farmer and CCI member from Rhodes, Iowa. “Now he’s going to be the #1 guy at an agency he spent his entire legislative career trying to deregulate and dismantle.

In 2001, CCI members labeled Gipp one of the “Factory Farm Four” because of his long voting record to reduce and rollback citizen input and public oversight over the corporate factory farm industry.

  • In 1995, Gipp voted for H.F. 519 – a bill signed into law by then-governor Branstad that essentially rolled out the welcome mat for factory farm expansion in Iowa.
  • In 1997 and 1998, Gipp voted to outlaw local control ordinances and centralize decision-making authority with the state, expand the ability of corporations to purchase farmland and raise livestock, and grant immunity from fines and penalties to documented polluters.
  • In 2003, Gipp voted to rollback clean air rules, strip the DNR of its power to write ambient air quality standards, strengthen nuisance lawsuit protections for corporations, and expand the industry’s ability to build factory farms in environmentally-sensitive areas like flood plains and on karst soil.
  • In 2004, Gipp voted to legalize factory farm air pollution by creating a weak regulatory framework for air quality standards.
  • In 2005, Gipp voted to undermine law enforcement and corporate accountability by making it harder to refer habitual factory farm polluters to the Attorney General, and obstruct DNR rulemaking by making it easier for big-moneyed corporations to stop or stall rulemaking.
  • In 2006, Gipp voted to gut DNR’s authority to deny or modify a factory farm construction permit or manure management plan, empower the state legislature to stop or stall executive branch rulemaking, weaken manure management laws, and discourage and penalize citizen input by silencing everyday people who speak out against factory farm pollution.
  • In 2008, Gipp voted for a $23 million taxpayer-funded odor study that would stall action on mandatory and enforceable clean air standards and force Iowa citizens to foot the bill.

Iowa CCI members say Branstad’s political appointments to the DNR, Environmental Protection Commission (EPC), and Board of Regents – including Chuck Gipp, but also retiring director Roger Lande, Bill Ehm, and Bruce and Brent Rastetter – clearly demonstrate just how beholden Branstad is to the corporate ag interests that bankrolled his campaign for governor.

Branstad has packed the Board of Regents, the DNR, and the EPC with people who have made careers out of dismantling government of, by, and for the people and creating government of, by, and for the corporations,” Ginter said. “These kind of appointments clearly expose the corporate control of our democracy and highlights the need for the kind of systemic changes that Iowa CCI members continue to fight for.

 

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We won!

Organizing works. Just ask the CCI members who have, in just a few weeks time, mobilized their neighbors to stop a proposed 5,000-head Cargill-backed hog factory in Dallas County.

The neighbors responded quickly – engaging the developer directly on his doorstep, sending a Mother’s day card to the developer’s wife, and picketing outside the car wash owned by the developer.

And just as the neighbors were preparing to testify at the Dallas County Board of Supervisors, they received this note from the developer:

It’s proof once again that positive change works best when real people are telling their stories, engaging their neighbors, and standing up to confront corporate power and change hearts and minds.

We faced huge odds; there’s no doubt this was an uphill battle. But it shows that People Power pays off. We were only able to do this because of the support and hard work of members like you.

This is a big win, but it’s critical that we stay hopeful and keep fighting. There are a number of other factory farms across the state still moving forward and we need you to get involved.

Join the Fight!

If we want to see more wins like Dallas County all across the state, there are four things you can do right now to help:

Finally, click LIKE or TWEET to share this great news with your networks:

Take the pledge: It’s time to “Move Our Money”













America deserves better. We’ve had enough.

I have a Wells Fargo (or other big bank) account and I’m ready, willing and able to move my money!

I want to be a part of a coordinated week of action to maximize our “Move our Money” impact. Email me the details.

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18 Abbey Floyd 50322 May 18, 2012
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Pledge to move your money with us on June 15! >>>

There are plenty of reasons to move your money.  Moving your money sends a powerful message to Wells Fargo that we will no longer stand for their predatory practices that profit at the expense of our communities.

Join us, and tell Wells Fargo that you’re fed up with their cavalier, condescending and arrogant attitude.  On June 15, CCI members from across the state will close their accounts with Wells Fargo in a powerful message of solidarity with all the people that Wells Fargo has taken advantage of over the years.

Follow the steps!

Moving your money can seem like a daunting task, but if you follow these steps carefully and precisely, you can make the transition from a big bank to a new bank or credit union smoothly. Please contact us at 515-255-0800 if you plan to move your money so we can discuss these steps with you in detail!

Share your story!

  • Have a Wells Fargo story to share – about a foreclosure, a payday loan or about working there? Contact us today!
  • Already moved your money? We’d love to know – shoot us a line!
  • NEVER had money in a big bank before? We’d like to hear from you too! Let us know why.

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Throughout 2012, our phones were ringing off the hook.

We had a surge in calls from across the state concerning more than 45 new or expanding factory farm sites in 28 counties. 

Below is a map that gives you some idea of where they tried to locate, but what the map doesn’t show you is that there were two to five new or expanding sites in several of these counties. What’s more, most are being built in areas already saturated with factory farms.

The good news is that Iowans fought back against these hog factories and won!

  • VICTORY! Linn County CCI members stood up for justice and didn’t back down!  They successfully stopped a 5,661 head of hog site submitted by Matt Ditch near Center Point.  Over 100 community members signed petitions, wrote letters to the editors and testified at Linn County Supervisors meetings which paid off with success!  This victory highlights the power of organizing, speaking out and not backing down. 

  • VICTORY! CCI members in Greene County stood united against a 5,000-head, Cargill-backed factory farm, and forced the developer to withdraw his plans. Read about how community pressure led to this big win here!
  • VICTORY! Story County saw a proposal for a 2,498-head factory farm less than a mile from Hickory Grove Lake that was withdrawn a week later. Concerned citizens organized to make sure that the developer didn’t come back with another proposal. What’s more, members convinced the Board of Supervisors and the Story County Conservation Board to pass resolutions condemning any proposal to build a factory farm confinement in close proximity to a county park. We’re sending a clear message to the developer that the community doesn’t want him to come back with another proposal!
  • VICTORY! In Poweshiek County, CCI members beat one 5,000-head site and are fighting another. After strong community opposition, Prestage Farms withdrew the first application. Now, the Board of Supervisors are appealing the DNR’s approval of the other. With united community opposition and a lot of hard work, we can stop the second site too! Update: Prestage Farms has re-applied for the first site, but we’re going to keep fighting and keep winning!
  • VICTORY! In Dallas County, over 55 folks organized to stop a 5,000-head Cargill-backed hog factory and they won.  They worked together, stayed hopeful, used a lot of creativity and refused to give up. Read more about the win here.
  • VICTORY! In April, new members in Floyd County successfully stopped two non-permitted (2,498-head hog each) Iowa Select hog factories from building by pressuring the developer to drop his construction plans.
  • VICTORY! Jefferson County members successfully stopped a factory farm expansion and indefinitely delayed another this winter.
  • We have provided organizing assistance to additional factory farm fights in: Davis, Marshall, Emmet, Winneshiek, Clayton, Buena Vista, Wright, Black Hawk, Keokuk, Adair, Decatur, Guthrie, Fayette, Lucas, Allamakee, Fremont, Muscatine, Page, Audubon, Linn, Adair, Union and Wapello Counties.

Join the Fight

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’re seeing the corporate ag industry push bad bills at the statehouse, setting our state up for another influx of corporate hog manure. We need your help in fighting back, and here are four easy ways you can join the fight:

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