With Pre-Caucus Focus on GOP Race, Occupy Movement Steps Up Activism in Iowa


CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey was interviewed on the Dec. 21, 2011 edition of Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Watch the video here:


From the Democracy Now! website:

The Occupy movement is making its presence felt in Iowa ahead of the Iowa caucus, the nation’s first nominating contest for the 2012 presidential elections. Demonstrators have targeted the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters and the “Obama for America” office in recent days, protesting measures being considered in Washington dealing with defense spending, a planned oil pipeline and jobless benefits. Next they plan to focus on Republicans who will be crisscrossing the state in the next two weeks seeking voters’ support. “We think that we have a right to—a constitutional right to state our purpose and to call for and to address grievances that we have with the government and the corporate control over the government,” says Hugh Espey, the executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a 36-year-old grassroots organization with some 4,000 members. “These sorts of protest are going to continue, until we have a system that puts people before profits and communities before corporations.”

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How President Obama can fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs


A new report released today by Iowa CCI and the New Bottom Line coalition delivers a win/win way for President Obama administration to fix the housing crisis and create jobs. For Iowa this solution would pump $140 million into our Iowa economy and create 2,000 Iowa jobs.


>>Read the report here: “Iowa Underwater: How President Obama Can Fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs.”

From the report:

More than 43,000 Iowans have lost their jobs since the start of 2008, and 37,612 are expected to lose their home sby the end of 2012….


But the Obama Administration and the banks can do something right now to change all that. Requiring banks to write down all underwater mortgages to market value could:

  • Pump $139,123,396 into Iowa’s economy every year;
  • Create more than 2,056 jobs in Iowa;
  • Save Iowa families an average of $373 per month on mortgage payments;
  • Decisively fix the foreclosure crisis.

…underwater mortgage debt is on of the primary drags on economic recovery.


The report, calls on the President to:

  • Allow the state Attorneys General to conduct a full investigation into the fraudulent and illegal activities of the Wall Street banks that caused the foreclosure;
  • Ensure that the big banks are not let off the hook for their crimes. There cannot be a broad release of claims in any current or future settlement talks with the big banks;
  • Require a minimum of $200 – $300 billion from the big banks in principal reduction for underwater homeowners.

“In Des Moines alone, 24 percent all mortgages are underwater,” said CCI member Mike McCarthy of Des Moines, “if President Obama required the banks to fix what they broke and write down the principal on all underwater mortgages to current market value, he could inject a direct cash stimulus into State’s economy of $139,123,396   – at no cost to the taxpayers.

“The banks can afford to write down principal for underwater homeowners and pay restitution to defrauded homeowners,” McCarthy said, “U.S. banks raked in $35 billion in profits this summer alone and are sitting on a historically high level of cash reserves of $1.64 trillion.”

>>Read the new report Iowa Underwater here.


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Tell your Supervisors to pass the Matrix!


We’ve heard word from a member in Van Buren County that your Board of Supervisors will be voting on the Master Matrix on Monday, Dec. 19 at 1 pm.

In order to use the matrix, Iowa counties must pass a resolution every year and file it with the DNR between January 1 and Saturday, January 31.

The matrix is not local control, however, it allows counties to comment on factory farm permit applications with the DNR having the final say.   Counties have been able to appeal and STOP factory farm permits because they used the Matrix.  Without it, they can not file appeals on permit to the DNR.

Here’s a note from CCI member Lora Conrad on the Van Buren County meeting:

You are receiving this e-mail because I believe you care about the quality of life we have here in Van Buren County. I hope you will be interested in this and will join me at the meeting to support adoption of the master matrix on Monday, December 19th at 1:00 pm.


Counties that want to evaluate any proposed sites for confinement facilities that need construction permits MUST notify the DNR by January 31 each year. Last year, 88 Iowa counties filed the construction evaluation resolution, including Van Buren. Hog producers with large confinement facilities (over 2500 hogs) in counties that file the resolution must meet higher standards than sites in counties that do not adopt the matrix. Its not much–it doesn’t stop large CAFOS in most cases—but it is our only legal opportunity for input and can require practices that reduce the impact on the environment and reduce the impact on our communities. Using this matrix process, Van Buren County was able to prevent the construction of a proposed 4800 facility in the past. Because it is a flawed process, we were not able to stop the construction of a CAFO with 2499 hogs because that is currently smaller than the size that must be reviewed. This and other problems must be addressed by our legislators.


The Van Buren Supervisors will meet on Monday December 19th, 2011 at 1:00 PM in the Supervisors’ Room in the Court House at which time this issue is on the agenda. All three county supervisors voted for and adopted the matrix for CAFO construction evaluation for 2011. However, do not assume it will pass unless we show that we support its use.


Please show your support for the county to continue to adopt the master matrix and have input on site selection. ATTEND THE MEETING if you can to show that we want to keep this matrix. It won’t take long and no speeches will be needed. Just your support. Please come. As we all know, the next large hog confinement could be in our own backyard.


If you can not attend, please call or e-mail them . Contact information is below.


Mark Meek


Ted Nixon, Vice Chair


Marvin Philips, Chair
cell 641 919-7448


Please tell anyone you know that might support adoption of the matrix about the meeting or forward them this e-mail as the more people that know about this the better.  I hope to see you there Monday!


We will post a Matrix resolution for you to take to your county supervisors very soon. Feel free to call us if you need it sooner. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, if you are in Van Buren County – please share this action alert with your friends and family!

Join up with Iowa CCI members and others in Jefferson County to stop a factory farm from expanding two operations.

A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, December 22 at 4:00 pm at the Jefferson County Courthouse.  This is a key opportunity to show strong opposition to and challenge weak spots in the construction permit before your elected County Board of Supervisors, the developer and, most times, local press.


Here’s the release from Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors:

JFAN has learned that local CAFO operator Ryan Robertson applied for construction permits on November 29, 2011 to expand two existing CAFOs in northeast Jefferson County.


The CAFOs are located at 1031 Quince Avenue in Penn Township and 1083 Germantown Road in Walnut Township. Each CAFO presently has two buildings housing a total of 2,490 hogs at each site. The expansions would add an additional 1,200 hogs to each location and entail constructing a new confinement building at each facility. JFAN is sending notification letters to all neighbors within a two-mile radius of the CAFOs.


A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, December 22 at 4:00 pm at the Jefferson County Courthouse. This provides an opportunity for the public to learn about or comment on any concerns they have about the expansions.


At this time, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors plans to review the Master Matrix at Monday’s supervisors meeting, which is open to the public. The meeting will take place at 9:00 am in the Supervisors Office in the Jefferson County Courthouse. JFAN will attend the meeting and obtain a copy of the Master Matrix of both facilities to review.


The Master Matrix is a 44-point questionnaire that evaluates how a CAFO’s siting and manure management practices impact the environment and community. Proposed facilities that would house over 2,500 hogs are required to file a Master Matrix, and they must achieve a score of 50% or higher to pass.


Based on the Master Matrix and public hearing comments, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors will recommend that the DNR either approve or deny the expansions. The DNR has final authority to approve any construction permits regardless of county input and can disagree with the county’s Master Matrix evaluation. Counties that use the Master Matrix have the option to appeal a preliminary DNR permit approval to the Environmental Protection Commission if they feel a CAFO should not be built or expanded.


Ryan Robertson currently operates four CAFOs in Jefferson County and also works as a manure applicator. JFAN is currently reviewing any prior violations incurred by Mr. Robertson.


We encourage the community to attend the December 22 public hearing to learn more about these CAFOs and to voice any concerns you may have. Please contact JFAN at 209-6600 or jfan@lisco.com if you have any questions or information about these two CAFO expansions.


JFAN will publish this notice with updates on the Master Matrix scoring, if available, in next week’s December 14 Fairfield Weekly Reader.


JFAN is a nonprofit, educational foundation that works to protect the quality of life of Jefferson County. We provide community education and support to residents who oppose CAFOs in their neighborhoods.


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You and I both know factory farms pollute our air and water and ruin our quality of life.

But does the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)know that?

Tell the EPA today to collect information on factory farms.

Thanks to a recent lawsuit settlement with national environmental groups, the EPA has agreed to start collecting more information about factory farms – such as where they are located, how many animals they have, and where they spread their manure.

Unlike other industries enforced under the 36 year old Clean Water Act, the factory farm industry does not have to regularly report this information – and corporate ag interests would like to keep it that way.

Help us make sure the EPA collects as much detailed information as possible! Click here to contact EPA today and tell them the real story about the impact of factory farm pollution.

EPA is taking public comments on how they collect this information until December 20. This is an important step forward in getting the EPA to crack down on factory farms and clean up our waterways.

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We received great press coverage of our direct action to reclaim $5,500 in unpaid wages owed by the owner of Margarita’s Bar & Grill in Des Moines.

Media coverage helps makes more people aware that wage theft happens in our communities and sends a strong those employers that they will be called out and held accountable.

See the coverage from WHO TV 13, ABC News 5 and the Des Moines Register below.




WHO TV 13 news – Restaurant Pay Protest (video)









ABC 5 TV news – Protest over $5,550 in Unpaid Wages

by Jessica Daley     A former employee of Margaritas Sports Bar and Grill claims the owner owes her thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Friday night she brought support to try and get him to pay up.

Thirty-five people chanted inside Margaritas waiting for the owner Ivan Escalona to show up.

The group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is supporting Angelica Sandoval, a former employee who says she’s owed $5500 in unpaid wages. The CCI said this is the fourth complaint they’ve received against Margaritas for employees not being paid for their work.  READ MORE


Des Moines Register – Demonstrators claim bar owner not paying up

A former worker alleges she is a victim of wage theft.

Written by Grant Rodgers   Demonstrators visited a southeast Des Moines bar and grill on Friday night, asking to meet with the owner and receive unpaid wages owed to a former employee.

The group of workers and volunteers with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, as well as demonstrators from Occupy Des Moines, claim that Ivan Escalona, owner of Margarita’s Bar and Grill, 1440 Maury St., owes Angelica Sandoval, a former bartender, $5,545 in wages. READ MORE


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