“Compassionate Community Proclamation” sounds pretty nice, right? So why did close to 200 angry Des Moines residents pack the City Council chambers on Monday afternoon to protest Mayor Cownie’s feel-good sentiment?

The proclamation was just that: a feel-good piece of lipservice without any real value. This was the City Council’s only response to our Welcoming City resolution — which we proposed five months ago!

The mayor’s announcement did nothing to protect or improve services for immigrant and refugee residents. Our Welcoming City proposal had a number of action items, but the City Council said they were unnecessary.

In light of the city’s unwillingness to take action, we continue the fight to improve life for immigrants and refugees in Central Iowa.

These are our action steps:

  1. Each city department needs to participate in a training on interacting with federal immigration agencies or ICE in order to be fully prepared if or when city employees are approached with administrative or judicial warrants.
  2. Each city department needs to participate in an interactive cultural competency training in order to understand the needs and differences between the many cultures living in our city.
  3. The city needs to analyze their current bilingual or multilingual services then develop and implement a plan to improve those services in order to be more equitable to all residents.
  4. The city needs to consider providing Know-Your-Rights trainings to immigrant and refugee residents as part of their continued commitment to community outreach and relationship-building efforts.
  5. Finally, join and actively participate in the Welcoming America program. This is a national coalition of cities, businesses, nonprofits, and communities that provides in-depth toolkits, trainings, and resources to groups looking to create more equitable cities.

We’ll keep working on this important campaign. Sign up for our Fair Immigration email list to stay up to date on meetings and actions.


The fact is, we have almost zero foundational support for this kind of work — so you can play a big part in helping us move forward when you become a member of Iowa CCI or make a donation to our Fair Immigration work.

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!

A big kudos to Ames Iowa CCI members for standing up for the Iowa they want to see!

As a result of their hard work – meeting with their city council members to build support for an ordinance to stop payday lenders from expanding in Ames – Ames passed what looks like the most restrictive ordinance on payday lenders to date.This sets a great precedent for other Iowa communities looking to stop the wealth drain from payday lenders.

Below is our press release on the victory:


Ames City Council passes most restrictive ordinance on payday lenders to date

Iowa CCI members hail passage, look to other cities in absence of state legislation

Ames, IA – In a unanimous vote late Tuesday evening, the Ames City Council passed the toughest, most restrictive ordinance on payday lenders in the state of Iowa, if not the nation.

The ordinance, which uses a combination of zoning overlays and separation distances, effectively bans any new payday lender from opening within Ames city limits.

“I’m exceedingly pleased with this passage,” said CCI member Susie Petra of Ames. “Currently there are no payday lenders near the Iowa State campus and there won’t be with this ordinance. With massive student loan debt, the last thing students needed were payday lenders setting up shop nearby and driving them further into debt.”

The state legislature, not cities, has the authority to regulate interest rates on payday loans, which currently average just under 400% APR. Despite strong grassroots support for interest rate caps, the legislature has failed to bring a bill to the governor’s desk. This leaves cities to address the problem through zoning, with Iowa City next on the list of cities poised to take action.

“We celebrate this victory today, but continue pushing communities around the state to follow our lead,” added Jo Rod, another CCI member from Ames. “We are tired of corporate backed payday lenders putting profits and greed ahead of people and need.”

Iowa CCI members will continue to push for interest rate caps at the state level in next year’s legislative session. Until then, Iowa CCI vows to pursue all tools, including zoning ordinances, to curb the abusive practices of payday lenders.

Resulting headlines:

Join the fight

> Interested in replicating this in your community? Contact us today.

> Read more about our work to curb payday lending in Iowa here.

> Chip in $10 or more to helps us continue to push for an economy that works for all.

> Not yet a member? Join Iowa CCI today and help create the Iowa you want to see.


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On March 6, the Iowa City City Council voted unanimously to consider CCI members’ model zoning ordinance to crack down on predatory payday lending.

This is an important step in our campaign to win local policies that put people first, and it’s because of the hard work of members just like you who called and emailed your councilors, attended meetings and public forums, and stood up and spoke out for what’s right. Thank you!

The Planning and Zoning Commission will now take up our proposal, and in the coming days and weeks we’ll make plans to weigh-in with city staff and the zoning board so they have all the information they need to move forward with the strongest ordinance possible.

We’ll also be convening a community meeting in the next week or two so we can gather our members together, educate ourselves on the issues, and make plans to keep the fires of justice lit underneath the city. Stay tuned.

Thanks again for all your support and hard work. We are making a big difference in Iowa City for economic development and neighborhood revitalization that puts communities before corporations and people before profits.

If you are more interested in getting involved with this issue, contact Iowa City organizer David Goodner at 515.282.0484 or david[at]iowacci.org

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