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.

 

On April 4, Iowa CCI members met with Representative Dave Loebsack’s (IA-2) staff in Iowa City to urge him to join the growing number of co-sponsors to HR 1579 – the Inclusive Prosperity Act.  Our visit was in conjunction with dozens of similar actions across the country aimed at building momentum and support for common sense legislation that would finally begin to make Wall Street pay its fair share.

HR 1579 would impose a small sales tax (much like everyday people pay on daily goods and services) on Wall Street transactions, including high frequency trades, that could bring in hundreds of billions in new revenue a year – revenue that would be invested in creating new economy jobs and strengthening vital public services.

Our message to Rep. Loebsack was simple – this is how reduce inequality in the United States and get our economy back on track to serve everyday people.

Politicians these days talk about where they’re going to find the money to do x, y, z… well, this is a solution” – Iowa CCI member Jeff Strottman

This is about Wall Street finally beginning to pay their fair share – Iowa CCI member Lynn Gallagher

You could defend a vote for this bill in any town in Iowa across political parties – Iowa CCI member Jim Walters

Join us in encouraging Rep. Loebsack and others in Congress to take a meaningful step in making Wall Street pay its fair share through bringing forward the Inclusive Prosperity Act by clicking here.  And stay tuned for more on what you can do this spring and summer to push our elected officials to champion policies that Put People First!

 

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An unexpected opinion piece in the Daily Iowan commends your good work to “play the game for regular citizens.”  Read it here:

 

McElroy: CCI act for good

BY BENJI MCELROY | OCTOBER 03, 2012 | http://www.dailyiowan.com/2012/10/03/Opinions/30127.html

All too often, we 99 percenters (or 47 percenters, depending where you rank on the “victim” scale) are drowned out by the hordes of political-action groups known as corporations. When Big Business pays the big bucks to have lobbyists in the hip pocket of every politician, they can delicately whisper sweet nothings into Washington’s ear. But what are those of us stuck in Iowa, without a slimy manipulator at our fingertips, supposed to do?

Well, of course. that’s just what Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has done since 1975. Decibels be damned.

Whether or not the suits are in Washington, D.C., or Des Moines, the game remains the same. The Citizens for Community Improvement plays the game for regular citizens. Just ask the Iowa City City Council, which recently approved zoning restrictions on payday lenders that were pushed by the citizens group.

The group’s famous encounter with Mitt Romney at the 2011 Iowa State Fair is perhaps a better example of its means. Poking and prodding at the man of many stances, the organization’s hecklers finally pinned down Romney’s one, undying belief: Corporations are people.

No statement could be further from the coalition’s principles, and no moment could further validate its techniques. The group’s techniques may be annoying at times, but those techniques get the job done.

The group methodically verbalizes the pleas of Iowans in the forms of protests, pickets and anti-pandering. From payday lenders to proposed factory farms, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement finds a way to render those endless loops of sweet nothings mute.

When we 99 percenters aren’t given a seat at the big-boy table, we don’t have to act like big boys. Citizens for Community Improvement deserves praise for consistently making sure the little guy gets her and his word in. No matter how many decibels it takes.

 

Learn more

  • The Des Moines Register just ran a full front and back page profile our work. Read it  here.
  • Iowa CCI has been “Putting People First” for decades. Dive into more of our organizing history here.

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Click LIKE and TWEET to share this nice piece with your friends and family and ask them join and be part of the statewide movement!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18, the Iowa City City Council will vote on the third and final reading of Iowa CCI members proposed ordinance to crack down on predatory payday lending with tough new zoning restrictions.  The Council voted unanimously 7-0 to pass the measure at the 1st and 2nd readings in late August and earlier this month.

Tomorrow will be a day of celebration, when we watch as Iowa City becomes the fifth city in the state of Iowa to crack down on predatory payday lending with a similar zoning ordinance.

This is a big victory for local CCI members that is a year in the making.  Dozens of members just like you have attended planning meetings, met in small groups with city staff, testified at city council meetings, emailed your elected officials, wrote letters to the editor, and more to make this victory possible.  And it will add substantially to a statewide effort, giving us a lot of momentum going into the 2013 state legislative session to push a statewide interest rate cap on payday loans – from 400% to 36%.

Join us tomorrow for our last mobilization on this issue, to demonstrate public support, and to help us celebrate after we win. This is the moment when all your hard work pays off. 

  •  6:45 pm Tuesday – meet outside Iowa City Hall, 410 East Washington Street, downtown Iowa City.
  •  7:45 pm Tuesday – victory celebration at the Mill Restaurant. 

Let us know if you will be there. Please RSVP to david [at] iowacci.org or call the Iowa CCI statewide headquarters at 515.282.0484.

 

Click LIKE and TWEET if this is great news!

Iowa City poised to become fifth city in Iowa to use local zoning powers to restrict predatory payday lending

Members in Iowa City have reason to celebrate. With a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Iowa City Council last night passed the 2nd reading of a zoning ordinance that members proposed to crack down on predatory payday lending inside city limits.

The zoning ordinance would restrict payday lenders to specific commercial zones and require 1,000 ft separation distances between churches, schools, parks, and other payday lenders.

The measure passed the first reading by a unanimous 7-0 vote two weeks ago on August 21.  The third and final reading is scheduled for Tuesday, September 18 at 7pm.

Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, and Ames have all passed similar ordinances at the urging of CCI members in those communities.

Here’s a great op-ed CCI member Misty Rebik that appeared in the local paper just days before the vote.

Council must pass zoning to limit payday lenders

Appeared in the Aug. 30 Iowa City Press Citizen – Read it online here.

The Iowa City Council should stand up for economic justice and neighborhood revitalization and pass a proposed zoning ordinance to crack down on predatory payday lending into law without delay. The proposal would create 1,000-foot separation distances between payday lenders and our churches, parks and schools and restrict their use to specific commercial zones.

Since the 1980s, urban and regional planning theory has striven to become more responsive to the needs and expertise within the community, and a paradigm model within the field has developed that views local governments’ zoning powers as a tool for social justice.

The proposal by local members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was made with that tradition in mind.

Payday loans are not a quality financial product and should not be considered as a stepping stone out of debt. Payday loans actually trap borrowers in a “cycle of debt,” with interest rates as high as 400 percent. Borrowers would be better off missing a payment on their rent or car than being convinced to take a loan that ends up taking an average of 372 days to pay off.

This is how predatory payday loans work. Borrowers obtain a loan — given without any assessment of the borrower’s ability to pay it back — by providing a post-dated check or authorizing the lender to automatically withdraw funds from their account. Then, once the loan is due in full, (only two weeks later) money will be collected.

If the borrower doesn’t have adequate funds, they receive bounced check fees from both their bank and the payday lender. Meanwhile, the lender can repeatedly cash the check and aggressively attempt to collect the debt, which often means threatening borrowers into taking out another loan to cover their past debts.

The argument that Iowa CCI members’ proposed ordinance could restrict competition lacks authenticity and doesn’t make sense. There is no substantial difference in the product offered by the handful of out-of-state corporations that control the market because nearly all payday lenders charge the maximum interest rate allowed by state law (Iowa’s is 358 percent).

Many rely on their so-called competitors to flip loans back and forth to the borrowers they both share in common so they can each get paid back on time. More than $36 million of our community’s hard-earned wealth flees the state of Iowa every year.

Poor people deserve access to good and affordable credit, not a faulty financial product. Although this ordinance may not directly increase alternative loan options, it doesn’t need to to still be good policy.

It will not affect local banks or national branches, only payday lenders regulated as “delayed deposit services” by the state of Iowa. Nor will it adversely affect the payday shops that currently exist in Iowa City because they will be grandfathered in. Unless they have plans to expand, local industry owners have no reason to object to this proposal.

This issue is not just an academic interest for me. Before returning to graduate school, I worked closely with immigrant communities and have known people who have been caught in the cycle of debt. I don’t want to see Ace Cash Express open up on the pedestrian mall and start preying on poor college students.

It is in all of our self-interests to develop land use agreements that allow small, local businesses to flourish. Payday lenders tend to congregate in minority, low to middle income and economically stressed neighborhoods. But their presence can keep other legitimate businesses from wanting to move in next door. It’s one more reason to do the right thing.

The Iowa City Council should pass the CCI members’ proposal into law without delay.

Misty Rebik is a University of Iowa Graduate Student in the College of Urban and Regional Planning and an Iowa CCI member.

 

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Click LIKE and TWEET if you’re glad to see Iowa City take action and you’re ready to see our state legislators to do the same on this issue.

<<—  Iowa City CCI members celebrate last night after the Iowa City Council voted 7-0 to pass the first reading of our proposed ordinance to crack down on predatory payday lending. They’ve been working for several months to move the rule forward. Thanks for working to put people before payday lenders!

Here’s the resulting news story in the local press:

Iowa City looks to limit payday lenders

Greg Hennigan, Cedar Rapids Gazette
http://thegazette.com/2012/08/21/iowa-city-looks-to-limit-payday-lenders/

IOWA CITY – The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of the first consideration of an ordinance restricting so-called payday lenders in Iowa City.

Two more readings are necessary for the ordinance to pass. It would ban the businesses from being within 1,000 feet of daycares, schools, parks and churches. Existing lenders would be grandfathered in.

Payday loans often are sought by people with problems accessing traditional financial institutions, like banks.

Supporters say they serve people who otherwise cannot get loans.

Critics say the loans have high interest rates that trap people in a cycle of borrowing.

Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s director of planning and community development, said the city’s research found payday institutions nationwide are often in low-income areas with crime problems.

Iowa City has five payday loan businesses, all in south and southeast Iowa City.

The 1,000-foot rule is similar to restrictions on adult-themed shops and liquor stores in Iowa City.

Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive and Ames also regulate payday lenders.

The Iowa City Council took up the matter after hearing concerns from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an organization that speaks up on social-justice issues.

 

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