Iowa CCI in the ’80s – Timeline

A detailed overview of our work to “Put People First” in the ’80s:


  • Iowa CCI and National People’s Action (NPA) held a public hearing in Des Moines on skyrocketing utility rates with national officials from the Department of Energy. 700 people attended.
  • Iowa CCI and NPA held a mortgage interest rate hearing in Des Moines attended by 900. Rates were as high as 17-18%. Soon after, as part of NPA negotiating team, CCI member Brenda LaBlanc would help negotiate interest rate issues with Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
  • CCI members in Cedar Rapids organized a campaign in three neighborhoods to prevent speculators from dividing up single family homes, depreciating properties and ruining the neighborhoods.


  • Iowa CCI participates in “Reclaim America”, sponsored by NPA. 4,000 people stand wall-to-wall on Wall Street to call attention to corporate America’s abuses.
  • Organizing by CCI members in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City prevented the closing of three inner city schools.
  • Iowa CCI’s organizing resulted in InterNorth (later known as Enron), Iowa’s main supplier of natural gas at the time, providing $1.5 million in weatherization grants on a matching basis for low-income people in five Iowa communities.


  • CBS newscaster Dan Rathers came to Des Moines to cover a CCI hearing on natural gas rates with Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Oliver Richard III.
  • CCI members in Cedar Rapids win $6.8 million in bond money to rebuild sewers in ten different neighborhoods where homes’ basements often flooded because of inadequate storm and sanitary sewers.
  • CCI members in Des Moines stopped a plan by the Iowa State Fair Board to demolish 100 homes to provide additional parking for the fairgrounds.
  • Iowa CCI’s organizing on excess electric capacity convinced utility companies to discontinue plans to build an unneeded electric generating station in Guthrie County. The savings to consumers was estimated at $1 billion.


  • CCI registered more than 1,200 Iowa voters through our “Vote America Walk”. Members walked 330-miles across Iowa in 17 days. When the State of Iowa tried to bar us from registering voters in job services (later called workforce development) offices, members held their ground. In the end, a federal district court ruled in our favor saying, “democracy and the First Amendment are for all Americans – even those out of work.”
  • CCI hires full-time farm organizer.


  • CCI’s first statewide farm organizing campaign: Members get the Iowa House and Senate to pass a Minimum Price Bill to help family farmers. The bill was vetoed by Governor Branstad.
  • CCI members in Council Bluffs stopped the misappropriation of $400,000 of government funds for construction of a storage building on unstable, swampy land and saw that the funds were used for senior transportation and meal site programs.
  • Between 1985 and 1988, Iowa CCI helped 200 farmers save their farms through lender negotiation meetings that resulted in interest “buy down” loans, debt restructuring agreements, operating loans and subordination agreements.


  • Because of our organizing, the state Farmers Home Administration office reversed their decision to send out “adverse action” letters to 2,200 Iowa farmers. These letters would have started foreclosure proceedings.


  • CCI organized the Coalition for Affordable Budget Energy Legislation (CABEL) which won passage of the Affordable Heating Payment Plan, which allocated $500,000 in heating bill assistance for lower-income Iowans and eventually became a permanent law.
  • Author Studs Terkel came to Des Moines to interview members on farm crisis issues. He featured CCI member Carroll Nearmyer and his family’s struggle to save their farm in his book The Great Divide.
  • CCI members in Dubuque stopped increased bus fares, defeated the proposal to end Saturday bus service, won commitments from the business, educational, medical, and religious communities to encourage ridership among employees and doubled state aid for public transit in Dubuque and statewide.
  • Starting in 1987 and continuing into the early ‘90s, Iowa CCI held over 80 farmer-to-farmer workshops to promote farming profitably with fewer chemicals.
  • CCI members in Des Moines negotiated lending agreements with 10 lending institutions that resulted in over $60 million in mortgage loans in low to moderate income neighborhoods.


  • CCI began organizing to stop drug dealing in Des Moines and Waterloo neighborhoods.
  • Iowa CCI wins first rural reinvestment agreement with a bank and continues holding farm credit meetings across the state.


Back to our “Putting people first for decades” History page.