Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Minutes Oct. 2, 2007

Washington County Democrats met on October 2, 2007, in the Day Lounge of Halcyon House in Washington. About 23 people attended, including candidates and campaign organizers.

The meeting was delayed by a storm with tornado sirens blaring, and we spent the first few minutes in a designated shelter area.

Then Sandra Johnson, chair of the county Democrats, called the meeting to order.

John Greener introduced guests and candidates and presented a calendar of campaign events occurring in the next few days.

First speaker was Valerie Biden Owens, sister of Sen. Joe Biden. She began by saying that, agreeing with her "much, much, much older brother ... the race is about you, your hopes and your aspirations and your future. ..." She said,we would be "electing the leader of the free world ... whose job it is to save the best vestiges of civilization as we know it. ..." She said her brother is a lot like the people he has met in Iowa, who are "the heart of the campaign ... getting up each day and thinking you can make a difference." Sen. Biden "hates bullies [and] the abuse of power ... [and there has been] abuse of power for the last seven years."

Ms. Owens spoke of Sen. Biden's having to cope with tragedy (in the loss of his wife and infant daughter in an auto accident shortly after he was elected to the Senate at age 22) and illness over the years. She said he understands that there is "more that unites us than divides us." He wants to help our veterans. He wants to restore the middle class with education and health care. He offers ideas.

Next speaker was Kiana Scott for Sen. Barack Obama, who will be at the Washington County fairground tomorrow, on his 15th wedding anniversary--after which he will go right back to Chicago. She spoke of his having opposed the Iraq war in the beginning, which took "incredible bravery ... to go public with his opposition to the war at that time." The Obama campaign had raised just over $500,000 in donations since he announced he would run for president. He will speak on Wednesday and will be willing to answer any questions on what is happening on the campaign trail, etc.

John's calendar of upcoming events included the kickoff for Larry Marek's campaign, occurring from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. Mr. Marek is a candidate for the office of State Representative. Governor Chet Culver will be present at at the kickofff, probably around 10 to 10:45 a.m., but people are invited to come for visiting and coffee and refreshments starting at 9:30 a.m.

Larry Marek said he is excited to do this and glad he was asked to do this. He said Kay Ciha is treasurer of this campaign venture, "which is a big commitment." He has served on the Fair Board Association. If elected, he could help the state by:

1. Creating good jobs from opportunities with renewable energy, to make cheaper fuel, etc. Ehtanol is in overproduction right now.

2. Placing a lot of emphasis on education. Teachers need more pay. We need to hold our youngsters in the state (of Iowa).

3. Maintaining our status in agriculture. We are strong in corn and beans. We could see some cattle coming back in. ... "When the cattle [production] left, the young families also were gone." He commented that Iowa is a really good place to raise a family, and livestock producers will be able to do that.

4. Working toward developments in renewable energy products. Lots of federal dollars are being spent on things like this.

5. Protecting our natural resources. Hog farming can be done better for simple economics. He has been involved with NRCS. Funds need to be available to help save the soil.

6. He would like to see taxes in line and in fair proportions, taxes done fairly and in balance. As one example, there could be some changes in capital gains taxes--and it should be easier for an older farmer to sell a farm to a young farmer.

Larry said, "There is some balance that needs to be looked into. ... With my farm experience and your help, I think I can do a good job."

He told about commodities' having been below cost in production. We have seen now that raw commodities have come up.

John's calendar includes the appearance of Governor Bill Richardson at noon Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Washington High School. Campaign organizer Travis Leavitt introuced new staffer, Will, and said, "We keep adding staff and building our base." An article will be appearing next month in The Nation about the Richardson surge.

It was noted that candidates Richardson and Chris Dodd are the only candidates who would commit to having all of our troops out of Iraq by their second term.

John said John Edwards will be at the Washington High School at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. Laura, campaign organizer for Edwards, introduced new worker, Alyssa, and added that this is Alyssa's birthday. They spoke about having members of the Legislature see what it's like to be without health care insurance coverage for at least a few days, if they do not have a universal health plan ready by July. They reminded us that Edwards will accept no money from lobbyists or people in/from Washington, D.C.

Chris Dodd will be at Cafe Dodici in Washington on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 12:45. His campaign worker, Ruth, spoke and said that his campaign is as busy as everyone else's. He took part in a forum in Davenport Sept. 20, and she has the link so that anyone can view that forum. She said that one thing Dodd is committed to doing is providing a secure, dignified retirement for seniors; he has a detailed plan to make seniors's lives more enjoyable and secure. His heart is also with the middle class. She said Mr. Dodd had called Secretary of Treasury Bernanke to discuss issues again facing the middle class, such as subprime lending; soon afterward, the mortgage interest rates went down somewhat.

Ruth pointed out that we will have a unique opportunity to see the candidates and compare and contrast their stance on issues of importance to us. She said that Chris Dodd was the first of the candidates to agree to appear at the Johnson County fairground barbecue event this coming weekend; afterward, all of the other candidates decided to come, too.

Bonnie Bannister spoke for Sen. Hillary Clinton, as the field organizer could not be present this evening.
It is not known at this time when Sen. Clinton will come to Washington. She will be at the Johnson County barbecue event, and Governor Culver will be endorsing her. Sen. Clinton will make an address in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Oct. 7, at a site yet to be announced.

John told of other appearances: Senator Biden and his wife and sons Hunter and Beau will be at the Johnson County fairground. Sen. Biden will be at the Chadwick Library on the Iowa Wesleyan campus in Mt. Pleasant on Friday, Oct. 5.

John recognized Ferd Marie, who has previously organized an October wiener roast, and suggested that it could be done in November this year.

Sandra confirmed that the annual Jefferson Jackson Day dinner would be Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007.

Sandra introduced two women from the 2nd District who had come to visit and to see how other Democratic parties handled things. One of the women had lost her son last January; he could not afford health insurance.

Secretary Louise Frakes could not be present this evening. The minutes for the Sept. meeting will be on the program. Mike moved that the minutes be approved, Dave Smithers seconded, and the motion carried.

Treasurer Kay Ciha gave the financial report covering the time between 9/4/07 to 10/2/07. In September there was a total of $999.99 in the treasury. Participation in a candidates' session at the county fair had netted $6.90. No bills were turned in to be paid. Cash on hand as of October 2 was $1,006.95. These financial statements will be placed on record.


Kay reported that we have 73 households as members. We had 74 last month. Chuck Hotle's death meant that we lost one.

Dave Smithers from the 2nd District said they'd had no meetings as yet but would get going on that.

There had been a 2nd District training session for activists, candidates and caucus organizers. No one present knew the amount of money raised. Some people thought it was overpriced, and only 25 attended it. This was in hopes of having college students caucus in their hometowns--otherwise they may not caucus at all. Fred mentioned that the Republican Party has on its platform the outlawing of students' registering to vote in the college towns where they are located.

Sandra distributed some copies of maps showing the proposed county redistricting, for the purpose of electing five county supervisors, one from each district chosen by the residents of that district. A goal of redistricting had been to try to stay within as many township lines as possible.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. October 10 in the courthouse. At that time questions can be addressed. If anyone has another proposal, the public hearing would be the time to discuss and/or submit it; the proposals must be in writing.

The question arose: If supervisor candidates failed to get a plurality vote, how would the winner be decided? Would it go to county convention?

There was discussion about the redistricting and whether it would impact existing precincts--13 now, soon to be changed to 10--in setting up the cuacuses.

Sandra and Kay will try to get answers. Sandra reminded us that the public hearing would be the venue for airing these questions.

Patty Roe reported on the recent school board election, and said that the returning board member brought a lot of experience. Jeff Dieleman had been elected to fill the seat vacated by Jim Gorham.

Mike commented that Renewable Energy on Parade had been good. This was met with applause and favorable comments.

Everett Burham asked who would decide when the caucuses would be held, and how soon would the decision be made. Sandra said that that state secretary, in conjunction with the governor, would decide.

Everett asked: "And when will the decision be made, and by whom, on who will preside at that caucus? We'd decided on caucus chairs a month ago."

Sandra said we should have that at the next meeting, and, "Our understanding is that Iowa caucus dates cannot be set until we know when New Hampshire will have their caucus night."

We discussed our next meeting time, which would regularly occur on Nov. 6. This is also the day of our all-city referendum vote. Terry moved to hold the meeting at the regulary scheduled time, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. Bob S. seconded, and motion carried, with one abstention.

Pete questioned whether that meeting would be at the required distance of at least 500 feet from the polling site, since 4th Ward polling place is also in Halcyon House. Fred pointed out that this election is non-partisan. Sandra will check with the county auditor for clear instructions so that we will do the right thing.

The meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted by Nan Stark, secretary pro tem