Unfortunately, not everyone who ran got a position-- which just stinks! But we are so happy to introduce the Northern Iowa Democrats' new executive leadership team, and we're confidant they'll build an even stronger core membership as the Northern Iowa Democrats stay involved in local politics and prepare for the 2014 elections. 

The new President of the Nothern Iowa Democrats is sophomore Michael Kelly!

Michael, who was Director of Outreach this year and an active member of the group the year before. Michael Kelly has experience with several progressive groups besides the Northern Iowa Democrats and he has taken on more leadership roles around campus (he's an NISG senator-elect!). He has a great attitude and a great beard. Congratulations, Michael Kelly!

The new Vice President of the Northern Iowa Democrats is freshman Jesse Bankston!

Jesse has been an asset to the Northern Iowa Democrats' success this year; he has attended nearly every event and meeting of the Northern Iowa Democrats and he has regularly volunteered time and energy into the group's efforts, like by representing UNI students at the capital and handing out literature to some pretty lethargic college kids in terrible weather -- more than once! Jesse's dedication to the Northern Iowa Democrats has not gone unnoticed, and we're excited to see all he brings to the exec team. Congratulations, Jesse! 

The new Director of Outreach of the Northern Iowa Democrats is freshman Katie Evans!

Katie Evans has been active pretty much every where on campus, so she was a perfect candidate for the position of Director of Outreach. There have been more than a few times where we has been able to utilize her connections to other groups. Despite how many organizations Katie is involved in, she has always been one of the group's most active and driven members. Congratulations, Katie!

The new Director of Public Relations of the Northern Iowa Democrats is sophomore Aaron Friel!

Aaron Friel is good with computers and social media, which is essential for the position of public relations. He has plenty of experience to take on the reigns from me, someone who usually remembers to put up facebook events Saturday at 4am. The Northern Iowa Democrats need a serious internet makeover in their transitional period, and I think Aaron Friel will be just the officer to do it. Congratulations, Friel! 

The new Secretary/Treasurer of the Northern Iowa Democrats is junior (??) Andrew Kunkle!

Andrew is a transfer student who has been with the NI Democrats since early last semester. He worked very hard on the last election and has gone out of his comfort zone numerous times for the group. Andrew is super smart and thinks before he speaks, which is a rare and valuable skill when in a position of leadership. We're certain Andrew will have a lot to offer the group. Congratulations, Andrew!

Thank you everyone for your interest, and please keep up with the new executive team to see all of the great things they do. The NI Democrats will be taking a week or two to help the new executive team transition, and then the current executive team will say good-bye. We'll get to that another time; I have no tissues nearby.


...and if it gets that far, the Iowa Senate as a whole.

I am writing you today out of grave concern towards the nomination of Mr. Robert Cramer to the Iowa Board of Regents. We saw what Mr. Cramer's organization (The Family Leader) was capable of first hand here in Cedar Falls by covering the antics of another candidate from this organization, Mr. Matt Reisetter. We objected to Mr. Reisetter's policies because they were anti-science, anti-intellectual, and above all ran contrary to the values of public education. We reject Mr. Cramer for the same reasons. 

We here at UNI have become increasingly concerned with the Board of Regents and have even written a few posts about these concerns. Unfortunately the governor has given us a nominee which concerns us even more. While I was listening to Chief Justice Cady give an impassioned speech about the need for judicial impartiality in a UNI auditorium, Mr. Cramer was praising the politicization of the judiciary. While we were working hard at UNI to create a new LGBT center where our peers could feel safe, Mr. Cramer was railing against them as immoral and undeserving of our respect. While we were tirelessly seeking academic freedom and plurality of expression, Mr. Cramer was busy attempting to ban such literary classics as "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. 

The truth of the matter is that the students of the University of Northern Iowa have already rejected Mr. Cramer and his organization; we did so back in November (and quite overwhelmingly I might add). We do not wish to see him as a member of the board and find his views on society and education to be appallingly out of touch with both students and faculty alike. We strongly recommend that you reject his confirmation and send a message that our public institutions are too important to be entrusted to an ideologue. 


Keenan Crow and the Northern Iowa Democrats

The Iowa Board of Regents have been in no short supply of controversy lately. Ever since the closing of Price Laboratory School last year, many members of the Cedar Valley have become fixated on the Regents and their decision to fast track the closing of the lab (despite President Allen’s expressed wishes not to do so).

But the controversy hasn’t stopped there unfortunately. Say what you will of the price lab closures, the unfair funding of UNI, and even the complacency in the decision to ax several academic programs; the bottom line is that even state wide the Regents have a real obstacle to overcome – they have completely lost the public trust.

Though trust began to slowly disintegrate with the above-mentioned incidents, it didn’t catch my attention personally until around July of last year. There was an article released at that point which placed blame for several human rights violations in the hands of Regent Bruce Rastetter. Rastetter denied involvement, but that was of little consolation to the Tanzanian refugees whom Bruce’s business “AgriSol” had relocated (along with help from the Tanzanian government). Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has since filed a formal ethics complaint against Rastetter.

Then came the ISU lobbyist incident. Last fall, the Board of Regents hired Rastetter’s personal lobbyist and PR agent for the university lobbying position at ISU. The problem is that they did not post the opening, conduct a proper search, or follow the diversity guidelines in doing so.

More recently, there was a dust up at ISU involving retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. ISU had plans for a Public Policy Institute with which the retiring senator would leave his papers. The problem is that the institute’s advisory board voted to recommend that Harkin not do so in deference to concerns about academic freedom. The BOR had once again intervened where it did not belong and instituted a ban on agricultural research. The overall impact: one of our institutions does now not have the papers of its name sake. We have only the Regents to thank.

Finally, there was this e-mail sent to University of Iowa President Sally Mason on January 30th which was just revealed today. In this correspondence Regent Rastetter, a financial beneficiary of ethanol products, suggests that he be allowed to “educate” a professor whose research is critical of the methods of ethanol production. While Rastetter has defended his actions, saying that "Sharing information is bad? Give me a break," what we know about his actions are that the interfere with academic freedom at the highest levels. Knowing that Regents have oversight on employment, academics could easily be intimidated into altering their research to conform more with the Board.

All these actions separately are completely unacceptable in a university setting and, when taken together, are even more disturbing. We here at the Northern Iowa Democrats support efforts to reform the power of the Regents, both hard and soft in nature. Our very own Jeff Danielson is introducing one of these reforms.   This bill would, among other things, bar the Regents from advocating for political issues subject to legislative debate, prevent board members from having financial relationships with employees of institutions they oversee, and prevent lobbyists who worked for a Regent or Regent’s business from performing lobbying duties for institutions overseen by the BOR. It would also go further in addressing accountability by forcing the board to hold forums in multiple geographic areas and have time set aside for public comment. We believe that these are great reforms and, while no complete solution, they go a long way in beginning to restore public trust in or BOR.

The bill will be considered tomorrow morning at 8:30am in a state senate sub-committee (and, if public, will be viewable here). Please, contact your state senators and tell them you support this measure. We can’t begin to fix higher education in Iowa if those at the top cannot be trusted.  

-Keenan Crow

It is often a goal of universities and similar institutions to make sure that their students are well informed and civically active. This not only benefits the students but the community and university as a whole. Being politically engaged creates a sense of involvement, and makes students feel like they have a stake in their community. This often leads to further engagement, volunteering, and an overall higher quality of life for both them and everyone surrounding them. 

Further, it only makes sense that we would want students to vote where they live. Some of us (myself included) live in Cedar Falls full time and have no other home. Even those who stay with their parents over summer still spend 9 months out of the year here. We spend our money here, we pay taxes here, and we go to school here. If we don’t vote here, who will defend UNI at the statehouse? No one will. This is exactly what the Republicans are counting on, and why they were so upset when our university tipped the scales in favor of Democratic candidates. 


We have been sending around the above graphic (which first appeared in this Nothern Iowan article) for weeks now...in posters, social media, emails...you name it. The simple truth is that Republicans have repeatedly voted to defund UNI in various ways. This is why we here at Northern Iowa Democrats made a serious effort to get students to vote at their on-campus addresses. Quite frankly, we are tired of being ignored in Des Moines. Record early voting and solid student turnout means the Republicans will have to second guess this strategy, and that our allies Jeff Danielson and Bob Kressig will be further empowered at the capitol. 

Which is why, in some ways, it makes sense that Black Hawk County Republican chair Mac McDonald had a meltdown over students voting. We would like to address his complaints one by one to remind him that this is not an appropriate response to record levels of young voter turnout. 

First, let’s tackle his main assertion: "The UNI students are making decisions for the people who have to live here for four years, and some of them will be gone in months." We don’t disagree with this sentiment. Some of us will be leaving soon, no question about it. What we do disagree with is the implication of the statement: that because they will be gone soon they shouldn’t vote. The thing Mr. McDonald fails to understand is that old students will be replaced with a steady stream of new ones, often with similar political sentiments, who will also want UNI to be well funded from our state government. Further, by this logic, why isn’t this a requirement for everyone? Shouldn’t those in their 60’s who are going to move in a month not get to vote as well? Where should they vote? Should there be a requirement that if you vote you must live in the location you voted until the people that you elected come up for re-election? When this happens, where should you vote for the new election? The fact of the matter is that this kind of system opens up a giant can of legal worms and there are no good answers. That is why the system is set up as it is to allow people to vote wherever it is that they call home. 

Second, McDonald states that students voting on Election Day,  "...created such a bottleneck -- we had voters that couldn't wait and turned around and left.” Further, he questions, “Why are we allowing people to register the same day they vote. These students could have registered at least six different times before now. They could have voted six times before now." Once again, wait times are not disputed. I was at ward 2 precinct 2 for a good chunk of the night and this definitely occurred. Lines were up to 2 hours long to cast a ballot. Our problem comes with the assertion that it was students’ fault. We had record amounts of early voters here on campus. Literally thousands of students took either this opportunity or opted for a mail-in ballot, leading to a major stress relief on Election Day. If the county auditor cannot put a system in place that allows a minority of student voters to vote with the rest of the community on Election Day then the problem lies with Mr. Veeder and his system, not with the students. Further, everyone else in Cedar Falls had the opportunity to vote early or mail in their ballot as well. Why is Mr. McDonald not chastising older voters for failing to plan ahead?  At the precinct I attended there were much higher numbers of older voters changing their registrations than younger ones. The blame here has clearly been misplaced. 

Finally, this article was posted on the Black Hawk County Republicans facebook page. On this page, Mr. McDonald stated that “They need to vote absentee in there home town where there parents can live with there children's choices.” Mr. McDonald, we resent this assertion. We are adults (and members of this community) fully capable of making our own political decisions. Infantilizing students does nothing to further your cause, it just comes across as demeaning and disrespectful. If your candidates had attended student forums, gotten to know us, and treated us as competent adults...maybe you would've had better numbers. 

The simple fact is that students changed the elections in favor of the Democrats, and because of this Mac McDonald and the Black Hawk County Republicans don’t want students to vote here anymore. Had it gone the other way I’m sure they would be full of praise. That said, their current stance is an abhorrent slap in the face of student involvement. We highly encourage Mr. McDonald to apologize and reverse his anti-student rhetoric. If you want to win students next time, perhaps it would be better to change your political positions to something more supportive of our university rather than chastising us for wanting to be involved in our community. 

-Keenan Crow

*Note, this is the fourth piece of a series*

In every interview I’ve ever seen (for instance this one, this one, or this one), Matt Reisetter has a job. He is the owner of a company called SDG Solutions. The problem is that there is absolutely no information on this company. We don’t even know what SDG stands for let alone who it serves or what it does. Students have reached out to Reisetter asking for clarification of this on several occasions, but he has declined to comment. Additionally, searches made on the Iowa Secretary of State directory (where Iowa businesses are required to register) have turned up nothing. So his current employment is kind of a black hole.

His previous employment is well known, however. From 2006-2011 Reisetter was the director of development at extreme right organization THE FAMiLY LEADER. During his employment he successfully ousted 3 Iowa Supreme Court judges and politicized the judicial system for the first time in Iowa’s history. He gave presentations to college students on how being gay is like smoking and pedophilia. He also ran seminars on marriage which denied their services to homosexuals...on the tax payers’ tab. Worse, some of the money that THE FAMiLY LEADER received for the Marriage Matters program may have paid for his salary while he was running for Iowa House in 2006 and continued whilst assisting the Huckabee campaign in 2008. The details of this are contained in an article by Andy Kopsa found here with an accompanying report by the ACLU.

Reisetter is continuing in his support for THE FAMILY LEADER, but he is much quieter now-- probably because he is aware that this organization is not very popular, and in order to gain legislative influence he must appeal to the moderates. But make no mistake, legislative influence is exactly what this group is looking for. Checking their website for the Church Ambassador program reveals that for the low price of $1000 a year you can have “Direct representation of your Christian values at the Iowa Statehouse”. Not only are they peddling a direct way for specific religious beliefs to influence government policy, they are getting rich doing so. Even former Iowa Speaker of the House Christopher Rants (R) recognized this fact in his editorial opposing their Supreme Court removal efforts saying, “While there are bullies out to score political points attacking [the justices], and make money doing so, the courts are there to protect us from such bullies.”

And the head of all these bullies is Matt Reisetter’s mentor and former employer Bob Vander Plaats. For those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with Vander Plaats, here is a great introductory video:

As you can see from the final clip, Vander Plaats’ strategy is to galvanize all those who believe what he believes and use them to suppress others. This is not someone who has any room for discussion amongst constituents, but rather an ideologue convinced he is right and intent on imposing his beliefs on everyone else. While we can hope that Matt will not be the same once in office, this is unlikely. You can only see smoke so many times before you recognize that there is probably a fire. The fact that he has dismissed his work at the Iowa Family Policy Center as irrelevant to policy is troubling. That he accused students of using scare tactics for insinuating that his work did matter....even more so. 

Matt, if you actually win tomorrow you are going to have to answer some tough questions from students. You might as well start now. For the last time we ask: Will the real Matt Reisetter please stand up? We need to know who you are before tomorrow night. We deserve as much. 

With the election only four days away, attacks ads and direct mailers have been heating up-- some of them in the ‘pants on fire’ sort of way. You may have heard Jim Kenyon in one of these ads accuse Bob Kressig of spending THOUSANDS of dollars on HEATED SIDEWALKS. What?! Heated sidewalks?!

It sounds ludicrous because
it is. Again, please read this article. It is from a liberal bias BUT it has a lot of evidence to go along with it.

Jim Kenyon has once again shown that he has nothing to use against Bob Kressig. Thus, he is resorting to lying and manipulation of his own party’s actions.

Here’s what it comes down to: Iowa has a record surplus that’s growing. Some of that money is in reserves, which means we can’t spend it except for an emergency, but even given that reserve we have money. Let me quote the first line of that article: “Iowa’s state government has never been in a stronger financial position.”

That’s awesome! Unfortunately, Republicans running for public positions against incumbents (Lyn Tackett, Jim Kenyon, Matt Reisetter) have been running on the idea that our senators have spent incredulous amounts of money on incredulous things-- like heated sidewalks. But keep in mind, there are no tax-payer heated sidewalks and there are no plans to install heated sidewalks. The Republicans running are hoping you wont do your research.

If you don’t have time to read the Bleeding Heartland piece on this, here’s what happened in a nutshell:

  • Geothermal heating systems was considered for use on the main street of West Union which was part of a GREEN STREETS PROJECT, because it was new technology and they thought it would help eliminate some of the snow plowing that had to be done.
  • It was found that geothermal heating systems were not cost effective, so West Union’s city council removed it from the Green Streets Project
  • When the 2010 legislature debated the appropriations bill covering the Iowa Department of Economic Development, House Republicans put forth an amendment that included geothermal heating systems.
  • This was pointless because geothermal heating systems were no longer part of the project.
  • There was a vote, the bill was defeated on a party lines.
  • House Republicans translated this into Democrats supporting “heated sidewalks”.
  • Meaning that House Republicans either weren’t aware geothermal heating systems were no longer part of the Green Streets project, or they were intentionally using the irrelevant amendment as a tool to use against Democrats.
As the Bleeding Heartland states, “Top Iowa House Republican Paulsen chided Democrats at the end of this year's session, saying, ‘This body even took the time to debate and spend money on heated sidewalks.’ But no money was ever spent on heated sidewalks, and if not for the Republicans' irrelevant amendment, the House wouldn't have used time to debate the issue.”

In the end, I just wanted to write about this to remind voters as they are heading to the polls:
What can Jim Kenyon do for voters that Bob Kressig hasn’t already done? So far, he has agreed with Kressig regularly at public forums and then lied about Kressig’s positions in direct mailers. Keep that in mind when you go to vote.

-Mandy Paris

For Part I in the series, click here

For Part II in the series, click here

The upcoming week is the Northern Iowa Democrats’ “Women’s Week” which is somewhat of a misnomer. The fact is that even though we are talking about so called “women’s issues” these are issues that affect everyone. Things like birth control, domestic abuse, and equal pay for equal work touch everyone in a society and therefore it is up to us as responsible citizens to be aware and concerned about the outcome of these important policies. Therefore I encourage all of you to attend and learn about these often underrepresented issues. 

With this understanding comes a need to inform oneself about how local candidates stand on said issues. This brings us to the next chapter in our ongoing series “Will The Real Matt Reisetter Please Stand Up...for women?” Let’s begin by checking out a Senate Majority Fund (SMF) ad on Matt Reisetter:

The ad rightfully calls Matt out for his appalling stances on everything from birth control to divorce. Matt, however, sent his wife on the attack with another ad calling the SMF one false.

This ad, however, ignores all the evidence presented in the first one. Never once does Jen Reisetter dispute the claim that Matt would make it more difficult for victims of domestic violence to get a divorce (published in a DesMoines Register article entitled “Vander Plaats kicks off his 99-county tour” on January 13th, 2011). She does not dispute that he would be against abortion even in the case of rape and incest...a stance recently made infamous by Indiana candidate Richard Murdock and Missouri candidate Todd Akin. In fact, THE FAMiLY LEADER pledge which proposed such a stance also included language that stated “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President," implying that children born into slavery were better off then than modern African American children being raised today in single parent households.

So what about the claim that Matt Reisetter wants to get rid of birth control? Jen seems to be pretty adamant here that he does not, but his public statements say otherwise. Take a look at this video that we created:

Or if that was too dry for you, let Jon Stewart explain why Personhood is a terrible idea:

It cannot be any more clear that Mr. Reisetter supports a Personhood Amendment which would outlaw all forms of hormonal birth control including the Nuva ring, the Depo shot, and even “the pill”. Further, it would outlaw in-vitro fertilization and any similar procedure. So much for the SMF ad being misleading. Everything was clearly cited and confirmed. If anything it could be said that Jen Reisetter’s ad was incredibly misleading. Nowhere does she cite any source. The only thing she gives us is her own experience that Matt is such a nice guy. Well, he is a nice guy. I don’t disagree. He is incredibly polite and well spoken. That said, he is a horrible advocate for women’s rights . Even worse, he is trying very hard to hide it. 

-Keenan Crow

For Part IV in the series, click here