Democrats of Pocahontas County, Iowa
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    Pocahontas 4/9/2011

    Senator Kibbie told a town forum in Pocahontas that he will not run for re-election in 2012. Kibbie is President of the Iowa Senate. He has represented Pocahontas County since the redistricting that followed the 2000 census.

    Other topics were also addressed by the Senator at the April 9 meeting:

    On reviewing the entire Code of Iowa to look for government duplication: “I'm sure there is a lot of duplication, but to do that in a hundred day session when everybody wants a short session and get the hell out of town . . . We've been trying to review all tax credits. We've got $500 million of tax credits, primarily for business. We passed a statute now that we are going to look at them every five years to see if we are getting our money's worth out of them. That's what needs to be done on a lot of legislation as well. We add another code book about every three years.”

    On abortion: “We got a nine page bill from the House that sets up another chapter in the Code. We already got a chapter on abortion in the Code. Late term abortions are against the law in Iowa.”

    On keeping a state employment office in each county: “Thirty-nine offices [including Pocahontas] are scheduled to be closed unless we find the money to keep them open. . . We think they are important.”

    On property taxes: “The Democrats propose a $75,000 commercial property tax exemption whether you are Monsanto or the barber shop on Main Street.”

    On moving water quality programs from DNR to Agriculture Dept: “ . . . the monitoring is not going to be turned over [to Agriculture], I don't believe.”

    On secret videos of farms: “We are working with the county attorneys . . . to make the bill constitutional. The bill that passed the [Republican] House would not pass muster and county attorneys would probably not take any action. We are working on the trespassing part of it, on the whistle blower protection part of it. We [Senate Democrats] hope to have an amendment for that bill early next week.”


     Pocahontas 3/12/2011
    Senator Kibbie at Pocahontas Pizza Ranch forum, March 12, 2011:
    On community colleges:  "We have  9000 more students in one year and a 40% increase in the last five years. Republicans want to cut community college funding by 9.5% ($15 million).   Students pick up 49% of the cost of operating the colleges through tuition and fees.  We're the highest in the nation in that regard."
    On commercial property taxes:  "Both parties agree on doing something.  The Governor's recommendation is to cut taxes from 100% (of valuation) to 60%.  . . .That's a big hit to the cities.  It's going to cause residential taxes to go up.  Democrats propose to roll back $75,000 for every commercial property tax owner.  That's going to cost (the state) about $50 million bucks (to replenish the local coffers).
    On local state employment office closings: merging them with libraries "has been asked of library administrators and they say they don't have the staff to do that."
    On redrawing legislative districts:  "The last week in March we will get a new map of all the districts.  That's the most quieting thing that I've ever seen hit the Iowa legislature.  You talk about term limits .  . .reapportionment every ten years has the result of a 60% change in the legislature."
    On new nuclear power plants in Iowa:  "There is more support for nuclear than there used to be.  There are some people in the legislature that are very opposed to nuclear, but there are probably the votes to pass it if there's some protection for the ratepayers."
    Pocahontas,  2/12/2011
    During a  public forum at the Pocahontas Pizza Ranch, hosted by the local Farm Bureau on Saturday Februrary 12, 2011, Senator Kibbie made these comments:

    On the state budget: “We have to decide allowable growth (for public school budgets) within 30 days. . . .Allowable growth is the money that really operates the schools, pays the salaries, the heat and  lights. The Governor proposed 0%. The Senate is at 2% and I think we have the votes.  Each percent is  over $30 million.  There will probably be a property tax increase in most districts, whether [we vote for] 2% or 0%. That’s because of declining enrollment."

    "We (Senate Democrats) hope to continue the preschool program as it is.”

    On health care: “Fifty-two percent of the nursing home beds in this state are Medicaid beds. . .Iowa has allowed Medicaid to pay for dentists, optometrists, physician assistants.  Other states have [not allowed that] to reduce the cost of Medicaid, but rural health care is basically provided by these types of health care. . . .Hopefully [the new federal health care law] will get more competition in the health care arena in Iowa.  Wellmark has got 70% in this state. A monopoly in any business is not good.”

    On taxes: “Corporations only pay tax on what they sell within the state of Iowa. . . .Iowa is as generous on research tax credits as any state in the nation  We could probably whittle a little of that off.  Forty-eight million, that’s hell of a lot of money. [It mainly affects Pioneer, Monsanto, Rockwell-Collins, John Deere].We need to look at other tax credits [such as] the ethanol tax credit for these stations.  If they sell over 60% (of their fuel as ethanol), they get 2.5 cents a gallon from the state. That was to move ethanol forward.  It hasn't moved it forward.  We use less ethanol on our roads now than we did five years ago. "

    "There’s a host of things.  We don’t have to back up on education (for lack of tax revenue)."
    On regulations for electricians, etc.: “There’s two other players in this electrical stuff---your insurance company, and your utility provider.”
    On Planned Parenthood:  "I have three daughters who are social workers in this state. We have the highest number of two income households of any state in the nation.  And we have a lot of family problems out there. . . .families that don't know how to parent.  I don't know if you can leave all that up to the non-profits and churches.  A lot of [those family problems] fall on county costs, whether it's in the mental health system, the prison system.  I think we all gotta work together on this.
    On school funding formula: “There have been studies four or five times on changing the formula, but it never gets consensus on how to do it. . .Iowa has never been in court over their funding formula. Many states have [been in court].  The number of students is the big factor [in the formula]. . . .I don’t know an answer to that school formula thing.  It’s been in existence since 1973. . . .Northern Iowa districts are considered rich school districts down in the legislature because of the farmland and windmills.  If I had an answer to this, I’d have a better job than the one I’ve got.

    On school districts: “We all gotta pay attention to what’s going on in our local districts.. . .The Pocahontas vote on re-organization is the highest positive vote that I ever heard of!  There’s going to be more.  I’d say we’ll have probably 20 fewer school districts a year from now.
    October 2010
    Tom Shaw's $90,000 Mud Campaign Against Susan Bangert
    Tom Shaw,  a Laurens policeman, is expecting to benefit from nearly $90,000 in negative TV commercials being run by his new friends in the Republican Party. Shaw himself has not raised nearly enough money to pay for the campaign.  The ads appear on Des Moines channels and are seen throughout central Iowa.  But they say nothing about Shaw.
    Instead the time is used to attack Susan for various government policies, even though she has never been in office.  The ads refer to details of federal medical program changes in an attempt to scare voters that their benefits are being threatened.   Earlier in the fall Shaw used printed material to criticize Susan for votes in the state legislature.  Both practices are deceptive by nature.
    All of this is SO IRONIC.   Shaw's campaign has largely rested on his opposition to I-Jobs on the grounds that it has indebted Iowa voters.  But by riding this expensive attack campaign Shaw has put himself in debt to some unknown forces in the Republican Party who have come to his aid.
    Furthermore, it is ironic that Shaw began this race as an independent, saying the Republican Party was too liberal for its own good.  He later signed on as the Republican candidate and defeated Steve Richards to win the party primary in June.  Now he is not only in debt-- his debt is owed to the party he once scorned.
    Finally is the matter of integrity, a word that is printed in large type in some of Shaw's advertising in the hometown newspaper.  It is not exhibited by a candidate who prefers to throw mud from Des Moines TV stations at an Algona educator who has run a positive race.  On her entire effort Susan Bangert has spent only one-sixth what Shaw has burned on TV attack ads alone.  
    Mason City,3/24/2010
    Lois Jirgens has been elected to the thirty member state committee of the Iowa Democratic Party, representing the Fourth District.  The very existence of the Pocahontas County Democrats is testimony to the organizing skills of Lois Jirgens.  We aren't the only group in the area that benefits from her leadership.  Congratulations, Lois.


    Crisis Center at County Convention
    Pocahontas, 3/14/10
    A Fort Dodge domestic abuse shelter told Pocahontas Democrats Saturday that it faces a deficit of $150,000 in the budget year beginning July 1.  Beth Stuhr, a counselor at D/SAOC serving Pocahontas and seven other counties, specifically noted a $25,000 drop in support from the Webster county supervisors.  Governor Culver's 10% cut in state spending and a loss of some federal grants explain the rest of the deficit, Stuhr said.
    The crisis center touches the lives of thousands of people annually, mainly through public programs in schools.  They also help victims by providing advice, material support, and even a safe family shelter in Fort Dodge.  There is no limit on how long a victim can stay in the shelter, Stuhr said, noting some have stayed for several months, while others depart after only one night.
    Abuse victims can get help through a crisis line, help with establishing a new place of residence, and help in court appearances.  Counseling help is provided in Pocahontas at the Lutheran Church.  
    Pocahontas attorney Don Beneke called the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center a "critical service."  County Supervisor Paul Beneke described their work as "excellent," and said his church has put the center in its church budget.    
    Joelson to Politicians: Leave Schools Alone
    Pocahontas, IA, 1/23/10
    Laurens-Marathon school superintendent Iner Joelson recently asked Pocahontas County Democrats to send a message to Des Moines . “Leave the kids out of politics. Quit making [schools] the target,” he said near the close of his comments about school budgets and state aid. “Stop pushing things down our throats to fix us. We're not going to jump on a different bandwagon every year.”

    Joelson's comment came in reaction to the federal initiative called “Race to the Top” which had just passed the state legislature despite a lack of support from Iowa school districts. He said that this new school reform idea had caused a previous idea to “blow up” after years of steady progress but before it could be implemented.

    Joelson and county engineer Jack Moellering were guest speakers before the Democratic Party voters on January 23 at the county courthouse during their 2010 precinct caucuses.

    Superintendent Joelson said the L-M district has a budget of $3.5 million. The school board has just built the district's cash reserve to nearly ten percent of the budget from only $50,000 in 2007. He said twenty percent of budget would be a healthy reserve level. The school board had been on the verge of cutting property taxes for next year, Joelson said.

    Then came the various cuts in state aid and the requirement that all districts must spend down their cash reserve. The upcoming budget is uncertain now, according to Joelson, who noted that salary negotiations with teachers are about to begin. “We'd like to do right by our teachers,” he said, but he expected to offer only a salary freeze. He said five teachers have signed up for early retirement offers in which the district picks up some of their health insurance costs after they retire.

    Speaking about Pocahontas County roads, engineer Moellering compared the rise in the cost of living to changes in the gasoline tax. He said road construction costs have risen even faster than the consumer price index, but the gas tax has not kept pace with either one. Pocahontas County has two hundred bridges and a thousand miles of road to maintain. Moellering observed that the dust rising from gravel roads is “the road blowing away,” and warned that it's very expensive in the long run if maintenance is reduced in the short run. We need to replace four bridges every year, he said, because their life span is fifty years. He said only one bridge was replaced last year. The county road budget is about $4 million/year.

    Following the speakers Democrats selected their precinct committee members and delegates to the Democratic Party county convention in March.