I took time off of work Tuesday to be down at the Capitol to watch the Governors State of the State address. The Capitol building was packed with hundreds of voters, mostly from the LUV (Let Us Vote) Iowa organization, but there were a few folks there from the OneIowa organization too (they support same-sex marriage). They both wanted to make sure their legislators and Governor knew their thoughts. The LUVIowa group was definitely the largest, and pretty much packed the Capitol building (you could tell because they all wore red). They represented a broad spectrum of people, of all races & ages, who probably, like me, had to take time off work to be there. The OneIowa group wore white shirts with blue dots, and seemed to be mostly twenty-somethings, who probably had to cut a few classes to be there. All were polite, and there was no ruckus, until of course the governor entered, and then chants of “Let us vote! Let us vote” rang throughout the entire Capitol building, until he entered the house chamber to begin his speech.
The public gallery of the House was packed, mostly with LUVIowa folks, but there were 2 large sections of the gallery that were reserved. One was for the Governor’s personal “peanut gallery”, and the other for Iowa high school students. I found it interesting that the Governor felt the need to stack the deck. There were hundreds of people outside that wanted a seat, in the public section, yet they held this personal ”peanut gallery” reserved until they could find enough of the Governor’s people to fill the seats. It took awhile.
After the speech (which irritated me more after I fact checked it later), I decided to find out where those that represent my small town stood on allowing Iowans to vote on a Marriage Amendment. Hopefully they were not intimidated by the sheer numbers of folks that were in the Capitol waiting to speak to them. Our Rep. Jodi Tymeson came out & spoke to me right away. For her, “the issue is about who makes law in Iowa. The elected legislature makes law in Iowa, not the courts, and the people are the only ones that can amend the Constitution”. I also tried to speak to our Senator Appel, patiently waiting for 10 minutes after a page took my note her (you can’t just walk onto the Senate floor while in session), only to find out- after sending another page in there – that she was away from her desk. So, hundreds of voters are outside waiting to speak to you and you pick then for a potty break? Interesting. Since hide & seek is not my forte’, I went back to the House, and requested to see Rep. Kent Sorenson, who will be running against Senator Appel this year. He was readily available, and said this: “I believe that the people are speaking and it is falling on deaf ears. An opportunity to vote on a Marriage Amendment gives the power back to families instead of the government”.
It seams to me that the idea of refusing the people the right to vote is thought only by those who fear its power. Is Senator Appel afraid? I plan to ask her on January 29th when she visits our small town.
LUVIowa also had a rally on the west steps of the Capitol. Kent Sorenson & Jodi Tymeson were there, along with Bob Vander Plaats who was speaking when I arrived. All of them supported the right of Iowans to vote (they wore the LUVIowa pins). I was impressed at the number of people willing to stand outside, in the snow, in support of Iowans right to vote on Marriage. According to one of the police officers there, he thought that there were about 500 attending the rally. There were no counter rallies by OneIowa, other than 3 teenagers with a rainbow flag that positioned themselves prominently behind Vander Plaats while he spoke. They were smiling & laughing, until a line of large, quiet men (a la John Wayne) lined themselves up in front of them, blocking them from view of the cameras. After a bit of heckling from the kids, generally being politely ignored by these men, they sulked away.
Later that night I attended a Website launch party at Graze (really love those Chicken Lips) for former governor Branstad. I mingled a bit, and spoke to his supporters to find out more about him, as I was not living in Iowa at the time he was governor. It was a pretty even mix of people. I also had a chance to ask the former governor about current Governor Culver’s budget idea requiring schools to spend down cash reserves before they can raise property taxes. Former governor Branstad said he thought that was not right and that Culver was “basically rewarding bad behavior and penalizing those schools that did the right thing” by being fiscally responsible with their finances. Folks, our small town school is one of these schools. So, what do you all think about this? Is it fair? What does this teach our children about being responsible with money? Let your thoughts be known to our elected officials. Call, email, write. And most importantly, vote. And find out where each of the candidates stand before you do. Remember, the best ethical oversight committee is an informed electorate.