WBEZ | iowa http://www.wbez.org/tags/iowa Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Iowa Republican tries to kick Latinos off voter rolls http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/iowa-republican-tries-kick-latinos-voter-rolls-102539 <p><p>Thirty-one U.S. states currently have laws in place that <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx">require voters to show some sort of ID</a>&nbsp;at the polls &mdash; almost all passed in the last three years by GOP state legislatures and enforced by Republican secretaries of state.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP301477436988.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz explains his theory of illegal registrants on the state voter rolls. (AP)" />Almost to a fault, the laws are designed to disenfranchise African-American voters (I know, I know, everybody says &ldquo;minority&rdquo; but what they mean is black urban voters of all ages).<br /><br />Iowa appeared to top the list in recent months as the 32nd state with new and restrictive voting laws, but with a twist: With more than <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/19000.html">93 percent of the state population reported as white</a> and blacks registering only 3 percent, GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz aimed his directive at Iowa&#39;s Latinos.<br /><br />Hispanics are only five percent of the population in Iowa but they&rsquo;re suddenly crucial. Since the 2008 elections, in which they overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama, Latino <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/growing-latino-population-could-affect-presidential-election-in-unlikely-states-like-iowa/2012/09/12/3cb7dafa-fd05-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html">voter rolls have increased</a> from 30,000 to more than 50,000 in the state.</p><p>And with Obama and Mitt Romney in a <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/">dead heat in Iowa</a>, those votes can&#39;t be ignored.<br /><br />So what did Schultz do? Well, first he decided he had an emergency on his hands&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>a real, honest to God emergency</em>. Then he compared names on voter rolls to a state transportation database and determined he had 3,582 illegal registrants. How this comparison revealed that is, so far, Schultz&#39;s secret.<br /><br />He said he feared those <a href="http://kmaland.com/09491_Voter_cross-check_fight_continues_063454.asp">3,582 non-citizens</a> would try to vote in November&#39;s election. (And in Iowa that actually means September 27, when both in-person and mail-in voting begins.)<br /><br />Then Schultz created two new voting rules using an emergency administrative process which <a href="http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/iowa-secretary-of-state-s-voter-rules-struck-down/article_6c5ec62e-feea-11e1-b8e8-001a4bcf887a.html">allowed the exclusion of public hearings</a> or community input of any kind.<br /><br />One of the rules would have challenged the voting rights of persons who appear on government databases as non-citizens. The second rule would have supposedly made it easier to report alleged voter fraud.<br /><br />Schultz armed himself with two letters to send to these individuals in order to get them to prove their citizenship. They can be found at the bottom of <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120916/NEWS09/309160060/-1/LIFE04/Schultz-blames-feds-delay-removal-ineligible-voters">this link</a> to a story in the <em>Des Moines Register</em>, and they&rsquo;re pretty special.<br /><br />The <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/433280-1st_potential_ineligibility_letter.html">first letter</a> Schultz planned to send to those 3,582 suspected non-citizens lists four types of IDs to prove citizenship, none of which are a voter ID card, a social security card, or a state ID.<br /><br />The <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/433281-2nd_potential_ineligibility_letter.html">second letter </a>is a reminder that just happens to include this sentence: <em>Please note that voter registration fraud is a Class &quot;D&quot; felony in the state of Iowa.</em> Because that&rsquo;s not <em>too</em> intimidating.<br /><br />Last Friday, District Court Judge Mary Pat Gunderson&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;a <em>Republican</em> judge with a long history in Iowa GOP circles&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;responded to a suit against Schultz filed by the Iowa&#39;s ACLU and the state&rsquo;s League of United Latin American Citizens by issuing <a href="http://secretary-of-state-s-voter-rules-struck-down/article_6c5ec62e-feea-11e1-b8e8-001a4bcf887a.html">an injunction that prohibits Schultz</a> from enforcing his rules.<br /><br />Gunderson said Schultz had plenty of time to follow procedure for community input and that the emergency procedures hadn&#39;t been necessary. She didn&#39;t throw the rules out per se, but she set them aside until after the election.<br /><br />Schultz, who <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Schultz">won his post in a squeaker</a> just one year ago, is now threatening to sue to get access to a federal data base to <a href="http://kmaland.com/09491_Voter_cross-check_fight_continues_063454.asp">crosscheck</a> those 3,582 votes anyway.</p><p>With the presidential race so close, those votes could really make the difference.<br /><br /><em>This is the second in an occasional series. In the next few weeks, I&#39;ll be looking at how Latinos</em>&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>the so-called swing vote in this year&#39;s presidential election</em>&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>play in each of the states where the race is within a few percentage points. Read part one in the series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/latinos-north-carolina-are-vital-obama-and-democratic-party-102153">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/iowa-republican-tries-kick-latinos-voter-rolls-102539 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Santorum's bad day http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-01-20/santorums-bad-day-95690 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-20/AP120119052013.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Yesterday should have been Rick Santorum’s day.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Iowa Republican Party, though desperate to make his rival, Mitt Romney, the official certified winner of its caucuses had to cough up that, in fact, it looked like Santorum had won.</span></p><p class="p1"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-20/AP120119052013.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 391px;" title="Santorum during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C. (AP/David Goldman)"></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">“One thing that is irrefutable is that is that in these 1,776 certified precincts, the Republican party was able to certify and report <a href="http://caucuses.desmoinesregister.com/2012/01/19/iowa-gop-chairman-santorum-won-certified-vote-but-problem-lies-with-missing-precincts/%20">Rick Santorum was the winner </a>of the certified precinct vote total by 34 votes,” Matt Strawn, the state GOP chair, told the <em>Des Moines Register</em>.&nbsp;There are eight precincts outstanding with missing paperwork.</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">In his talks, Strawn always makes it seem as if the eight outstanding and uncertifiable precincts could have tipped it back to Romney, but in fact, <a href="http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/santorum-didnt-win-iowa-by-34-votes-he-won-by-69.php%20%20">if those votes were counted</a>, Santorum would have led by 69 votes.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="p1">Really, <em>huge</em> news for Santorum.</p><p class="p4"><span class="s3">But what happened? Rick Perry,&nbsp;who should have listened to his gut out of Iowa, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/the-only-culprit-in-rick-perrys-collapse-is-rick-perry/251708/">decided to drop out</a> of the South Carolina primary yesterday and threw his <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/19/MN421MRUBU.DTL&amp;type=politics">endorsement to Newt Gingrich</a>.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Which is kinda <em>bigger </em>news.</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">And then Gingrich’s ex second wife comes out and says he wanted an <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNawLvfwies">open marriage</a>!&nbsp;</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Wow!</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Okay, maybe not <em>wow</em> exactly. We already kinda knew that.</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">But the whole combo of events ended up making Santorum’s victory in Iowa kinda ... a footnote. And his wife’s own <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/mrs-santorum-s-abortion-doctor-boyfriend.html?fb_ref=article&amp;fb_source=profile_multiline">weird sexual pas</a>t? &nbsp;Juicy but pretty much irrelevant. (This is also a bit of a trap for Santorum regarding Gingrich. If his wife can mature and repent, then obviously so can Newt.)</span></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">All this means two things.</span></p><ol class="ol1"><li class="li1"><span class="s1">The South Carolina primary, where Gingrich keeps <a href="http://%20http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-01-09/gingrich-rises-darkly-after-new-hampshire-95415">rising (darkly</a>, always darkly), and may actually pull off a victory, or at least come close enough so that -- with the real results in Iowa -- Romney’s winning streak comes down to a single, tiny homogeneous neighboring state, makes “inevitability” a little far fetched. Santorum may well come in last here, though he’ll insist on going on.</span></li><li class="li1">And two, our Iowa predictions winners, Alejandro Riera and Alison Keating, will hold on to their Iowa spirits from <a href="http://www.cedarridgedistillery.com/">Cedar Ridge</a>, but Robert Gold, who correctly -- and insistently -- kept calling Iowa for Santorum, gets a drink on me.</li></ol><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Just tell me when and where, Robert.</span></p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 18:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-01-20/santorums-bad-day-95690 Iowa's World's Largest Truckstop http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-12-13/iowas-worlds-largest-truckstop-94866 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4701_2011 076-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Everyone headed to Iowa from these parts for the presidential caucuses will likely take I-80 in toward Cedar Rapids. And there, my friends, is one of the state's great treasures. Sure, the food court looks like every other truck stop, but just keep walking, keep exploring. It's its own little world.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4701_2011 076-scr.JPG" style="width: 450px; height: 600px; " title="You really can't miss it, just off I-80."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4702_2011 078-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="They have everything you could ever need here."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4703_2011 084-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Including this shiny truck."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4704_2011 093-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="And these shiny stars."></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4705_2011 095-scr.JPG" style="width: 450px; height: 600px; " title="And lots of Jesus stuff."></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4706_2011 098-scr.JPG" style="width: 450px; height: 600px; " title="You can take a hot shower here."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4707_2011 100-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Or watch a movie. We once saw 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.'"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4713_2011 109-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="The theater's actually pretty expansive."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4712_2011 107_0-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="There's a TV room too. It's a lot rowdier than the theater."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4708_2011 101-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="You can do your laundry."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4714_2011 112-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Deal with your dental needs."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4715_2011 113-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Get a haircut."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4710_2011 104-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Use the wi-fi."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4709_2011 103-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="Get motivated."></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4716_2011 115-scr.JPG" style="width: 450px; height: 600px; " title="They also have all kinds of buttons here."></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/RS4711_2011 106-scr.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="And all sorts of everything, including that gigantic mural."></p></p> Tue, 13 Dec 2011 18:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-12-13/iowas-worlds-largest-truckstop-94866 Cous-cous and cultural diplomacy http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-23/cous-cous-and-cultural-diplomacy-94250 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-21/iowa.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>We head to Iowa, to a town of 1,500 surrounded by corn and soybean farms.</p><p>Though it's more than one thousand miles from New York City, this town was uniquely impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2011. That's because the town's name is Elkader - it was named after Algerian independence fighter Emir Abd al Qader. It's also the only town in the entire United States named after an Arab Muslim.</p><p>Since its founding, Elkader, Iowa has drawn scores of people to explore its distinct Algerian character. But in the wake of 9/11, many locals wanted to change the town's name to something more American. In 'Couscous and Cultural Diplomacy,' Andrea Wenzel takes us to meet an openly gay couple who decided to start an Algerian-American restaurant in Elkader after 9/11. <span class="piece-description-lead">This story charts the restauranteurs' adventures with cultural adaptation, American identity and small town politics.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>This documentary was produced and presented by Andrea Wenzel for WAMU/American University Radio. The story was provided to us by <a href="http://www.prx.org/" target="_blank">Public Radio Exchange</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-23/cous-cous-and-cultural-diplomacy-94250 Worldview 11.23.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-112311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-november/2011-11-21/elkader.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We'll travel to <span class="piece-description-lead">Elkader</span>, Iowa, a town that's grappled with an identity crisis since September 11, 2001. <span class="piece-description-lead">The reason? Elkader</span> is the only town in the entire United States that's named after an Arab Muslim. After 9/11, some locals sought to change the city's name and forgo this association. We'll meet an openly gay couple who went the opposite route, opening an Algerian-American restaurant on <span class="piece-description-lead">Elkader's Main Street.&nbsp;</span> Also, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we devote this week's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/globalnotes" target="_blank"><em>Global Notes</em></a> to some wild music from Turkey.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-112311 On behalf of the president, Emanuel hits Iowa http://www.wbez.org/story/behalf-president-emanuel-hits-iowa-94196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-18/112214534.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Iowa Democrats will <a href="http://www.iowademocrats.org/jj/">pay</a> between $100 and $5,000 to attend an event Saturday night along with Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago mayor says he's making the trip at the request of his former boss.</p><p>When Rahm Emanuel left his job last year as White House Chief of Staff, as a going away present, President Obama gave him this quasi-endorsement for Chicago mayor.</p><p>"We are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified," the president said at the time.</p><p>Emanuel is returning the political favor, heading to Des Moines to speak at a fundraiser for that state's Democratic Party.</p><p>"The president and his team asked me to do this a long time ago and I said, 'yes,'" Emanuel told reporters earlier this week.</p><p>His speech, Emanuel said, will focus on Mr. Obama's work at a time of economic peril.</p><p>"I will address that from the unique role of having been both the chief of staff and now the chief executive," he said.</p><p>The mayor said he will campaign more for President Obama if asked, but only if it doesn't interfere with his day job.</p></p> Fri, 18 Nov 2011 20:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/behalf-president-emanuel-hits-iowa-94196 Herman Cain visits Iowa's African-American museum http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-08-12/herman-cain-visits-iowas-african-american-museum-90463 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-12/Herman Cain in Iowa_Achy Obejas.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-12/Herman Cain in Iowa_Achy Obejas.jpg" title="(Photo by Achy Obejas)" width="500" height="474"></p><p>Herman Cain’s usually ebullient face was blank at the beginning&nbsp; of the tour of the African-American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. Standing before a large, sparkly and heavily accessorized African icon, the black Republican presidential aspirant -- polling <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/26/cbs-ignores-herman-cain%E2%80%99s-performance-in-iowa-poll/">3rd in the state with 10 percent </a>-- pulled his chin low and seemed to aim his gaze over his glasses frame. Utterly affectless, Cain studied the piece.</p><p>Watching Cain intensely was an entourage of almost 30 people made up of press, campaign and museum staff, all white but for a stylish and very quiet black woman who, it turned out, worked at the museum. The group was going to see the permanent exhibit on African-Americans in Iowa, which has been on view, in one form or another, since the museum first opened in 1998. (It closed for about a year after the 2008 flood.)</p><p>When Cain blinked and stepped away from the imposing African sculpture, Michelle Poe, the museum’s young, energetic -- and white -- education director, took it as her cue to swing around him and point to a map of Africa.</p><p>“Africa is a continent, not a country,” she said.</p><p>And this Cain couldn’t resist: He laughed aloud.</p><p>But Poe was unflustered. “I do a lot of tours for kids,” she said, “and, believe me, that’s important to say.”</p><p>Poe then led Cain through an arch doorway she explained as a portal of no return, similar to doorways in slave ports such as Goree Island, in Senegal.</p><p>“So is there a real door like this?”Cain asked, looking up at the arch. He stepped through it and turned to the press people. “I like to ask questions. It’s what I do,” he said grinning.</p><p>Poe pulled the party quickly through the hallway that depicts the Middle Passage (unfortunately labeled “The Miserable Journey”), and went right for the more uplifting stories. There was an exhibit on York, the first African-American recorded in Iowa, who helped Lewis &amp; Clark and was initially denied his freedom by Clark. And there was Ralph, who came to Iowa with permission from his master to buy his freedom.</p><p>“But when he didn’t have enough money, his master sent slave hunters after him,”Poe said. “Ralph sued and the people of Iowa rallied around him.”</p><p>Ralph won his case, she said, which set precedents cited in the historic Dred Scot decision. In fact, listening to Poe, it was easy to get the sense that Iowa -- which currently has a black population of 3 percent -- was way ahead of the curve on civil rights, especially on education and integration.</p><p>One of the biggest exhibits, in fact, mimics the lunch counter at Katz’ Drugstore in 1949 Des Moines, where the owner, fined over and over because of his refusal to serve black customers, inspired constant sit-ins.</p><p>“This was in 1949,” emphasized Poe, “long before the more famous sit-in in 1960 in Greensboro, South Carolina.”</p><p>This was clearly news to Cain, who obliged photographers by sitting at the counter before the plates of plastic food. Light flashes covered him as he read the story on the exhibit wall, his eyebrows arching over his glasses. He placed his hand on his chin in classic thinker-style.</p><p>“This is very informative, very informative,” he said, subdued.</p><p>But what really stopped Cain in his tracks was a pair of doors midway through the exhibit, one labeled “Whites only,” the other “Colored.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-12/Herman Cain Whites Only_Achy Obejas.jpg" style="width: 253px; height: 349px; margin: 7px; float: left;" title="(Photo by Achy Obejas)">Cain crossed his arms around his chest and grinned. “I remember those,” he said. “I remember them from when I was growing up in Georgia.”</p><p>Then swinging his arms from side as if he as going to run, he said, “Watch this, y’all,” and mock-sprinted through the “Whites only” door.</p><p>“The great thing about this country is its ability to change,” a triumphant Cain declared, gathering the small group around him to explain his belief in America’s transformative powers.</p><p>And then Poe provided the story to prove his point. “We had a group of school kids recently,” she said, “and after I explained the exhibit to them, a little boy raised his hand, incredulous, and said, ‘But that’s racist!‘ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s racist’.”</p><p>Cain laughed. “See what I mean?”</p><p>Cain came to another halt when they got to the museum’s last piece, a giant photo mural of Barack Obama celebrating his victory in the Iowa caucuses. A campaign podium used by Obama was set in front of it.</p><p>As if suddenly remembering her guest, Poe said, “Whatever your views of Barack Obama, what he did here was historic.”</p><p>Cain quietly appraised the bigger than life photos of a much younger and vigorous Obama. “It was historic,” he said, nodding in agreement,“it was indeed historic.”</p><p>After the tour, Cain hung out with the press for a bit in the front foyer, joking about how the museum will have to make room for his campaign podium after he wins, and how it’s still a surprise to walk through a “Whites only” door “and not get shot.”</p><p>But minutes later, he was rallying about 100 Iowans in the museum’s public hall. Among them was Pamela Fisher, 53. She voted for Obama in 2008 but is looking for someone new. But for Cain himself, Fisher was the only African-American in the room.</p><p>“It’s a little strange to be only black person here, yeah, but ... not really,” she said, correcting herself. “I mean, I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life, you know what I mean?”</p></p> Fri, 12 Aug 2011 09:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-08-12/herman-cain-visits-iowas-african-american-museum-90463 Film about 2008 Postville, Iowa raid highlights gross immigrant abuses http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/film-about-2008-postville-iowa-raid-highlights-gross-immigrant-abuses-89 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/Photo2B.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Postville, Iowa on May 12th, 2008, 900 heavily armed immigration agents shackled and took away 389 undocumented workers while working at Agriprocessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant in the country. Within four days, 300 workers were charged as felons for using false documents and imprisoned. Families were torn apart. We talk with Luis Argueta, director of the film <em><a href="http://www.abusedthepostvilleraid.com/" target="_blank">Abused: The Postville Raids</a></em>, about the traumatic events and the affected Iowan town. With Luis is Jane Ramsey, executive director of the <a href="http://www.jcua.org/site/PageServer">Jewish Council on Urban Affairs</a>. The group gives political and humanitarian support to the Postville migrant workers and their families.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The film <em>Abused: The Postville Raids</em> is being shown <a href="http://www.jcua.org/site/Calendar/504345792?view=Detail&amp;id=103161" target="_blank">tonight</a> 7/20/11 at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.</strong></p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/film-about-2008-postville-iowa-raid-highlights-gross-immigrant-abuses-89 As floods advance, crews race to save Iowa town http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-15/floods-advance-crews-race-save-iowa-town-87865 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/Iowa flooding_AP_Jerry Mennenga.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A temporary earthen levee is the only barrier standing between Hamburg and the floodwaters of the Missouri River, and officials hope efforts to beef it up will be enough to keep the small southwestern Iowa town from filling up like a bathtub.</p><p>Crews working for the Army Corps of Engineers hope to pile at least three feet of extra dirt atop the levee before Wednesday evening. The stakes are high: If it fails, parts of the town could be covered by as much as 10 feet of water within days. And high water could linger for months.</p><p>The hurriedly constructed levee became Hamburg's last line of defense after the river punched through another levee downstream in northwest Missouri that provided the town's primary protection. That failure left water gushing through a large gap on a path to inundate the town of 1,100 — unless the other levee can be made taller.</p><p>"We've got every confidence that we're ahead of it enough to stop the water from coming into Hamburg and flooding the area. ... I'm real confident. They're placing it as well as they can with the equipment and time that we have," said Dave Ray, a geotechnical engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Neb. Ray's voice was hoarse from shouting over noisy earth-moving equipment at sites all along the Missouri River for the past month.</p><p>He said crews worked through the night to build up the earthen levee just outside of Hamburg.</p><p>"They're raising it up another 3 feet from the original design. They've got good clean material close to the site, so that cuts down on haul distance and time. He's working 24 hours to raise the thing up," Ray said.</p><p><strong>Like A Slowly Filling Bathtub</strong></p><p>Even though the levee breach was downstream, the floodwaters were flowing north to fill the area around Hamburg because the town sits in a valley. Fire Chief Dan Sturm compared the geography to a slowly filling bathtub.</p><p>The corps doesn't expect the flooding to reach the new levee until sometime Wednesday.</p><p>"You can see the water coming," said Col. Bob Ruch, commander of the corps' Omaha district.</p><p>The river has been rising steadily for weeks as the corps increases the amount of water released from its dams to clear out heavy spring rain and snowmelt.</p><p>Releases at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota hit the maximum planned amount of 150,000 cubic feet of water per second on Tuesday. So officials downstream in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri were sure to be watching for more levee problems.</p><p>The dam releases are expected to raise the Missouri River 5 to 7 feet above flood stage in most of Nebraska and Iowa. In Missouri, the river may climb 10 feet above flood stage in some places and spill over the top of several rural levees.</p><p>Parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota have already seen some flooding, and a section of Interstate 680 that connects Omaha and Iowa has been closed because water has crept onto the roadway. Officials predict the problems will linger through the summer because of the large volume of water already in the river and the larger-than-usual Rocky Mountain snowpack.</p><p>The corps does not expect to reduce the amount of water released from the dams until at least August.</p><p>So far, the floodwaters have covered mostly corn and soybean fields with few structures. But it's an unwelcome development for farmers because grain supplies are at historically low levels and demand is strong for every bushel of corn and soybeans.</p><p>Still, the loss of the crops is unlikely to affect overall U.S. production because the areas underwater are relatively small.</p><p>Mike Nenneman, a farmer from Sidney, is waiting for the flood to swamp a 360-acre tract of corn and soybeans he owns in far southwest Iowa. He expects to break even, with $700 per acre in crop insurance to offset his losses.</p><p>"We are the drain of southwest Iowa," Nenneman said, gesturing to the Missouri River to the west and the Nishnabotna River to the east. "We take all the water from everywhere."</p><p>In Hamburg, Nathan Beach, 22, was visiting for what he fears will be the last time. He said he has a lot of memories of the town from trips he took in his childhood, traveling from his home in eastern Iowa. This time he drove in from Lincoln, Neb., where he's attending college.</p><p>"I'm here to visit Hamburg because I think it might be flooding soon, and I want to see the place where I came as a child," Beach said. "My grandparents used to live here, my grandfather used to have a watch shop here, so I want to visit the town, see where their house used to be, and maybe see it before it all got inundated."</p><p><strong>Buying Some Time</strong></p><p>The corps started building the new Hamburg levee last week after finding problems in the main levee in Missouri. Workers hoped to complete the project by Wednesday night. When finished, it will be about 8 feet tall in most places.</p><p>"I feel good about it," said Sturm, the fire chief. "But we can't guarantee anything. We've never really had to cope with anything of this magnitude."</p><p>A line of tractor-trailers carrying dirt to the levee stretched for more than a quarter-mile Tuesday morning. Once the trucks reached the work area, tractors and other earth-moving equipment carried and pushed it to the levee.</p><p>To help buy some additional time for the levee work, the corps cut a notch 300 feet wide and 3 feet deep in the same Missouri River levee south of Hamburg that recently failed. The notch will allow some floodwater to drain back into the river, but it will only slow the water's advance toward Hamburg, Ruch said.</p><p>The town is mostly quiet now; at least half of the residents have already left. But down the road at the elementary school, volunteers were chipping away at a mountain of sand in the parking lot, filling burlap bags one shovelful at a time.</p><p>Resident Tyler Woodward said many of those who remained said their homes are safe, but they wanted to do something to help their neighbors.</p><p>"We live up on the hill, so we're fine there," Woodward said. "We evacuated our business down there on the bottom. Most farmers moved out all of their equipment and stuff out of their shops, and now all the homes are evacuated down there behind the levee. And the south end of town is evacuated pretty much, too."</p><p>Several businesses near the levee stood empty Tuesday as crews toiled on the new barrier.</p><p>Todd Morgan of A&M Green Power Group said the owners of the John Deere dealership moved their business to one of the company's other dealerships in Shenandoah, 25 miles away.</p><p>"We wanted to play it safe than sorry," Morgan said.</p><p>Morgan said he doesn't know whether the dealership will return.</p><p>Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope said all but seven of the roughly 40 households in the southern part of Hamburg have evacuated voluntarily. The remaining seven have moved all of their furniture and can escape quickly if water floods the town, he said.</p><p>About 45 miles south of Hamburg in Missouri, the river also broke through a levee near Big Lake in Holt County. About 30 residents who had stayed in the resort town after the river started rising were told to leave Monday, but some refused to go.</p><p><em>With reporting from Sarah McCammon of member station WOI in Hamburg, Iowa, and material from The Associated Press.</em> <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1308140828?&gn=As+Floods+Advance%2C+Crews+Race+To+Save+Iowa+Town&ev=event2&ch=1003&h1=Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137194877&c7=1003&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1003&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110615&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 07:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-15/floods-advance-crews-race-save-iowa-town-87865