September 5, 2010 David Arthur Smithers, candidate for Iowa House 89,
Cedar Rapids is not in district 89. But, this summer I
have met a lot of new friends there. Cedar Rapids was flooded in 2008. Memories
of New Orleans 2005 was on many minds.
I had taken a vacation day one Monday and was planning on going to a peace march
in Des Moines, but couldn't get myself out of bed, for the two hour drive. I
went online and saw an email or maybe a facebook thing about a protest on the
1st Avenue Cedar River bridge in Cedar Rapids. First thought in my mind was N.
Klein's ["Shock Doctrine"] and the words disaster capitalism. I made my sign and
drove up, with a letter about Iowa CCI that a friend emailed me to hand out.
I parked on the bridge, crossed the street, and met Ajai, Greg, and others
protesting the planned demolition of Time Check, one of the many workers'
neighborhoods still not rebuilt.
So far we have protested twice at functions by Governor Chet Culver because he
and his father, former U.S. Senator John Culver, have gone about proclaiming
about saving Cedar Rapids and rebuilding Iowa. The Time Check residents and
others have been protesting at Cedar Rapids City Council and posting YouTubes.
And there is a book about the flood, Time Check, and the term "economic
cleansing" is used. Gentrification is also mentioned by some folks.
I really need to start my campaign down here, but, what goes on in Cedar Rapids
is important to me, too, as well as other things like the peace vigil, Iowa CCI,
One possibility of a parallel is a slumlord trailer court just south of the Iowa
City limits, and in my district. The slumlord is in Colorado. The park has
experienced problems with water quality and other issues. The problem is that
most laws are about property, not human rights, and that is pretty much what
state and local governments are aiming at the trailer court.
I'm thinking that this is the first area to campaign and think about. From what
little Marx I've read (Manifesto), it seems that government from the bottom up
is called for.
I'm thinking about some sort of legislation to establish union
like tenant authorities that could bargain with landlords, and, if necessary put
rents into an escrow, and ultimately have a legal weapon to obtain the property
and own/run it as a renter's association.
I'm thinking that regulations and inspectors are all well and good. But,
countervailing power in unions, workers' councils, etc. would be ideal.
If the floods in New Orleans and Cedar Rapids would have resulted in a governing
body of victims' councils from when the immediate emergency was over, then those
bodies could decide among themselves how to recover, and bargain directly with
local, state and federal governments.
I told Chet Culver last week, it's not too late to do that now. But, he went on
TV and said the same old refrain of consulting with local authorities
(capitalist elites on city council).
In a situation like this the state government is the one with constitutional
powers. Cities and counties are subordinate and the excuse by the governor and
his minions that it is out of his hands is a little lame.
Anyway, I would like any feedback from folks who might know of some model
legislation they have access to to counter disaster capitalism and any thoughts
of combining Marxist idea of bottom up democracy.