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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Group demands banks give up bonuses to fill state budget gap

By Michael Swanger | 01.27.10 | 12:01 am

Hundreds of sign-toting members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) stormed the lobbies of two downtown Des Moines banks Tuesday afternoon, temporarily halting business activities to demand the banks give up their employee bonuses to help pare down Iowa’s projected $1 billion budget shortfall.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement rallied supporters in the lobby of Wells Fargo's downtown branch (photo by Michael Swanger/Iowa Independent).

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement rallied supporters in the lobby of Wells Fargo's downtown branch (photo by Michael Swanger/Iowa Independent).

While customers and bank employees looked on, five busloads of CCI members quietly streamed into the lobby of Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Des Moines, shouting in unison “Bust up big banks” and “Put the people first.”

“I’m just very angry,” said 81-year-old Ferol Wegner of Des Moines, a widow who lost her retirement savings in the financial crisis. “Everyone here has lost money in their 401ks or retirement funds because the banks have devastated our economy, yet the taxpayers paid for the bailouts of these large corporate banks. I’m here to stand up and see that justice is served.”

After a few minutes in the bank lobby, security and Des Moines police asked the protesters to leave, which they did. Wells Fargo officials were not available for comment.

The protesters, who were also joined by members of the Chicago-based National People’s Action, walked across the street and crammed themselves into the small lobby of Bank of America, where they repeated their protests before once again being asked to leave by police.

No arrests were made at either bank.

“The banks know that we are unhappy with what happened with the financial meltdown. They know it’s their fault,” said Mike McCarthy, a CCI member from Des Moines. “They think it’s business as usual. But it’s unjust for them to think they will continue the way they have been in the wake of the country’s financial meltdown. We are here to see that this doesn’t happen again to our children and grandchildren.”

Tuesday’s bank protests were the culmination of CCI’s “Showdown at the Statehouse,” a day-long event in which CCI members called upon elected officials to rein in corporate power and to support campaign finance reform. But the biggest issue of the day was CCI’s message to the banks.

Protesters rallied outside downtown banks in Des Moines (photo by Michael Swanger/Iowa Independent).

Protesters rallied outside downtown banks in Des Moines (photo by Michael Swanger/Iowa Independent).

“Big banks, like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and Wall Street crashed our national economy and our state budgets. They must do their part to fix it,” said Judy Lonning of Des Moines. “We want their bonuses.”

At the heart of CCI’s argument are reports of banks that have received federal government bailout money but are now reporting profits and doling out billions of dollars in bonuses to employees. Last week, it was reported that Wells Fargo in 2009 enjoyed a record-setting $12.3 billion in net income and total revenue of more than $88 billion.

In addition to setting record profits and paying lavish bonuses, CCI claims that big banks are funneling millions of dollars to lobbyists to block meaningful financial reform; increasing consumer fees; failing to modify enough loans to keep families in their homes; and financing payday lenders that “rip off our communities.”

“Wells Fargo and Bank of America are hurting hardworking families,” said CCI member Vern Tigges of Carroll. “Our state budget deficits could be wiped out if the big banks gave their total bonus packages — estimated to be about $140 billion — back to our states. For all intents and purposes, their bonuses are our bonuses because we bailed them out and put them back in working order.”

CCI contends that the $140 billion reported to be paid in bonuses, benefits and compensation by the nation’s six biggest banks — Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley — could nearly fill the $142 billion total budget gap for all 50 states in fiscal year 2010.

In Iowa, budget deficits have resulted in across-the-board cuts that have forced layoffs, employee furloughs and cuts to vital services.

“I think it’s wrong what they’re doing,” said Veronica Guevara, an 18-year-old student at Marshalltown Community College, who works part-time at a community bank in her hometown. “We bailed them out and have got nothing in return.”

Comments

  • itserich

    Thank you Iowa CCI!

    As to the comments below, dsmisnotboring states elsewhere he works for one of the banks, Wells Fargo I think. That is part of the problem. A few executives get hundreds of millions, the worker bees get the crumbs and they align with the exec's instead of caring about the plight of the nation.

    News flash. Letting a few big banks failed would have cause very little long term problems. New banks and local banks would have picked up the business. The country's debt would be much smaller, and moral hazard would be much reduced. Even now, the best bankers are leaving the hulking giants to do their own thing. The losers stick with the crony capitalists because they can't get anything better.

  • anandastone

    Yes, good job protesters, this is completely criminal! I was really hoping our economy crisis would teach people not to be so greedy and corrupt.

  • Crusade10

    wasn't Iowa the first state to vote in Obama as President? there was no change He continued the Bailout policy of Paulson and pushed by Nancy Pelosi. He did not change anything. The bailout of the banks was for their debts based on Collateralized Debt Obligations – derivatives – speculative gambling with depositors money. Let's not honor the debt. Read from a lesson in history – FDR's bankers holiday. It's called reorganization. Bankruptcy Reorganization. That's what should have happened in 2008. Not the bailout policy. Then change the FED into a National Bank. A return to a US constitutional based CREDIT System – not this Monetary System of Central Banking. A Return to a Glass-Steagall Act Standard. And by the way end the HMOs – and return to a Hill Burton Standard for our general welfare / General Hospitals!

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    The towns people have a right to be angry about there situation. Does anyone know the outcome of this conflict?

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