Des Moines, Iowa- Soldiers of the 649th Regional Support Group (RSG), which consists of approximately 50 Army Reserve soldiers, are returning from their deployment on Wednesday, August 4th.

The mission of the 649th RSG, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was to provide management and support operations for forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

An informal ceremony will be held August 5th beginning at 1300 at Xavier High School on 6300 42D Street NE in Cedar Rapids to publicly acknowledge our Army Reserve Soldiers for their selfless-service and sacrifice in support of overseas contingency operations.
August 2, 2010

Say What You Mean / Mean What You Say
Calling Out The Illinois Republican Party

"I'm going to end the old politics and corruption in Illinois . . . , I'm not part of the insider deals. As Governor I'm going to do what I've always done: Stand up for what I think is right." - Bill Brady, Republican Candidate for Governor

To secure ballot access in the November 2nd election, the Constitution Party obtained over 32,500* signatures only to be strong-armed by politics as usual when Republican attorneys filed objections to our nominating papers.  The political and legal wrangling that ensued has accomplished nothing more than increase lawyer fees and waste Illinois taxpayer money. While the Constitution Party acknowledges the right of an individual to file an objection, we maintain that a voter's right to choose a candidate is tantamount to a Free and Equal election.

The Constitution Party has demonstrated in good faith its honorable commitment to the ballot process. At this point, common sense must prevail and Illinois voters must be allowed to make their own decision.  If status-quo politics continue, it will squander Illinois' financial resources, limit voter choice and further encourage voter apathy.

For most in Illinois, there is little difference between "selling" a Senate seat and using Party coffers to eliminate voter choice. Now is the time for the Republican Party to "stand up" and demonstrate to the People of Illinois their commitment to end politics as usual by withdrawing their objections against Constitution Party's Nominating Papers.

Michael White
Candidate for Governor of Illinois
Constitution Party

Maquoketa Art Experience will display all paintings and drawings that artists create of scenes along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway and will host a landscape painting workshop focusing on the region presented by renowned pastel artist Ellen Wagener.

Maquoketa , Iowa, July 30, 2010: In conjunction with the return of Ellen Wagener for a weekend landscape workshop, Maquoketa Art Experience (MAE) announces an upcoming exhibition that will consist of paintings and drawings that depict scenes along and near the Grant Wood Scenic Byway.

Exhibition Dates: August 23rd through September 19th, 2010

Location: Maquoketa Art Experience Studio and Gallery, 124 S. Main Street , Maquoketa , IA 52060

Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11-5pm, Friday-Saturday: 11-7pm, Sunday: 12-5pm


Workshop Dates: August 20th, 21st & 22nd, 2010

Location: Maquoketa Art Experience Studio and Gallery, 124 S. Main Street , Maquoketa , IA 52060

Cost: $295 for the weekend, $95 for Saturday the 21st at Tabor Home Winery.

For more information or to register: Call 563-652-9925.

Workshop deposits can be mailed to PO Box 993 , Maquoketa , IA 52060 .


The Grant Wood Scenic Byway Landscape Show will be on display from August 23rd through September 19th in the spacious galleries of Maquoketa Art Experience on Main St. in downtown Maquoketa.  Any and all artists are invited to tour and paint along the Byway from Stone City, the home of Grant Wood's summer art colony, through Anamosa, Maquoketa, the Maquoketa Caves, through Andrew, then Springbrook, and on to the beautiful Mississippi River views at Bellevue.  Paintings depicting scenes along and near the Byway can be brought to Maquoketa Art Experience at the close of Ellen Wagener's landscape workshop, from 5 to 8pm on August 22nd.  Artists, who cannot deliver their works at that time, can call MAE at 563-652-9925 to make arrangements for delivery prior to that time.  Owners of original paintings that show scenes from and near the Byway can also place those works on display.

A map of the Byway is available online at

The paintings and drawings that are brought in for the exhibition do not have to be for sale, but a sales price can be listed if the artist so chooses.  Maquoketa Art Experience will take a 25% commission on any sales.  Only original paintings and drawing will be accepted.  No photography and no prints/reproductions will be accepted for the show.

Ellen Wagener's summer landscape workshop is the third of four seasonal workshops offered by MAE focusing on the natural resources and beauty of Eastern Iowa .  Dewitt native Ellen Wagener is best known for her large pastel landscape paintings of Iowa and Arizona , her new home.  She returns for a second year to MAE to share her masterful skill of the basics and fundamentals of pastel painting, focusing on working processes including sketching, idea-generation, composition, and color palettes.  Special emphasis for this workshop will be given to pastel techniques in the creation of cloudscapes and attention to atmospheric conditions leading up to a final composition.  All of the painting outings will occur along and near the Grant Wood Scenic Byway.

This three-day workshop is well suited for both beginning artists and "seasoned masters" and will also include an optional bonus afternoon on Thursday, August 19, to join Ellen in a trip to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art's Marvin Cone exhibit, "The Sky's the Limit".  This thirty-work exhibition, tracing Cone's work from the 1910s to the 1940s, will be used later in the workshop to explore and discuss the many ways and styles that Cone used to capture the majestic power of "cloudscapes" and his fascination with the sky that is portrayed in his paintings.  A trip to the studio of Grant Wood, Turner Alley, and dinner in Cedar Rapids will also follow.

In addition, artists who cannot attend the entire weekend workshop are invited to sign up for a single day, Saturday, August 21st.  From 9am to 5pm a plein air painting outing led by Wagener will be held at nearby Tabor Home Winery.  The fee for this single day is $95.

Participants in last summer's first annual MAE Ellen Wagener workshop had this to say:

  • "She (Ellen) is an excellent teacher. She is unusually willing to be open and sharing with all her techniques and methods that she has worked out for herself over a long period of time...To be able to interact with artists at (her) level of achievement is a real privilege."  - Marcia W.

  • "As an attendee at the Maquoketa Art Experience Workshop...The learning experiences were interspersed with opportunities abounding for participants to expand their horizons.  It was a truly worthwhile encounter."  - Grace Z.

  • "The (Maquoketa) Art Experience is a great space for a workshop, and you are most fortunate to have artists of such high caliber and skill to be working in your area - it is indeed exciting."  - Linda F.

Biographic Information:

Ellen Wagener received her B.F.A. from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington , D.C. in 1989.  Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums including the Des Moines Art Center , Phoenix Art Museum , Tucson Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and Art in Embassies, Vilinus , Latvia , and J. Cacciola Gallery, New York City.  Her work can be found in many private and public collections, such as the Figge Art Museum , Davenport , Iowa , Tucson Museum of Art, MasterCard Corporation, New York City , and Iowa State University , Ames , Iowa .

Davenport - During the week of the Fair, many candidates, local and statewide, will be visiting Davenport to meet excited voters. All the candidates are excited to represent the Republican party and telling people how they can help Iowa succeed in the future.

Tuesday will have Linda Miller and Carol Earnhardt from 4-6pm and Auditor Vaudt at 6pm stopping by. Wednesday we have local candidate Roby Smith here from 12-2pm and Mark Riley from 4-6pm. Also that day, Lt. Gov. candidate Kim Reynolds will be talking a tour of the grounds with Senator Shawn Hamerlinck and stopping by the booth from 3-5pm.

Friday we have Rep. candidate Ben Lange and Treasurer candidate David Jamison shaking hands from 5-7pm and Jim Bainbridge from 6-8pm. Saturday we will again be hosting Mark Riley from 2-4 and Larry Minard as well from 2-4

We hope to see a lot of smiling faces and meet many people with interesting questions for the candidates so people can make an informed decision about who to choose this November. Please feel free to stop by and talk with any of our volunteer that will be at the booth in the expo center form 10am to 10pm and please take a moment to say hi to all the candidates as they make their way through Davenport.

The Mississippi Valley Fair runs from August 3rd through August 8th. Any questions can be directed to Jon Rasler at 563-370-8854 or visit the new Scott County Republican Headquarters at 311 W. Kimberly Rd. in Davenport.


Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Seminar for Owners of Historic Buildings Slated for Aug. 21

Learn to balance the unique features of a historic building with the needs to be energy efficient by attending Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Tactics for Historic Structures: Solutions for Homes, Offices, Commercial and Institutional Buildings, sponsored by the City of Rock Island and the Rock Island Preservation Commission.

On Saturday, August 21, four sessions will be offered in two concurrent tracks: one for single-family homes and another for office/commercial and institutional buildings. The 45-minute sessions will each be presented twice, targeted to the two different types of building owners. The beautiful and historic Quarters One on Arsenal Island will be the seminar location.

Bob Yapp, a national leader in historic preservation education, will present "Old Windows Aren't A Pane, They're Green" and will also lead "Mechanical Systems for Residential Properties."

Keeping tax issues fun and interesting, Bob Weigel will present "Federal Tax Credits on Energy Efficiency."

Tom Ayers, City of Rock Island's Chief Building Official, will tackle "Insulation & Other Quick Fixes for Maximum Impact."

Phillip Richards, a LEED-AP certified mechanical engineer from KJWW will discuss "Mechanical Systems for Historic Non-Residential Properties."

Les Wilson and Richard Walker will team up to talk about "Start with an Energy Audit."

Quarters One on Arsenal Island will be the workshop location. The workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cost to attend is $16.35 and includes an Italian buffet luncheon.  Registration must occur by 5 p.m. on August 16.  Anyone driving to the seminar will be required to show a valid driver's license to gain entry to Arsenal Island, and all attendees will need a photo ID. Foreign Nationals must contact Dana Matson at 309.793.1601 no later than Aug. 9 for special approval and instructions to be admitted onto Arsenal Island.  If you would like to register or receive more information, please call 309.732.2900, email, or visit

The workshop is partially financed through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. In-kind and cash matches were provided by the City of Rock Island.

Braley will attend ceremonies in Clinton, Cedar Falls and tour damage in Olin, Oxford Junction

Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) will make stops in Iowa's First District this week during the Congressional recess. Braley will attend send-off ceremonies for members of Iowa's National Guard being deployed overseas. This is the largest deployment of Iowa's soldiers since World War II, affecting more than 30 Iowa communities.

Braley will also tour flood damage in Olin and Oxford Junction and discuss recovery efforts with local officials. Braley has visited more than a dozen communities affected by last week's historic flooding. Iowans can visit for information and sign up for e-mail updates on recovery action.

MONDAY, August 2

WHAT: Rep. Braley tours flood damage in Olin.

WHEN: 11:45am CST

WHERE: Tour begins at Olin Fire Station, 105 West Cleveland Street, Olin

WHAT: Rep. Braley tours flood damage in Oxford Junction.

WHEN: 12:30pm CST

WHERE: Tour begins at Fire Station, 201 Main Street, Oxford Junction

WHAT: Rep. Braley attends National Guard send-off ceremony.

WHEN: 2:00pm CDT

WHERE: Iowa National Guard Armory, 1200 13th Avenue North, Clinton

TUESDAY, August 3

WHAT: Rep. Braley attends National Guard send-off ceremony.

WHEN: 10:00am CST

WHERE: UNI Dome, Cedar Falls

# # #

RATIONALE: Current federal immigration laws are acknowledged to be inadequate in protecting the rights and dignity of immigrant people living in our country. The failure of Congress to enact federal legislative reform is currently resulting in efforts by some individual states to enact their own laws that discriminate against persons of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

WHEREAS: In our CHM Mission Statement we "commit ourselves as individuals and as a congregation to work for justice within the human family...." The current intolerant treatment of immigrant persons obligates us as Christians to stand in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers by making a public statement of support for them.

RESOLUTION: The members of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary stand in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers and urge the U.S. Administration and Congress to enact fair and comprehensive Immigration Reform without delay. Legislation should reflect our own immigrant history, tradition and values as a nation: protecting and respecting the dignity of all people, acknowledging the value and contributions of immigrants, preserving the unity of families, and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who desire to make their home in this country.

IMPLEMENTATION: The corporate statement would be distributed to the press, to our Congressional representatives and to the President and his Administration. This could be accomplished through the cooperative efforts of the CHM Communications staff person, the Peace and Justice Coordinator and the Nonviolence and/or Cultural Diversity APGs.

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Aug. 2, 2010 - Iowa's farmers invite you to visit Farm Bureau Park during the 2010 Iowa State Fair and walk, or ride, away with plenty to "chew on." Visitors can register to win up to $2,500 in groceries, a new lawn tractor and more, courtesy of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), throughout the Fair, Aug. 12-22 in Des Moines. All will be able to learn how food and fuel are grown in our state, while playing a game and earning prizes.

Do you know which state leads the nation in corn, soybean, pork, egg and ethanol production? Answering three easy questions about farming, food and energy gives you a chance to visit with the Iowa farm families who grow and raise your food and play Plinko for prizes at Farm Bureau's "Wholesome Food; Wholesome Families" tent. IFBF is partnering with Hy-Vee, so each participant also will receive valuable coupons for meat, dairy and produce.

Would you like to join an organization that supports your local community and Iowa? Become a Farm Bureau member during the Fair, and you'll receive a $10 Kum and Go gas card and a chance to win $2,500 in Hy-Vee groceries. All current Farm Bureau members can enter to win $1,000 in Hy-Vee groceries and a John Deere riding lawn tractor by signing up at Farm Bureau Park.

"The State Fair is an opportunity to display the hard work and values that Iowans and Farm Bureau members prize," says Iowa Farm Bureau President and fifth-generation dairy farmer, Craig Lang. "More than anything, Iowans value their families, their health and their overall quality of life. The farmers I know are no different; in fact, they believe the production of safe, wholesome and affordable food for all families is their calling."
Farm Bureau members also recognize the importance of regular checkups as part of a healthy lifestyle, which is why Farm Bureau is bringing back free blood pressure, posture, glaucoma, lung function, stroke, vision, bone density and hearing screenings on select fair days. See the Iowa Farm Bureau website,, for the dates of specific health evaluations.

Park visitors will also be introduced to Iowa Farm Bureau's newest member benefit partner, Morton Buildings, Inc. Morton is offering its first-ever discount exclusively to Farm Bureau members. The partnership means IFBF members now qualify for a $500 discount on all Morton buildings, including the company's new Country Craft series, or a $1,000 discount on buildings that include Morton's Energy Performer package. The company's building offerings include hobby shops, garages, horse barns, homes, commercial buildings and agricultural structures. Morton's building consultants will be present in Farm Bureau Park throughout the Fair.

Other special events on select Fair days include :
  • Saturday, Aug. 14
    • 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., free concerts by Iowa's finest high school musicians at Farm Bureau Park, through the Iowa High School Music Association.
    • 4 p.m., Governor's Charity Steer Show at the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion. The show promotes beef and raises money to aid families staying at Ronald McDonald Houses.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17 - Farm Bureau Day at the Fair
    • 9 a.m. - noon, 47th annual Farm Bureau Cookout Contest on the Grand Concourse. Free samples. Judging begins at 10 a.m.
    • 9 a.m., Century and Heritage Farm Awards presented at the Budweiser Stage, south of the Varied Industries building.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18
    • 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Farm Safety Days demonstration provided by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
  • Thursday, Aug. 19
    • 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Free business consultation services provided by Renew Rural Iowa and VentureNet Iowa.
  • Sunday, Aug. 22
    • 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Take your photo next to the "Amaizing Energy" Race Car fueled with 98 percent ethanol, provided by Growth Energy.

Farm Bureau Park is located next to the Varied Industries Building, right off the Grand Concourse. For a complete listing of Farm Bureau activities at the Iowa State Fair, visit


Iowa will receive additional $12.5 million, more than 46 other states

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley announced today the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) handed down a rule delivering new Medicare payments for Iowa hospitals. The funding was secured by Braley with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obama Administration officials during late night negotiations before the final health care vote. Under the rule announced today, Iowa hospitals will receive $12.5 million in additional Medicare reimbursements, or 8.3 percent of the available funds. Only New York and Virginia will receive more money as part of these negotiations.

"The announcement of these funds is a big step in the right direction to finally rewarding Iowa's doctors for the care they provide," Braley said.  "For decades, Iowa's doctors have been punished for no reason other than geography. The new CMS rule announced today is the first step toward ending harmful geographic disparities and reforming our Medicare system so it finally rewards quality of care instead of the quantity of procedures performed. We still have a lot of work to do and I look forward to working closely with Secretary Sebelius to ensure we fully implement all the provisions she guaranteed during the late-night health care negotiations."

Braley negotiated a compromise adding language to the health care reform bill that provides an immediate $800 million to address geographic disparities for both doctors and hospitals, as well as written guarantees from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for further action to reform Medicare reimbursement rates that do not qualify for reconciliation under the Byrd Rule. The Senate bill previously only provided a Medicare reimbursement fix for doctors.

The House reconciliation package maintained automatic implementation of a value index as part of the reimbursement structures for doctors, beginning in 2015.  This language was secured in the Senate bill with the help of Harkin and is based on Braley's Medicare Payment Improvement Act, introduced in June 2009. Under the fixes secured in the Senate bill and House reconciliation package, Iowa doctors will see five percent increases in current Medicare reimbursement rates in both 2010 and 2011.

# # #

A tide of rising uncertainty is swelling among Iowans who worry the federal government is overstepping its authority.  Whether overspending tax dollars or overreaching Constitutional boundaries, taxpayers, property owners, farmers and small business owners are asking when is enough, enough?  In the last two years, Washington has dramatically accelerated public spending and expanded the size and scope of the federal government.

Just consider what it will take to implement the vast, new health care and financial reform laws.  Countless layers of an already bloated federal bureaucracy will influence how consumers receive and pay for medical care and qualify for school, business and home loans.  With Washington's lackluster track record for transparency and accountability, Iowans have reason to worry about footing the tab and wonder if bureaucratic red tape will affect their access to the latest medical breakthrough or line of credit at the bank.

Churning out federal regulations has expanded the federal workforce.  One estimate says the federal government employs a quarter of a million people responsible for writing and enforcing the regulations.  The total number of federal employees has increased by 273,000 since 2008.

The new regulations can create controversy and unnecessary confusion.  Consider one small business owner who wrote to me about the new federal tax credit created to help small businesses offer insurance coverage for their employees.  After reading the fine print, he said the rules are "ridiculously complicated for a small business owner to understand and implement" and "Congress is over-selling/over-promising the benefits."  And this one rule is just the tip of the iceberg. The major pieces of the health care reform law will not take effect until 2014.

Concerns about unprecedented public spending are very unsettling to many Iowans who wonder how in the world Washington will square entitlement obligations with ballooning payments on the national debt.  The new health care law itself will cost nearly $2.6 trillion over a decade when it is fully implemented.  It will expand Medicaid by 16 million people (even though the states are struggling with enormous shortfalls to finance those currently enrolled in the program); carve $529 billion out of Medicare; and, create new taxes on health plans and individual investment income.  Unlike the safety net created under FDR, when 77 Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate approved Social Security, or in 1965 when Medicare passed with generous bipartisan support, the largest new entitlement adopted in 45 years was passed without achieving bipartisan consensus.

How much government are taxpayers able and willing to pay for?  In addition to the revenue needed to keep standard government services open for business, such as USDA meat inspectors, FDA drug safety scientists, FAA air traffic controllers, and ICE border patrol agents, taxpayers also are paying for bail-outs for Wall Street and Detroit, stimulus spending, and interest on the national debt.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates the U.S. national debt could hit 60 percent of our national income by year's end.

Taxpayers are wondering how far this runaway spending train will go before it derails.  As a U.S. senator, I work to protect the integrity of the public purse.  With hard-earned tax dollars sent to Washington, I track the federal pipeline trying to ensure these dollars are protected from waste, fraud and abuse.  Sticking my nose in the federal bureaucracy's business helps look out for the people's business.  That's why I have demanded a full accounting of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to find out how Wall Street banks are using the money intended to shore up the financial system (including the unconscionable pay-out of extravagant severance packages and retention bonuses); requested an audit of the administrative costs for the Cash-for-Clunkers program; and, called into question missteps by General Motors which received $49.5 billion under TARP.

As Eastern Iowans struggle to rebuild and recover from the devastating floods this summer, I will keep working to hold Washington accountable to the people.  That includes putting the brakes on runaway spending and replacing "ridiculously complicated" rules; in other words, substituting Washington nonsense with Midwestern common sense.  From rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, to championing whistleblowers and fighting for the independence of agency-appointed auditors, I am not afraid to do whatever it takes to fix wrongdoing and mismanagement so that the federal government fits the bill when the taxpaying public is footing the bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA

Friday, July 30, 2010