Senator Encourages Iowans to Tune-in, Ask Questions

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today announced that his monthly call-in show will air live on Wednesday, February 24, from 6:30-7 p.m. (Central Time) on television stations across Iowa.

"Ask Your Senator" will be broadcast from Washington, D.C. and can be seen live in communities served by Mediacom throughout Iowa. The program also airs live in Spencer on channels 22 & 3 and in Sioux City on channel 10.

"This program provides for the two-way dialogue required by our system of representative government," Grassley said. "I hope Iowans will tune in and participate."

Grassley said that it's important to hear from constituents to answer questions or address concerns they may have.

•   Iowans can ask questions during the show by calling 800/736-8255.
•   Questions also can be sent to Grassley using Twitter. Simply add @ChuckGrassley to
your twitter message and include your name and location in Iowa.

Grassley also provides taped versions of the show to local cable access channels that aren't able to air the program live. To receive a copy of the program, local cable access providers should contact Grassley's office.

"Ask Your Senator: A Live Town Meeting" will air on the following channels:

Channel 5
Britt, Charles City, Clear Lake, Cresco, Duncan, Elma, Forest City, Garner, Kensett, Leland, Lime Springs, Manly, Mason City, Northwood, Osage, Ventura

Channel 14
Hampton, Rockwell, Sheffield

Channel 22
Ackley, Adel, Agency, Albia, Algona, Alta, Altoona, Amana, Ames, Anamosa, Ankeny, Aplington, Appanoose, Arnolds Park, Asbury, Atalissa, Atlantic, Audubon, Avoca, Bancroft, Barnum, Beacon, Beaman, Bedford, Belle Plaine, Belmond, Bertram, Bettendorf, Bloomfield, Blue Grass, Bondurant, Boone, Booneville, Buena Vista, Buffalo, Buffalo-Center, Burlington, Burt, Bussey, Calhoun, Calmar, Camanche, Carlisle, Carroll, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Centerville, Chariton, Charlotte, Cherokee, Clarinda, Clarion, Clayton, Clinton, Clive, Colfax, Columbus City, Columbus Junction, Conrad, Coralville, Corning, Corydon, Creston, Dakota City, Dallas Center, Dallas, Danville, Davenport, De Soto, Decatur City, Decorah, Deleware City, Denison, Denver, Des Moines, Dewar, Dewitt, Dexter, Dike, Dubuque, Durant, Dyersville, Dysart, Eagle Grove, Earlham, Eddyville, Edgewood, Eldon, Eldora, Eldridge, Elgin, Elk Run Heights, Elkader, Emmetsburg, Epworth, Essex, Estherville, Evansdale, Fairbank, Fairfax, Fairfield, Farley, Fayette, Fort Dodge, Fort Madison, Fredericksburg, Fredonia, Ft. Atkinson, Garnavillo, Garwin, Gilbertville, Gilmore City, Gladbrook, Glenwood, Glidden, Goose Lake, Granger, Green Mountain, Greenfield, Grimes, Grinnell, Grundy Center, Guttenberg, Hamilton, Hardin, Harlan, Harper's Ferry, Harris, Hartford, Hazleton, Hiawatha, Hills, Hudson, Humboldt, Huxley, Independence, Indianola, Iowa Army Munitions, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Janesville, Johnson, Johnston, Kalona, Kellerton, Keokuk, Keota, Knoxville, Kossuth, Lake City, Lake Park, Lakeside, Lambs Grove, Lamoni, Lansing, Laporte, Laurens, Le Claire, Le Grand, Leon, Lisbon, Lone Tree, Long Grove, Lovilia, Low Moor, Lynnville, Madrid, Manchester, Manson, Maquoketa, Marengo, Marion, Marquette, Marshalltown, Maynard, McCausland, McGregor, Melcher, Middletown, Miles, Mills County, Mitchellville, Monroe, Monticello, Montrose, Morning Sun, Mount Joy, Mt. Ayr, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Vernon, Nevada, New Albin, New Hampton, New Hartford, New London, New Sharon, Newhall, Newton, North English, North Liberty, Norwalk, Norway, Oelwein, Okaboji, Orleans, Osceola, Oskaloosa, Ossian, Ottumwa, Oxford Junction, Oxford, Panorama Park, Park View, Parkersburg, Pella, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Valley, Pleasantville, Pocahontas, Polk City, Prairie City, Preston, Princeton, Randall, Raymond, Red Oak, Redfield, Reinbeck, Riverdale, Riverside, Rockwell City, Sabula, Sac City, Sageville, Sheldahl, Shell Rock, Shenandoah, Shueyville, Sigourney, Slater, Solon, Spillville, Spirit Lake, Storm Lake, Story City, Strawberry Point, Stuart, Sully, Sumner, Swea City, Swisher, Tama, Tiffin, Tipton, Toddville, Toledo, Traer, University Heights, University Park, Urbandale, Van Meter, Villisca, Vinton, West Okaboji, Wahpeton, Walcott, Washburn, Washington, Waterloo, Waukee, Waukon Junction, Waukon, Waverly, Wellman, West Branch, West Burlington, West Des Moines, West Liberty, West Point, West Union, Westwood, What Cheer, Williamsburg, Windsor Heights, Winterset, Woodburn, Woodward
Press Conference Announcement
Who: Mayor Dennis Pauley and Police Chief John Wright to speak
What: Details on the 2009 crime statistics will be released. Learn how 2009 compares to previous years.
When: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 2 p.m.
Where: City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1528 Third Avenue, Rock Island
Why: Part I Crime decreased 12% from 2008 to 2009. Part I Crimes and Part I Violent Crimes have substantially decreased since the 1990s.

Rock Island, Ill. -Dr. Jeff Abernathy, vice president of academic affairs and dean of Augustana College, has accepted a new position as President of Alma College in Alma, Michigan. His appointment will begin Ju1y 1, 2010.

"I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to lead Alma at this remarkable moment for higher education," said Abernathy. "The Alma vision for liberal education has engaged students from across the country since the nineteenth century, and it is a great honor to be called to their presidency."

Abernathy has served as vice president and professor in the English department at Augustana since 2004. He led the development of a new consortium of colleges, the Midwest Alliance for Learning in the Liberal Arts, which includes Alma, Augustana and five other Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts colleges across the Midwest. Abernathy's work on the academic component of the college's strategic plan, Authentically Augustana: A Plan for a Premier Liberal Arts College, led to accomplishments including:

· hiring five dozen new faculty as the size of the full-time faculty grew by 26 percent;

· implementing Senior Inquiry, a capstone project which students in nearly all majors create and complete in partnership with a faculty mentor;

· partnering with colleagues to develop Augie Choice, an innovative new program supporting experiential learning opportunities?such as international study, collaborative research and internships?for all students.

"I am very grateful to Jeff for his leadership at Augustana College, especially demonstrated by working with faculty to improve the learning experiences of our students," said Augustana College President Steve Bahls. "This has served to advance Augustana's standing as a national liberal arts college, and Jeff's selection as president of a selective college like Alma is a gratifying sign that colleges around the country are recognizing Augustana's strengths."

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Abernathy graduated from Longwood College in 1985. He earned the Ph.D. in American literature from the University of Florida. Before coming to Augustana, he served as vice president of academic affairs and dean of West Virginia Wesleyan College, and as a faculty member in English and associate dean at Illinois College. He also serves as a higher education expert through local and national media, including writing a column on academic issues for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Abernathy is married to Rebecca Wee, a poet and associate professor of English at Augustana. They are the parents of a six-year-old son, Rohan, and 18-month-old daughter, Maren.

For additional information or questions, contact Kamy Beattie, director of public relations at kamybeattie@augustana.edu or (309) 794-7721.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls nearly 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 60 majors and areas of study. Augustana employs 226 faculty and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it has always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.

            • -end-

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded competitive grants totaling $1,544,834 to Iowa Fire Departments through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants' Operations and Safety and Vehicle Acquisition Programs.

"Day in and day out, firefighters put their lives on the line for the good of the community," Grassley said. "It's important that firefighters have the necessary equipment and training to help keep the community safe."

FEMA will distribute the money as shown below ordered alphabetically by town.

Through the Operations and Safety Program:

· Ames Fire Department in Ames will receive $46,591.

· Anamosa Volunteer Fire Department in Anamosa will receive $28,975.

· Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department in Bellevue will receive $93,338.

· Chester Fire Department in Chester will receive $32,640.

· Coggon Fire Department in Coggon will receive $30,482.

· Coin Fire and Rescue in Coin will receive $79,800.

· Douds Community Fire Department in Douds will receive $17,775.

· Elliott Volunteer Fire Department in Elliott will receive $8,550.

· Farmersburg Volunteer Fire Company in Farmersburg will receive $15,675.

· Frederika Volunteer Fire Department in Frederika will receive $45,033.

· Garrison Fire Department in Garrison will receive $5,320.

· Geneva Fire Department in Geneva will receive $23,361.

· Grand Mound Volunteer Fire Company in Grand Mound will receive $36,262.

· Marcus Fire Department in Marcus will receive $32,437.

· Meriden Volunteer Fire Department in Meriden will receive $6,012.

· Amana Benefited Fire District in Middle Amana will receive $127,103.

· Morning Sun Fire Department in Morning Sun will receive $75,150.

· Newton Fire Department in Newton will receive $54,390.

· Panama/Washington Township will receive $33,250.

· Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department in Pulaski will receive $38,885.

· Victor Fire Department in Victor will receive $47,358.

· Washta Fire Service in Washta will receive $33,155.

· Welton Volunteer Fire Company in Welton will receive $40,480.

Through the Vehicle Acquisition Program:

· Batavia Volunteer Fire Department in Batavia will receive $154,850.

· Douds Community Fire Department in Douds will receive $58,095.

· Indiana Township Fire Department in Knoxville will receive $142,500.

· McCallsburg-Warren Township Fire/EMS Agency in McCallsburg will receive $123,367.

· Winfield Benefited Fire District in Winfield will receive $114,000.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grants Operations and Safety Program supplements training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellness and fitness, and health and safety modifications to stations and facilities.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grants Vehicle Acquisition Program helps purchase vehicles including, but not limited to, pumpers, aerials, quints, brush trucks, tankers/tenders, rescue vehicles, ambulances, foam units and fireboats.

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Chicago, January 26, 2010 ? A report released today shows Illinois has made dramatic improvements in the website designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while other states have failed to make vital information available.

This is the finding of Show Us the Stimulus (Again), a report released today by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) and produced by Good Jobs First, a non-profit research center based in Washington, DC. The report updates a similar study published last July.

"The state of Illinois has turned it around. Last summer we were a national embarrassment when it came to transparent stimulus spending," said Brian Imus of Illinois PIRG. "Now we are a national leader. Transparency in government is an important step in restoring the public's confidence in Illinois government."

The full text of the report as well as the appendix for Illinois and other states can be found at www.goodjobsfirst.org/stimulusweb.cfm.

"Some states are making great strides in fulfilling President Obama's promise that the Recovery Act would be carried out with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability," said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy. "Led by Maryland, which again receives the highest score, these states' ARRA websites do a good job in helping taxpayers understand and evaluate the role of the Recovery Act in job creation and state fiscal relief."

The study examines the quality and quantity of disclosure by official state websites on the many different ways that more than $200 billion in ARRA funding is flowing through state governments to communities, organizations and individuals. It examines the availability of information on spending programs as well as specific grants and contracts including data relating to jobs and the geographic distribution of spending within states. Using seven main criteria, each state was graded on a scale of 0 to 100. Illinois received a score of 69 and ranked 7th nationally.

The states scoring highest for transparency of stimulus funds in the new report are: Maryland (87), Kentucky (85), Connecticut (80), Colorado (72), Minnesota (72), Wisconsin (72), California (69), Illinois (69), Oregon (67), Massachusetts (65), Georgia (64), West Virginia (64), New Mexico (62), New York (62), Pennsylvania (62), Montana (61) and Arkansas (60).

At the other end, the ten states with the least adequate information on ARRA programs and specific projects, starting from the worst scoring, are: North Dakota (5), District of Columbia (6), Missouri (10), Alaska (13), Vermont (13), Louisiana (16), Mississippi (17), Idaho (18), Oklahoma (18), Texas (18) and South Carolina (19).

Although changes in methodology make exact comparisons impossible, some states improved greatly since a similar ranking in July. Kentucky soared from 47th place to 2nd; Illinois jumped from 50th to 7th; Minnesota climbed from 34th to 4th and Utah rose from 50th to 24th place.

"We are impressed by 'Cinderella' states such as Kentucky and Illinois, which were ranked at the bottom in our previous assessment but broke into the top tier in the new ranking," said Philip Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First and principal author of both reports. "Numerous others have also improved their sites and are effectively incorporating the data states are helping to collect for the federal government's Recovery.gov website. The state sites and Recovery.gov both have vital roles to play in helping the public evaluate the Recovery Act's performance."

Here are highlights of specific findings:

  • Most states do a good job of providing information on the composition of their ARRA spending, both in broad program categories (energy, housing, transportation, etc.) and in narrower ones. Only the District of Columbia provides no program allocation information at all.

  • Geographic breakdowns (by county or locality) are less common than summaries of spending by program category. Twenty-seven states provide geographic information, often with interactive maps, including Illinois.

  • Only three states?Kentucky, Maryland and Wisconsin?provide side-by-side comparison of the geographic distribution of spending with patterns of economic distress or need within the state.

  • Besides overall spending amounts, state residents can see where individual ARRA projects such as the repaving of a road or repair of a school building are taking place. More than half the states (28) now have some kind of project mapping feature on their ARRA site, including Illinois.

  • Via maps or otherwise, Illinois was among 41 states in providing one or more of the following types of detail on projects funded through ARRA grants and contracts: description, dollar amount, recipient name, completion status, and the full text of contracts or grant awards. Four states?Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Hampshire?included all these elements.

  • Ten states have no information about actual job creation on their websites: Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina and the District of Columbia. By contrast, 16 states list jobs data on individual projects as well as totals by program area and for the state as a whole.

  • Only five states?Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi and New Hampshire?provide the full texts of at least some ARRA contract awards.

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The Next-Generation Ford Explorer to be Made in Chicago

CHICAGO - January 26, 2010. Governor Quinn today joined with Ford Motor Company to announce the addition of 1,200 new jobs at Chicago-based manufacturing facilities to produce the next-generation Ford Explorer SUV. The auto maker will invest $400 million to launch the project.

"The production of the new Ford Explorer will create 1,200 new jobs in Illinois and make way for a brighter economic future," said Governor Quinn. "I want to commend Ford for investing nearly $400 million in its Chicago-area manufacturing facilities to increase production and staff."

Ford's $400 million investment includes approximately $180 million in manufacturing investment at the site and approximately $220 million for launch and engineering costs. In addition, Ford will be making significant investment in supplier tooling to support next-generation Explorer production.

The auto company is benefiting from Governor Quinn continuing effort to create and maintain jobs in Illinois. On December 14, Governor Quinn sign into law the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit for auto manufacturers. That EDGE tax credit enables the auto industry, which is among Illinois' largest employers, to retain employee income tax withholdings as an alternative to current EDGE corporate tax credit and reinvest those funds into operations that generate greater employment.

"Governor Quinn immediately understood the importance of helping Ford by proposing and passing legislation that provides us with an alternative way to claim and secure these important tax credits," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "We are grateful for his support of Ford and auto manufacturing in Illinois and want to thank him for his leadership in this area."

"The Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit that I put the full weight of my Administration behind and signed into law will provide much-needed relief to our State's ailing automotive industry and prove to be a necessary incentive for one of our nation's leading car companies to stay and thrive in the Land of Lincoln," said Governor Quinn.

The new Explorer will deliver at least 25 percent better fuel economy than the current model.  The vehicle will feature unibody construction, Ford's EcoBoost engine technology, a six-speed transmission and lightweight materials. Ford will unveil the new Explorer later this year.

Since taking office, the Quinn Administration has assisted in putting together more than 55 business investment packages, which have led to companies expanding and creating and retaining jobs in Illinois. In total, these projects will create more than 3,000 jobs, retain more than 8,800 jobs and leverage nearly $1.32 billion in private investment.

For the complete "Illinois Economic Recovery Plan: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow," please visit: Illinois.gov/gov.

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January 20, 2010

City Manager, John Phillips announced today that he has asked Police Chief John Wright to continue serving as Police Chief for up to three additional months while the search for his replacement is underway. Phillips said, "Chief Wright has graciously agreed to extend the date of his retirement for up to three additional months".

Chief Wright announced his retirement late last year with an effective date of January 29th, 2010. He would now extend the date through April 30th, 2010 or earlier if his replacement can begin before that date.

Phillips said asking Chief Wright to continue to serve was his first preference, due to the number of projects and issues the City and the department currently face. These include the 2010- 2011 City budget, negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police and Command Officers, Safer Community Task Force and review and discussion of downtown security issues.

Chief Wright said, "I have had a wonderful career with the Rock Island Police Department and if I can help out by staying a little longer, I am glad to do it".

Phillips further announced an online survey on the City's website that seeks the views of citizens on the most important characteristics, skills and experience for the City's next Police Chief. The survey can be accessed on the City of Rock Island's website, www.rigov.org.

DES MOINES, Jan. 20, 2010 - Advocating for more affordable, accessible and quality health and long-term care, and financial security for older Iowans are AARP's key areas of focus for Iowa's 83rd General Assembly, which convened Monday, Jan. 11. Specific legislation AARP state staff and volunteers will be focusing on includes:

*       Protecting critical Medicaid funding
*       Protecting funding for identified unmet home and community needs of older Iowans
*       Protecting the quality of long-term care in Iowa's nursing homes and other institutional settings
*       Working to implement cost-effective ways to improve Iowa's health care system, such as improving Iowa's chronic care delivery through steps like creating a statewide diabetic registry and regionalizing IowaCare - Iowa's system for providing care for low income and under-insured Iowans
*       Addressing Iowa's impending nurse shortage
*       Providing sensible consumer protections from extreme predatory lending practices

"In this tough economic climate, AARP will be working diligently to protect our most vulnerable citizens and ensure that Iowa's human needs are met at this critical time," said Bruce Koeppl, AARP Iowa State Director.  "With increasing demand on state Medicaid services due to the economic downturn, it is imperative leaders protect critical Medicaid funding," said Koeppl. 

For every dollar Iowa cuts in Medicaid, the state loses $1.68 in federal matching funds.  Medicaid not only provides a safety net to the increasing number of people suffering the hardships of job loss, disability and lack of access to insurance, it also provides essential economic benefits to local communities.  Medicaid cuts cause a ripple effect with lost jobs, and lost revenue to providers and other businesses, as well as tax revenue for state and local governments.

AARP sets its annual state legislative priorities consistent with national policies approved by the association's Board of Directors.  Priorities are based on the needs of Iowa residents as expressed in survey of members across the state, and information gathered at AARP-sponsored forums and events throughout the year. 

To get involved with AARP in contacting your legislators or learning more about AARP's efforts during the legislative session, call the AARP Iowa State Office toll-free at 1-866-554-5378 or visit www.aarp.org/ia.

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WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Jan. 20, 2010 - Lawmakers sent legislation to the Governor yesterday requiring school districts to use their cash reserves before levying to raise taxes on property owners. While House File 2030 may delay property tax increases in some districts, it will not address the shortfall in state aid caused by Iowa's across-the-board budget cuts, which will result in higher property taxes according to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).
"Until Iowa enacts real budget reform, our government will continue to balance the state budget on the backs of property tax payers," says Lang. "Reform is necessary for a long-term stable and predictable budget."
To improve the state's budgeting process, Farm Bureau members are asking decision makers to establish an affordable state budget that will: 1) fund Iowa priorities and lessen the potential shifts in property taxes; 2) ensure that the state's emergency funds are at a level sufficient to protect priorities when revenues are declining; 3) create fiscal responsibility by not using one-time resources to fund on-going expenditures; and 4) protect property tax payers when across-the-board cuts are enacted.
While all property owners will see increased taxes as a result of the state's across-the-board cuts, some will feel the pain immediately. Preliminary data from fiscal year 2009 shows that 133 school districts in the state will not be able to cover the void left by Iowa's 10 percent across-the-board budget cut late last year. Those 133 districts face $115 million in possible property tax increases, according to an analysis by the IFBF.
In a related move, the state legislature decided to postpone setting allowable growth for 2012 until next year. "The legislature's decision to wait until next year to set allowable growth for 2012 makes sense, given the uncertainty surrounding the budget process and today's economy," says Lang.
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Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $18,530,708 in funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to assist the communities of Rock Island, Moline, and Sterling.

GROWTH created the Northwestern Illinois Coalition for this NSP program. GROWTH will serve as the Lead Applicant to administer the overall program and will work in concert with four Consortium Partners including: City of Moline, City of Rock Island, City of Sterling, and Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

NSP is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and is designed to spur economic development in hard-hit communities and create jobs. GROWTH is one of nearly 60 applicants nationwide to receive an award. Total awards amount to $2 billion.

"We are so excited to receive this allocation! This award will help stimulate our economy, create jobs, and help stabilize our neighborhoods," commented Brian Hollenback, President of Renaissance Rock Island.

The original request for funding totaled $35,295,425. At this time, GROWTH does not know what exact projects have been funded. Specific areas, or census tracts, in each community would be eligible for program funding.

The original application requested:

Purchase-rehabilitation of homes  57 units $   7,540,000

Redevelop vacant property for housing  145 units $20,675,000

Demolition of homes    49 units $     751,750

Financing mechanisms for homebuyers 78 units $  3,120,000

General administration (10%)     $  3,208,675

Total      251 units $35,295,425

The following outcomes were projected in the original application:

  • Increase in median market values of real estate in targeted areas
  • Increase in the local tax base
  • Removal of blight to advance investment in new housing
  • 969 construction jobs created / 150 peripheral jobs impacted
  • 202 units made energy efficient
  • 49 units demolished
  • 202 low-to-middle income households gain long-term housing affordability

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