Honors, politics, and food were on the menu Thursday night at the Iowa City Federation of Labor's annual chili supper, held for the first time at the new Worker Justice Center on Gilbert Court.
The big award was a surprise extra Lifetime Achievement Award, given to City Fed president Patrick Hughes. Also taking home a previously planned lifetime award was Pauline Taylor of SEIU.
Jim Walters earned a Community Activist award but spent most of his speech talking up Jack Hatch. "If we don't beat Branstad I don't know if I want to live in this state." Hatch had been scheduled as the main speaker but stayed in Des Moines due to weather.
The annual Organization Award was given to Tom Harkin and his staff, represented by Tom Larkin. "We're on our last lap and we need to appreciate these moments," said Larkin, "but our job is to pass the baton on to Bruce Braley."
The hot issue of the evening was the proposed Community ID program, a plan to provide a local government ID to people who can't get official state ID. "It's not just immigrants," said City Fed VP Jesse Case. "It's senior citizens, it's flood victims. It's not an easy process without a birth certificate."
In order to help built legitimacy for the program, Case urged all in attendance to get a Community ID.
"We can make it work," said county attorney Janet Lyness, who's seeking re-election this year. "It will help protect vulnerable people in our community."
Four of the five county supervisors - Janelle Rettig (seeking re-election) and Pat Harney, Terrence Neuzil and Rod Sullivan (not up this year) - were on hand. Some smartass asked "where's the other one?" OK, it was me. Republican John Etheredge was not sighted. However, two possible successors, candidates Mike Carberry and Lisa Green-Douglass, were on hand.
Three members of the legislative delegation, Senators Joe Bolkcom and Bob Dvorsky and Rep. Mary Mascher, made it back from Des Moines in time for the event. All are seeking re-election this year. Also on hand was challenger David Johnson, hoping to "end the Kaufmann reign of error" in House 73, and Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.