Friday, December 29, 2006

Best Bites

Accusations, apologies and accusations... We emptied the archives for the best political soundbites of the year in Iowa.

From their lips to your ears... with audio!

B.O. on the TV

The draft Obama folks have made it to Iowa. They're hitting the airwaves New Year's Day with a 60 second spot urging Obama to run for prez. I'm told they're not spending big bucks on the ad buy. Wanna watch?

Vonk is Zonked

He survived Christmas, but not the New Year. Looks like DNR head Jeff Vonk's out of the Culver cabinet. (What about former Culver foe Mike Blouin at IDED?) Here's the release...


(Des Moines) Today, Governor-elect Chet Culver announced that he is appointing Richard Leopold as the next Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"I am excited about appointing Rich to head up the Department of Natural Resources," said Governor-elect Culver. "This is an extremely important appointment and I feel Rich is the best candidate to protect Iowa’s environment and wildlife for future generations. As a sportsman, father and fifth-generation Iowan, protecting our environment is something I do not take lightly; and I know that by working together and bringing people to the table we can do this."

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the government agency that leads Iowans in caring for their natural resources. It is responsible for maintaining state parks and forests, protecting the environment, and managing energy, fish, wildlife, and land and water resources in Iowa.

"I am honored that Governor-elect Culver has asked me to serve in this position," said Richard Leopold. "I look forward to working closely with the Culver and Judge administration as the new Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. I know that our philosophies are similar on sustainable expansion of clean renewable energy for the 21st century, addressing our state’s water quality concerns, working to secure adequate funding for protection and enhancement of our natural resources, and other key issues."

Richard Leopold is the executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, the nonprofit coalition made up of 76 organizations and over 600 individual members working to improve Iowa’s natural environment. Richard has held a variety of biologist, naturalist, and administrative positions within the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Minnesota and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. From 1999-2002, Leopold served as the coordinator for IOWATER, Iowa’s statewide volunteer water-quality monitoring program.

He holds degrees in biology from Minnesota State University and Central Lakes College (Brainerd, Minnesota) and has just finished his master’s degree in natural resources ecology and management from Iowa State University. Richard is active in many conservation organizations, is the past chairperson of the Iowa Conservation Education Council and is a past recipient of the Izaak Walton League of America’s "National Honor Roll Award."

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Worst kept secret revealed: John Edwards still wants to be president. Was there any doubt?
He'll make his announcement in about 35 minutes here at the State Historical Building in Des
Moines, the building just about two blocks from Tom Vilsack's current (for the next two weeks or so, at least) official office. Edwards' Iowa stop comes before he even announces in his home state. Sure looks like he's planning on competing hard on Vilsack's home turf, eh?

Now's the time to watch which homestaters pledge their support where. I just ran into former gov candidate Ed Fallon. No love for the homestater. He's volunteering for Edwards right now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Who is he?

He knows people at the orphanage called him, "Kenneth." But should Tom Vilsack find out more? He told me he doesn't know.

The Gov told me today he read a letter from a nun from the Sisters of Charity in Pennsylvania last Sunday. He almost threw it out thinking it was a charity asking for money near the holidays.

But the letter said the nun found records from the Roselia Foundling Asylum and Maternity Hospital in Pittsburgh. That's where the Gov now knows he was born. Vilsack said his birthmother left him to be cared by the nuns after he was born.

His adopted mother, Dolly Vilsack, told him a fire destroyed the records. Vilsack says he's not mad at her (she and her husband, Bud, are deceased) "She was probably fearful I would be interested and that's understandable."

The nun told him the records could give him information about his natural mother's health, education, age and heritage at the time of his birth. He told me he's never really pushed to find out much about his mother. And he said he now worries it would be disrespectful to his adoptive parents.

He said he'll decide over the holidays about what to do. What would you do?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bye Bye Bayh

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh surprised some Iowa dems by deciding NOT to run for prez. I saw him last a few weeks ago as he was the headliner for a luncheon by the Greater Des Moines Partnership in downtown DSM. The media outnumbered the guests at the event. Bayh told me his family was behind him if he ran. But a few minutes later, he said he would meet with his family members over the holidays to see if he had their support (???) I walked away thinking this guy was running.

Add that to the previous news former Virginia Gov Mark Warner wasn't going to try, and it's been a pretty decent month or so for Gov Vilsack. If he can just knock New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson off the list, he'll corner the democratic governor-turned-prez-candidate market.

Here's the release from Vilsack's prez staff on Bayh's bye-bye...

DES MOINES, IA -- Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement in response to US Senator Evan Bayh's announcement that he has decided not to run for President:

"As Indiana Governor and US Senator, Evan has been an influential leader in our party, in his state and in our country. I look forward to working with Evan and other leaders with the courage to create change in America and bring our nation together to address the challenges that face America's families.

"Although he has decided not to run for President in 2008, Evan's voice and perspective as a successful Midwestern governor will be needed to ensure that Democrats retake the White House. Christie and I wish Evan and his family all of the best in their future endeavors."
Vilsack and Bayh have been friends for more than a decade. Each has been governor of a Midwestern state and chair of the Democratic Leadership Council."

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Duckin' the Daily

Tom Vilsack quacks his way onto national tv Monday. Vilsack's the guest on "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central (airs at 10pm Iowa time). Host Jon Stewart's been poking fun at the Gov's last name. He uses the Aflac insurance duck's quacks whenever he talks about Vilsack. All that national exposure ain't nothing to quack about (sorry, had to do it). More than a million people tune into the show each night. Expect Vilsack to ruffle a few feathers during his visit, I'm told, both literally and metaphorically. Don't miss the beginning of the show.

Speaking of fledglings, Obamarama has officially begun in Iowa. is up live. Drake student, Jordan Oster, is overseeing the early efforts. He told me it's a "fledgling operation so far". Oster grew up in Clive and helped out with Chet Culver's successful campaign for governor this last cycle.

Longtime Statehouse Sergeant-at-Arms Wilbur Rhoads passed away late Thursday night. He's been battling cancer that spread unfairly quickly over the past six months. Arrangements are pending.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

President Sagittarius?

Tom Vilsack just turned 56. He spent his birthday balancing his life. He's on a political trip in San Fran as he runs for prez. He's also as Gov trying to get a handle on the fed's raid of the Swift plant in Marshalltown. It was about a day and a half after the raid before his office sent out a release on the Gov's behalf.

It turns out December's a crowded month for the crowded prez field. In fact, December's the most crowded month of all.

Grab a calendar...




12 Mitt Romney



27 Christopher Dodd
28 Rudy Giuliani
31 Duncan Hunter


10 John Edwards
17 Newt Gingrich
24 George Pataki


7 Dick Armey


4 Barack Obama
24 Mike Huckabee
29 John McCain


12 Sam Brownback


4 Chuck Hagel
8 Dennis Kucinich
26 Hillary Clinton


15 Bill Richardson
19 Tommy Thompson
20 Joe Biden


11 John Kerry
13 Tom Vilsack
20 Tom Tancredo
23 Wesley Clark
26 Evan Bayh

So what is it with this Sagittarius crowd? Perhaps, it's in the stars. says this:

Sagittarius is well-suited to any career in which communication skills, knowledge, and inspiration are important. This is an employee who will be versatile, adventurous, and knowledgeable. They tend to be easygoing and good-natured and able to adapt easily to change.

The Archer enjoys a workplace that is lively and stimulating. They are not temperamentally suited to a job that is boring or with no opportunity for growth and learning. Sagittarius prefers a career that allows them the opportunity to expand their horizons, travel, and explore. Sagittarius natives do not like to be constricted in their daily routine or have to adhere to a lot of rules. Motivated by challenges and the chance to prove their abilities, this sign will become a life-long learner and will always be looking for new avenues to pursue. They may change careers several times in their life.

No rules. No problem. Be president.

Iowa, Tell Us What You Know

Nevada hopes to make a smooth debut as the number 2 in 08. State dems there are bringing in Jean Hessburg, the former exec director of the Iowa Dem Party, and Jayson Sime, who ran Congressman Boz's successful re-election. They'll help run the state's caucus efforts.

As things stand now for 08, Nevada gets to host the second caucus, right after New Hampshire does the first primary.

Nevada gets the early start, with big help from homestate Senator Harry Reid, because of its diverse population, particularly blacks and hispanics.

BTW, the party says Tom Vilsack leads the prez pack so far with 4 visits to the Silver State (or Sagebrush State. Take your pick).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time to Open the Books

Just got this from the State Ombudsman's office...


State of Iowa
Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman

Date: December 11, 2006
Re: Investigation into Randolph Public Library’s Closed Session Violations

A public library board in southwest Iowa violated the state Open Meetings Law several times last winter, according to a report released Friday by State Ombudsman Bill Angrick.
The Ombudsman’s report, issued to the Randolph Library Board (Board), includes seven recommendations designed to stop the Board from further violations of the Open Meetings Law. The Ombudsman gave the Board an opportunity to comment on the report and recommendations, as required by law, but the Board chose not to respond.

The investigation resulted from a complaint that the Board did not have a quorum at its December 2005 meeting, when it fired a library employee. The Board was involved in legal negotiations with a company, and Board members at the meeting discussed those negotiations. Before that discussion, the Board asked an assistant librarian to leave the meeting, because she was a partner in the company. The Board did this at the recommendation of the city attorney.

The Ombudsman concluded that the Board effectively went into a closed session without following the procedures required under Iowa Code section 21.5, and also improperly discussed terminating the assistant librarian. The Board contended it never went into a closed session. Assuming the Board remained in an open meeting, the Ombudsman also concluded that the Board violated the Open Meetings Law by requesting the assistant librarian to leave the meeting.

During the investigation, the Ombudsman became aware of additional violations of closed session and meeting notices, and found the Board had contradictory rules for proxy voting and the required number of Board members. The Ombudsman concluded that the Board:

· Acted contrary to law when it subsequently provided the assistant librarian with a partial agenda for a meeting that was later cancelled.

· Acted contrary to law with its practice of allowing a member to vote on a matter before and outside the official meeting.

· Had six members, but it was unknown how this came to be, and there was no written policy for resolving tie votes.

· Required that only three of its six members be present at a meeting to call quorum, contrary to state law, which requires a majority of members be present in order to establish a quorum.

During the investigation, the Board reduced the number of members to five, and adopted a policy requiring that three members be present at a meeting before it calls a quorum, actions that the Ombudsman finds are in accordance with Iowa law.

Also during the investigation, the Board justified some of its actions by saying it had relied on the city attorney’s advice. In response, the Ombudsman’s report said a government body has an obligation to know the requirements of the Open Meetings Law, and while individual public officials who rely on formal legal advice may be shielded from liability for monetary damage, the governmental body can still be held liable for court costs and attorney fees.

The Ombudsman’s report concludes with the following recommendations to the Board:

1. The Board should not exclude any members of the public from its open meetings. If the Board wants to discuss a matter privately, it should determine if it can go into a closed session under Iowa Code section 21.5 and follow that procedure.

2. If the Board wants to go into a closed session, it should do so only under one or more of the eleven enumerated reasons stated in Iowa Code section 21.5, and only after it has followed the required procedures. In addition, the Board should limit the discussion to those matters for which it went into the closed session.

3. The Board should provide the complete agenda to all members of the public. Agendas must be posted in a prominent place that is easily accessible to the public. Agendas should contain sufficient information to inform the public the actions to be taken and matter to be discussed at the meeting.

4. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, states proxy voting “is not permitted in ordinary deliberative bodies” and generally discourages its use. The Ombudsman believes it also contravenes the intent of Iowa’s open meetings law for governmental decisions, and the basis and rationale for those decisions, be easily accessible to the people. Because it is highly questionable whether proxy voting is legally permissible to be used by Iowa governmental bodies, the Ombudsman recommends against its usage.

5. The Board should cease the practice of allowing a member to declare his or her own vote to the President prior to and outside the meeting at which the matter will be decided. The Ombudsman believes such action violates the intent and the implicit requirement of the open meetings law for members to deliberate and vote at the appointed meeting.

6. If the Board conducts an electronic meeting, it should ensure the public can hear the absent member through a speaker phone or other means. The minutes must state why a meeting in person is impossible or impracticable. The Ombudsman recommends the Board incorporate written rules on how and when electronic meetings will be conducted, and ensure they are in compliance with Iowa Code section 21.8.

7. The Board should ensure all its members are knowledgeable about the Iowa Open Meetings Law and Iowa Open Records Law, Chapters 21 and 22 of the Iowa Code, respectively. Relying solely on the legal council’s advice will not shield the government body from liability if the body fails to follow these laws.

Copies of the report are available on request, or from the Ombudsman’s website at

The Office of Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman investigates complaints about most agencies of state and local governments in Iowa. It may also help people effectively raise their concerns to government agencies or understand why an action was taken.

In addition to the website, Iowans can contact the office toll-free at 1-888-426-6283 [or in the Des Moines area at (515) 281-3592]. The office has a TTY which can be reached using the toll-free number or at (515) 242-5065. The fax number is (515) 242-6007. The address is Ola Babcock Miller Building, 1112 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

Dennis the Menace, Part 2

Good thing I saved my kernels. Dennis Kucinich is back in the race. Tuesday, Kucinich will announce he's running for president. Again.

Kucinich's peeps handed out these packets of "seeds of hope" when he ran the first time. They planted some corn in front of the Des Moines prez headquarters. But, if memory serves, it violated something or the other, so they had to take it out. Will it grow any better this time around?

Happy B., JFK


JFK turns 63 today. Perhaps, he'll tell a few jokes over cake and ice cream. Perhaps, not.

In case you wondered, "Kerry" is Irish, a derivative of Carey.

And f you want to wish him well, but just can't find the words...

It's Happy Birthday! in 97 languages

Afrikaans - Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag!
Albanian - Urime ditelindjen!
Alsatian - Gueter geburtsdaa!
Amharic - Melkam lidet!
Arabic - Eed melad said
Armenian - Taredartzet shnorhavor! or Tsenund shnorhavor!
Assyrian - Eida D'moladukh Hawee Brikha!
Australia - Happy Birthday
Austrian-Viennese - Ois guade winsch i dia zum Gbuadsdog!
Aymara (Bolivia) - Suma Urupnaya Cchuru Uromankja!
Basque - Zorionak!
Belauan-Micronesian - Ungil el cherellem!
Bengali (Bangladesh/India) - Shuvo Jonmodin!
Bislama (Vanuatu) - Hapi betde! or Yumi selebretem de blong bon blong yu!
Brazil - Feliz Aniversario, Feliz Feliz Aniversario
Breton - Deiz-ha-bloaz laouen deoc'h!
Bulgarian - Chestit Rojden Den!
Cambodian - Som owie nek mein aryouk yrinyu!
Canada - Happy Birthday
Catalan - Per molts anys! or Bon aniversari!
Chamorro - Biba Kumpianos!
China - Sheng Ri Kuai Le or Saang yaht faai lokik
Croatian - Sretan Rodendan!
Czech - Vsechno nejlepsi k Tvym narozeninam!
Danish - Tillykke med fodselsdagen!
Dutch - Hartelijk gefeliciteerd metje verjaardag
Ecuador - Feliz Dia del Santo
Egypt - Kule Sana Winta Tayib (boy)Kule Sana Wintie Tayyiba (Girl)
English - Happy Birthday!
Esperanto - Felichan Naskightagon!
Estonian - Palju onne sunnipaevaks!
Euskera - Zorionak zure urtebetetze egunean!
Faroes (Faroe island) - Tillukku vid fodingardegnum!
Farsi - Tavalodet Mobarak!
Finnish - Hyvaa syntymapaivaa!
France - Joyeux Anniversaire!
French-canadian - Bonne Fete!
Frisian - Lokkiche jierdei!
Gaelic - Co latha breith sona dhut!
Galician (Spain) - Ledicia no teu cumpreanos!
Germany - Alles Gute zum Geburstag orHerzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch zum Geburtstag
Georgian - Gilotcav dabadebis dges!
Ghana - Happy BirthdayMedzi dzigbe njkeke nyuie no wo (ewe tribal language)
Great Britain - Happy Birthday
Greek - Eftixismena Genethlia! or Chronia Pola!
Greenlandic - Inuununnu pilluarit!
Gronings (Netherlands) - Fielsteerd mit joen verjoardag!
Gujarati (India) - Janma Divas Mubarak!
Hawaiian - Hau oli la hanau!
Hebrew - Yom Huledet Same'ach!
Hiligaymon (Philippines) - Masadya gid nga adlaw sa imo pagkatawo!
Hindi - Janam Din Ki Badhai
Hungarian - Boldog szuletes napot
Icelandic - Til hamingju med afmaelisdaginn!
India - Sal Girah Mubarak
Indonesian - Selamat Ulang Tahun!
Irish - gaelic - La-briethe mhaith agat! or Briethla Shona Dhuit!
Israel - Yom Holedet Sameach
Italian - Buon compleanno! or Bun Cumpleani!
Japanese - Otanjyobi omedeto Gozaimasu!
Javaans-Indonesia - Slamet Ulang Tuanmoe!
Korean - Saeng il chuk ha ham ni da!
Latin - Fortuna dies natalis!
Latvian - Daudz laimes dzimsanas diena!
Lithuanian - Sveikinu su gimtadieniu! or Geriausi linkejimai gimtadienio proga!
Macedonian - Sreken roden den!
Malaysian - Selamat Hari Jadi!
Maltese - Nifrahlek ghal gheluq sninek!
Maori - Kia Huritau ki A Koe
Mexico - Feliz Cumpleanos
Mongolian - Torson odriin mend hurgee!
Native American - Haptee Hocuenera Hinigiren
The Netherlands - Van Harte Gefeliciteerd orHjertelig til lykke medfodselsdagen
Nigeria - Eku ojobi
Norway - Gratulere Med Daged
Persian - Tavalodet Mobarak!
Peru - Feliz Cumpleanos
Polish - Wszystkiego Najlepszego! or Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!
Portuguese (Brazil) - Parabens pelo seu aniversario!
Portuguese - Felix Aniversrio! or Parabens!
Quebec - Bonne Fete
Romanian - La Multi Ani!
Russia - s'dnom roshedenea or Sdnyom rozhdenya
Samoan - Manuia lou aso fanau!
Serbian - Srecan Rodjendan!
Spanish - Feliz cumpleanos
Sri Lankan - Suba Upan dinayak vewa!
Sudan - Aid Milad Jamil
Swedish - Grattis pa fodelsedagen!
Taiwanese - San leaz quiet lo!
Thai - Suk San Wan Keut
Turkish - Dogum gunun kutlu olsun!
Ukranian - Mnohiya lita! or Z D dnem naradjennia!
Venezuela - Hoy Es Tu Dia
Vietnamese - Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat!
Welsh - Penblwydd hapus
Yiddish - A Freilekhn Gebortstog!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Early Bird


Roll Call gave another reason for the Underdog fans to hold onto their cape. The article says Tom Vilsack's only the fifth to file his papers and formally announce his run for prez in the same year that held midterm elex since 1968.

Another guy who did that? Jimmy Carter.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One word...Hillary

(Is that pork, Mrs. C?)

She's calling the who's who in Iowa. She wants them to come meet her for dinner in D.C. next Tuesday. Sure sounds like Hillary Clinton is doing some serious thinking about the prez thing.

Why the sudden push? Gordon Fischer, the former Iowa state democratic chair, who is now pushing for Tom Vilsack, told me Vilsack has done so well on his announcement tour, that Mrs. Bubba had to get at it. Others tell me it's not Vilsack, it's Obama. Dems like to call him the "rock star" of the party. They argue that Mrs. C needs to let the big money (and the true organizational types) know that she may run. She needs to lock up their support and their money.

First woman prez vs. first african-american prez vs. adopted son orphaned at birth. Those Iowa caucuses could sure be somethin', huh?

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'll Be There

The "Meet Me, Like Me, Vote for Me Tour" is underway. Tom Vilsack is in New Hampshire.

A few tidbits left from my time with him in Mt. Pleasant...

Reach Out and I'll Be There (#1 in 1966) That was the song they played as the Vilsacks left the stage after the announcement. A staffer tells me that song played on Tom and Christie's first date...

The secret to the First Lady's Cheesy Corn Casserole? She told me it's lots of cayenne pepper (I tasted it. It has a hell of a kick to it).

Stress relievers for the Vilsack...(again, according to Christie) Her hubbie either goes for a run or paces the floor--like he did before his announcement speech. She scrubs the floors. I'm sure the White House staff would go for that:)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's On

The Mt. Pleasant High School's marching band just wrapped up with "Celebration". (Great tune. It was the theme song for the 1982 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals)

9:42a.m. This 9:30 event is now underway. The chair of the Henry County dems has started the program.

This place is pretty crowded...600, 700 maybe?

Now They're Coming

9:16a.m. now. Quite a few more people have arrived. It is icy outside. Maybe all that window scraping slowed people down. Someone's trying to put a huge banner up in front of the media riser. That won't be good, unless the Vilsack folks want the world to watch the back of the banner on their television screens, instead of Tom Vilsack on the stage.

Just tried to go get a Coke. Apparently, this is a Pepsi campus. Had to go with the Mt. Dew. I'll be bouncing off the walls, unless the twelve pounds of sugar in this thing rots out my teeth first.

Just saw former Dem party chair, Gordon Fischer. He's about to do a hit for the one of the cable networks. He got a lot of face time during the Caucuses.

They've moved the banner. "Main St. USA Needs Vilsack", it says.

Almost Time

We just arrived (re-arrived actually. We headed back to the hotel for a bit. Belgian waffles were really good, btw.)

Perhaps it will be a late-arriving crowd here at the Iowa Wesleyan Howe Center. Only one side of the bleachers is set up (30 minutes til this thing is supposed to start). But one third is reserved for Mt. Pleasant's high school marching band. Another third is marked "no entry". By my math, that leaves just one third for the "hometown crowd."

People are starting to move onto the floor in front of us. But at least so far, it doesn't look like they will be fighting for space.

A few things about the speeech. At least on paper, this won't be a long one. I'm told 10-14 minutes. Here's a safe bet. You will hear the word change a lot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Setting the Stage

They're still working on it. But this is what the Iowa Weslyan stage will look like (maybe with a little better lighting) when Tom Vilsack crosses it about 10am Thursday to tell everyone why he wants to become the next prez. They were still working on placing the hanging sign for over Vilsack's head (it's gotta look just right for the national cameras beaming this live to the world). Fox, CNN and NBC (MSNBC) are already here.

We just got back to our hotel for the night for what will be a nap 'til the a.m. show. We already missed the ghoulash here at the Heartland Inn. It was homemade. Nice touch. Makes me want to ignore the moth in our room.

Probably about 125-150 people for the potluck with the Vilsacks at the Mt. Pleasant Middle School earlier in the evening. Christie V went to school and taught here. The Vilsack boys went to school here, too. The room was fairly full, but is that a good number of people for the pre-launch meal for the hometown (sort of) boy? Some people blamed. It's cold and the rain has turned to ice. It ain't pretty outside.

The potluck was awesome. Great food. It reminded me of the spread my family has around the holidays. I tried the First Lady's cheesy corn casserole. A little too much kick for me. The meatballs were awesome though, so was the pumpkin bread. Not sure who made those. I wish I were related to them.

Off to bed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pardon the Interruption

Cross the PETA endorsement off the list. We did a story two weeks ago that showed Tom Vilsack plugging pheasants out of the sky (I'm not a hunter. But he seemed to be a pretty good shot). Now we find out he's not doing the annual pardoning of the turkey. His spokesman says the Gov was too busy interviewing candidates for the vacancy on the Court of Appeals. No time for turkey appeals.

Governor Vilsack & Lt. Governor Pederson Thanksgiving Day Message

DES MOINES – Governor Vilsack and Lt. Governor Pederson released the following statement today in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday:

"Today we take this opportunity to gather together with family, friends and neighbors to reflect on the past year, with all its great joys and struggles, and to give thanks for the health and happiness of those we love and the blessings we have received.

"On this Thanksgiving we commemorate the first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims, who had traveled to a new land in search of freedom from religious persecution, gathered with their Native American friends to break bread and celebrate a bountiful harvest.

"We hold in our hearts the thousands of Americans in uniform who continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and remember the many Iowans who are far from home and their family this year. Forty-seven Iowans have perished in these conflicts, and on this day, we keep their families in our prayers.

"Let us remember and acknowledge the many millions of people worldwide who are less fortunate – those who live in abject poverty, those without clean water or sufficient food, those who suffer from the widespread AIDS epidemic and other diseases, and those without basic medical care. We give thanks to those who dedicate their lives to relieving human suffering.

"This year, we recognize our heritage as a country of immigrants and are grateful for the many rich contributions each generation of new Iowans makes to our culture. We are grateful for the many blessings we enjoy by virtue of living in a land of tremendous opportunity and strong communities.

"And as we finish our last holiday season as Governor and Lt. Governor, we are thankful for the support we have received from Iowans over the last eight years, and to have had the opportunity to serve you and move our state forward.

"We wish everyone in Iowa and across this country a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

(Photo Courtesy: Buena Vista Home Video)

So it won't be all love at the lunch table when the dems get together next session. Gov-elect Culver wants cig tax hike and said during the campaign (much to the chagrin of some fellow dems) that he'd allow re-instatement of the death penalty in certain cases. House Speaker-elect Pat Murphy didn't sound too keen on the cig tax. He told us he'd wait to see if it's in Culver's budget next year. He flat-out said, "no" to the death penalty. Murphy said he'd "kill it".

Don't look for drama on abortion, it seems. Murphy's gone anti-abortion rights in the past. Soon-to-be-senate majority leader Mike Gronstal is pro-abortion rights. When someone asked Murphy if he'd sign changes to restrict abortions, he said, "With a pro-choice leader in the senate, I think the Cubs have a really good shot at winning last year's World Series." Give it a minute. It'll make sense. Someone pass the potatoes, please.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Breaking News?

Apparently, there's some "breaking news" out of the Capitol. Just a few hours before the event, this just arrived...

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2006
Contact: Brad Anderson


Governor-elect Culver to Meet with Secretary of State-elect Mauro
(Des Moines) Today Governor-elect Chet Culver will meet with and discuss transition with Secretary of State-elect Michael Mauro. There will be a brief photo-op and both Governor-elect Culver and Secretary of State-elect Mauro will give brief remarks.
Tuesday, November 14th
Governor-elect Culver and Secretary of State-elect Mauro meet to discuss transition.

WHEN: 3:45 pm
WHERE: Outside the Secretary of State’s Capitol Office

Thursday, November 09, 2006

He'll Have a Cup of That Mojo

(O.K., bumper stickers, I get. Buttons? Sure. But this???)

Seat for one on the Mojo express. Name? Thomas J Vilsack.

The Gov's looking to ride this democratic tidal wave all the way to the White House. (Have I worked in enough cliches yet?) Not only did his best friend turn in the official "I-want-to-start- hitting-up-people-for-money-so-I-can-run-for-president" papers in D.C. today, but the gov told his other best buds he will run for prez.

His campaign even released the schedule for "the official announcement" November 30th. It'll all start in Mt. Pleasant, Main Street U.S.A. Add in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, plus the gov's hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and his two-day kick-off is complete.

Let's what kind of national press he gets. For him to be a national player, he'll need it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's been a hard day's night...

And We've all been working like dogs. Here are some pictures of election day behind the scenes.


Let There Be Light

Checklist for the night at the Culver HQ:

Colorful signs--check
Place for us to stand--oops
Lights so we can actually see Culver take the stage--oops

We call them "risers". We set up our television camera on one. We stand on another. It makes us higher than the room, so we can see the stage over the top of people's heads. They finally arrived after we started doing our live shots for the 5pm shows. Oops.

We call them "lights." They help us see. Nobody apparently made sure we could see. Fortunately, WHO-TV's photojournalists Brian Fiser and Lee Rouse put up some lights. Thanks, guys. Oops averted. On with the show...

Day of the Donkey

The optimism is flowing faster than the drinks waiting for the guests out in the hallway here at dem hq at the Hotel Fort Des Moines in Des Moines. There are definitely smiles aplenty.

Senator Tom Harkin got some early numbers back from the East Coast. He told me it looks (not a certainty yet) that the dems could take the U.S. Senate (seems like everyone thinks they'll take the U.S. House). He says to especially watch Rhode Island and Montana (repubs have them both right now).

Harkin said he hasn't seen this type of call to push out a party since 1974 following the Watergate mess with Prez Nixon. BTW, this is the same year Harkin got voted into Congress. He said he started to feel in August that big changes could happen. He said he heard constant talk about people's unhappiness with Prez Bush, especially his handling of the war in Iraq.

Governor Tom Vilsack was just as hopeful. He's also holding out hopes that his party will take the U.S. Senate. He's feeling more and more confident that on the state level there will be a democratic trifecta, the gov's mansion and the house and senate. Lt Gov Sally Pederson seems equally as hopeful. The Gov promised a short night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hold On For One More Day...

Hours til the polls open. Some questions to close things out...

1. Does Leonard Boswell realize he also is a millionaire politician?
2. Who will be the first to call Governor Culver "biscuits"?
3. Why did the race of the nice guys (Merle Johnson and Larry Noble--btw, I live in their district) give in and go negative?
4. Will Dave Lamberti give it another shot if he loses to the Boz?
5. Did Jim Nussle run his last run if he loses?
6. What if Nussle's right about his late surge in the polls this weekend?
7. Why do Tom Miller, Dave Vaudt and Mike Fitzgerald have no opponents?
8. Why are republicans asking, "what went wrong?"
9. How many rallies did Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon actually show up for Chet Culver?
10. How many times has Bob Vander Plaats stepped foot in the metro since he became Nussle's number two?
11. Will all of a sudden everyone have to know where House District 52 is after Tuesday? (Mary Lou Freeman's seat)
12. What will Ed Fallon and Sally Pederson do after January?
13. When will Tom Vilsack announce he's running for President?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Honest Abraham

Apparently an honest Christian is what many of you want to see in our next Governor of Iowa. Sandy Madden emailed, "Honest and trustworthy. The kind of guy that you would want to sit down and have a cup of coffee and discuss current affairs. " She added, "Someone who can look you straight in the eye and not have to avoid eye contact."

Melody is looking for a Christian and she questions how you can be one if you engage in negative campaigning. "I would like to know why when our politicians are pleading their case as the best candidate for the job based on their track record, their morals and their vision for the future; they insist on bashing the other part as immoral, lacking vision and their inability to make good choices? If history has shown us anything, it is that our moral compass should be found at home and not in politics." She concluded, "You can't tout yourself as a devout Catholic, Christian or anything else but go against the moral code of what is fundamentally good or right by partaking in backbiting, hypocrisy and playing the blame game like we did when we were kids."

749 of you responded to our WHOTV.COM survey asking you to tell us the top quality our next state leader should have.

Here are the numbers:

Honesty 20.6%
Integrity 18.2%
Is a Christian 13.6%
Does what majority of Iowans want 8.5%
Works well with everyone/every political party 8.3%
Passionate about Iowa's future 8.1%
Morality 7.1%
Leads others effectively 5.5%
Cares about people 5.5%
Explains positions clearly 4.7%

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Let's Talk About It...

Still can't make up your mind? Here's your chance. From 8-10 this morning, two bigwigs from the political parties will join us on Today in Iowa Saturday to answer your questions and respond to your thoughts on the issues and candidates for Iowa Votes 2006. Dave Roederer will handle things from the republican side. Lt. Governor Sally Pederson will have the democrats' perspective. Post your thoughts and questions here and get some answers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vilsack for President

It's official. Tom Vilsack is running for President of the United States. Oops. Maybe not. Or at least not yet.

KWQC-TV in Davenport reported Vilsack told its reporter in an exclusive interview today that he was running for president. The phone call I got after news of that story almost made me lose my Perkin's brunch (ever tried that twinberry syrup there?). Of course, I burned up my cellphone trying to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, all the Governor said was that he was "seriously thinking" about running. As you know, that's been his answer for the last few months. Phewh! Of course, in the end, what the station reported may not be so wrong after all. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pachyderm Pride

It's an elephant stampede across Iowa. Check out this list and tell me if the republicans are concerned about getting out "their base" on election night...

President George W Bush
First Lady Laura Bush
Senator John McCain
Governor George Pataki
Governor Mitt Romney
Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Representative Newt Gingrich
Senator Bill Frist

I'm told we will likely see all of these people stopping in Iowa in the next week. Holy pachyderm!

Outside the Dome...

You know how some days just kick your a*$? Today was one of those. Slept badly. Couldn't seem to get caught up on election stuff. And, then, this came...

Chocodiles! I remember having them in Belleville, Illinois, where I grew up (before you ask, it's near St. Louis). Chocodiles are chocolate-covered twinkies. What more could you want in life? I mentioned a few months ago I had this completely random craving for them. And Mark Hoffman, an engineer here at station, remembered. He found them on-line. Who knew?

Chauncey the Chocodile. He got fired in the '90s as the spokesman. Was he too pimp?

Monday, October 30, 2006

8 Days

Apparently, Iowa loves Alex P. Keaton. The Culver camp claims 1,000 people showed up at Drake University Monday to hear Michael J. Fox talk about stem cell research. Too bad they didn't have chairs for them. The event started an hour late (Not sure why. No one explained it to the crowd). It didn't feel like the air conditioning was on either. The conditions proved to be too much for some people, at least that's what they told us as they left long before Fox showed up.

Those who stayed seemed completely "wow-ed" by Fox's appearance. They interrupted him numerous times as he spoke. Each time, he paused, acknowledged them and continued.

Fox said his former character, Alex P. Keaton, (who you Family Ties fans will remember was a devoted Republican) would approve of him fighting for stem research funding.

Fox also recalled another character of his, Marty McFly, from his movie, Back to the Future. Fox talked about how the future had been stalled because there hasn't been enough commitment to fighting diseases like Parkinson's. So he closed his speech by saying (this was barely audible because of the applause from the crowd) "forgive me, but it's time to get back to the future."

(Outside the dome...)

Not sure what to make of this, but Ellen Degeneres on her show Monday seemed to be wearing the same tie I wore the other day when I spilled my Cafe Mocha all over it.

(It's not too hard to see where the coffee ended up, huh? Can I send my dry cleaning bill to Caribou?)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Turning the Hose on Culver

So much for the whispers among the anti-Culver folks. Whispers, no more. Nussle's debuting a radio ad where the announcer asks, "is Culver smart enough to be governor?"

It's a direct response to that tv ad where Culver and Patty Judge stand in the "rain" criticizing the Earthpark project (bringing the human-made rain forest to Pella). The ad surprised some people, including some dems with whom I regularly talk. They say it's a natural to tie Nussle to those big-spending pork projects from other states, but to take on a big Iowa project and call it wasteful? But, then again, they say, What if it works?

(One little note...the radio ad announcer talks about Culver's rain hat. It's actually Patty Judge's rain hat, in case you care.)

Poor, Dave


The boy's name David is pronounced DAY-vid. It is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "beloved." makes it sound pretty good, huh? Letterman, Matthews, Chappelle, Barry, uh, Price. They all love the name. Lamberti?

Lamberti's now completed the trifecta: George W Bush, Laura Bush and Dick Cheney. They've all come to town to trumpet his skills in the 3rd district race. Too bad every one of them butchered his name. (O.K., maybe "butchered" is a little strong. How about "hacked"?)

"Jeff LAM'-berti", so said the Veep and First Lady. The Veep also used "Lam-ber-TAY".

Now the Prez commended the efforts of "Dave" Lamberti. Sorry, Jeff. But the money's good, right?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Have a Secret...

Let's see...Chet Culver has a secret. Republican conspiracy theory: Culver's bringing back Touchplay. That's why he's taking all the money from Touchplay supporters.

Today we found out that Jim Nussle has a secret. Democratic conspiracy theory: Nussle's expanding casino gambling. That's why he's taking all the money from casino owners.

The brain drain, workforce shortages, energy independence, tuition costs...surely voters don't need to hear about those issues as they decide which one of these two guys should be their next governor, right?

Is it possible all these dollars to the gub candidates will pay for revenge? Could it be that Touchplay owners are ticked that republicans screwed them out of millions by taking away their gambling machines? Could it also be that casino owners are backing republicans to make sure they don't have to deal with Touchplay competition?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Paging 007 and Don Henley


Conspiracy theories and secret plans...ooh, this governor's race is getting mysterious.

(During and following the fourth and final gubernatorial debate sponsored by The Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television) --Jim Nussle's alleging Chet Culver's devised a secret plan.

The pro-Touchplayers gave Culver wads of cash (including republican big-time giver, Bill Krause--the founder of Kum n Go, which stands to lose a gazillion dollars if Touchplay never comes back. You'll remember Krause was none too pleased with his party's nominee after Nussle stated he'd never bring back Touchplay. He pulled his support for Nussle. Who would have guessed he'd start writing checks for Culver. Although, Culver did mention during the debate that his uncle went to college with Krause. Maybe that's it. Maybe it has nothing to do with Krause wanting to help Nussle lose for opposing his business ventures).


So here's the secret plan...after Culver's elected, he'll give Touchplayers back their games or at least get them a good settlement with the state so they'll...

a) drop their suit and
b) get back some of their cash they spent on those too-close-to-slot-machines.

So what's the proof? Nussle said follow the money and we'd find it. We followed it. We still can't find that proof.


Culver calls the move "desperate", so did democrat surrogates after the debate, the two Toms, Harkin and Vilsack. Vilsack used football Saturday to offer a football analogy. It was a "hail Mary pass", he said, referring to the late-in-the-game, your-team-is-trailing-so-you-have-no-other-choice-move.

A couple other randoms from the fourth and final debate...(have you noticed not much news ever comes out of these, other than this time with the Touchplay replay talk?)

Culver criticized Nussle for not supporting a raise in the minimum wage. I asked if that meant he didn't think Nussle's pledge during the debate to raise the minimum wage was sincere (during the "Lightning Round phase").

Culver responded by saying Nussle failed to answer the question. I went back and checked the tape to make sure I hadn't blacked out during that part of the debate. Nope, Nussle answered it. And he said "yes" to the question. Although I don't recall Nussle before saying that he'd raise the wage with no strings attack (repubs have talked of raising the wage, only if tax cuts or other more traditional repub-friendly measures are tied to it).

BTW, we were wondering if we were even going to get to talk to Culver at all following the debate. Nussle came out first. Touchplay dominated his Q & A with us. Then the dems' surrogates arrived. After they left, we were told Culver wasn't coming. Then we were told he was. I wonder what changed?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Money, Money, Money

(Photo Courtesy:

Just got the latest money numbers...

Chet Culver

$ raised this period (July 15-Oct 14) $3,096,178
$ spent this period $3,641,002
$ on hand $707,781
$ raised (since Jan 05) $6.33 million

Jim Nussle

$ raised this period (July 15-Oct 14) $2,848,057
$ spent this period not provided
$ on hand $1,325,330
$ raised (since Jan 05) $7.1 million

Gov Vilsack raised about $ 8 million for his re-election campaign in 2004.