Thursday, August 31, 2006

It Worked for Ramona

Interesting sales pitch at the CIETC board meeting today. DMACC squared off against ICHS (Iowa Comprehensive Human Services). Each pitched its case to CIETC boardmembers (those who have survived this scandal, that is) why its organization would be the best to serve as the financial monitoring service of CIETC.

ICHS's Executive Director Jim Underwood admitted it felt like a "David versus Goliath." In this case, David may not have had much of a rock for his trusty slingshot. He said DMACC's prez Rob Denson was kind enough to give him a copy of DMACC's presentation beforehand. But Underwood said he didn't read over it because he didn't want to feel "depressed."

Underwood also told the boardmembers how his organization (btw, he couldn't say for sure how much his group takes in a year or who the boardmembers were) has helped a lot of people over the years. He mentioned that one woman came to ICHS years ago. She had dropped out of high school and had very few job skills. Her name was Ramona Cunningham (are you drowning in the irony here?)
Of course, the CIETC board recently fired her after investigators found she was pocketing nearly 400 grand a year in salaries and bonuses.

The board unanimously voted against Ramona's alma mater to take over CIETC.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Big Teeth and Sore Legs

Gov V told me he was sore as he's now begun day 3 of his last annual trek across Iowa. He did a good bit of walking on day 1. Rain fell so hard that it "felt like sleet" according to one of his staffers. Tuesday a.m. in Ankeny wasn't all that much better. How he doesn't put on 20 pounds during the week is beyond me. The good, generous people of Iowa are always offering up a piece of pie at every stop. It's almost like RAGBRAI. Probably a good thing he runs part of the way.

Possible prez candidate Mark Warner stopped by to push for getting Michael Mauro to the Statehouse (to take Culver's job as sec. of state). He said dems are better and more committed to getting more people to vote.

The event wasn't quite tv friendly. They had a huge banner set up in front of a wall-long mirror. The "stage" faced a bunch of comfy chairs set up in "the party room" inside The Plaza downtown. It may have looked good. But, folks, just a hint. When the tv cameras shoot your guys in action, we don't want to see the reflections of their rear ends in the mirror. That ain't good tv, at least not with any of these guys. No offense, Gov, or Mr. Auditor.

After they moved things around, we were just about to start when Gov Warner stepped away from the cameras. He asked a staffer to check his teeth. He had just eaten minutes before. "I have big teeth, you know" he told me. Hey, it works for Julia Roberts...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who Said He Didn't Win the Caucuses?

Remember how candid Dennis Kucinich was when he ran for prez last time around? He told me he really was looking for a wife while he traveled the country. I thought I'd share this email I just got from him...

Our First Wedding Anniversary
Aug 21, 2006

Dear Friends,

This week marks for us our First Wedding Anniversary, a joyous occasion on which we would like to share with you this special picture taken on our wonderful Wedding Day on August 21, 2005. We recited the Prayer of Saint Francis to each other during our marriage ceremony. This beautiful prayer embodies the vision of our union. Our first year together has been filled with great love, adventure, and devotion to duty.
Dennis continues his work dedicated to workers' rights, universal health care, economic justice, prosperity, and peace. Elizabeth, who only came to America in April of 2005, is now working on a number of local and international projects in both Cleveland and Washington. Her areas of endeavor include environmental awareness, sustainable economic development, education, and creating a new discussion for peace. She also works closely with Annette Lantos, wife of Congressman Lantos and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus at the House of Representatives.
We both share a deep commitment to service and are proud to serve and represent you and the families of Ohio's 10th District in the United States House of Representatives.
We are so grateful for your support.

Dennis and Elizabeth

Ah, love and politics....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Winning the Corn

Iowa Corn Growers endorsed Jim Nussle. I asked a spokesperson, "why"? She said it was his record. Why I asked did you pick him over Chet Culver and maybe even more so, Patty Judge, the Sec of Ag? She said she didn't want to elaborate. Judge told me, she was "disappointed."

Corngrowers also went for Leonard Boswell over Jeff Lamberti. The spokesperson said it was his record.

Phillips vs. Mauro, Again

Gene Phillips will officially sign up this afternoon to take another shot at John Mauro for his Polk Co Supervisor seat. You'll remember Phillips took the seat from Mauro in '98. Then Mauro took it back in '02. Phillips will try the independent route this time. But will the "I" next to Phillips name or the "D" next to Mauro prove to be the most important letters here? Or will CIETC spell out to be more important?

Is there any irony that when Phillips submits his paperwork this afternoon he has to give it to the office of the Polk Co Auditor...the same place Mauro's brother heads? Ah, politics...

Monday, August 21, 2006


CIETC, it's the gift that keeps on giving to get us through what's usually a slow period for political news. But, of course, not in Iowa! At least not this year.
CIETC's attorney is going to talk about the two sets of books (or at least by-laws) CIETC had. Maybe we'll find out how one organization has two sets of rules. Let's hope the answers are a little less confusing and contradicting than the answers from many people involved in these hearings so far.

Will anyone ever go to jail or at least have to give back some of ill-gotten money when this is all over?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kernels, Kernels and More Kernels

Apparently you like the idea of a woman heading the White House. We put in only 2 women in our group of 20 possible prez candidates in "Cast Your Kernel 2006" at the Iowa State Fair. And the women did quite well. (BTW, thanks to all 839 of you voted. That sure was a lot of kernels to count.)

Here are the results and what fairgoers may have told us.

The dems:

Hillary Clinton 33% (Love her or hate her, Iowans know who she is)
John Edwards 33% (Still popular. And how many ladies told me he's hot?)
Tom Vilsack 13% (At least he did better than the Des Moines Register's Poll)
John Kerry 9% (2004 is a long time ago)
Evan Bayh 3% (One guy called him Birch)
Russ Feingold 2% (Who is he, many asked us)
Joe Biden 2% (1988 is really a long time ago)
Tom Daschle 2% (Will he really run?)
Wesley Clark 1% (The General could be in for a quite a battle)
Mark Warner 1% (The new democrat is a new name to many Iowans)

The repubs:

John McCain 24% (Met many friends at the fair)
Rudy Giuliani 22% (9/11 made him strong among "r's")
Condoleeza Rice 22% (Never been a politician. Many here say she should)
Newt Gingrich 10% (Contract with America still pretty strong)
Mitt Romney 9% ("R" in a "D" state at home; middle of the pack here)
Bill Frist 6% (The doc may need some more patients)
Mike Huckabee 2% (Lost a ton, hasn't found a ton of support)
George Pataki 2% (Stands tall among peers, falls short in poll)
George Allen 1% (Is the Hall of Fame coach more known here?)
Sam Brownback 1% (So much for sharing the midwestern love)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fun at the Fair

John McCain made his 2006 State Fair debut. Corn dogs. He said he has to have corn dogs. I never witnessed him eating them. "It's better than nothing." That was his response to whether he liked the Iowa 1st, New Hampshire 2nd in the prez process.

Better than nothing? He said the process is good because it makes politicians talk with everyday people and understand what's important to them. I was a little confused. So I asked a followup. "Better than nothing, you said Senator. Does that mean there's something better?" He said he meant the process is good.

Someone asked him whether Arizona (his home state) had a state fair. McCain said, yes. But it doesn't have as many animals. Asked the obvious, let's-see-if-I-can-get-the-Senator-to-screw-up-question..."Which fair is better?" He then acted like he was choking and couldn't spit out the words, before he said, "they each have their own attributes." Nicely done, Senator.
(BTW, he may want to tell his female staffers the next time they come with him to the fair not to wear those open-toe shoes when they're traipsing about the cattle pavilion. Watch your step!

Steve King and Bob Vander Plaats both stopped by our Cast Your Kernel 2006 booth to vote for governor. We also ran into Jeff Lamberti. I didn't run into any dems today. Maybe tomorrow.

We'll do the presidentials Wednesday (10 dems, 10 repubs). Stop on by. We'll be across from the Midway.

Monday, August 14, 2006

6 It Is...Almost

There IS a sixth person who's "seriously considering" running for Brooks' spot on the DSM council. She's Jane Riessen. She's 28 and works as a lawyer for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities.
(Thanks to intern Jarrett Schneider for the tip. Jarrett, make sure your Drake journalism profs reads this)
So, sorry Brian Meyer. You're not the youngest anymore. There's a new kid in the race.

And Then There Were 6?

More and more names are crowding the list of peeps who want Archie Brooks' job. I count at least 5. I have a lead on a 6th, but I'm still working to get a hold of her.

Here's my list so far...

Som Baccam--She used to serve on the DSM schoool board. She worked behind-the-scenes to try to get Brooks kicked off the council. (41 years old)

Jo Anne Corigliano--She lost to Brooks in 1999. She works at Home Depot and helped start the South Side Revitalization Partnership. (62 years old)

Joe Henry--Helped Frank Cownie become mayor. He's a real estate agent. (49 years old)

Brian Meyer--He's the youngest of the bunch at 33. He's an asst. A.G. and is a DSM planning and zoning commish.

Becky Morelock--She's been a neighborhood activist for years. (59 years old)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Funnel Me Another Dog

Ah, Fair time. For all of you out-of-staters, you're really missing something if you don't try the Iowa State Fair at least once. I met a father and daughter Friday from San Fran who paid 300 bucks a piece on EBAY to make sure they got to see James Taylor while they were at the fair. (BTW, Taylor gave the shortest show I've ever attended. Plus, he took nearly a 30 minute break in the middle. To his credit, he did two encores and the second one had at least 3 or 4 shows. But since we couldn't even really see the stage from our seats, we were expecting a little more.) I'm told the Gov and Lt Gov took in the show. I didn't see them. Did see Patty Judge. That's not easy in a crowd.

A few of the presidentials and other politicos did the rounds at the Fair. Seemed to be a little confusion with the Pataki peeps. His camp told me to meet them at the Crystal Studios. When we got there, I found out they had gone to the Pork Producers' tent. No big deal, except we had just come from there. So we had to carry all our crap back through the masses a quarter mile or so back to the tent to get him. We arrived, sweat-soaked in the hot sun, and just caught the end of his remarks. Catch you next time, Gov. Safe bet he'll be back, I guess.

But at least we got the chance to talk with him. We wanted another prez possible, our Gov Tom Vilsack. But his avail was offered to members of the foreign press. The foreign press. I remember when the Iowa press could talk to him.

Other randoms...

Newt Gingrich mentioned Joe Lieberman would have likely won in Connecticut if the foiled terror plot happened closer to the Democratic Primary.

Senator Tom Harkin praised the British government for stopping the terrorists. He criticized the U.S. efforts. He wondered how security would be here if U.S. hadn't spent $300 billion plus on the Iraq war.

Congressman Tom Latham defended the efforts. He pointed out the $33 bil the U.S. spent to upgrade airport security and said it's a great success for the U.S. to help stop the terrorists.

Even more randoms...
Latham told me he can't do without a corn dog at the fair. Although his wife won't let him get mustard on it (Too hard to get out of his shirts?)
Harkin said one time a year he has to have a funnel cake with just powdered sugar. None of that other stuff.

For the record, we did the funnel cake thing, too. Although, ours was glazed and powdered. We tried those tator ribbon fries, as well (I think that was their name--sort of life thick potato chips) All good. Good thing this only comes once a year.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Saddle up


"Are they for clean water or are they not?" That's what the Gov asked out loud as he fumed to me about the Legislature's Rules Review Committee. The committee doesn't think DNR should have so much power in deciding where and whether those big livestock operations should set up shop. He clearly wasn't happy. Apparently, neither was House Speaker Chris Rants (or whoever crafted his press release response).

"It's like an old western movie. Except instead of riding out into the sunset to the cheers of the townspeople, the governor is blazing out of town in a black hat shooting out the store windows."

Giddeeup cowboys...I can't wait to the shootout at the OK corral November 7th.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fillin' the Seat

There seemed to be a little confusion about how to replace Archie "My job's not fun anymore" Brooks. Chris Coleman of the Des Moines City Council began the meeting this a.m. asking if members were going to vote on how to replace Brooks. But the city attorney said the agenda wasn't written up in a way to actually allow members to do anything official on the matter today. So basically, they met to set up a meeting for Monday.

Looks like they won't put a temp in Brooks' chair. Fourth Warders won't have someone to complain to until voters pick someone in a special election. That's looking like it will be December 12th (primary election) with the special election January 9th).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Goat

Steve Bartman=Archie Brooks?

Looks like dems have their CIETC scapegoat, or so they hope. Des Moines Councilman finally did what so many people, including very prominent dems, wanted him to do....quit. Chet Culver and Sally Pederson had both said Brooks should get out of office. Brooks finally did. Do you think the fact that the A.G. and the Polk County Attorney had told Brooks they were working to forcibly remove him from office had anything to do with Brooks leaving? Will Brooks' resignation be enough to shake the "stank" off this scandal for dems? Repubs hope not.

(Courtesy: Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Gene Phillips seems to be leaning toward taking on another CIETC figure, Polk County Supervisor John Mauro. Phillips told me he'll decide in the next week or so. You'll remember Phillips beat Mauro once before (he beat Brooks one time, too). Phillips said he'd be at a big disadvantage though time-wise and money-wise since he would be getting into this race so late. It will be interesting to see if Phillips can raise much money. Since repubs couldn't put up an anti-Mauro candidate of their own, will they put some bucks behind Phillips?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Changing Life Changing?

Visit Florida. That's what I'm doing right now. That's the slogan here. Pretty simple. Must work. Of course, all the beaches, the dolphins, year-round warm weather...I guess those make tourism pretty easy. Iowa doesn't have those things.

Life Changing. That is Iowa's slogan right now. Perhaps, Iowa's slogan is a little more important than Florida's. Would it really matter if Florida's was "Sure, you might die in a hurricane, but it's better here in January than where you live"? Thousand, millions, I guess, would still visit here.
Clearly Iowa has to find a way to get more people to want to visit the state. It needs to find a way to get more people who grow up in the state to stay in the state. Then, we can quit using that stupid "brain drain" phrase.

Will "Life Changing" do that? What do you think? Can you come up with a better one?
If you do have one, then, come on, send it in (Thanks, Publishers' Clearinghouse).
I'll pick the top 5 (We'll put "Life Changing" in, since that's what we have now). Then we'll all vote on the best one. Start typing.