Friday, February 29, 2008

Sexual Misconduct

As you might guess, when I get a news release emailed to me with this headline...

"Vander Plaats charges Culver with Sexual Misconduct"

well, to say the least, it attracted my attention. Now, Vander Plaats' people say that was a big "oops". Here's the subsequent headline on the "corrected" release...

"Vander Plaats charges Culver with "Sex-EDUCATION" Misconduct"

Here's part of the release:

Bob Vander Plaats, former high school principal and 2006 Republican Lt. Governor nominee, claims Chet Culver has sold-out Iowa's children, saying, "As Culver promotes a ‘model core curriculum’ for our schools, he denies Iowa's school children model instruction when it comes to pre-marital sex...abstinence."

The Gov's office offers this response...

From Iowa Dept. of Public Health Director Tom Newton:

“The Governor strongly believes in supporting effective programs that prevent unintended pregnancies and protect the health of our young men and women – and he doesn’t believe Iowa or any state’s hands should be tied by mandates from Washington.

“Research continues to show that the current format of abstinence-only funding does not effectively achieve its goals of reducing unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Teen parenting is associated with failing to complete high school education. We need to support evidence based reproductive health programs that have been proven to reduce unintended pregnancies and the cycle of poverty that often begins with failure to complete high school – instead of playing politics with the health of Iowa’s children.”

Ed's Apples, Boz' Peaches

Ed Fallon is sweet on his mom's pie (you, too, can have his mom's prized apple pie recipe if you give him your dough). He's not so sweet on his opponent in the 3rd District Democratic Primary Leonard Boswell.

But Boswell gets a little sweet revenge though. Today he received the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union Local 199 (5,000 nurses, janitors, child care workers).

I can't seem to find the Congressman's apple pie recipe. But I did find one for his "Died and Gone to Heaven Peach Pie".

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small package vanilla pudding (not instant)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 large can of peaches (3-1/2 cups), save the juice
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, pudding mix, egg, and milk in a large bowl. Beat for two minutes on medium speed. Pour into a 10-inch greased pie pan. Place drained peaches on top, then set aside. Combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 Tablespoons peach juice. Beat for two minutes until smooth. Spoon on top of the peaches and keep away from the edge -- about 1 inch. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

The Attack of the Gay Millionaires

Chuck Hurley vs. the Dems. Hurley is the President of the Iowa Family Policy Center Action. He claims out-of-state gay millionaires and billionaires gave a bunch of money to key Iowa Democrats to influence them to not debate a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Democratic leaders have refused to debate the idea and say they will instead wait for the Iowa Supreme Court to sort this out. They got a little fired up talking about this. WHO-TV 13 Photojournalist Dave Olson (the pride of Carroll, Iowa) put together this back and forth from the two news conferences.

Some highlights from the Iowa Family Policy Center Action release:

Researchers identified well known homosexual activists from outside of Iowa, and tracked large contributions made by those activists to Iowa Democrats, either directly or to organizations which could filter that money to legislators. Those organizations include the Iowa Democratic Party and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). Additional amounts in excess of $250,000 from many of the same homosexual activists went to the DLCC which was chaired by Senator Gronstal and which funneled hundreds of thousands more to the Iowa Democratic Senate Majority Fund. Just based on this initial research, a connection between out-of-state money and lack of movement on the Iowa Marriage Amendment (IMA) is apparent.

“Iowa Legislators are elected to represent Iowans, and once elected are paid with our tax dollars. Seventy percent of Iowans support protecting the definition of marriage, and Democratic leaders are refusing to represent the majority on this issue. A logical explanation for this, in light of the campaign contributions, is that Iowa legislators are more influenced by out-of-state money than by the Iowans who pay their salary,” said Tamara Scott, State Director of Concerned Women for America of Iowa.

Senate President Mike Gronstal:

"With this latest publicity stunt, Mr. Hurley has violated a couple of the Ten Commandments and committed at least one of the Seven Deadly Sins. But why should this surprise Iowans? Mr. Hurley's real motivation has always been hate-mongering and raising money from hard-working Iowans to cover his salary. It's a shame that he's more interested in spreading hate and lies than supporting policies that would actually improve the lives of all Iowa families."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Iowa's Really Locking 'Em Up or Maybe Not

The New York Times ran a story showing that Iowa has the second fastest increase across the country in incarcerations. But according to the Iowa Department of Corrections, that's not quite right. The Times' story shows the lockup rate is up 6.1% from last year. Corrections' Spokesman Fred Scaletta told me the lockup rate is actually down 1.6%. Is someone a little dyslexic?

Here are the highlights of the release Scaletta sent out:

The Iowa data in the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report, "Prisoners in 2006" consists of the on-count prison population of 8,838 plus the 37 Iowa inmates held in other states at year end for a total of 8,875. These figures in the report are correct.

However the Pew Report count for January 1, 2008 reports a count of 9,419 which includes work release and OWI offenders supervised by Community-Based Corrections. The actual prison count was 8,692 plus 40 inmates held in other states for a total of 8,732.

In conclusion, the PEW Report shows that Iowa’s prison population increased 6.1 % when in fact, during the reporting period, Iowa's prison population actually decreased from 8,875 inmates to 8,732 inmates, a percent change of about -1.6%.

Other than the issues stated above the Department finds that the report provides extremely valuable information and comparison data between the states.

The Vote

It's been a while since I got to watch a debate like I saw last night at the Iowa Statehouse. We didn't even find out until the afternoon that the smoking ban debate would actually happen. Ah, but when it began...

Waterloo Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler tried to get an amendment through that would exempt bars and taverns that serve only those only 21 and older. (His mom owns a bar back home). It was a close one. 24 senators went for it. Of course, it takes 26 to pass.
But the vote on the overall smoking ban was even more interesting. Debate didn't go on nearly as long as I figured. From start to finish, I think it lasted fewer than three hours. When voting began, the tally on the overhead board on the north side of the chamber rolled up to 26 votes. So the ban passed, right? Nope, one member took off a vote. I didn't get to see who that was. That took the vote back to 25 to 21. No decision yet. Some time passed. Senators and their staffs stood in the back of the chamber watching. And waiting. So did the lobbyists and the curious souls gathered in the balconies.

Who was holding out? A few Republicans: Sioux Center's Dave Mulder, West Des Moines' Pat Ward and Ankeny's Larry Noble. We watched Mulder study the board and then push his "yes button". That's 26 votes, if you're keeping score at home. The bill passed. Senators Ward and Noble soon followed with their "yes" votes. So did Grinnell Dennis Black....after he changed his previous "no" vote to "yes." 29 to 21 is your final score. Well, the final score until the House decides what it will do with it. House Democratic leaders say they'll likely not vote on this next week. They want to get a better read on what their members think about the Senate plan first.


I've been a big fan of Scott Spezio. He had some huge hits down the stretch as the St. Louis Cardinals made their World Series run in 2006. He has power, can pinch-hit, can play both corner outfield positions, 1st and 3rd base, fill in at 2nd base and can play stretches at a time in the starting lineup. Plus there's that Cardinal red soul patch that became all the rage in the stands at Busch Stadium. But apparently, he still can't seem to play sober. Or at least live sober. Disappointing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

I hate not knowing what will happen with this smoking ban debate. Hate it. Knowing is supposed to be an advantage of being in the media, you know...knowing what will happen before it happens. I don't know what I don't know on this one.

Last week, the House decided not to let people smoke in casinos or in some cases in their farm machinery on their farms. But the Senate State Government committee seemed to flip those ideas the opposite way: no smoking in casinos, but it's o.k. to smoke on the farm. So what does that mean for the full Senate? As I write this at 6:23pm on Tuesday, I still haven't heard whether the Senate will actually vote on this Wednesday (I'm told the decision won't come down until Wednesday a.m.).

Does that mean the votes are no longer there to pass this? Even if the votes are there, what will that mean? The House would have to get the bill back and pass the Senate version. Will that happen? Will a local option bill letting cities and towns make the decision be a compromise between the chambers instead? I hate not knowing.

Smile, Caleb

I received this pic later in the day to go along with an earlier post about the Republican Party of Iowa's new Executive Director Caleb Hunter.

Now, It's Official

Iowa Republicans have finally announced who is sitting in one of their top spots. Here's the release...

Iverson Announces New Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director

Des Moines – Republican Party of Iowa Chair Stewart Iverson named Caleb Hunter to serve as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa and oversee the day-to-day operations of the Party.

Hunter served as Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa from 2005-2006 and most recently worked at Lincoln Strategies Group, a West Des Moines Public Relations Firm. He previously worked for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and the Republican Party of Iowa’s Victory Campaign in 2004. Hunter is originally from Jesup, IA and is a 2001 graduate of the University of Iowa.

“I have worked with Caleb before and I am confident we have selected the right person to guide the Party through the remainder of the election cycle and continue to build the Party towards success in 2008,” stated Iverson.

Friday, February 22, 2008

RPI Top Choice

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Stewart Iverson has his man. Republican sources confirm to me Caleb Hunter is the top choice to become the party's new Executive Director. Officially, the State Central Committee has to approve the hiring Saturday at its meeting in Ames.

Hunter has worked for the party several times before, including a stint as Political Director. He has also worked for Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and most recently for Lincoln Strategies Group in West Des Moines.


Friday nights just aren't the same right now. Yeah, I'm a loser. But I miss my Must See TV (sorry, that's what they called it when NBC prime time actually won the ratings). Friday Night Lights has been off the air the past few weeks because of the writers' strike. There are rumors NBC won't bring it back next year. I haven't heard what could happen the rest of this year.
Except for that bizarre "self-defense" killing by Landry and that fake-looking tornado that hit town, the show has been great, even though it's less about football this season. Fans started up a website to convince the network to bring it back. Sign it!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Microsoft in Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls hasn't exactly been the talk of the Iowa Statehouse as a city with the best chance of landing that Microsoft expansion project in this state, but that doesn't mean the city isn't trying. The city is running ads in the Seattle newspaper to make sure it's top of mind in the bigwig's decision making process.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said Microsoft is considering two central Iowa towns for its operation (although there is no guarantee the company would even pick Iowa, as it is also looking out of state, as well).


The Associated Press reports one of my favorite shows is losing one of its best characters. Jesse L. Martin is leaving "Law and Order" and his character, Detective Ed Green. Martin will star as Marvin Gaye in a new movie, "Sexual Healing." Just when that show was getting good again...

Not a Good Year

ETC...My cell phone rang. The voice (after a lo-n-n-n-g pause) said it was John Rooney. He asked me to buy a Pujols Pack. I think that's what it was called. I don't remember the St. Louis Cardinals having to call people to get them to buy baseball tickets. They have that new stadium. They won the World Series a few years ago. I mean, they are the Cardinals. They have tradition!
Looks like fans haven't fallen for the sales pitch this off-season, huh? Apparently, fans aren't too optimistic about a team that wouldn't/couldn't find the pitching, hitting, speed and defense it needed to improve and would, at least on paper, seem to be even worse than last year. Crazy baseball fans...

Look in Their Inbox

Iowa's senators may have a busy week cleaning out their inboxes. Urbandale Republican Brad Zaun told me he received 143 emails in four hours time about the smoking ban (well, the smoking "almost" ban, if you don't count the casinos, tobacco shops, hotels, motels, private clubs...o.k., I'm tired of typing, so I'll just say..."etc.")

A house lawmaker shared a few of the juicier emails from the inbox...

Common sense and NO BS!! Smoking Ban Logic? There is no logic to the smoking ban being proposed. I am a non-smoker and I really don't care if other people smoke. That's their choice. If I don't want to be exposed to smoke, I just don't go where people are smoking. It is, after all, a LEGAL ACTIVITY. However, it seems a majority of you want to put unreal restrictions on this legal activity, because "it's unsafe",,,"it's harmful".

What you are trying to do is tell everybody that because smoking is so harmful and dangerous, we're going to make it legal to sell it and buy it,,,,,,YOU JUST CAN'T USE IT! Oh wait! You can use it yourself, you just can't use it around other people! Oh wait! You can use it around other people,,in casinos,,,but nowhere else---NOT EVEN ON A FARM!

If it is so damned dangerous, then outlaw it all together and quit playing these games! Oh wait,,,you can't do that, because it's only dangerous enough to some people. For the other people, we have to let them at least buy it, because we need the tax revenue to keep the state running. What would happen if we outlawed it and couldn't get any tax money from it?

Because it's such a dangerous product, we're gonna tax the living daylights out of everybody that buys it,,,,so we can spend the money to educate them on how bad it is,,,,so they don't buy it or,,,use it. (I guess they still need to buy it, cuz we need the taxes!) You guys are making my head hurt! Develop some principles and take a stand on an issue. Quit trying to play both sides. If it's dangerous, get rid of it! If it's safe enough to benefit from the taxes on it, don't choke a legal activity to death by restricting every aspect of it.

With this kind of logic, you might as well legalize marijuana too. "Hey, it's okay to sell it and it's okay to buy it,,,YOU JUST CAN'T USE IT! You can't smoke it anywhere anyway, cuz other people might be around and it's dangerous for them. But the good news is, we're gonna get a whole lot more tax revenue from we can tell you how bad it is for you."
It's no wonder people don't trust politicians!

NO GAMING EXCEPTION!!! UNFAIR - UNJUST - PROTECTIONISM -At least Illinois legislatures had the backbone to including gaming, instead of acting as patsies!All your doing is continuing to let the casino industry consolidate Iowa's money (and their control over legislation and inflated propaganda). Frontlines' Easy Money website --- the unwholesome relationship between gambling and government; -- the last thing our representatives want is an informed electorate; -- the unholy union of politicians and gambling industry folk that is subverting the democratic process.You must certainly know that the gaming industry has EVERY state on 5 & 10 & 20 year agendas, and they celebrate every time a legislature succumbs to their whim. Keep saying this to yourself, I'm not a pet on a leash, I'm not a pet on a leash, I'm not....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Smoking is O.K. Here, But Not Here

This is hardly light reading, I admit. But here's a look at the early amendments for the Smoke-Free Workplace fight.


H-8025 by Paulsen (R-Linn) – Strike Everything and Amends Current Law: The amendment strikes everything after the enacting clause and amends current law. Essentially, current law (Chapter 142B) prohibits smoking in a public place or public meeting place with more than 250 square feet, except in a designated smoking area.

In the case of restaurants, the prohibition only applies if the restaurant had a seating capacity greater than 50. The amendment changes current law by repealing the greater than 50 seating capacity criterion, so smoking would be prohibited in all restaurants except in a designates no smoking area

H-8033 by Upmeyer (R-Hancock) – Strike Everything and Creates Tax Credit: The amendment strikes everything after the enacting clause – leaving current law (Chapter 142B) in place, which essentially prohibits smoking in a public place or public meeting place with more than 250 square feet, except in a designated smoking area.

In the case of restaurants, the prohibition only applies if the restaurant had a seating capacity greater than 50. The amendment creates an annual $1,000 personal and corporate income tax credit for smoke free establishments. In order to receive the credit, the establishment must obtain a certificate from the Iowa Department of Public Health (DPH) verifying that the establishment is smoke free. DPH will adopt rules to establish a verification process. The taxpayer must then submit an applications to the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDR) accompanied by the DPH certificate. The IDR shall issue a certificate of entitlement for the smoke free tax credit containing the taxpayers name, address, tax ID number, credit amount and tax year for which the credit applies. This certificate must then be filed with the taxpayers income tax return to claim the credit. The credit is retroactive to January 1, 2008, for tax years beginning on or after that date.

H-8020 by Lukan (R-Dubuque) – Exempts Bingo Facilities. The bill exempts any property, including hotel and motel rooms, owned or operated by an entity licensed under chapter 99D (pari-mutuel wagering) or 99F (gambling boats and racetracks). The amendment adds an exemption for bingo facilities.

H-8026 by Boal (R-Polk) and May (R-Dickinson) – Strikes the Gaming Facilities Exemption. The bill exempts any property, including hotel and motel rooms, owned or operated by an entity licensed under chapter 99D (pari-mutuel wagering) or 99F (gambling boats and racetracks). The amendment strikes this exemption.

H-8018 by Lukan (R-Dubuque) – No Smoking In Vehicle If Person Under 18 Is Present: The bill prohibits smoking in motor vehicles owned, leased, or provided by an employer – except for vehicles provided by a private employer for the sole use of the driver and not used by more than one person as a driver or passenger during employment; in limousines under private hire; in privately owned vehicles not defined as a place of employment or public place; and in motor truck cabs or truck tractors if no nonsmoking employee is present. The amendment
prohibits smoking in any motor vehicle, if a person under the age of 18 is present.

H-8027 by Tyler Olson (D-Linn) –Distance Criteria/Veteran’s Post & Veterans Home Exemptions:

1. The bill requires designated smoking areas for outdoor sports arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, other entertainment venues, and outdoor restaurants to be at least 20 feet from any seating areas or concession stands. The bill also prohibits smoking within 50 feet of any entrance, operable windows, or ventilation system of a place of employment or a public place. The amendment changes this to a uniform 10 ft.

2. The bill exempts incorporated and acting posts or chapters of veterans' organizations operating under a Congressional charter, except when being used for a function to which the general public is invited. The amendment clarifies the wording to say “except when the general public is invited”.
3. The amendment adds an exemption for the Iowa Veterans Home.

H-8022 by Jacobs (R-Polk) and Clute (R-Polk) – Strikes Distance Criteria. The bill requires designated smoking areas for outdoor sports arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, other entertainment venues, and outdoor restaurants to be at least 20 feet from any seating areas or concession stands. The bill also prohibits smoking within 50 feet of any entrance, operable windows, or ventilation system of a place of employment or a public place. The
amendment strikes both the 20 foot and 50 foot distance requirements.

H-8023 by Raecker (R-Polk) – Areas Where Smoking Not Regulated. The bill specifically lists the following as places where smoking is note regulated:

1. Private residences, unless used as a child care facility, child care home, or a health care provider location.

2. Hotel/motel designated smoking rooms, up to a maximum 22% of all rooms and smoke cannot infiltrate into nonsmoking areas. All smoking rooms on the same floor must be contiguous The status of smoking and nonsmoking rooms shall not be changed, except to increase the number of nonsmoking rooms.

3. Retail tobacco stores if smoke does not infiltrate into nonsmoking areas. This is a store primarily selling tobacco products and accessories where the sale of other products is incidental to the sale of tobacco products.

4. Private and semiprivate room in long-tern-care facilities occupied by smokers that requested in writing to have a smoking room, if smoke does not infiltrate into nonsmoking areas. "Long-term care facility" is defined as a health care facility defined in section 135C.1, an elder group home as defined in section 231B.1, or an assisted living program as defined in section 231C.2.

5. Private clubs that have no employees, except when used for a function to which the general public is invited, provided that smoke does not infiltrate into areas in which smoking is otherwise prohibited. But this exemption does not apply to any entity established for the purpose of avoiding compliance.

6. Outdoor areas that are places of employment except those areas where smoking is prohibited.

7. Certain vehicles: Vehicles owned, leased, or provided by a private employer for the sole use of the driver and not used by more than one person as a driver or passenger during employment; limousines under private hire; privately owned vehicles not otherwise defined as a place of employment or public place; and motor truck cabs or truck tractors if no nonsmoking employee is present.

8. Smoking Cessation - Therapy - Research Programs: An enclosed area in a place of employment or public place providing a smoking cessation program or a medical or scientific research or therapy program, if smoking is an integral part of the program.

9. Casinos – Tracks: Any property, including hotel and motel rooms, owned or operated by an entity licensed under chapter 99D (pari-mutuel wagering) or 99F (gambling boats and racetracks).

10. Veterans Organizations: Incorporated and acting posts or chapters of veterans' organizations operating under a Congressional charter, except when used for a function to which the general public is invited. This does not apply to any entity established for the purpose of avoiding compliance with this chapter. Among other entities, this includes the American Legion, American Veterans (AMVETS), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Vietnam Veterans of America.
The amendment strikes all of these exemptions areas except #1 regarding private residences.

H-8036by Struyk (R-Pottawattamie) – Areas Where Smoking Not Regulated. The bill specifically lists the following as places where smoking is note regulated (see list in previous amendment description H-8023): The amendment strikes all these exemptions and adds:

1. A private residence, unless used as a child care facility, a child care home, or a health care provider location.

2. A public place, place of employment, or other area in which smoking is otherwise prohibited, if it utilizes equipment consistent with the standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers, a combination high-efficiency particulate air filtration, charcoal activated carbon and ultraviolet light filtration system, or other filtration system, any of which exchanges the air at least 10 times per hour.

H-8017 by Struyk (R-Pottawattamie), et al – Areas Where Smoking Not Regulated: The amendment does the same thing as the previous amendment H-8023, except that in addition to leaving the private residence exemption intact, it adds an exemption for any place of employment, public place, or outdoor area, if only people over the age of 21 are invited and allowed to enter.

H-8016 by Horbach (R-Tama), et al – Exempts Farmers and Farm Businesses: The amendment adds an exemption for any form of business organized under state law, common law, or another jurisdiction, whether on a for profit, nonprofit, or cooperative basis, including any real property, structures, or equipment owned or operated by the business, if the business is engaged in any activity related to maintaining an agricultural animal at an animal facility or a crop on crop operation property.

H-8038 to H-8016 by Horbach (R-Tama) – Redefines Farmers and Farm Businesses: The amendment strikes the amendment and replaces it with an exemption for agricultural property used by a person actively engaged in farming, if that person is:

1. A person who files schedule F with their federal tax form 1040 or form 1041, or an employee of such person while the employee is actively engaged in farming.

2. A person holding an equity position in or is employed by a business association holding agricultural land that is a family farm corporation, authorized farm corporation, family farm limited partnership, limited partnership, family farm limited liability company, authorized limited liability company, family trust, or authorized trust, as provided in chapter 9H, -- or a limited liability partnership as defined in section 486A.101, which has filed a statement of qualification with the Secretary of State and has not filed a similar statement in any other jurisdiction.

3. A natural person related to the person actively engaged in farming or when the person is actively engaged in farming. They relation must be as a spouse, parent, grandparent, lineal ascendant of a grandparent or a grandparent's spouse, other lineal descendant of a grandparent or a grandparent's spouse, or a person acting in a fiduciary capacity for persons so related.

4. “Actively engaged in farming" means participating in physical labor on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis, or making day-to-day management decisions, where such participation or decision making is directly related to raising and harvesting crops for feed, food, seed, or fiber, or to the care and feeding of livestock.

5. "Agricultural property" means land of more than ten contiguous acres owned, leased, or held by a person, any residence or other structure located on that land, and any equipment used on that land.

H-8019 by Lukan (R-Dubuque) – Exempts Business Owners Private Office: The amendment adds an exemption for the private office of the owner of a business.

H-8024 by Struyk (R-Pottawattamie), Dolecheck (R-Ringgold), and Quirk (D-Chickasaw) – Exempts Restaurants and Bars Under Certain Conditions: The amendment adds an exemption for restaurants or bars at a specified time when only those 18 or older are invited or admitted, if the it is a regular, single, consecutive period of time and the specified time is conspicuously posted on all major entrances of the restaurant or bar.

H-8035 by Struyk (R-Dubuque) – No-Severability Clause: States that if any provision of this chapter or the application of this chapter to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity shall invalidate this chapter in its entirety and to this end, the provisions of this chapter are not severable.

H-8021 by Lukan (R-Dubuque) – Increases Commercial Property Tax Rollback: Under current law, the statewide average growth of each class of property is limited to 4% per year. If average statewide valuation growth exceeds 4%, then it is "rolled back" to 4% - whence the term “rollback”. The statewide average growth of residential property often exceeds 4%, which is part of the reason it has a large rollback – plus its tie to the growth rate of ag property which had been low for many years. The residential rollback is currently 44.08%. The statewide average growth of commercial property typically grows less than 4% annually, which is why it has
a small or no rollback most years. The current rollback for commercial property is 99.73%%.
Amendment H-8021 requires the Iowa Department of Revenue – after calculating the regular rollback – to increase the commercial property rollback - only for property subject to the smoking ban - by an additional one percent annually, beginning with the 2008 assessment year. The 2008 assessment year began the past January 1, 2008. These valuations will be used by local governments in March of 2009, to certify their Fiscal Year 10 budgets

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

This email is making the rounds in in-boxes across the state. I think it originates from the American Cancer Society...

*Support House File 2212, Statewide Smoke Free Bill For a smoke-free Iowa*

This week, there will be a vote on the statewide smoke free bill. If you have not contacted your legislators, please do so today. If you have feedback from your forums or made calls this weekend, please email me with that information. Our message is: Do not support the additional amendments being proposed that would allow smoking in places that serve adults like bars.

This is unacceptable and a deal breaker for us! We are asking them to support the statewide bill, even though it may not be the perfect bill, we will continue to work to correct in the Senate. Pick up the phone if you can and call your representative at 515.281.3221--Calling has a bigger impact on legislators than emailing, although we appreciate any support!

Please email your legislator through this link:

Thanks everyone!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Changes at the Party

Stewart Iverson apparently isn't waiting to change things at the Republican Party of Iowa. Republican sources confirm the new Chairman (so new I can't even find his picture on the party web site) already got rid of two of the top men Chuck Laudner, the Executive Director, and Craig Robinson, the Political Director. Senator Iverson hasn't returned my call for comment yet.

Some Republicans have complained about the Iowa Straw Poll last summer...turnout, technical problems (which delayed results). They've also complained about some of the rhetoric (i.e. trashtalking) of certain President campaigns, particularly John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Even "glass half full" Republicans seem to realize the momentum is not with their party in this Presidential election year right now and they may have their work cut out in changing that. Will these changes change that?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Statehouse Stuff

So much for the big debate on the smoke-free workplaces. Apparently, Democrats didn't get an amendment filed in time yesterday, so lawmakers couldn't take up the bill today. The amendment would have added an exemption for the Iowa Veterans Home. It would have also allowed smoking within 10 feet of public buildings. The version the House Commerce Committee passed had a 50 foot zone.

Supporters seem a little worried about the time delay. Casinos already worked their way into an exemption in the orginal bill (along with VFWs and American Legion Halls). But now bars and taverns that serve only the over-21 crowd want exemptions, too. They say if they don't get one, customers will just go to the casinos. That will be quite a drive for those customers. Good thing gas is cheap.

Where will the exemptions stop? House Minority Leader Christopher Rants wondered how they can not exempt bowling alleys or anyone else. He believes Iowans just want smoke-free restaurants (really?). They're not concerned about the rest, he says. Supporters worry another round of exemptions will bog down this bill so much, some lawmakers will no longer go for it. We may see next week.

Governor Chet Culver can't be too happy with some other news from upstairs at the Statehouse. Democratic leaders say they're not going for Culver's plan for combined corporate reporting (would raise taxes on out-of-state companies that do business in Iowa about $75 million or so if my memory is correct) and his bottle bill expansion. Culver told us the people of Iowa want both of these things to happen. Any chance he can bring the bottle bill back to life?

Finally, house lawmakers jumped on that bill to give money to Microsoft to encourage the company to build a data center in Iowa (House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Microsoft is considering two towns in "central Iowa". Along with at least one other state) The bill passed 99 to 1. Only Des Moines Democrat Bruce Hunter said no. He's apparently not a fan of giving all this tax money to corporations. By my math, it's about $36 million in sales tax exemptions on computer equipment and electricity. The senate could work on this next week and quickly give it to the Gov. I've used exemption way too much.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Bill's Bills Paid

Bill's overdue bill is no longer overdue. A few days back we reported the Hotel Ottumwa couldn't seem to get Hillary Clinton's campaign to settle up a $9125 bill it owed for a New Year's Eve party with supporters there. We did a story on it on WHO-TV. The campaign has now paid up.

Here's my original post on this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How Many Superdelegates Are There?

Barack Obama adds three more states to his win column during the Potomac Primary. Count his sweep over the weekend and he's on quite a roll. When will we see a few of those undecided Iowa superdelegates willing to put their name on his public supporters' list? Or do people think Hillary Clinton has a a big comeback left in her bag of tricks?

Meantime, the Clinton campaign has lost another top aide. This time it's Mike Henry, the guy who wrote that memo last year urging the Senator to skip Iowa.

Remember that memo? (thanks to The Politico and the New York Times)

As for the Republicans, it's hard to imagine Mike Huckabee's not disappointed with his finish tonight. Doesn't he need to essentially sweep every state here on out?


Superdelegates. Super delegates. Super-delegates. The word seems to have as many different spellings among the news organizations as those organizations have current delegate counts right now. Nonetheless, I'm going with the one word version, superdelegates.

Iowa has 12 of them overall, although the State Democratic Chair Scott Brennan still has to pick (and get approved) the 12th person. From what I gather, it's tight so far. Four superdelegates have pledged to support Hillary Clinton. Three have endorsed Barack Obama. That leaves four uncommitted at this point.

I talked with two of them. Eastern Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley used to be a John Edwards' guy. He said his phone is ringing like crazy these days. Plenty of fellow members of Congress are lobbying him hard for Clinton or Obama. He hasn't heard from the Clintons yet. He did get a call from Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign chair. Obama called him Monday.

Braley said he wants to do whats best for his district. Obviously. He also wants to make sure Iowa gets to keep its first-in-the-nation status. Interesting. I don't believe I've ever heard Clinton promise that, especially after she and her minions have ripped on the Caucuses since they left town. Interesting.

State Dem Chair Scott Brennan didn't think he is getting lobbied as hard as some of the other uncommitteds. He wonders if it's partly because he has said he wants to remain neutral as long as possible. The Caucuses are long over, but he doesn't want to run any risk that he may have shown any favoritism. Interesting. Seems doubtful he'd be a big supporter of the third-place finishing Clinton. But that's just a guess. He also said he wants to make sure Iowa stays first next time around. See above. Interesting.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Not the Problem with Bill; It's Bills

The Presidential candidates have long since left town, but at least one person (or at least her campaign) forgot to take care of something. She apparently didn't pay her bills. We're hearing Hillary Clinton has been a little tardy in that area.

Top Job Services, a cleaning company in West Des Moines, said the campaign stiffed him for $7561 (that includes service and late fees) for cleaning both Clinton campaign offices in Des Moines over three months. Rich Reese, the company's owner, said he tried numerous to get paid but got nowhere. WHO-TV aired the man's complaints on its newscast Sunday night. The Clinton campaign called Reese Sunday and said the check would be in the mail in the coming days. The campaign called Reese again Monday and said the check had been mailed.

Reese told us he never had any similar problems with Chris Dodd's campaign. In fact, he told us he cleaned Dodd's office, as well as the home the Dodds rented in Des Moines. Dodd's campaign paid him promptly, he said. He added that whenever he went to the Dodds' temporary home t0 clean, Jackie Dodd always had a check on a counter waiting for him.

The Hotel Ottumwa told a similar tale of bill-paying problems. The Clinton campaign booked the hotel ballroom for a New Year's Eve party (hotel people knew they would be busy, since they were also hosting a dance that night). Clinton supporters showed up that night. Secret service did, too. The guest of honor, former President Bill Clinton, never did. Plane/weather troubles kept him away.

The hotel owner told us without the guest of honor, there wasn't much of a campaign party. She says the Clinton campaign offered to buy tickets for all the disappointed supporters to go the dance. But she says the campaign never did. She says if you add it all up...for the promised dance tickets, the food, the equipment, for the event, etc., the bill equals $9125. WHO-TV aired a story on it Monday night. The Clinton campaign has now called to tell the owner the check is in the mail.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pimped Out of Face Time

I met David Shuster during a few stops he made in the metro before the Iowa Caucuses. He spends much of his time contributing to Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC and also appears on other shows, as well. Seemed like a pretty good guy. But he's obviously not having a good weekend.

Shuster, while filling in on Tucker Carlson's show on MSNBC, called it "unseemly" the way Chelsea Clinton is calling superdelegates across the country, urging them to support her mom. Shuster wondered aloud whether the campaign is "pimping out" Chelsea. Clinton's campaign was furious and apparently threatened to pull Senator Clinton out of MSNBC's debate. Shuster apologized on the air twice and got suspended.

Is this going too far? Here's the clip.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wise Move


Keokuk, Iowa -- State Representative Phil Wise (D-Keokuk), one of the two most senior members of the Iowa House of Representatives, announced today that he will retire from the Iowa House at the end of his term this year. Wise is currently serving his twenty-second year in the General Assembly.
"The voters of Southeast Iowa have honored me by electing me eleven times to represent them in the Iowa House of Representatives," said Wise. "Choosing to retire from elective office at the end of this year was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I am comfortable, however, with that decision."

Wise was first elected in 1986 and has served eleven consecutive terms. He has focused on education and economic development issues during his tenure. He retired from teaching almost five years ago after 34 years in the classroom.
"Representative Wise has served the people of Iowa and his district with honor and distinction over the last 22 years. His expertise on issues from education to jobs to taxes will be missed in the Iowa House," said House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque.

"My wife and I are looking forward to moving on to the next phase of our life together," said Wise. "Just because I am retiring from elective office does not mean I am retiring from work on matters of public policy. It just means I am retiring from politics."

"We wish Rep. Wise all the best as he starts the next phase of his life. While we wish he were returning to the House, House District 92 is one of the top Democratic districts in the state and we will work with Rep. Wise to ensure a Democrat wins the seat in November," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waiting on Culver...

He didn't do it when Iowans could have been influenced by his choice, but now Iowa Governor Chet Culver has decided to endorse Barack Obama for President. This could be pretty important if the Obama/Clinton race keeps going. Culver would be considered one of Iowa's "superdelegates". They have weighted importance, although I'm really going to have to brush up on all of this. When is the last time any of this even mattered?

Culver stayed neutral in the race before the Caucuses last month, but his wife, Mari, endorsed and campaigned for John Edwards (I'm told by the staff that she is now considered "uncommitted".

The Governor is supposed to give his endorsement at a rally in Omaha. But as I write this, I'm told by our folks at NBC, they're still waiting for him to show up (it's about 4:15pm now). The rally, as you can see by the invitation below, was scheduled to start at 3:30pm. But Culver's plane hadn't even left Des Moines by that time. Update: I'm told the rally started at 3:30, but Culver wasn't supposed to take the stage til much later. I'll have to pass that along to our network folks...

OBAMA at Omaha Civic Auditorium (Meeting)

Please join Barack Obama at a 'Stand for Change' Rally in Omaha, where he'll talk about his vision for bringing America together and bringing about the kind of change we can believe in.

Stand for Change Rally with Barack Obama

Omaha Civic Auditorium1804 Capitol AveOmaha, NE 68102Thursday, February 7

DOORS OPEN: 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

U Tube O Bama

I don't know if I've seen anyone call this yet, but won't this election be the first "You Tube" election? Campaigns post commercials on there. Supporters post videos there. You watch it. You forward it to someone else. I think so many people get exposed to politics this way, people who normally wouldn't pay that much attention to it.

I just don't think we've ever experienced this phenomenom in a Presidential election before. Someone sent me this one about Barack Obama (feel free to send me other cool ones for other candidates).

Here it is...

The Caucuses Don't End

The Iowa Caucuses were more than a month ago. And, no, I still haven't recovered. But I found two Iowans this week who don't see to want to move on yet either.

Tim Albrecht served as Mitt Romney's Iowa Communications Director. He's one of the favorites of Iowa reporters, much like he was during his time in a similar role for then-House Majority Leader and, later, Speaker of the House Christopher Rants. I forgot to ask Tim his title these days, but he's traveling the country with Romney. I talked to him right before he jumped on a plane for a late add to the schedule. He (and Romney) had already started their day at the Pancake Pantry (my kind of place) in Nashville in the a.m. and then moved on to Atlanta. Because Romney was gaining ground in California, they added a late-evening rally in Long Beach. But to make best use of their time, they added one more stop, too.

The plane needed to refuel in Oklahoma City on the way to Long Beach. So the staff added a rally in Ok. City during the down time. It never stops. Tim says life is good on the road. He usually gets a day or two notice of the schedule. The California add was an exception. On Super Tuesday, he starts in Charleston, West Virginia and then heads to Boston, where Romney will cast his vote. They'll all have some sort of party/gathering tonight as the numbers come in. From there? Tim isn't sure. He didn't say it, but you would think the future will depend a lot on how Romney performs during this all-important day. Tim's hoping to move on, of course. He doesn't want this to end. Although, he needs to do some laundry he said, too. So some personal time Wednesday and Thursday would help. So would a super Super Tuesday.

Jackie Norris isn't living on planes like Tim. She's living, at least temporarily, with a close college friend in Denver. Jackie's not big on titles, she told me. But she's probably still considered a "Senior Adviser" to the Barack Obama campaign, much like she was here in Iowa. She helps make sure the staff/volunteers "get out the vote" and helps oversee any logistical issues that come up ("troubleshooting", she calls it). She'll end up spending about ten days in Colorado, after taking a little time off after Iowa to re-introduce herself to her hubby, John, and their three kids. She worries they're living on corn dogs in her absence and looks forward to flying back early Wednesday to check on their diets.

Jackie told me Colorado (which holds a caucus) has never seen this type of interest during the nominating season. Last week, Obama drew a crowd of 15,000 at a rally in Denver. In 2004, she said about 14,000 people took part in the Democratic Caucus. She expects between 100 and 150,000 this year. Iowans are apparently not the only ones excited about their choices this year.

Southern Illinois Unversity at Edwardsville (where I received my undergrad) hosted two interesting guests recently, on different days. Former Prez Bill Clinton and former porn star Ron Jeremy. Insert your joke here.

My beloved St. Louis Cardinals just signed Juan "Gone" (as in his career has been gone) Gonzalez. That's apparently how desperate things have become. Sad.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Is He a D or an R?

Read over the following news release. Unless you happen to know the Mayor, can you even tell to which political party he belongs?

Windsor Heights Mayor Announces Run for District 59 Representative

Windsor Heights, Iowa – Windsor Heights Mayor Jerry Sullivan today launched his bid for State Representative in House District 59, which includes Windsor Heights, Clive, and part of West Des Moines.

“As Mayor, I have balanced six straight budgets and I will bring fiscal responsibility with me to the Iowa House. As a father and grandfather, I know many middle class families are struggling to make ends meet and I will focus my efforts on strengthening and expanding Iowa’s middle class,” said Sullivan.

In addition to serving as Mayor, Sullivan has been on the Windsor Heights City Council and served as a Vice Chair of the Metro Waste Authority and the Metro Advisory County. He is also a board member of the Metro Planning Organization and Convention and Visitors Bureau. A former small business owner, Sullivan also formed the first chamber of commerce in Windsor Heights.

“With 38 years of business experience in our community, I understand how critical it is to keep our talented young people here. We need to improve the quality of life, keep education affordable, and create good-paying jobs by fostering an environment where small business can thrive. These are the steps we need to take to keep our children and grandchildren in Iowa,” added Sullivan.

Sullivan and his wife, Christy, have been married for 35 years and have three children and two grandchildren. He served in the US Army Reserves and is currently a Senior Financial Representative at Principal Financial Group. He is also a member of the Windsor Heights Lions Club and St. Theresa’s Church.

“My experience in both business and government has prepared me well to make a difference at the Statehouse. We must work together across party lines and listen to Iowans, not special interests, to make our state a better place to live,” concluded Sullivan.

Rep. Dan Clute of Clive currently holds the seat but announced last year that he will not seek re-election this fall.

I can't say I know Jerry Sullivan well enough to tell his political affilation. One thing that helped was the return email address on the message. The person's address ended with So I assume...