Monday, June 30, 2008

Punishment for Ramona

(Photo courtesy: The Villager)

50 years in federal prison and $1.85 million in fines could be the max for former CIETC CEO Ramona Cunningham. Of course, there's no way she will serve the maximum. U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker figured she would get between 7 and 10 years since she avoided trial and admitted guilt. But, of course, it is all up to one man, U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt. He gets to decide the sentence. He doesn't have to send her to prison at all.

What is "fair?" Prosecutors say Cunningham was likely the mastermind that hosed taxpayers out of about $1.5 million or so. BTW, Whitaker said he won't use Cunningham to try to nail anyone else in this case. It's over, he says. Over, except for the sentencing.

Seven to 10 that enough for what Cunningham did? Should she have to pay fines, too? Should she have to pay back taxpayers for the money that should have helped Iowans find jobs? What about restitution and fines? What is fair?

Cher, Madonna and Ramona

Former CIETC CEO-turned admitted crook Ramona Cunningham had her day in federal court in Des Moines. She is no longer saying she is "not guilty" and "earned" the ridiculous amounts of bonuses and salaries she awarded herself (along with the help of the former Chairman of the Board, who also apparently was her former "more than friends" kind of pal). She pleaded guilty to 8 of the 30 federal charges of obstruction, fraud, misapplication of funds and conspiracy. Did I leave any out? She didn't have much to say to us as she walked passed the media hoard.

Her attorney, Bill Kutmus, did talk about all the attention the media have brought to this case. He said because of all the continued attention, Cunningham can now be as easily recognized with just one name like Madonna and Cher. Ramona. Yep, it's the media's fault. It has nothing to do with the fact the GED-turned-CEO allegedly swindled taxpayers out of a half a million dollars that was supposed to help Iowans get jobs. Ramona. Yep, it's the media's fault. He also said Cunningham, I mean, Ramona, will not be able to return to live in Iowa again. Ramona. Yep, it's the media's fault.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Special Session?

I'm still trying to figure out what to make of a late afternoon meeting at the Iowa Statehouse today. Democratic and Republican leaders, their staffs, Lt. Governor Patty Judge, Homeland Security Administrator Dave Miller and representatives from FEMA all met for a little more than an hour. The participants told me they heard primarily about numbers...flood damage, houses affected, etc. But afterwards, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said a special session may not be necessary (House Speaker Pat Murphy seemed to agree). Governor Chet Culver has said previously he may call lawmakers back into special session so they could best figure out how to pay for the state's share of flood recovery efforts. It felt like news. Why was Gronstal saying this?

If you believe the whispers from lobbyists and other "insiders", Culver and Gronstal aren't exactly the best of friends. And Gronstal doesn't like Culver to tell everyone how things are going to be. For the record, both men deny there's any rift between them (You will remember Gronstal considered running for governor. He ended up supporting Culver's Democratic primary opponent, Mike Blouin).

Gronstal said there's no need to rush into special session, since they're still waiting to see how much money the feds will come up with to help Iowa.
Culver didn't take part in the meeting this afternoon. His staff told me he has already spoken to legislative leaders in the past 24 hours. And today, the staff said, the Governor was interviewing potential court appointees. Staff said Culver is still assessing damage estimates, which would take a few weeks, but could still "do things legislatively" if it is necessary (i.e., call a special session). Hmmm.....


I know we don't need this rain here in the metro right now, but as my dad says "hopefully it will knock down some of that humidity in the air." No doubt. Last night I went for about a 2 1/2 mile run and probably looked like I ran 20 miles. But I see today I should consider myself lucky that I live in Des Moines (West Des Moines, actually).

Old Spice ranked the top 100 cities where you would likely sweat the most during the summer. Is this really scientific? Anyway, Phoenix, Vegas and Tallahassee top the list. Des Moines comes in a nice, dry 60. I feel cooler already.

McCain Sets Up Shop

Yesterday, Barack Obama announced he has begun setting up his Iowa campaign. Today, it's John McCain. McCain's Iowa State Chair Dave Roederer just sent this out to supporters. I'll try to find out more about Charlie Liebschutz as no bio info is included here.

It has been, and will continue to be, an honor to serve as Chairman of Senator McCain's Iowa campaign. Iowa is going to be a key battleground state and I look forward to helping Senator McCain bring his message of government reform, lower taxes, and American security to all Iowans. Our organization in this state continues to grow and I am pleased to announce that Charlie Liebschutz has joined the team as the campaign's Iowa State Director. Charlie and I will be working closely to expand our grassroots effort, which will be so critical in helping all Iowans to understand the substantive differences that exist between John McCain and Barack Obama.
If you have not already become involved in our grassroots organization, I ask you to sign-up to help organize your county or precinct. In the coming weeks and months, staff and volunteers will be canvassing the state to bring Senator McCain's message directly to the people of Iowa. I hope you will join this effort.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the Air: Obama vs. McCain

Check the date...June 25th. At least this is the first day I've noticed them. Barack Obama and John McCain both have ads running on tv in Iowa. The battleground state gets a little gunfire. Actually, nothing super controversial. But both ads are interesting, I think. For what it's worth my take on what's going on.

"Country I Love" is the name of Obama's ad. To me this takes on the criticism Obama's not patriotic know, doesn't wear the flag lapel pin like many other politicians do. Then there's that internet-fueled rumor that he doesn't put his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

McCain's ad is titled "Global". This one's a little more interesting to me than the Obama ad, only because of this. I've wondered if McCain would try to distance himself from the unpopular current President George W Bush. It seems like this is a little tricky as the President remains popular with certain factions of the Republican Party.

What do think about them? Which one is the most effective?

Obama's New Leader...and Sex

(Photo, or whatever it is, courtesy:

Looks like Barack Obama is getting a jump start on John McCain in Iowa. He just named Jackie Norris as his Iowa State Director. Here's a bit of her bio from the release:

Norris, a long time Democratic operative, served as political director on Vice President Al Gore’s 1999-2000 Iowa caucus campaign and as finance director of Tom Vilsack's 1998 campaign for Governor. Norris worked in Washington D.C. for seven years on Capitol Hill, in the White House as a scheduler for Vice President Gore, and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Norris teaches high school American Government and History and is married to John Norris, Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board. They have three sons, Hunter, Cole, Sam.

Obama's campaign is also jumping in to help Iowans hurt by the floods. I haven't seen McCain's camp pushing his peeps to do anything. Jackie Norris sent out an email to supporters asking for their help.

The campaign hasn't released other names who will work with the campaign. But I do know Joseph Jones will be one of them. Joseph has been working as the Director of Governmental Affairs for the Iowa Finance Authority. He used to be a communications guy in Governor Tom Vilsack's administration.


My wife, Emily, has been wanting to see a movie. But her girlfriends had either already seen it or couldn't go when she could go. So I went with her to Jordan Creek's Century Theater in West Des Moines last night. The movie...yes, "Sex in the City." I know. I can't say I watched the show when it was on HBO. Actually, I couldn't SAY that I watched it even if I did. But, really, I didn't really watch the show when it was on. We walked in halfway through the movie previews. I think the politically correct thing to say is the previews weren't targeted to men. I'll leave it at that.

The highlight of the night for me was probably when another guy walked in with his wife, scanned the crowd, saw me and saluted me for being "another guy" in the theater with him. As for the movie, I won't ruin the ending if you haven't seen it. But let me just say, waaaaay too much man butt. Waaay too much. And what was that sideways shot of, uhm, well, shall we say, "Mr. Johnson"? Since when did movies start showing guy's "little guys"?
Plenty of tears from the women in the theater throughout the movie. Plenty of tears from me during that scene with that sideways shot. Good night, Mr. Johnson.

Former Mayor Dies

Somehow, this didn't post yesterday. My one-time home of residence Windsor Heights sent this out:

The City of Windsor Heights would like to offer heartfelt condolences to the family of Clarence D. Millsap, former firefighter, councilman and Mayor. Mr. Millsap died Friday, June 20th at the age of 89.

Mr. Millsap began on the City Council in 1957. Prior to joining the Council, Mr. Millsap was a volunteer firefighter. In 1960, Millsap was elected as Mayor and served in that position until 1990.

Millsap served as a council member and then as mayor in Windsor Heights for the entire Interstate 235 process; from the time it was proposed in 1957 to thee completion of the west mixmaster in 1968. The project re-routed streets and laid the way for growth in the western suburbs.

Mayor Millsap worked to build City Hall that you know today on 66th Street. Mr. Millsap also spearheaded sanitary and storm sewer projects during his tenure as mayor. He was also active in the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"Clarence gave a great deal of time and energy to the City and the development of the infrastructure that we continue to benefit from today. We appreciate his service and dedication," said Mayor Jerry Sullivan.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 27 at Merle Hay Funeral Home. Burial with military honors will be held at Chapel Hill Gardens. Visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BB 3

Eastern Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley appears to be getting a little miffed at the U.S. Labor Secretary. He has sent his third request to find out what's going on in the post-Postville raid investigation. Here's the release:

Braley Continues Pressing for Answers on Status of Department of Labor Investigation into Agriprocessors
Media Reports Cited Ongoing DOL Investigation at Postville Facility

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) continued to press for information on the status of an ongoing Department of Labor investigation into Agriprocessors, Inc., for violations at their Postville plant.

Braley originally wrote a letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and other federal officials on May 15th.

According to media reports, the Department of Labor was conducting an investigation—independent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigation—into possible labor law violations, including illegal child labor, at the Agriprocessors plant. However, the May 14th Des Moines Register stated that “federal officials put the case ‘on hold.’”

A copy of the letter is attached to this message. The text of the letter is below:
June 24, 2008

Elaine L. Chao
Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Bldg., 200 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20210

Julie Myers
Assistant Secretary
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
425 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Matt M. Dummermuth
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa
Department of Justice
Hach Bldg, Suite 400, 401 1st Street, S.E.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401-1825

Dear Secretary of Labor Chao, Assistant Secretary Myers, and U.S. Attorney Dummermuth:

I am following up on a letter I wrote to you regarding the status of any ongoing investigations into the Agriprocessors processing plant in Postville, Iowa. I originally sent this letter on May 15, 2008, and then I sent a follow-up letter on June 3, 2008, again requesting the same information as in the original letter.

It has now been over a month since my letter to you, and I have yet to receive any kind of written response, except for a “knowledge of receipt” letter from the Department of Justice, with a workflow reference number of 1393444.

For the third time now, I request information regarding an ongoing U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation at Agriprocessors, as well as whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) communicated with DOL prior to the ICE enforcement action at Agriprocessors on May 12, 2008.

I would appreciate a response to the questions from my original letter as soon as possible. Following is the text of the original letter:

Last November, I wrote to Acting Secretary Connor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning Agriprocessors, the world’s largest kosher meat processor based in Postville, Iowa. At the time, the focus of my attention was on the 250-plus Noncompliance Records (NRs), as well as Letters of Warning to Agriprocessors dealing with food safety.

On Monday, May 12th, the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) executed a worksite enforcement action at this same facility and arrested more than 300 workers on criminal and immigration violations.

It has been reported that the Department of Labor (DOL) was involved in a separate ongoing investigation of possible labor law violations, including illegal child labor, in the Agriprocessors plant. On Wednesday, May 14th the Des Moines Register reported that 12 juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17 were detained during the enforcement action at Agriprocessors.

In a separate article in yesterday’s Des Moines Register, reporter Clark Kauffman summarized Agriprocessors “history of noncompliance with state and federal regulations related to food safety, pollution and workplace safety at its Postville facility…” (see attached article). The most recent violations included citations by the Iowa Department of Labor Services for 39 violations of workplace safety rules and a proposed $182,000 fine. The article states, “Federal officials put the case ‘on hold.’”

I would like to know whether ICE communicated with DOL prior to the enforcement action on May 12th. Also, what is the status of these DOL investigations? Is there any coordination going on between ICE, DOJ, and DOL as they presumably continue their investigations related to Agriprocessors?

It is important that both the ICE and DOL investigations continue. I firmly believe that any possible violations of labor law, immigration law, and workplace safety laws should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I urge you to look into this matter and look forward to hearing from you within the next ten days. Thank you for your time and cooperation.

If I do not hear from you within the next ten days, I will refer this information to the House Committees that have jurisdiction over these labor, immigration, and workplace safety issues. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Bruce Braley
Member of Congress

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hillary and the Big Twin

Why does it seem like Hillary Clinton is sending almost as many emails to supporters now that she's out of the race as she did when she was actually running (for President, that is)? She sent out another email tonight. It's supposed to be a "special thank you" message. But it's yet another request for cash.

This is Wilbur Hardee. He just died at the age of 89. Mr. Hardee founded the Hardee's burger chain in 1960. I never knew the man. But I supposed indirectly I worked for him more than four years. Hardee's was my first real job in high school. I started my junior year as a cashier and drive-thru person in my hometown of Belleville, Illinois. It was perfect. I didn't have a car and I could walk there from my high school. I stayed there for nearly three years. I had a big falling out with the management there (although I was in lower management myself). When my friend and I quit we first washed my car with our uniform shirts before we turned them in. Real mature, huh? As it turned out, I ended up working at another Hardee's in Edwardsville, Illinois, my sophomore year of college. I worked for a guy named Ted Williams. He even wore a Boston Red Sox jacket. I'm not making this up. Hardee's seems to have changed its menu a million times since then. But it'll always have a special place in my heart (insert your own fast food joke here).

I'll never forget those polyester, orange, white and brown shirts they made us wear. Thanks, Mr. Hardee (I've searched the internet, but I can't find one of those shirts.)
Ahhh, the Big Twin.


It's tough to get going on Mondays sometimes. I worked six days last week. Maybe that's it. Or maybe it's because we took a walk Sunday a.m., played softball in the afternoon (and, won, I might add!) and ran in the evening. But then I remember all of those people working night and day to try to rebuild their homes and lives after the flood. I have no reason to complain.

Speaking of the flood recovery efforts...Des Moines' North High School is looking for volunteers this Saturday. They want to start cleaning up the athletic fields, concession stands and locker rooms. At this point, schools' spokesman' Phil Roeder told me you should just show up there at 9am on Saturday. You don't have to bring anything. More updates on the flood blog later this week.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Change...a Lot of It

Barack Obama promised change. And he is now going to have to raise a lot of it. Obama became the first major presidential candidate since I was six years old to decline public financing of his campaign. The New York Times catches you up on your history on this. Obama will now have to raise his own cash. I don't believe Obama fully promised to go the taxpayer route when he talked about this earlier in the campaign. But I think it's safe to say many people expected him to. John McCain has apparently decided to stick with public financing. Now I guess we'll see just how good Obama's internet-driven, money-raising machine is. Here's how Obama explains it to his supporters:

Dave --
Since we announced our decision not to accept taxpayer funds for the general election, tens of thousands of people like you have come forward to declare their independence from a broken system. This decision frees us to build a movement of millions of people giving whatever they can afford to a campaign that is truly reforming the way our political process works. It also frees us to take our campaign for change to parts of the country where Democratic presidential candidates haven't spent too much time in the past.

Our first television ad of the general election season goes on the air today.
Sure, we're on the air in places like Ohio and Florida, the typical battleground states. But we're also on the air in North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska -- places that have emerged as competitive because of the unprecedented grassroots energy supporting our campaign. These ads are supporting a 50-state ground operation that is being built right now by staff, volunteers, and thousands of Obama Organizing Fellows. But we have our work cut out for us, and we need to grow this movement. Right now, you can declare your independence and help us run a campaign that is funded by the people and for the people.
If you make your first donation today, a fellow supporter is standing by to match your gift and double your impact. You can even choose to exchange a note with them and share why you are supporting this campaign.
Add your voice to our movement by making a matching donation now:
Choosing not to accept these taxpayer funds was not an easy decision. I remain committed to fundamental campaign finance reform, and as president I will work to fix this broken system. But we're facing opponents who have become masters at gaming the broken system as it stands today -- collecting money from Washington lobbyists, special interest PACs, and relying on so-called 527 groups that can take unlimited contributions to peddle lies and smears. We have chosen to do things differently.

My Cardinals lose three straight to Kansas City. Then, they win the first two against Boston??? This season makes no sense. None at all.

Friday, June 20, 2008



Headlines can be challenging at times. They are supposed to be attention-getting. They have to be accurate. Wednesday I wrote one on the blog titled "Fallon Still Wants Money." Ed Fallon this week sent out his second email in as many weeks asking supporters to help him pay off his $35,000 campaign debt from his failed democratic primary run against incumbent Congressman Leonard Boswell in Iowa's Third District.

Some candidates don't pay back their debts. I'm sure it's not too hard to find people Hillary Clinton still owes. Fallon called me today to say he didn't like the headline I used. He said it implies that he wants money for himself. He said he is committed to paying back the people and organizations to whom he owes money. He doesn't like any implication the money is for himself (Fallon has taken some heat from some Democrats who are unhappy that he paid his girlfriend to run his congressional campaign and pays her and himself to run a business that has, at times, promoted his congressional campaign. BTW, Despite complaints from Boswell, no state or federal agency that I know of has ruled Fallon did anything wrong).

Anyway, that's not what I implied in the headline. I wasn't implying any funds raised would go to his pocket. But I always like to give people the chance to call me on something if they don't like it. Thanks for calling. I disagree. But thanks for calling.

I know I could be opening the door to more than I may realize. But I wish more people would call us if they think they've been wronged by the media. Headlines, sentences, words, whatever...can mean something to us as we write them but can have other interpretations to others. It sucks. But it happens. And I appreciate hearing about it when it does.

My Cardinals got swept by the Royals? Ouch. I mean, I don't mind the Royals, but a sweep? And Boston and Detroit are next. Yikes.

That's all for now. BTW, my arm still hurts...four days after my tetanus shot! Is that normal?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Long Good-bye

I just received either the second or third "thank you" kind of email from Hillary Clinton that she sent to her supporters. This one is a photo album from the campaign. Most pictures show her surrounded by female supporters. Is this part of the effort to get her on as Barack Obama's running mate?

Take a look for yourself.

Speaking of Clinton...her former Iowa spokesman Mark Daley looks like he's getting back into the private side of things, at least for a while. He just sent out a new souped up business website. Mark used to be our primary contact for the Clinton campaign before the Iowa Caucuses. It seemed like the national folks then pushed in to run things in the final months of the campaign. Clinton used to lead in the polls here. She tumbled to third. Grab your pen to draw your own conclusion, if you think one needs to be drawn here. I'm just saying...

My Arm is Sore

Should my arm still be sore three days after my tetanus shot? A co-worker talked me into getting the shot (it was free after all) while we were working on our story Monday at the flooded out Birdland Neighborhood in Des Moines. No doubt it was a good idea since we have been trudging through flood waters all week.

As the waters pull back, you get an even better sense of the damage. That neighborhood is full of stink and full of bugs. I don't know how some of these people do it. They got flooded out in 1993. Now they are flooded again. Although, if you are one of those people who say, "just move", remember, some of these people don't have much money. They especially don't have the money to just move and build a new house someplace else. Besides, who will buy their flooded-out house in the flood plain in Birdland. It's just not that easy. I wonder if the feds will look at just buying them out and making green space there. Then, maybe we won't have to worry about the next 500-year flood. When it happens again in 15 years.

Fallon Still Wants Money

Apparently, that email last week didn't bring in enough dough. Failed 3rd District Democratic Primary Candidate Ed Fallon just sent out another appeal for cash to pay off debt.

Dear Friends,

Campaigns are rough. Physically, emotionally and financially. They can leave you drained and discouraged. Especially when you lose. Especially when your opponent lies about you and assassinates your character. Especially when you realize that some of the mistakes you made might have been avoided.

I'll admit that lately I sometimes feel drained and discouraged. But I also feel blessed by the incredible, often tireless efforts of so many good people coming together to act on their passion and principles. You give me hope. You inspire me. And I want you to know that . . .


Lynn and I have committed our lives to public service, and as we recover from this campaign we are eager to see where the path leads next. We hope to have clarity on that by the end of the summer.

For now, the primary tasks at hand are to (1) break down and organize the extensive resources assembled in this campaign, and (2) pay-off the debt.
To meet our outstanding bills, and for my own peace of mind, I need your help to retire $35,000 in debt as quickly as possible. In the past week, we've received $3,500 from 40 donors, and another 20 people have made pledges. That's a start, and I thank you. But as someone who has always tried to live and work within his means, and who as an elected official made fiscal responsibility a key priority, debt bothers me a lot and I won't feel at ease until it's paid-off.

Many losing candidates finish in the red; but having run eight previous campaigns in the black, campaign debt is a new experience for me. If you can help with $50 or $100 - or more or less as your means allow - I would be very grateful. You can mail a check to Fallon for Congress, 752 16th Street, Des Moines, IA 50314. Or you can donate on-line at If you need to call, Lynn and I can be reached at (515) 201-9405.

Thank you. I continue to be enriched and encouraged by your confidence, support and commitment. If you would like to visit personally for any reason, just let me know.

Ed Fallon

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fallon Wants Money

Defeated Third District Congressional Candidate Ed Fallon is claiming a "partial victory" and asking for money. No, it doesn't appear he is running for office again. But Fallon says his campaign is $35,000 in debt, so he is asking supporters to help him pay his bills by mid-July. Here's his note to supporters:

Our Partial VictoryDear Friends,

Last Tuesday's primary election was disappointing, but we're not quitting. We didn't beat the political establishment but we sure shook it up. In fact, Leonard Boswell's voting record and rhetoric over the past seven months look, well . . . almost progressive!
Having voted for the Iraq War in 2002 and for funding it unconditionally until earlier last year, he finally settled on a consistent position against the war last November.
Despite being a long-time supporter of granting retroactive immunity to telecom companies for aiding the Bush Administration in spying on Americans, he switched his position this year.
In 2001, he voted against an amendment raising fuel economy standards to 27.5 miles per gallon. Yet last December, he finally endorsed the Safe Climate Act, which raises fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon.
After voting for much of President Bush's agenda for almost eight years, he joined other House Democrats last November to support Dennis Kucinich's resolution to impeach Dick Cheney.
In its brochures and advertisements this year, the Boswell campaign invented a whole new Congressman Boswell, one who sounded a lot more like a member of the Progressive Caucus, not the Blue Dog Caucus.In short, BECAUSE OF OUR CAMPAIGN, CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL BEGAN VOTING AND SOUNDING MORE LIKE A DEMOCRAT. Now it's up to us to make sure he continues.
So, although last Tuesday's election wasn't the victory we wanted, we accomplished much. This month, Lynn's focus as campaign manager is to organize and harness the extensive resources assembled during this campaign. My focus is to pay off our campaign debt, something I've never had to deal with before.
Yes, we have campaign debt, and I need your help to retire it. In eight previous campaigns, I finished in the black, so this is a new experience for me. I have to raise about $35,000, and I need to get it done by mid-July. If enough of you pitch-in with $50 (or more if possible), I should be able to reach that goal. To help, mail a check to Fallon for Congress, 752 16th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314 or donate on-line at
Thanks again for traveling this difficult journey with us. Your support and encouragement gives me hope for our future.
Ed Fallon

Away From the Floods

When I first arrived in Tampa, Florida Monday, rain was pending. I was complaining. No excuses for my complaints. I've been trying to keep track of the flooding in central Iowa via the internet. I can't believe how bad it is getting. To read that some are saying this flood will be worse than 1993. I just can't believe it. We shouldn't have ever seen those levels again.

I worked in radio in St. Louis during that flood. At the time, I was a writer for KMOX, the dominant radio station in the area. Because of the flood, the union gave me an exemption, so I could work "on-air" (since I wasn't a union member, normally I couldn't appear on the air). I did "KMOX Floodcenter Updates" at five minutes before the top of the hour. I also did some reporting. I never expected to again see the flooding I saw then. Floodaters took over small towns like Grafton, Illinois. They also closed in on the St. Louis Arch on the riverfront. Those are memories I don't think I'll ever forget.

I definitely have no business complaining here in Florida. None at all.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Time For Some Sun

This is the only view of water I hope to really have for the next week. So much flooding in central Iowa right now. It's really unbelievable. My best to everyone dealing with the flood waters that just keep closing in. I know the "volunteer spirit" is such a cliche. But it's really cool to see so many people offering to help others in need right now. Despite concerns about our economy and our country, so many people still feel the need to help a neighbor. Iowa really is a cool place.

We're off to Florida for a week for a wedding. The best part, besides seeing my wife's side of the family, is walking the sand on Anna Maria Island. I can't wait.

Perhaps, with my free time, I'll check out a newly updated website. Democrats criticized 4th District Republican Congressman Tom Latham for not saying much about that federal raid of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville. But at least he has a new website. Just in time for the fall campaign season. There is now a bit on there about the raid. Happy reading.


There is a new show on tv. It's called "Swingtown." A bunch of couples swap lovers in their suburban Chicago neighborhood in the 1970s. The show just started airing, but it's already drawn critics. Apparently, some groups are pushing viewers to flood tv stations with complaint emails. The American Family Association is one of those groups. Here's a hint. Make sure you send your complaint email to a station that actually airs the show! The show airs on CBS stations. My station is an NBC affiliate. So quit sending us your form letter email, threatening us. It won't do any good! There's no swinging going on.

Here's what the form letter looks like:

Bill Brouwer
701 Newcastle Road
Marshalltown, IA 50158-5253

June 8, 2008
WHO (NBC-13)
1801 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309

Dear WHO (NBC-13):
I am offended by the content of the CBS program "Swingtown." The offensive content clearly violates our local community standards and does not reflect your license obligation "to serve the public interest."
I urge you to refuse to air future episodes of "Swingtown."
I also ask you to place a copy of my complaint in your files according to FCC regulations.

Bill and Julie Brouwer

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Toss Up

MSNBC's First Read just let out how it sees the Prez race stacking up. It looks like Iowa can expect lots o'ttention this fall.

Base Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (153 electoral votes)
Lean Obama: ME, NJ, MN, OR, WA (47 votes)
Toss-up: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NM, NH, OH, PA, VA, WI (138 votes)
Lean McCain: AR, GA, IN, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE, NC, ND (84 votes)
Base McCain: AL, AK, AZ, ID, KS, KY, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY (116 votes)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ballary Oblinton

Obama? Clinton? Barack? Hillary? The choice went back and forth for months. Now that Obama has claimed victory, it will soon be time for him to claim his choice for a running mate.

Hillary Clinton seemed to campaign for it Tuesday night. She does have a lot of followers. And imagine the history-making potential of this team... the first African-American President AND the first female Vice-President. But are two firsts one too many? Too much Clinton baggage to carry around to the White House?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Here's Hubler

Rob Hubler just took the stage. About half of the room who is left here at the Leonard Boswell victory party at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines is still talking. Supporters of the 5th District Democratic nominee, Hubler, have shhh-d the crowd several times. But it hasn't worked. Boswell just left. Hubler continues on with his speech.

He said the Sioux City media can't say his last name correctly. They say "HUBB-lehr", he said. He wanted to know how the Des Moines media would say his name. I don't know anyone in the media will be saying his name tonight though.

Still the One

"Still the One" by Orleans just filled the room here at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Much like everyone in this room expected, Leonard Boswell has defeated Ed Fallon in the 3rd District Primary. He just gave his short victory speech. Five minutes long. A very interesting thing he mentioned...Fallon didn't call him to congratulate him for his win (and admit his own defeat) before Fallon gave his speech and then Boswell gave his. Boswell said he was surprised he didn't get the call. It is tradition, after all.

I just talked with the Congressman. He said Fallon has now called. BTW, Boswell also talked to me a bit about the Presidential race. He acknowledged the race is "probably" over. And he would love to see Clinton on Obama's ticket.

The Crowd Is Gathering

It's 9:30pm--The room is filling up here at the Leonard Boswell victory party at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. I haven't seen the Congressman since he passed through about 6pm. I have seen Kevin Miskell, one of the four challengers for the Dems 4th District Primary. The winner gets to speak here tonight if it's decided early enough.

The crowd gathered around the two tv sets in here to listen to Hillary Clinton's concession speech. Oh, that's right. She didn't concede. A little while later, the crowd listened in when Barack Obama gave his speech where he announced he's won the nomination (despite Clinton's lack of a concession). People here seemed more interested in his speech than watching the Boswell-Fallon returns on the other tv set in here. Although, as Obama's speech went on, the crowd seemed to split between the two tv sets.

A lot of optimism here.

He Has Arrived

Leonard Boswell just strolled by here in the Wedgwood Room at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. He smiled and waved. Seems happy and content. I wonder what he thinks of the Presidential race. He's a Hillary Clinton supporter. That's not looking so good right now.

Boswell will have some company here at his victory party (or so he hopes it's a victory party). The State Party Chair Scott Brennan should also be here, as will the winner of the 4th District Congressional race. That's a good way to get some tv face time. I wonder though how this will all shape out time wise. Clinton, McCain and Obama are all scheduled to give speeches tonight. Obama, by the time he takes the podium, could have this race officially clinched. So people will want to hear if he declares victory. And, of course, everyone will want to listen to see how Clinton handles herself during her speech. Will it be all about what she's accomplished? Will she congratulate Obama? Will she officially give up? And what will McCain have to say about it all? Of course, selfishly, I want to know, when will they all say it? Will they get in the way of Boswell's speech here? Timing is everything.

Sure Is Quiet Here

Not much going on in the Wedgwood here at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines. This is the site of what Leonard Boswell hopes is a victory celebration tonight. Ed Fallon is only a block away at the Raccoon River Brew Pub. That could make for an interesting scene at some point if they both hit the sidewalk at the same time.

This is a small room, probably half the size of the other ballroom candidates usually use on election night. I mean, sure, there are balloons, signs, pretzels and a stage. And it looks like popcorn bags, which means that irresistible smell will likely soon permeate the place. But I digress... Anyway, it's pretty quiet in here.

The absentee vote in Polk County looks big. That could mean a good night for Boswell. The Democratic machine is good at turning out the early vote. Turnout doesn't seem so big, at least not yet, in Fallon's turf in Sherman Hill. Overall, Polk Co does look big, maybe rivaling 2006. That would be impressive since that was a 3-way Democratic primary for Governor.

Previously undeclared superdelegates are pouring in for Barack Obama. Tom Harkin, are you ready yet?

So You Like This Race, Huh?

Looks like the 3rd District is stirred up a bit about this Leonard Boswell-Ed Fallon race. Polk Co Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says turnout may approach 2006's level. Big deal, you might say? Well, it kind of is. In 2006 you'll remember we had the 3-way Democratic primary between Fallon, Chet Culver and Mike Blouin.

Is high turnout good for Fallon or Boswell? It likely depends where the turnout is. If Fallon turns them out in the Sherman Hill area, his home base, he could make this interesting. But if the heavy turnout comes elsewhere, could that be a sign it's a Boswell night?

What I'm Watching

Primary day. It just doesn't quite have the same ring to it as caucus night. But, oh, well. It'll still be interesting. Here's what I'm watching...

The Boz/Fallon--It's tough to beat an incumbent. Can Ed Fallon do it? Will his grassroots effort, without the last-minute ad blitz Leonard Boswell has put up, be enough in what looks like a "change election?" Boswell has the establishment behind him, plus six terms in Congress. Fallon has his organization from when he ran from Governor, whether that was once or almost twice. Plus, that business on the side..

Tom Harkin vs. ???--The Repubs hardly offer up household names in their U.S. primary battle. George Eichhorn seems to have the establishment behind him. Christopher Reed got some props from some of the people I talked with after their debate last Friday on Iowa Public Television. Steve Rathje...? He skipped the debate for some reason. I avoided having to make sure I didn't butcher his name. I'm still not 100% sure how to say it. Is it RATH'-gee or ROTH'-gee?

The 4 in 4--4 Dems running to eventually run against Republican Tom Latham in the 4th Congressional district. Becky Greenwald feels like she has more of the establishment behind her. Kevin Miskell has Joe Trippi, one of Howard Dean and John Edwards top guys. Kurt Meyer and William Meyers...will voters get confused by their last names?

Altoona District 42--Dems Geri Huser vs. Matt Ballard. Huser's been in the legislature for a dozen years now. Ballard is the local Teamsters president. Huser's, Ed Skinner, has power and money. Will he really "let" her lose in a primary? Can Ballard get the union folks to all stand up behind him?

Johnston District 69--Repubs Eric Helland vs. Al Lorenzen. Helland has been hitting Lorenzen hard with tv ads. Helland has the backing of the Right to Life and the Iowa Taxpayer folks. He's hitting Lorenzen has a Johnny, er, Al Come Lately to the Republican Party. Lorenzen says one one of the most beloved Republicans of them all in Iowa, former Governor Bob Ray, encouraged him to run.

Tom Harkin--Yeah, I know he's not on the ballot (well, technically he is. But you know what I mean). But will he finally get off the fence and endorse a Presidential candidate today/tonight? It seems unlikely Hillary Clinton would officially drop out tonight. But there are reports some superdelegates (who don't come out before the polls close) will endorse after the polls close. Harkin's wife, Ruth, is a big Clinton backer.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Night Before

Twas the night before primary day and all through the trail, almost no one was stirring, not even a congressman. So much for a fast and furious end to the 3rd District democratic congressional race. No all day barnstorming across the district. No late night rallies so tv reporters could do their "live shots" for the late news. Instead, Leonard Boswell's campaign told me he had no public events. Ed Fallon did send out a schedule to say he would be live on a radio talk show. That's about it.

Perhaps, they've already said all that needs to be said. Boswell ran a gazillion tv commercials. Fallon hasn't run any tv ads. He would seem to need a lot of grass in his grassroots movement to overcome all that the incumbency affords Boswell. Fallon, who's a recent John Edwards to Barack Obama convert, has to hope the "change" message doesn't just work in the presidential race.

So is the conventional wisdom that if turnout is high, that would help Fallon? The Sec of State's office expects statewide turnout at 12 to 15%. That's about what it was four years ago.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Politics in Church

I can't ever imagine any of the pastors in any of the churches I have attended in any of the four states I have lived to put on a skit about a Presidential candidate wiping away tears, clearly mocking her. Isn't there supposed to be separation of church and state? I thought churches get the tax exemptions they do if they keep politics away from the pulpit. So what exactly is going on in Barack Obama's church? Or as I now should say, former church. Is this kind of talk happening at other churches and I just don't know it?

It is a no-brainer, a no-brainer that Obama had better expect question after question about what he heard when he sat in the pews at his former church. He never heard any comments similar to the ones making the rounds on YouTube now?

IPGOTV Thanks for the kind comments and emails you've given me after my first shot at moderating a debate. I moderated the two man contest Friday at Iowa Public Television studios between George Eichhorn and Christopher Reed. No, I still don't know why Steve Rathje opted not to take part. Although, Eichhorn and Reed had a few ideas. And, yes, this event, sponsored by the Polk County Republicans did run at the same time as the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner. Two Republican events for supporters at the same time. One county party event. One state party event. Polk Co. Chair Ted Sporer and State Chair Stew Iverson--can you feel the love tonight?

And, no, for the record, I didn't run 5 miles before the debate. The lights were really that hot. I kept trying to subtly wipe away what felt like buckets of sweat pouring down my face. It was foreshadowing for Dam to Dam the next day. I ran 2:07:13. Not the sub-2 hour race I wanted. And our softball team just fell to 0-3 for the season. Not quite the athletic week of champions.