Monday, December 29, 2008

The Battle of the J-School Giants

Missouri vs. Northwestern. Two of the best journalism programs in the country. Of course, as a proud grad, I think Mizzou's j-school is in a league of its own. As far as the football game, it wasn't pretty...but...

M-I-Z Z-O-U!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Vilsack for Secretary

Check out what Senator Chuck Grassley's office had to say about Tom Vilsack's appointment for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Can we call this a subtle swipe at the man some speculated might run against Grassley for his senate seat?

“This comes as a surprise since about three weeks ago Governor Vilsack stated that he was not in contention for the job, but it sure isn’t a surprise because of his qualifications. As Governor of Iowa he has a firsthand look at the role of agriculture in our global economy,” Grassley said. “I’m happy for him, happy for Iowa and this is welcome news for agriculture.”

The comments, I assume refer to this Des Moines Register article that claims Vilsack says he will NOT become Ag Secretary.

Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary

Tom Vilsack's run for president lasted shorter than Britney Spears first marriage. Almost. Jay Leno made fun of him on national tv. But, perhaps, Tom Vilsack will get the last laugh in Washington, after all. Barack Obama wants him to become the country's next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

It seems like quite a comeback for Vilsack. He talked up Hillary Clinton every chance he could after he dropped out of the presidential race. But after she quit her run, Vilsack traveled all over the place on Obama's behalf. It seems like I saw him on the national cable networks every other day pushing Obama's candidacy.

You'll remember last week Iowa's U.S. Senator Tom Harkin complained Obama's peeps weren't consulting enough with the senate about his appointments, particularly the Ag Sec job. I wonder if that helped Vilsack's case.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Throw a Shoe

I've heard of a horse throwing a shoe. I didn't realize tv reporters did it, too. Who deserves your shoe? I think a lot of Iowa State Cyclones' fans would say Gene Chizik right now. I'm voting for the guys who are hammering on those new houses next to mine at 7am on my day off. Actually maybe their bosses deserve my shoe. Both shoes! Who deserves your shoe?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fans Boo Auburn

I'm really hoping today is better than yesterday. I got into work and Hillary Clinton was causing us problems. O.K., not really. But our problems started outside her former campaign office across the street from our building in downtown Des Moines. A power line fell and knocked out our telephone service. I don't understand the technology of it all. But I know we lost phone, email, fax and internet. Not good timing on the day Iowa State's head football coach Gene Chizik bailed on his own words to commit to the Cyclones and instead headed to Auburn. Not a good day for that. It wasn't an easy day.

Auburn's hardly full of praise for this move. I used to work near Auburn before I moved to Des Moines. Football is everything there. EVERYTHING. I realize the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is big here. But Auburn-Alabama is waaaaay bigger. College football season doesn't just last through the fall. It's a year-round sport there. It's a big day for a guy to ask a girl to go to an Auburn football game. They get dressed up. It's like a formal. I think that's why fans are so stunned their beloved team has hired Chizik. Chizik had success there earlier this decade as the team's defensive coordinator. But even Iowa State's most devoted followers have a tough time arguing he's had much success here. So it's hard for those Tigers' fans to understand how they could hire this guy. Check out the reaction with Auburn's athletic director lands back in Alabama after working on the deal with Chizik. It ain't pretty.

And how much free time does the person who did this have?!


It seems like it's been forever since Iowans first started talking about how corrupt the leaders of CIETC were. Iowa State Auditor Dave Vaudt released his report about this on April 1, 2006. Court testimony showed CIETC'ers and board members were giving themselves bonuses with an actual rubber stamp, sleeping with each other, gambling on company know, just like your office is, right?

Monday, the leader of this taxpayer screw-job is scheduled to find out how much time she gets in the slammer. Ramona Cunningham worked her way up (insert your own joke here) through the system from secretary to CEO.
Tuesday, it's the woman who said she had nothing to do with this scandal. She previously testified she used to come to work early to make coffee for everyone and ate soup at her desk for lunch. Karen Tesdell, CIETC's former chief accountant learns her fate.

Any chance taxpayers will ever get back the money the execs stole from them?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rod Blagojevich's hair

Celebrity Look-a-Like...what do you think? Polk County Attorney John Sarcone and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod "F-in" Blagojevich. Drop all the f-bombs and the criminal indictments and give Sarcone a haircut...or better yet give Blago the haircut. BTW, will they have all the "product" for his 'do for him in prison?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

KCCI Layoffs

Layoffs. Firings. Reductions. Who cares what word you use? They all suck. It's a scary time for a lot of people right now, those with jobs and those without. We in the media, it seems, report on layoffs most every night now. Insurance companies, auto dealerships, financial institutions...and now those layoffs have hit one of our competitors. KCCI TV in Des Moines laid off four employees. Two workers took early retirement. And one person went from full-time to part-time. Don't get me wrong, I want us to beat Channel 8 in the ratings. It's been a long time. But you never want to see this happen. They're our competitors. But they're also our friends.

I don't know reporter Ryan Luby very well. But he's a fellow University of Missouri grad. So a hearty M-I-Z-Z-O-U to him. I've known meteorologist Jason Parkin for more than seven years now. He used to work at our station before he went to KCCI. He's a great guy. A really great guy. This television market and central Iowans will miss him terribly. I wish them all the best of luck. They deserve it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Principal Financial Job Cuts

The newscasts tonight will need a lot more than a half hour to cover everything today. So many developments...

The Principal Financial Group is laying off 550 employees, 300 from the metro. It was just a few weeks ago that Senior. V.P. Mary O'Keefe was telling us repeatedly how healthy the company was, that was despite the fact Principal had requested up to $2 billion in the government and that the stock price is worth a small fraction of what it once was. Apparently, a lot has changed in a few weeks.

Gov Chet Culver is cutting $77 million (if you count money that was already approved by the state legislature for that new state office building) from state spending. Repubs must be licking their chops politically. They said last year until they were blue in the face that the dems were spending way too much money. Does this help State Auditor Dave Vaudt (who was among the loudest spending critics) as he decides whether to run for governor against Culver?

Here are the highlights from a release from the gov's office:

Freeze personnel vacancies and new temporary positions, unless approved by Department of Management (DOM), and reduce the amount of overtime.
SAVINGS: $12.6 million

Freeze out-of-state travel, unless approved by DOM, and reduce in-state travel.
SAVINGS: $1.5 million

Reduce equipment purchases, service contracts and office supplies.
SAVINGS: $5.0 million

Cuts in spending by the Regents Institutions, Judicial Branch, and Legislature.
SAVINGS: $8.9 million

Transfers made to General Fund since the last Revenue Estimating Conference meeting.
SAVINGS: $12.0 million

Request the legislature to de-appropriate funding for a new state office building.
SAVINGS: $37 million

TOTAL: $77.0 million

Plus, did you watch any of the arguments in the Iowa Supreme Court over the same sex marriage case? No decision's expected for months, at least. Will the dems at the statehouse decide to take this up beforehand? Or will they keep avoiding the issue and wait for the Court?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wine Country and Jay's Staying

I've been blog-less for a week. I'm long overdue for a post. But we took an amazing trip to wine country in California in between. We started in Napa, then went to Sonoma and ended in San Fran. All three places were great (I think Hess was our favorite. Maybe it had something to do with the former Holstein, Iowa woman who served us our wine tasting tour). Going in the off-season paid off, I think. We didn't have to wait in lines. We got great service and access everywhere. Awesome. And while we were waiting to get on a cable car, I ran into a woman with whom I graduated from high school in southern Illinois. Unbelievable!

One quick observation...Iowa is nowhere near as green as San Fran. The recycling efforts there seem to dwarf ours here. We stopped by a restaurant on a pier. They had three containers for waste...trash, compost and recyclables. Very impressive.

Tuesday looks to be a big news day around here. A big winter storm may come our way. The Iowa Supreme Court takes up gay marriage (no decision expected for months). And Governor Chet Culver will finally tell Iowans how state departments will cut $40 mil from their budgets. The Des Moines Register has been trying for a while now to get those cuts. Culver's office had failed to turn that info over. I guess Tuesday we'll all finally get to see what these cuts are and what they will mean for everyone in the state.

I haven't understood what NBC has been doing for the past few years. It seems the network gives up on prime time shows pretty soon. Didn't "Friends", "Seinfeld" and "The Office" all struggle at first? And CBS and ABC have zoomed past the peacock in the ratings. Here's an interesting move though. It looks like the network will announce Tuesday Jay Leno will host an hour-long prime time show at 9m central time Monday through Friday. No network has ever tried something like this. NBC decided a few years back Leno would leave "The Tonight Show" so that Conan O'Brien could take over. Now it looks like we can watch both guys five nights a week. Now that's entertainment.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kevin McCarthy, Young Gun

Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen and Kevin McCarthy. Yep, McCarthy's been called the newest member of "The Young Guns". Actually, it's CALIFORNIA's Kevin McCarthy. Not IOWA's democratic house majority leader. First Shonn Greene, left out of the Heisman talk. Now Kevin McCarthy. No love for the Hawkeye State.

California's version.

The Iowan.