Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Culver Talks with Tom Arnold About Film Mess

(Photo courtesy:

Actor Tom Arnold (and Iowa native) told Channel 13 news he took part in a conference call Monday with Governor Chet Culver about the film tax credit fiasco. Arnold said he talked about the frustration of a couple "knuckleheads" from the film industry that caused the problems. He also said he supports tax credits and thinks they have been very beneficial to Iowa. He wants them restored. Arnold said he knows of a dozen film projects that are now planning on filming outside of Iowa because of the uncertain future of the tax credits.

Channel 13's Sonya Heitshusen talks exclusively with Arnold. Watch her story tonight on the Channel 13 news at 10. I'll try to add video of her story after it airs. She told me the governor's office did not confirm the meeting with Arnold took place.

Where in the World is Chet Culver?

There's been a bit of chatter this afternoon about the whereabouts of Iowa Governor Chet Culver. It seems like they originate with two main sourcees, at least from the folks I'm hearing.

Perhaps, it began with an article from the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich. She wrote about a discontent among some the governor is less than attentive to requests for information/conversation/time, etc. The right-leaning,, then put out a story this afternoon questioning where the governor will be Thursday. That really upped the chatter. The website cites a source with an email that alleges the governor was a last-minute cancellation for a breakfast tomorrow.

Culver's Spokesman Troy Price later sent out a statement regarding the gov's schedule:
Hello All,

We wanted to pass along a note letting you know that Governor Culver is traveling out of state starting tomorrow through Friday The Governor leaves tomorrow morning for Washington, D.C., where he will participate in a series of events with the Democratic Governors Association. The Governor will return to Iowa Friday afternoon, where he will attend a reception in Iowa City to honor Grant Wood with the Iowa Award.



I can't find anything listed on the Democratic Governors Association website that mentions any events tomorrow. The next scheduled events that are listed take place in November.

UPDATE: The governor's office told me he will take part in a fundraiser with other Democrats in D.C. The lt. governor is filling in at the breakfast in Iowa on behalf of the gov. So, in other words, no mystery. No conspiracy theory.

Now, if I could just find my St. Louis Cardinals' missing offense!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Purple Matters Show 9/29/09

Purple Matters Tuesday Night

Purple Matters takes to the internet air waves Tuesday night at 8pm...

Does Terry Branstad have an announcement coming soon? We'll chat with the woman leading efforts to draft him into service.
We'll talk with an Iowa woman delivering a message to Congress Wednesday.
And we'll hear from the U of Iowa man who got a genius grant to study paper.

I hope you'll tune in and chat with us!

Roberts: "A Failure to Communicate"

11 days after the Iowa movie mess broke, Republican candidate for governor Rod Roberts is out asking where Governor Chet Culver was during the scandal. Here's his release from Tuesday:

Where was Governor Culver During Filmgate?

Over the past week Iowans have discovered how some self-interested film producers exploited a state program that was intended to boost the state’s economy. Film producers claimed tax credits for purchasing expensive luxury vehicles, such as Mercedes and Range Rovers. Some film producers inflated their production costs to receive larger-than-deserved tax credits, while others didn’t even bother to provide receipts for their purchases to substantiate their tax-credit claims. The State Auditor and Attorney General are only beginning to learn about the scope and extent of this egregious tax fraud, and I am anxious to hear the conclusions of their investigations so Iowans can get to the bottom of what went wrong.

Governor Culver’s response to “Filmgate” has been to fire agency heads and to make a few statements expressing his outrage over the scandal. But high-profile firings and public statements of outrage only go so far with Iowans. What Iowans want to know is this: Where was Governor Culver’s outrage in July when his Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development knew that such fraud was likely occurring? During the past week, one thing has been glaringly missing from the Governor: an admission of personal responsibility for the Filmgate scandal.

My exploratory campaign for governor is just over two months old, and during that time I have traveled the state extensively and talked with Iowans about the importance of effective, capable leadership. This is because Governor Culver’s lack of effective leadership has so badly hurt the State of Iowa since he was elected in 2006. Filmgate is just the latest example. When the tragic floods of 2008 caused tremendous damage to Eastern Iowa, where was Governor Culver? When out-of-control spending plunged (and continues to plunge) our state into budget crises, where was Governor Culver? When Iowans voiced outrage over seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court redefining marriage, where was Governor Culver? It is no wonder his approval rating among Iowans has dropped so precipitously in the past year.

A cornerstone of my exploratory-campaign message has been about restoring Iowans’ faith in effective, capable leadership within the executive branch of state government. Effective leadership entails delegation of authority to others, but delegation of authority doesn’t entail omission of oversight. The chief executive must ask probing questions of his or her department leaders and make sure they are fulfilling their responsibilities. This is especially true when taxpayer dollars are on the line. At the end of the day, the chief executive must take ownership in the performance of executive agencies—for better or for worse. But too often Governor Culver has spurned this “buck stops here” principle of leadership.

As I have said over the past two months of my exploratory campaign and will continue to reiterate in the months ahead, the gubernatorial election of 2010 will be about the issues, and one of those issues concerns who will best bring effective, capable leadership to the governor’s office. Filmgate is the latest demonstration of how Governor Culver is not up to that task. Strother Martin’s famous line in the movie Cool Hand Luke succinctly sums up the Filmgate scandal: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Iowans are tired of such failures from their chief executive. They deserve effective, capable leadership, and I will provide precisely this type of leadership as governor.

Biden to Headline Jefferson-Jackson

Say it's so, Joe. The Iowa Democratic Party announced this morning Vice President Joe Biden will serve as the v.i.p. headliner for the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. This will be Biden's third appearance as the dinner speaker, according to the encyclopedia-like recall of Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson. That three-peat equals a recent (fairly recent) three-peat performance from Al Gore. The IA Dems' Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach said Gore spoke in 1994, 1997 and 1999 (when he was running for president). (Update at 2:04pm--Gore, when, of course, he wasn't the Vice Prez, also spoke at 2008's dinner).

Here's the release from the Dems:

DES MOINES – Vice President Joe Biden will headline the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2009 Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, to be held Saturday, November 21 in Des Moines.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have the Vice President back in Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan said Thursday. “There is a great deal of admiration for Joe Biden among Iowa Democrats.”

The Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner is traditionally the party’s largest fundraising event.

In his role as the nation’s 47th Vice President, Joe Biden has a broad and critical portfolio, dealing with some of the most important issues on the president’s agenda. This includes oversight of the implementation of the $787 billion stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; chairing the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families; and overseeing the administration's Iraq policy.

As a Senator from Delaware for 36 years, Biden was a leader on some of our nation's most important domestic and international challenges. As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 17 years, Biden was widely recognized for his work on criminal justice issues including the landmark 1994 Crime Bill and the Violence Against Women Act.

As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1997, Biden played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He has been at the forefront of issues and legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.

Ticketing information for the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner can be found at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Party at Branstads NOT for Terry; It's for Me

Windsor Heights Republican Representative Chris Hagenow doesn't want you to think the wrong thing if you see an invite to a party for him at the home of the Branstads. Here's the invite I found on Facebook Monday:

Rep. Chris Hagenow - One Year to Victory Celebration at the Branstads!
Host: Eric & Adrianne Branstad, Governor Chris & Terry Branstad
Type: Causes - Fundraiser
Network: Global
Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Time: 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Location: Branstad Residence
City/Town: West Des Moines, IA

Description: Please join Governor Terry and Chris Branstad and Eric and Adrianne Branstad for a One Year to Victory Celebration in support of Rep. Chris Hagenow!

Great Food! Lots of Fun! For a Great Cause!!

I told him some people were wondering if this means Branstad expects to be in the race by the time this party happens. Hagenow told me he planned this gathering a while back with Branstad's son, Eric...long before there was all this talk about Terry B. running again.

Branstad was unavailable for comment. His assistant at Des Moines University said he was out of the office until Wednesday.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kiernan Promises Mystery Candidate

Some random thoughts before I head out to the 10pm news tonight...

Did you see Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan on Iowa Public Television this weekend? I missed the original broadcast Friday night and had to watch the tape of it this morning. Two things that stuck out... Kiernan said his party will not work to "primary" the so-called "Six Pack"...the group of more conservative Democrats who helped derail some of the Big Labor initiatives during the past legislative session. AFSCME, the state union hired State Rep. Elesha Gayman for a project that some critics say would help find more labor-friendly candidates to run against the Six Pack. She denies that, by the way.

Kiernan also said there WILL be a mystery candidate unveiled from the Democrats to take on long-time Republican Senator Charles Grassley. Although, he said the person will "come out" after former Governor Terry Branstad announces he will run again. Kiernan predicts that will happen.

Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals. They finally wrapped up the National League Central with a 6-3 win over the Rockies. I must say I would have never expected this. I really thought they did way too little to better their team in the off-season. But a stronger-than-expected start and the moves to get Matt Holliday, Julio Lugo and John Smoltz worked out better than almost anyone could have hoped. Now, if I could just get some playoff tickets!

We went to the Dave Matthews' concert at Principal Park in Des Moines Friday night. I'm not a huge fan, but my wife likes him. I found the show rather disappointing. An outdoor concert is great. And I admit I didn't know a lot of the songs. But it seemed like the band lost the crowd a few times, took way too long between songs and played a pretty lackluster encore set of songs. Maybe it's just that we weren't getting sky high in a cloud of pot like so many others there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Iowa Lawmaker Says Legislators Knew of Film Issues Early Summer

As we continue to follow "who knew what, when" in the movie mess, film industry scandal, whatever the headline of the day is...I offer this, for what it's worth. On Tuesday, Governor Chet Culver in Cedar Rapids said at least three times he learned of the tax credit fiasco either "last Tuesday" or "last week". When I asked him to clarify later on during his news conference, he said he had heard about possible problems before then and that's why he said he directed his legal counsel to push for the audit/review/investigation (whatever the proper term would be here) that now-former Iowa Dept of Economic Director Mike Tramontina discussed in a memo last Wednesday.

I talked with State Senator Rich Olive, a Democrat from Story City, Wednesday. He chairs the government oversight committee, which declined to look into the movie mess as its already-scheduled meeting Thursday morning. He said lawmakers had heard of possible issues "last June or July" and pushed D.E.D. to make sure everything was running properly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Iowa Film Industry Criticizes Governor

Iowa film industry workers are none too happy with Governor Chet Culver right now. They held a news conference at the Des Moines Social Club Monday afternoon to protest his decision to halt the tax credit program that lures out-of-state movie makers to Iowa. The gov's decision comes as part of the fallout of allegations of misuse of some of the tax dollars involved in the program. Here's the story I did for tv:

Govenor Asks for Help in Movie Money Scandal

Monday morning, Governor Chet Culver's office sent out a release asking other agencies to help investigate allegations of misspent tax dollars in the program to lure more movie makers to Iowa. The release is below. The governor has not spoken publicly about the scandal. His office released a statement at about 5pm on Friday. His staff said earlier this morning the governor has no public events scheduled for today.

Here's the release:


Governor Seeks to Protect Public Funds in Program to Support Growing Industry

DES MOINES - Governor Chet Culver today asked Attorney General Thomas Miller and Auditor David Vaudt to assist in a review of the Film, Television and Video Project Promotion Program administered by the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED).

"This is not about harming the growing film and television industry in Iowa, but about protecting public funds and the best interest of Iowans," said Governor Culver. "I am very troubled by reports of the lack of oversight and accounting procedures of tax credits under this program. My first priority on this issue is to the taxpayers of Iowa, and I know that Attorney General Miller and Auditor Vaudt will help us to quickly identify changes that need to be made and how we can best move forward."

In a letter to the Attorney General and Auditor, as well as the Mark Schuling, Director of the Iowa Department of Revenue, Governor Culver asked them for a review of the film tax credit program, and to provide advice and recommendations on how the program can be improved in a way that meets the intent of the legislation which created the program and protects the interests of Iowa taxpayers.

On Friday, Governor Culver accepted the resignation of IDED Director Mike Tramontina and asked the Economic Development Board to not approve further tax credit certificates until questions about the administration of the program are answered.
# # #
NOTE: Below is the letter Governor Culver delivered to Attorney General Miller, Auditor Vaudt, and Department of Revenue Director Schuling this morning:

September 21, 2009

Thomas J. Miller
Attorney General of Iowa
Hoover Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

David Vaudt
State Auditor
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319

Mark Schuling
Director, Department of Revenue
Hoover Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

Dear Attorney General Miller, Auditor Vaudt and Director Schuling:

By this letter I seek the assistance and review by your respective offices of the operations of the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s (IDED’s) Film, Television and Video Project Promotion Program and your recommendations as to how the administration of that program can be improved to assure that the Iowa General Assembly’s legislative intent is carried out and that the interests of Iowa’s taxpayers are fully protected.

As you may know, this program was originally established by the Iowa General Assembly under Iowa Code section 15.393. Under it, projects registered with IDED may qualify certain expenditures for tax credit certificates. The tax credit is for 25% of the qualified expe3nditures. A film investment tax credit equal to 25% of the qualified investment in a film project is also available.

In 2009, the Iowa General Assembly passed two bills related to the film credit. Senate File 480 expanded the credit to include compensation for the principal director, principal producer and principal cast members as long as these persons are Iowa residents or an Iowa-based business. The bill also made other changes based on the dollar amounts of individual projects. Senate File 483 created a cap of $185 million on various IDED programs, including the film tax credit. IDED has allocated $50 million of the $185 million for fiscal year 2009-1020 for the film tax credits. It has also drafted rules related to this program at Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 261, Chapter 36.

The Department of Revenue (IDR) processes tax credit certificates claimed on the income tax returns. IDR issues a replacement tax credit certificate if the original tax credit certificate is transferred to another person. IDR has drafted administrative rules in connection with the film program at IAC 701-52.34.

While there have been many reported benefits resulting from IDED’s implementation of this program, our office very recently learned that there have been insufficient procedures in place to assure a full and accurate accounting of expenditures made to enable persons to qualify for tax credits under the program. A memorandum outlining program administrative deficiencies issued by former IDED Director Michael L Tramontina is enclosed for your information and review.

Until all reasonable questions about the administration of this program are answered, I have directed IDED’s Board of Directors that no further schedules of qualified expenditures be approved nor any further tax credit certificates be issued.

I seek the review, advice and recommendations of your respective offices as to how this program can be improved and how pending issues can be resolved efficiently and effectively, allowing us to move forward in a manner that is consistent with the intent of this legislation and that protects the interests of Iowa taxpayers.

I pledge the full cooperation of my Administration in this effort and look forward to working in a productive manner with each of you with respect to these matters.

Chester J. Culver
Governor of Iowa

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DED Cancels Event for Tomorrow

I just received this email from the Iowa Dept of Economic Development. It probably would have been pretty tough to hold this event, since the department no longer really has a leader. Director Mike Tramontina resigned Friday in the middle of the financial scandal that has plagued the Iowa Film Office/DED.

Press Conference on Single Family New Construction Program in Waterloo To Be Rescheduled

WATERLOO, IA (September 20, 2009) - The press conference to be held on Monday, September 21st on the Single Family New Construction Program in Waterloo will be rescheduled. The date of the press conference has yet to be determined.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jewish Coalition Letter to Iowa Party Chairmen

18 national Jewish organizations across the country let Iowa's two state party chairmen know they don't like the idea of holding caucuses on a Saturday next year. Here's a copy of the letter sent to the chairs:

“Dear Mr. Kiernan and Mr. Strawn:

“A central premise of American politics is the enfranchisement of every citizen. The Jewish community has actively campaigned for fair and equal representation for the voices of majority and minorities alike, the protection of civil rights of all people and unencumbered access for all to the processes that choose our elected leaders. Our nation has thrived because of the tremendous opportunities afforded to people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and other backgrounds. For this reason, we are distressed to learn that the Democratic and Republican parties of Iowa have decided to hold their 2010 caucuses on a Saturday.

“The decision to move the Iowa political party caucuses to a Saturday effectively disenfranchises members of the Jewish community. Jews who observe the Sabbath could not work on caucus day to support their candidates of choice. Worse, since caucuses do not allow for absentee voting, there would be essentially no opportunity to participate in this important process. This is utterly inconsistent with the values of our pluralistic democracy.

“Voting and participation in the electoral process is a cornerstone of any democracy. It is the highest civic duty most people ever undertake. Saturday caucuses will force members of the Iowa Jewish community to choose between their faith and their civic duties.

“Given the important role Iowa has in our nation’s electoral contests and their leadership position in serving as a role model to other states, we respectfully ask and hope the Democratic and Republican parties to reverse this ill‐considered this move.”

The statement was endorsed by The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA); American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Congress; Anti-Defamation League; B’nai B’rith International; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish War Veterans; National Council of Jewish Women; National Jewish Democratic Council; ORT America; Orthodox Union; Rabbinical Assembly; Republican Jewish Coalition; Union for Reform Judaism; and United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rep. King Defends Wilson on MSNBC

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King doesn't think South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson should apologize on the floor of the U.S. House for his "you lie" comment during President Obama's address to Congress. King talked about his letter he is circulating about the matter during a live interview with MSNBC Monday.

Grassley and Boswell Honor Borlaug

Two Iowa politicians publicly praised former Iowan, Dr. Norman Borlaug. Borlaug died late Saturday night in Dallas at the age of 95, after dedicating his life to using technology to increase grain production so starving people could eat.

Democrat Rep. Leonard Boswell offered a resolution in his honor. Here's the release:

“Dr. Borlaug is one of Iowa’s and the nation’s greatest scientists and humanitarians,” said Boswell, a senior Member of the House Committee on Agriculture. “His contributions in the field of agriculture and his commitment to the human condition are credited to saving one billion from famine and outright starvation around the world.”

Dr. Borlaug’s innovative methods for breeding wheat, rice and other crops brought agricultural self-sufficiency to developing countries worldwide. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, and was later honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences’ highest honor, the Rotary International Award for World Understanding and Peace, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

In 1986, Dr. Borlaug started the World Food Prize, also known as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,” which is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. The World Food Prize is sponsored by businessman and philanthropist John Ruan, who serves as Chairman Emeritus. John Ruan III serves as Chairman of the World Food Prize.

Dr. Borlaug was born on his family farm outside Cresco, Iowa, in 1914. He received B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota where he was also a star NCAA wrestler. He later taught for over 20 years at Texas A&M University.

H.Res. 739 has 17 original co-sponsors, including Iowa Reps. David Loebsack, Bruce Braley, Tom Latham, and Steve King.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley offered this praise on the senate floor:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Steve King Supports Joe Wilson

Iowa Congressman Steve King is backing up the fellow Republican who has become famous or infamous for his shout, "you're a liar", to President Obama during his address to Congress last week. The Politico reports King is sending around a letter to gather supporters to back South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson as Democrats look to punish him for his remark.

Here's the clip of the prez using the "lie" word and Wilson later adding his own use:

Remembering Dr. Norman Borlaug

What word is strong enough to describe Dr. Norman Borlaug's contributions to the world? Heroic? Inspiring? Remarkable? Borlaug died late Saturday night from cancer at the age of 95. He grew up in rural Cresco, Iowa, on a small farm. He later dedicated his life to feeding the world's hungry. Some have estimated he may be responsible for saving the lives of a billion people...a BILLION. Here's a story my co-worker, Lynn Melling, did three years ago with Dr. Borlaug, where he talked about what's happened in his life and the work that's left.

Iowa politicians have released statements in tribute to Dr. Borlaug.

Senator Tom Harkin:
"Norman Borlaug was the Father of Green Revolution and the most beloved and honored Iowan of the 20th Century whose contributions changed the lives of countless Americans and saved billions around the world. The way we farm and thus feed and fuel the world are a result of his influence. Though Dr. Borlaug is no longer with us, his vision for agriculture remains. Today my thoughts are with his entire family."
Senator Charles Grassley:

“I am honored to have known Norm Borlaug. He was a remarkable man and a true son of the Iowa soil. A tenacity found through wrestling, a love of the soil and a twist of fate helped Norm develop the scientific breakthroughs to ease malnutrition and famine around the world. Norm Borlaug never forgot his roots, right here in the cornfields of Iowa, and Iowans will never forget him. He will continue to inspire generations of scientists and farmers to innovate and lift those mired in poverty. Barbara and I send our deepest condolences to Norm’s family.”
Congressman Bruce Braley:

“Norman Borlaug was considered one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century for good reason. By most estimations, his agricultural innovations saved billions of lives and improved the nutrition and health of countless people across the globe.

“I was honored to meet Mr. Borlaug in 2007 when he received the Congressional Gold Medal at the Capitol, and I'm proud that he was a native Iowan. He will be missed, but the legacy of his life's work will live on for generations to come. My thoughts are with the Borlaug family during this difficult time.”
Governor Chet Culver:

“On behalf of Lt. Governor Judge, the Culver/Judge Administration, and the people of Iowa, I want to express my deepest sympathies over the passing of Dr. Norman Borlaug and say how grateful we are for his many accomplishments.

“Dr. Borlaug was a true visionary. From humble beginnings on a northeast Iowa farm, Borlaug would go on to change the world. His innovative spirit led to new discoveries in agriculture that would help reduce hunger for countless individuals. More than 1 billion people are alive today because of his work, making Dr. Norman Borlaug one of history’s greatest humanitarians.

“In addition, Dr. Borlaug had a profound impact on his home state as well. He not only revolutionized the way farmers - including those in Iowa - produce food for the world, but each year Iowa proudly hosts the World Food Prize, which recognizes those who continue in his tradition and have helped save even more lives by reducing hunger.

“Dr. Norman Borlaug will always be remembered as a great Iowan, a great American, and a great friend to people across the globe. He will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Grassley Running Again

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley seemed surprised that some people wondered whether he was running...apparently, he still is in both ways...literally, on his feet running and also running for re-election next year. The only source to this "rumor" that he wasn't running, that I can find, comes from a Time magazine article that, I think, was only recounting a story of Grassley saying he would go retire because of all the craziness of the health care debate. But Grassley told us today he would be running to keep his seat (which he's held since voters elected him to the senate in 1980).

Grassley said, "I didn't think there was any doubt in anybody's mind about me seeking re-election. Although, I've made it very clear by having $4 million in the bank to help run the next election. That's cash on hand." (Grassley later said he had "almost" $4 million.)

The comment about how much dough he had raised wasn't directly asked of him. So was it, perhaps, a subtle reminder to that "mystery candidate" out there Democratic activists say will still emerge to take him on next year? Cha-ching.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Kiernan Blasts Vander Plaats' Entrance into the Race

If you are up for a little word-watching, you'll want to check these out. Bob Vander Plaats officially announced he is running for governor. There hadn't been much doubt that Team VP was "all in" for this one. But he made the official announcement in his hometown of Sheldon. He will re-announce (or in this case, that would, since he has run two other times already) Michael Kiernan, the Chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, then continued his last few weeks of aggressive responses to the day's news/announcements/etc. Here are the releases:

Vander Plaats
SHELDON – Speaking before a crowd in the town where he grew up, Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats today formally announced his candidacy for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination by pledging to pay down the enormous debt generated by Governor Chet Culver, improve Iowa’s tax and regulatory climate to draw new companies to Iowa, create a 21st Century communications infrastructure and take action to allow a statewide vote on the definition of marriage.

Vander Plaats set a goal of repaying by the end of his first term the long-term borrowing Governor Chet Culver and legislative Democrats approved to create the short-term I-Jobs program. The $750 million they borrowed will require the state to pay $1.8 billion in principal, interest and fees if the state takes the entire length of time scheduled to repay the debt.

“Our state is too great to allow it to continue to waste away, as it has under Chet Culver’s watch. The first step any turnaround CEO takes is to stop the bleeding. We need to pay off the debt Chet Culver has saddled us with so we can start investing in the future instead of leaving our kids to cover the millions of dollars interest on his credit card,” Vander Plaats said during a noon event at City Park. “A turnaround CEO also brings in the best and brightest people from the public and private sector to lead an organization. I’ll do that.”

Vander Plaats vowed to reassert the governor’s authority and a proper balance between the judicial, executive and legislative branches in the wake of the Iowa Supreme court’s opinion earlier this year to same-sex marriages are legal. He pledged to sign an executive order on his first day in office to stay future same-sex marriages until Iowans have an opportunity to vote in a statewide referendum on the definition of marriage.

“We call it the Foundation Proclamation because it will defend key foundations of our society and government – the family and the separation of powers,” he said.

He added, “I will be a governor who stands up for true conservative principles. I will work to reduce the tax burden on Iowans instead of increasing it. I will oppose the drumbeat of expanded gambling. And I will be a governor who supports a culture of life from conception to natural death, and I’ll appoint a lieutenant governor who is as passionate about that foundation of society as I am.”

Noting his commitment to “open Iowa for business,” Vander Plaats said, “I want to make sure Iowa will be a bridge to anywhere – a place where the top companies in the world, large or small – want to locate, grow and thrive. We cannot afford to have hit-and-miss cell phone coverage across parts of the state and internet service that’s 10 years behind the times. Just as we need our roads and airports to be up to standard, we need a reliable 21st century communications infrastructure. ”

Vander Plaats’ administration will remove the public school system’s "model core curriculum" and aggressively reform education through the setting of international standards, simplified funding, accountability and transparency.

“I want Iowa to lead the United States and the world and the only way to do that is to have high standards in math, science, communication, technology and authentic American and world history. To reestablish Iowa as an educational leader, we need less federal interference and we must get rid of Chet Culver’s one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “I will create an environment where resources are directed towards student achievement, where districts learn from the successes of others, where all districts are held accountable for results and where they report those results in the most transparent and accessible manner.”

Vander Plaats said his campaign is “about leadership and freedom” and he is not running to be a governor who defends the status quo or tinkers at the margins.

“I’m in this race to be a transformational governor who limits the size of government, reforms our tax structure to make Iowa far more competitive, sets our education system on course to be the international standard and demands excellence from every dollar we spend on public services,” said the Sioux City businessman, who also had a scheduled appearance in Kalona on Tuesday evening as part of a week-long statewide tour.

Vander Plaats, 46, is a former high school teacher and principal, former president and chief executive officer of a nonprofit rehabilitation facility for people with brain injuries and the Republican Party’s 2006 nominee for lieutenant governor. He is the president of MVP Leadership, a consulting firm that helps business executives hone their leadership and strategic skills. Vander Plaats and his wife, Darla, live in Sioux City. They have four sons. Their third son, Lucas, was born with a severe brain condition. He inspired Vander Plaats to write the book “Light from Lucas,” published by Focus on the Family.
Here's the response from Kiernan:

DES MOINES – "Bob Vander Plaats opened fire on Iowans today. The candidate who said President Obama has been good for only two industries – guns and ammunition – not surprisingly started off by going negative on his home state.

"Vander Plaats repeatedly said Iowa wasn’t economically competitive, though we have the 4th best business climate in the nation, and the 8th fastest growing economy among states. He called the I-JOBS program which is creating jobs, stimulating the economy and replacing our aged infrastructure, a 'credit card.'

"If all that weren’t insulting enough to Iowans, Vander Plaats chose labor day -- the day we celebrate the hard work of generations who built this state -- for his announcement. And let's be clear: Bob Vander Plaats is no friend of the working men and women of this state. He opposed virtually every piece of pro-worker legislation that has been debated in recent years.

"The Vander Plaats announcement also provides further evidence of the deep divide in the GOP. Vander Plaats epitomizes the uncompromising right-wing fringe that would rather have a candidate with whom they agree on all the issues, than one who can win. Vander Plaats’ announcement is proof this will be a tough, bruising primary – no matter who else runs.

"I welcome him to the race."

Sunday, September 06, 2009

President to Give Speech to Students

On Tuesday, President Obama gives what has now become a controversial speech. He is scheduled to talk directly to students and encourage them to stay in school. But critics say it is just a way for the President to push his political views on a captive audience of students. Supports say plenty of other presidents, like FDR, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did it. So what is the big deal?

Do you want your students watching the speech? Would you rather have your school administrators watch it first and then decide whether to show it to students? Or should schools skip the speech completely?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Atlantic High School Students Have to Undress for Search

The Des Moines Register reports five female students in Atlantic had to strip off their clothes, so that school officials could try to find the $100 another student claimed to have lost. The girls' families are now considering a lawsuit. The school district maintains the search should be legal. But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may disagree with that line of thinking.

What do you think about this? Should school districts be able to force students to disrobe if they are investigating a crime (the district used a female employee to do the search on the female students)? Or do you think this type of behavior should never be allowed, no matter the circumstances...invasion of privacy, etc.?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

AARP Survey

AARP released a survey today, saying older Iowans want major change. They want it this year. And they want it affordable for more people. The group surveyed 500 of its 400,000 Iowa members. It's pushing for a bi-partisan approach. But Iowa's congressional delegation, on the Republican side, seems to be split on this. Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Tom Latham have called for compromise. But Congressman Steve King said Republicans shouldn't compromise their principles. Do you want compromise or should the politicians stick to their party principles?