Tuesday, March 31, 2009

David Adelman for City Council

David Adelman seems to be attracting many of the local bigwigs for his bid to replace outgoing Des Moines Councilman (and Iowa Democratic Party Chairman) Michael Kiernan. If I had any computer skills, I would attach his invitation for his kickoff Thursday at 5:30pm at the Cub Club at Principal Park. On his host list you'll find names like Crawford, many Mauros, Cownies, and Hubbells.

In Other News...

Good news for fans of "Friday Night Lights" (one of the best shows on tv no one is watching), NBC announced the show is coming back.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hatch Emails Apology for "N"-word

Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat, has emailed an apology for dropping the "N"-word last week at the statehouse to State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, a Des Moines Democrat. Abdul Samad is African-American. Hatch had been frustrated about efforts with his own party of passing his health care plan.

Here's the email Hatch sent to lawmakers and statehouse staff:

From: Hatch, Jack [LEGIS]Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 9:35 AM To: All Legislators; All Senate Staff; All House Staff Subject: An apology

Dear colleagues and legislative staff,

I am writing to apologize for a comment I made last week. As legislators, our comments reflect on everyone, and last Wednesday I made an inappropriate reference. It was wrong and inexcusable. We are to reflect Iowa values, and Iowans are a tolerant group. Our values embrace diversity and legislators need to reflect our highest standards.Last Wednesday, I failed that standard and for that, I am sorry. It will never happen again.

If you want to discuss this with me, please seek me out.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tea Parties for Two in Des Moines

Remember that CNBC reporter, Rick Santelli, who went off about all those bailouts? To protest the spending, he called for tea parties like they did back in the old Boston tea party days. It looks like, at least as of now, Des Moines may host one of those tea parties, actually two of those parties within four days of each other. They seem similar, but not.

One group seems to follow Glenn Beck's 9 12 project. It seems a little more focused on re-establishing certain moral principals, protecting freedom, adhering to the constitution, etc. The other group seems to focus primarily on financial issues, like reducing spending and cutting taxes.

Here is the tv story I did on this. And here are the details of the dueling tea parties:

Tea Party #1 April 11th 11am in front of the Iowa Statehouse (I don't know if there is a website for this. I'll keep checking.)

Tea Party #2 April 15th 10am www.desmoinesteaparty.com

Here is that clip for Santelli just for fun:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Iowa Senator Jack Hatch Uses "N"-word

When is it o.k. to use that "n"-word? Is it ever o.k.? The Des Moines Register reports Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat, lost his temper and used the word while he was talking with State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, a Des Moines Democrat, who is African-American. Hatch hasn't been able to convince the legislature to pass his full health care plan the way he wants it.


Forget the traveling salesmen. It's the traveling U.S. Senate candidates (almost) in Iowa. Senator Charles Grassley's staff (like he hasn't already been in the news A LOT the past week or so) released his travel sked...33 counties next month during his congressional recess. A possible opponent is traveling around this weekend. Democrat Bob Krause is forming an exploratory committee to run against Grassley next year. Here's a little about Krause, according to a news release:

Bob Krause, currently Chair of the Iowa Democratic Veterans Caucus who has been a Democratic leader in the state for more than 35 years, is set to announce formation of an exploratory committee to run for the Democratic nomination of the U. S. Senate on Saturday.

A reception will begin at 12:15 p.m. at the Fort Des Moines Historical Museum, 75 E. Army Post Rd., followed by a program at 1:15 p.m. which will include the announcement by Krause. The public is invited.

Krause, 59, a native of Fenton in northwest Iowa who now lives in Fairfield, was elected to the first of three terms in the Iowa House of Representatives in 1972. After losing a bid for Iowa State Treasurer in 1978, Krause was named Regional Representative for the U. S. Secretary of Transportation, influencing DOT policy in four states. He had chaired the House Transportation Committee for four years.

Bob worked his way through college at the University of Iowa during a tumultuous period in our history, graduating in 1972 with a B. A. degree in political science. He was a member of ROTC, student senate and president of University Democrats and, during summer breaks, worked as a construction laborer. He also devoted two summers for the Robert Fulton for Governor campaign and worked for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Bob’s leadership skills were recognized early on, receiving an appointment as Assistant House Minority Whip in his first term. In this capacity, he helped pass Iowa’s collective bargaining bill that is so crucial to teachers and other public employees. He also crafted a restructuring of Iowa’s road system that included Iowa’s first ethanol exemption when passed, which became the basis for Iowa’s ethanol industry. Because of these efforts and others, the Des Moines Register in 1978 honored him as one of the “Top 10 Most Effective Iowa Legislators.”

After the Carter administration, Bob taught in the business school at Iowa State University then joined the staff of the Council of State Governments, the national association for state government officials. There he ran a think-tank on transportation policy, writing five books and staffing several national policy task forces on transportation matters.

Bob then served as transit director for the Iowa Northland Council of Governments before joining the Iowa Department of Transportation in 1986. He served as a district planner then served as planning and coordination manager for the Public Transit Division. He also managed Iowa’s Rural and Large Urban Public Transit Intelligent Transportation System, a project recognized as one of the most innovative of its kind in the nation. He retired in 2008 from the Iowa DOT with 20 years of state government service.

The author of several books and numerous articles on transportation policy, Bob has also produced several video productions on highway safety and military transportation. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U. S. Reserve after 28 years of commissioned service in 2001, having received the Meritorious Service Medal.

Bob served three years as Iowa State President of the Reserve Officers Association (ROA), which represents military reserve officers in all branches. He chaired a state-wide “Lest We Forget” charity campaign in 2005 to raise funds for military hardship cases among families of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is a past member of the Waterloo School Board, where he advocated retaining small neighborhood schools and open processes within the school district. Bob is also a member of Fellowship of the Holy Spirit in Fairfield, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion. Bob and his wife, Vicky, live in Fairfield.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chuck Grassley and Your Wife

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is in the news these days more than Paris Hilton. First, his suicide comment, then the one about what taxpayers are sucking and now this. The senator told North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad he should return a favor the way Grassley did a few years ago. To that, Conrad replied "you're good" to Grassley. Grassley responded, "you're wife said the same thing." And there's video, too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stalker after Shawn Johnson

It's the unfortunate, scary side of stardom. West Des Moines native and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson had to seek a restraining order to keep a crazed fan away from her as she taped ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in Hollywood.

Here's the full story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Iowa Unemployment Up Again

Iowa' unemployment has gone up again. A release just out from the Iowa Workforce Development showed the rate rose another 1/10 of a percent. Here's the release:

Iowa Unemployment Rate at 4.9 Percent

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 4.9 percent in February from 4.8 in January. The statewide jobless rate was reported at 3.9 percent one year ago. In stark contrast, the U.S. unemployment rate for February increased by one-half of a percentage point to 8.1 percent, the highest level since 1983. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent one year ago.

“Although Iowa remains in a better position than most states to weather the current recession, job losses have deepened over the past six months,” said Elisabeth Buck, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa employers continue to trim their payrolls in response to declining sales and profits.”

The total number of working Iowans trended downward to 1,587,100 in February from 1,592,100 in January. Total employment in the state was reported at 1,609,100 one year ago, which was 22,000 higher than the current figure.

The statewide estimate of unemployed persons increased to 82,500 in February from 80,000 in January. One year ago, the number of unemployed state residents was reported at 65,500.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Companies Cutting Back

We are in a recession with a capital "R" right now. And companies are letting their employees know it. Laying people off, cutting salaries, reducing benefits, eliminating 401k matches and scaling back hours are just some of the cost-savers companies are doing to boost their bottom lines. It seems like almost everyone I know at least knows someone who has been affected. What's going on at your work? How is your company cutting back at your expense?

Do you think all this cutting is necessary? Or do you think some companies are just using the bad economy as an excuse to take away things from you or for getting rid of some of your co-workers? Is it just conspiracy-thinking or is it a legitimate concern right now?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Grassley on Face the Nation

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley's words (suicides, sucking the t*t) have found him a lot of attention this week. Sunday, he is about to get even more face time. Grassley will be one of the guests on CBS' "Face the Nation". What kind of news will he make? BTW, Grassley will be interviewed from the University of Northern Iowa campus, according to his office. A few more baskets in Thursday's game could have made that campus a much happier setting for the senator.


M-I-Z....We had a great afternoon hanging out with about two dozen fellow University of Missouri grads to watch our Tigers find their defense (and their shot) in the second half and knock down Cornell. Great to see so much black and gold (no offense to the other group of black and gold in our state:) Thanks to Skybox Lounge in West Des Moines for letting us take over our own private room in the back. We got to make some noise! Z-O-U!

Culver Comments on Lowered Revenue Expectations

Statehouse Democrats have said already they were pushing to cut more than Governor Culver proposed in his budget for the coming year. It looks now like they will have no choice. The Revenue Estimating Conference has lowered expectations again on how much money the state is bringing in these days.

I have attached Governor Culver's release on the new numbers. I highlighted one line in particular I found a bit interesting. It says:
"My Administration has stayed ahead of the changing economic conditions by taking effective steps to ensure a balanced budget and maintain strong fiscal management. "
If his office has indeed "stayed ahead of the changing economic conditions", then that should mean the governor will not have to make more cuts because of the new projections, right?

Here is the full release:


DES MOINES – Following today’s revised projections from the Revenue Estimating Conference, Governor Chet Culver issued the following statement on next steps to maintain a balanced budget for the current fiscal year and approve a balanced budget for fiscal year 2010. The REC estimated that net General Fund revenues would be $129.7 million less in FY2009 and $269.9 million less in FY2010 than the Governor’s budgets.

Governor Culver’s Statement

Given the dramatic impact of the national recession on our economy, it is no surprise that the Revenue Estimating Conference has lowered state revenue projections. Clearly the national economic downturn continues to be severe. But I am confident that Iowans will work our way out of this recession. That’s what we do when faced with challenges.

In fact, Iowa is better positioned than nearly every state in the nation to work our way out of this recession and come out stronger than before. Iowa is one of only eleven states with a AAA bond rating; after recently funding disaster relief, we still have cash reserves of $564 million; and our unemployment rate is more than three percentage points below the national average.

On top of that, we are offering Iowans hope with our efforts to create and retain jobs and strengthen the economy. First, Iowa is quickly putting President Obama’s economic recovery plan to work, already investing more than $100 million in transportation projects. Second, we are stimulating the economy with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to rebuild communities hit hard by last summer’s natural disasters. And third, the legislature and I are working to create I-JOBS in order to make use of Iowa’s financial strengths by investing in infrastructure and supporting jobs throughout the state.

My Administration has stayed ahead of the changing economic conditions by taking effective steps to ensure a balanced budget and maintain strong fiscal management. For example, I ordered across-the-board cuts of $89.1 million, directed state agencies to reduce expenses, and last week signed legislation making $30.3 million in additional cuts which I recommended for this year. The legislature has been a key partner throughout this process.

With today’s new projections, Iowa law requires me to release my revised budget recommendations for FY 2009 and FY 2010 within two weeks. Starting next week, I will discuss recommendations with legislative leaders so we can move forward quickly to reach agreement on balanced budgets in light of these new revenue projections.

One important recommendation I will propose is making use of funds authorized by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. I believe funds from the federal economic recovery plan can maintain our priorities in key areas, such as education and health care, and should help us maintain services to Iowans by avoiding layoffs of public employees.

While important decisions have to be made, I am optimistic that we will come together and develop solutions to meet these economic challenges. From balancing the budget to investing in new jobs, we will do what’s necessary to provide a better, brighter future for all Iowans.

Fallons Criticize Culver & Lawmakers

Former Iowa state representative and gubernatorial candidate, Ed Fallon (and his wife), is criticizing his former Democratic colleagues for their actions in the past few days. The Fallons head a group called I'm for Iowa, which pushes progressive causes in exchange for contributions.
The Fallons just sent this out:

Dear Friends,Yesterday, an article in The Des Moines Register reported that Obama’s people told Culver’s people to stop soliciting “sponsorships” from corporations for a health reform summit in Des Moines. A letter from the Governor’s office requesting $5,000 from each corporate sponsor said it was important that corporations “show their commitment to health care reform through a monetary gift.” In exchange, corporate attendees would be given extra seats and public recognition at the conference.Incredible! What part of health care reform doesn’t Culver understand? Obama, to his credit, has been passionate in his long-time criticism of insurance and drug company money in politics. It’d be nice to see some of that passion trickle down to the leadership at the Iowa State Capitol.Speaking of leadership at the Statehouse, we Fallo ns were the subject of debate this week. (Even an article in The Chicago Tribune picked it up.) Running for office is often like having two full-time jobs. Lots of candidates of modest means, including Ed, have received compensation from their campaigns (in Ed’s case, on just one occasion in 2006). But SF 50 prohibits this, and even prevents family members from working as paid campaign staff.Here’s what Ed has to say: “The Legislature seems intent on making politics the domain of the rich and powerful. Low-income and middle-income people who want to run for office are already at a huge disadvantage. If a candidate is paid by his or her campaign, what business is that to state government? It’s between the candidate and the donors.”Here’s what Lynn has to say: “I was paid a modest salary as campaign manager for Ed’s congressional campaign, but I would have done it without compensation even though it would have been an economic hardship. I made approximately $10 an hour (based on a 60-hour work week), or less when I worked more hours, which was most of the time. We never heard any complaints from our donors.”If legislative leaders were really concerned about money in politics they’d pass Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE). But apparently, they’re more interested in making it even harder for low- and middle-income people to run for office.Ed and Lynn Fallon

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama Compares His Bowling to Special Olympics

Oops. During President Barack Obama's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Leno asked him about his bowling. You'll recall during the campaign the prez looked less than stellar trying to show his bowling, uhm, "skills". On Leno, the president said his bowling skills have improved. But that's where the conversation took an unexpected turn...

Here's part of of the conversation:

President Obama: "I bowled a 129." (audience applauds)
He continues, "Yes, I had..."
Jay Leno: "Oh, that's very good. That's very good, Mr. President."
President Obama: "It's like the special olympics or something."

"It's like the special olympics or something"? Can the president really say that without people taking offense?

On another topic...the President said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner was doing an "outstanding job". Any chance this becomes a "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" moment? Or will Geitner, indeed, prove to be outstanding?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Governor Culver Cancels Fundraiser for Health Forum

Iowa Governor Chet Culver's office has now given up on a possible moneymaker to help with that health summit that takes place in Des Moines next Monday. Moneymaker may be the wrong word here. Perhaps, a money-get-backer. (The Des Moines Register broke this story earlier today.) Some Republicans are calling this the "Pay to Sit Scandal."

The gov's office sent out a message to certain health care groups asking for contributions of $5,000 or more to help offset the state's $30,000 costs of putting on President Obama's event at the Polk County Convention Complex. The sponsorship idea has now been scrapped. The gov's office says it thought it was allowed to do it. But now the White House is saying not to do it. Here's a response we received from the gov's Deputy Chief of Staff Phil Roeder about what has happened, along with the original email sent out seeking the money. A Republican who would love to challenge Culver in the governor's race next year, Bob VanderPlaats has already criticized Culver for the idea. VPlaats seems to be a lot more aggressive early on in this "campaign" than he has at this point the other times he ran for governor. I'll attach his news release at the bottom of all of this.

First, here is the statement from Phil Roeder:

First of all, we’re honored to have a chance to host one of the White House Health Summits in Iowa. In fact, the event in Iowa may be the largest of any of the summits in the nation, and we now expect more than 500 people.

Our office had been informed by the White House that sponsorships could be used to defray the expen
se of hosting the Health Summit. Based on that, we contacted several organizations that have an interest in health care to let them know of this opportunity. While there was interest in underwriting the expense of this event, the White House today informed us that sponsorships are not going to be allowed.

The budget for this event is more than $30,000, which will now be paid for with a combination of state and federal funds. The summit in Iowa may have more public participation than any such event in the nation, and this is an expense that the State will make in order to host this regional forum on a critical issue.

The email was sent to the following organizations:

American Cancer Society
Child and Family Policy Center
Delta Dental
Federation of Iowa Insurers
Greater Des Moines Partnership
Iowa Foundation for Medical Care
Iowa Health System
Iowa Hospital Association
Iowa Medical Society
Iowa Pharmacy Association
Mercy Medical Center
Principal Financial Group
SEIU/Change to Win
United Way of Central Iowa
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

We sought sponsorships to try and offset the expense to the State, at a time when Iowa and every state in the nation is facing budget cuts, based upon input we were receiving from the White House. Given what the White House informed us of today, we will make use of State funds to cover the expense of what we feel is a very important event.


Fri, 13 Mar 2009 14:14:25 -0500
Walton, Kate [IGOV]

Walton, Kate [IGOV]

As you have heard, the White House has selected Iowa as one of five host sites for a regional forum on health reform. The event will take place Monday, March 23rd at 10:00am at the Convention Center in Des Moines. We are still sorting through many of the details of the event and we are looking to secure sponsorships to help defray the cost of the event.

Attached you will find a document that provides some additional information on event sponsorship. We are hoping sponsors could participate at the $5,000 level, but are certainly open to discussion if that amount is in excess of what you are able to do, but you would still like to be included as a sponsor. Event sponsors will be visibly acknowledged at the event, so we would appreciate you sharing your organization’s logo if you choose to participate.

Because participation in the forum is limited to 500 people, we will be setting aside tickets for event sponsors. Unfortunately I can’t tell you at this time how many tickets sponsors will receive. I do provide assurances that any tickets would be above and beyond tickets your organization may have received through ticketing process AND if you choose to not to be a sponsor that will, in no way, affect the tickets your organization will receive for the event.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I appreciate your consideration and interest in this event.
Kate WaltonSenior Policy AnalystOffice of Governor Chet Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge1007 E. Grand AvenueDes Moines, Iowa 50319Direct: 515/281-4495Main: 515/281-5211Fax: 515/281-6611E-mail:
kate.walton@iowa.govWebsite: http://www.governor.iowa.gov/

Now here's what Team VP had to say:



SIOUX CITY – Gov. Chet Culver’s plan to have Iowa businesses, unions or interest groups pay to participate in a health care forum underscores his administration’s mismanagement of the state budget, Bob Vander Plaats said this afternoon.

Culver’s office has dropped a plan to have health-care interest groups pay $5,000 each to sponsor a health-care reform meeting after The Des Moines Register raised questions about the practice. The forum, set for next Monday, is being co-hosted by the White House. A Culver spokesman said Wednesday afternoon that “the White House today informed us that sponsorships are not going to be allowed.”

“Public-private partnerships have their place but our state government wouldn’t need to be out there holding a tin cup and begging for money if Chet Culver and legislative Democrats hadn’t mismanaged the state budget to the tune of $900 million in additional spending in just the last two years,” said Vander Plaats, who has formed a 2010 gubernatorial campaign committee. “The fact of the matter is that Iowans have been left holding the bag for the tremendous amount of unnecessary government growth just these last two years under Chet Culver. Under his watch, state government has 2,600 new full-time equivalent employees in just two years.”

He added, “Chet Culver apparently thinks it’s OK to steal a page out of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s playbook. The idea that he’d tell groups that they’d be guaranteed a place at the health care forum if they ponied up $5,000 is as brazen of a pay-to-play mentality as you’ll ever find.”

Culver spokesman Phillip Roeder said the governor’s office solicited 17 organizations, businesses or unions for money to defray the $30,000 cost of the event.

“I’m all for public-private cooperation and, as governor, I’ll look for innovative approaches to benefit Iowa taxpayers. But this quid pro quo of cash for a voice in a serious public policy discussion is just over the top,” Vander Plaats said. “If Governor Culver and legislative Democrats hadn’t overspent this year’s budget by $775 million they just might have been able to come up with their half of the $30,000 this event will cost.”

A White House spokeswoman said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be splitting the cost of the event with the state.

Grassley Tweets About Suicide Comment

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is still getting a lot of face time and print about his comments about what he wants to see happen with those AIG executives...you know quit or kill themselves. Grassley tweeted on Twitter about all the attention he has been receiving. Regardless of what you think about the comments, he has not tried to avoid the media about his comments. He did numerous national interviews yesterday. And he is talking to the Iowa media this afternoon.

Here's what he had to say on Twitter about people who took his suicide comments too literally.

Today was big TV day. Evrybody took me seriously that I wanted AIG mangment to commit suicide Inteligent journalist can't recgnize rhetoric
Speaking of Twitter...a friend sent me this video making fun of all those people who tweet about the most mundane, wortheless episodes in their lives. It's about 4 minutes long, but it's worth the time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anti-Dodd St. Patrick's Day Ad

Remember when former Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd moved his wife and two daughters to Des Moines so he could go "all in" for the Iowa caucuses? The move didn't seem to do much for Dodd, who dropped out of the race shortly after the caucuses (he finished 6th in Iowa, or seventh if you count "uncommitted", which came in above him). But the Iowa journey did get Dodd a mention in a new St. Patrick's Day-themed ad put out by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. No, it's not exactly o'flattering. Yeah, I know...that was lame.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grassley Wants AIG Execs to Quit or Commit Suicide

Just how fired up did you get today when you heard that AIG was handing out about $165 million in bonuses to executives? Especially, when you recall, your tax dollars, 175 billion of them, are essentially all that have been keeping that company from collapsing. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley...well, to say he is fired up may be an understatement.

Here's what he told an Iowa radio station, WMT, “The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they’d follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things — resign, or go commit suicide.”

Later, an aide said Grassley didn't mean his comments to be taken literally.

Hear for yourself here.

More Jeanette

Here's an interesting p.r. move by WCCO-TV. Today the station announced it was eliminating former KCCI'er Jeanette Trompeter's anchor/reporter position at the station. The station set up a link where you can email Jeanette "well wishes" about her unwanted departure.

Check it out.

Former KCCI Anchor Jeanette Trompeter Laid Off

This economy sucks and businesses have to make some sucky decisions because of it. Former KCCI news anchor Jeanette Trompeter just got laid off from the CBS affiliate, WCCO, in the Twin Cities. Jeanette is an extremely talented anchor who was doing the 5pm news for the station. She recently won the Emmy for best anchor. And...full disclosure...she's a friend of ours, as well. Even in these troubling times, I can't imagine it will take her long to find a job. She's just that good. The media industry right now is just getting pummeled with layoffs, freezes and pay cuts. Scary times. Really scary.

The story in the Star-Tribune makes it sound like this was an extremely difficult decision for managers to make there. I'm sure it was. Good luck, Jeanette.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Senator Grassley Does Republican Response to President

President Barack Obama is spending too much of your money and taxing too much of your income. That's the gist of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley's Republican response to the president's weekly radio address. Although, is it even correct to call it the weekly "radio" response anymore, since the president and the republicans always record the same message on video, too? Ah, technology..


The sprayer on our kitchen sink exploded everywhere. The part that connects the sprayer to the hose cracked and water shot up like a geyser all over the light that hangs over the sink all the way to the ceiling! I kept putting it back together. And each time, it blew up again. We went to the store to buy a new hose, but we couldn't find one that matched. So we bought a whole new faucet, since we didn't really like the old one. Then we stopped at WalMart to take back a vacuum we just bought two weeks ago that broke already. The guy at the service counter, who was extremely nice, had problem after problem. We couldn't find the serial number on the vacuum box. Finally, I held up the vacuum so he could see the number. And he typed into his computer. We picked out a replacement vacuum. And, again, we couldn't find the number on the box. So with about a dozen people waiting in line behind us, I, again, lifted up the vacuum out of the box and held it up so he could type in the number. After we finished, we stopped at a Chinese place for takeout on the way home. It smelled great. I put in on the counter when we got home. It leaked everywhere, all over the floor, the counter and in the broken sink. We ate dinner and then I tackled the sink. Well, the sink tackled me. Water went everywhere. And after two hours, I still couldn't get the one line that connects to the sprayer hose disconnected from underneath. Today, we called a plumber. Did I mention yesterday was Friday the 13th? Was it ever!

At least "Friday Night Lights" was a good show. Again!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Road Trips

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has begun his road trip across the state to try to raise support for his new $750 million I-JOBS plan. Does the sheer presence of the trip show how the governor has failed to win enough support yet from lawmakers in the state house, even though his Democratic party calls the shots there?

Everyone seems to be on a road trip these days. Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn has been on his own road trip this week. In fact, his office slammed the gov for copycatting the idea. Here's part of the release:



Des Moines, IA. – Today Governor Culver kicked off his own version of a statewide jobs tour in Des Moines to promote his massive $750 borrowing scheme that he calls the “I-JOBS” program. This comes on the heels of the five city “Job Security for Iowans” tour conducted earlier this week by Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, Matt Strawn.
There are more VIP's on the road. Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw is going on a road trip for the USA network to do a series on the economy and reaction to President Obama's first year in office. CNN is also sending Anderson Cooper on the road (when is he not traveling?) to also report on the economy.

I need to go a road trip.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Iowa Goes Hollywood

Just catching up on a few things from yesterday... Iowa Senator Tom Harkin "breakfasts" with country singer LeeAnn Rimes. Former Governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack "cookied" with Cookie Monster. See, Iowa is hip after all, hanging out with all these Hollywood celebrity types!

LeAnn Rimes was actually my first celebrity interview. Back when she was probably 14 or so, she came to Columbia, Missouri, to hold a concert. It may have been her first year of concerts or so. I was working at the NBC station in Columbia at the time. I can't remember who opened for her. I do remember she seemed really bored with my questions. Even at her young age, I felt she acted like she had heard my questions a million times before. I was looking to get one of those one-way tickets on a westbound train outta there (random LeAnn Rimes' lyrics comment, in case you're not a country fan).

Culver's Popularity Falls

We'll see what Governor Culver's new $750 million dollar jobs plan does for his popularity in the state. SurveyUSA's recent poll shows more Iowans don't support the gov as those who do. It's been a steady decline in the last three months for Culver, according to the poll. The gov has especially lost strength with independents.

Here's SurveyUSA's site. You'll have to scroll down the list to look at the results, which are mixed in with polls from other states. Maybe there's an easier way to do this, but I can't find one. I wish I would have paid more attention in that statistics class in grad school.

Culver Unveils New Logo for Jobs Plan

The economy is eating away jobs apparently much like the state of Iowa is eating letters right now. If this line doesn't make any sense, then look up at the new logo Governor Chet Culver's unveiled today to symbolize his new plan to get the economy moving again. If it still doesn't make sense, well, then, this lame attempt at humor was just...well, lame.

Anyway... today, the gov released his $750 million plan to create jobs and improve infrastructure. The plan has added $50 million to its price tag from when the gov pitched the idea to lawmakers in his condition of the state address. Here's the release:

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today unveiled details of a $750 million plan to create jobs and invest in infrastructure throughout Iowa. Called I-JOBS: the Culver/Judge Iowa Infrastructure Investment Initiative, the plan is a 3-year investment to create jobs, strengthen the state’s economy, and rebuild several critical areas of the state’s infrastructure.

“Iowans are concerned about the economic future, and as Governor I am not going to sit by and let their concerns grow," said Governor Culver. "This $750 million investment in all of Iowa will create jobs, improve our infrastructure, strengthen our economy, and build a safer, stronger, greener, and smarter state. And we can do this without raising taxes."

The I-JOBS Initiative will address five key areas of unmet infrastructure needs across the state:

· $250 million for transportation projects, especially road and bridge safety, including $200 million for roads and bridges and $50 million to other modes of transportation
· $175 million to complete important projects already scheduled, such as improvements to the Iowa Veterans Home and our Community Colleges
· $150 million for public buildings, disaster relief, mitigation projects, housing and other flood-related infrastructure not covered by FEMA, CDBG or other sources
· $100 million for water quality and waste water improvement projects
· $75 million for local infrastructure, broadband technology, and alternative energy infrastructure

Funds for transportation projects will be distributed by the Iowa Transportation Commission.

For other I-JOBS projects, an 11-member Iowa Jobs Board will be appointed to develop rules, review applications and make grant decisions. Five members of the public will serve on the Board to provide state-wide representation. In addition, the Board will include the Directors of the Iowa Finance Authority, the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Transportation, Iowa Workforce Development, the Rebuild Iowa Office and the Office of Energy Independence. The Iowa Finance Authority will provide staff and administrative support for I-JOBS.
Projects will be selected using the following criteria:

1. How quickly a project be started and completed
2. Number and quality of jobs created by the project
3. Contribution to the lasting imprint on the State
4. Amount of federal, state and private dollars to be leveraged
5. Ability to fund depreciation costs
6. Contribution to sustainability and energy efficiency
7. Benefit to areas distressed by high unemployment
8. Geographic distribution throughout the state

If I-JOBS funds are not used within 1 year, the Iowa Jobs Board will re-allocate them. All funds must be expended within 3 years.

During today’s announcement, the Governor called on the legislature to pass this bill quickly.

“There are currently hundreds of millions of dollars in unmet infrastructure needs in every part of the state. Addressing this issue is critical to rebuilding Iowa and our economy,” Governor Culver said. “I am asking Legislative leaders, and the Members of the House and Senate, to join with me in meeting the five key areas I-JOBS will address. There is no time to waste in rebuilding Iowa and, most importantly, creating jobs.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Journey at the Iowa State Fair

I knew moving to Iowa would change my life. Now for the second time, I can see Journey at the Iowa State Fair. Journey teams up with Heart Sunday night, August 23rd, according to today's Des Moines Register. How did the Register not even mention Journey until the seventh paragraph of today's story? Who cares about Kelly Carlson?! Come on, Kyle Munson:)

When I went to Tampa to cover the Super Bowl in January, I met Journey's drummer's dad. Or so he said. He was old with an earring and dressed in a Journey concert t-shirt. I won't stop believin' that's who it was.

Steve Perry's long gone, of course. There's another new lead singer. He looks nothing like Perry but sure does sound a lot like he did. Come on, August 23rd!

A.G. Tom Miller Has Prostate Cancer

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller underwent surgery this morning for prostate cancer. Here's the release from his office:

Attorney General Tom Miller underwent successful surgery today for an early stage of prostate cancer today at Iowa Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Steven Rosenberg, who performed the surgery, has told Miller that his cancer was discovered at a very early stage and that he expects Miller to have a full recovery.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in American men, other than skin cancers. It is estimated that 186,320 new cases were diagnosed in 2008, accounting for 25% of all cancers in males.

Miller has been told by his doctors that prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when it is discovered early. “I was lucky to have found this early, while it can be readily treated,” he said.

Miller urged Iowans to talk with their physicians about testing for prostate cancer. “Since there are no warning signs of early prostate cancer, it is important for men to talk with their physicians to make sure appropriate testing is part of their annual physical.”

It is generally recommended that “PSA” blood tests and digital exams should be done every year for men beginning at age 50, and earlier for African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer. The tests are not definitive but will tell doctors whether a biopsy is needed to positively identify the presence of cancer. While very treatable when it is detected early, later-stage prostate cancer can be difficult to treat.

Miller’s office said the Attorney General expects to spend several weeks in recovery before returning to his normal schedule.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vaudt Gets 2009 Watchdog Award

First, the news. Iowans for Tax Relief presented its 2009 Watchdog Award to State Auditor Dave Vaudt. Vaudt has been a consistent critic of the way the governor and the legislature spends your money or OVERSPENDS as he would contend. He has criticized both Chet Culver and Tom Vilsack's administrations, as well as legislatures controlled by Democrats and Republicans. Here's part of the group's release:

"It is an honor to present the 2009 Watchdog Award to Auditor Vaudt. He provides the much needed clarity and transparency to the budget process for all Iowans. Taxpayers are served well by Auditor Vaudt because he understands government should live within a budget, just like Iowa families do," said Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief."
Now, the fun part of this. Or at least fun to me. Check out this picture...

Ed Failor, Junior, presented the award to Vaudt...one possible candidate for governor touting the achievements of another possible candidate for governor. Wouldn't it be fun if the two had to face off in the Republican primary next year? Would they be so complimentary then?

Breaking News: Principal Layoffs

Principal Financial Group has confirmed another round of layoffs. Here's a statement from Sonja Rice Sorrel from the media relations department:

The Principal Financial Group has eliminated positions in its health business. About 20 positions were eliminated at its headquarters in Des Moines and about 40 more nationwide. The primary reason for the position eliminations is due to improvements in process within the health business. This was a planned improvement which resulted in the need to realign resources accordingly. All affected employees will receive severance and career assistance
Last December, Principal announced it was cutting 300 jobs at its Des Moines headquarters and another 250 worldwide. As I write this at 1:59pm, Principal stock is selling at $7.15 per share. That's up $1.26, which is more than 21%. It sold at $57.44 a year ago.

Exploding Power Line

It's those unexpected situations that can often become the most amazing and memorable. About two years ago, WHO-TV 13's Photographer Lee Rouse, a Grundy Center native, was shooting video of an assistant fire chief in Urbandale following a snow storm. All of a sudden, the transformer exploded. The video (and Lee, of course) has now been part of two national specials, the first on MSNBC and now this week on the Discovery Channel. The video is below, along with the raw video posted on YouTube. That video has been viewed nearly 1 million times already!

Monday, March 09, 2009

No Raises for More Board of Ed

It looks like some more Iowans should expect NOT to get a raise in the coming year. Today, Board of Regents President David Miles released a statement that said he recommends non-bargaining unit employees should not get an increase.

Is anyone getting raises anywhere?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

John Connors Dies

A Des Moines man who dedicated nearly seven decades of his life to serving his neighbors one way or the other died Saturday afternoon at the age of 86. John Connors represented east Des Moines in the Iowa House for 32 years. He only retired at the urging of his longtime house clerk, who also happened to be his wife, Marge.

Mr. Connors served in the Navy from 1943-1946 in World War II. He served as the President of Local 4, representing fellow Des Moines firefighters for 20 years. He recently told me how disappointing politics has become in a red versus blue America. He longed for the days lawmakers really got to know each other and their spouses, the days leaders looked for common ground, instead of the eight-second television soundbite that would eviscerate the other side. Even in his eighties, he still looked like a man who could whoop some butt. And he knew some lawmakers on both sides could use that. You couldn't take the fight out of this former boxer.

My wife and I visited Mr. Connors Thursday. And even though he wasn't eating more than a bite or two a day and drinking more than a few sips of juice, he smiled at us, firmly grasped my hand from his bed and whispered, "Hi, Dave" and went on to shake his head about all the attention Rush Limbaugh is getting these days. His humor never left him, despite all the discomfort his body was giving him.

Mrs. Connors tell me there's one word she would use to describe her husband: "loyalty". She said he was loyal to his family, his neighbors, the people he represented, the Iowa Democratic Party and his church. Not necessarily in that order. The Connors would have been married 64 years next month.

Mr. Connors, who has battled numerous health ailments the past several years, passed away in hospice care around 4pm with his wife, as always, by his side. He is donating his body to science, so there will be no funeral. His family is still making plans for a public memorial service at First Christian Church in Des Moines, their worship home for many years, likely on Wednesday.

Retarded People

I didn't realize people used the word "retarded" any more, other than kids who say it at school and don't realize what they're saying. So I've been surprised to hear it said so often these last few weeks about the situation at Henry's Turkey Service in Atalissa, Iowa. The allegations go like this: 21 men lived in a bunkhouse near this turkey farm. They came from Texas. They ended up getting paid about 44 cents per hour after they paid their providers for room and board at a bunkhouse which didn't have heat other than space heaters. So all the allegations go.

The story is particularly offensive because of the men involved with this story. Governor Culver's office used the term "retarded" in one news release to describe them. The Des Moines Register routinely describes them that way, as well. I was surprised. I thought "retarded" was an outdated term, so I asked two people in the know in the metro. Here are their responses:

Hello Dave,

Thank you for your inquiry. Our language in the field has transitioned through the years as our understanding of disabilities and our ability to support people to learn has grown. The term retarded comes from the diagnosis of Mental Retardation which is actually a medical diagnosis indicating that the cognitive or mental ability of the person is slow or retarded. Of course it is now considered a derogatory remark (despite the fact that Mental Retardation is still a diagnosis).

The most common ‘politically correct’ terminology for a person whose mental capacity has slowed is now an intellectual disability or you will hear that they have a cognitive challenge. I am in the field and have been for 17 years and I still struggle with all the language changes but what I can tell you is that the best way to discuss any disability is to always refer to the person first (we call this person first language).
For instance I am Marcy and I have a cognitive disability. Another example is to say this is Tom and he has a physical disability or has a visual impairment. When you refer to the person first, they are respected and valued and then you can discuss the disability the same way you would a job. For example, this is Rick and he is a store owner.

People live with a variety of disabilities everyday and most of us like to ignore them and just go after life. We do not struggle with mental illness, we are not confined to a wheelchair; we work, we play, we have friends … we live and we contribute to our communities.

Hope this makes sense and thank you for caring enough to ask. Feel free to contact me anytime about disability issues and I will do my best to help or send you in the right direction for answers.

Best regards – Marcy Davis, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Candeo, Ankeny

Hi Dave,
My name is Linda Streit and I am the Executive Director of Link Associates in Des Moines. We provide comprehensive services for 800+ adults and children with mental disabilities and their families. The term retarded is still used as it relates to a person’s diagnosis. Generally speaking an IQ of 70 or below puts a person into the diagnosis of mental retardation. Profound mental retardation is an IQ below 20, Severe is 20-34, moderate is 35-49, Mild is 50-69 and borderline in 70-79.

Everyone we serve has the primary diagnosis of mental retardation. We teach and use person first speech as we should with anyone. We would say “21 people with mental retardation …”

Linda Young-Streit, Executive Director

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pig Odor in Stimulus Bill

Stimulus or stinkulus? The fight over that earmark to give your tax dollars to an Iowa project that could make pig poop smell less has made it to the top national story on MSN as I write this.

Boswell on Facebook

I mentioned the other day that 3rd District Congressman Leonard Boswell appeared to be the only Iowa U.S. Representative without an active Facebook page. Well, add another face to the world wide web. The Boz' office sent out this release today:

Congressman Boswell Issues Invitation to Constituents: Visit my new virtual office at www.boswell.house.gov

Washington, DC -- Today, Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell launched a new congressional website complete with share applets and links to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"Having the ability to converse directly with constituents and old friends is a great tool that I am excited to be able to employ," said Boswell. "I would like to invite all my constituents to become my Facebook friend and follow me on Twitter. I have a lot going on with my efforts to create good paying jobs and put Iowans to work, and I would love your feedback."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Steve Rathje for Congress

Steve Rathje is apparently thinking about trying again to make his way to Congress. Rathje failed to win the Republican primary last year to earn the right to take on Tom Harkin for his U.S. Senate seat. Rathje confirmed to me he is forming an explorating committee to look at running for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Dave Loebsack. I remember Rathje as the one Republican candidate who declined to appear in the Polk County Republicans' senate primary debate last year on Iowa Public TV that was televised statewide.

This week Rathje sent out this message to friends on the Facebook website:

We've formed the exploratory committee and I am focused on brininging you the most useful information that I can to ensure that you are the most informed voter you can be.Please take a moment to join my website: www.steverathje.comMake a contribution if you can.

By the way, I went to www.steverathje.com. It didn't say anything about which race Rathje was considering. Only after did he email me back that I realized it was the 2nd Congressional District.

No Charles Grassley for Governor

Rod Roberts, David Vaudt, Bill Northey, Christopher Rants, Charles Larson, Jr., or Ed Failor, Jr. Maybe. Charles Grassley for governor? He told us he has given it "zero thought". This all started when State Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, predicted Senator Grassley would not run for re-election during last Sunday's episode of Channel 13's "The Insiders". Instead, McCoy said Grassley would run against Chet Culver for governor next year. Not so much, Grassley told us. But he admitted he did think about it 12 years ago. That would have pitted him against Tom Vilsack. Interesting that he didn't do it. More interesting still that some Democrats would like to see Vilsack's wife, Christie, try to get Grassley's senate seat next year.

Here are Senator Grassley's comments in their entirety from today.

Watch Senator McCoy's comments from Channel 13's "The Insiders" here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Popular Vote Bill

It's always the unexpected fights that pique my interest, well, except when they are with my wife. Are you following this fight over the "Popular Vote Bill"? It scraps the electoral college method of picking a president (of course, it's dependant on other states approving this, too). Instead we would choose our next leader based simply on which candidate gets the most votes. Remember 2000-Gore vs. Bush? Supporters say it's a way to make sure every vote really matters and gets counted. Critics say it's the end of smaller states like Iowa getting any attention since the candidates will just fly over us and focus on the states with bigger populations.

Today, the Iowa Republican Party started this three-way fight. State Chairman Matt Strawn sent a letter to State Democratic Chairman Michael Kiernan asking him to oppose the bill. Then Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro sent out a statement siding with the Republicans. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal then went against Mauro. Here's the blow by blow (or word by word) account:

Strawn: Keep Iowa Relevant in Presidential Elections
Republicans call on Dem Leadership, IDP to denounce national popular vote scheme

“Keeping Iowa relevant in presidential elections should not be a partisan issue. Iowans of all party affiliations and ideologies suffer under this scheme to ditch the Electoral College and elect future presidents by national popular vote,” Strawn said.

Underscoring the non-partisan nature of keeping Iowa relevant, Strawn also called on new Iowa Democrat Party Chairman Michael Kiernan to join forces with the Republican Party of Iowa to defeat this legislation and ensure Iowa will continue to have a prominent – and relevant – position in choosing America’s presidents.

Noting that Iowa has only 1/100 of the nation’s population and contains little in the way of urban centers, Strawn said there would be little possible motivation for future presidential candidates to come to our state and develop concern for Iowa’s particular issues. “This legislation places all the power in the hands of the highly populated states and urban centers that have little in common with Iowa or our state’s needs,” Strawn commented.

DES MOINES – Secretary of State Michael A. Mauro issued the following statement regarding recent discussion of the popular vote bill:

“I caution lawmakers in leading a charge to adopt a resolution that could be detrimental to Iowa and our important role in choosing the President of the United States. Our nation’s current Electoral College system was created to protect less populated states like Iowa to ensure we were included in the process. “As we know, Iowa plays a very important role not only in the nomination process but also during the General Election. In the past twenty years Iowa has been a battleground state in determining our president. There’s a reason each party’s nominee visited our state days before Election Day – because our state still mattered.
“I believe if this were to play out, it would have a dramatic effect. Under this proposal, it is hard to foresee Iowa maintaining its dominant role and expect candidates to spend their final hours campaigning in our state when they will be focused on capturing the popular vote in much larger states." “As I see it, toying with our nation’s current system could only have a negative effect on Iowa’s historically important role."
A Statement from Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal Regarding reforms designed to ensure that every Iowa vote is counted

“I support the popular vote reforms because they will ensure that every Iowan’s vote is counted in presidential elections. It is mystifying to me why anyone would cling to an antiquated, winner-take-all Electoral College system that allows a person to be elected to the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. The popular vote reforms will fix this problem and make sure that every Iowan’s vote is counted in every election. “In addition, as a member of the Democratic National Committee, I am confident that Iowa will retain its first-in-the-nation caucus status if we adopt the National Popular Vote Act.”

Monday, March 02, 2009

Bruce Braley on Facebook

By my math, Congressman Bruce Braley becomes the fourth U.S. Representative from Iowa to join the social networking site, Facebook. Steve King, Tom Latham and Dave Loebsack all seem to have active Facebook pages. Leonard Boswell has a "Boswell for Congress" Facebook page. But it doesn't seem to be active. I found a post on there about a rally to help re-elect him for September 29, 2006. Perhaps that rally worked. I don't remember.

Here's the Braley news release today:

Braley Launches Congressional Facebook Page
Page Will Help Iowans Communicate with Braley

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) announced the launch of his official Facebook page. Braley’s Facebook page will allow him to better communicate with constituents by facilitating photo and media sharing, communicating upcoming events and receiving instant feedback from constituents.

“Technology is changing the way we live and the way people get information,” Braley said. “Facebook helps people stay in touch, and I hope this Facebook page helps Iowans stay in touch with me about their opinions, experiences, and the issues they care about.”

Rep. Braley’s Facebook page can be viewed at
http://www.facebook.com (Search for Bruce Braley). You must sign up for a Facebook account to view Rep. Braley’s page.


Since I had the details on here yesterday about www.thebeanwalker.com , one of the two new Republican websites that will launch from Iowa , I figured I should add a bit about the second site, www.theiowarepublican.com.

Editor-in-Chief Craig Robinson tells me the site will feature four right-leaning blogs...Krusty Konservative, Battleground Iowa, Constitution Daily and then one more that Craig will write. It goes live at 7am Wednesday.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Iowa Republicans Try to Reconnect for a Comeback

This week two Iowa Republican activists launch two separate websites they hope will help grow their party. Former Iowa statehouse/Steve Sukup for Governor/Mitt Romney for President staffer (at different times, of course:) Tim Albrecht launches http://www.thebeanwalker.com/ on Monday following an official "launch party" in downtown Des Moines. Tim tells me he "walked beans" in the fields as a youth and he wanted a catchy name that's easy for people to remember. Former Iowa Republican Party Political Director Craig Robinson launches http://www.theiowarepublican.com/ Wednesday. I figured the reason for the name of his website was self-explanatory. So I didn't ask him.

I chatted with Albrecht about his plans. Here's the full interview: