Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fong Enters Iowa Governor's Race

Today I announced & filed that I am a candidate for Governor of Iowa.

That was Republican Christian Fong's entrance into Iowa politics via Twitter. No press conference. No multi-city blitz of the state. Fong gave Cedar Rapids Gazette's Jim Lynch a heads up that he planned to do this.

These days it's a pretty unconventional way to announce a candidacy for governor. Obviously, the Twitter thing is new. But both Sioux City's Bob Vander Plaats (who has already run twice) and Christopher Rants (former House Speaker/Majority Leader/Minority Leader) are choosing to take the politically-typical baby step approach: travel around, speak to everyone and his brother, form an exploratory committee to raise money and then, ultimately, announce the official candidacy. It appears Fong has skipped most of those steps. It also appears Fong will have a lot of work to do to introduce himself to Iowans, who he will need to convince that they should change their governor, and the media, who he will need to figure out who he is and cover him.

Fong does bring a new geographic dynamic to the race. He becomes the "east-sider" vs. the other two "west-siders".

This game just got more interesting. Jeff Lamberti...Rod Roberts...Paul McKinley...Mike Whalen...Steve King...Jerry Behn...anyone else want in?

McCoy Quits Job; Will Run Again

He didn't get to do the zoo. But he will will get to do his own thing. Matt McCoy announced today he will leave the Downtown Community Alliance in Des Moines to start his own consulting company. McCoy had been among the names mentioned to head the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines that ended up going to Dewey Ford's former President/CEO Mark Vukovich. Today, McCoy also announced he will run to keep his state senate seat. Here's the release.

Des Moines, Iowa (June 30, 2009) -- Matt McCoy announced today that he will leave his position with the Downtown Community Alliance effective July 1, 2009. McCoy joined the Alliance in 2003 and served as Vice-President of Community Development.

McCoy is launching Resource Development Consultants (RDC), a firm specializing in fundraising, training, organizational development and retained executive search. McCoy will bring on associate, Dr. Jim Ferguson who has an extensive background in education, training and fundraising. “Establishing RDC is exciting because it fulfills my dream to have a business that culminates my professional background and experiences. I have been talking with a number of organizations and I am pleased with how we are being received,” said McCoy. “Working for the Downtown Community Alliance and promoting economic development in Downtown Des Moines has been a rewarding privilege. This is a particularly eventful time for the City with the amount of new stimulus money designated by the Iowa Legislature for this area.” Resource Development Consultants will be located in Des Moines’ East Village at 305 E. Court Avenue.

Martha Willits, President and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership added, “We are obviously sorry that Matt will be leaving our organization but excited that he will have the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of owning his own business.”
Prior to his work for the Alliance, McCoy served as vice president of community development and human resource director for Ruan Transportation.

In addition, McCoy announced he will run for re-election to the Iowa Senate in 2010. Senator McCoy represents District 31, the south and west sides of Des Moines. He has served two terms in the Iowa House and is completing his fourth term in the Iowa Senate. McCoy serves as Chair of Transportation Capital Budget Appropriations, Vice Chair of Appropriations, and Vice Chair of Ways and Means.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Twitter's a go for Grassley, not the IDOT. Well, not for IDOT employees. The Des Moines Register has a story today on how employees of the Iowa Department of Transportation can't use social media at work (Twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc.). I checked and interestingly, IDOT itself is on Twitter (@idot). Here are IDOT's last five tweets, in case you care. Just don't tell the terrorists.

I-235 Westbound at the I-35 Southbound Ramp Both Lanes are Open. : I-235 westbound at the I-35 southbound ramp h.. http://tinyurl.com/m9np52 from twitterfeed

On Ramp to I-35 Southbound from I-235 in West Des Moines: The on ramp to Interstate 35 southbound from Interstat.. http://tinyurl.com/kwes7h from twitterfeed

I-29 and I-680 ramp restrictions for bridge painting work to begin next week: COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – June 26, 20.. http://tinyurl.com/m5tuo8 from twitterfeed

Ramp closures at U.S. 218 and I-80 Interchange in Johnson County: CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – June 26, 2009 – Construct.. http://tinyurl.com/kokz8c from twitterfeed

On Ramp to I-35 from I-80 Closed in Des Moines: The on ramp to Interstate 35 southbound from Interstate 80 westb.. http://tinyurl.com/nhohba from twitterfeed

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is still tweeting away. His office periodically sends out "Q & A"'s with the Republican. Here's his latest, which happens to be about Twitter.

Q: What is Twitter?

A: Twitter is a free online networking service that lets users send and read short messages. You can follow posts on twitter.com, even if you don’t post yourself. Twitter first began as way for people to keep up and stay connected with friends, family and co-workers. As the site became more popular, users moved beyond the social interaction and began to use this communication tool for all sorts of applications. In June, Twitter allowed Iranians to keep in touch with the outside world after the Iranian government blocked other lines of communication in response to election protests. The United States government even asked Twitter to postpone maintenance on the site to keep information flowing through posts at twitter.com.

Q: Why do you use it?

A: I use Twitter to keep in touch with Iowans. It’s a way to describe what I’m working on as their U.S. senator, to make a point in the public policy debate, and to try to foster greater citizen participation in the process of representative government. I “tweet” from my Blackberry and use abbreviations to get as much information accross as possible, given the 140-character limit on Twitter messages. Along with Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and webcasts, blogs and vlogs on my own website (http://grassley.senate.gov), Twitter is an online technology that helps me communicate with Iowans in the way that I’ve worked to do since I was elected to represent our state in the U.S. Senate, starting with going home on the weekends. Since 1980, I’ve held a constituent meeting in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties at least once every year. I respond to every postal letter, phone call and email I get from Iowans. I meet with Iowans visiting Washington, whether they’re at work, on a family vacation, or part of a student group. I respond to requests for information and give interviews to the news media, who are an important part of the process of holding elected officials accountable to those they represent. I answer questions on any subject on radio and TV call-in programs on a regular basis. And I enjoy the opportunity to have dialogue with Iowans through telephone-town hall meetings each month. Whether it’s Twitter, the town hall, the TV or the telephone, the idea is to answer questions and listen to and understand the points of view of Iowans.
I checked everyone's "followers" on Twitter.

IDOT 874 @idot
Grassley 12,476 @chuckgrassley
Dave Price 348 @idaveprice
I have a long way to go:) Can you help me out?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Facebook Groups Remembers Ed Thomas

(Photo courtesy: wcfcourier.com)

Ed Thomas, the legendary head football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School's football coach, has died. He was shot in the school's weight room Wednesday morning, apparently in front of nearly 50 students. Here is a Des Moines Register story about what happened.

Iowans have already formed a prayer group on Facebook for Thomas' family and friends. It's called "Praying for Ed Thomas".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

State Workers May Sweat in the Dark

Iowa state employees may be sweating out the metro's heat wave. A state worker forwarded me this email that went out today warning workers life could get a little sticky. Here's the email sent by the Department of Administrative Services.

We have just been advised by Mid American Energy that today, June 23, 2009, will be a curtailment day.

Curtailment will begin at approximately 1:00pm and end at approximately 7:00pm.

The curtailment should be transparent and should not impact your operations. You should, however, take the usual precautions of periodically saving the work on computers or other equipment. Please remember there is always the possibility of brief power outages due to an unexpected loss of power from Mid American.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact DAS Customer Service Center at 242-5120.

Here's another one that, I think, encourages workers to wear fewer clothes. Or maybe it's just the heat affecting my judgement.

With the high outside heat and humidity, the Department of Administration has received a number of building temperature complaints. The chilled water system that cools buildings on the Capitol Complex was designed to a standard “design day” maximum capacity for heat and humidity, which is typically exceeded a few days each year.

With the forecast for continued high heat and humidity this week, it is likely the outside temperatures will continue to exceed the system design and the buildings may be uncomfortable. We will continue to do our best to maintain internal building temperatures within the summer time temperature policy (78 degrees +/- 3 degrees), but suggest you also dress for warm weather. Computers and lights add to the heat load of the building, so please be sure to put your computer into sleep mode (or turn it off, if IT allows) and turn off the lights when leaving your area.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bobcat in West Des Moines

Yes, I realize this doesn't constitute breaking news. But if the networks can run video of the Obamas eating frozen custard, then I'm going to talk about this. A West Des Moines man called me to say his wife took this great picture of a bobcat running across their back yard. I didn't realize West Des Moines had bobcats. Little did I know.

A 2007 story from Radio Iowa reports there are 5,000 bobcats in Iowa and they are increasing by 12% per year. Bugs Bunny, beware! Bobcats love to feast on those wascally wabbits.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


(Photo courtesy: Associated Press)

Since the Obamas have moved into the White House, we have seen stories from Washington on the Obamas' dog, their date nights, First Lady Michell's buff arms, going out for hamburgers and now this story about their frozen custard outing. Is this news you want to hear or is this part of the media's infatuation with the Obama/Kennedy story lines? Is it something else? What do you think?

This is the story from the Associated Press today:

The first family was in the mood for something sweet -- something like vanilla custard, fudge and sprinkles.
On a muggy Saturday just before Father's Day, President Barack Obama took Sasha, 8, and Malia, 10, to The Dairy Godmother, a frozen custard shop just outside Washington.
The president snacked on vanilla custard with hot fudge and toasted almonds in a cup, said the shop's owner, Liz Davis. Sasha ordered a brownie sundae treat with vanilla custard, hot fudge and chocolate sprinkles. Malia walked out of the shop, eating the remains of a waffle cone with vanilla frozen custard.
During his 15-minute stay, Obama also shook hands with customers and posed for pictures. Obama left the shop with some puppy treats for the family's dog, Bo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jibjabbin' President Obama

President Barack Obama, the superhero. Remember those guys at Jibjab that did the parodies of the presidential candidates? They're back at it...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rants and Casey's Pizza

I wrote earlier today about Christopher Rants filing the paperwork to run for governor next year for the Republicans. Rants was the guest on "Iowa Press", which taped today. Radio Iowa's blogger extraordinaire Kay Henderson wrote about the conversation with Rants following the taping. One morsel was especially delicious. Here the sentence she wrote that caught me:

"This campaign is going to be running on Diet Coke and Casey's pizza and ethanol the whole way," Rants said.
Two things...Rants famously downed Mt. Dew after Mt. Dew through long statehouse sessions. I thought he had switched to Diet Dew. But Diet Coke? Maybe he really has changed. O.K., fine. Who cares? He also tauted Casey's pizza. Again, who cares? Well, that pizza is known all over Iowa to be one of the most famous treats at Casey's General Stores, a chain founded by an Iowan by the name of Don Lamberti, the father of Jeff, another Iowan thinking of running for governor. Chew on that:)

Mr. Rants, just so you know, here is what you are getting from one slice of supreme, (you do want this to be a supreme campaign, right?) according to the Casey's website:

463 calories
49.6g carbs
53.0mg cholesterol
17.1g fat
2.29g fiber
20.7g protein
961.2mg sodium

Schwarzenegger and Testicles

And to think, some people went nuts when Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said the AIG execs should do like the Japanese and commit suicide to apologize for their mistakes. Here's his comment, in case you may have forgotten.

Do those comments compare to what's going on in California? Let's not even mention the possible $24 billion dollar shortfall that state faces right now (that deficit alone is about four times what Iowa state government spends in a year). Governor Ah-nuld reportedly sent a pair of bull testicles to the state senate president. They were in response to a package the Governator received that contained mushrooms and a note that used them as a metaphor for his "hallucinatory" budget plan that raised taxes. Now that's politics.

Rants for Governor

We've heard a half dozen names...maybe more. But former Iowa Speaker of the House/House Minority/House Majority Leader Christopher Rants "tweeted" that he is filing the necessary paperwork to he can start raising the necessary dough to run for governor on the Republican side next year. (Two-time candidate Bob Vander Plaats already filed in January). No surprise. Rants has been traveling all over the state, especially since the legislative session ended. Without the time and job requirements of leadership, Rants has a lot more time to travel these days.

Rants sends out Twitter messages to followers almost daily on his travelers. Here are his last 10 updates:

Todays to do list: 1 File exploratory committee papers 2 Tape IA Press 3 Hit the road & continue listening to Iowans kitchen table co ... from TwitterBerry

Amazing light show above Hwy 9. I sure hope its east of I35 by the time I get there. from TwitterBerry

"_______" - the City With a Heart... from TwitterBerry

'Boji bound, speaking to the Pachyderm Club in Spencer. Thought I could listen to the Open on xm146 but its rained out. from TwitterBerry

Starting out the day at the Consevative Breakfast Club, then off to speak to Boys State from TwitterBerry

Last meeting of the day in Boone at "Big G's Log Cabin Bar-B-Que". Why aren't political events ever at Salad Bar Central? from TwitterBerry

This week starts out at 19,874 on the odometer. Off to Ft Dodge this morning. from TwitterBerry

@JoshLederman as I'm driving fr muscatine back to SC tonight I think I either need a dvd in the car, or I gotta start flying... ;-) from TwitterBerry

Good time at Muscatine GOP picnic. Great young family friendly political event. The offer of free kittens was a bit much though. ;-) from TwitterBerry

@Sandy_Greiner as a kid, my dad always called heading for home after a long

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fallon for Congress?

Ed Fallon for Congress in 2010? I'm just going to throw that out there. No. Fallon hasn't told me he wants to run again. But it's something that crossed my mind today as I read this release from Fallon's advocacy group/business. Fallon already ran against Iowa's 3rd District incumbent Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell in the primary in 2008 after unsuccessfully running in the gubernatorial primary in 2006. In the release Fallon encourages Boswell to "do what Al Gore would do". Interestingly, Fallon endorsed Ralph Nader instead of Gore in 2000, which angered some leaders in his Democratic party. Here's the release:

Boswell Failing Iowans on Climate Change Bill
"Tell him to do what Al Gore would do if Gore were a member of Congress and vote for HR 2454!"

Today, Ed and Lynn Fallon challenged Congressman Leonard Boswell to “do as Al Gore would do” and support HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The Fallons sent out an e-mail update to 7,000 Iowans today asking them to contact Boswell’s office and request his support for the legislation.

Last week, Boswell made national news saying, "As this bill stands today, I can't vote for it. I don't know of anyone else in the {House Agriculture} committee who can." The Fallons point out that Al Gore, on the other hand, recently said HR 2454 carries "the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s."

Ed ran against Congressman Boswell in last year’s Democratic primary for Congress, and at that time Al Gore endorsed the Congressman, lauding Boswell in one flier as being “on the front lines” to address global warming.

“Perhaps Gore hoped that his endorsement would encourage Boswell to turn over a new leaf,” said Ed Fallon. “Well, last week Boswell let Al Gore down. More important, he let his constituents down. If Boswell truly wanted to be ‘on the front lines’ in the fight to address climate change, he would throw his weight behind HR 2454 instead of actively opposing it.

This week, Chris Bowers of Open Left wrote in a national blog post, “Boswell, along with seemingly all other Democrats on the Agriculture Committee, is hijacking climate change legislation unless it removes the EPA's authority to regulate carbon. This demand would actually be a step backward for climate change policy in the United States.”

“Regrettably, Boswell’s position on HR 2454 is consistent with his long history of opposition to pro-environment legislation,” continued Ed. “In August of 2001, he voted against an amendment that would have raised fuel efficiency standards to 27.5 mpg. In July of 2005, he voted for $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives for energy companies, even though House Democrats opposed the bill 124-75. In June of 2006, he voted to end a 25-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling.

In February of 2007, he voted for an amendment to permit offshore drilling for natural gas, which House Democrats opposed 194-38.

Also in February of 2007, he signed a letter to the House Speaker and Majority Leader calling for legislation to support continued use of coal ‘for decades to come.’ And in July of 2007, he voted against an amendment to prevent the expediting of oil shale drilling, which House Democrats supported 202-27.”

Ed and Lynn concluded their e-mail to supporters saying, “America and Iowa need Congressman Boswell to turn over a new leaf. Recent climate-change scenarios forecast even greater temperature increases, more rapid ice melt and higher sea-levels than previously predicted. Legislation such as HR 2454 is imperative. Please take a minute to contact Congressman Boswell. Tell him to do what Al Gore would do if Gore were a member of Congress and vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act!”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Governor Culver Gives Congrats to Cousin

Many weekends, Iowa Governor Chet Culver's office sends out some type of congratulatory statement for an Iowa athlete's successes...gymnast Shawn Johnson and golfer Zach Johnson are just a few. Today's statement became a family affair. The gov's cousin was part of a state championship soccer team. Here's the release:


CEDAR RAPIDS – Governor Chet Culver today, while commemorating the one year anniversary of the floods of 2008, issued the following statement after Cedar Rapids schools won both class championships at the Iowa Girls High School Soccer Tournament in Muscatine. Cedar Rapids Xavier beat Dallas Center-Grimes 1-0 in Class 1A action, while the women of Cedar Rapids Kennedy – including Governor Culver’s cousin Shauna Happel -- overcame Iowa City West by a score of 3-1 in Class 2A.


“I want to congratulate the coaches, players, and fans of Cedar Rapids high school girls soccer for today’s pair of impressive victories at the state tournament in Muscatine. The teams from Kennedy and Xavier both showed the skill and athleticism that sets Iowa’s amateur athletes apart. All participants in this year’s tournament should be proud of their accomplishments - especially runners-up Iowa City West and Dallas Center-Grimes - and I wish them luck as they take a well needed break before getting ready for next year’s soccer season. And as we commemorate one year after the devastating floods of 2008, these two outstanding teams are giving their community and our state one more reason to celebrate the determined spirit of those from Cedar Rapids.”

Vilsack Forgetting Iowa?

When Tom Vilsack was governor, he told Iowans they need to not be so modest...to brag a little. So what does Vilsack do now that he's the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture? He says his organic garden his office grows in D.C. isn't as good as First Lady Michelle Obama's garden. Come on, Mr. Secretary, what happened to that Iowa braggadocio?

I bet he's not having any trouble bragging about his Pittsburgh Penguins, who just won hockey's Stanley Cup (Vilsack grew up in the Pittsburgh area).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chuck Norris Endorses Vander Plaats

First, Huck. Now, Chuck. Bob Vander Plaats, the almost-not quite-just about-so close--almost there candidate for the third time candidate for Iowa governor next year announced another endorsement. Wednesday, former prez candidate Mike Huckabee endorsed him. Now, kick butt star Chuck Norris announced Team VP, as well. Norris, you'll remember endorsed Huck's 2008 prez campaign.

Here's part of the release from Vander P:

Norris has taken an increasingly higher profile on issues of national importance since his prominent role in former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Vander Plaats, who served as Huckabee’s Iowa chairman said, “I had an opportunity to get to know Chuck Norris during the 2008 campaign and we’ve remained in touch because we share the same values and public policy goals. He’s committed to defending Americans’ constitutional rights and the principles that made this country so great. I’m honored to have the support of Chuck and Gena Norris. They are great friends and they’re going to play an important role in our winning campaign.”

And, of course, with a Chuck Norris blog posting comes the obligatory tribute video:

Don't Forget About Rod Roberts

Rod Roberts doesn't want Iowa (and the media) to forget about him. Roberts is a five-term Iowa Republican representative from Carroll. He sat in the audience at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry's gathering in Arnolds Park this week. The featured speaker, of course, was Mike Huckabee, the former presidential candidate, who later in the day endorsed Bob Vander Plaats for governor next year (we've already discussed how BVP hasn't even officially declared his candidacy yet). Roberts, by the way, said he supported John McCain for president in 2008. Vander P chaired Huck's Iowa caucus campaign.

Roberts admitted most of the media have focused on the traveling and speaking efforts of Vander P and Christopher Rants in their efforts to raise support across the state. But Roberts says he is about to step up his efforts "soon". He said he will file the paperwork "soon" to set up an exploratory committee. Yes, "soon" is the closest to a time frame I could get. I believe he also added "sooner, rather than later".

Roberts, who would seem to be less known statewide as the other two, didn't want to put a dollar figure on what it would take to run for governor. Rants (and possible candidate Jeff Lamberti) have said it could take $8-10 million. Roberts said Huckabee proved a campaign is not all about money. Critics would say that's what candidates say when they know they can raise gobs of money. But Roberts pointed out Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses with a small staff and smaller bank account than others. Right, Mr. Romney?

Roberts also said he doesn't expect to enter the race, if he would choose to go that route until late in the fall. Others have said they would likely make their decisions this summer. Roberts said a late fall announcement would still give him plenty of time to compete and up his statewide name identity.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Huckabee Endorses Team VP

Mike Huckabee, the one-time and possibly two-time candidate for president endorsed Bob Vander Plaats, the two-time and possibly three-time candidate for governor, even though Vander Plaats hasn't officially said he is running next year. The two held events at Arnold's Park in the Okoboji area near the Iowa-Minnesota border Wednesday afternoon and evening. But it seems VP is as likely to run as the Chicago Cubs are as likely NOT to win the World Series this year (I'm a Cardinals' fan, remember:)

I wanted to asked Huckabee why he chose to endorse Vander P, before Vander P has even officially entered the race...and obviously before everyone even knows who the Republican candidates will be. But Huckabee's handler ended the interview before I could (it seemed like Huckabee was running behind at that point).

Here are a few things Huckabee did talk about...
He told me he was "shocked" to hear about the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. He said "it was a downturn" for Iowa.

He blamed Chrylser and General Motor's decisions to cut ties with dealers, in part, on President Obama's administration's involvement in their financial matters. He said dealers, "Suddenly find themselves thrown out. You might say not under the bus, but under the SUV."

He also repeatedly criticized Obama's administration for its record spending. Huckabee said, "The indebtedness that he's brought about is more than all the presidents combined. He can't blame George Bush on this."

I asked Huckabee why anyone would give up all the money he is making these days (speeches, books, radio program, cable tv program). He said, "That's a good question. Why would they? I very well may not. You know this whole idea that I've already got this figured out. I mean, Barack Obama hasn't been president for six months yet."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Washington Post Calls Grassley a Twit for Tweets

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley made national news for tweet-blasting President Barack Obama's health care demands while site seeing in Paris. Now the Washington Post is blasting Grassley calling him a "twit" for his tweets on Twitter.

It's in this video. If you don't want to watch it all, go to about 1:40 into this in the "Birds" section.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Boswell Mahaffey Rematch

(illustration courtesy: www.buildingblocksplaygroup.com)

If you are a regular viewer of WHO-TV 13's "Insiders" program, you know Republican Mike Mahaffey hasn't tried to hide his interest for running for office again. In 1996 Mahaffey lost to Democrat Leonard Boswell in central Iowa's Third Congressional District. 14 years later, he may try again. His intentions just received a little national attention. Here's the article on the race from the Congressional Quarterly.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Grassley Tweet-Blasts Obama's Site Seeing

Today, it was Iowa Senator Charles Grassley unfiltered. Grassley is big on Twitter, as you likely know by now. He doesn't seem too thrilled with two things today...President Obama's plans for health care coverage expansion and the Obamas' site seeing trip in Paris. Grassley, by the way, is one of the lead Republican senators working on health care reform.

Here's what Grassley "tweeted" to followers today:

Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to delivr on healthcare' When you are a "hammer" u think evrything is NAIL I'm no NAIL from txt

Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us"time to deliver" on health

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Council Member Candidate Says It's "party time"

Another candidate has formally said she wants to be on the Des Moines City Council. Saturday afternoon in front of her home, Cyndi Chen announced her campaign to replace Michael Kiernan in his At-Large seat. Kiernan's leaving as he has already assumed the position of Iowa Democratic Party Chairman.

Chen needs a better outcome than her husband had a few years ago. Dr. Frank Affannado lost in a four-way Democratic primary in House District 66 in Des Moines. Ako Abdul-Samad won. Affannado finished second.

Chen said it's "party time" during her announcement. She announced today, D-Day, she said to celebrate victory. Her slogan is "Chen for change." Chen is the administrator for the Commission of the Status of Iowans of Asian and Pacific Islander Hertigage of Department of Human Rights. There's no way that fits on a business card. She said the all-white council needs some diversity.

Attorney David Adelman and businessowner Leisha Barcus are also running.

Too Much Bureaucracy for Norris?

The Politico reports Iowa's Jackie Norris left her position as chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama because she didn't like the bureaucracy of the position. By the way, it's also yet another article that dispels any notion of a scandal with this story. It does seem a bit unusual someone would voluntarily leave a position in the White House so early into the administration. But it seems the bulk of what I read and hear makes it seem like Norris just didn't like all the duties her job entailed. She also has three young children, including twins. And her husband, John, also has an extremely time-consuming job as chief of staff to Tom Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That can't make for an easy home life.

Sorry, conspiracy theorists. I have nothing to satisfy you so far:)

Here's another tidbit to a story I mentioned yesterday. Vilsack has tapped Iowa Representative John Whitaker to head the Iowa Farm Service Agency. Governor Chet Culver would have to call for a special election to fill Whitaker's seat after President Obama approves Whitaker's appointment. Culver's office emailed me to say no one can comment on the Whitaker situation.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Iowa Lawmaker Picked for Ag Post

The Iowa legislature could soon lose one of its members. Representative John Whitaker, a Democrat from Hillsboro, has been selected to serve as the State Director of the Iowa Farm Service Agency. Whitaker has served at the statehouse since 2003. He can thank former Iowa Governor/current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Whitaker declined to talk about the position. But a spokeswoman for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin confirmed it. President Barack Obama still has to approve the appointment. Here's a little info on the agency.

A friend sent this that is making its way around the Internet.

Here's some more food for thought. It's National Donut Day. Or is it doughnut? Who makes up these "holidays" anyway? To celebrate...my favorite donuts...powdered-covered strawberry filled and powdered-covered angel fluff filled. Anyone have some milk?
By the way, this article says the holiday started back around World War 1 as a way to thank Salvation Army volunteers.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Random Late-Night Thoughts

It feels like it's been a big news week so far...

Governor Chet Culver had a math problem. He doubled the amount of money the state was expected to have left over when this budget year ends this month. A staffer later said the gov "misspoke". The gov also said he doesn't expect the state to fall short moneywise when the year ends. Republican leaders and the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency aren't so sure.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley seems to have a memory problem. He says he can't remember why he opposed Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to a federal appeals court judgeship 11 years ago. She is President Barack Obama's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, in case you forgot.

Half of Iowa's power couple just got replaced. Jackie Norris is out as First Lady Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff. Her husband, John, is former Iowa Governor-turned-U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's Chief of Staff.

Speaking of Vilsack, the Pittsburgh native can't be too happy with his favorite baseball team, the Pirates, dumping their best player to "rebuild" yet again. I guess 16 consecutive losing seasons isn't enough for that pitiful franchise.

Manager Tony LaRussa of my St. Louis Cardinals has a problem with Twitter. Not that he can't use it. Actually, I have no idea if he can use it. But LaRussa alleges someone set up a Twitter account under his name and made a few too many drunk comments. LaRussa has an embarrassing "too much wine and I fell asleep behind the wheel story" and the Cards have also had two players die in alcohol incidents. So he is suing Twitter for what happened.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cownie Calls Judge's Ruling 'Ironic"

A District Court judge has ruled against the city of Des Moines in the way it charged franchise fees on residents' bills. And Mayor Frank Cownie is none too happy about the decision, which will cost the city millions of dollars. Here's the release from Hizzoner...

DES MOINES, IOWA ---WEDNESDAY-- June 3, 2009 ---Today, the District Court issued a ruling in the Kragnes case. The ruling deals with the question of whether or not past collected franchise fees should be refunded. The Court ruled that a portion of the fee was legal, but a partial refund would be required. The ruling did not specify the amount of the refund, and indicated that the Court retained jurisdiction to determine the exact amount.
”It is ironic that just 2 weeks ago the state enacted legislation which memorializes Iowa cities’ right to collect up to 5% gas and electric franchise fees. Franchise fees have been collected by some cities in Iowa for over 100 years,” said Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie.
We have not yet completed our review of the Court’s ruling. However, while we respect the work of the Court, we must strongly disagree with the Court’s conclusion. The cost imposed upon the City and its citizens by the existence of a franchise for gas and electric utilities has been significantly underestimated by the Court. We will follow the next legal steps to reach a final determination in this issue, which may include an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.
If this ruling is allowed to stand, the effect upon our taxpayers could be significant. In essence, the City will be obligated to allocate scarce tax dollars to pay any refund. This will cause an increase in the tax rate, a reduction in services, a reduction in capital improvements, or a combination of all three.

Leach Nominated for New Post

Former long-time Iowa Republican Congressman Jim Leach (who later supported Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama) had been mentioned as a possible U.S. Ambassador to China. The President didn't end up choosing him for that post. But apparently, he has decided on a different new venture for Leach. Here's the release:

President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate former GOP Congressman Jim Leach as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate former Republican Congressman Jim Leach as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

President Obama said, “I am confident that with Jim as its head, the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue on its vital mission of supporting the humanities and giving the American public access to the rich resources of our culture. Jim is a valued and dedicated public servant and I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual today:

Jim Leach, Nominee for Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Jim Leach served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Iowa for 30 years. He founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus, which is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the humanities in the House of Representatives and to raising the profile of humanities in the United States. The Caucus worked to promote and preserve humanities programs and commissions such as the Historical Publications and Records Commission. Mr. Leach and his co-founder, Rep. David Price, received the Sidney R. Yates Award for Distinguished Public Service to the Humanities from the National Humanities Alliance in 2005. During his tenure in Congress, Mr. Leach also served as Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services (1995-2001), a senior member of the House Committee on International Relations and Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs (2001-2006). In addition, Mr. Leach is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Vice Chairman of the Century Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has served on the boards of the Social Sciences Research Council, ProPublica, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Kettering Foundation. Since leaving Congress in 2007, he has taught at Princeton University and served as the interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Principal Lays Off More Employees

Another announcement from the Principal Financial Group that it is getting rid of more employees. The statement from the company is below. The Des Moines Register is also reporting long-time employee or former State Representative Libby Jacobs is one of the workers who has lost her job.

Statement from Susan Houser, the Principal Financial Group (June 3, 2009):

"As part of an ongoing review of our business, we made the decision to eliminate approximately 140 positions in Des Moines and approximately 80 positions in other locations, primarily in the retirement business. In the normal course of running the business, we continually review all operations to ensure that resources are aligned with customer needs. Retirement plan customers and advisors are asking for different levels of service. Well-run companies like The Principal must make difficult decisions in order to adapt to changing customer needs and to position the company for continued strength and growth. We thank these employees for their dedicated service to The Principal. As the markets recover and customers review and realign service needs, we hope to be back in contact with them."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Deere Lays Off 700

I don't remember any company with a bad jobs' announcement this big recently in Iowa. John Deere announced it was laying off about 700 people in Ottumwa (that town has a population of about 25,000). About three hours afterwards, Iowa Governor Chet Culver's office released a statement tauting his I-JOBS plan. Here's the statement:

“Today we received the disappointing news that hundreds of employees at the John Deere facility in Ottumwa will lose their jobs. This is just one more sign that the global economic challenge continues to affect Iowans.

"I have been in contact with officials from Iowa Workforce Development, and as a result of the Deere's announcement, a Rapid Response Team has been dispatched to the plant tomorrow to work with those employees who have been affected, and determine what steps they can take to get back to work.

“This announcement makes our efforts to revitalize Iowa’s economy even more important. The I-JOBS plan is moving forward as quickly as possible, with the I-JOBS Board holding their first meeting tomorrow and Treasurer Fitzgerald expecting to issue the bonds in a matter of weeks. I-JOBS, when combined with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, means nearly $3 billion in economic stimulus for Iowa, which will be used to put Iowans to work and build a smarter, safer, stronger future for our state.

“While this news – and all news on layoffs -- is disappointing, I remain confident that Iowa’s best days are ahead, and I look forward to working with Iowans to create the bright future we all know is possible.”

Charles Grassley is a Player

Chuck Grassley is a "playa". Well, actually today The Washington Post calls Iowa's senior Republican U.S. Senator a "player" in the shaping of President Barack Obama's health care reform plan.

Here's the story:

More Iowa GM Dealers Get Notices

A few weeks ago, I talked with the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, which told me it had heard from about two dozen General Motors' dealers in the state. The dealers received a letter from GM that said the company no longer wanted them as authorized dealers for GM dealers. IADA's President Gary Thomas tells me now he has heard from 35 dealers who have received the notice. And he said, not that GM is filing for bankruptcy protection, he expects another 10 to 15 dealers to get the dreaded notice in the days ahead.

Here's the tv story I did on this:

Monday, June 01, 2009

Des Moines Gas Station on Ebay

Want to own a gas station? It is the old 1933 Continental Oil Filling Station, formerly located at 203 East Grand in Des Moines. The Historic East Village Save the Gas Station Fund is trying to, well, save the gas station, so it doesn't get destroyed. The gas station is up for sale on EBay. The starting bid is $26,000.