Thursday, December 30, 2010

2012 Campaign promise, Gooey butter cakes

Daddy, I like to read!

2012: Before Christmas, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs asked for questions on Twitter. So I sent one in. Here was my question:

Will the president campaign in 2012 on ending the tax cuts for wealthier Americans? Or has he changed his mind for good on this?

Here was his reply:

Yes, POTUS will campaign against extending tax cuts for wealthy past 2012 - we can't afford it @idaveprice

Two things stood out in the reply to me. One, the prez will now have to push for raising taxes in an election year, according to this response. Of course, he was proposing that when he campaigned for the office the first time. But secondly, did Gibbs just admit the prez is running for re-election? I mean, it's not like most people don't think Obama wants a 2nd term. But still...

Gooey Goodness: Have you ever heard of gooey butter cake? It's butter, sugar, more sugar, more sugar, etc. And it's awesome. Incredibly sweet, but awesome. I think it might be a St. Louis thing. My mom makes a great one. Apparently, two local bakeries in St. Louis will bake-off against each other in a gooey butter cake contest on the Food Network's "Food Feuds" tonight at 9pm central. Yum.

(Photo courtesy: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The Holidays

Catching Up: Hi, it's been a while since I blogged. Two trips for our two families in two time zones brought chaos but a lot of welcome time with loved ones the past few weeks. The highlights:

Watching the grandparents loving all over Hayden. I didn't realize my old, crusty Dad could melt the way he does when Hayden smiles at him. Awesome.
White Christmases are nice. But there's something to be said for sunny and 70 in Tampa on Christmas Day!
Delta overbooked our flight, had mechanical problems with our second plane, lost our luggage on the return flight and then broke the handle on our suitcase. We did get 800 bucks worth of future flights for agreeing to get bumped off our flight, though.
My streak is over. I wish I could remember how many years it has been since I, well, you know, got sick (black and white cookie, anyone?). But it hit me Christmas night with a crowded room of guests at my in-laws' house. Not good timing. Of course, getting sick never is. Time to start a new streak. And a new year. Have a great year ahead, everyone!

Look to the cookie!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Iowa Supreme Court Justices Lawsuit

Separate Semantics: Remember when former prez Bill Clinton taught us the definition of the word "is"? He claimed at the time, "It means that there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship or any other kind of improper relationship."

We later learned technically that was true since the sex stuff with Monica Lewinsky wasn't still going on at the time of his statement, hence, his use of "is" (I'm not sure when I last used the word "hence" in a post).

I was reminded of that covering the court hearing at the Polk County Courthouse today. It had nothing to do with sex but it has been a juicy affair this past year. Three attorneys were suing to try to, at least temporarily, keep those 3 ousted Iowa Supreme Court justices on the bench past the time their terms are set to expire December 31st. It turns out the justices decided they didn't want the attorneys fighting on their behalf. Well, at least they decided from a professional standpoint. We don't necessarily know if they believe that on a personal standpoint. So, upon learning that, the attorneys dropped that part of their lawsuit. They say they still plan on moving ahead with the other part. That's the claim voters illegally kicked out the justices. The fight comes down to the meaning of the word, "separate". There seem to be two issues at odds here: the Iowa Constitution and a law passed by the legislature.

The attorneys cite this in the constitution:

Iowa Constitution, Article V, Section 17

“They shall at such judicial election stand for retention in office on a separate ballot…”
However, they also point out lawmakers later passed this:

Iowa Code 46.21
“The names of all judges and clerks to be voted on shall be placed upon one ballot…”
So, does separate mean Iowans should vote on politicians on one part of the ballot and the judicial retention on a different part? Or does it mean Iowans should have to use 2 different ballots? This whole justice fight ain't over, friends. Although, one attorney, John Roehrick, at the hearing did tell me this means the 2010 fight is likely over. He's focusing now on getting resolution before the 2012 retention vote.

Des Moines Drops as Best City for Business

Dropping Des Moines: I doubt we will see this one on a news release in Iowa: Des Moines is no longer ranked as the best place in the U.S. to do business. Blame the unemployed, apparently, according to the MarketWatch story. Too many more Iowans in the metro lost their jobs. So Des Moines fell from the best place to the 4th best place. "We are number 4!"...that chant doesn't quite have the same sound to it, does it? The best city, in case you were wondering, is Washington, D.C. Can you say stimulus?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iowa Supreme Court Justices

Judgement Day: It looks like all that commotion about which governor gets to pick the 3 replacements for the Iowa Supreme Court could be all but over. Outgoing Governor Chet Culver said he would pick the replacements if the State Judicial Nominating Commission sent him the list of finalists before he leaves office. Incoming Governor Terry Branstad maintained voters not only kicked out the 3 justices in November, they also voted out Culver. So this isn't Culver's call to make on the replacements.

Based on this news release from the court today, it doesn't seem like there is an issue any longer. Check out the dates. I will put them in bold. But I think the key date here is January 14th. That, by the way, is the day Branstad takes office.

Judicial Nominating Commission Begins Process for Selecting Nominees for Supreme Court

Des Moines, December 13, 2010— The State Judicial Nominating Commission, which is responsible for selecting nominees for appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court, announced today it will begin accepting applications for the vacancies that will occur when the terms of Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit and Justice David Baker end on December 31. The Commission has sixty days to send a slate of nominees to the Governor, who makes appointments to the court.

The deadline for applications is January 14, 2011. Any citizen may submit in writing to the secretary of the commission, or to any commissioner, the names of persons for consideration as a candidate for nomination and express views concerning such candidate. Once the application time has run, the Commission will release the names of all applicants along with information about each applicant's background, experience, and qualifications. This list and other information about the nominating commission and Iowa's merit selection process will be available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website:

The Commission plans to meet the week of January 24, 2011, to interview applicants and select a slate of nominees. The meeting schedule and location are yet to be determined. However, in light of heightened public interest in judicial appointments, the Commission plans to open the interview portion of the meeting to Iowans throughout the state by streaming the interviews on the Internet.

The 15-member commission is composed of a chair, who is the senior justice of the supreme court other than the chief justice, seven lawyer commissioners elected by lawyers licensed to practice law in Iowa and seven non-lawyer commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. With the exception of the commission chair, membership on the commission is limited to one six-year term. Terms are staggered. The Iowa Constitution requires that commission members be chosen without regard to political affiliation.

Iowa's process for selecting judges through the use of nominating commissions is known as merit selection. Iowa voters approved the merit selection process in 1962 by constitutional amendment. Merit selection is designed to emphasize the professional qualifications of applicants for judicial appointment and minimize partisan politics. In keeping with this design, the Commission put applicants for judicial office through a rigorous and thorough screening by reviewing extensive information about each applicant's background, education, professional skills, and experience. After the interviews, the commission sends the governor a slate of nominees. Iowa law requires nominees to be chosen "upon the basis of their qualifications and without regard to political affiliation." The governor is required to pick the new justices from this slate.

Important Notice to Applicants: To be eligible for appointment to the court, a person must be a resident of the state, licensed to practice law in Iowa, and must be of such age that they will be able to serve an initial and one regular term of office before reaching the age of 72. To be most favorably considered for balloting, an applicant must file a letter of intent to file an application with the secretary of the commission by January 10, 2011. In addition, an applicant must submit completed application forms to the commission on or before January 14, 2011.

Hawkeye Football Announcement

Hawkeye Drama: Is this the rest of the story or just part of it? Plenty of rumors flying around about what's going on with the University of Iowa Hawkeyes football team. The athletic department just released this, saying more comments come tomorrow. Stay tuned.


IOWA CITY, IA – Sophomore running back Jewel Hampton has decided to leave the University of Iowa. And, sophomore running back Adam Robinson will not be part of the Hawkeye team that makes the trip to Arizona for the Insight Bowl. The announcement was made today by Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz.

“Jewel Hampton has decided to leave the team and plans to transfer to another school to complete his degree and finish his career. We wish him the best of success in the future,” said Ferentz.

“While Adam has been cleared medically, he will not be participating in the upcoming Insight Bowl game as a result of failing to comply with team expectations and policies. Adam will have the option to rejoin the team when classes resume in January.”

Hampton, a 5-9, 210-pounder from Indianapolis, IN, has been plagued by injury problems during his three years at Iowa. He has rushed for 577 yards and scored eight touchdowns as a Hawkeye. He was injured in the Arizona game earlier this season and was lost for the season following surgery.

Robinson, a 5-9, 205-pound back from Des Moines, IA, led the team in rushing with 941 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

EDITOR’S NOTE – There will be no additional comments tonight regarding this release. Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta will hold a press conference tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10 a.m. to answer questions. The press conference will be held in the Player’s Auditorium of the Hayden Fry football complex.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thune, Pawlenty

Won't you be our neighbor?

Neighbor vs. Neighbor: The Politico has an interesting read about a potential battle of next-door neighbors in the Iowa caucuses. It's JT vs. TPaw...South Dakota's John Thune vs. Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty. Both lack much name-recognition in Iowa. TPaw has put together a staff, so, at this point, he looks more serious about running. He will also be back next month speaking to the Waukee Chamber of Commerce and promoting his book. I don't know of anything Thune is doing here any time soon. In a race that could feature names like Romney, Huckabee, Palin and Gingrich, it's hard to see how Thune or Pawlenty could go very far without a top 3 finish in the caucuses, don't you think?

Here's the release I got about the visit.

WAUKEE, IOWA – The Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce announced today that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner & Meeting.

2011 Chamber President Rod West said, “The Annual Dinner & Meeting’s purpose is to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and convey to our membership the organization’s goals for the coming year. We will also recognize our outgoing President & Board members and announce the 2010 Member of the Year and the 2010 Ambassador of the Year.”

The Board of Directors and membership is very excited to have Governor Pawlenty as the dinner keynote. Newly elected Dallas County Recorder, and outgoing Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Chad Airhart said, “We are thrilled to have Governor Pawlenty as our keynote speaker. Though he is from Minnesota, he could very well be an Iowan. Like many Iowans, he believes like we do; in a hard days work, earning your keep, faith, family, community, the family business and family farm. He is a man that has led by example, by understanding his values and staying true to them. Our membership will be very welcoming to Governor Pawlenty, and very encouraged by his message.”

“I’m excited to visit Dallas County, and speak to one of the fastest growing Chambers of Commerce in the State of Iowa,” said Governor Pawlenty. “The Waukee Area Chamber is more than an organization representing the business interests of their community; they are giving back in many other ways to make Waukee and Dallas County a better place to live, work and play. I look forward to celebrating their many accomplishments at the Annual Dinner & Meeting.”

Governor Pawlenty’s forthcoming book Courage to Stand will be released on January 11th. The book takes readers all the way back to the lessons Pawlenty learned as a boy in the gritty meatpacking town of South St. Paul. From the devastating early death of his mother to the struggle to work his way through college and law school and his epic political battles as Governor, Pawlenty opens up about his deepest beliefs and shares his vision for a better America. Pawlenty will have copies of Courage to Stand available for purchase and signing following the dinner.

The Chamber’s 2010 Annual Dinner & Meeting will be held Sunday evening January 30th, at the West Des Moines Marriott. Reception & Networking at 5 pm; Dinner & Program at 6 pm. More information on the Annual Meeting & Dinner is available on by calling 515-978-7115 or emailing

Iowa Department Directors

Who's Left?: Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been announcing a bunch of his picks to head state agencies once he takes over Terrace Hill. He still has some to go, though. And I'm curious which people he picks to fill them.

What about Christian Fong? He was a Republican candidate for governor for a short time and now heads the Iowa Dream Project. He may have a political future ahead of him. Is there a place for him?

Who will head the Department of Education? Outgoing Governor Chet Culver has let that stay empty for months. This would be a chance to overhaul the state's education system if that's what Branstad wants to do.

What about the Department of Public Safety? Does current commish Gene Meyer get to stick around? Will Branstad work to put more troopers back on the roads?

How about the Department of Natural Resources? Seems like an interesting pick to see how a pro-business Republican would fill the position for the head of an agency that watches the environment.

There are some others, too. But here's what really makes me curious: will Branstad put some prominent Democrats in any prominent positions?

Will outgoing Secretary of State Michael Mauro, a Democrat, get a job somewhere in the administration? He's highly-respected from lawmakers in both parties. But voters booted him out this November. So what job could he do?

Will some other Democrat get a spot? How about outgoing Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge? She's a former lawmaker, nurse, and Secretary of Agriculture. She would be an intriguing pick in this ultra-political world, wouldn't she?

What about this one: Mike Gronstal? Now, that would be a fun choice, wouldn't it? Gronstal seems to have all the power at the statehouse this coming year as the Democrats' leader in the senate. With Republicans taking over the gov's mansion and the house, the senate is the only chamber the Dems will control. As the leader, Gronstal can block a vote from getting to the floor on same-sex marriage and most anything else he wants. So, it would be fascinating if Branstad offered Gronstal a great job somewhere, not some b.s. token offer, but a real position that would tempt Gronstal to give up the senate. I wonder what kind of job that could even be. Is there such a job anywhere in state government? Well, besides the governor's job, of course.

Dome Collapses

This was my view out of our front door this morning.

And here's my obstacle as I tried to open the door.

Stop the Snow: We only had about four inches or so of snow at my house. But it sure was nasty this weekend, so it felt like much more. The winds were terrible. They took your breath away and pelted you with those snow/ice pellets just to add insult to injury.
Dome Down: The video of what happened to the dome in Minneapolis is amazing. It seems like they are blaming the wind, more than the nearly foot-and-a-half of snow that fell. I've been there twice. We saw Mark McGwire play for the Cardinals against the Twins there in '98. Not much of a baseball stadium. But we did get to see him homer, so that was cool. Doesn't quite mean as much now that we know he was a cheat. A few years ago, we saw the Tampa Bay Bucs play the Vikings there. Seems like a much better place for football.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clinton and Obama, Huckabee's New House

Behold, Bubba: I just happened to be flipping through the channels Friday when I saw quite a sight: President Barack Obama standing next to former President Bill Clinton in the White House briefing room. The current prez got the former prez to talk about that tax cut compromise that some Dems have been so ticked off about. Obama gave a few remarks and then said Clinton would talk a few minutes. Yeah, right. Clinton talked and talked and talked. He sure seemed to love talking back and forth with the national reporters. He talked so long, Obama excused himself and left. Will this do any good? Will Clinton's support ease concerns of Dems and convince them to back the deal? Dems don't like the big tax breaks for the rich, both in income and estate taxes. Clinton's point was that, if you look at the entire compromise package, it's as good as it can get. We should know soon if he changed any minds on this.

Huck's Hut: Mike Huckabee changed his residency to Florida. Now, he bought a nearly $3 million pad near Desdin. That's a long way from Little Rock. But what does it all mean? Huck is now making some good money giving speeches, doing radio commentary and working for Fox news. Florida doesn't have state income taxes. So moving there could save him some money. Does it mean he doesn't want to run for president and he's thinking of his financial future instead? On the other hand, Florida is one of those big, "purple" states that gets and gives a lot of attention to the presidential candidates. Hmmm....

Snowy Saturday: The snow has been falling in Des Moines this Saturday morning. It's our first of the year. I guess it had to happen sometime. Now, if, somehow, the below zero temps could stay away this weekend. Doubt it will happen.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Branstad Calls Grontstal "Dictator"

Name-Calling: Governor-Elect Terry Branstad said Iowans should have the chance to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. Branstad offered the same stance during the campaign, but he wouldn't say how he would vote on the matter. He still isn't saying. But he did have something to say about the man blocking a vote on the issue in the state senate, Democratic Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Branstad said, "Just because you're a leader in the legislature, doesn't mean you are a dictator or you have the right to make unilateral decisions. And I think on an issue of this importance and magnitude, certainly, the senators should be given the opportunity to vote on it, as well as the representatives."

Branstad said a public vote would help restore public support in the judicial system. Gronstal has said repeatedly he considers same-sex marriage a civil rights issue and has no plans to bring up a possible constitutional amendment during the coming legislation session.

Budget Projections

Budging the Budget: There's not much that makes me feel less smart than covering a meeting of the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference. It's numbers, numbers, numbers...not exactly why journalists get into the business. But it seems (at least from what I thought I understood) that Iowa's economy continues to make baby steps of progress. Holly Lyons, the Director of the Legislative Services Agency, said the auto, construction and home industries are picking up. The tax receipts were encouraging enough that the REC bumped up its projections from October by $34 million for the current fiscal year and $85 million the following year. Not time to dance in the streets, but it seems like it's at least a move in the right direction. One thing that floored me was this...Lyons said the country hit its jobs peak in December of 07 and its jobs low in December of 09 (what's with the month of December?). She said at this rate of growth, it would take 7 years to recover all the job losses since 07. Wow.

The REC didn't take into account the impact on state revenue if Congress extends the "Bush tax cuts". Iowans deduct their federal taxes on their state taxes. Lowering federal taxes would mean an additional $147 million in state revenue. That could lessen the pain even more in the future.

However, Lyons pointed out two factors possibly working against a continued economic recovery (definitely a small "r" in that word recovery, huh?): the European money crisis and the political unrest between North and South Korea.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cut Taxes or Cut the Deficit?

Congress' Conundrum: Cut taxes or cut the deficit? Is this an "either or" situation? Republicans want to cut the deficit. At least they say they do this time. They failed to stop the deficits from going up for the 20 years Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush served as president. But they say they do want to do it now. Is it because they don't control the White House this time or is it because they have come to terms with the fact that this skyrocketing national debt of ours threatens to completely screw over our children and grandchildren? Democrats have also started to say they want to cut the deficit. They did it the last time a Democrat ruled the White House (Bill Clinton). I do seem to remember Democrats railing on tax cuts on the campaign trail. But that apparently was just the campaign talk at the time. It seems now like the majority of Congress wants to extend tax cuts (Bush 43's) to some degree. The question is who keeps the cuts? People who make less than $200,000 a year (is that rich to you or just a nice living?)? People who make less than $1 million a year? Or should everyone get the tax cut?

Republicans say they can't raise taxes on higher-earners because some of those people (3% according to the Joint Committee on Taxation) are also small business-owners. And if they raise taxes on them, then those people can't hire workers. Here's what I would like to know: These people have enjoyed the tax cuts since 2001 and 2003 (when Congress passed Bush's tax cuts). So shouldn't our unemployment be a lot lower since they were getting those cuts all this time? Is there proof things would get worse if they saw their tax cuts end now? Let's see proof, not rhetoric, please.

Can't Congress do both? Isn't it possible to start working on that ridiculous deficit AND cut taxes, at least for some people? If you believe raising taxes during a recession (or in this case, right after a recession) isn't a good idea for the economy, then can't Congress cut out the political crap and compromise on something that will help people right now? Seriously. How hard is that?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sarah Palin in Iowa

The Day the Music Died: The Big Bopper died in Iowa. That's supposed to be the day the music died. But Sarah Palin's music apparently died here, too. During a book-signing tour in Spirit Lake, Iowa, Palin asked if a CNN reporter turned off her music so he could ask her a question. He denied it. He did manage to get her to answer a question. That's not easy unless you work for FOX news. Here's the exchange:

Bush Tax Cuts,What Is Rich?, Ron Santo Dies

Cut the Cuts: CNN has a new poll out that shows people may be changing their minds about those "Bush tax cuts". More than half of the people polled say people making more than $250,000 should no longer get the tax cut. I think for some people this comes down to how much money do you have to make a year to be "rich". Is it $100,000? Is it $250,000? Is it $1 million? Is it $5 million? What's the magic number for you to consider yourself rich? Or does it depend if it's the other guy we're talking about?:) For me, I think my figure would be $500,000 Yeah, that's a lot of money. So, is $250,000. I guess I think you are "well-off", if you are under half a mill. But you are rich, if you make more than that. Ask me again, when I make that much money!

Ron Santo: I'm a life-long St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. But Ron Santo deserved to see his beloved Chicago Cubs win a World Series. He played for them. He announced their games forever. And, unfortunately, he battled health issues for decades. Through it all, you never failed to hear his passion for the team and the club he loved so much. I have no idea how he managed to get the strength to keep going all these years with all he battled. But he did. And he deserved some joy from that team, instead of all those years of heartache. I hope he gets to see a winner upstairs.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Economy Improving, Cowans Perform Again

Getting Better: Here's another story that seems to offer some numbers that our lives should be getting better. The Iowa Business Council predicts more spending and more hiring in the 4th quarter. So, when are we going to start feeling that the economy IS improving and the doom and gloom will start to lift? Most people I know don't seem to be overflowing with optimism these days.

Feeling Lazy Now: Marlow and Frances Cowan of Ankeny, Iowa, on paper should we wayyyy too old to be doing what they do. The Iowa couple, married more than 60 years, is already one of the (if not THE) most popular internet sensation in this state. The Cowans performed today at the Gateway Center Hotel to show off their never-ending talents and bring some smiles. Here's part of their performance.

They also have 7 million+ hits on YouTube from a previous performance. 7 million! Here's their classic show at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Iowa State Student with Bacterial Meningitis

In the Hospital: An Iowa State student is hospitalized with bacterial meningitis. Here are the details according to the ISU news service. I remember when students got sick when I was going to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. My dad freaked out after seeing something on the news about it. Mom and Dad lived about 35 minutes away. But he made me meet him to go see the doc, all because I had a cold at the time. The Centers for Disease Control on its website says that antibiotics can reduce your chance of dying from it to under 15%. Wow! I had no idea. I knew it could be fatal, but I had no idea the odds were so tough against you. Maybe my Dad wasn't so crazy after all.

Romney on Leno

Mitt TV: Mitt Romney is scheduled for some gab time with Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show" Wednesday night (although right now, he would get before more eye balls if he sat down with the trio of hosts on ABC's "Nightline", but that's another story). How coy will Romney be? Come on. He is running, isn't he? What would have to happen for him NOT to run? He seems to be trying to figure out HOW to run. He spent a gazillion dollars to try to win the Iowa Caucuses in 2008, but he still couldn't catch Mike Huckabee's campaign on a shoe-string budget (what is a shoe-string, any way?). So will he go slowly in Iowa, if at all, for a while this time around. Maybe even skip the Republican Party of Iowa's Straw Poll next August? And then just shoot for a top 3 finish in Iowa? Would that be good enough to give him the big mo into New Hampshire? Romney, instead of trying to play on his economic/money management credentials in 08, tried (arguably unsuccessfully) to play to the social conservatives in Iowa. That was a tough sell for some since he came from a state with same-sex marriages. In light of the Tea Party movement and the ever-escalating federal debt, will he focus more on finances this time and concentrate less on Iowa and more on other states?

Unemployment Out: What should we do with people who can't/have been able/haven't tried to get a job (I tried to include everyone for every reason) and will now lose their unemployment? Some economists believe cutting off their unemployment will only hurt the economy. While some Republicans don't want to add to the deficit with the cost of the unemployment extension? The Iowa Workforce Development estimates about 2,000 Iowans will lose their benefits each week. What's the right thing to do? Surely, there are some people who just haven't been able to get a job. And, yes, there are those people who just haven't bothered to really try to get a job. Should we help any of them by extending unemployment for a limited time? Tell them all they are now on their own? What's the right thing to do?

Here's what outgoing Governor Chet Culver had to say about it in a statement:

“Today, emergency unemployment insurance benefits expire, leaving millions of Americans without a key lifeline to help them keep food on the table and make ends meet while they fight to find a job.

“I am urging the members of Iowa’s congressional delegation to do everything they can to extend unemployment benefits and assist our Iowa families.

“In December alone, at least 10,000 Iowans and more than two million Americans will lose this aid, and if we don’t act, almost seven million people total, will lose coverage over the next year. Allowing these benefits to expire will mean many Iowans will lose the ability to buy the basics as they look for work. Extending support to those hardest hit by the economic crisis is not just the right thing to do, it’s the right economic policy. Letting millions more workers suffer hardship will hurt our economy at a critical point in the recovery.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Debi Durham

Double D: Iowa Gov-elect Terry Branstad officially announced Debi Durham as the new head of the Iowa Department of Economic Development during a news conference at his former campaign headquarters (is it to soon to call it "former"?) Here are a few items we heard from Durham:

Durham said Branstad offered the job a few weeks ago. She said she had a tough decision figuring out what to do since she has been the President of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce for 15 years.

She pulled a Bob Dole. Remember how he use to say, "Bob Dole doesn't agree with that...", instead of just saying "I" like most of us do? Durham said, "Debi Durham cannot create 200,000 jobs. But Debi Durham in partnership with the economic development professionals around this state..."

She said the key word in the new name (which has the catchy name of "Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress") for the new organization is partnership, "because that is what it is about".

Branstad said of his selection of Durham, "I looked all over the state of might even say all over the country for the person I thought was the right person."

Durham said there is "not a perfect model" for the public-private partnership she and Branstad want to create, so she plans to create one in Iowa.

Durham said she talked with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal Monday night about issues of transparency with the new organization. She said "if it involves public funds, it will be transparent". The media will undoubtedly have plenty of questions about this as it gets going.

Durham didn't say when she would quit her current job but plans to start working both jobs for a while.

Finally, Durham, I don't believe, is responsible for this video (I think it was the Sioux City RAGBRAI committee). But we can still enjoy it again...

Dave Price, Matt Lauer

Dave Price: My namesake is apparently out on your early morning tv. CBS is again making radical changes for its third-place "Early Show". Dave Price did the weather, or the limited weather the networks provide in the morning shows, for CBS. CBS didn't announced his future role with the network. Good luck, fellow Dave. There used to be another Dave Price who was a professional wrestler. I don't remember him being very good. One Dave Price who was really good is the pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. Stud. There's another Dave Price, who is a congressman from North Carolina. I will leave it up to North Carolinians to decide how good he is.

Giggling Anchor: Speaking of the network morning shows, NBC Today Show's Matt Lauer couldn't make it through an interview when the conversation brought up "package shrinkage" (I also seem to remember a "Seinfeld" episode dealing with that topic, but I digress).
Here's the proof.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Debi Durham to Become IDED Head

(Photo courtesy: Siouxland Chamber of Commerce)

Breaking News: Tuesday morning, Iowa Governor-elect Terry Branstad will announce Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Debi Durham as his choice to head the Iowa Department of Economic Development, according to several sources (the Branstad transition team will not confirm the report). Connecting Durham to Branstad feels a bit like the Kevin Bacon "Six Degrees of Separation" game. Durham was Republican Doug Gross' choice as running mate in 2002. Gross has been an advisor to Branstad. He previously served as his chief of staff. Gross planned on having Durham serve a dual role of lieutenant governor and IDED head. Branstad will make the Durham announcement Tuesday morning at 9.

Election Results

Bittersweet Record: How much must it suck to oversee an election you lose? That's what Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro had to do. He just sent out a release about the final numbers. The numbers show, while Mauro lost, the state comes out on top with a record turnout. More Iowans than ever voted in the mid-term election. Mauro calls it all "bittersweet". Here's part of the release:

Earlier today, the State Board of Canvassers – composed of Governor Culver, Secretary of State Mauro, State Treasurer Fitzgerald, Secretary of Agriculture Northey and State Auditor Vaudt – certified the statewide results of the November 2, 2010 General Election.

In total, 1,133,434 Iowans voted in the 2010 General Election. This accounted for a turnout of 54-percent and was the highest number of total voters participating in a midterm election in state history.

The official canvass results, including the winner’s list, can be found by visiting and clicking on the link under “Election Results” or by clicking on the direct link:

With the 2010 General Election coming to a close, Secretary Mauro congratulated Iowa’s election officials for administering another smooth and successful General Election.

“County auditors, their staff, and thousands of precinct election officials deserve considerable praise for once again making our election process work incredibly well,” Secretary Mauro said.

“On a personal note, the completion of this election is also bittersweet as it is the last statewide election that I will oversee as Secretary of State. Knowing our state is fortunate to have outstanding and dedicated election officials, I am confident Iowa’s election process will continue to be safe and secure and one in which Iowans can trust.”

WikiLeaks, Duck Calling

Wiki Worries: 250,000 documents, some classified, hit the internet, thanks to that whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks.

France's president is "thin-skinned"
The U.S. spied on the United Nations
China hacked into Google
Saudia Arabian King wanted U.S. to attack Iran
These are some of the juicier tidbits released in the latest waves of leaks. What do you make of all of this? Is this freedom of information/freedom of the press? Do we have a right to know what our government is saying/doing about/with foreign leaders? Or does the release of this info (some of it highly classified) damage our relations with other leaders and potentially put our military leaders and our citizens' lives in danger?

Top Duck: Who knew Des Moines had a man who could out-call all the rest? Todd Copley of Des Moines won the World Championship Duck Calling Contest over the weekend. I'm still trying to find the video. But it must have been a big day. ESPN reports Copley had tears streaming after his win.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today Show Video, Flash Mob

Saturday Slumbering: It's a fun, lazy day at home with the in-laws. Plenty of turkey leftovers! Mizzou and Kansas are on the tv. But it's the afternoon to which I look forward most. Two good friends, Lavell and Charlotte, met at our wedding 3 years ago. Today, they get married. It's the union of my two worlds. Lavell and I went to high school together in Belleville, Illinois. I met Charlotte as a fellow reporter in Iowa. Now, they are getting married! All the best to you both.

There are two videos I have seen posted that are really cool. Have you seen either one? The Today Show made the first one. It's hard to imagine they did it in one take. The amount of rehearsing for this must be amazing. Check it out:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And how would you react is you saw this "impromptu" chorus breaking out in song at the mall?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sarah Palin: Pretender or Contender?

Palin Power: I've already gorged myself on my mother-in-law's pancakes to start this turkey-day pig out. Now, I'm resting up for the second course of the day: lunch! So, how about a little brain exercise in the downtime? I'm thinking about Sarah Palin's visit to Iowa this weekend. She is headed to Border's in West Des Moines, coincidentally the same store where Newt Gringrich signed books last week. The Associated Press has a story to preview Palin's visit called "Serious 2012 Contender or Pretender". Which one do you think she is?
Sarah Palin, the telegenic Republican who exasperates and delights voters about equally, is dropping ever more hints of a presidential bid, including a visit Saturday to the key state of Iowa.

The official purpose of her trip to suburban Des Moines is to promote her new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.” But Democratic and Republican insiders will search for every possible hint of whether she will seek the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, has fed such speculation in recent days. She told ABC’s Barbara Walters she thinks she could beat Obama, adding, “I’m looking at the lay of the land now.”

In a separate interview, Obama told Walters, “I don’t think about Sarah Palin.” He added that Palin has “a strong base of support in the Republican Party, and I respect those skills.”

Palin will attend a second book-signing event next week in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential caucuses in 13 months.

Some political pros suspect it’s a tease, a way for Palin to keep drawing big crowds to her lucrative TV show and books while avoiding the nitty-gritty work of organizing a national campaign, wooing hard-to-impress caucus voters and raising millions of dollars.

Others warn against underestimating her ambition or her ability to snatch the GOP nomination from a dozen men who covet it.

“She may run away with it, and that’s something everybody has to be prepared for,” said Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucus. He is weighing another presidential run, and some feel he wants to set high expectations for a possible rival.

While Palin’s fans are loyal and legion, the prospect of her running for president alarms some Republicans. They think Palin is too polarizing and too inexperienced to defeat Obama, even if Republicans in general can maintain the momentum of their powerful performance in this month’s midterm elections.

Her foreign policy gaffe Wednesday kept the question alive. She declared on Glenn Beck’s syndicated radio show that the United States has to stand with “our North Korean allies” in connection with tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Her mistake was quickly corrected by her host. But it drew immediate fire from liberal bloggers who cited it as an example of her lack of foreign policy expertise. Newspapers in Asia and Europe echoed the criticism. The Times of India says Palin “did it again,” while London’s Daily Mail says she “may want to brush up on her geography.”

The conservative U.S. website The Weekly Standard came to Palin’s defense, pointing out that “she correctly identified North Korea as our enemy literally eight seconds before the mix-up.”

At home, polls show voters deeply divided over Palin. A recent AP-GfK poll found that 46 percent of Americans view her favorably while 49 percent hold an unfavorable view. The portion holding a “very unfavorable” view heavily outweighs those with a “very favorable” view.

In the poll, 79 percent of self-described Republicans said they like Palin. That suggests she might do well in GOP primaries, although she has some work to do in Iowa.

In exit polls of Iowa Republicans who voted this month, 21 percent said they’d like to see Huckabee win the 2012 caucus. Another 21 percent named Mitt Romney, and 18 percent picked Palin.

Palin has given mixed signals about her intentions. She recently granted interviews to ABC and The New York Times, even as she vowed not to speak again with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, whose 2008 interview left Palin seemingly unable or unwilling to name a newspaper or magazine she reads regularly.

Palin’s speeches and book-signing parties typically are carefully controlled affairs, with reporters kept at a distance. But if she is to compete in early voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, she will have to mingle with inquisitive voters in scores of living rooms and small gatherings, experienced strategists say.

“At some point in time, if she’s a serious candidate, she has to do what other candidates do, and that’s engage people one on one,” said veteran Iowa GOP activist Steve Scheffler. “You may be a rock star, but if you don’t have the mechanics, it’s difficult.”

Huckabee, an ordained minister who ran an intense grass-roots campaign in Iowa before falling to eventual GOP nominee John McCain, agreed.

“People in Iowa and New Hampshire are not star-struck because somebody is running for president,” he said. “They will ask the hard questions and they will put people through the wringer.”

It’s possible, however, that Palin’s high visibility — boosted by frequent appearances on Fox News and her new TV show on the TLC network, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” — will let her play by different rules. No other potential GOP candidate can touch off a media frenzy with a brief comment on Facebook or Twitter, as she can. Palin’s golden touch extended to her daughter Bristol, whom voters repeatedly brought back for more “Dancing with the Stars” despite her limited talent.

Before the TV hit’s final show, in which she finished third, Bristol Palin said winning the contest “would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me.”

Sarah Palin’s record certainly has its dents. Some Republicans partly blame her for painful Senate losses in Nevada and Delaware, where she endorsed tea party upstarts who won the GOP nomination but lost to vulnerable Democrats. Closer to home, she was embarrassed when her Alaska GOP rival, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, won re-election with a write-in campaign after a Palin-backed challenger had won the party nomination.

Many are still bewildered by Palin’s abrupt decision in July 2009 to step down as Alaska’s governor. If she didn’t want to finish one term as governor of a sparsely populated state, they ask, how badly can she want to be president, and how well could she serve?

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine recently told the Kennebec Journal: “I think she likes being a celebrity commentator for Fox, and a speaker, and being able to provide for her family. It’s a lot easier to charge people up than to actually govern.”

Former first lady Barbara Bush said Palin seems happy in Alaska and “I hope she’ll stay there.”

In Iowa, some doubt that Palin can skate by on her fame while Romney, Huckabee and others go door-to-door, day after day.

“Is she going to try to organize on star power, which is problematic?” asked Ed Failor Jr., head of Iowans for Tax Relief. “She really could be a very good candidate,” he said, “but there are a lot of decisions she needs to make about how to proceed with the caucus process.”

Palin keeps only a few advisers close to her, led by her husband, Todd. She told the New York Times Magazine that if she runs for president, “the organization would have to change.”

Bob Vander Plaats, who heads The Family Leader, an Iowa umbrella group of evangelical Christian organizations, said Palin appeals to many but must do some ground work.

“There’s a big difference between coming to Iowa and signing a book and coming to Iowa and saying you want to be commander in chief and leader of the free world,” he said. He said the last celebrity candidate in Iowa was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who fizzled badly.

“It didn’t play well when he came with his rope lines and his motorcades,” Vander Plaats said. “People wanted to sit at the kitchen table with him.”

Terry Holt, a Washington-based Republican campaign strategist, said Palin “is a force to be reckoned with.” She’s doing some things that a candidate needs to do, he said, and “all the things that kingmakers need to do.”

Following a midterm election in which voters embraced non-mainstream Republicans in many states, Holt said, “it would be a mistake to sell her short.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Job for Newton Mayor, Culver Job with Vilsack Not Likely

Job Front: Newton Mayor Chaz Allen is no longer among the unemployed, or at least among the underemployed. Allen got laid off from his job with Windstream after it bought out Iowa Telecom. So his $4,000 a year job as mayor was his only paycheck. Now, Allen has landed a job back in the banking industry. Here's the release:

Newton, IA, (November 22, 2010) – Jim Lowrance, Group President of Great Western Bank, Iowa, announced today that Charles “Chaz” Allen will join the bank’s management team, leading the Newton, Iowa location. Allen’s appointment to the bank position is effective November 30, 2010.
Allen comes to Great Western Bank with a broad background in business management over a 23 year period. His career includes experience in the fields of auditing, finance, revenue assurance and quality assurance. Allen’s career has encompassed such roles as Presale Project Manager, Contract Implementation Analyst, Revenue Assurance Manager, Billing Operations Manager and Government/Community Relations Manager. He was most recently employed with Iowa Telecom as Community Relations Manager. Allen is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University and has completed course work toward a Masters in Business Administration at St. Ambrose University. He also served as an adjunct professor of Business Law at Kirkwood Community College from 1997 to 2000.
Allen has been active in community volunteer service as a member of the Task Force for Infrastructure and Transportation, the Governor’s Rebuild Iowa Office, Leadership Newton 2002 Program and Newton’s Blue Ribbon Governance Task Force. He is currently in his fourth term Mayor for the City of Newton and has been actively involved in Newton’s nationally recognized job recruitment and creation efforts.
“The versatility and the business knowledge that Chaz possesses will be an immense asset for Great Western Bank,” Lowrance said in making the announcement. “Chaz has a proven track record of leadership in business and in the public sector. Great Western is pleased that he will be joining us and leading the Bank’s team in the Newton area.”
Iowa Governor Chet Culver could soon join the unemployed when his term expires in January after voters decided not to give him a second term. I talked with Culver today about his search. He said he hoped to have something in the coming weeks but wasn't in a rush. Meanwhile, former Governor-turned U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stopped by. I asked him about the chances of Culver going to Washington. It doesn't sound like there would be anything for him working for Vilsack. Here's the story we ran on tv.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homeless for a day

Life Experience: We put politics aside today (I wonder what would happen if politicians would do that every once in a while:). We shot a story as a homeless person asking for money. I'm always curious when I pass people holding those signs asking for money or food. What do you do when you pass them? Avert your eyes? Shake your head in sadness? Shake you head in disapproval of why they don't just get a job? Do you offer them money? Do you offer them food? Do you offer them a smile? I ditched the suit today and tried to look like someone you might expect who is asking you for money on the side of the road.
We stood outside for an hour at the Des Moines/West Des Moines city limits at 63rd Street and Grand. Our photographer Jeff Felton tried to hide himself and his camera behind whatever he could and shoot video of how people reacted to us. I wore a tiny camera on my shirt giving us a close-up view of our interaction with drivers. I was nervous when we started. I was nervous after we started. I didn't know if anyone would ever stop. It seemed to take forever but people did offer to help us out. We caught some people doing just about anything not to look at us. But we found others who seemed like they would do anything for complete strangers. Our story runs Wednesday night at 10 on the Channel 13 news. I hope you will watch and let me know what you think and whether it changes how you look at someone the next time you see him asking for your help.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gringrich, Huckabee

My Bad: It's been one of those weeks. So we have a LOT of catching up to do.

I'm not flying home to Illinois for Thanksgiving. Can I still get someone from the TSA to come manhandle me at my house or do you have to go to the airport for that?

Newt Gingrich sure sounds like he is running for president, doesn't he? He signed books in West Des Moines this week and said he and his wife would decide whether to run in February or March. It is nice to have a deadline, isn't it? Sure helps those of us trying to handicap the 2012 race. On Channel 13's Insiders, Polk County Democratic Chairman Tom Henderson doubted Gingrich will run. He thinks Gingrich is just trying to stay in the news, sell books, etc.

Mike Huckabee told me Sunday he doesn't have a timetable for making his decision. So, let the speculation continue. I asked since Sarah Palin said this past week that she could beat President Obama, does he think he could beat the Prez? Huck said since he thought he could beat him in 2008, he thinks he could beat him in 2012. Huck also said Palin's decision on whether to run will have no effect on his decision. Wouldn't they be fighting for some of the same social conservatives in Iowa in the caucus? That could be quite a battle in the Hawkeye State. (Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson offers her word-by-word account of Hucks' visit.)

Huck's news conference came before his speech with the FAMiLY LEADER organization at the kickoff event at First Federated Church in Des Moines. And, yes, the "i" is lower case, where the other letters are all in CAPS. Our reporter, Emily Carlson, who also covered the event, told me organizers said there is no "i" in team, so it is not supposed to be capitalized in the word, FAMiLY. There you have iT.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sarah Palin's Alaska

Sarah Palin's Alaska: Palin's new show on TLC made its debut Sunday night. Did you watch? I'm trying to figure out how to classify what the show was. There's no question following the Palin family's travels allows those of us in the "lower 48" to see the beauty of the state. And, of course, there were bears. We also get to see the former gov interact with her family. Perhaps, it's not quite a reality series (I can't imagine the Palins would want people to call it that). But it's pretty close to it from what I saw in the first episode. Maybe it's reality series/documentary...docureality? Docality? Realmentary? (That's the best I can do!)

Her comments in a USA Today story show she made close to a million bucks for the 8-part special. I wonder if I could get TLC to give me a mil to take everyone through my hometown in Belleville, Illinois. Probably not.

If you watched, what did you think of it? Does it make you want to vote for her for president? Did it have the opposite effect?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Palin Returns to Iowa

Palin Palooza: She's b-a-a-c-k. Sarah Palin has another book. She has another trip to Iowa. She is hitting Borders and Wal-Mart during her return trip to West Des Moines and Spirit Lake, respectively, according to the details from the Politico. This will be the second book tour stop in Iowa in less than a year. She came to Sioux City last December. Palin, who used to be the media (I guess she is now, too, since she works for Fox News), refused to talk to the media during her previous stop. She also didn't set aside time with reporters when she headlined the Republican Party of Iowa's Ronald Reagan Dinner in September. So...will she talk this time, so Iowans can hear how she answers the issues before them? Or will she just come to town, sell some books, sign some autographs, let the media talk about whether she will run for president and then leave town again?

Shane Vander Hart has more of the particulars on his Caffeinated Thoughts blog. According to the posting, Palin will only sign her book and no one can bring in recording devices.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Graphic Labels on Cigarette Packaging

(Photo courtesy: Associated Press)

Warning Watch: Cigarettes can be bad for you. I can't imagine there is anyone in our country who doesn't know that. But, yet, people still smoke. My dad is one of them. He smokes a lot. Wish he didn't. Politicians have raised taxes. They have said it's for people's health, not the millions in revenue the tax increases bring. Iowa's Governor Chet Culver successfully pushed for a $1 per pack tax increase (by the way, did you notice during the campaign how he kept saying he didn't raise taxes? Does a cigarette tax not count as a tax?) The smoking rate has dropped in half since the 1970s? But still about 1 in 5 American adults smokes. What will it take to get to that final "1"? Health advocates have hope in a new tactic: to scare you smokeless. The idea would be to put really graphic pictures to serve a final warning to you as you get ready to buy your next pack. The pictures are gross, without a doubt. But will they work? Do you think they will stop smokers? Or is this just a waste of time, money and effort?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Business for Newton

New for Newton: Newton is one of those towns for which you just seem to root. And that "60 Minutes" story from two weeks ago keeps bringing the town attention. Mayor Charles "Chaz" Allen told me he just got a $100 check from an elderly woman in New York. The woman, Mary, wrote that she had no connection to the town and doesn't have much money, but she wanted the mayor to use the money to help in some way. He is donating it to the St. Nick's Christmas Club for presents for kids. Of course, the present for the town would be jobs. Next Monday night, the city council will hear a plan from Walter G. Anderson, based in Minnesota, that is interested in expanding its operations to some of the unused space in Maytag's old plant 2 building. The company makes cereal boxes, among other folded cardboard products. The proposal would include 60 positions if the city and state agreed to a financial incentives packages for the company.

Allen said he has some job leads of his own. Allen used to work for Iowa Telecom, which Windstream later bought out. Allen was one of the nearly 150 people laid off after the acquisition. He said he is now looking at a couple of strong job possibilities but couldn't elaborate. He said he expects to know something "soon". But again, he couldn't elaborate on how soon is soon. He has also been working on what will be the third season of a racing reality series. It airs on Fox Sports Midwest. It's the Great American Stockcar Series, GASSTV.

Allen said Wednesday, a Russian television station based out of Washington, D.C., is coming to town to do a story. Newton's exposure is about to go global.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Judge Hanson Responds to Justice Retention Vote

Here Comes the Judge: I don't know that this qualifies as irony. But it is a bit weird. Iowans voted out the 3 supreme court justices who were up for retention this past Tuesday. They were all part of that unanimous, 7-member decision last year that allowed same-sex marriages. The votes were all relatively close for the three on election night, but not close enough for them as they will all be kicked off the bench by year's end. The court case actually began with a district court judge's ruling. That judge was Robert Hanson. His 63-page ruling back in 2007 first legalized same-sex marriages. The case then ended up before the supreme court. Here's the weird twist in this case...voters overwhelmingly retained Hanson on Tuesday. I talked with the judge about what he thought about everything that's happened. He told me this:

"I'm extremely grateful for the support from Polk County voters. Unfortunately, I'm also totally disheartened with what's happened to the three supreme court justices. It's a shocking, SHOCKING lack of appreciation of our judicial system."

Hayden's New Hat:
It's getting chilly out there in the mornings. So we had to get Hayden his first hat. Do you think he likes it?

Olbermann Suspended

Olbermann Off: Journalists are limited when it comes to politics. That's the price we pay for our profession. You won't see me taking part in a rally opposing abortion (or one supporting abortion rights). You won't see me voting in a primary (people can try to surmise to which political party you belong if you vote in a primary. Of course, just because you vote in a primary, doesn't mean you always vote for that party. But, that's neither here nor there). You also won't see me writing a check to my favorite politician. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann apparently got caught writing checks to some Democratic politicians. Now, he is off the air. Is that fair? Is Olbermann a journalist? Here's how Merriam-Webster defines journalism (journalist is described as a person who practices journalism, so we'll skip ahead here...)

jour·nal·ism noun \ˈjər-nə-ˌli-zəm\
Definition of JOURNALISM
1a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b : the public press c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
2a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

I'm looking at the last definition under 2a...the part about "writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation" .

Clearly, we can all agree Olbermann adds his own interpretation, opinion, etc., to his work. He is not a "reporter". So, since everyone knows his political bias, should he be exempted from NBC's policy regarding political contributions? It's not like Lester Holt just got nailed for doing it (which, of course, would be personally devastating with my whole professional man-crush on Lester and all...). What do you think? Should Olbermann get a pass on this? Should be stay suspended until he apologizes? Should he get canned?

Tie Problem: Is there a 12-step program for ties? I'm kidding, of course. And I'm not trying to make light of people with serious addictions. So, I say this all in fun. But, perhaps, I do have a problem with ties. I just cleaned out 10 from my closet. And it's tough to tell. Not sure what it is about ties. But I just can't get enough of them. I have probably gotten rid of 40 ties or so the past 3 or 4 years. I don't even want to admit how many I still have. Here are the discards. Anyone need a tie?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mauro Thanks Supporters

Thanks for the Memories: Defeated Democratic Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro left a Facebook message for supporters Friday afternoon. Mauro lost in one of the biggest upsets of the election to Republican Council Bluffs City Councilman Matt Schultz. In an interesting development, incoming Republican Governor Terry Branstad said he might want to find a position in state government for Mauro. Stay tuned on that. Robbers also ransacked Mauro's home this week. So it hasn't been the best of times for his family.

Here's Mauro's message on Facebook:
Thank you for all your support over the years. Representing Iowa as Secretary of State has been a great experience that I have enjoyed very much. I am lucky to have so many wonderful friends. I always see life as a journey that presents many difficulties and opportunities. I look forward to the opportunities that lay in front of me and I look forward to the future. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
Feeding Time: Here's a question for the parents out there. Our son, Hayden, is about 3 1/2 months old now. He seems to be a "grazer". He likes to eat a few ounces and then an hour or two later, do it again. I'm thinking it would be good to get him to eat more at once and then not feed him as often. What's your experience/advice on this?

Raise your hands, if you're sure! (If you are under 30, you may have to google that one:)

Hayden likes to sleep like this. I don't know how it can possibly be comfortable. But I guess you don't get stiff at that age...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mauro's Home Robbed, Palin Video

Mauro Robbed: Wow, you talk about kicking a man when he is down. Someone apparently broke into Iowa's outgoing Secretary of State Michael Mauro's house yesterday, stole things and ransacked the place. Stay classy, Des Moines.

Hello, 2012: Now that we have made it through the 2010 elections, Iowans can expect the tourism business to pick up. Mike Huckabee is scheduled to come back to the state next month to speak before The Iowa Family Policy Center Action's "Celebrate the Family" event. Huck is the only possible 2012'er scheduled to visit here, at least that I can remember. Stay tuned though:)

Speaking of 2012, Sarah Palin has a new video out that celebrates election night, particularly some of the candidates she endorsed. You won't find people like Christine O'Donnell, her losing senate candidate from Delaware, or Sharron Angle, her losing senate choice from Nevada. Will the video keep her on the prowl for 2012, or should I say "on the growl"?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election Night, the Next Night

What was that?: One night after election night, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what took place and what it means. Republicans had a good night, for the most part. But most people assumed that would happen, right? They didn't have a good night everywhere, though. They took the governor's mansion, made huge gains in the house, gained in the senate and held their U.S. Senate and 2 Congressional seats. But for all their talk at different times about taking the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Congressional seats, they failed at all 3. How did that happen when their party made landslide pickups in the U.S. House and Senate?

Here's what surprised me on election night...

I thought Governor Chet Culver would make a closer contest of it. Iowans hadn't voted out an incumbent governor since 1962. But Republican Terry Branstad beat Culver by double digits...10 points. It wasn't close at all.

What happened to all the Republican talk that Brenna Findley would knock off LONG-time Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller? Findley raised more than twice as much cash. And yet the race wasn't close (56-44%).

Republicans first seemed to be most excited about their chances of taking the 3rd District. That changed to the 1st. Then, no, it was the 2nd. In the end, they lost the 2nd by the biggest deficit of the 3 (Dem. Dave Loebsack won 51-46% in the 2nd. Leonard Boswell won 51-47% in the 3rd. Bruce Braley had the closest night of the bunch. He won 50-48% in the 1st).

Democrats had really talked up Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin after former Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan handpicked her to take on juggernaut U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. They said this was the year. Well, Conlin just barely avoided being doubled up by Grassley on election night (64-33%).

And there's always that talk about how Republican Steve King could never lose in the uber-Republican western/northwestern Iowa 5th District. But his margin of victory wasn't as much as Tom Latham's win in the 4th. Latham won 65.7%-31.94%. King won 65.79%-32.31%. King won big, just not as big as Latham.

And then there's Michael Mauro, the Democratic Secretary of State. Mauro was a favorite of many in the media for his willingness to answer tough questions, no matter what it meant for his party. I talked to people, Republicans and Democrats alike, who were stunned to learn Republican challenger, Matt Schultz, won. Schultz had drawn ridicule from some when he said he was making the race about jobs. That struck people as odd since the secretary of state oversees elections, not normally job creation. Schultz also admitted skipping a bunch of elections. Despite his critics, Schultz won. So he can make the office about whatever he wants now and since he is just 31, he will undoubtedly start appearing on lists of the young, up-and-comers for his party.

And what about the Iowa Statehouse? Republicans gained 16 seats as I write this, about 10-12 more than some predictions. And the Repubs have gained 6 seats so far in the senate. That's also 2-4 more than some expectations. Quite a shift at the statehouse overall. It will be a whole new dynamic. Crazy.

Finally, the Iowa Supreme Court Justices. Talk about a race the media were late covering. Iowans booted out 3 justices following the same-sex marriage ruling last year. Who saw this coming a few months back? Almost no one. It has never happened in Iowa before. My co-worker, Sonya Heitshusen, researched it today. She could find just one case anywhere in the country, ever, where more than one justice got kicked out in an election. That was in California in the 1980s. Quite a bit of history Iowa just made. Where will the fight go from here?

I've hit the wall as I write this, which is dangerous. So please forgive me for any spelling errors or rambling sentences. It's been a long night/short morning. But quite a lot of story lines for us to follow in the months ahead.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Night

Good evening from the Hy-Vee Convention Center in West Des Moines, the site of the Republican Party of Iowa's election night gathering. Terry Branstad, candidate for governor, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley are the headliners here tonight. Curiously, Brad Zaun, the candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, is holding his event tonight apart from the rest. His event will be in a Johnston hotel. And coincidentally, Jonathan Narcisse, the Independent candidate for governor, is holding his event at that same Johnston hotel. Should be quite a party.

Time for some party pics...

Partiers watching the returns on Fox.
Anyone need any reading material?

A dozen flavors of hot tea? I think my aunt drinks this stuff. Surely, they won't miss a few packets? Christmas is coming, Aunt Pris:)

Quite a colorful spread of food. And healthy, too. I want a brownie.

Monday, November 01, 2010

60 MInutes in Newton

60 Minutes--Maybe Newton can finally catch a break. Last night, CBS' "60 Minutes" did a nearly 20-minute story on the plight of the town. The tears flowed throughout the entire piece from people you wouldn't have expected...A Domino's Pizza owner who is working 85 hours a week because he can't afford to hire workers. I mean who would have thought things are so bad, people can't afford pizzas? Another couple can no longer pay for the daughter's college education. Some neighbors just appealed for help for their town. Mayor Chaz Allen also had to tell his story...watching his town suffer and then losing his job himself.

Here's the hope... Allen told me he has received "hundreds of emails and phone calls" at home and the mayor's office right after the story aired. Some offer personal help for him and his family. Others want to help people featured in the story. Still others have business possibilities. But here's the biggest name of the bunch: Donald Trump. Yes, the Donald. Allen told me he had a message from a man who said he worked for Trump. When Allen called him back, the man asked if he could hold on the phone for a bit so that Trump could get on the phone. Allen joked to me, "I don't have a job right now. I can hold all day if it will help!" Allen said they talked for 10 or 15 minutes.

Allen said, at least so far, there's nothing concrete to report on Trump's conversation. Perhaps, it could lead to an opportunity. Allen's hoping to figure out how to take advantage of all this attention for his town, which could really use something positive. Too many people are hurting there right now.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Iowa Poll

Mid-term Math: The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll shows Democratic Governor Chet Culver is down a dozen points to Republican challenger Terry Branstad with just two days until the election. Sunday, Culver, the former high school government teacher, laid out the math that he claims shows this race isn't what it may seem. Democrat Roxanne Conlin also had to give her best take on the numbers that show, according to the poll, she hasn't made up any ground against Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley since the last poll in September. And that means she still trails by 31 points.

Our NBC affiliate, KTIV in Sioux City, asked both "C's" about the numbers.

Judicial retention

Backing the Judges: I think it's safe to say the groups trying to make sure Iowa Supreme Court justices don't get swept out of office Tuesday read the Des Moines Register Sunday. The new Iowa Poll shows more Iowans likely to vote want to vote out the judges than want to keep them in....37% to 34%. Sure, it's close. But, let's be honest, the judicial retention idea is not exactly what typically brings in the crowds to the polls. And if you have more interest in the topic, you are probably a lot more likely to flip over the ballot and cast your vote.

Sunday, Fair Courts for Us held a 4pm telephone conference call featuring two former Iowa governors: Republican Bob Ray and Democrat Tom Vilsack. Vilsack wouldn't say he was worried the judges were going down. He did agree with Ray that he is concerned Iowans don't fully realize what their vote is about on Tuesday. The concern is that Iowans ticked off that same-sex marriage is now legal want to take down the judges to turn things back to the way they used to be when same-sex couples couldn't legal marry in Iowa. That won't happen, of course, with this retention vote. But the govs aren't so sure people realize that. This whole issue is fascinating to me. It's always the unexpected issues that intrigue me the most.

Here's what the govs had to say:

Iowa Congressional Races

Campaign 2010: It's been a bit of whiplash following the Iowa Congressional races. Even the most die-hard Democrat doesn't have a lot of hope of upsetting Republican Steve King in the 5th District or Tom Latham in the 4th District. But handicapping the other three races, all held by Democrats, is tougher to do. Over the summer, it seemed the "insiders" were saying the 3rd District looked most likely to flip (and some publications still call it a "toss up". Of course, I've lived in Iowa nearly 10 years now. And every election, Republicans say they are going to take this seat away from Des Moines Democrat Leonard Boswell. It never happens. This year was supposed to be different:

It's a Republican year.
Health care reform, cap and trade and the federal stimulus were less than popular with voters.
Boswell's Republican challenger, Brad Zaun, is a former mayor, hardware shop owner and current state senator, making him well-known in the metro.
But then, The Des Moines Register got a hold of a police report from a decade ago when Zaun's former girlfriend had called police to say he was harassing her and pounding on her house one night. Later Zaun flipped his position on ethanol subsidies. First, he was against them. Then, he seemed to support them. National Republicans held onto their money and put it other races. Boswell and national Democrats kept pounding away. I don't recall Boswell ever running this many negative ads before this race. Zaun has started airing a commercial the last few days with his wife. No question the Boswell ads/police report have hurt his standing with women. Will the new ad do any good or has the damage been done?

Fast forward a bit...and insiders were saying, no, it's the 1st District that could change hands. It wasn't that long ago that Democrat Bruce Braley seemed like he would have no real problems getting re-elected. Braley's mentioned on the shortest of short lists when people start to speculate about Democrats who could replace Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, if Harkin decides not to run again. But then...the American Future Fund dropped in a mess of money ($800,000 if my memory is accurate) going after Braley. All of a sudden, little-known Independence Republican attorney Ben Lange starting closing the gap and the national folks started paying a lot more attention to this race. Vice-President Joe Biden just flew into town to help Braley, probably not a destination figured would be on the travel itinerary a short time ago., the latest talk is that...wait a's the 2nd District that could actually have the best chance of changing colors. Former college professor Dave Loebsack may not have the easy road to victory fellow Democrats once thought. This is the district that kept Republican Congressman Jim Leach in office for 30 years. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who ran against him 2 years ago, is running again. She quit her job and loaned her campaign nearly half-a-million bucks (can I get some of that?). Now, Republicans have eyes on her chances there.

I'm getting dizzy.