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 Iowa...you 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 www.IowaVotes.gov and clicking on the link under “Election Results” or by clicking on the direct link: www.sos.state.ia.us/elections/results/index.html#9.

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 msnbc.com 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.