Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Culver to Announce Re-election in May

Now that the Iowa legislature has finished its work for the session, much of our attention now looks ahead to the primary and general elections. Democratic Governor Chet Culver doesn't have to worry about a primary. His low poll numbers had brought speculation he may face a primary challenger. Former Des Moines school board member Jonathan Narcisse threatened a primary but backed out the week before the filing deadline. He said he will now run as an Independent. Culver's Campaign Manager Abby Curran said he will officially announce his re-election in May. She said the campaign is still working out details.

A few other random thoughts...How 'bout that legislature? Leaders said they would cut their scheduled session from 100 days to 80 days to save the state money (each day costs somewhere between $35,000 and $40,000). They not only finished in time. They finished early. It was only a day early. But, hey, it was still early. So much for all the hyperventilating from people over the weekend when they didn't finish.

What's with Mitt Romney's jeans? Critics ripped him for being too slick and stiff in the past. Monday, during his book-signing/speech at the Des Moines Central Library, he ditched the jacket and slacks in favor of a shirt and blue jeans. Don't know whether they were the "relaxed fit" jeans.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Hawkeye Coach

Maybe it's because I just spent four days in Florida to catch my Cardinals at spring training, but some sports headlines are grabbing my attention tonight.

How many people do you think are "googling" Fran McCaffery? He is the new head men's basketball coach at the University of Iowa. Good luck, Coach. It wasn't a pretty season in Iowa City.

As you may know, I'm a big fan of bowling. Yeah, that's right. And I'm not afraid to say it. A guy who went to my high school in Belleville, Illinois (yes, waaaay after I graduated from there) just did was should be nearly impossible. He rolled three perfect games in a row for a 900 series. Wow! I doubt many people can even do that on a Wii.

This one has nothing to do with sports, but it did catch my eye. The Ames Police Benevolent Association sent out a release that describes a possible misuse of funds. Apparently, no CIETC-type money scandal here. But it might be a couple hundred bucks or so, according to the release. The release said the group found out about the problem on February 1st. Today is March 28th. The release doesn't explain the delay.

Ames Police Benevolent Association
On Monday, February 1, 2010, the Ames Police Benevolent Association learned that a member may have misappropriated funds from the association. In order to avoid any conflict of interest, the Ames Police Department referred this allegation to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. At present, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is conducting an investigation into this situation. It is our understanding that the investigation has revealed the level of misappropriated funds is within the $200 range.
The APBA has addressed this issue within its membership and the member involved in the misappropriation is no longer a member of the association. Procedures for handling funds have been updated and changed to insure that this does not happen in the future.
The Ames Police Benevolent Association is an organization that is separate from the City of Ames Police Department. The Ames Police Benevolent Association maintains its own accounting and audit procedures; it is not funds derived from the Ames Police Department budget. The Ames Police Benevolent Association has been involved in assisting many charities throughout the community. The Ames Police Benevolent Association has organized the Shop with a Cop program since 1994, and because of the generosity of citizens and businesses we have helped many less fortunate families. We also assist with the City of Ames employees' Angel Tree program, since 1998. Our organization has also donated to numerous families and organizations within our community, both financially and through volunteer work. We hope that we can maintain the trust with the community and keep the faith bestowed on our organization by taking quick action in this matter and by correcting our past mistakes, so we can keep assisting those who need help in our community.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Iowa Association of School Boards

A friend called to say he was a bit concerned about the story we aired about day 3 of the government oversight hearings into the money scandal at the Iowa Association of School Boards. The central character in this scandal, Maxine Kilcrease, the now former executive director of the association, hasn't shown up to testify at the hearings. Friday, the board fired her from her position after allegations she fired workers, gave big raises to others and gave herself the biggest raise of all.

Since she didn't show up Monday, the IASB's former chief financial officer did. And Jonathan Muller had to take the brunt of lawmaker's frustration. The most vocal frustration came from Burlington Democratic Senator Tom Courtney. He bombarded Muller with a series of questions/remarks/comments. We aired the exchanges in our story. Despite the exchange, lawmakers didn't seem to blame Muller for the problems at the IASB. In fact, they thanked him repeatedly for coming in. Numerous times. The friend worries, if you saw the piece, you might think lawmakers are targeting Muller or blaming him for any wrongdoing. That's not the case, as far as I know. I hope this clears up any confusion the story may have given anyone. Here's the piece we aired last Monday.

Thanks, as always, for feedback. Good or bad, I really do want to hear it. Although, if you do want me to respond to your messages, leave the Biden bombs out (for the record, the friend, kept his comments clean, as per usual) But I get plenty of other messages that do go too far. In other words, don't do this:) (plug your ears, if you're sensitive to this kind of thing)

Back at Work

It's always a little weird coming back to work on a Saturday, since most people I know don't work on the weekends. At least the Iowa legislature is working. So much for the March 26th adjournment as lawmakers discussed. Don't they always work past the day they say they want to quit? But if my math is correct, the 80th day of the session wouldn't be until Wednesday. So, according to that deadline, they still have time.

I had counted on them working late when we booked our trip to the St. Louis Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Florida. That's why I missed the past four days. For what it's worth, it was a great trip. I have about a dozen autographs and a sunburned nose to prove it! Cardinal baseball over the standings bill? No offense, state housers, but I think I made the right choice:)

Since I'm anchoring tonight, I'm not reporting on the legislature at the statehouse today. So I feel like a fan just watching the game. And this fan is a bit confused by the play-by-play. Here's what I mean...

Cedar Rapids Democratic Rep. Tyler Olson posted this on Twitter:

Looking less and less likely the Iowa Legislature will adjourn sine die today.
(He also mentioned he is missing his son's birthday today because of the Saturday session).

Lee Enterprises' bureau chief Charlotte Eby posted this:

IA House Maj. Kevin McCarthy said it is likely Leg. will have to come back Monday to finish their work.
But then she later posted this, a little disagreement in optimism in the Democratic leadership?

IA House Speaker Pat Murphy optimistic they can finish tonight. It's anybody's guess at this point.
The Des Moines Register's Jason Clayworth is going with Monday:

Iowa legislature likely to return Monday
So it looks like Saturday. Or Monday. Or some day other than Saturday or Monday. Stay tuned, sports fans.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Iowa Politicians on Social Media About UNI Panthers' Upset

Democrat or Republican, it doesn't matter tonight. Both flavors of Iowa politicians are jumping to social media to get on the UNI Panthers' bandwagon. The Panthers pulled, perhaps, their biggest win ever with an upset victory, 69-67, over the country's top ranked team, Kansas (and, yes, my Missouri Tigers' biggest rival).

Here's what the politicians had to say on Twitter about the win in the order I found them tonight:

Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley had the first post I saw:
AMAZING! Congratulations to the UNI Panthers! Great day to be an Iowan!
Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn came next with this:
Mom is a #uni grad ... All the justification I need to jump on the Panther bandwagon! Wow!
3rd Congressional District Republican Brad Zaun:
Go UNI Panthers!! UNI 69 Kansas 67!!!
Governor Chet Culver had this:
Congrats to the UNI Panthers on one of greatest upsets of all time! You made Iowa proud and good luck in sweet 16!
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats followed with this:
Congratulations to the Panthers!
Senate Democratic Candidate Roxanne Conlin posted this:
Yay UNI! Way to go! Onto SWEET SIXTEEN!
1st District Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley tweeted this:
Do you believe in miracles? Great 81st birthday present for my mom, a huge Panther fan!
2nd District Congressional Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said:
Wow! UNI beats Kansas! So if Obama picked Kansas was defeated, will health care reform fail also?
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted:
I feel sorry for Sen Roberts and Browmback that my Panthers beat Jhawks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ford Retires

Representative Wayne Ford, the Democrat from Des Moines, wouldn't tell us last night whether he planned to retire. He said if he had news, there would be a press release. Well, there's a press release. House Democrats released it after Ford got a standing ovation from fellow Democrats in a caucus meeting this morning. Immediately, afterwards, Ford took part in the government oversight meeting for the hearings into money problems at the Iowa Association of School Boards. Ford ducked out for a bit. The secretary of state's office confirms he walked in with his party's hopeful successor, Ruth Ann Gaines, as she filed her petition to get on the ballot.

Ford's former fellow housemate, Ed Fallon, said yesterday Ford was waiting to announce his retirement until Democrats decided who the nominee would be. The Democratic Party denied there was any type of conspiracy going on, but wouldn't comment on Ford's plans.

Ford has now announced and there's already a Democrat to replace him.

Here's the release:

Representative Wayne Ford Announces Decision to Retire from Legislature

Des Moines, Iowa - Representative Wayne Ford announced today that he will not seek reelection to a eighth term in the Iowa House of Representatives. Ford, who is now serving his fourteenth year as a State Representative, is the longest serving African American in the history of the Iowa General Assembly.

"It has been my great pleasure to serve the people of Des Moines for this long and to be a voice for minorities, the disenfranchised, and the underserved throughout Iowa. We have now gone from one African American in the House when I was first elected to six this year, more than many states in the Midwest. I can leave knowing that they will continue the work that I and the other nine black legislators who served before I started,"

"I am proud of all that I have accomplished during my time in the Iowa House. My goal when I first ran was to improve the lives of average Iowans, including minorities, and I believe that we have made some progress," Ford noted. "I have been called the father of the lead paint prevention movement and I know that screenings are improving the lives of young children throughout Iowa. Improvements to our Targeted Small Business programs have helped minorities, women, and the disabled in starting their own businesses."

"This session, I am really excited about two pieces of legislation that I am working on. HF 2432, a bill that will help recruit ethnic and minority teachers to teach here in Iowa. As well as HF 2509, a bill that would increase minority and female firms' participation in securing bonding and pension contracts with the state of Iowa. This legislation could be the first in the nation, and will support Governor Chet Culver's state motto, "One Iowa".

The list of issues that Ford has successfully worked on is long and includes the following:

* Making the penalty for crack cocaine and powder cocaine more
* Co-Chaired the Commission on the Disproportionate
Incarceration of Blacks in Prison under Governor Vilsack resulting in legislation sponsored to ascertain the impact on minorities whenever new criminal penalties are considered. Iowa was the first state in the country to do this.
* Required training for nightclub bouncers in Polk County, Iowa
bars following the death of Charles Lovelady in, the only such law in the country.
* Decreasing classroom sizes in Iowa schools. Increasing the
minimum wage.
* Co-Chaired the Job Training Needs Interim Committee, with the
goal of looking at various programs to get job training to Iowans who earn $20,000 per year or less.
* Serving on the Housing and Employment Reentry committees -
programs for individuals coming out of prison so they can better integrate into society and avoid re-incarceration.
* Sponsored the Child Abuse Prevention Checkoff on Iowa Income
Tax forms - funds go to much needed services to protect children

Ford has served on almost every committee in the Iowa House and has chaired subcommittees on standing committees such as; Drop Out Prevention, Community Outreach, and Job Training. He is a member of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and is vice-chair of the committee on Business, Finance and Insurance and also serves on the NBCSL Broadband and Sports & Entertainment Committee.

"I will miss serving in the Iowa House, It is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. Now I want to devote more time to expand statewide, nationally, and internationally the non-profit, Urban Dreams that I founded and have served as its executive director since 1985,"
Ford said, "Also, in regard to Urban Dreams, some communities in the state of Iowa are going through a rural to urban transition. That is presenting new and unique challenges. Urban Dreams has received inquiries from some of the biggest communities in this state and other communities through out the Midwest to assist these municipalities in making the transition easier for people who are moving from large urban communities. I will always continue to fight for the people of Iowa especially those who need my voice to make their concerns heard. I love Iowa, and I thank God for the opportunity to serve the people of this great state."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rep. Wayne Ford Retirement

Des Moines Representative Wayne Ford has served in the Iowa House of Representatives for seven terms. It sounds more and more like there will not be an eighth. Ford's former house member, Ed Fallon, started the talk saying on a radio show that Ford wouldn't run and was working with the Iowa Democratic Party to pick a successor (here's the story reported by the Iowa Independent) Fallon criticized the party for it.

Here's what the party's spokesperson, Ali Glisson, sent to me in response:

“Whatever a member of the legislature decides to do, it is a personal decision that I will not comment on. No ‘clandestine effort’ is going on, as some have speculated. We remain confident that the Iowa House will remain under Democratic control.”

She declined to say whether Ford would run again. I talked to Rep. Ford tonight. He said he is still at the statehouse, so he isn't retired. I told him I was talking about next session. He said if he had news, he would issue a press release. I tried several times to get him to say whether he would retire or run again. He said several times he issues a press release when he has news.

The deadline for a candidate to file for the primary with the secretary of state's office is this Friday at 5pm.

Culver on Budget, IJAG check

Governor Chet Culver held a news conference in the Iowa Statehouse rotunda Monday morning, just down the hall from the heavenly scent of Hickory Park barbecue filling the dome. Culver laid down the tough talk for lawmakers when he said, "I want to make this clear...I will not sign a budget that doesn’t include the funding Iowa’s schools deserve.”

Culver added that, "As a former teacher, as a former coach in the Des Moines public schools, and now as a proud parent of two young children, you're not going to find a governor in America that is more committed to helping our kids and to helping our teachers across this state and administrators."

The governor's threat comes days after a key lawmaker already said the funding would happen and then some. As Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson pointed out, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal already said over the weekend, lawmakers planned on spending more than the governor asked. The Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich took Culver to task for the point of his comments.

The focus of the governor's press conference was a donation to better education. The governor accepted a check from Cargill for $50,000 to go to the iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates). It's a program that helps at-risk students get an education and go on to college or a job. It was one of those large ceremonial checks. It also included a date on it: January 27, 2010.

Culver No Faith in IA Association of School Boards

This afternoon, the government oversight committee looks into Iowa's latest financial scandal. No offense to my home state of Illinois, but, seriously, is this Chicago? This latest scandal involves accusations of nepotism, fraud and over payments to an executive. Remind anyone of CIETC? Clark Kauffman, the investigative ace at the Des Moines Register, has blown this story wide open over the past week or so. It goes without saying his reporting has prompted the legislative investigation into the money management of the organization, which is funded primarily by tax dollars.

Monday morning, Governor Chet Culver held a news conference. He said, "we are very concerned about the situation" and he said he is relying on the attorney general for information. I asked him if he still has faith in the IASB. His response: "No. (long pause) And I doubt Iowans do given the seriousness of the allegations."

We are headed to the government oversight meeting at 4pm. More on this latest scandal tonight on the news at 6.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Illegal Immigrants to Pay Own Way Home; Howard for Pujols

The Associated Press reports 37 illegal immigrants busted in the raid at the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa, will have to pay their own way back to their home countries. Here's the story.

What do you think of this? Since they came to this country illegally, should they then be responsible for paying their way to deportation? Or do you think since they may not be working (and would have no income), should U.S. taxpayers or charities help pay their way? Do you have some other choice?


ESPN reports the Philadelphia Phillies may offer 1st baseman Ryan Howard in exchange for the St. Louis Cardinals' 1st baseman, Albert Pujols. Are you serious? Howard is a native St. Louisan and he would likely require less money than Pujols, who is the best player in the game and becoming one of the greatest of all-time. But, seriously? A 1 for 1 swap? No freaking way!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Which is Worse: Smoking or Being Gay?

Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley argues being gay is worse for Iowa than smoking. Here's part of a statement he sent out:

"The Iowa Legislature outlawed smoking in an effort to improve health and reduce the medical costs that are often passed on to the state,” said Chuck Hurley, president of the group. “The secondhand impacts of certain homosexual acts are arguably more destructive, and potentially more costly to society than smoking.”
Hurley's anti-gay stance has apparently inspired/provoked someone to start a website against him. It's up today at There's also an anti-Hurley Facebook page now called "Chuck Hurley Makes Me Hurl".

What do you think? Who causes more problems for Iowa: gays or smokers? What about gay smokers?

Governor Chet Culver is playing no favorites on Twitter today during this election season. Here's what is posted on his account:

Going to the 3A and 4A boys basketball finals with my kids, John and Clare. Good luck to Pella, SC Heelan, Ames and SE Polk! - Chet
Pella and Heelan go at it in the 3A finals Saturday night. Ames and SE Polk title up in 4A.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Culver Signs Reorganization Bill

Here are a few quick observations from the bill-signing ceremony where Governor Chet Culver signed the reorganization bill into law.

Culver praised the bipartisan nature of the bill. Several dozen Democrats stood behind him while he spoke. No Republicans did. When asked about that, Culver said, "(West Des Moines Republican Representative) Peter Cownie was here. They (Republicans) were all over. There were a number of legislators who were sitting in the crowd and standing up. We had a pretty packed rotunda. And it was good to see my good friend, Peter Cownie, down here."

Cownie was the only Republican I saw near the signing. I did see a few others on the floor, but they were headed to the free Chinese lunch provided by Hy-Vee in honor of Multiple Sclerosis awareness. Democrats went there, too. That was the most obvious bipartisan event I saw during the day.

When asked about the fate of the governor's original plan to take $50 million from the Road Use Fund to pay for ongoing expenses for state troopers, the governor said, "Not going to happen."

When asked about how this $270 million in possible savings falls short of what his budget calls for, Culver said, "I felt really good about all of it." His budget calls for $341 in general fund savings, although Republicans contend only half of the reorganization bill savings actually will go toward the general fund. If my math is accurate, (and that's always doubtful) that could leave the governor's budget nearly $200 million short of what he would need.

Finally, as the governor was walking away from reporters following his remarks, he ran into Brigadier General Timothy Orr, the head of the Iowa National Guard. Culver asked whether the general would want to come back to his office to take a look at pictures from his recent trip to Iraq. Orr then followed him in.

We then went to lunch. Chinese sounded good.

Thanks for reading.

Ed O'Neill for senate

I knew this year would be an interesting year in politics. This just in...Al Bundy is running for the Iowa senate. Hit it, Ol' blue eyes...

Oh, actually it's not THAT Ed O'Neill. It's THIS Ed O'Neill (he's the one of the left).

Ed O’Neill of Clinton, an economic development leader and community volunteer, filed his nominating petitions this week with the Iowa Secretary of State, making his run at the Iowa Senate from District 13 official. Senate District 13 covers all of Jackson County, the northern half of Clinton County, including the city of Clinton; and part of southern Dubuque County. O’Neill is running to succeed State Senator Roger Stewart, who is not seeking re-election in 2010.

“I’m running for the Iowa Senate because middle class families and small business owners in Senate District 13 need a strong voice in the Iowa Senate,” O’Neill said. “For too long, big corporations and the special interests have been getting too much attention from our leaders and I’m going to stand up and fight to ensure that working Iowans have access to better jobs, better schools, better health care and better opportunities.”

O’Neill, a Democrat, worked in eastern Iowa and western Illinois for many years, including working for the Clinton Regional Development Corporation, where he focused his energy on the creation and retention of high-wage jobs. He also was previously a small business owner, police officer and prison guard, and a finance and lease manager.

“We’ve got many challenges facing us today,” O’Neill said. “We’re just starting to rebound from the national economic recession and many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Solving these economic challenges will require listening and reaching out to anyone with an idea about how to move Iowa’s economy forward. That’s what I did with Clinton Regional Development; it’s what I’ve done as a small business owner and as an active member of my community, and that’s the positive approach I will take to the Iowa Senate.”

O’Neill has also served as a member of the Clinton City Council and Hancock County (Illinois) Board of Supervisors. He has been active in various community activities, including serving as a board member of the Prince of Peace Academy School Board and attending Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

He has been married to Diane O’Neill for 40 years. They have lived for 20 years in the same house in Clinton, where they raised their son Shawn and Daughter Michele. They also have two grandchildren, Josie and Ian.

O’Neill said he looks forward to talking personally with as many voters as possible.
“I’m going to knock as many doors in Senate District 13 as I can,” said O’Neill. “And I hope to speak with as many people as possible. But anyone with an idea or a concern for District 13 is welcome to call me at (563) 212-3905. You can also email me at”

Gubernatorial debates, Schickel for Roberts

I'm catching up on email as I wait to head over to Governor Culver's bill signing for the "reorg bill". Everyone at the statehouse seems to shorten reorganization to reorg. It saves a lot of time apparently. I'm curious what the governor will have to say about the savings. The bill doesn't seem to save enough money as he needs to make his budget numbers work.

Here are a few items from my inbox this morning...

Bill Schickel, the former state rep from Mason City and currently the main main at ,(Publisher Tim Albrecht took a leave of absence to serve as communications director for Terry Branstad's campaign for governor) is leaving his party position to help out with Rod Roberts' campaign for governor.

Here's the release:

Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee member Bill Schickel has resigned as Secretary of the Party in order to support the gubernatorial campaign of State Representative Rod Roberts. Schickel said he resigned because officers have agreed to remain neutral in the primary. He will, however, complete his term as a member of the State Central Committee representing the 4th District.

“I can no longer remain neutral,” said Schickel, a former state representative and Mason City mayor. “Our party is currently divided. Neither of the frontrunners has shown that they can bring the two sides together. If the current division continues we will certainly lose in November. Rod Roberts has the best chance of beating Chet Culver.”

“He is the only candidate who has demonstrated he can bring together the fiscal and social conservative wings of our party. He has also proven that he can attract the Independents and Democrats that are critical to victory,” Schickel said. “He has done it during the campaign. He did it as a state representative. And he did it in five previous elections.”

“Rod is an underdog right now, but he is also the candidate with momentum,” Schickel said. “While the numbers for the frontrunners have remained essentially flat, Rod in the past three months has gone from almost no voter recognition to capturing 19 percent of the Republican vote in the Dallas County straw poll and winning the Guthrie County straw poll this past weekend.”
“Whenever Republicans meet him, they are won over,” Schickel said. “He is a solid fiscal and social conservative who is also a fresh face. That is exactly what our party needs, and more importantly, what Iowa needs.”

As of today, it appears the 3 Republican candidates for governor will have 3 debates before the primary. And it appears former Terry Branstad's camp is setting the terms of this. Challengers, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts, want more debates. But here's part of the release from Branstad:

The Governor Branstad 2010 campaign has accepted an invitation to an April 7 debate to be held at KTIV studios in Sioux City. KTIV is partnering with sister stations, KWWL in Waterloo, and KTTC in Rochester, MN.

The second debate will be held in Cedar Rapids on May 1, and is sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association.

The Governor Branstad 2010 campaign will also accept an invitation to participate in the traditional Des Moines Register debate in Des Moines, which is held each primary campaign.

“This will give Iowans all over the state a chance to view the Republican gubernatorial candidates, and where each stands on the issues,” said Boeyink. “We are excited to participate in these debates.”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Culver Defends Cuts: Vander Plaats Predicted Them

My day featured one former Iowa high school teacher versus another former Iowa high school teacher. Oh, and one happens to be the governor. The other wants to be governor. It is Governor Chet Culver versus Republican Bob Vander Plaats when it comes to funding education.
Culver defended his decision to order 10% cuts for state departments, including education. Vander Plaats contends that was the lazy way out. He thinks Culver should have cut elsewhere and protected education. Culver told me this, "We stood up and made the tough decisions and that was what was required. We've dealt with it. It's behind us. We're now on a pathway to grow on economy."

Culver added he expects lawmakers to find more money for education before they adjourn this session.

Vander Plants countered by saying he predicted districts would have to lay off teachers and raise property taxes because of Culver's decision last year. He said, "This isn't me talking now in March as these cuts are taking place. We warned him back in June. You have a problem. And you need to call a special session. And you need to be a leader here today and start determining priorities."

A history lesson here...Culver used to teach at Hoover High School in Des Moines. Vander Plaats taught at Boone High School. Vander Plaats mentioned he got pink-slipped after his first year of teaching because of budget cuts. But the district ended up finding the money for him for his second year.


All of this dreary weather the past few days( and worries of major flooding after our horrendous winter) has us all thinking of brighter days ahead. Here's something that helps, at least for me:)

This is courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covering the Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.

Monday, March 08, 2010

House Passes Cell Phone Ban for Teens

The Iowa house just passed a texting ban that now includes a lot more than just a texting ban. But it's not longer for adults. It's only for teens. The house had originally passed a bill that banned adults from texting and driving. Then, the senate passed a bill that banned adults from texting and reading texts and driving.

Grab your scorecard, sports fans. Here's what the latest version does...

Teens on a restricted driving license (typically teens 14-17) can't use cell phones when they drive.
18 and 19-year-olds can still text their thumbs blue when they are behind the wheel.
Younger teens can't use IPODs, global positioning systems or electronic games when they drive.
Well, they can't unless they route it through the console on their vehicle's entertainment system.
They can still use a c.d. changer.
They can't use a hands-free device to get around the ban.
Well, they can if they route it through the console.
Younger teen drivers can't text while sitting at a red light.
Younger teen drivers can't text while sitting at a stop sign.
They can text if they pull off the road.
Adults can do whatever they had been doing.
Just don't drink and drive.
They still can't do that.

The bill now goes back to the senate.

Here's the latest version of the house bill, if you want to read it.

Culver Criticizes Branstad

Iowa's race for governor is getting some national attention. It might not be the national attention Governor Chet Culver wants as an incumbent. But he comes after one of his rivals, Republican former Governor Terry Branstad, in this article in the Washington Post. Culver said Branstad "is not up for the job".

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Homeland Security Site Attacked, Culver Casinos, Gingrich Iowa,

The state agency charged with helping to keep Iowa safe has had its website "compromised", according to the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Department of Homeland Security reported the incident in an email this morning. How does that make you feel?

During the 2006 campaign, Chet Culver said he favored more casinos for Iowa. Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson reports that now during this 2010 campaign, Governor Culver is again pushing for more casinos. Although, according to the story, Culver has now doubled the number of new casinos he wants from 2 to 4. Are you ready for more casinos? Or does Iowa already have enough? Too many?

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is headed back to Iowa on May 26th to headline the Polk County Republicans Spring dinner. The county GOP hasn't released the dinner location yet but said it will be in the Des Moines metro. Palin, Huckabee, Romney, Pataki, Pawlenty and now Gingrich? Is that 2012 I smell around the corner?!


The Des Moines Social Club turns 1 this weekend and hosts a birthday celebration.

My wife has her birthday Friday. We'll host her birthday celebration at one of her favorite West Des Moines restaurants. She I supposed to say how old she is?:)

I have to try to put together our new crib this weekend. It's one of those combinations that eventually pulls into a toddler bed. I have no handyman skills. This could get interesting.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Culver in Iraq, Becker Murder Trial

I'm getting ready to head over to Governor Chet Culver's noon-time news conference at the Iowa statehouse on his trip to Iraq. Critics, including his new Democratic party challenger, Jonathan Narcisse, question why Culver went when he did...i.e., during the session, when so few Iowans are actually over in Iraq, why not later when 3,500 Iowa troops get deployed? We'll hear how the Gov defends his move.

A few other random questions...

What did you think of the Mark Becker verdict? This morning a Butler County jury found Becker, the former Aplington-Parkersburg football player, guilty of first-degree murder death of his legendary coach, Ed Thomas. Becker's defense argued for not guilty by reason of insanity. Jurors seemed to have a tough time coming to a unanimous decision. They started Wednesday. Is this a fair verdict? Do you think Becker is a killer? Insane? Both?

Did anybody you know get one of those Cash for Applicances coupons? I know of two friends who did. Although, I heard many others who failed to avoid the constant busy signals or server problems.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Rough Start for Iowa Appliance Rebate

It's either been a really rough start or a really big success for the Cash for Appliance program. It replaced the Cash for Clunkers program. Iowa gets 9,000 rebates you can put towards new, more efficient appliances. The Iowa Office of Energy Independence told people to start calling at 8am or get on the website, www. The office said its system could handle 800 calls per hour and 11,000 hits on its website. Well, people started calling and logging on and found busy signals and overloaded servers.

Here's the message on the office's website today:

Due to Iowans overwhelming and proactive response to the Iowa Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate program web site and toll free number, the system is temporarily down. We are working with our professional contractor to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. We are sorry consumers are experiencing problems and we apologize for this extreme inconvenience. Our contractor works with several states and Fortune 500 companies and will restore services as soon as humanly possible. We are advising all Iowa homeowners to keep trying the web site and toll phone number later today.
Thank you for your patience with this matter.
People aren't happy with how the program has worked (or not worked, depending on your view). Here are just some of the emails I had waiting for me this morning.

From E.J.:
The Iowa Rebate Program is off to a whimper. The website never made it online ( and the phone lines are not working.

From Lanette:
I spent from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 in two different phone as well as the internet site to apply for the applicance rebate program. The phone message said all circuits are busy, a busy signal, or due to high call volume please try again later. The website just said "service not available". What a JOKE. They advertise for consumers to take advantage and it's just like Iowa government to not be prepared for the response. Way to go again Governor Culver!

From Tom:
Will you please report on how good the appliance rebate system is "working." OR NOT. The website crashed and the phone has no answer..........Also please report that this has been run by an OUT OF STATE FIRM!

From Scott:
The Iowa Energy Rebate site has been down for over an hour. State not prepared for requests.

From Bill:
on Ia appliance rebate. at 800am today Monday 3/1/09--the link is not available and the phone# is 100% busy. i checked with 6 other people and they are saying same thing too. Shouldn't the State of Iowa known about this issue and people were going to be on it right away. This to me seems like another Culver screwup

From Joyce:
Please find out why the Iowa Appliance Rebate website did not update their website so consumers could complete an application as promised.
The toll-free number was constantly busy or occasionally a caller would receive a pre-recorded message that they were experiencing a high volume of calls and requested callers to call back later.
Very frustrating to say the least from a consumer's point of view. This makes me even more leary of having the state or the federal government attempt to run anything else.

From Pam:
Just thought I'd let you know I have been trying to apply for a furnace rebate through the Iowa Office of Energy Independence for 1 1/2 hours this morning and have been unable to get through on both the phone number and the web site. They were supposed to be live this morning. I knew about this prior to the story you did on the news last night. I have tried other office phone numbers, and they are not answering any of those phones. My furnace quit working 1 1/2 weeks ago, so I have been using only space heaters to heat my house. Looks like I won't be getting a rebate though since I can't get through.

From Joe:
The Appliance Rebate Program has been a pain. I have burned up 3 batteries in cordless phones call since 8 AM. The website has not been available since before 8. Geeze! Was this thought out?

From Cody:
It appears the Iowa Appliance Rebate website is down and the phone number is impossible to get through on. Have you heard of an alternative way to get the rebates? Any help would be apprecieated. Thanks !!

From Tammy:
The rebate program was not very well prepared to handle the call volume or website access demand. I have been trying non-stop since 7:55 and the site has crashed and the calls don't even get through, circuit busy message. I would not encourage anymore of your listeners to apply to this program. WAY to mess up a good thing IOWA!!

From Steve:
The Iowa Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program application process has got to be a joke. The website which was supposed to be available at 8:00am NEVER came up correctly at all. The only thing I've received since 8:00am is "The service is unavailable." As for the telephone number, I've tried dialing and redialing for the last 45 minutes and the only thing I get is a busy signal or an "all circuits are busy" message. There must have been a better way to implement this!!!