24-Hour Dorman has moved to a posh spot on The Gazette’s newly designed Web mothership.
Please, I beg you, update your bookmarks, links, blogroll, feeds etc.
UPDATE -- Here is the link to the new RSS feed:
24-Hour Dorman has moved to a posh spot on The Gazette’s newly designed Web mothership.
Please, I beg you, update your bookmarks, links, blogroll, feeds etc.
UPDATE -- Here is the link to the new RSS feed:
It was a very active week in the race to become your Iowa governor.
Party of Five – Five Republican gubernatorial candidates/near-hopefuls/explorers met in a forum sponsored by Iowa Politics.com. If you couldn’t be there, I was not, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson graciously posted the audio here.
There were gobs of agreement between Bob Vander Plaats, Chris Rants, Rod Roberts, Jerry Behn and Christian Fong. Another possible possibility, Paul McKinley, had a conflict and couldn’t make it.
They’re not crazy about the smoking ban, but nobody showed much interest in relighting that coffin nail.
Casinos? No more needed. State Budget? Chet messed it up big time. Medical marijuana? No thanks, although Sen. Behn, R-Boone, did wax nostalgically about the days of kinder, gentler pot. That’s just what he heard, anyway.
Speaking of nostalgia, the candidates were asked whether they’d welcome former Gov. Terry Branstad in the race. Polls show the old guy is still fly with folks who still use the term “fly.”
Here is the candidates’ composite answer, “I’d welcome such a fine statesman’s ideas. But, please, don’t dilly dally. Oh, and I’d just like to say future, future, future, future, future and, in conclusion, future.”
I wrote about the Branstad saga.
Kathie Obradovich did a better job here.
There were some disagreements at the forum. Rep. Roberts, R-Carroll, was the only one who doesn’t favor reinstating the death penalty. And although they all dislike gay marriage, only Vander Plaats thinks you can stop it with a magical/illegal executive order.
I guess Vander Plaats hasn’t explained to his rivals just how much fun impeachment would be.
So who won? You got me. Fong showed that he can hold his own and doesn’t need any training wheels. Rants had the best command of the issues. Vander Plaats didn’t stumble, but he also didn’t offer much evidence to prove why he’s the clear front-runner at this early date.
2. Roberts Fails to Tweet – What’s up with Rod Roberts, thinking he can get into the governor’s race with a thougthful speech to a room full of supporters that was all wordy with bio and viewpoints and stuff. Doesn’t he know he was supposed to send out a tweet?
Roberts does have a Web site, with a cool flag that waves. Neat!
3. That’s not My Name – Christopher Rants, who did tweet his announcement, is now Chris Rants, for the purposes of running for Iowa’s highest office. And he has a new Web site. It’s orange and blue, like the national champion Florida Gators. No waving flag, but there’s an odometer to show you how fast he’s wearing out his car.
He Chris, time for an oil change!
4. If I had $100,000 – I’d send out a press release, just like Christian Fong did earlier this week. His campaign reports raising that tidy sum in just its first three weeks of existence.
So who gave him the money? It’s a mystery that won’t be solved until disclosure supports are filed in January. Suspense is already building.
Perhaps the whiz kid will use some of that scratch to finish his Web site.
5. Chetanooga Choo Chooo – Gov. Chet Culver will be riding the rails Sunday to officially promote passenger rail service. Any resemblance to a campaign whistle stop tour is completely coincidental.
Culver also started handing out I-Jobs bonding dollars for road and bridge projects. But then some pesky economists interviewed by The Des Moines Register’s Jason Clayworth questioned whether the huge program would actually stimulate anything.
What? The governor couldn’t hear that over all the train noise. Sorry.
Retrolection 2009 – Democrat Harold Hughes and Republican Robert Ray were the big winners in last week’s retro gubernatorial primaries.
Hughes took 48 percent of the vote, holding off Tom Vilsack with 26 percent. Herschel Loveless and Ansel Briggs tied for third. Culver was 5th.
On the GOP side, Ray took 40 percent to Branstad’s 29. Samuel Kirkwood got 15 percent.
That sets up a dream Ray-Hughes match up.
Cedar Rapids Library boosters certainly make a strong case for a new central library.
But I wonder whether the $45 million project may catch a fatal case of uncertainty.
The library board of trustees wants to replace the flooded 85,000-squarefoot central library in the heart of downtown with a 105,000-squarefoot library on higher ground on the northeast edge of downtown. They want more space, more computers, a larger collection, more amenities and no threat of water.
They hope to use Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and private funding to cover the bill.
Of all the public facilities pipe dreams floating around, I find the library most compelling. It could benefit thousands of local residents, including folks who are hanging on in nearby flood-affected neighborhoods.
But library backers also say they need more operating bucks. So they want voters to approve raising the current 4-cent library property tax levy to a maximum of 27 cents for 10 years. They’re determined to put it on the ballot in November’s city election.
Essentially, the levy vote will be a referendum on plans for a new, larger library.
But what will voters know going into the booth?
Unfortunately, they may not know where, exactly, a new library would be located. It all depends on whether the library board and City Council, which has the final say, can figure it out soon.
They won’t see an architect’s plan for a new library. That comes later.
They may not know, for certain, how much FEMA will chip in. Some of the funding will still be more hope than promise.
That worries me. I’d like to see this project make it. This, potentially, could say something important about the future of Cedar Rapids.
But when ballot measures die, uncertainty is usually the cause of death. Where facts are fuzzy, more often than not, criticism, and sometimes misinformation, fills the gap. And the ill-tempered electorate heading to the polls this November will be in no mood to take “trust us” as an acceptable answer.
So why not hold off until all those questions are answered? State law requires that a library levy be voted on in a city general election, held every two years. After this year’s, the next is 2011.
But the Legislature could change that law, just as it gave us a break on the sales tax. That would pave the way for a special election next year. It’s no sure thing, but a November vote could be riskier.
Backers are certain they can’t wait. Uncertain voters, however, may insist.
State Rep. Christopher Rants stopped by my office Tuesday afternoon for a chat. I’ll be columnizing on our conversation over the weekend.
I’ve been writing about Rants for 12 years, since I was a cub Statehouse reporter for his hometown Sioux City Journal. And during all that time he’s been Christopher Rants.
House Majority Leader Christopher Rants, House Speaker Christopher Rants, House Minority Leader Christopher Rants etc.
Now that he’s exploring/running for governor, he’s going by Chris Rants.
I gave him some mild guff for making me change my ways. He explained.
“We walked around and…what do people assume my name is? They meet me for the first time?” Rants asked me.
“Chris,” I conceded.
“Exactly,” Rants said. ”I’ve got 2 million people I’m trying to meet. So you don’t start by telling them, `No, my name is something else.’
“It’s the name that my teachers in school called me. My Sunday school teacher called me Chris. My neighbors call me Chris. So it’s not like it’s a big deal.”
No, it’s not. And it could be worse. He could have shortened it to C-Ra or something like that. Chris also takes up less space than Christopher, which is a bonus for a columnist trying to squeeze his long-winded pontifications into a shrinking piece of newspaper real estate.
And lots of politicians make little changes when they think about climbing the political ladder. It’s not unusual.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, lost his mustache and updated his discount wardrobe a few years ago when he toyed with the idea of running for governor. Former Senate President Jeff Lamberti, R-Ankeny, also shaved his mustache before he ran for Congress in 2006.
Names sometimes get shorter. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Conn. insisted that Iowans just call him Joe when he ran for president in 2004. It made him so appealing here that he opted to skip the caucuses.
The pretentious-sounding Malcom Stevenson Forbes Jr. became just good old flat-taxing Steve Forbes when he tried, twice, to win the caucuses.
The emerging 2010 GOP gubernatorial field is full of short names – Bob (Vander Plaats), Rod (Roberts), Paul (McKinley), Jerry (Behn) and Chris (Rants). Vander Plaats has run for governor enough times to also earn the JFK-esque shorthand moniker “BVP”
Christian (Fong) is an exception, but his name has its obvious advantages.
And of course the winner will be up against Democratic Gov. Chet, not Chester, Culver.
Christian Fong’s campaign for governor sent out a news release today trumpeting that the Cedar Rapids Republican raked in $100,000 in campaign donations in the three weeks since he jumped into the race.
Swell. Then I sent a reply to Victory Enterprise’s Brian Dumas, who sent the release, asking if he has a list of donors and donations. He replied:
We do, but we will file when required by law and at that time you’ll be able to review the disclosure and see the numbers are accurate.
Unfortunately, the time required by law is Jan. 19, 2010. So trumpet in July, check back in January.
Of course, it goes without saying, that the real story is exactly who gave to Fong and how much they gave. And, obviously, 1,000 $100 donations would say one thing about Fong’s campaign and four $25,000 donors would tell an entirely different story.
Instead, we get a big number and some happy talk about how Fong’s campaign is off and running.
To be fair, Fong’s campaign is simply playing a time-honored game, by the rules as written. But I say it’s the rules need changing.
Every time I hear people talk about complex campaign finance reforms and tight limits and public financing, I roll my eyes. All I want is a system where candidates, especially statewide candidates, are required to report often. Once a month. Maybe once a week.
Why should a half-dozen-and-growing field of GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, and Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, be able to shake the money tree all through 2009 and not report a dime until 2010? They shouldn’t.
Paid for by Ranting Hacks for Openness.
Fong’s release is below:
Fong Raises $100,000 in three weeks.
For Immediate Release: July 21, 2009 Contact: Marlys Popma 515-238-6564
(Cedar Rapids, IA) The campaign of Cedar Rapids businessman Christian Fong (R) announced today it had crossed the $100,000 mark in financial contributions. Fong launched his campaign three weeks ago.
“Despite an economic recession and a multi-candidate field, Christian has surpassed his initial targets in regards to fundraising. The $100,000 number is not commitments or pledges, but checks that have been written. Christian’s vision of restoring the Iowa Dream is being well received and Republicans are responding,” said Marlys Popma, Fong campaign manager.
Popma continued, “Considering Christian entered this race with no donor base, crossing this early threshold is a clear indicator that the campaign is off and running. We know we have a long way to go to reach our internal primary fundraising goals, but our quick start is extremely encouraging.”
Christian Fong graduated from Underwood High School in Southwest Iowa at the age of 16 and then attended Creighton University, graduating at age 19. After college, he and his wife, Jenelle, located in Cedar Rapids and Christian started work at AEGON. Fong put his career on hold to attend Dartmouth, earning his MBA. He and his family returned to Cedar Rapids, where they reside today and attend River of Life Ministries church. When the floods of 2008 hit Cedar Rapids, Fong founded and still serves today as the CEO of Corridor Recovery, a non-profit flood relief organization that coordinated recovery efforts. The Fongs have three children.
1. Why do we keep misplacing top state government officials in this country? First, it was the governor of South Carolina. Now, we can’t account for Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus in the wee hours of July 12.
Was she home while a seven-pack of 19-year-olds drank beers and partied loudly on her property? Did she know her husband was outside getting busted for interfering with the busting of said beer party? Was she hiking the Appalachian Trail? She’s not saying.
So you can vote, go to war and enter into a legally binding contract, but you can’t down some brews around a bonfire at the chief justice’s house? What kind of country is this?
2. Why would anyone think that remodeling office space for county officials is a higher priority than creating a facility to house juvenile justice programs?
Linn County Supervisor Jim Houser thinks offices are a priority. Supervisor Brent Oelson says juvenile justice should rule. Both projects are seeking I-Jobs bonding bucks. This will be a good chance to see if I-Jobs is really interested in critical infrastructure projects or handing out pork to politicians.
3. Why did House Speaker Pat Murphy think it was a good idea to say he’s backing state Rep. Kerry Burt, who is now under state investigation, ”100 percent?”
Burt, a Waterloo Democrat, has been accused of providing an incorrect home address in a scheme to save about $37,000 in tuition for his kids at the Price Lab School at UNI. He’s also awaiting trial on a drunken driving charge. Innocent until proven guilty, of course. Still…
“I support Kerry Burt,” Murphy said. “He’s been a very good legislator in his first term of the Legislature. … I’m 100 percent with him.” Murphy told The Des Moines Register. Really? 100 percent? Wouldn’t 65 percent make more sense? How about 40? Just until this unpleasantness gets cleared up.
At least Gov. Culver had the sense to say he’s “very troubled.”
4. Why do Republicans think the smartest plays on health care reform are to accuse Democrats of moving too fast and call for delay?
The issue has been around for decades. It’s been studied and debated to death. The GOP did next to nothing during the 12 years it ran Congress, including 8 with W. in charge. And now it’s all moving too fast?
“All right guys, as long as Americans remain stupid and forgetful, our strategy can’t fail.” And as long as you have Michael Steele out delivering those talking points, it’ s a slam dunk.
5. Why is my 4-year-old ill-suited to be a spokesperson for Dubuque tourism? She can’t pronounce Dubuque. Instead, she says “The Puke.” She thinks it’s a lovely city, however.
Republicans trying to figure out how best to chase Chet from Terrace Hill are feeling nostalgic yearnings.
They’re thinking about going back to the ’90s, when one of their guys held the veto pen and the ribbon-cutting scissors and could call out the National Guard.
That guy was Terry Branstad. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to put that four-term band back together for a 2010 encore.
A poll commissioned by TheIowaRepublican.com showed Branstad clocking Democratic Gov. Chet Culver 53-37. Culver beats GOP hopefuls such as Bob Vander Plaats and Chris Rants. But a retro rival could take him down.
“I learned a long time ago that you never want to say never. But my focus is here at Des Moines University,” Branstad, DMU’s president, said Monday. “It’s flattering. But you know, a poll is a poll.”
There’s just enough wiggle room there to make this intriguing. But is this really the way Republicans want to go?
It’s always tempting for a party lost in the weeds to look backward to get its bearings. Democrats went through it earlier this decade. That sentimental journey led many to think a back-to-the-future presidential candidate such as Hillary Clinton would be just the ticket. Early polls confirmed their leanings. The Clinton brand was still unbeatable.
But elections are about what’s next, not about nostalgia. Clinton found that out. Branstad could get the same lesson.
He would be formidable and favored early, but it’s unlikely that the growing sea of GOP candidates would simply part to make way for a Branstad candidacy. The former governor would almost certainly find himself surrounded in a competitive primary and beset by fresher voices, hungry to be the future of the party.
Frankly, a noisy primary focused squarely on the future is what the Republican Party in Iowa needs. And when the dust settles, Republicans should present Iowans with a new release, not an ’80s classic.
I came of age during the Branstad years and covered the final two years of his tenure. He understood Iowa, had sound political instincts and is still widely admired.
But his 16 years were also marked by serious budget problems and ugly fights with lawmakers, even after the GOP took control of the Legislature in 1996. The Branstad years weren’t all sunshine and cupcakes, no matter how good they look in the rearview mirror.
And in 2010, Republicans will be better off keeping their eyes on the road ahead.
This just in for our governor, who will be riding thr rails once again to promote his re-election campaign passenger rail service:
GOVERNOR CULVER’S IOWA UNLIMITED ROLLS EAST THIS WEEKEND
Train to promote passenger rail service throughout Iowa
DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver’s Iowa Unlimited is on the move again, this time with stops in Eastern Iowa on Sunday, July 26. Designed to raise awareness of passenger rail, the train will make stops in Iowa City, West Liberty, Durant, and Walcott before crossing the Mississippi and holding an event in Moline at the future site of the Quad Cities’ passenger rail depot.
“Restoring passenger rail service is one of the Culver-Judge Administration’s top transportation priorities,” said Governor Culver. “Reconnecting some of our largest cities to Chicago will add to Iowa’s economic success, and as Governor I look forward to working with all Iowans to expand passenger rail throughout the state.”
Following the stops on Sunday, the Iowa Unlimited will continue to Chicago where Governor Culver will participate in the Midwest High Speed Rail Summit on Monday. The meeting is designed to further efforts to make Chicago a regional passenger rail hub, with lines radiating from the city to communities in other states. Participants will discuss with the Obama Administration ways to utilize Federal Recovery funds to expand passenger rail service throughout the Midwest.
As part of the sessions with other Governors, Governor Culver is also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on two proposed passenger rail lines – Chicago to Dubuque and Chicago to Iowa City. Current proposals call for the expansion of the Chicago-to-Iowa City route to Des Moines and points further west.
Traveling with the Governor on Sunday will be state transportation officials, advocates for passenger rail, and community leaders. Congressman David Loebsack will travel from Iowa City to Moline, and Amtrak Board of Directors Chairman Tom Carper will ride with the Governor to the Summit in Chicago from Moline.
Efforts have been taken in recent years to bring passenger rail service back to portions of the state, with current proposals to bring service to Dubuque, the Quad Cities and Iowa City and longer term plans to bring service to other communities such as Des Moines and Council Bluffs.
To help spur efforts, Governor Culver’s signature legislative accomplishment – the I-JOBS Initiative — includes $10 million for multi-modal transportation projects in Iowa, including $3 million for expanded passenger rail service in the state. In addition, the Iowa Department of Transportation will be competing for federal passenger rail funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. All of these steps position Iowa to work with Illinois and Amtrak to bring new passenger rail lines to the state that connect more Iowa communities with Chicago.
Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited is being provided thanks to the generous efforts of the Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd.
Below is the timetable for the Iowa Unlimited.
SUNDAY, JULY 26TH
12:00pm Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited Send Off Event
Old Rock Island Depot
119 Wright Street
Iowa City, IA
1:26pm Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited stops in West Liberty
405 North Elm Street
West Liberty, IA
2:26pm Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited Stops in Durant
Pythian Sisters Park
3:06pm Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited Stops in Walcott
On the tracks (near 103 S. Main)
4:21pm Governor Culver’s Iowa Unlimited stops in Moline
1200 River Drive
Back in the quaint old courting days of Iowa’s casino love affair, the state let you lose only so much. Loss limits were the law. But casinos lobbied to have those small-time limits removed. High stakes, baby, that’s the only way to compete.
Maybe lose your shirt.
Maybe win a bundle. No guts, no jackpot.
But what’s good for the gambler, apparently, isn’t good for the state’s 17 golden geese.
Those existing state-blessed casinos now want a loss limit for themselves, courtesy of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
The commission opened the gates Thursday for new casino license applications from five Iowa counties. But it’s no secret that existing casino interests are not putting out a welcome mat. Shiny new casinos might take some of their business.
Maybe, just maybe, they can live with sticking a new casino in the farthest reaches of Lyon County, to fleece some South Dakotans. But that’s it. Fort Dodge, Franklin County, Ottumwa and Tama? No dice.
Sure. the commission is promising a fair and open application process. But … “I believe that this commission is going to be very protective of the casinos that they have already opened,” said Commissioner Toni Urban of Des Moines.
For a mighty $1.4 billion industry, casinos sure need a lot of protecting.
They needed protection from TouchPlay lottery games muscling in on their turf. Cruising up and down the river was tiring and pricey, and the water was just too wet, so we let them build on nice dry land. Then they needed protection from a pesky smoking ban. Now they’re worried about competition.
I’ve seen the studies, and I don’t doubt that new casinos will bring on a dreaded epidemic of what the industry calls “cannibalization.” For example, a Fort Dodge casino would cannibalize revenue from the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg. Apparently there would be nothing left but a thorny stem.
It’s too bad we don’t have a Hardware Store Commission to save independent stores from big box domination. Where’s the Neighborhood Grocery Commission, to protect mom and pop from supermarkets? But, hey, if casinos take a hit, the state might lose precious revenue. I doubt it. People are going to gamble somewhere.
The state will get its cut.
No, the only losers will be the poor suckers who showed up to vote in those five counties. They thought with votes, investors and a plan, they’d get to compete for some of the dough other towns have been raking in for years.
Maybe they’ve still got a chance. Just like that coin flip. Heads, the casinos win, tails, casino seekers lose.
This week’s developments in Iowa’s race for governor.
1. Vander Poll– TheIowaRepublican.com continued releasing tasty tidbits from its 612-part poll, including numbers that showBob Vander Plaats leading the big ‘ol field of GOP hopefuls and potential hopefuls. Vander Plaats got support from 46 percent of Republicans polled, followed by Don’t Know at 27 percent and state Rep. Christopher Rants at 14 percent.
The TIR poll also showed Vander Plaats and Rants within striking distanceof Democratic Gov. Chet Culver in early head-to-head match ups. Culver led Vander Plaats 48-39 and beat Rants 46-36.
2. Parental Supervision– Republican candidate Christian Fong announced this week that Marlys Popma, a veteran Republican activist, will be guiding his upstart campaign.
The good news is that Popma lends some conservative heft to Fong’s fledgling effort. She’s got church cred with the religious right and could help Fong convince some skeptical conservatives that he’s the real deal, even though he contributed to a few Dems and says Republicans shouldn’t emphasize the whole gay marriage thing.
Popma also worked for Phil Gramm, Gary Bauer and John McCain, so she doesn’t always pick a winner.
3. Republican Roberts Reveals Readiness — State Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, has called a Statehouse press conference Tuesday, apparently to jump into the governor’s race. He’s an ordained minister who has served five terms in the House. And he promises to add a dose of much-needed alliteration to the campaign.
4. Fallon Out of Lug Love — Former state rep. and failed governor/congressional candidate Ed Fallon says Culver is in trouble unless he dances cheek-to-cheek with the Democratic Party’s liberal base. Some flowers might also be nice. Maybe a spa day.
Fallon contends Culver has sidestepped issues such as campaign finance reform that are important to liberals. Fallon also contends that although it’s nice to be important, it’s also important to make your former rivals feel important. He laid out his arguments in an an op-ed piece:
Few leading Iowa Democrats will admit it publicly, but Governor Culver is in deep trouble. If something doesn’t change, and soon, he could be the first incumbent Iowa Governor ousted from office since Norman Erbe lost to Harold Hughes in 1962.
Gov. Erbe could not be reached for comment.
5. Nostalgia Polling– TheIowaRepublican also jumped in the wayback machine, releasing polls on how a 2006 rematch between Culver and Republican Jim Nussle would look today. They also matched up Culver against former Gov. Terry Branstad. There’s been some buzz lately that Branstad might try for a comeback.
Culver edged Nussle, but a Branstad reunion tour pasted Culver 53-37.
That gave me the idea to do some legacy polling of my own. This week, you can vote in the Republican and Democratic nostalgia primaries. Next week, the general election.