Friday Reads — I Triple Dog Dare You

-27.8 at the Dorman Compound. No school, again.

Newsrooms across America are scrambling to find new/interesting ways to cover the record-breaking cold that’s encasing much of the Midwest/Northeast etc. How, oh how, can they show shivering readers the impact of this plunge into the deep freeze?

So imagine being at the Omaha World-Herald when word came that a local kid actually got his tongue stuck to a poll pole  (Politics has rotted my brain, folks) Jackpot.

Little Mason Mulick couldn’t resist. Then he got stuck, at 164th and Pacific Streets. Onlookers gathered. A few moments of parental panic and a few glasses of water later, he was free.

I love happy endings.

But will Gov. Chet Culver resist the temptation of cold cash? The Des Moines Register reports that leasing the lottery to a group of casino investors would get the state at least $200 million up front, along with annual tax payments. Culver is considering privatization as a way to get quick money to plug a budget hole. That’s a lot easier than actually having to cut spending. Legislative leaders are quietly salivating.

But is is smart to sell off something that pours a pretty steady $50-60 million into the state’s budget every year for just $200 million? That seems really low. And never mind how the state gives up management. Anti-gambling folks are worried we’ll be playing lottery games on our cell phones.

Meanwhile, in Cedar Rapids, where city officials don’t have the luxury of wheeling and dealing with casino interests to plug a budget hole, The Gazette reports that the City Council is moving toward putting a 1-cent local option sales tax on the ballot in March with hopes of collecting it in April.

To do that, they need the Legislature to swiftly change state law.  Lawmakers don’t do “fast” very well, but local lawmakers are on the case.

Iowa Independent reports that former Iowa Democratic Party chair Gordon Fischer would like to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. The report says Fischer is reaching out to top Dems to help his cause and has informed U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin that he’d like the job. The job is currently held by Republican Matt Whitaker, who some say would make a fine GOP gov. candidate in 2010.

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