Daily Archives: February 19, 2009

Lottery Chief Comes a Callin’

New Iowa Lottery President and CEO Terry Rich stopped by this morning to meet with The Gazette’s edit board. The highlights:

Lottery Lease Proposal — Rich said Gov. Chet Culver has told him that a proposal for leasing the lottery to private business interests in exchange for a pot of upfront cash isn’t going anywhere. It was Culver who originally met with interested parties floating the idea as a way to raise quick money amid worsening budget woes.

Rich and Mary Neubauer, the lottery’s VP and chief Statehouse watcher, said there is little or no support at the Capitol for an “immediate sale.”

Still, Rich said he’s having lottery staff run numbers that will allow him to evaluate the agency’s value in light of the high-profile lease discussion. That’s probably smart, because nothing is ever dead at the Statehouse until lawmakers are on their way out the door in April.

What’s New — Rich, who previously ran Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo and was a longtime cable TV executive, said he wants to focus on improving the lottery’s existing products. Any new games would be within the framework of scratch tickets, Powerball or pull tabs, which are already “socially acceptable” in Iowa.

He’s not interested in bringing back TouchPlay, which was not acceptable to many Iowans, including most state lawmakers.

Rich also wants the lottery’s marketing to not only sell its products but also promote Iowa towns, attractions, businesses etc. He believes the lottery’s aggressive marketing efforts can have broader benefits.

Powerball — The televised drawings have been moved to Florida. But the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the game, is still headquartered in Urbandale, Iowa.

Iowa has had six Powerball jackpot winners, which is a lot considering that Iowans make up just 3 percent of Powerball players.

Rich said he was going to play Powerball one more time on the Friday before he took over as CEO, just for old time’s sake. But the attorney general’s office told him that would be a no-no for a gubernatorial appointee. So he’s in charge, but he can’t play.

First Check — Rich gave out his first big check to a $100,000 winner ($70,000 after taxes) from Waterloo. He said the couple has six kids. The wife said they would spend it. The husband said save it.


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Today’s Column — Enhanced Performance

As spring training begins, I feel I have to set the record straight.Today, I regret to announce that, for many years, I have used performance-enhancing substances to gain unfair enjoyment of the national pastime, baseball.

According to this statement, I’m truly sorry. My conscience must be detoxified.

On many occasions, I have ingested genetically modified meat products, some injected with growth hormones, chemical additives and unknown fillers. These products were administered in patty and link form.

I admit, on several dates between April and October, preparing these products on a charcoal grilling device. At times, I inadvertently but unintentionally, inhaled delicious aroma.

And, in most instances, a strong-smelling balm and or salve containing ground mustard seed and spices was applied to the meat product as a flavor enhancer. In some cases, it was applied without my expressed consent.

The use of these products has given me an unnatural layer of bulk, making it far easier for me to sit, virtually immobile, during an entire nine-inning baseball game. It’s given me an unfair advantage over fans with the energy to move.

I also admit drinking, from time to time, a fermented liquid concoction of roasted malt, hops and other ingredients. This substance was usually used to wash down the aforementioned meats.

The fermented liquid made my assessments, perceptions and understanding of baseball far superior to those of my fellow fans. It broke down natural inhibitions that would otherwise have kept me from widely sharing those comments. In short, it gave me an unfair advantage over other fans in terms of raw expertise and sheer volume level.

I take full responsibility. But I also blame the media.

I was able to buy a readily available satellite radio, at a very low price, that broadcasts every baseball game. This highly addictive device actually carried the official MLB logo.

I was also able to easily subscribe to a satellite dish service, also heavily marketed and readily available, which greatly enhanced my viewing performance. My remote-clicking finger grew strong and nimble. I saw ads enticing me to use fermented beverages.

I became hooked on Internet baseball coverage, sapping my work productivity.

Still, I’m to blame. And I’m sorry.

Basically, my conduct has broken faith with the great fans of the past, slicing ties of tradition between me and olden-days, sepia-toned fellows, who got “base-ball” scores from telegraph offices, lived through Prohibition and ate boiled beets.

Any new baseball records I’ve witnessed on my giant TV, while eating sausages big as my arm, swigging mega-hopped microbrew, should be recorded with asterisks. Big, bloated asterisks with cheese sauce. Yum.

And I vow to change.

My brats will be free-range and my fermented beverages will be consumed in moderation. I’ll throw a few beets on the grill. Maybe even a rutabaga. I’ll submit to a strict regimen of cholesterol testing.

I made mistakes. But it’s a new season, and hope springs eternal. Now, could someone please help me up?

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Thursday Reads — Young Buck

If you want a friend in Des Moines, get a dog.

Mari Culver made a surprise introduction Wednesday of the Culvers’ new three-month-old pound puppy Buck. I think “Little Lug” would have been a better name, but what do I know? Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson has a story and photo. The pup is from the Animal Rescue League, and word is that Culver’s approval rating with his 15-year-old cat just dropped like a rock. The cat, “Fran,” has reportedly signed on with Bob Vander Plaats’ exploratory committee. I can’t confirm that.

Upstairs, lawmakers heard word of “Buck Culver” and immediately passed a gas tax hike. Just kidding. But The Register’s David Yepsen says he expects a gas tax hike Culver doesn’t like to be attached to a $700 million bonding plan he champions. If he has to accept a tax hike, at least he’ll get a treat. Who’s a good boy?

Elsewhere, state lawmakers heard word of more tough work ahead for the Iowa National Guard. Outgoing Adjutant Gen. Ron Dardis said thousands more call-ups are ahead during is last condition of the guard address. An escalation of troop levels in Afghanistan is one factor.

A Waterloo lawmaker wants fewer call-ups in the classroom, according to Gazette/Lee’s James Q Lynch. Rep. Deb Berry, D-Waterloo, has introduced legislation that would ban student access to cell phones during class. She complains the phones are used to organize fights and trade test answers. Under the bill, students could bring phones on school grounds, just not to class.

The reaction from students? “That totally sucks,” Adam Child of Des Moines said when told about House File 371.

More flooding around these parts would also “suck,” to put it mildly. The Gazette fronts a report from Adam Belz that says forecasters are predicting a below-normal chance of flooding on the Cedar and Iowa River. Of course, this is just an educated guess that could be washed away by late, heavy snowfall or heavy spring rain. But the region is in much better shape now than a year ago.


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