Miss a week, miss a lot. There were developments on many fronts during my week away. A few thoughts on what I missed:
I Can’t Believe it’s Not Popular — The Iowa State Fair-Michael Jackson butter sculpture debate has Iowans on the edge of their seats. First, the fair announced that Jacko would be cast full-scale in butter. Then, after being whipped by criticism, the fair clarified, saying butter Jackson would be small and off to the side. That explanation melted into an online vote to determine whether a buttery Jackson will appear at all.
I predict butter Jacko will lose this first-in-the-nation creamery caucus, clearing the field for butter Sarah Palin.
Governor’s Race May Violate Fire Code — There are now roughly 46.5 Republican candidates and near-candidates for governor. The maximum capacity for the 2010 campaign is 48. Luckily, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says he’s not running.
But Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, is “aggressively exploring” a run. McKinley is vying to be only Iowa’s second mustachioed governor since 1917, when Republican Gov. George W. Clark gave way to 66 years of clean-shaven chief executives. Terry Branstad broke the streak in 1983.
Shocked, Shocked — Gov. Chet Culver got his re-election bid off to a rousing start by accidentally increasing taxes on flood victims. Apparently, Democrats who run the Statehouse forgot to pass legislation changing Iowa’s tax code to couple with federal tax changes. So flood victims who received a federal credit for disaster expenses owe more state taxes.
Culver ordered regulators to halt collection of those extra taxes. Republicans argued that Democrats knew this would happen back in February, but did nothing because they needed the money.
The Legislature passes tax coupling legislation almost every year. It’s standard stuff. Democrats are peddling a dog-ate-my-homework explanation. Nice try.
Movin’ On Up — Linn County’s heroic $12 million effort to add a penthouse office suite to its Administrative Office Building may depend on winning a state I-Jobs grant. I-Jobs is the massive bonding program to create jobs and help meet critical infrastructure needs. And by critical, it clearly meant more office space for politicians.
A Season of Progress or Propaganda? — Mayoral candidate Ron Corbett and others questioned the Cedar Rapids City Council’s decision to spend $31,000 on an election-year mailing touting city flood-recovery accomplishments. Corbett said it’s an example of the disadvantage he faces running as a non-incumbent. Not having an opponent, however, sort of makes up for it.