Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Applause goes out to the Mason City Globe Gazette for their editorial on the need to help folks suffering in the aftermath of Katrina. We’ve been posting the links to blogs written by people living in Katrina affected communities. Some of the bloggers are up and writing, while other bloggers haven't written post Katrina. It's expected, but worrisome and about all we can do, outside of sending prayers, is donate -- money, blood & our time.
We’ve left comments on the blogs that are linked, mostly to let the writers know people outside of the region are concerned and want to help. In the case of Unapologetic, we emailed and he wrote back. This is the email string...
Our prayers are with you and I wanted to let you know I have linked your blog for folks in Iowa to keep tabs on real people in N.O.Allen is our neighbor, we need to help. Red Cross & Others
hi... that's fine with me, and thank you for letting me know. I think you're doing us a great service, though I can't articulate why - it's just good to know people are hearing some of the personal stories and not just the news...
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Repay the Senior Living Trust Fund
A new report shows that in spite of concerns about the cost of healthcare for the poor,
Oh, darn it, that Governor of ours has another idea …
But Governor Vilsack says repaying that fund will have to wait. Instead, he says, the surplus must go to fund the Indigent Defense Fund, a legal-expenses program for the poor that was created but under-funded...and lawmakers directed that any extra money should go into that.
June 10, 2005
Secretary of State
State Capitol Building
L O C A L
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I hereby transmit House File 821, an Act relating to the establishment of a prescription drug assistance program by the commissioner of insurance, and providing for a contingent appropriation.
Assisting all Iowans with access to lower cost prescription drugs continues to be one of my top priorities. Prescription drug assistance programs similar to the one established in House File 821 have been valuable tools in other states, and this program is estimated to save Iowans between $6 and $10 million. Furthermore, House File 821 will compliment the initiatives of the new IowaCare Act (House File 841). I have directed the Insurance Commissioner to work with the Department of Human Services during the implementation process to ensure an efficient and effective use of resources in providing prescription drug assistance to Iowans.
House File 821 is approved on this date with the following exception, which I hereby disapprove. I am unable to approve the item designated as Section 2, subsection 2 in its entirety. I remain concerned that this section unnecessarily diverts resources away from the Senior Living Trust, which provides seniors vital health care and living option services. This section also implies the program is targeted towards older Iowans when its benefits should serve all Iowans who need assistance accessing prescription drugs to protect their health security. If necessary, any future appropriation should come from the state general fund. I cannot and will not support an unnecessary diversion of resources from the Senior Living Trust.
For the above reasons, I respectfully disapprove of the designated item in accordance with Article III, Section 16, of the Constitution of the State of
. All other items in House File 821 are hereby approved as of this date. Iowa
Thomas J. Vilsack
editorial note: After watching Katrina footage I don't want to make fun of tears. Wallace & the sheep can be found at Wallace and Gromit.com
Vilsack on gas
Gas is expensive. The governor is worried about it. So, he’s busy sending letters to the DOJ to encourage the administration to look into price gouging. Hmm.
DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack asked federal leaders Monday to investigate high gasoline prices and to resist cutting assistance for low-income Iowans facing a jump in heating bills this winter.
Vilsack made his pleas as record oil prices continued driving up the cost of gasoline and heating fuels such as natural gas and propane. Hurricane Katrina’s impact on gulf coast refineries and drilling rigs threatened to push prices even higher.
The governor sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking the Justice Department to investigate whether illegal price gouging is inflating fuel prices in
and elsewhere. … Iowa
… "I know a number of Iowans have expressed deep concern in questioning the cost of gasoline and whether or not this is a function of the market or whether there is some manipulation taking place in the market," Vilsack said.
"We need reassurance. And we believe the Justice Department can provide that reassurance," Vilsack said.
Al Goldberg, who supervises the energy section of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said it’s too early to tell whether Hurricane Katrina will have a lasting impact in fuel prices. Much depends on damage assessments in the storm’s wake.
If critical refineries were spared from the brunt of the storm, Goldberg said any price jump would be short- lived.
And, well, in the world of the well-coordinated Vilsack administration, the Governor’s head of transportation, Mark Wandro, is over in
DOT wants, but won't ask for, gas tax hike
The Iowa Department of Transportation has started laying the ground work for a future increase in the state fuel tax. …
… "We're not asking politicians for that right now," Wandro said during a visit to
Monday. "I don't want to put them in that position. Look at energy prices right now. We're not going to go in and propose additional funding. We're going to make a case that we need it, but recognize the timing couldn't be worse." … Sioux City
… Last year, state taxes flowing into the road-building fund rose less than a half percent. The state's gas tax currently stands at 20.5 cents per gallon and hasn't been changed since the late 1980s.
To have the same buying power today, it would require a tax increase of 8 cents a gallon, Wandro said. That would generate an additional $150 million annually. ...
This odd bit of uncoordinated press coverage is completely emblematic of what is wrong with government and governing. Vilsack didn’t send that letter for any other purpose than to get a little attention -- Look at me, look at me; I am
The really sad thing about all this – we need to take the potential for a hike in
Bill Vorhes, " it'll cost ya' "
Okay, how many hours & political capital did Floyd County Pooh-Bahs expend in order to get VeraSun to hold out for the lease to expire? In
VeraSun to wait out lease to build ethanol plant
Iowa(AP) -- Officials with a South Dakotacompany say they will wait out a farmer's lease on county-owned land and move forward with plans to build a new ethanol plant in . Floyd County
"Whether this happens this fall or next spring,
Charles is a great place to do business and a place Vera Sun wants to do business," said Don Endres, chief executive of VeraSun. (link to state news page and click on VeraSun story) City
A sad day on beautiful shores
The sun shines on biloxi
The air is filled with vapors from the sea
The boy will dig a pool beside the ocean
He sees creatures from his dreams underwater
And the sun will set from off towards new orleans
Everyone has seen the pictures and the videos from Katrina. It's devastating. To compare, this hurricane was like a 100-mile wide tornado filled with water and taking out everything in its immediate path. And for the families caught in Katrina's path, nobody from the town over is coming to help with clean up. The help that is coming is from out of state, particularly states that Katrina missed. That means us.
We don't intend to use this web page to promote a particular cause or politician or whatever, but in this case, We're gladly shillin' for the Red Cross. They need financial support so they can go about their work helping families and communities in the aftermath of Katrina. There are other reputable charities -- meaning they spend a large portion of their revenue on direct services instead of salaries & paper clips -- noted in today's DMR. Please consider donating to one or more of these relief efforts.
Just a follow up to the blog links listed in earlier posts. Big Jim will have an incredible story; it's already playing out in the comment string. Jim and his family ended up in the attic of their home to escape Katrina’s flooding storm surge, they are safe and staying with friends and family. Pitch & Green is updating his blog today with information for families with missing relatives and general comments on the state of NOLA, and when you read it, you can hear the heartbreak. The NOLA Blog Pros have been writing all along and their posts get sadder and sadder with each update. Unapologetic is also posting his thoughts on Katrina. And we have a new blog from Max in
It seems a little voyeuristic to check out these blogs from people so far away and so immediately affected by such a tragic hurricane. However, it is part of the purpose of blogging. To make the world much smaller so that it becomes difficult not to care about our neighbors a thousand miles away.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Nothin' like a hurricane to get a pol worried about an election
No final decision, that will come later today when team Bush factors in all the devastation, including the potential devastation to GOP majorities if we slide into a rough and tumble recession prior to November of 06.
Although economic growth in the third quarter should be gangbusters, economists said the slowdown will become apparent late this year or early next.
There is going to be a "marked deceleration of the rate of growth of consumption," in the fourth quarter, said Mikey Levy, chief economist at Bank of America."We're facing the prospect of a slowdown early next year. It could be exacerbated by big oil prices," agreed Lyle Gramley, a former Fed governor and now a senior economic adviser at Stanford Washington Research Group. (Excerpt from the linked MarketWatch story)
Big Jim -- A family guy with all sorts of photos and Katrina video.
Betsy Rice -- a gal from
Magnolia Report -- A conservative news forum.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
N.O. blog links
Yes, we're also weather geeks. Big surprise. For a weather geek fix, check out wunderground.com and the blogs.
So, given Katrina is the story/tragedy of the week, month, possibly even the year and she is about to make landfall in
Pitch & Green -- Seems to be some normal person with a habit.
Sanctums Porch -- A slacker's blog; don't look for regular posts, but the guy's from
Unapologetic – This one is put out by some artsy 30 year old with interesting taste in music and parents with a condo in Destin.
The Blog Pros -- I think these guys get paid for this stuff, in other words, this reads like the news we already have to eat.
Hey-yah, Katrina - bec mon chu.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Spot on #2
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Gronstal is out...of the race
Gronstal takes a powder on the governor's race. That's news. Really, no really, it's news.
From the Cedar Rapids Gazetteonline...
... A high-ranking Iowa Democrat has decided not seek the governorship at this time.Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs said today he has decided to stay in the Legislature, where prospects have improved for Democrats to break a 25-25 tie and regain control of the Senate chambers. ... (link)
The guy is at the top of the heap in the Senate and -- according to the Dem partisan echo chamber -- they're going to take the Senate and the House in the next election. Then, with Gronstal in as Majority Leader, the (fill in the blank, I'll start: Twinkie) _______ tax becomes very real.
With Riverboat Casinos ...
In Jesusland (think Ben Folds), the gaming issue is in the news again as the anti-gambling forces take some shots at the state funded study that was conducted over the last year and published in June. The QC Times reports…
…Gambling opponents are questioning whether an $87,000 state study focused on the social effects of gambling in
was worth the money. Iowa
The Iowa Legislature had ordered the study at the request of anti-gambling groups. Those groups wanted a report detailing the effect of gambling
families and communities before state regulators decided how many new casinos could open in the state. Iowa
But Rep. Danny Carroll, R-Grinnell, a gambling opponent, found the final product lacking.
“I guess it probably fulfilled the requirements ... but whether it was worth $87,000, I don’t know,” Carroll said.
The state contracted with the
to conduct the study. Universityof Northern Iowa
Professor Deepak Chhabra of UNI’s
, Physical Education and Leisure Services, led the study’s research team. The team conducted phone interviews with more than 1,700 Iowans who live within 50 miles of a casino about their views on gambling. Schoolof Health
But former state economist Harvey Siegelman, who reviewed the UNI study, was critical of its methodology and said it contained too much unrelated information.
“It was pretty sloppy work. It just was not very good research,” said Siegelman, who called the study a “data dump” in a written report submitted to lawmakers.
Chhabra defended the study, saying it provided the information lawmakers requested.
“My study presented both sides — positive as well as negative,” he said.
Lana Ross, a lobbyist with the Iowa Conference of the
, had wanted the study to better measure a link between gambling and social problems such as bankruptcy, divorce, suicide and alcohol and drug addiction. United Methodist Church
“I think it falls short of what I had hoped for and other anti-gambling folk” had hoped for, she said. … (link)
If you really want to read the study, you can find it at the Iowa General Assembly web page (link -- click "committee page", click "additional information" for documents -- they load s-l-o-w). There are a number of documents on the list the most relevant being the final report, peer review comments and rebuttal. Yah, geeky as it seems, we did read…err…skim the study and comments.
Dr. Sieglman is kind 'a tough on Deepak and his team. It’s not an economists study, by any measure, but it still provides some baseline information on what’s going on in the minds of Iowans when they think about gambling. The study is a perceptual study, in other words it asks for respondents’ opinions as opposed to looking at existing hard data for trends and patterns.
Sieglman correctly prefers to use “ex-post” data in measuring the effects of gambling on Iowans and their communities. However, from comments made in the limitations section of the UNI study, the authors suggest that hard data, in the form of historical and panel, was not available. And they stress the lack of cooperation from important sources in economic development, social services and law enforcement in limiting the usefulness of the study. “Everyone seemed reluctant to express either a personal opinion or a view that would be interpreted as representing their agency” pg 24.
Even with the limitations, the authors, using what seem to be reliable survey instruments, demonstrated statistically significant differences in the benefit/cost perceptions between gamblers and non-gamblers and those looking at gambling as a sickness versus not a sickness. Duh. Those particular findings very possibly represent global attitudinal variables such as religious versus non-religious, conservatives versus liberal, etc.
The one causal finding that is interesting, and perhaps important to explore more thoroughly, is the finding of a significant relationship between gambling costs and income. The UNI team found that there is a significant relationship to the views on the cost of gambling and income levels and widowed status. Those single old ladies on SS with “friends” that gamble are very worried about the costs of a gambling habit. This little bit of data, given the large number of over 40 female gamblers, gives any reasonable social service policy type a light bulb moment -- ah, targeting programs to our older female gamblers might payoff in meeting a perceptual need and contribute to a decline in the levels of problem gambling.In the end, the 87,000 spent on the study is an investment. And, perhaps, the next chunk of money spent on the “gaming issue” will take the advice of both Seiglman and Deepka’s team and look at improving the data sets we use to analyze the issue.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
This old chestnut of a state needs to change
Question: What do the following three news stories have in common?
(Editors note: we know, there are four news stories. It is -- and we are -- a work in progress.)
Up in Floyd County one farmer held up the development of a $100 million ethanol plant because, according to farmer and anti South Dakota ethanol plant activist, Bill Vorhes, the plant owners haven’t picked their butts in Floyd County all their lives. From the Mason City Globe Gazette...
... The request, by VeraSun Energy LLC, was defeated over concerns about potential liability if Marble Rock farmer Bill Vorhes, who leases the county-owned land, should sue the county. Vorhes has refused to sign an agreement with VeraSun, saying the county should hold out for a locally-owned ethanol company instead.
“It’s not about money,” Vorhes said later. “It’s about the community. VeraSun’s not letting the community have anything other than 50 jobs and tax money 20 years down the road (referring to a state tax exemption for which the company is eligible). I just don’t feel for this time that it’s the right plant for the right place.” ...
… With several educators and former educators in the crowd, it was no surprise that schooling was a major topic Monday.
Nussle said only 48 percent of government money spent on education makes it into classrooms.
"One thing that all of us know is that we have been throwing money at education for quite some time without much success because in part the money is not getting where it needs to go," Nussle said. ...
Just say it: WE SHOULD BE SPENDING AT LEAST 50% OF OUR K-12 APPROPRIATIONS ON CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION, NO EXCUSES. What is so hard about that statement? But, well, politics….
… "We have about the same population of school children in
People are still talking about National Vilsack's comments on increasing the number of days in an
… The governor said earlier this month that he wants to lengthen the school year beyond the current requirement of 180 days, though he didn’t say how much.
Some young people made their views known a few days later, booing Vilsack during the
Fair parade. The idea is also unpopular with businesses that depend on tourism. Iowa State
But the opposition hasn’t stopped lawmakers from taking a close look.
“Is it a concept that at least warrants exploration? Yes,” said Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Clarion, a former member of the
Board. … Dows School
… there are more than just educational considerations, which is why Sen. John Putney, R-Gladbrook, vows to fight any proposal that would diminish summer vacation. He’s executive director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation, a non-profit group that supports the
Fair. Iowa State
He unsuccessfully pushed for a bill this year that would have required schools to start after Aug. 22, which he argued would help the economy by extending summer jobs and encouraging tourism.
“I think it’s a shame when we’re trying to promote tourism and economic development in
, then we turn around and take away the month of August,” Putney said. ... Iowa
And you have Rants practicing politics. From the AP via Gazetteonline…
… Key lawmakers are crafting legislation that would make the state Agriculture Secretary an appointed position, ending its status as an independent elected official, House Speaker Chris Rants said Tuesday.It’s smart strategy, you have current Ag Secretary Patty Judge running in the Democratic primary for Governor, so think up a cheap (meaning inexpensive) way to focus attention on her record prior to the primary. If the Iowa House pushes this idea, they’ll tie Judge up in
Rants said the timing is right because the office is coming open next year as Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge runs for the Democratic nomination for governor. The Ag secretary has been elected position in
since 1923. Iowa
"There's no incumbent, you're not taking it away from somebody," Rants told The Associated Press. "There are no current officeholders of other positions who are talking about running for it, so you're not jabbing anybody in that way."
The idea drew immediate opposition from Judge, and more importantly from Gov. Tom Vilsack. …
Nevertheless, the best part is the Vilsack speak.
… "I think there is and has been coordination," Vilsack said. "I'm kind of surprised the speaker has resurrected this old chestnut."…
Answer: We live in
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
King's road show round-up
However, the immigration issue cuts deep into both parties' core constituencies. The Democrats consider illegal immigrants to be a potential voting bloc, once they figure out how to make 'em legal. And the GOP wingtips love the labor costs associated with skirting immigration law. It's tricky politics on both sides.
In the short term, it's interesting to follow the press coverage and the headlines say it all ... and then some.
Des Moines Register -- King: Fence off Mexican border
What the DMR desperately wants to say ... King: an idiot white guy that somehow got elected to Congress and we're going to make damn sure he doesn't oust our favorite idiot white guy, Tom Harkin, in the 2008 Senate race.
Council Bluffs The Daily Nonpariel -- Lawmakers shine light on immigration reform
What the Nonpareil guys are thinking ... Hey, these are big shots, I think, and if we play nice they might stamp our ticket out of CB.
The Quad City Times -- Iowa congressman encourages public to push presidential candidates on illegal immigration
The QC Times means to say ... We know you have no @#$% idea who Steve King is and we know you don't care, but it's the only damn story our DM bureau sent us today.
The Sioux City Journal -- King argues need to secure country's borders
And the folks in SC really want to say... Please, Congressman King & friends, come visit our newsroom so we can politely go over today's transcripts for further comment.
Monday, August 22, 2005
George Pataki is a nice guy - ouch
New Yorkers care about what we think, at least when it comes to their Governor/ PW George Pataki. Former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grubbs' Victory Enterprises put out a poll on the GOP class of Presidential Wannabes. From the
Nice guy running almost last
First published: Monday, August 22, 2005
When Gov. George Pataki heads to
Iowanext month before his trip to China, he can take comfort knowing that while most residents wouldn't vote for him if their state's presidential caucuses were held now, they think he's a nice guy. Iowa
A poll by Victory Enterprises found only 2 percent of the 400 people questioned would vote for Pataki. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got 30.3 percent, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had 16 percent, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was at 15.3 percent, and Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts drew 0.5 percent.
It’s an odd list of PWs, in part, because the survey went after the average caucus goers for his or her opinion. Dr. Rice? A smart woman, but she doesn’t have a PAC…yet.
At this point in the game, the GOP types with presidential aspirations are mostly interested in spreading some cash and visiting with the presumed opinion leaders in the state party. A more interesting survey is one that goes after the guarded opinions of the state and local pols, the GOP lobby types and big gun GOP fundraisers. You would probably have to run it as a focus group, and all those types in a room, without booze and protein, might make for a scary experience -- for the survey researchers -- but we’d get some good dirt. That’s work. So, to keep it simple, we just need to check out the money flow -- who’s giving and who’s receiving.As for our own PW, checkout Namedpipe for some helpful background on Vilsack's PAC donors. There are a few names on the list with big-time connections to urban development. Should we look for those individuals to play a roll in how Governor Vilsack handles the legislative fallout from the Kelo decision?
Sunday, August 21, 2005
LUCE -- enough to stomp out some of that cynicism...Nah…just a good band with a funky upbeat REM sort a' song in buy a Dog. All your life, all your life I got your back -- a perfect line, if such a thing exists. To listen to buy a Dog, click over to kfog and scroll down to the link.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Blouin Wind: or why this candidate -- who supports corporate welfare for companies that hire illegal immigrant labor -- will never be governor
• A $77 million expansion of Farmland Industries in
In late December of 2003 the Omaha World-Herald published a series of articles entitled Help Wanted: the unspoken demand for illegal immigrants. The articles addressed multiple issues related to illegal immigration in
… A burden, a benefit: Whether you win or lose from low-skill, immigrant laborers depends on your status within the
economy. Employers and the affluent win. Poor, low-skill workers can lose. The rest are in a murky middle. We win as immigrants hold down consumer prices and help our economy grow. We lose as they and their families burden schools and public assistance programs. … U.S.
… Worst job in
America: Nightly while sleeps, work crews sanitize meatpacking plants caked with the blood and guts of butchered cattle. Although meatpacking is widely known as the nation's most injury-prone industry, The World-Herald discovered that packinghouse cleaners are equally at risk. But minimal OSHA oversight let workplace hazards persist while fear of deportation muted the undocumented workers' complaints. Nebraska
Uncle Sam's wink: For four years, the federal government has had evidence that up to 100 major
employers were flouting wage-reporting laws in ways often linked to the widespread use of illegal immigrant labor. Yet nothing has been done to impose up to $65 million in potential fines against the employers. It's an example of how Uncle Sam winks at ordinary illegal immigrants once they cross the U.S. border and join the working class. U.S.
What the hell are we doing?
Let’s take money out of the pockets of hard working taxpayers, some of whom may indirectly already subsidize Farmland Foods’ labor pool through their employment in hospitals and social service non-profits, and give it to a company known to skirt the illegal immigration question & labor laws .Do we have to state the obvious that doling out taxpayer money to companies that shift their costs to other taxpayers and other employers is just @#$% nuts?
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Drugs & Jack in Orange City
Just imagine … if we did have the perscription drug database up and running this guy probably would not have been coaching the Unity Christian team on to victory in last year's B-ball tournament. I can think of a few 2A schools that might have appreciated our "system" getting Barry a little help before he turned to criminal behavior to feed a drug habit.
Here I come to save the day...
Been out & busy for a few days so missed commenting on Newt's trip’n through
That brings to mind another great oddball – Andy Kaufman.
Could it be that we can find some cosmic connection between Andy and Newt? Think about it. Andy and Newt have a lot in common; they’re both nerds to the N to the third degree wack-jobs with a passionate attachment to an alternate reality and use Might Mouse as a literal/metaphorical symbol. Why else would Newt spend time spinning Iowans in a somewhat quixotic bid to be a PW unless it’s to save the day?
Keep workin’ it. Ideas do matter and as nutty as they may sound on a first, second or even 100th time out; they elevate the quality of political debate. So instead of worrying about the Tony Clifton like habits of our candidates we actually focus on ideas. Not to say having three wives and fending off rumors about a slew of other dalliances isn’t a problem -- it is -- but he’s probably here to talk ideas and not audition for the PW family man poster shot.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Senator Jack Hatch, a friend to every scheduled drug seeker
This is the thing, the Pharmacy Board pulled down a chunky Federal grant to track some scheduled drugs that some people like to snort or shoot or some other method of ingestion. The fav, of course, is OxyContin, stuff's not cut with anything, so drug types get the one, two, twenty first prescription from any number of docs and then often alter the scripts to increase the number of pills. This doctor shopping is a complete headache to most folks in health care -- they want this to stop. And this database will make it much easier for pharmacists and doctors to check on the usual suspects - twenty/thirty somethings with chronic back pain and a list of the exact drugs, in order of preference, they need to 'feel better'.
Of course, the best defense would be if all docs were good, honest practitioners and could give a big @#$% you to these drug seeking creeps without thinking about the trial bar. Not happening. So the Pharmacy Board wants the legislators blessing to collect information in an effort to track down these losers.
And who is on the front line of defending the drug pushers' rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of their form of happiness? Senator Jack Hatch. He's the guy that wants to take a law abiding citizens land for economic development through the Kelo decision but is frightened of "big brother" when it comes to tracking the criminal use of scheduled drugs, like the ones favored by guys like Limbaugh and other get happy types. (Geez, what's wrong with living in a chronic state of malaise?)
The board wants Iowa to join about 20 other states that are tracking controlled substances in an effort to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs such as painkillers.
But some lawmakers compared the government-run system with "big brother," saying it could put patients' sensitive medical information in the wrong hands.
Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, said a record of the prescriptions Iowans take should not be in the hands of state government.
"Many citizens and legislators are rightfully concerned about protecting the confidentiality of their medical information and about the security of the proposed database itself," he said.
And these groups representing Iowa doctors - It's just two Polk County Medical Society and Iowa Osteopathic Medical Society (Des Moines University trained docs). The Iowa Medical Society, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, Iowa Hospital Association - none of these guys have a significant problem with this proposed database. And if you look close you can see that, perhaps, this issue is being pushed by a handful of local Des Moines docs with prominent roles on both the Polk County Medical Society and the DO Society. You just have to wonder what these docs are thinking.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
From a Tuesday story on the economic development efforts going on at the Iowa State Fair...
Sure, that sells Iowa -- come on in, so few people live here that you can get to your job as a telemarketer in minutes and the lack of traffic really helps when you need to get to your other job to rip off that cheerleader fund.IDED spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said the $1.7 million Iowa Life Changing ad campaign has brought a positive reaction since it was
unveiled in July 2003.
"What it says is, 'We've got a life here.' There a lots of people who spend their lives in cars driving to and from work hours on end, and that's not what life is about in Iowa," Hoffman said.
I just never think of commute times as on the top of the list for quality of life.
On that rainforest in the middle of (fill in the blank) Iowa, the city of Corralville and the rainforest group are making progress on a long term agreement...
Let me see...if I live in Corallville I already "own" the roads, the schools, municipal buildings, the library, parks....do I really want to "own" a 100 million dollar boondoggle. Don't think so. You can just imagine property values deflating before your eyes as buyers start to cost in the future property taxes needed to sustain this adventure.Under the draft agreement, the project would have to maintain the facility as an indoor rain forest, aquarium and educational facility for 21 years,and must always maintain a museum quality tourist attraction in subsequent years, or ownership would revert to the city.
And yet another boondoggle -- with a seemingly unending need for state money -- for the unsuspecting property taxpayers to fund. I'm thinking this thing lands on the Jasper County taxpayers' doorsteps by 2009.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- A road that will take racing fans from Interstate 80 to the Iowa Speedway in Newton will be built with the help of a state grant.
The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved a grant of $6.8 million to help grade and pave about 20,000 feet of road. ...
Monday, August 08, 2005
Must. Love. Pork.
Jane Norman, did a little political dissection on the new highway bill sailing down to the President’s desk. It’s big, 286.4 billion out the treasury door to build, pave, employ, implode, bits and pieces of infrastructure all across
And being a friend in
came out smelling pretty. That usually happens because our guys are well versed in how to work the system. Thanks to Boswell, the state's two senators, Rep. Jim Nussle and other members of the delegation, Iowa wound up with 149 earmarks with a value of $415 million, according to calculations by the group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Iowa
No. 22 in the nation in terms of total dollar amounts of earmarks, and 16th in per capita earmarks. Iowa
Are highway earmarks bad? Everyone will find some merit in his or her own project. To be fair, members of the
Iowadelegation likely would get ripped by constituents and local business groups if they didn't wade in and duke it out with other members of Congress for 's share of the pork. Nussle would risk his bid for governor if he refused to seek money for the I-74 bridge. Iowa
Does it make it right and is it good government in the long run? You can ponder that one the next time you wait for the flagman to wave you on through.
I know fiscal conservative types really hate pork, but let’s revisit this visceral dislike. First we need to get over the ridiculous idea that if we pressure politicians to stop the pork, they’ll stop. Wrong. Nobody likes pork barrel politics, but everyone loves the idea of the Feds footing the bill for 30 miles of highway 20. Politicians know this fact, so what looks like pork in
Second, Iowan’s should pull down as much pork as is remotely possible. Don’t think so. You forget how much state money we put into educating kids who grow up, move away and contribute their incomes to some other state’s tax base. So essentially, through pork, we’re recouping our earlier investment spent on former Iowans. (The Tax Foundation has a good summary document on state's dollar return on federal taxes.)
Third, both sides have their share of to-the-trough interest groups. The democratic partisans can talk all they want about how certain members of Congress are moving too much pork…for Alaska. (Check out Chairman Don Young's opening comments on the highway bill and Senate membership on the highway bill Conference Committee and then think about it... if Nussle didn't extend a little love to those Alaska projects do you think we would have the money for the I-74 bridge project?) And we’ll just ask these guys the same question when it comes time for Senator Harkin to belly up to the health and human services budget table for his helping of pork. At least the highway bill Earmarks are for infrastructure as opposed to non-profit salaries and paper clips.
The idea of political pork speaks to the working title of this blog; things go around and come back around – just need to make sure you don’t miss the cycle.
And who decides...
The Iowa City Press Citizen is, once again, on that felon voting kick. The argument is the same, no twist or nuance to bring new perspective. The editorialists just repeat and repeat it's almost mantra like...
Monday, August 8, 2005
Gov. Vilsack in the right on voting
officials and others who are arguing against Gov. Tom Vilsack's recent executive order restoring voting rights to felons seem to be missing the point. … Muscatine County
… Those people are legally paid up once they finish their sentence. The governor has the high ground here.
Vilsack did the right thing. That's the point. …
… the legislature should focus on a constructive debate about the future in its next session.
Vilsack did the right thing. That's the point. …
… the voting rights issue has political overtones. It shouldn't.
Felons do their time and have their voting rights restored. It's that simple.…
… This is not a complicated issue.
Vilsack did the right thing. That's the point.
I get it; Vilsack did the right thing. Yet can’t help but notice the irony…
… But why do we have to investigate whether someone is reformed? And who decides who is reformed? …
That does seem to be the question – who decides. Is a blanket policy of restoring felon enfranchisement upon being “legally paid up” the morally correct thing to do? And what does it mean to be “legally paid up”?
It really isn’t that simple and Judge Madden is fully aware of that fact.
Lists for the tipped blog; upside & downside
Okay, way too much of a love fest going on over at State 29 and we're a little worried. Could it be that State 29 has tipped? You guys know this stuff; the funky economic theory on changes in equilibrium first put out by Schelling and later lite'nd by Malcolm Gladwell for The Tipping Point. It could be that enough people are reading State 29 to make State's point of view part of the information currency filtering through to Iowa's mainstream press. Very cool.
This requires a list or two...
1) Humor and
2) We now troll for letters to the editor for a little inspired smirking.
3) Policy ideas and Iowa-centric current events get at least one more voice on the dog pile.
4) Breaking stories: the
1) The PR flacks have figured out
2) Flacks don't take bloggers out on their big, fat expense accounts...yet.
3) Spinmeisters know how to use email, and are passionate about their opinion, hmm.
4) Dorky ass fights with the mainstream media - hello, you media types have circulation, pay checks and institutional support, get over it.
5) Cable companies that insist their lines are not suffering capacity problems.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Interesting stuff that seems completely useless, until you see it…
Mandelbrot set. The set of complex c-values for which the orbit of 0 does not escape under iteration of x2 + c. Equivalently, the Mandelbrot set is the set of c-values for which the filled Julia set of x2 + c is a connected set. more...
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Come here fishy fishy
Tom Vilsack announced yesterday, as a retiring don't-need-nothin'-from-the-grassroots governor turned P.W., that the 180 day school year must be longer to accommodate an increase in classroom learning time. What a set up. It is classic Vilsack. Put out a really politically difficult issue to turn from idea into policy and back away from the heavy lifting with these sorts of comments…
...Vilsack said that the change couldn't be accomplished by the 2006 school year because of teacher contracts and other considerations, but he said change should be implemented as soon as possible...
…Improving high schools was a key topic during last month's gathering of the nation's governors in
. The National Governors Association has cited the need for the nation's schools to be more competitive globally, noting the Des Moines ranks 17th among developed nations in the percentage of youth graduating from high school. United States
Vilsack did not specify Wednesday how much the school year should be lengthened, or how much it would cost. He said policymakers may discuss other options, such as a longer school day. Either way, it won't happen in the 2005-06 school year.
"I don't have all the answers," Vilsack said. "The point of this was to put it on the table, to say this is an issue that requires discussion and it's an issue whose time has come."…
Rich, in one paragraph hammer away at the realistic need for a longer school year while in the next paragraph punt it down the road with the lame excuse that contracts and other considerations will make it impossible to change for '06. Read -- a policy for the “National Vilsack” floated out with a wink so that the
And there are plenty of apologists who certainly plan to vote for candidates on the
(Des Moines Register, ibid)
…Despite the call for improving high schools, a report released Wednesday by a 15-member review team of educators concluded that
should maintain local control for high school standards, curriculum and graduation requirements. Iowa
The report came after state education officials received input from 1,400
superintendents, high school principals and school board presidents from around the state this spring. Iowa
"While most educators generally do recognize the need to improve high schools, many communities, students or parents do not fully understand that need," Jeffrey said.
A complete set up – let’s boldly announce an aggressive education policy, bait a couple of Republicans for their response and then figure out how to educate the Iowa State Education Association & friends to use this bold -- but obviously unpopular at the grassroots -- policy to screw over any candidate courageous/stupid (sometimes one in the same) enough to take the Vilsack bait.
No need to say it but … we’re going to have to put up with another seventeen %^&# months of Vilsack pulling this crap. It is so old.
UPDATE -- Radio Iowa provides a link to Vilsack's speech to school administrators.
Talk of Iowa
The text pasted in below is a compelation of research put together by the conservative Media Research Center:
In May 2004, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press surveyed 547 journalists and media executives, including 247 at national-level media outlets. The poll was similar to one conducted by the same group (then known as the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press) in 1995. The actual polling was done by the Princeton Survey Research Associates and the report was released May 23, 2004.
- Five times more national outlet journalists identify themselves as “liberal” (34 percent) than “conservative” (just 7 percent). Just over half of the journalists (54 percent) say they are “moderate.”
- The percentage of national reporters saying they are liberal has increased, from 22 percent in 1995 to 34 percent in 2004. The percentage of self-identified conservatives remains low, rising from a meager 4 percent in 1995 to a still-paltry 7 percent in 2004.
- Local reporters are also more liberal than conservative. Pew found that 23 percent of the local journalists they questioned say they are liberals, while about half as many (12 percent) call themselves conservative.
- Most national journalists (55 percent) say the media are “not critical enough” of President Bush, compared with only eight percent who believe the press has been “too critical.” In 1995, the poll found just two percent thought journalists had given “too much” coverage to then-President Clinton’s accomplishments, compared to 48 percent who complained of “too little” coverage of Clinton’s achievements.
- Reporters struggled to name a liberal news organization. According to Pew, “The New York Times was most often mentioned as the national daily news organization that takes a decidedly liberal point of view, but only by 20% of the national sample.” Only two percent of reporters suggested CNN, ABC, CBS, or NPR were liberal; just one percent named NBC.
- Journalists did see ideology at one outlet: “The single news outlet that strikes most journalists as taking a particular ideological stance — either liberal or conservative — is Fox News Channel,” Pew reported. More than two-thirds of national journalists (69 percent) tagged FNC as a conservative news organization, followed by The Washington Times (9 percent) and The Wall Street Journal (8 percent).
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Late last week, our steam pressed Republican state auditor, David Vaudt dusted off his these-guys-spend-way-too-much speech from the year before, which he should laminate as it comes out of the drawer every year about this time.
In an interview with Radio Iowa he puts it right out…
…Republican Dave Vaudt says his review of the 2006 budget approved in May shows the legislature and governor once again spent more money than the state is expected to collect in taxes… forcing them to borrow 346 million dollars from special savings accounts. He says this is the sixth year in a row they've relied on shifting money from other funds, and the eighth year the legislature's spent more than the expected revenue source…
Ya know, in the real world when people consistently over spend they go bankrupt. But this is government, our government, and Vilsack, with the acquiescence of the legislature, has raided funds and overspent for his entire tenure. Every year, for the last eight, Vilsack puts out a budget with significant increases for his pet policy projects & the gimmes. The GOP legislature then counters with a much smaller budget knowing full well they’ll compromise on a budget that spends too much.
Vaudt’s been pointing these facts out since he was first elected in 2002 and seems to really enjoy banging his head against a wall. From the July 29th Radio
…Vaudt's been saying the same thing, and noting the same spending pattern, for several years now. Is he discouraged? "No, I'm really not," he insists. "In fact, I'm encouraged." I've always known in government nothing happens fast. The key thing is to see progress." Vaudt says he does see some change and finds that encouraging. The auditor says the legislature and governor borrowed less money from special savings accounts than the year before. In 2005 lawmakers diverted 420-Million dollars from rainy day accounts.
I guess, if you count as progress reducing your fund raiding habits by 74 million even though you can chalk up the decline in fund raiding to a sizable increase in tax revenue, why not. The world really does love headbangers. Yes?
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Everything to anyone who votes
Jim Nussle interrupted his rock-star touring habit -- on the bus, off the bus, wave to the fans, run the play list, back on the bus, and down the road -- just long enough to chat up
In a sit down with Dan Gearino, of Quad City Times/Lee Newspapers, Nussle roles out this stuff...
Rep. Jim Nussle, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Monday that Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's economic development agenda is "all based on photo ops," with few benefits for everyday business owners. U.S.
Nussle said in an interview with the Quad-City Times Des Moines Bureau staff that the current system of giving cash incentives to selected business has more political benefits for the Vilsack administration than economic benefits for the state.
"It's all based on politics. It's all very arrogantly determined by just a few people in
picking winners and losers," he said. Des Moines
Nussle said he would rather see the state reduce taxes for all businesses.
Nussle said one of the best ways to help all businesses in
would be to lower property taxes. Decades-old limits on residential property taxes have put a disproportionate share of the burden on businesses, which business advocacy groups see as a drag on the economy. Iowa
Nussle's solution is to reduce overall state spending and then use the savings to lower property taxes. That ties into another of his proposals: a top-to-bottom review of state government, looking for areas that can be made more efficient.
The congressman said his approach puts the state government in position to lead by example, which he thinks will make cities, counties and schools decide to follow suit with their own internal reviews. That is different from Vilsack who has pushed for legal inducements and penalties to make local governments more efficient.
"Government reform to our current administration is: ‘We'll reform the government and you go first. You go first, counties, cities, school districts — you do the consolidation, you find the efficiencies, while we continue to be fat and sassy in
.' To me, that's not the way you lead," Nussle said. Des Moines
Then with Radio
Jim Nussle, a Republican candidate for governor, says he'd sign a bill into law requiring felons to repay their debts to society before they may regain the right to vote. Current Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, signed an executive order July 4th that restores voting right to felons who've completed their sentences and their parole. But that order does not require the felons to have paid their court fines or restitution to victims. Nussle says Vilsack made the move to look good nationally, since
OMG, Policy from Jim Nussle.
Keep talking, you can do it. No need to check in with twenty different PACs on everything that comes out of your mouth.