Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm owning my tech-idiot moment.

Clipping around in the Iowa blogs this evening I found this entry and comment string at Common Iowan.

For some reason I decided to search through some Rightwing blogs tonight. I came away with one interesting observation... a ton of Rightwing blogs don't allow users to post comments and if they do most of the time the blogger has to approve them (Iowa's own Krusty Konservative is one of the few who allows anyone to post comments) . From my experiences, I would say it is close to 2/3 of the Rightwing blogs that I visited don't let you post comments. What's up with that?

I love getting comments on this blog. I think the open dialogue is one of the best features of a blog. It seems that Rightwing blogs would rather preach and stay away from open discussion. I guess even though the technology might change, some things never do.

I guess there isn't much of a point to this post. So please just post you comments about anything. How am I doing with the blog, what issues would you like to read about, what are your thoughts on something, whatever. If you disagree with something, let er rip. Open debate is always a good thing.

I am very sorry that I may have caused blog-posters to spend time composing a thought only to have the comment lost because I failed to review and approve the comment for posting. I'm admittedly a tech idiot/savant - some things I can figure out quickly other things require kind strangers pointing out the obvious.

When I reworked the html for style, I updated my comment process to filter spam, but somehow I managed to enable the monitor option on the comments. Oops. Again, my apology to readers who may have taken the time to write a comment to find that it was never posted. It's fixed.

Sadly, I kept wondering why no one was commenting -- truly a tech idiot moment.

I'm allowed.

"It ain't the heat; it's the humility."

--Yogi Berra


Wayne Ford and Chet Culver: Are they on the same page?

One more reason to hate the Grow Iowa Values Fund, and we had to wait until Wayne Ford pointed it out. Who? Representative Wayne Ford, the Des Moines State Representative known for hard luck to hard work to achievement speechifying on the floor of the Iowa House. The story published in today's Des Moines Register.

Iowa's business incentives are reaching too few women- and minority-owned companies, says a state lawmaker, pointing to a report that shows only 10 women or minorities have received assistance through the state's lead economic development program over the past 2 1/2 years.

That proportion is about 3 percent of the 342 businesses that snagged Grow Iowa Values Fund money and other state dollars, the report shows.

Officials say small-business owners may be unable to meet the requirements of Iowa's premier economic development program, which provides about $50 million annually for business recruitment and other activities.

A smaller program that provides assistance to women and minority business leaders has failed to get new state dollars since 2003. The program has provided loans or grants to 34 businesses, according to a separate Iowa Department of Economic Development report.

Iowa Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, said the funding lapse for the targeted small-business program will hurt Iowa in the long run. "If we want to attract more people to the state ... we have to make sure that blacks, Latinos and females have a piece of the American dream," said Ford, who runs a training program called Urban Dreams.

What’s worse, there is no explanation for the flat line funding of the targeted small business program, outside of the classic “state revenues were thin”.

The state budget was too thin when it would have helped families in rural Iowa with community enriching small businesses, but it was fat enough to build a Democratic administration an annual 50 million dollar slush fund to buy off large companies and their executive suite political donors.

I’m glad that Jim Nussle’s clear about his dislike for the Grow Iowa Values Fund. I can only hope that at some point in this campaign Chet Culver will put together a coherent statement on the Grow Iowa Values Fund, and every other issue that’s controversial. An excerpt from the published transcript of the June 16, 2006 Iowa Press featuring Chet Culver.

Glover: LAST WEEK ON THIS SHOW, YOUR REPUBLICAN OPPONENT, JIM NUSSLE, SAID IF HE'S ELECTED HE WILL END THE IOWA VALUES FUND, THE CENTERPIECE OF TOM VILSACK'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS. IF YOU'RE ELECTED, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE IOWA VALUES FUND?

Culver: WELL, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE THE TAXPAYERS GET THEIR MONEY'S WORTH, FIRST AND FOREMOST. AND I HAVE SAID THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THIS CAMPAIGN THAT THOSE COMPANIES THAT DON'T LIVE UP TO THEIR END OF THE DEAL WILL PAY BACK THE IOWA TAXPAYERS WITH PENALTIES. I THINK WE NEED VERY TOUGH CLAWBACK PROVISIONS. AND I AM VERY CONCERNED THAT MANY OF THESE COMPANIES HAVE NOT DELIVERED ON THEIR PROMISES. AND THAT WILL BE MY FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS MAKING SURE THAT THESE COMPANIES COME THROUGH AND IN FACT DELIVER ON THE PROMISES THAT THEY MAKE.

Glover: BOTTOM LINE, DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?

Culver: IT HAS GREAT POTENTIAL. WE NEED TO MAKE IT BETTER.

My head hurts.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rubbermaid & Iowa's Economic Development Politics

The Centerville story is becoming less about the Rubbermaid plant closing and more about the politics. The story from a June 15, 2006 KCCI News report:

...The Rubbermaid plant announced Wednesday that it will close. …

… Workers were told the production side will shut down Sept. 15. The distribution division will continue until mid-October. The manufacturing department will shift to another Rubbermaid facility at Winfield, Kan.

Workers said that two corporate vice presidents said the plant is closing because the Kansas facility has more room for expansion. …

… Centerville Mayor Greg Fenton said the community has a lot to offer and has other options.

"It's devastating, but I think we'll rebound. People will come together," Fenton said.

"We're always searching for other industry. That's an ongoing thing and we won't give up on that," he said….

…Last year, Rubbermaid talked about expanding the plant. The plant manager talked about what it could mean for Centerville. The state had awarded them an economic package for that. Rubbermaid never signed it. …

Republicans intend to make Vilsack’s economic development habits, including the Iowa Values Fund and its beneficiaries, fodder for some economic class warfare. Who says the minimum wage is the only battle to be fought over the economic divide among the blue collar, white collar and pink collar workers?

Vilsack and the Democrats constructed what seemed a forward thinking, aggressive economic development tool and called it the Grow Iowa Values Fund. Unfortunately, like many tools, it didn’t perform as expected and left a few too many Iowans wanting…something, anything to spur local economic growth.

Sure, there were some winners; Wells Fargo and their 10 million, which probably covered the construction of the spiffy cafeteria located in a building immediately across EP Tru Parkway and the bazillion restaurants in and around Jordan Creek. But why complain, people need to feel good in their work environment.

That is until you think about the fact that Iowans in Centerville, Red Oak, Newton, Mason City will not have a work environment or the paycheck that goes along with it.

Up to this point, Vilsack and company have been unable to demonstrate to voters that the Grow Iowa Values Fund is a necessary program that actually produces cost effective results. That leaves campaigning Democrats spinning the positives of the underperforming program while attempting to minimize the damage caused by the high tech bias evident in IDED.

Yep, Kurt Swaim supported Mike “Iowa Values Fund” Blouin and his work to push state tax dollars on high tech businesses, such as G-Commerce in downtown Des Moines, while a town in his House District with less than 6000 people is losing 500 jobs. About the only thing the Democrats can do is practice their name-calling skills.

In fine Lakoff linguistic theory, Democrats have attempted to tag Republicans with the term “cronyism”; however, it’s obvious that the Democrats needed to lay claim to the term before Republicans called out Democrats as the party of patronage. Whether it’s dressed up as economic development dollars or just the HR list for Workforce Development and CIETC, the Democrats are very comfortable handing out tax-subsidized goodies to their political friends.

I know, I know, Republicans hit the trough, too; but that doesn’t make it right.

I think it’s reasonable during this political season to ask all the candidates about political patronage. You may discover some very interesting information.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Karl Rove really does love Social Security, honest.

Karl Rove was, probably still is, in town doing his part as the ubber campaign brain to raise that all important campaign dollar for our first timers; Rove campaigned for Jeff Lamberti, running against Boswell in the 3rd, and Mike Whalen, in the open 1st. As reported by the AP in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

National pundits have cast both contests as barometers of the Republican Party’s hopes for maintaining control of Congress. Lamberti said Rove's visit underscored that sentiment.

"I think his visit demonstrates that this is one of the top races in the country," Lamberti said, referring to his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell. …

"Karl Rove's been traveling around the country, visiting states where there are good candidates in close races," he [White House spokesman Alex Conant] said.

However, the Democrats take a different view and give a little insight into what segment of the population they’re focusing on for November.

"We think Lamberti's willingness to stand with the architect of Bush's failed policies like privatizing Social Security and his failed energy policy shows he'd rather stand with special interests than Iowa's families," said Erin Seidler, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Democrat Bruce Braley, who's opposing Whalen in the 1st District, sounded similar themes.

"Karl Rove has come to Iowa today ... because he knows that Whalen will be a rubber-stamp for the George Bush Social Security privatization scheme," Braley said in statement. "...Rove knows he can count on Whalen's support to revive the President's unpopular proposal in Congress."

Yes, it is going to be campaign cycle number twenty-something where Democrats run on Social Security. The perennial ‘third rail’ of American politics, Social Security campaign rhetoric is always framed as the evil hand Republicans that will cut and slash benefits associated with the retirement entitlement system.

Hello, has that ever happened? No. Will it happen? Yes, when I’m 67.5 and all the boomers have been living the Social Security life for ten plus years, and everyone finally figures out that the Social Security Trust Fund, which the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees notes in their annual report, is completely out of money. Until then, the third rail will always be the cheap & easy (don’t get any ideas) campaign hook to move fixed-income eighty-somethings to sign-up with that nice youngster at the door for an absentee ballot.

I suppose we know a little more about the Democrats November strategy – find the supper old people, scare the crap out of them (in some cases literally), and collect their votes. In low turnout elections, if a candidate can pull in votes with empty scare tactics they might end up on the top end of the margin.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Governor Energy

I wanted to energize the blog world, and this GOP press release on the new WSJ/Zogby poll showing off the Nussle "trend lines" wanted to be plugged in somewhere. It’s a wait and see on the numbers; trends are not evident in one poll, but voters seem to be moving in Nussle’s direction.

A little fact left out of the press release is the statistical margin of error. In all fairness, it’s important to point out that the margin of error on this “interactive” poll (check out the methodology section for the definition of interactive) is +/- 4.4%. Doing the math, the race is within the margin of error, essentially a tie.

No one knows how the race is going to progress over the next few months, but everyone knows that November will hinge on which candidate "energizes" his voters. I'm okay with the theme, just so long as no one gets on a treadmill for some dorky political ad.


IOWANS SEEING CLEAR CHOICE, CHOOSING NUSSLE


DES MOINES – A new Wall Street Journal/John Zogby poll reports Republican candidate for Governor Jim Nussle is surging ahead of Democrat Chet Culver, 47 to 45. The poll bolds well for Iowa GOP candidates across the board, since it confirms Iowans are sick and tired of the empty promises and negative, partisan attacks from Culver and the rest of the Iowa Democrat ticket. Additionally, it’s the first time the national Democrat pollster has listed the Iowa Governor’s race in the “Lean Republican” category. ... (link)




Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Quirky Blog & Etc Round Up

A pathetically slow news day -- yeah, federal officials raided a DeCoster egg farm for illegals and that story’s been ripped & pulped by State. There’s not much else to write about, so thought I’d skim the blog world.

Todd Dorman’s blog is always good, if a little sporadic. This week he’s spot on with some budget number crunching. I’m particularly fond of the creative & innovative idea of selling off naming rights to state buildings. I’ll add that we could extend it to phrases:

Lucas, Knapp Time.
Any takers? I think we could actually pull real money out of that deal, or at least someone might pull real money out of that deal, particularly if we tear down and rebuild a Lucas somewhere closer to a soon to be built I-35 exit ramp.

The Ames Wire is on a kick to expunge Leonard Boswell from the Democratic universe; must be a bunch of progressives posting to that blog. Republicans have “Christian Conservatives” and Democrats have “Liberal Progressives” -- group think politics (if you’re not for everything our leaders want, you’re against us all). My problem with group think politics is that it always sounds a little too much like a command and control form of government, the kind made famous by one too many dictator-run communist countries.

Meanwhile, party wings are busy shredding incumbents: From the Club for Growth’s email alert system (this stuff is free, just sign up):

It's official. Anti-Bush-tax-cut liberal Republicans are taking Tim Walberg's Republican primary challenge of Congressman Joe Schwarz seriously.

A few days ago, Sen. John McCain flew in to do a fundraiser for the incumbent of Michigan's 7th district that reportedly raised $137,000. McCain, as you recall, teamed up with former Sen. Tom Daschle in an attempt to sink the pro-growth Bush tax cuts.

Let's match that $137,000, dollar for dollar, so Tim's campaign has the money it needs to match the incumbent's campaign.

It’s going to be an interesting 2007 in Iowa Republican politics; the message control freaks are going to have to load up on mood stabilizers just to survive the modern day pamphleteers.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chet's Final Jeopardy!

I can almost hear the music: Chet’s looking at the formal papers requesting the Secretary of State send the vetoed eminent domain bill back to the House and he’s wondering what the correct answer…is

When the governor vetoes a measure during a legislative session, it goes back to the Legislature for an override attempt. When the governor vetoes a measure after the Legislature is adjourned, it is delivered to the Secretary of State, where it is filed away.

Rants asked Culver to return the bill to the Legislature by the end of business on Friday, but a Culver spokesman said he didn't know if that was legally possible.

"We're not sure what we can do," said Charles Krogmeier. "We're talking to the attorney general and we frankly don't know what we can do."

If Culver does send the bill back to lawmakers, they will then have to decide what to do if they return in a special session. (Cedar Rapids Gazette AP story link)
Chet Culver’s political fortune may hang on this one decision. Does he play politics and attempt to maneuver around the legislature’s request using the AG’s legal opinion from 1998, or will he let it slide, something like the SOS Nigerian-scam friendly database, and hope that the politics of protecting the fundamental right to property disappear by November?

See, I told you it would make you think about that stupid electronic pan flute noise they used to play to make sure the home audience would never ever think of the right question to the Jeopardy final answer.
Hey, this is sort of fun, at least for some people, so I’ll toss out my version of Chet’s round of political Final Jeopardy:

Governor Jim Nussle

What is Chet Culver loses the general election because he stopped passage of legislation that would have protected average Iowans’ property rights?

I’ll probably get some obscure note from some well-paid lawyer -- sitting around sans appropriate shoes & any clothing taking a break from posting on dorky political blogs to do a little work -- politely issuing a cease and desist order on the use of the term Final Jeopardy.

I’ll let y’all know if I get one. And I’m not from The Commonwealth, but where I come from we still say ‘y’all’, h’ay’ and secretly appreciate the few tobacco barns still standing down in the tidewater, at least the ones that haven’t been forced through the use of eminent domain into the hands of rich suburban development companies for purposes of inflating an exurb-saturated political subdivision’s tax base.


Monday, June 19, 2006

My Iowa Convention Round Up

I'm inspired by all the blog coverage dedicated to the politically inbreed navel gazing excess, or more commonly referred to as our state political conventions.

O. Kay did a great job; impressive brain to finger processing speed, unfortunately she worked some obscure editorializing at the GOP confab (the use of table salt on a lunch is a worthy digression?) while sticking to the party talk when working the Dem fest. Despite O. Kay’s editorial comments, it’s helpful information for the folks that didn’t attend either event. We get some idea about what’s going on under the big tents.

Chris at Political Forecast and the Johnson County GOP bloggers covered the basics and offered up unedited commentary on the atmospherics of each of the conventions. It was good finding average political junkies posting independent analysis of the conventions in real time.

It's been interesting reading today’s follow-up posts. State 29 is cranking -- on that good KC ozone, I’m sure -- a few well placed digs at the DMR and their version of fair & balanced news coverage. Can anyone explain to me why a story on the GOP convention needs to include some rabid 'I hate all Republicans' comment from a leader of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance? And State 29 shreds Mike Glover for the glaring omission of the word “not” from this Sam Brownback quote:

“Republicans should [not] be afraid of backing the war, the senator said…”

Oops.

Krusty, as expected, dives into a healthy dose of rah-rah for the GOP candidates and applies towel level spin to Nussle’s acceptance speech.

If you have ever been to a concert, you know how the crowd anticipates the main act taking the stage. That’s what it was like when the light went out, and a video introducing Nussle started to play. Once his name was announced the room went nuts. Talk about a party united behind its candidate!

Nussle then yelled out “Good Morning Iowa.” Maybe it’s just me, but that line reminded me of Reagan’s it’s morning again…

I know you’re a Nussle fan but it couldn’t have been that good, nothing -- outside of expensive chocolate and other natural endorphin producing activity -- is that good.

Krusty takes a more critical approach when discussing the Republican PWs in town to shake hands and shake down the county level activists. If you’ve noticed, Krusty is not interested in being pinned down to a particular Republican PW at this time. Earlier this year Krusty, et al produced favorable spin about Mitt Romney, but lately Krusty’s not so sure, so he’s checking out all the options including The Commonwealth’s George Allen.

It seems too early to think about the wannabes, but I suppose the insiders need to join one of the rides, if only to work the PWs fundraising networks. There really is some sort of big fish/small fish thing going on in politics.

A few other bloggers have posts up about the conventions. Kyle, the political madman, makes a few quirky observations and not all together related to the convention. Kyle, I have a feeling you’re experiencing what I might call “campaign denouement”; the French always know how to define a sensibility. The guys over at Common Iowan put together a couple posts on the convention, with special attention given to Ed Fallon’s speech. John Deeth notices the lack of PWs attending the D's convention and makes a few important historical comments on the IDP platform process.

That’s it for a post convention blog round up. I know that almost two weeks ago, after the primary, I commented that I hoped the political elite took the time to listen and actually hear their rank & file. I don’t know that it happened over the weekend. Ed attempted to convey to Democrats the need to make a political hard tack back to issues that are important to average Iowans – like a real eminent domain law (see Common Iowan link). On the GOP side, I suppose Jim Nussle’s 99 ideas is a node to the average voter, I only hope it'll become more than a campaign artifact.

What I wanted to find in all the coverage was a sense that political leaders understand that we’re jaded. Sigh. If you’ve ever tried to woo a jaded soul, you know that you need to start with a little empathy to get anywhere.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Eminent Domain: Vilsack's veto + Gronstal's spin = a Republican win

Friday, June 2, 2006:

Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed HF 2351, a bill for an act relating to government authority, including eminent domain authority and condemnation procedures…, which had passed the House 89 to 5 and the Senate by 43 to 6.

“Eminent Domain should always be the last resort for governments needing private property for a public purpose,” he [Vilsack] said. (Vilsack press release)

Monday, June 5, 2006:

The City Council of New London Connecticut voted to evict Susette Kelo and the other plaintiffs from their waterfront property.

"These council members always say they've received hundreds of messages of support that they never disclose," says Cristofaro (Kelo case co-plaintiff), one of the two holdout homeowners. "I can tell you, I've gone to every city council meeting for the last year, and there are always at least 15 people who speak against this project, and nobody who speaks in favor of it." (Reason Online)

"Finally, I'd had enough," he (Kelo case co-plaintiff William Von Winkle) said. "In the beginning, they took possession of the property — kicked the doors in and kicked my tenants out. They put barricades in the street, and they did everything possible to harass me, to make me sell." …

… "I worked 23 years to put this together. I paid cash. I had no mortgages," he said. "No American should be forced out of their home like this." (LA Times)

Tomorrow is the first round political deadline for sorting out Vilsack’s veto. The House & Senate Republicans sent out letters to members asking for a special session to override the veto; however, Senate Democrats are not on the same page. Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal sent a letter asking members to open a special session to rewrite the bill.

Gronstal wants to come back to craft a bipartisan eminent domain law, of course this ignores the fact that the vetoed bill passed in regular session with overwhelming majorities. But that’s not Mike Gronstal’s version of bipartisan; no, his definition of bipartisan has something to do with all sorts of bending by other people. It’s a visually arresting version of the art of compromise.

Once we’re past the first round maneuvers that set the lines for this political scrum, then the stories start to weigh on this debate. The Republicans are already working this angle with Monday’s press conference highlighting average Iowans dealings with the economic development eminent domain bullies. From a House GOP press release:

…Brian Walker, from Essex, says without this legislation, it is possible that a proposed lake would take away 80 percent of his farming operation.

“Under current eminent domain laws, cities can manipulate regulations to suit their purposes under the guise of ‘public use,’ and then take land and give it to other private entities,” he said. “We need this bill more than ever to protect people like me and my family.”

Doug Robbins of Osceola echoed Walker. A proposed lake project in Clarke County would swallow his father’s house and 300 acres of the farm it sits on, which is where Robbins also is employed.

“No one is safe from the threat of eminent domain,” said Robbins. “You can have your property condemned at any time in the name of the development. In my county, people from all walks of life will be affected. This is not about politics, it is about our rights.” …

…The issue has become especially contentious in Mahaska County, where the city of Pella, in bordering Marion County, wants to confiscate land there for an airport.

“We are disenfranchised because we are not represented on the Pella Council, and without this legislation our land will be forced from us,” said Ann Rouwenhorst. “This law means our Board of Supervisors will have a vote, and property owners will have a voice.”

Rick Tuttle of Peru has been a long-time advocate for the legislation. Land that has been in his family since 1902 is threatened by a proposed lake in Madison County.

“I am speaking on behalf of many families,” said Tuttle. “This law would simply make those trying to confiscate private property prove that they, in fact, need it and couldn’t take any more than they need.” …
Do these average Iowa Joes and Joellens make compelling witnesses to the potential abuses of eminent domain for economic development? On their own probably not, but link their passion for this issue with the upcoming July media circus surrounding the forced evictions of Susette Kelo and her co-plaintiffs, with the upcoming August news coverage of the ubiquitous Mr. Archie Brooks and his involvement with the Des Moines ZZ Records case, and this issue will end up the political talk of September and perhaps October.

Vilsack’s ill timed and politically motivated veto coupled with Gronstal’s absurd call for a new bipartisan bill is just one more sweet gift hand delivered to Republicans. Between the CIETC goofiness and all the foot dragging on protecting the rights of Iowa property owners, Iowa Democrats are tossing any national election year advantage and working overtime to help level the campaign playing field -- and I’m guessin’ Republicans secretly want to thank Vilsack and Gronstal for all the help.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Chet Culver: a friend to government oversight

Chet’s all over the state coming up with ideas…some that sound like they came out of the Nussle/Vander Plaats campaign.

I suppose when the other guy is running contrast ads that suggest Des Moines/Polk County nurtures corrupt state government, and you just happen to be a statewide elected official from Polk County, it makes sense to be on record in favor of audits and oversight. Reported by Quad Cities Times:

… “I want an audit of every agency in state government,” he said. “I think we can save 5 percent of Iowa’s budget, or about $250 million.” He added that much of the cost savings will be through better use of technology.

Revenues already are up in Iowa thanks to Gov. Tom Vilsack, he added. But he also said the state could generate between $150 million and $200 million by raising the cigarette tax. …

A Democrat interested in cutting government and government spending is not credible (okay, maybe Ed would have been credible on this point). The Democratic Party faithful are made up groups that exist because government pays for it. Look at the public employment union endorsements (AFSCME & ISEA) over the last few election cycles. Can anyone find more than a few Republicans?

Peggy Noonan, our retro conservative WSJ columnist, put it this way:

Democrats use complexity as a thing to hide behind when they talk about taxes. Republicans can say, and can mean, "I hate taxes and will cut them." Democrats can't say that, because they don't hate taxes and in fact will raise them. Though they will not say it. They will say, "Tax cuts on the top 10% of income earners are nonprogressive and unhelpful, and I will cut their tax cut, or hike their taxes, and in turn make commensurate cuts on the taxes of the most deserving lower income taxpayers, though not in a way that will negatively impact the deficit."

When voters hear this they know exactly what it means: We will raise taxes.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110008484

Exactly.

BTW -- Do you think that Chet Culver will stop at a tobacco tax increase?


Friday, June 09, 2006

Skirmish One: Nussle to Culver, raise teachers’ salaries above the average; Culver to Nussle, that’s not how the state budget works.

The first gubernatorial campaign skirmish is all about the teachers. As reported by Radio Iowa’s O Kay Henderson:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver is questioning whether Republican rival Jim Nussle can follow through on his promise to raise teacher pay in Iowa to "better than average." Nussle made that promise Wednesday and Culver today (Thursday) is repeating his own pledge to raise teacher pay from 42nd to 25th in the country.

Culver estimates it'd cost roughly four-hundred million dollars to raise Iowa teacher pay to the national average. Culver suggests to go further, as Nussle pledges, might bankrupt the state. …

… Nussle, in turn, suggests Culver's incapable of writing a state budget. …

And the mud is flying.

Nussle seems to be using an interesting tactic to drive a wedge through the monolithic education lobby. Nussle’s straight-up promise to raise teachers’ salaries above the “national average” pushed Culver to make this ridiculous comment;

"I think Congressman Nussle will start to understand how the state budget works a little bit better as he comes back to Iowa and learns how we actually govern here and get things done here and balance budgets."

What Democrat Governor works to "balance a budget", particularly without raising taxes? They have to feed their base, which requires large quantities of money appropriated on production, vote production. The Mauro brothers and CIETC anyone?

Back to the wedge: last year, Nussle took up the education issue when addressing a community group up in Black Hawk County. At that meeting, he started to hint around at the need to examine the structure of education funding as it is applied across the system. This is wonk talk for saying we need to make sure the teachers are getting the lions share of the funds, which at this point they are not, less than fifty percent is going towards classroom instruction.

It’s not hard to see how a promise of an aggressive pay increase for teachers, classroom instruction money, translates into a larger discussion of the dysfunction in Iowa’s educational bureaucracy. Just spend an hour attempting to figure out where and how the AEAs acquire & use their funds.

The only surprise is the Culver comment. It suggests that this particular funding nuance is lost on our newly minted Dem gubernatorial candidate. As odd as it might seem, good politics begets good governing; it reflects on a politician’s ability to see things beyond the obvious.

(I know I'm a day late on this story. Sometimes you just need a day off, and unlike a few smart set blogging types; I don't have a ready cache of blog fill.)


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Upended

How frustrated are Republicans and Democrats that they cheerfully voted to upend the status quo in Des Moines? From the trouncing that Dusky Terry took from Denise O’Brien, he was the funded and Governor sanctioned candidate after all, to the formal and implied endorsements (a sign of the anti-Des Moines sentiments) that netted Blouin a weak second place and toss in the incumbent routes on the GOP side, it’s clear that Iowa voters have had it with the Democrat/Republican back and forth of the Vilsack years.

The outcome of this primary could have been anticipated if the Pennsylvania incumbent implosion from three weeks ago had been seriously examined by the campaigns. What makes anyone think that Iowa rank & file voters are unique? Pat Tommey writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer runs through the lessons of Pennsylvania’s Republican primary.

…The main reason so many Republican incumbents lost to little-known primary challengers was the accumulated frustration of the rank and file with elected Republicans who had abandoned their party's principles - especially the principle of limited government. This is a huge problem for Republicans holding federal office, too. …

… Frustrated Republican voters, fed up with big-government Republican incumbents and seeing credible challengers supported by conservative institutions, made sweeping changes.

The danger for GOP majorities across the country this fall is that Republican voters may still be frustrated with their incumbents. In the fall, they won't have primary challengers through which to vent their frustration. But they can stay home. Republican officeholders have very little time left to demonstrate to these voters that it's still worth coming out to vote.

In some ways, it looks like Des Moines Republicans assumed that they were immune from the nationwide incumbent hangover. But voters understand that Republicans don't represent Iowa when they squander hard won majorities by drifting away from core fiscal principles through the granting of funds and favor to powerful interests. Limited Government is limited government no matter what the lobby and community boosters might want to sell under that Blue Sky Dome.

I think it’s fixable, but it requires soul searching. Both parties will have the opportunity to hear from the rank & file activists at the upcoming state conventions, perhaps some leaders will take the time to listen.

It’s over for now. I’m glad for that; candidates are probably relieved as well.

**********************

For what it’s worth -- A fine post-mortem & a movie recommendation that might inspire a little thoughtful perspective.

(A late post due to blogger tech problems.)


Monday, June 05, 2006

One day away

Tomorrow is the Iowa primary – I know y’all don’t need to be reminded. If we’re lucky, by tomorrow night we’ll know the candidates we’re going to spend September & October tuning out.

We already know the incumbents and the uncontested primary winners; it’s the dogfights that will set the field for November. Statewide, it’s the Democrats gubernatorial primary with the messy finish among Blouin, Culver and Fallon (sorry Sal). It’ll hinge on turnout and intensity – bet on the true believers and the radical no-limits choice crowd to tilt this race.

Really, what is the difference between Mike Blouin and Jim Nussle? And we know Jim Nussle’s on the November ballot.

There are also competitive Secretary of Ag (SOA) races in both camps. The SOA races are filled with voter yawns, endorsements that might matter and grassroots politics.

Vilsack endorsed Dusky Terry, a young guy with family agriculture credentials and a career with team Vilsack (I guess that’s how it works; hitch a ride and pray the big shots think you’re a safe bet). His opponent is a female farmer and activist, Denise O’Brien; she has a slim chance of not losing by double digits.

The Republicans have two forty-something farm guys slugging it out. Both have endorsement, Bill Northey has the longer list of political endorsements, but I chalk that up to the future statewide types trying to kill off Mark Leonard, a guy with marketable bravado. I understand Northey’s appeal; he's approachable. With Leonard, it’s hard to get past the visual reference to T.R. – it screams flamboyant ego, which is my favorite type of high-maintenance personality, if I have to pick a favorite. And on picking a favorite in this race...I'm going with approachable.

The Republicans also have a primary race in the Secretary of State ra….oh never mind, the winner will be running against Polk County's Mike Mauro.

Congressional primaries are a bust except in the First District, Nussle’s old seat and a small sea of blue in a geographically red state.

The Democrats have four guys taking a shot at the race; Bruce Braley, Rick Dickinson, Bill Gluba & Denny Heath. I have no idea, but I’ll go out with a guess that Braley will pull out the win. He’s a well-connected trial lawyer from Dubuque, and he keeps on smiling through this political mud fight.

On the GOP side, it’s bloody knuckles to the end among three self-described conservatives. That’s probably one reason why the Club for Growth didn’t jump into this race with a “conservative” endorsement. Geographically, Mike Whalen and Brian Kennedy are both from Bettendorf, a wealthy, politically moderate quad cities community. Bill Dix, the farmer from rural Northeast Iowa, has to have a slight advantage with rural & small town voters as well as the Catholic urban areas of Waterloo and Dubuque. No one is calling this race. It’s going to hinge on what looks to be a weak Election Day turnout; if you live in the first district, vote early so you can avoid the late afternoon phone calls.

Speaking of low turnout, there are a few contested primaries for the Statehouse, mostly open seats but a few incumbent challengers. The only challenger anyone believes will actually beat an incumbent is Republican Linda Miller of Bettendorf. She’s run an organized, disciplined and well-financed campaign against Rep Joe Hutter. In that same area, Sen. Maggie Tinsman is up against challenger David Hartsuch, a Moline doctor and a self described Christian Conservative. (I wrote about Hartsuch last week because I hate it when a candidate is so wrong about an issue.) The Tinsman/Hartsuch race may hinge on turnout, although QC bloggers don't seem to remember his name.

A couple other intraparty challenges will end tomorrow. Democrat Matt McCoy is up against Gary Randa, this is more or less a vote on “lifestyles”. Northwest Iowa’s Paul Wilderdyke should survive a challenge from a young Republican still living in Iowa, at least ‘til he loses and then decides on Texas. The rest of the primaries are open seats, the edge always goes to the establishment-recruited candidates, but we’ll have to wait it out.

Of course, this is my own world-view on the primaries. I am sure the pros have their own thoughts; and if we're patient, some may decide post a few primary thoughts to their blogs.

(Some of you may believe that I could have used my time making phone calls or walking precincts for the candidate(s) of my choice instead of indulging this habit. I went back to my old town over the weekend to volunteer and I would have done some campaign work in my new town, but nobody asked. In all fairness, I didn't make a big effort to call or track someone down to see if I could give my time away.)



Friday, June 02, 2006

Pullin' the strings

No need to post any additional outrage over Governor Vilsack's veto of the eminent domain legislation (HF 2351), there's plenty here, there and everywhere.

It doesn't make any sense for a guy planning to make lots & lots of trips out to beautiful New Hampshire -- where they really do live free or die -- to kill a property rights bill. But if you recall some of the major sources of early funding for Vilsack's Heartland 527, the veto makes perfect sense.

Check out the spreadsheet Mike at NamedPipe put together last August on the Heartland 527 IRS report, you’ll see some of the usual suspects that might inspire this Governor to veto a popular bill. And there is no doubt that Chet Culver would make the same veto mistake.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

David Hartsuch on the ramifications of human trafficking

A few months ago, I posted on the human trafficking legislation making its way through the Iowa Senate. A quick recap: human trafficking is modern day slavery, most often associated with foreigners smuggled into the US for purposes of sexual and physical exploitation.

At that time, it looked like Senator Gronstal & Company might kill the human trafficking bill with a couple lousy amendments. That didn’t happen, it passed the Senate unanimously and moved to the House where it was amended, favorably, and passed unanimously (SF 2219).

Enough said. Right? But an election looms and challengers start stomping around for some attention.

Senator Maggie Tinsman was the primary sponsor of the human trafficking legislation and she has a primary opponent, David Hartsuch a doc from Moline. (What is it with these Iowa wannabe pols from Illinois? And does it really matter that retiring Illinois Congressman Lane Evans endorsed Mike Blouin?)

Hartsuch is an Iowa Christian Alliance type of candidate, lots of his own money and comfortable running a single-issue campaign. He’s anti-abortion. I’m okay with that, I admire men that can solidly stand behind an issue that will never directly affect their bodies. Nevertheless, being pro-life, particularly in the vein of the Feminists for Life, is a good place to be.

Anyway, Hartsuch has a problem: in a QC Times article by Ed Tibbetts (link is not available) he proclaims himself to be more than a single-issue candidate and proceeds to tick off a list of issues that he would have voted against. He even attempts a tough on illegals stand; Hartsuch said he would have voted against the human trafficking bill.

Yep. David Hartsuch believes that Iowa’s human trafficking law will allow illegal immigrants to claim to be victims of human trafficking for purposes of receiving state aid. He thinks we should just give these exploited and abused women & children one-way tickets. Sadly, it indicates how little Hartsuch understands the issues.

The U.S. Department of State is urging legislatures across the country to pass state level human trafficking laws to help put an end to things like this:

So this is the story of Rosa, who was trafficked from Mexico to the United States. She was 13 and waiting tables in a restaurant in a small village near Vera Cruz, Mexico when she was approached by an acquaintance of the family who told her, "You know you can make ten times more money in the U.S. doing what you’re doing here. …

… A big, burly looking man came out and told them, "I’ve just purchased you. Now you work for me." A little later an older woman took them to one of the trailers. She told Rosa that she was in a brothel and that she would have to buy her freedom by sexually servicing men.

Rosa was young. She was a virgin. She was Catholic. She knew what the woman was telling her was bad—a sin. She began to cry and begged to be taken to a restaurant to work. But she was told, "There are no restaurant jobs—only this." When she refused to do what they said, the burly man brought out three other men who took her into one of the trailers and gang-raped her to induct her into the "business." Then they locked her in the trailer without food and water until she succumbed.

For the next six months she was a prisoner. She was forced to service 10 or more men a day. On the weekends it was as many as 20-30 men. The men bought a ticket, which was a condom, for $20. But they often didn’t use it.

Twice Rosa was impregnated and twice forced to have an abortion. And twice forced back into the brothel the next day. …

Oh, and the Iowa Catholic Conference made passing human trafficking legislation a top priority in this past legislative session.

David Hartsuch is anti-abortion, yet he would kill a bill that works to end human slavery, sexual abuse and abortions. Is David Hartsuch a compassionate conservative?


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