Monday, September 30, 2013

Upcoming Events: September 30 - October 7

It's Homecoming week which means the last parade of the year for Johnson County on Friday evening.  Politicians of all stripes likely.

Voting for the November 5 city election starts Wednesday morning at the auditor's office.

Democrats have their central committee meeting Thursday at 7 at the school district office.

Two neighboring county Democratic parties are having... parties next weekend. The Cedar county Dems have their fall dinner Saturday \at 5:30pm in West Branch at the Town Hall. The meal will be served at 6pm with speakers and a pie auction to follow. Tix are ten.
Sunday at noon the Washington County Dems are having their fall fundraiser at the Washington County fairgrounds. The guest speaking is making an out of district stop: Pat Murphy. $20.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week In Review: September 23-29

I made the Gift Shop this week but not for the reason I expected: the Monday Miracle of the Republicans moving their caucus date to match the Democrats. I was all like:


Ironic metaphor: NRA Strategist Kills Elephant. Speaking of killing the GOP, the shutdown is ticking closer and the Trillion Dollar Coin makes a comeback. But Jesse Jackson did a WAY better Green Eggs And Ham than Ted Cruz.

New Jersey Supreme Court takes marriage equality off Chris Christie's plate. Leaving more room for seconds.

Chuck Grassley has announced he's running for re-election at age 83. In an alternate universe Iowa still has a Senate delegation of Clark & Culver, who both lost for re-election at 50 or younger.

Ace Ventura, TIF Detective: Private eyes and superPACs jump into... the Coralville city election? Meanwhile in Iowa City, the city finally admits that the 21 bar ordinance is a rights issue, but instead of expanding rights to young adults, they want to redefine rights.

And three Emmys for Jim Parsons, but still no Nobel Prize for Sheldon Cooper. Bazinga!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Human Rights Hypocrisy

I REALLY wasn't planning on ranting about the 21 Bar vote two days in a row. But sometimes they put the football on the tee for you, and you just have to kick.

Three years after passing the ordinance, the city finally figures out:
Because the 21-ordinance prevents people under the age of 21 from being in a bar after 10 p.m., the ordinance is in violation of the current Human Rights Ordinance. 

“For the 21-ordinance, no one changed or dealt with the Human Rights code,” said Sue Dulek, an assistant city attorney.
But instead of addressing the violation of rights by repealing the ordinance that violates the rights… the city instead wants to redefine rights.
The Iowa City Human Rights Commission proposed an ordinance that will exempt age restrictions based on health, safety, or developmental differences from the Human Rights Ordinance.

"Reflecting the fact, it’s OK to limit age when dealing with alcohol,” said Dulek.

The first consideration for the proposed ordinance will be voted on at the Oct. 1 City Council meeting.

City Councilor Rick Dobyns declined to comment. 
Of COURSE Doctor Do-gooder refused comment. Because this undercuts the 21 side's entire premise of defining the bar age ordinance as a public health issue when it's really a rights issue. It cuts to the core contradiction that 18 year olds are adults for virtually all rights except alcohol. (Condescendingly, the city human rights coordinator likens the 21 bar ordinance to protecting 8 year olds from dangerous equipment.)

I'm not as mad at the University administration-city establishment alliance that's on the 21 side, because their Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students contempt for young people is plain enough. To them, the ends of cracking down on Number One Party School justify the means of denying people rights.

In rights fights, you have to defend unsympathetic characters. Freedom of speech? Illinois Nazis. So I'm more upset with the "progressives" who are first in line to fight for rights if the issue is, say driving while black or housing discrimination. Just because the victims of a rights violation are Freddie Fratboy and Vodka Samm, and just because Fight For The Right To Party is a less sympathetic right, it doesn't mean the rights violation is unimportant.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

40 Days Out

It's 40 days until the city election. If this was a general election we'd be starting to vote today, but city elections don't have that same time requirement. There's not a set date, but in this county, this year, we'll be starting Wednesday October 2.

So instead of starting the final push, we're just seeing the dynamics take shape. Gregg Hennigan has the must-read of the month on Coralville's election:
A Coralville City Council candidate says she was offered $20,000 for her campaign from a Republican political operative from Polk County and a representative of local group critical of Coralville’s financial practices.

Laurie Goodrich told The Gazette she turned down the offer and felt some strings likely were attached to it.

Three other City Council candidates and a person running for mayor in the town of 20,000 residents confirmed they are receiving help from one or both of the people whom Goodrich met with, but they denied getting any financial assistance.
For those keeping score, the superPAC slate is Matt Adam for mayor and Dave Petsel, Chris Turner and Mark Winkler. Some Iowa City lefties will no doubt back this all-GOP ticket; they've made a habit of it the last couple elections. (Bobby Kaufmann, John Etheredge and Phil Hemingway say thanks.)

In Iowa City all the candidates are technically* Democrats but there's a pretty clear left-right, outside-inside feel. And the old 80s-90s left, a splintered shadow of its old self but still significant, puts its stamp of approval on the challengers with a personal invite from the mayor of the progressives:
Please plan to attend a Meet and Greet for Iowa City City Council Candidates Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole and Royceann Porter!
When: Thursday, October 10 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: The Home of Karen Kubby
Back during Kubby's decade on the city council, there was a sense of solidarity between the lefty "grown ups" and the students. That's faded, in part because the progressives have aged to the point that they've forgotten what it's like to be young (that Half Century of Deeth is coming up yet this year) and in part because they've lost their old libertarian streak.

Take the third round of the bar admission age fight, which had become too much the defining "student" issue. Too many on the left are seeing it as a public health fight. I think the gateway drug here was the statewide smoking ban. Maybe that's good policy, but anti-smokers (as opposed to non-smokers) could barely get two sentences out before their personal loathing of smokers became obvious.

So it is with the bar admission age. Personal loathing of obnoxious "frat boys" and Vodka Samms seems to trump the rights issues, so lefties juggle the cognitive dissonance of an 18 voting age and a 21 drinking age and accept the University's in loco parentis party line, reiterated by Sally Mason this week.

With the left sidelines or hostile, leave it to the libertarians to carry the ball.

Speaking of carrying the ball, KCRG's Mark Carlson notes:
Recent History lesson: 2010 was also the last time 21 Bar was on the ballot. The 19 campaign was making headway - remember, they only lost 52% to 48% -and pointing out (correctly) that the University was hypocritically being tougher on students than on older townie and alumni fans. So UI reacted - and over-reacted, as townie backlash started to threaten the University's Precious. So they eased up after a couple games.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

One Date, One Caucus

Celebrating but still in shock here at Deeth Blog world HQ.

In a surprising mid-course correction, the Iowa Republican state central committee moved the 2014 caucuses to Tuesday, January 21, restoring the longstanding Iowa tradition that the two major parties caucus at the same date and time.

Earlier this year, without consulting the Democrats, the Republicans had chosen Saturday, January 25. Democrats objected to the Saturday date. An experiment with Saturday in 2010 had led to low attendance and complaints from the Jewish community. Here's my past post on the issue of separate dates. The fundamental problem: the only effective tool the parties had for keeping people from attending both caucuses was the simultaneous timing.

The two dates issue languished quietly for several months until Republicans voted to move their state convention into July. The thinking was that because of the possibility that the U.S. Senate primary may be inconclusive with no candidate winning the required 35%, the convention had to be delayed until after the state canvass of votes from the June primary.

The convention delay angered many Republican activists, both rank and file and elected officials. The main concern: a delayed convention would mean a delayed start to the fall campaign against Bruce Braley. Then the Republican Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, said very publicly that there was no reason the convention had to wait till after the state canvass. After that, GOP leadership got the ball rolling on moving the convention back to June.

The convention date move was made rather easily this evening. But while that issue was on the table, the caucus date issue was thrown into the mix. Public attention started to focus on the separate dates once it became clear that the Republican state central committee was meeting to reconsider the convention date.

I'll admit I was pessimistic about the chances. My backstage conversations with activists on both sides had me convinced that neither the Republicans, or failing that the Democrats, were willing to budge. 

In the end, the caucus date dominated tonight's discussion. The main objection came from Scott County, which had already done the work of booking rooms for Saturday January 25th. (I've done, and re-done  that work before, and I tip the beret in salute to the Scott County Republicans for being ahead of the game.) And If I remember right, in presidential years we've set the caucus date late and the caucus date itself has been earlier.

The return to a common date is good for Iowa's integrity, good for our constant efforts to stay First In The Nation. A sincere Thank You to the Iowa Republicans for doing the right thing.


Statement on Republican Party of Iowa’s Change in Caucus Date

DES MOINES – Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan issued the following statement on the Republican Party of Iowa’s decision to move the January caucus date:

“Iowa Democrats thank the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee for honoring the long held tradition of having both party’s caucuses on the same night.  The caucuses are a time where neighbors of all backgrounds come together to discuss the important issues facing our state and nation.  Tonight’s action by the RPI ensures that Iowa’s caucuses are fair, open and accessible to everyone, and I look forward to working with Chairman Spiker on not only ensuring that the 2014 caucuses are a success, but that the Iowa caucuses remain first in the nation.”

Upcoming Events: September 23-30

Tonight the Iowa Republicans meet by phone to make the decision, apparently already made, to move their convention back to June 2014. Still time to deal with that different caucus date from Democrats issue as well.

A busy week of fundraisers as the September 30 quarterly campaign finance filing deadline nears.Not all federal, not all listed, but here's a couple items:

Thursday there's a House Democrats Truman fund event with the new House Democratic leader Mark Smith and, also of interest, Iowa City's own Zach Wahls.  From 5 to 7 at the Kirkwood Room; tickets start at $50.

Saturday at 1:30 Bruce Braley will have a fundraiser at the home of Ann Rhodes and Steve Miller, at 500 Saint Thomas Court. Suggested donations start at $25, more details here.

The League of Women Voters is hosting a voter registration day Saturday; local spots are the Iowa City and Coralville libraries from 10 to 2.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lazy Sunday Long Reads

If you're waking up in the late afternoon, here's some important and lengthy articles:

Week In Review: September 16-22

Trolling vs. Serious: that's the meme of the week. All sorts of stories where I can't help but feeling like someone is putting us on:

And, oh yeah. Joe Biden comes to Iowa.

I think that last one may be serious, from the way he worked the rope line long after the speeches to the announcement that he's hosting a DC fundraiser for 4th CD candidate Jim Mowrer, Steve Kings opponent. (King launched another howler late last week, saying "illegal immigration has led to thousands of Americans' deaths." Keep it classy, Steve.)

Iowa will also be seeing Chuck Schumer as the keynoter for the Democrats' Jefferson Jackson dinner. But he immediately and convincingly denied higher ambitions:
Hillary Clinton hasn't been to Iowa in a very long time - caucus night 2008 - and while she's making the rounds again she's steered clear of us. What hasn't changed
Campaigns are often highly controlled events, but the ASTA conference at Hyatt Regency Miami kicked it up a notch.

At one point, a member of the audience, Andrew Rothberg, had his Galaxy Note II smartphone taken from him by security, which removed his picture of Clinton onstage and then gave his device back in front of a Miami Herald reporter in the auditorium stands.

Hotel security and volunteers roamed the aisles looking for people taking pictures or making recordings. None was allowed.
Read more here:
 Seems she hasn't learned from 2007.

Not sure which is better: Anesa Kajtazovic winning another Iowa Horserace poll, or me getting quoted by Mike Glover.

Comeback trail: 1 term GOP state rep Ross Paustian is making a third run. Paustian lost to Elesha Gayman in a top tier 2008 race, then won in 2010 when Gayman stepped down. Former senator Frank Wood knocked him off in 2012.

And Tennessee state senator Charlotte Burks is retiring next year. Who? This is one last chapter in the Low Tax Looper story.

Looper, who legally changed his middle name to Low Tax so it could be printed on the ballot, murdered his opponent, Democratic incumbent Tommy Burks, in 1998. Looper found a loophole in election law: if Burks died immediately before the election, he couldn't be relpaced on the ballot so Looper would be the only name listed. That part actually worked. But outraged voters wrote widow Charlotte Burks' name on 95% of the ballots.

She's served ever since, but had a close call in 2010 in a Republican-trending rural district. Looper, meanwhile, died in prison this past June.

Friday, September 20, 2013

@ChuckGrassley annc 4 7th trm

O. Kay Henderson does a better job than anyone at capturing Chuck Grassley's distinctive Twitter voice. Grassley made headlines twice this week, first for celebrating his 80th birthday with a multi-mile jog to the Capitol, then by surprising pretty much everyone and announcing, three years early, that he's planning to run for re-election to a seventh term in 2016.

Just ten senators have been elected to seven full six year terms. Only five completed the seventh term. (Two more, Orrin Hatch and Pat Leahy, are still in that seventh term, and Joe Biden resigned just days into his to become Vice President.) While Grassley still looks to be a hale and hardy fellow, towing his multiple lawnmowers behind his tractor, it's worth noting that till today, it looked like his most likely successor was his grandson, who just turned the constitutionally required 30 this year.

(Unless this is a Jedi Mind Trick to keep strong candidates of BOTH parties from gearing up, followed by a last minute dropout in favor of Pat. I doubt it, but it's possible.)

I remember when Dick Lugar ran for a seventh term too, just last year. He lost a primary to a hard-right candidate who then lost to the Democrat in November. Granted, Lugar had no-shot presidential ambitions, a Foreign Relations Committee focus, and most damaging, no actual address in Indiana.

Grassley has kept his home fires far better tended and his political antennae far better tuned. It's not for nothing that the national press calls a 99 county Iowa tour "the full Grassley," because he does it every year. How many would-be presidents have met with three people in tiny Adams County just to check off All 99?

But he's slipping a little; he actually lost a county in 2010. Used to be he barely lost a precinct.

Grassley will be 83 in 2016. In 2022, when term seven ends, Grassley will be 89 years old. It's a delicate business, running against an aging incumbent. Ed Case in Hawaii learned the hard way in 2006 how not to run an age-based campaign against an octogenerian, a then 82 year old Daniel Akaka. Case lost, sacrificing a House seat he's tried and failed repeatedly to win back, and forever earned the wrath of a Hawaii political establishment that (Tulsi Gabbard aside) skews very old. (Only Hawaii would elect a Mazie Hirono to a freshman term at age 65 and consider her young.)

No, you have to be subtle and elliptical, letting the voters fill in the blanks. It would have to be done on issues. And that's the important thing about today.

A Chuck Grassley seeking re-election will be watching his right flank closely for the slightest sign of a whippersnapper upstart. Given the current state of the Iowa Republican Party, that's where the action is. Don't look for Grassley to reach across the aisle on issues big or little, or to vote in the Judiciary Committee for anyone Barack Obama dares to nominate for any Supreme Court vacancy. Grassley `16 means we'll be seeing Pull The Plug On Grandma Grassley more and more.

End of an Era In Oxford

Don Saxton's Oxford Project portraits, looking exactly the same in 1984 and 2005.

Forget the every two years Battle of University Heights and the big fight in Coralville. Even 21 Bar Round Three is a little story. Our BIG city election news after yesterday's filing deadline is out of Oxford.

Mayor Don Saxton is not seeking re-election, stepping down after 32 consecutive years in office. The retired teacher was elected in a 1981 landslide and re-elected every two years since, only seeing opponents in 1993 and 1999 (he won by more than two to one both times).

Council member Gary Wilkinson and new candidate David Cook are looking to fill Saxton's unfillable shoes. (Wilkinson is mid-term, so if he wins there will be a council vacancy.) In the council race for two seats, incumbents Bryan Cooling and Darrell Ealy face Lorena Loomis, who lost in 2011.

In other cities (full list):

Tiffin's Royce Phillips, already announced as a legislative candidate, is running for another city council term. Phillips was mayor until losing to Steve Berner in 2011, then came back for a council special election win on the 2012 presidential ballot (replacing my boss Travis Weipert). Fellow incumbents Jim Bartels and Joan Kahler are also running for the three seats. Challengers on the ballot are Mark Petersen, who finished a respectable third out of four candidates for two seats in 2011, and new candidate Bruce Hecox. Despite the contentious 2011 race, Berner is unopposed for mayor.

Shueyville has a contested mayor's race: Markus Cannon is challenging incumbent Brian Bredman. In the council race, Pamela Larson is challenging incumbents Jerry Cada and Steve Kass for the two seats.

In Swisher, incumbents Larry Svec and Angie Hinrichs face challengers Keith Kramer and Christopher Taylor for two full-term seats. There's also a separate contest for a two year short term. Even though the appointment process nearly deadlocked and almost forced a special election earlier this year, appointee Michael Stagg is unopposed. (As I keep saying: why doesn't the law let all the candidates run in one race, and have the third place finisher get the short term?)

Lone Tree will have at least two write in winners. Incumbent Kice Brown was the only person to file for the three council seats. Incumbents Alyssa Coppinger and Helen Lemley did not file. That means either a really dull quiet election or a contentious stealth candidate fight, and my antennae weren't well tuned into Lone Tree even when I lived there. The Tree has a history of write-in winners both for city and school offices; in fact, that's how Lemley won her first term in 2005. Mayor Rick Ogren is unopposed.

Nothing to see here: Three Solon council seats, three candidates. Barring a write-in, incumbents Steve Stange and Mark Krall will be joined by newcomer Casey Grover, son of former mayor Steve Grover. Hills and North Liberty have nothing but unopposed incumbents. Looks like that North Liberty vote center will save a bit of money.

A Crowd of Coralville Candidates

Coralville looks set for a record breaking city election with two strong factions and a wide field of candidates. Four candidates are running for the open mayor's chair and eight people are seeking three council seats.

Coralville's city finances and dealings, including its use of tax incremental financing (TIF) districts and luring Von Maur from Iowa City's Sycamore Mall to the Iowa River landing, have been much in the news the past few years.

The "outsider" group, Citizens For Responsible Growth And Taxation, has a site but doesn't list its preferred candidates yet. I've made some guesses based on rhetoric. Maybe we'll see the kind of weird left-right-libertarian coalition that's played such a big role in area politics this past year, most notably on the defeats of the justice center.
Tangent but worth noting: That coalition was a minority that never topped 50%. They only had to score 40% for their wins. Also worth noting: the loudest grumblings about Coralville's finances come from people who don't live in Coralville. The left-right-libertarian coalition was strongest in the Iowa City limits. If only Coralville had voted on the justice center, it would have passed last November with 60.6%, about four points higher than the countywide result.
Links are mainly to the non-paywalled Gazette, where someone clearly did the old-school legwork of posting themselves at City Hall for yesterday's 5 PM filing deadline. That's harder to do when there's only about six working journalists in town anymore. The cities bring their paperwork in to the auditor later today. Look for a post about the other eight cities this evening.

The mayor's chair is open as Jim Fausett, who's served since 1995 and was on the council for a couple decades before that, retires. Four candidates:
Matt Adam, 37, Republican, Brown Deer area (precinct 2), Attorney; represented people and businesses who sued the city over the Von Maur deal. So pretty clearly the CRGT guy: "“We need to continue to encourage economic growth and development in Coralville, but it needs to be responsible and not leave the taxpayers with ever-larger tax increases in order to finance the growing debt."

David Fesler, 62, precinct 7. Registered Democrat, married to prominent GOP activist Karen Fesler. Ran for supervisor in 2012 as an independent.

John Lundell, 57, Democrat, precinct 2, works at College of Public Health. Elected to city council 2003. Was top vote getter in his 2009 council re-election. Has Fausett's endorsement.

Logan Strabala, West High student. Just turned 18 Monday, which has attracted a fair amount of news attention. Has not yet registered to vote.
Three seats on the council. Two incumbents running and one seat vacant; Lundell's term expires so he's either up or out. (The two holdovers are Mitch Gross and Jill Dodds.) One former member, one repeat candidate, four newcomers.
Tom Gill, 67, Democrat, precinct 1 (the old part of town). Dentist. First elected 1987; stepped down in 1999 but came back in 2001. Finished third of six candidates for three seats in 2009.

Laurie Goodrich, 58, Republican, precinct 3. City staffer 1998 to 2007. Ran in 2009 finishing fifth.
Bill Hoeft, 46, precinct 6, incumbent, elected 2009 finishing in second place. Just switched affiliation from Republican to No Party on Wednesday. Was seen as an outsider in `09, contributing to the defeat of four term councilman Henry Herwig, but seems less so after a full term.

Dave Petsel, 56, Republican, precinct 6. Owner of Iowa River Power Restaurant and Flannigan’s. Appears to be associated with CRGT: "Wants city government to be more open while enacting responsible growth policies that do not add to the city’s “already heavy” debt."

Jean Schnake, 63, no party, Auburn Hills area. Elected to council 1995. Served till a 2007 loss, in the closest race in Coralville history. (Not so much a loss as: three candidates for two seats, Mitch Gross way ahead of the two incumbents, and Schnake drew the short straw, falling just 12 votes short of John Weihe.)

Chris Turner, 61, Republican, precinct 6. Faculty member in the UI Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Likely CRGT guy: "doesn't think taxpayers should bear the burden of financing such growth. He pledged as councilor to prioritize the city’s assets and work to improve the city’s financial standing."

John Weber, 69, Democrat, precinct 3. Runs furniture and design business The Luxe Zone. "Weber says he hopes to have the opportunity to “continue the great work the current city council and mayor have put in motion.”"

Mark Winkler,  56, Republican, precinct 3. UI business faculty. Looks like third CRGT candidate: "“I want to see Coralville grow; but our debt, which is the highest per capita of any city in Iowa, threatens to hold us back if not addressed proactively,"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The OTHER city with no primary

While we wait for the 5 PM filing deadline for city council candidates in nine of Johnson County's 11 cities, let's pause and look at our OTHER city that's not having a primary, the city within a city, that infamous speed trap, University Heights.

Near as I can tell there's never been a University Heights primary. Auditor's records only go back to 1977. Before that cities ran their own elections, and no one I've ever ask ever remembers a University Heights primary. They came close in 2009: ten for the five council seats and two for mayor. One more in either would have forced the primary.

So the practical effect of the primary provision is an earlier filing deadline and an earlier start to the city's fourth consecutive contentious campaign: the 2009 and 2011 cycles and a January 2011 special.

The heat started roughly five years ago when St, Andrew Church announced plans to move out of University Heights and develop the existing church property. Nothing gets nastier than zoning fights, and  buildable lots are rare in a landlocked city.

One thing is settled: incumbent mayor Louise From is unopposed. She's got yards signs up anyway just in case, and they're not old ones since they specify the November 5 election date.

The five council members are all seeking new terms; UH is now the last city in the county where the whole council is up every two years.

Two incumbents are associated with what was called in 2011 the "U H Moving Forward" faction, which supported the  One University Place development proposal: Mike Haverkamp and Jim Lane. U H Moving Forward also backed From in 2011 (she was unopposed then too). Their yard signs are showing up alongside one of the new candidates: Zadok Nampala.

Three incumbents were part of the 2011 We Are For University Heights group: Roseanne Hopson, Brennan McGrath and Jan Leff. Rachel Stewart was the fourth WeR4UH candidate in 2011. After a recount she lost the last seat to Lane by one vote, and is running again. The four WeR4UH candidates are all listed together on one sign, the same ones used in 2011.

Two other new candidates, Virginia Miller and Silvia Quezada , are also running; their affiliations aren't yet clear.

The University Heights split is remarkable for both its intensity - turnout levels have approached governor-election levels - and its razor margin. Usually in a faction fight with two slates one side sweeps, but slight variations in personal ties have produced split results. And the factions have run less than full slates.

Only thing I'll predict: this fight continues until the church, which is also the polling place, gets torn down and something gets built there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hatch Addresses Issues, Age in Iowa City

Jack Hatch brought his roll-out tour to Iowa City last night for some pizza and Q&A. While the bulk of the formal talk focused on issues and contrasts with Republican incumbent Terry Branstad, questioning zoomed in on contrast with Hatch's main primary opponent Tyler Olson.

"I'm 63, my primary opponent is 37," said Hatch, asked directly whether it was time to step aside for a newer generation (Branstad is also in his 60s.)

"The only way to beat Terry Branstad is a person with experience.  One good thing about age is wisdom over the years. We have to be one state and we have to learn that experience means something. I can bring experience to this job through my years in the legislature and through my accomplishments."

"The new generation will not only be welcomed," added Hatch, "it will be recruited."

"No one has worked harder for working people than Jack Hatch," fellow Senator Joe Bolkcom said in introduction. Bolkcom cited health care, payday lending, choice, and fighting nuclear power as reasons for his endorsement.

"We have a governor who doesn't lead," said Hatch. "His political machine makes the decisions." He cited health care reform as an example. "He stood in the doorway of every clinic in the state to keep 100,000 Iowans from receiving their right to health care."

A couple dozen Johnson County Democrats were on hand, mostly core activists; the only other elected official spotted was Supervisor Terrence Neuzil. Also spotted was our friend Kevin Hall from The Iowa Republican.

Hatch continues his tour next week, visiting courthouse-size weekly paper and AM radio size towns. One critique of Hatch is the loaded question of whether a Des Moines Democrat can appeal to small town Iowa (though in fairness Olson is from the state's second biggest city).

"Every neighborhood in Des Moines is a small town," he responded.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Upcoming Events: September 16-23

Today's big event is the Johnson County Democrats' 9/16 Ice cream social at Penn Meadows Park in North Liberty with Dave Loebsack and scads of local elected officials. That's 5:00pm until 7:00pm.

Jack Hatch makes his run for governor official Tuesday with multiple stops, one of which is in Iowa City. 6:30 at Bob's Your Uncle on North Dodge.

Thursday is the city election filing deadline for cities without primaries. 5 PM with city clerks. Look for some coverage of this Friday.

Saturday at 4, Democrats get together in Ottumwa for the 2nd District Hall of Fame dinner. Tix are $35.

And this last one is only virtual, but the Republican state central committee meeting to reconsider the state convention date (and maybe the caucus date?) is a week from today.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week In Review: September 9-15

The Hawks win… and Tyler Olson tapped into the buildup with a Students4Olson "CyHawk Challenge" that snared some names for his email list.

Roll Call listed the top eight most fascinating congressional recruits… and of COURSE the list includes Anesa Kajtazovic.

Also in the 1st CD, on the GOP side, Paul Pate and Walt Rogers see an opportunity. That's four candidates. Another convention?

That Republican convention may get moved back to June. Secretary of State pulled the rug out from under GOP chair A.J. Spiker's spurious argument that the state convention couldn't happen until after Big Liberty had enough time to get organized the state canvass. So there's a conference call a week from Monday. While they're at it, could they do something about getting the 2014 caucus date the same for both parties?

Senator Chickenman has a challenger, as Wapello County supervisor Steve Siegel announces for Senare 41. Chelgen, a 10 vote winner in 2010 in a heavily Democratic district, is the Dems' best change to knock off an incumbent next year… unless Kent Sorenson somehow survives his inevitable primary.`Cause you know HE ain't gonna go willingly.

We had an election… my favorite story out of School Election `13 is that Dave Loebsack's 2012 Republican opponent John Archer lost his re-election bid for Pleasant Valley school board. His poor meeting attendance during his congressional run (reportedly about 30%) was a minor issue in last year's race.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Fourth Name From The Goblet Of Fire

The legal woes of school board member Jeff McGinness were one of many subcurrents in the recent election. With the votes now counted, at least one community member wants to draw a fourth name from the Goblet of Fire.

Carol DeProsse wrote a letter to the Press-Citizen published yesterday calling for 1) the resignation of McGinness and 2) "the appointment of the fourth highest vote getter in the recent election to his seat."

That would be Phil Hemingway, who fell just short for the second straight election. She doesn't mention it in the letter, but it's well know DeProsse publicly backed Hemingway (the arch-liberal has made a habit of supporting registered Republicans lately) and the rest of the unsuccessful Save Hoover faction. It's also well known that McGinness was one of the votes to close Hoover.

The argument that the next-out finisher should be appointed to any vacancy is just one more facet of how a different electoral system woulda coulda changed the outcome here.Lawyers say not to argue hypotheticals but I never went to law school so I'm dumb enough to do just that.

Hemingway was a lot of people's first choice, true. His watchdog persona and adamant support for Hoover earned him the top finish in two precincts. But he was also a lot of people's LAST choice for his stubbornness, uncooperativeness, and diatribes so long that the Board (wrongly) changed the rules largely to shut him up. The Board of Supervisors knows what it's like to have a member whose only job is to vote No. And the party affiliation thing was also a factor for some folks. A ranked choice election would have more accurately reflected the polarized opinions about Hemingway.

If this had been a vote for four election, rather than a vote for three, it's not necessarily true that the fourth place finisher would have gotten those additional votes. When it WAS a vote for four, in 2011, Hemingway was fifth. The strategies would have changed. Different candidates might have filed. The West High constituency could have more enthusiastically backed their third choice, Sara Barron, with less fear of pushing their top two choices, winners Tuyet Dorau and Chris Lynch, out of the money.

Here's another system: at Democratic Party conventions, if you're electing more than one person on a ballot, delegates are required to use all their votes, or none of the votes count. If three are getting elected, you have to pick three. Would have DEFINITELY changed the numbers out of Coralville if people had been forced to put their money where their mouth was on that third choice vote for Barron..

Before the revenue purpose statement election in February, there was a little buzz about going to a districting system. There's different kinds: candidates merely have to live in a school BOARD district and the entire SCHOOL district votes, or only voters in the school BOARD district vote. It's hard to say how that would have shook out for Hemingway. If the entire SCHOOL district votes, he still wouldn't have gotten those votes from the west. If only an east side school BOARD district were voting, you'd still see that Hoover vs. City High factional fight.

Enough with the what if scenarios. Here's what current law says would happen. The school board would make an appointment that would last until the next scheduled election.

That's the next scheduled SCHOOL election. One archaic facet of Iowa law: school elections can never be combined with any other kinds of elections for any reason. That's one of the reasons we got stuck having three separate special elections in the first four months of the year, and it's something the legislature needs to change. In a computerized era there's no reason election workers would be unable to juggle the different types of ballots voters would need in, say, a combined school and city election.

So an appointment would last until September 2015, at which time the McGinness term would expire anyway. The last appointment was in the summer of 2011 when Michael Cooper left town for a new job. Former board member Jan Leff was appointed with the pretty open acknowledgement that it was just as a place holder for four meetings. There was a separate election on the 2011 ballot for a two year term. Karla Cook won that in a landslide, only to lose Tuesday.

(That's another little law tweak: why a separate election for short terms? How about this: run all seats together and the winner with the least votes gets the short term.)

Unlike all other offices, for school offices there is no provision for a petition for a special election. The appointment simply stands until the next election. It looks to me like there's also not an active option for the school board to go directly to an election. Only inaction or a deadlock allows a special election.

So an appointment it would be. And given the current polarization, Nile Kinnick himself could be risen from the grave and appointed to the school board, and the first thing people would ask is: Coralville or east side?

As the next-out vote getter Phil Hemingway has a decent, if imperfect, case. But it's also clear that the present board would almost certainly not appoint him. It's also hard to appoint any of the other unsuccessful candidates when Hemingway got more votes.

This is an awful lot of speculation over a vacancy that may never happen. But it's the kind of thing people are gaming out right now, and it's starting to feel like the 2013 school election isn't quite over.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Several Items In Search Of A Common Theme

A.J. Spiker is drawing a line in the sand on his July date for next year's Republican state convention, insisting that it can't happen before the state canvass even though the 99 county canvasses are done about a week after the election. He's citing a 1928 court case involving a county and ignoring the much more recent and relevant 2002 congressional district convention that picked Steve King. Kevin Hall has a good overview. While we're at it: can we get the 2014 caucuses on the same date/time for both parties, too?

The 1st CD Republican primary just got a grownup; looks like Cedar Falls Rep. Walt Rogers is getting in. Walt's still a pretty conservative guy, but he's not a Paulbot (Rod Blum) or a perennial loser (Steve Rathje). With three candidates, that one could also theoretically go into the convention zone with no one over 35%. Hint: GOP primary? Always bet on crazy.

Also in IA-01, DC-based Roll Call looks at This Cycle’s Top 8 Most Fascinating Recruits (So Far) and Anesa Kajtazovic is of course in the first sentence.

Tyler Olson has a list.

In an alternate universe where Gabby Giffords didn't get shot, she won Arizona's open seat Senate race last year. In this universe, she and astro-husband Mark Kelly are headlining a Bruce Braley event in Des Moines on October 27.

Here's an it's funny because it's true read between the lines of Putin: "every Russian knows that the Soviet Union defeated the Nazis and that the Americans pitched in a little at the end." Bazinga.

An interesting piece on Bill de Blasio's NYC win, implications for Hillary Clinton, and generational change. Conclusion seems to be President Warren. Implications more than just political:
...people are disproportionately influenced by events that occur between their late teens and mid-twenties. During that period—between the time they leave their parents’ home and the time they create a stable home of their own—individuals are most prone to change cities, religions, political parties, brands of toothpaste. After that, lifestyles and attitudes calcify. For Mannheim, what defined a generation was the particular slice of history people experienced during those plastic years. 
Plays into my pet theory on music in advertising. The song in the ad was popular when the target audience was roughly 20. Or: Song date minus 20=target birth date. That car ad with kids training for a playground football fight to Quiet Riot's "Metal Health?" 1983. Target audience = me. Or: Too old to be cool, too young not to care. (Still seeking suggestions to replace that slogan when I turn 50 in December.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Battle Of The Boot: United West Beats Split City

First of all the turnout. My friend Rod Sullivan rightly notes that 11.85% turnout is still not something to brag about. But one step at a time... and in my 16 years of doing this I have NEVER seen an order of magnitude leap forward like this.

Two years ago the Iowa City Community School District had a geographically contentious, big field school election. We had 4492 voters, a record for a non-bond election.

This looked similar: geographically contentious, big field. We nearly DOUBLED it at 8727, beating even the bond record set in 1995 by more than 3000 votes. Only major special bond elections have been bigger. And I've never seen a turnout record broken by that much.

Results got delayed a little because, despite an all-day effort, we finally ran out of ballots in Coralville and the last couple dozen voters got photocopied hand-counted ballots. My senior colleagues say the last time that happened was in a 1987 sales tax vote.

As for the results: this was a Survivor Island election with multiple factions and strategic voting, but there seemed to be three main clusters. The west side, Coralville and North Liberty were united on incumbent Tuyet Dorau and new candidate Chris Lynch, the top two finishers and both Coralville residents. They gave a weak third endorsement to Sara Barron but tacitly encouraged the use of just two votes. And indeed "bullet voting" was heavier west than east.

East siders were split. A "Save Hoover" faction backed Barron, Phil Hemingway and Greg Geerdes, while a City High faction, perhaps looking to Hoover as expansion turf for the landlocked high school, backed incumbent Karla Cook and newcomer Brian Kirschling. Cook lost her seat but Kirschling grabbed the third seat, just 104 votes ahead of Hemingway who gets his second narrow loss in a row.

In a strange indicator of the geographic divisiveness: half the precincts were won by candidates who finished out of the top three.

The Winners:

1. Tuyet Dorau  The incumbent wins her second term with overwhelming margins in the west - 75% in Coralville, 73% in North Liberty and 56 at West High. Held her own in the rest of the district, probably helped by the teacher endorsement and the No vote on closing Hoover.

2. Chris Lynch. Finished a close second in all the same west side places Dorau won. Weaker east side performance, probably just lost in the mix, left him 600 votes behind Dorau across the district.

3. Brian Kirschling. Top performance was at Lemme, the highest percent turnout precinct (Coralville and North Liberty had more total voters). Kirschling scored 56% there and 48% at Horace Mann for first places. The east side but not the immediate Hoover neighborhood. Also won the absentee, though that was really splintered. But key to the narrow win: slightly better showings on the west (weak thirds in the Dorau-Lynch precincts) than Hemingway.

The Rest:

4. Phil Hemingway. Would a more professionalized campaign, with just one mailing or a couple ads, have made the difference? Or would it have undercut his outsider appeal? This is Phil's second narrow loss in a row and poor showings in Coralville and North Liberty (17%) have done him in each time. He was an overwhelming winner in the tiny Hills precinct with 75% and also won Twain with 42%. Both areas historically are outsiders in school elections, for example least likely to support money issues (indeed the PPEL actually lost in Hills). Hemingway was also a strong second at City High, heart of the Hoover neighborhood.
In any case, expect to see still Phil at every board meeting, and to make a play for any vacancy that may occur. (The rumor mill has been going wild about Jeff McGinness's legal woes...)

5. Karla Cook. A landslide winner two years ago, Cook is swept out. The vote to close Hoover? She didn't do well at City High, and took a harder hit at Lincoln, which fears it will be next on the chopping block. But she was first at Lemme, three votes ahead of Kirschling. But what really beat Cook: she was out of the running in Coralville and North Liberty. Often overheard: Coralville/North Liberty fears of an all Iowa City, almost all east side board.

6. Sara Barron. Barron could very easily have come in second or even first, as the east sider acceptable to the west. But that west side support was just lip service and third votes that could have gone to Sara were left blank. They didn't want her to push Lynch or Dorau into fourth. So Barron finished very poorly in the upper teens in Coralville, North Liberty and West High. She was first at City High, with both Hoover support and liberals from Longfellow and downtown.

7. Jason Lewis. Strongly identified with the Twain neighborhood, he was a decent second there and also at Horace Mann where he was popular with north side lefties. But he seemed lost in the shuffle of the key factions.

8. Greg Geerdes. Favorite weird factoid of the election: Guy finished eighth out of nine yet wins a precinct, Lincoln. Hemingway was second there and Cook did badly, again Lincoln sees itself as next Hoover. Looks like Geerdes was the weak link in the Save Hoover faction, finishing a not great third at City High.

9. Jim Tate. Jim is a great guy but he seemed like he was the fourth or fifth choice of multiple factions; yeah he'd be OK but we're really backing these other three. His only solid endorsement was organized labor, and their influence was diluted by the high turnout. Last everywhere with his best showing 15% at Twain.

Other Districts:

Solon was the hot spot, by percentage even hotter than Iowa City. Two clear factions and the votes for winners Dick Schwab, Rick Jedlicka and Tim Brown tracked closely with the Yes votes on the Kirkwood levy while the No votes tracked closely with the losers. A pattern we've seen before in what seems to be an ideology thing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mid-Day Miscellaneous

Some links to tide you over till the school results come in:

School Election Day

Today looks like a record breaker, and not just the weather.  100˚ in September, no decent rain in 3 weeks; when did I move to Arizona?

I can't predict this election's outcome much better than anyone can predict the weather but both are hot. Based on the early voting, ICCSD turnout should pass the 6082 voters and 8.1% turnout from the February revenue purpose statement election.

We saw 942 early ballots for that one; at the end of yesterday 1487 were requested and 1385 were returned. (Possible strategic error: Over half of those unreturned mailed ballots are from the same precinct: North Liberty. In any case: DON'T MAIL THEM, bring them in if you want them counted. The postmark deadline was yesterday.)

That February election is probably the best set of benchmarks for today, mostly because it's the only other election we've ever had with these precinct lines. ICCSD added one precinct this decade. The line changes were almost all in the city of Iowa City.  Coralville and Hills are unchanged and North Liberty was barely changed so if you want to compare those to past years you're probably close enough.

But if you want to go waaaay back to compare the district-wide picture, the all-time record for a school BOARD election as opposed to a special was in 1995, at 5815, 10.8% of an 18 years ago smaller population base. The 10% mark today would be 7364. There was also a major bond issue on the ballot in `95, the one that built Wickham Elementary. The special election record was a whopping 13,189 in a December 1992 bond vote, but that one got boosted by "two elections in one" satellite sites in the last days before the presidential election.

There's money issues on this ballot, too: a physical plant/equipment levy and a Kirkwood levy. Both are renewals of existing levies, but the Iowa Republican Party declared today TAX CUT TUESDAY! urging No votes on levy renewals in general and a Polk County measure in particular.

Not to sell Johnson County's other districts short but even apart from size Iowa City is the story, in contentiousness and in turnout. Clear Creek Amana and Solon look like they're having normal contested election years, and Lone Tree is low key with three unopposed incumbents. (Lone Tree, though, has seen stealth write-in campaigns in the past.)

So, the basics: Polls open to 8. School polling places which for most people are different.

Turnout updates here. If you're trying to project, and your mileage may vary: historically the 9:00 numbers double by 11, the 11:00 numbers double by 3, and (this last one is least accurate) the 3 PM numbers double by closing time. So 9 AM times 8 or 11 AM times four gives you an idea. There's also a 6 PM update but that just started in the Weipert Administration - I assume you all know I work there - so we don't have a formula for that one yet.

Results here after 8. Special note for Clipper fans: Clear Creek Amana results vary dramatically by precinct and the Amana precinct is capable of Kim Jong Un percentages; I've seen 99% to 1%. Analysis later after the work is done.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Events This Week: September 9-16

It's the start of Wabbit Season, though the subject is being vigorously debated.

The big event this week is the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola Sunday. You'll get your money's worth for the speech because Joe Biden will be in town. Cue the national press scrum and the 2016 buzz. Also on hand: San Antonio Mayor Juliàn Castro.

Closer to home, we've got that lil' school board election tomorrow.  Early voting at the auditor's office today 7:45 to 5:30. Tuesday polls close at 8 PM.  In Johnson County all the districts open at 7 AM. Your mileage may vary across the state; some districts open at noon.) More Where To Vote stuff tomorrow.

Saturday at 5:30 Anesa Kajtazovic is having a campaign kickoff party in Waterloo.

Next Monday (9/16) the Johnson County Democrats are having an ice cream social in North Liberty with Dave Loebsack and all sorts of other elected folks. Penn Meadows Park, 5 to 7.

And just to balance things out, the Johnson County Republicans Republicans meet tonight (Monday 9/9) at 2010 Keokuk Street. There's a 6 PM dinner ($5 a head) and the meeting is at 7.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Week In Review: September 2-8

Your missing yard sign might be at the county Secondary Roads shop.

Or it might be in DeKalb, Illinois. It seems fans of NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch took a liking to signs for school board candidate Chris Lynch last weekend.  Apparently they have a Tate and a Barron on the roster too, as my signs went missing. Or maybe Vodka Samm took them.

But the SAVE HOOVER signs were far enough away from Kinnick that admirers of Missouri State wide receiver Zac Hoover left them alone.

While we're thinking school board: thanks to Sarah Swisher for her service. She's stepping down after one term. A great friend and a great Democrat.

Twin conventions Wednesday set the field for the October 22 House 33 special election to replace resigned Democrat Kevin McCarthy.  (Again: WHY is this election that's entirely in the Des Moines city limits being held just two weeks before the city election?) Democrat Brian Meyer of the Des Moines city council is a heavy favorite over Republican Some Dude Michael Young.

Candidate announcing and filing continued in nine Johnson County cities. A contested and maybe contentious city election is lining up in Coralville as attorney Matt Adam, who sued the city last year over the Von Maur move, announced for mayor.  Current council member John Lundell is also running to replace the retiring Jim Fausett.  Also announcing: professor Chris Turner for council.  Turner and Adams are Republicans, Lundell a Democrat. Just an objective fact.

I'm still solid for Anesa Kajtazovic for Congress but Pat Murphy has FINALLY done something to make me happy. That said: last year I voted for a Bears fan over a guy with a Cheesehead running mate. (that was BEFORE the retired Brian Urlacher admitted this week the Bears would fake injuries on defense in order to slow down fast-paced offenses.)

With the district bordering Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, the 1st CD candidates have to be careful with their pro allegiances.  But Bruce Braley, who spent the week visiting campuses, has his Regents bases covered for a statewide race: Iowa State undergrad, Iowa law, and UNI purple signs.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Teachers Union Endorses Only Dorau

"Honorable Mention" for Lynch, Cook, Kirschling

In a late Friday announcement, the Iowa City Education Association made only one endorsement - incumbent Tuyet Dorau - for the three school board seats in Tuesday's election.

However, three other candidates - fellow incumbent Karla Cook and first time candidates Chris Lynch and Brian Kirschling - were listed as "honorable mention," coming close to but short of the 50% vote of ICEA members required for endorsement.

It's another confusing cue in the nine-way race that's a textbook argument for ranked choice voting. Another leading labor body, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, backed Cook (a retired ICEA member) and Jim Tate, but could not get a consensus for a third endorsement.

According to the ICEA press release, Dorau received 57.7% of ICEA votes, followed by Lynch at 40%, Cook with 37.7% and Kirschling with 36.2%. Numbers for the other five candidates were not listed.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have nine dedicated candidates who are so passionate about education and kids in our community,” ICEA Co-President Ben Mosher said in the release. ”Each candidate brought a wealth of experience and perspectives, not just to the campaign, but to their work with the schools.”

The three runners-up "exhibited exceptional leadership qualities, a wealth of knowledge and experience with the school district, and promising visions for Iowa City Schools."

The clincher for Dorau:
"Dorau distinguished herself with her strategic problem solving skills and complex understanding of ICCSD institutions and processes, her community history as an ICCSD graduate, and  her diversity as a political refugee from Vietnam.  Dorau’s voting record reveals support for schools, students, and teachers east and west of the Iowa River."
That "east-west of the Iowa River" thing seems to be a big deal in this election... but there seem to be two different east side factions: a "Save Hoover" group backing Sara Barron, Phil Hemingway and Gregg Geerdes, and a City High oriented crew supporting Cook and Kirschling. (Again: as a Roosevelt parent I'm somewhat detached from the Don't Close My School emotions.)

To the west, a "North Corridor Parents" group is backing Dorau and Lynch "if using bullet voting," the tactic where you don't use all your votes just in case your third choice puts your top choice out of the money. Welcome to the Survivor Island School Election. North Corridor Parents offer a qualified "If voting for three, Sara Barron is 3rd."

On Wednesday, the Press-Citizen endorsed Lynch, Kirschling and Jason Lewis. Saturday the Gazette backed Lynch, Dorau and Barron.

Early voting is running hot. The 1032 requests from the ICCSD as of 3 PM Friday is the most ever for a school board election, and is headed toward the levels of a school bond.  Voting continues Monday at the Auditor's Office, 7:45 to 5:30.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Dvorsky Literally Behind Tyler Olson

"We need to start looking for new ideas and new ways to get things done," said Senator Bob Dvorsky introducing his choice for governor, Tyler Olson.

Olson was the featured speaker at Dvorsky's annual birthday party fundraiser
Dvorsky described Olson as a workhorse legislator. "Tyler is the real deal. He actually does the work to get things done."

"The world has changed a lot since 1982," said Olson, referring to the year of Terry Branstad's first election. "We need a governor who can keep up with that pace of change while staying true to our Iowa values."

Congressman Dave Loebsack was also on hand. "John Boehner sent us home for five and a half weeks and we have a lot of work to get done," said Loebsack, who returns to Washington Monday.

Too many other local Democratic politicos to list were also on hand for the party, an event in its 27th year dating back to his first legislative win in 1986. "I've only been to 26," Sue Dvorsky tweeted earlier today.  She missed the first one; the senator and the former Iowa Democratic Party chair married in 1988.

Seniority in Dvorsky World is measured by which district number is on your t-shirt; mine dates from the third incarnation, Senate 25, though I used to have an even older House 49.  The current map is Bob's fifth: two House and three Senate. It gives him number 37 and takes him east into Cedar County for the first time. It also includes the city of Wilton in Muscatine County.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

School board donors

School board is a no pay job. But it still costs money to pay for the mailings and flyers and yardsigns (which are STILL popping up in the right of way. Move them back behind the sidewalk, people!)

Today's the last campaign finance deadline before Tuesday's election, and a look at the money and donors is usually informative. That's especially true this year with the nine candidate field and some strange and contradictory coalitions popping up.

Looking over eight reports from the Iowa City district, Brian Kirschling has raised and spend the most, but not by an order of magnitude. Follow the links to see for yourself, or read my Executive Summary.

Sara Barron

Raised: $1,088
Spent: $33
Left: $1055

Donors of note: None that leap out but a few prominent non-donor endorsements: Rod Sullivan, Bob and Sue Dvorsky, and Jim Throgmorton.

Karla Cook

Raised: $5,980
Spent: $1,365
Left: $4,615

Donors of note: Kirk Ferentz (you may have heard of him) John Balmer (ex-mayor) Jean Jordison (past school candidate) Bill Ambrisco (ex city council), Jim Throgmorton (city council), Peter Wallace (ex-school board), Stephen West (as in Music) Dee Vanderhoef (ex-city council) Bob Downer (regent) Nancy Porter (ICEA retiree) Charlie Funk (banker, co-chair of 2003 bond effort) Pat Harney (county supervisor) Ed Stone (local school activist), Bob Elliott (ex city council)

Tuyet Dorau

Raised: $4,845
Spent: $4,779
Left: $66

Donors of note:  A few donors are larger: $1500 from Paulina Muzzin and  $400 from Jeff Albright, both of Coralville. Other Names You Know: State Rep. Dave Jacoby, Garry Klein (ex-city candidate) Donald Baxter (lefty activist at large), Sally Orr (GOP activist at large),

Greg Geerdes

Raised: $3,550
Spent: $808
Left: $2,742

Donors of note: All donations from self.

Phil Hemingway - No report filed. Says he has spend less than $750 on his homemade signs.

Brian Kirschling

Spent: $4,951
Left: $3,625

Donors of note: Balmer, Jordison, Stone, Funk, Vanderhoef, Michael Lensing (funeral home) Sarah Swisher (outgoing school board member, ex-Dems chair), Tom Thrams (ex-school board member) Jane Downer (wife of regent Bob) Dottie Ray (radio host) Terry Dahms (ex-Dems chair, ex-supervisor candidate), and Mom.

Jason Lewis

Spent: $2,660
Left: 0. Also reports $1,584 in-kind contributions

Donors of note: Jordison, Swisher, Throgmorton, Funk, Stone.

Chris Lynch

Spent: $1,960

Donors of note: Wallace, Paulina Muzzin (for only $50)

Jim Tate

Raised: $2,511
Spent: $1,615
Left: $895

Donors of note: $1500 from various unions. Supervisor Rod Sullivan, JCDems chair Mike Carberry, Robin Butler (activist and spouse of Supervisor Janelle Rettig)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Braley Talks Higher Ed, Syria On Campus

It was billed as a higher education event, and about half the questions directed to Bruce Braley on campus this afternoon were student-specific.

But students care about the rest of the picture, too, and Braley's most interesting comments were about Syria.

"What happened was a crime against humanity," said Braley. "The international community should be outraged and should hold President Assad accountable for war crimes."

But Braley wants more details before going ahead with American military action. "My concern is I haven't been presented with a plan that shows me how US military intervention will achieve the objective."

Braley has said he will attend briefings next week when Congress goes back into session.

Johnson County, with our large student population and big Democratic margins, is critical to Braley's hopes for a statewide victory over A Republican To Be Named Later in 14 months. The kind of students who come to an event like this, this far out, are the ones who are likely to be the super-volunteers or field staffers next year. The crowd of about 30 was almost all student and almost all Democratic, with just a couple of us non-student ringers in the back.

The UI stop was Braley's second education event of the day, following a stop at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

"Education is the foundation of everything we want to do to make this a better state and attract people to stay here," said Braley.  "Iowa is historically an education state, but I fear that in recent years we have not been placing that same emphasis on access & affordability."

Braley said that Iowa is #3 in the country in student loan debt and #4 in the number of students with debt. (He made no mention of our #1 party school status.) He has all his bases covered with the regents schools: ISU undergrad, Iowa Law, and purple signs and a Black Hawk County address for UNI.

Asked about President Obama's musings that law school should be two years rather than three, Braley said "I wish law school had been six months long" but added that, after deaths in the family during his law school years, "if it hadn't been for some part time jobs I had don't know if I could have finished law school."

Braley said one area of possible education reform is the growing trend of online universities. "We see dramatic (student loan) default rates, without a lot of positive outcomes going out." He noted one major online school had over 1000 recruiters but zero placement officers. "We need more accountability for default and placement rates."

Discussion at the Q & A dominated event (Braley only spoke for about 5 minutes before opening up for about 40 minutes of questions) also touched on health care and the national deficit.

"The impact of sequestration is having a positive across board effect" on deficit reduction, said Braley, "but is having a detrimental effect on some very positive programs" such as Head Start.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day in Iowa City

Music, food, speech, speech, food, music, speech, food. That's the logistics of Labor Day for labor-Democrats, with too many events to get to and not enough time to get to them all. That's why, despite my early arrival, I got just a glimpse of Dave Loebsack leaving the Iowa City Labor Day picnic on his way to the Quad Cities.

The two leading Democratic candidates for governor, Jack Hatch and Tyler Olson, both spoke to a peak or near-peak crowd. The third wheel, Bob Krause, had three different stops penciled in.

"In Johnson County you have one of the largest and strongest public employee unions in this state," said Hatch, "and that's under attack by this administration."

Hatch spoke of a "prosperity not just of the economy, but a prosperity of the soul, of the heart."

"Economic development is not just about tax breaks to big corporations," said Olson. "The governor believes we should compete on cheap, on low wages."

"We're partners with the IBEW" in his family electrical business, said Olson, "and it means we're committed to making sure everybody gets a fair wage for an honest day's work, and that local people are doing the work."

Most of the tableside chatter centered around a different election: the school board vote a week from tomorrow, and there wasn't much consensus. Five candidates spoke: Jim Tate, Tuyet Dorau, Jason Lewis, Phil Hemingway, and Sara Barron. Only Tate, and the the absent Karla Cook, are labor endorsed.

Iowa City Federation of Labor president Pat Hughes said the four non-endorsed candidates all submitted good surveys and City Fed had a tough time choosing a third candidate in the vote for three race, and in the end couldn't choose. "We're fortunate to have so many people in this community running for such a thankless job." (A sixth Iowa City school candidate, Brian Kirschling, was a late arrival.)

Dorau took a moment to plug the PPEL and the Kirkwood levy. Also on hand were incumbent Patti Fields, who's not up this year, and Mike Owen, seeking re-election to the West Branch school board.

Labor has not yet endorsed for the November 5 city election. Two Iowa City council candidates spoke: Kingsley Botchway in the at large race and District B candidate Royceann Porter.

"We're very downtown centered," Botchway said of the current council. "We need to expand that discussion to everybody in Iowa City."

Porter said her priorities are living wage jobs affordable housing and a better quality of life. "People call me a community activist - I just want to get involved in doing what's right."

Other politicians spotted: from the legislature, Bob Dvorsky, Joe Bolkcom and Mary Mascher. The four Democratic supervisors - Pat Harney, Terrence Neuzil, Janelle Rettig and Rod Sullivan - were all on hand, along with city council member Jim Throgmorton. (Oops: missed late arrival Mitch Gross of the Coralville council.)

Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace spoke against US involvement in Syria, and  representatives were on hand from Move To Amend, the group working to overturn CItizens United with a constitutional amendment.

Also speaking was Pauline Taylor, a nurse representing SEIU. "We've come a long way with Obamacare," she said. "We can't afford to let the insurance companies take over again."

Jesse Case of the Teamsters took issue with an editorial published by the Press-Citizen today from Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work (sic) Legal Defense Foundation. It's headlined "It's 'Labor' Day, not 'Union' Day."

Case's own editorial ran alongside Mix's, but his response to the union crowd was more concise. "Bullshit. Labor Day IS Union Day,"

Events This Week: September 2-9

It's Labor Day, which to some in Johnson County is suddenly controversial. The centerpiece of Labor Day is the Iowa City Federation of Labor picnic at Upper City park. Event starts at noon and goes till we feel like it. Gubernatorial candidate Tyler Olson plans to stop by about 2:30.
Burgers, brats, veggie options and beverages provided. Please bring a dish to share. Political speeches and a good time guaranteed. Free to all Friends of Labor. 
If you're reading this blog, "Political speeches" are your idea of "a good time guaranteed." Then you'll also love the Bob Dvorsky birthday party at Coralville's Morrison Park on Friday, 5 to 7. Tyler Olson is the main speaker. Suggested contributions: Student-$10, Family-$50, and individual-$25.

Bruce Braley will be speaking at the Iowa Memorial Union in room 348, the Illinois room, Tuesday at 3:30 pm.

More school board forums this week: Tuesday 9/3 6:30-8 by ICEA and Press Citizen at Coralville Library; Thursday 9/5 6:30 -8:30 at Hills Community Center.

By this time next week we'll have those newspaper endorsements out; the deadline for letters to the editor is Thursday. The "Save Hoover Committee" is backing Phil Hemingway, Gregg Geerdes, and Sara Barron, but deems Tuyet Dorau, Chris Lynch and Jim Tate acceptable. Again, this would be THE election where ranked choice voting would be really interesting. This group clearly has a 123, a 456, and a 789.

Rod Sullivan, meanwhile, is going with Karla Cook, Sara Barron, and Jim Tate, and the Iowa City Federation of Labor is backing Cook and Tate, and the Dvorskys are with Lynch, Dorau and Barron. I ignored my own advice and failed to take my signs in Saturday night. Now they're gone.

Early voting continues all week 7:45 to 5:30 at the auditor's office. Also continuing all week: city council filing for all cities except Iowa City and U Heights.

Both parties have central committee meetings. Democrats meet Thursday at 7 PM at the Iowa City Public Library, and Republicans meet a week from today (Monday 9/9) at 2010 Keokuk Street. There's a 6 PM dinner ($5 a head) and the meeting is at 7.

City council candidate Rockne Cole is having a "Potluck In The Park" on Saturday at 5. It's billed as "a kid-friendly event," so perhaps it's geared for those who DON'T think "Political speeches" are "a good time guaranteed." (Frankly, "kid friendly" rarely gets more than lip service and that's a mistake.) Creekside Park, 1858 7th Ave Court, Iowa City.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Week In Review: August 26-September 1

Either my sense of news judgement is off, or everyone else's is. Two stories I thought were big this week didn't get much attention.

I really think two different 2014 caucus dates, meaning Iowans Can Caucus Twice, is a huge huge issue cutting to the core of caucus integrity. I seem to be the only one who thinks so, or at least the only one saying so in public.

Locally, the first Iowa City election since 1991 with no primary is a pretty big deal, but I admit to possible bias there since it gets me out of a whole lot of work.

Several announcements and non-announcements this week, not all surprises.
  • State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald will not run for governor, which wasn't very likely and we didn't expect it.
  • Meanwhile Jack Hatch let slip that he's planning his formal announcement for governor on Sept. 17. That pretty much sets up a three candidate field, or maybe a two and a half men field, with Hatch, Tyler Olson and long shot Bob Krause.
  • Jim Fausett, Coralville mayor since 1995, is stepping down. Council Member John Lundell announced for mayor next day.
  • Also in Coralville, not necessarily related, former city staffer Laurie Goodrich is making a second try for council.
  • In North Liberty Gerry Kuhl (occasionally rumoured to have other ambitions) is running for a third council term.
  • Clear Creek Amana has a blank line on the school board ballot. No one filed in the District 2 race. The North Liberty Leader reported that former board member Kevin Kinney (a deputy sheriff also occasionally rumoured to have other ambitions) is running again as a write-in. Good thing because I was wondering how good a job Mickey Mouse was going to do on the school board. Why are the traditional none of the above write in votes always from the Disney universe? You never see Bugs Bunny. Perhaps Ames Mayor Fred Hoiberg could enlighten us.
In Waverly, 20 year old Wartburg student Jacob Martin, who may or may not play basketball, is running for mayor. Better shot there than in Iowa City, where no student has been elected to the city council since 1979.

Speaking of young candidates, Anesa Kajtazovic got a nice 27th birthday present Friday: a wide lead in an admittedly unscientific poll on IowaHorserace, the new site from retired AP journalism god Mike Glover. This despite Glover's use of a green and yellow color scheme, same as Pat Murphy. I'll give Mike a break and just assume he's a Packer fan.

The lead here isn't far out of line with another online metric: Facebook likes for the 1st District Dems. There's overlap in Facebook likes, of course, people like more than one. But there's not lots of duplication, or "double voting" if you will. So here's the numbers:

Dandekar: 189
O'Brien: 415
Murphy: 553
Vernon: 745
Kajtazovic: 2578. More than the rest put together.

So two points of data, which prove nothing more than Anesa is popular with the online crowd. How that translates into real votes, we don't know yet. But certainly not a sign of weakness, just an anecdotal note of one of her strengths. Anyone else remember Hillary's people mocking Obama at the time of the 2007 JJ Dinner?
“Our people look like caucus-goers,” Grunwald said, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”
A marriage bus with 13 couples from St. Louis came to the County Admin Building to get licenses at Kim Painter's office. It had been a while but it's been a regular occurrence since Varnum-Brien. Painter says the next bus is scheduled for October. Maybe federal recognition of marriage equality, even for couples in states that don't recognize it, will pick up the pace. I'm proud that they choose Johnson County for their destination weddings. I'll be prouder when they don't HAVE to come here and can get married at home.

I got retweeted by MSNBC's Chuck Todd, which was the coolest thing that's happened to me on Twitter since the daƴTw计terℊod Chuck Grassley╒o॥ow印 me. (Punk rock characters thanks to this handy tool that I recommend to super abbreviators Grassley and O. Kay Henderson.)

Finally, this story actually happened in late June but I only learned this week: Low Tax Looper died in prison. Looper, who legally changed his middle name to Low Tax so it could be printed on the ballot, tried to win a 1998 Tennessee state senate election by murdering his opponent. And you thought stealing yard signs was playing dirty. The widow won on a write in with 95% - she's still in office - and Low Tax Looper went to the big house, not the state house.