Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zombie Committees

Since campaign finance deadline landed on Halloween, and since I'm sitting here frequently refreshing the page anyway, I'm going to talk about zombies.

Campaign committees don't automatically close when an election ends. They have to BE closed with a zero balance. Candidates can't just keep the money. They CAN repay loans to themselves, but anything left has to be donated to charity or in some cases a political party, or returned to donors.

But sometimes due to inertia or deferred ambition the money sits there. Former senator Evan Bayh has something like $10 million left. I'll just look locally.

Former Iowa City mayor Regenia Bailey last ran in 2007 but still has $1,488.02 in the bank; her only activity in 2012 was earning a duly reported 74 cents interest.

Brandon Ross ran unsuccessfully for Iowa City council three times, last in 2007. He still has $415.57 left over.

Former Coralville council member John Weihe, who gave up his seat in a losing bid for mayor in 2011, has $775 and an outstanding $1,970 loan to himself.

Nick Maybanks ran for county attorney when Pat White retired in 2006, but lost the primary to Janet Lyness. He's since moved to Linn County but the committee lives on with $344.97 in the bank.

Speaking of which, I see here that the John Zimmerman for County Attorney committee (treasurer Donald Baxter) has organized.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting For The Sound

We've all had this moment. You're proceeding along doing the stuff you know how to do, have to do, all the time every day to where it's rote and routine.

A glass slips out of your hand. A clear, transparent, self-evident glass, obviously a glass even if looks more like a jar. It's just too soapy, too slippery, too determined even against its own sense of survival. The force of gravity is just too strong.

For an instant it seems to hang there, suspended in mid-air, almost asking you to reach out as if it's reconsidered it's choice.

Maybe you'll be lucky. Maybe that glass is thick enough and sturdy enough to bounce off the floor and roll a little bit. But it's already in motion and it's too late and too futile to try and to change the direction. It might even cut your foot if it lands just wrong, but you're frozen in place and can't move out of the way.

Against your will and wishes, even before it hits, you mentally prepare for the mocking sound of the crash and the sliver-risking clean-up. You try to remember where the dustpan and broom and band-aids are.

That's how this election feels.

Vegas, Conventions, Populations, and Pros(e)

So Las Vegas is making a bid for the 2016 Republican convention. That shouldn't be shocking. Vegas probably has the most hotel rooms in the nation, and it's known as a convention city.

But Las Vegas has never hosted a major party political convention, and that's likely because of the, ummm, origins of what Nevada calls the "gaming industry."

The gambling stigma, and its inherent connection to sports, is such that Las Vegas is the largest US metropolitan area with no professional sports franchise. Even when the XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws existed in 2001, it didn't count.

Which gets me off on a tangent that's longer than the original point, fueled by faded memories of nonstop franchise moves and name changes from the ABA, the basketball league that gave us the red white and blue ball and the three point shot. And I don't have anything real to write about till everyone gets their campaign finance reports posted tomorrow.

It helps to remember here that my dad was a coach.

Why do some cities have teams and others don't? Moneyball, my friends, moneyball. But money needs people, to watch the team on TV and less importantly to fill the stands. And sometimes public money for that sweetheart deal for a new stadium with new luxury boxes. A subsidy for the rich? Sure. But those teams are a huge part of community identity in any pro town or even Division I college town.

It also helps to have a head start. The now-fading northeast cities got their teams first, and western and Sun Belt towns had to wait for expansion or steal them away. Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves.

Let's do what I like to do and look at numbers. American metro areas over 4 million population usually have franchises for all the Big Four sports: basketball, football, baseball, hockey, though some of the southern ones don't have hockey. Which is fine by me. Hockey should not ever exist in places where natural ice does not ever exist.


That covers the top 15 or so cities. Below that, each pro league has roughly 30 teams and the franchises skip around: two franchises a town, one team and eventually they fizzle out.

The break point for a Major League City seems to be right around a metro population of a million. Over a million, you're usually in the big leagues. Under a million, almost certainly not.

Cities in the super-conglomerations called "combined statistical areas" are left off my list. For example, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, with a two county population of over 4 million, is part of Greater Greater LA. Though that still doesn't explain LA not having an NFL team.

So here's the list:

1. Las Vegas. 2012 estimate 2,000,759, #31 in the nation and growing fast. About to leapfrog two sport towns Kansas City, Cleveland and Cincinnati, they have to settle for the UNLV college hoops championship two decades ago and one XFL season.

2. Austin. 1,834,303, #35. Put a qualifier here: big college cities are more likely to confer pro-like worship (and pro-like booster support) to college teams like the Longhorns.

3. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, 1,699,925, #37. Part of that problem is the three hyphenated cities in the Hampton Roads area. Also, as a Navy town, a lot of people are coming and going.

4. Providence. 1,601,374, #38. The National League's Providence Grays folded in 1885. The NFL's Providence Steam Roller, a rare early non-plural nickname, ran out of steam in 1931. Good. I hate non-plural nicknames. Rhode Island has been annexed by Massachusetts teams ever since. Still, Providence is bigger than two-team Milwaukee.

5. Louisville. 1,334,872, #42. College hoops dominates Kentucky but they also had a beloved ABA team, the Kentucky Colonels, led by Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore, who was listed at 7 ft 2 in but was probably closer to 7-6 if measured to the top of his Afro. The Colonels, despite solid fans and finances, were excluded from the 1976 ABA merger into the NBA.

6. Richmond. 1,231,980, #44. The other team left out of that merger was the Virginia Squires, who split games between Richmond and the Hampton Roads area. Dr. J and George Gervin made stops in Virginia but the Squires swapped them away before the end. Richmond is bigger than two-team New Orleans, though in fairness the Big Easy has had a very tough decade and really needed that Saints Super Bowl win in the `09 season.

7. Hartford. 1,214,400, #45. Teamless since 1997 when the NHL's Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes, who play in #46 metro Raleigh, far south of my hockey line and worse, named after bad weather like the Miami Heat. By that logic, if the NBA ever returns to Seattle after the Supersonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder (more non-plural weather) the team should be the Seattle Rain. And if the NFL ever comes back to LA, the team would be the California Smog. More pet peeves; teams geolocated in states or, egad, regions like Carolina or New England. Which finally gets us back to Hartford.

8. Birmingham. 1,136,650, #48. Close enough to Tuscaloosa and the Crimson Tide play in the SEC which might as well be the third NFL conference. Birmingham had the XFL's Thunderbolts for the league's lone season, and the Birmingham Americans won the only championship of the upstart World Football League in 1974 (the league died mid-season `75).

We're now to the point of the second smallest pro sports market in the United States, Salt Lake City at 1,123,712 population, a #50 rank, and the ridiculously named Utah Jazz, the name inherited from New Orleans after a 1970s move. As a rock of the westies, I mean, west of the Rockies, town, Vegas at almost twice the size would be a much more logical place to host a team. Remember, this is a post about Las Vegas.

There are two smaller cities with pro teams, but let's look at the last two American cities of a million plus people with no pro teams.

9. Rochester. 1,082,284, #51. Another 19th century baseball town and early NFL city. Just a couple notches smaller than Buffalo which has football and hockey. Metro Buffalo also has another 400,000 people on the Canadian side of the border, but they're Maple Leafs fans. The NBA's Rochester Royals left town in 1957. After stops in Cincinnati, Kansas City, and the now teamless Omaha - Omaha?!? - they're now the Sacramento Kings.

10. Grand Rapids. It doesn't surprise me that Grand Rapids has no pro teams. It surprises me that 1,005,648 people, #52 in the nation, live in metro southwest Michigan.

There are two exceptions to that rule of a million, which is less of a rule than something I just made up. Greater Winnipeg, home to the NHL's Jets, has a 2011 Canadian census population of 730,018 which would rank 74th as an American city. Clearly a Canadian city can support hockey with a smaller critical mass of people, though Winnipeg lost an earlier version of the Jets to Phoenix - hockey moving from CANADA to a DESERT?!? - before they were reborn like the Cleveland Browns.

And of course, the smallest, the great historic accident of my beloved Green Bay Packers. The Packers command the loyalty of all of Wisconsin, save for a few renegade Vikings fans on the border. But the greater Green Bay area is number 155 in the nation with a population of just 311,098. That's well less than half of Canadian ringer Winnipeg, and barely a quarter of the next smallest American pro town, Salt Lake City.

The NFL used to be full of teams like the Canton Bulldogs and Dayton Triangles and Duluth Eskimos, but only the Pack survived, by selling shares to the fans. And that makes me the proud son of an NFL owner.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not The Other Guy Winning in Virginia

No state level elections get national press overkill like Virginia governor's races.  Off-off cycle in an odd-numbered year, in the front yard of the DC press corps, and always an open seat race because Virginia has the last one term limit in the country.

Aah, term limits: a Nineties fad whose time has gone, just like "investing" in Beanie Babies, that great false economy of mass produced "rarity." How limited edition or "retired" can any stuffed toy from an Asian sweatshop be?

Awkwardness at the Hamburg Inn, December 2007: me and two of my "favorite" Democrats, Terry McAuliffe and Leonard Boswell. Their candidate, Hillary Clinton, never visited the Burg, a factor I blame for her Iowa loss. Bill, of course, went.

I have to admit I've never been the biggest Terry McAuliffe fan. He was moving the party right when I wanted to move it left, and I've always been more a grass roots guy than a big donors guy.

That said, I'm rooting for him next week. Not that he needs my help; McAuliffe is a lock to be the next governor of Virginia. UVA's Larry Sabato pointed out over the weekend: "VA & WV: America's odd couple. Much more than the Carolinas or Dakotas. VA flips Red to Blue while WV flips Blue to Red."

Both Clintons have campaigned for their old pal McAuliffe, which gives me an excuse to link to Politico and the 65,536th Hillary 2016 article:
Clinton barely engaged with Iowa voters in a meaningful way in 2007, a fact that came back to bite her when the better-organized Obama vaulted ahead. Voters complained throughout the race about a lack of access to the candidate.

In 2000, by contrast, Clinton made a point of visiting towns that had rarely, if ever, seen a Democratic statewide political candidate before.

“She let people really see her,” said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.

The 2008 candidate never gave herself that chance, maintaining an ambivalent relationship with Iowa, where retail politics are at a premium. The 2000 campaign showed it need not be that way if Clinton were to run again.
Just saying.

But back to Virginia 2013, McAuliffe's impending win is, say nearly 2/3 of McAuliffe backers, more a vote AGAINST Republican Ken Cuccinelli rather than FOR McAuliffe. Cucinelli is bad enough that the congenitally Republican Richmond Times-Dispatch offered a rare None Of The Above endorsement. I don't have national stats, but editorial boards who believe in endorsements take it very seriously and feel a responsibility to choose however reluctantly. In two decades I've only seen our local paper do one No Endorsement.

The Charlottesville Daily Progress did that one better: they endorsed a write-in vote for incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a popular figure who likely would have won a primary election, except that Cucinelli hard-wired the nomination process for a more conservative party convention.

All this, rather than the ЯOИ PAЦL Яᴇvoᴌution, is why the Libertarian candidate is polling in high single digits: he's the only None Of The Above on the ballot. 

I've never liked actual None Of The Above as a ballot option, which Nevada has. Something feels wrong about it. Write-ins? Sure, if you're serious. But try to think outside the Disney universe. It's always Mickey Mouse, never Bugs Bunny. 

We had one guy who used to write his own name in for every office. (Well, we don't know for sure but someone in his township did, and a spectacular act of ego is the most plausible explanation.) Then one year, all the people with one write in vote each for township trustee got put in the hat, and his name got drawn. He turned it down. 

Anyway, I just feel like in the end you need to choose SOMEone. And this Virginia race reminds me of the 2006 Illinois governor's race. A rather flawed Republican, Judy Baar Topinka, faced an unpopular Democratic incumbent:

Rod Blagojevich was re-elected, though as we know his second term turned out to be a f%$!in' gold mine and he's now serving elsewhere: federal prison in Colorado, to be exact.

But even though he won, and even before he tried to line his pockets with the proceeds from selling the president-elect's Senate seat, enough voters had enough suspicions that the Green Party candidate won over 10% of the vote.

This wasn't some outbreak of vegan granola in the land of Polish sausages. No, it was just that the Green guy was the only None Of The Above on the ballot. 

Speaking of Polish sausages and coronaries, poor Aaron Rodgers is stuck on a plane in "grill class" between the Swerski Superfans. I admire the ad writer for appreciating the history of the NFL's oldest and greatest rivalry, but it makes me look forward even more to seeing the Packers beat Da Bears next Monday night. The thrill of victory should carry me through the long Election Day to follow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Upcoming Events: October 28 - November 4

The last full week before the city election and form here on out there's voting every day. Stop by the office weekdays 7:45 to 5:30 or at these satellite sites:
Old Capitol Town Center
Tuesday, October 29, , 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday, October 30, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

North Liberty Library
Tuesday, October 29, 3 - 7 p.m.

Iowa City Public Library
Thursday, October 31, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday, November 1, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 2, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, November 3, noon – 5 p.m.

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
Fountain Lobby
Thursday, October 31, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday, November 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Coralville Public Library
Saturday, November 2, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 3, Noon - 4 p.m.
The progressive non-slate slate (Rockne Cole Kingsley Botchway Royceann Porter) will be having a get out the vote rally at College Green Park then going over to the ICPL to vote. Saturday, 1 to 4.

Think Bicycles is hosting the last of the many Iowa City candidate forums Wednesday from 7-9 pm, also at the public library.

Campaign finance reports for city candidates are due Thursday, so by week's end we should get a nice picture of Who's Backing Who. The Coralville reports should be especially interesting.

Friday is the Alignment of the Payroll Planets. Several of Iowa City's larger employers -- the county, the city, ACT, and HyVee -- pay their employees every two weeks on a Friday and it happens to be the same Friday. The biggest by far employer, the University, pays its employees on the first of the month. About every 14 months or so, those paydays coincide, and everybody gets paid. The next one is May Day 2015.

And Saturday Iowa Democrats host the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines with keynoter Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week In Review: October 21-27

One of the things about being a self-publishing amateur is you can have a writer's block week if you feel like it. and that's been this week: discouragement leading to silence.

From the beginning I've been doubtful that the 21 bar repeal effort had a chance to win, and I've been frustrated by both sides. Frustrated by my "progressive" (?) friends who can't seem to read the Constitution and get that 18 year olds are adults. Frustrated by the 19 side for having, as the Press-Citizen rightly pointed out in their inevitable endorsement, "written off trying to persuade the broader community."

My goal in all this was to do exactly what the justice center opponents did: use this issue as a springboard to discussing a larger, systematic problem, in this case the drinking age itself. I think I did pretty well on that score. But with the surprising exception of the Gazette's Jennifer Hemmingsen, who I've sparred with in the past on this issue, no one seems to engage. Criticism of the 19 side for refusing to comment is fair, but that same critique should be directed at "21 Makes Sense" (sic) for refusing to address the larger issue.

Enough meta. Let's look at numbers. Are the students getting out in enough numbers to win this? The 2010 election is hard to compare, because that was also a general election with some unimportant stuff like governor on it.

Factoid: Iowa City saw 1,970 fewer votes for governor in 2010 than total voters. Factor in that X number of people voted straight ticket and left the bar question blank, that means roughly 2,500 people voted ONLY on the bar issue.

That's… a likely indicator of what's happening in the city council races. Outsiders Rockne Cole and Kingsley Botchway quietly supported 21 with only Royceann Porter taking the Let The Voters Decide stance. The bar-owner driven 19 campaign wasn't going to expend any effort for anyone who wasn't a loud and proud Yes, so there's probably a lot of empty ovals on those ballots.

So let's look back at Round 1 in 2007. The on-campus sites are now over, as they mostly were in 2007. The sites were a little different; the Campus Rec Center did not exist in 2007 and instead there was a fully functioning Iowa Memorial Union.

Site 2007 2013 difference
Burge/Hillcrest 1662 1405 -257
Mayflower 174 74 -100
UI Library 718 161 -557
Other campus sites 418 438 20
mailed absentee under 21 1131 7 -1124
total 4103 2085 -2018

So student voting is running roughly half what it was in 2007.

The ball game isn't over yet. It WAS in 2007, because that was the last election before Iowa got election day voter registration. If you weren't registered by now, you were out of luck. Now students CAN still register, though it's a little harder with ID and proof of address.

We're also in the year AFTER a presidential election, rather than the year before. So a lot of the 19 and 20 year olds are still registered, though at last year's addresses. Changes of address before Election Day are simple, just fill out a form. There are still sites downtown this week, not on campus but nearby. Old Capitol Mall's food court is the de facto post-flood IMU, and the public library is just a short stroll down the Ped Mall. Those sites will draw both students and townies.

But it IS too late for a vote by mail drive to get those 2007 numbers. My gut feeling is that the student turnout so far has been the worst of both worlds: not enough to win, but just enough to freak out the townies. The natives are likely to be more solidly pro-21 than they were in 2007, and while they're voting against the students - and don't pretend there isn't a big element of Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students in this fight - that's a boost for the Good Old Boy And Gals slate of Dickens, Mims, and Champion Jr.

Enough of this thoroughly depressing analysis. Here's a cheerier story.

Ed Reggi and the Marriage Bus visited the county admin building Thursday. Someone asked and no, this isn't like Bob Vander Plaats' marriage bus. It's pretty much the exact opposite. Reggi organizes bus trips from St. Louis to bring couples who can't get married in Missouri here to Iowa City where they can. They send their info ahead of time, pick up their licenses at Kim Painter's office, and go to the Unitarian church for the ceremonies. This was the 14th trip. Everyone was happy and excited but I think that was just because of the Cardinals in the World Series. Wish they could get married at home, but since they can't - YET - proud they choose Iowa City.

Republicans had their first Senate debate Wednesday and even Craig Robinson admits:
The biggest loser was Some Dude Paul Lunde. The Sixth Man spent most of his time pitching books and probably has gotten himself dis-invited to future forums.

Anesa Kajtazovic picks up her first labor endorsement from the United Food and Commercial Workers, while Swati Dandekar "forgot" to file personal finance disclosures.

And in an anti-climactic election, Democrat Brian Meyer easily held House 33 for the Democrats Tuesday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Doing > Writing

I originally left journalism 20 years ago because I was more interested in DOING politics than covering politics. This week has been like that. I know things I can't say, and as much as I love writing it's still work.

And my emotional commitments cloud my analytical skills. I guess I didn't get the memo: the May justice center election was supposed to be the protest vote, but this time I'm supposed to be "practical" and pay attention to all the dueling statistics about how good 21 bar is at enforcing a law that shouldn't even be a law.

As anyone who's worked with a voter list knows, women are harder to track than men because they're still more likely to change names on marriage. Texas Republicans, faced with a big gender gap and a strong female candidate for governor in Wendy Davis, are using this as one more trick in the vote suppression bag.

Where do theTim Dwight and Zach Wahls endorsements of Anesa Kajtazovic rank in The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy?

In the QC, Democrat Maria Bribriesco, who ran a decent but unsuccessful House race last year, will challenge Roby Smith in Senate District 47. It's been a revolving door GOP seat, with the last two incumbents (moderate Maggie Tinsman and right winger Dave Hartsuch) knocked off in the last two primaries. Democrat Phyllis Thede, now representing half the seat in the House, almost beat Hartsuch in 2006.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Upcoming Events: October 21-28

It's forum season so let's get those out of the way:
Iowa City October 22 7-9 pm
Iowa City Public Library
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters
Coralville October 23 6:30 pm
Coralville Public Library
Sponsored by: AARP

Iowa City October 24 7-8 pm
Iowa City Public Library
Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce (guessing Terry Dickens will show up for this one)
Early voting continues all this week at the auditor's office and at these satellite sites:
Mayflower Residence Hall
Monday, October 21, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Campus Recreation and Wellness Center
Monday, October 21, 3 - 8 p.m.

Wednesday, October 23, 3 -8 p.m.
Pappajohn Business Building
Tuesday, October 22, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

University of Iowa Main Library
Tuesday, October 22, 1 - 7 p.m.

Kirkwood Community College
Wednesday, October 23, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Warren and Madison County Democrats meet tonight to choose a nominee in the Senate 13 special election to replace the unlamented Republican Kent Sorenson. Former State Rep Mark Davitt is expected to be nominated to face Republican Rep.Julian Garrett in the November 19 election.

Tuesday is the special election in House 33, where House Dems leader Kevin McCarthy resigned. It's a solid Democratic seat and Des Moines city council member Brian Meyer is a heavy favorite over Republican Michael Young. Again: this election is two weeks before the city election and the district is entirely in the city of Des Moines; could those elections have been combined?

Sunday Bruce Braley, reflecting his statewide status, moves his annual "Bruce, Blues, & BBQ" event from Waterloo to Des Moines, at the IA State Fairgrounds. The big guests are
former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly. Details: 
Sunday, October 27 at 1:00pm
Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building 3000 E. Grand Ave. Des Moines, Iowa
Tickets can be purchased online or by calling (515) 244-1270. Tickets will also be available at the door. Cost is $30 for individuals, $50 for couples, $75 for families, and $15 for students.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week In Review: October 14-20

The government is back in business till we all do this again in a couple months. Chuck Grassley was one of a small handful of GOP senators voting against the re-open, proving even further that he's guarding his right flank.

The shutdown cost the Johnson County Democrats their barbecue speakers Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack. But Some Dude* Paul Dahl made up for it. He accused one of his better known primary opponents for governor, Jack Hatch, of having "skeletons in his closet," and imposed an extra-constitutional age requirement of 40 on Tyler Olson.

That's 40 to be governor, not to stay late in an Iowa City bar. Though reportedly a Waterfront Hy-Vee clerk was seen gazing very suspiciously at Olson's drivers license as the 37 year old legislator tried to pick up some Fat Tire on his way home.

* That term Some Dude comes from the late great blog Swing State Project, launched a decade ago this week (or, as we at the 11 year old Deeth Blog call them, n00bs). Swing State Project has been absorbed into the larger mothership as Daily Kos Elections, but the archives are still on line. This post was the first use of Some Dude. The term caught on in the blog community and I'm working on getting into our Iowa vocabulary.

Sometimes I'm wrrrrr when I call someone a Some Dude; looks like Jim Mowrer outraised Steve King this quarter. Anesa Kajtazovic had a not so hot first quarter but she stayed strong in the on-line metrics and in the people lending their name. Swati Dandekar, meanwhile, seems to have little visible support EXCEPT from large donors.
"Vonica Mernon" also said on Sept. 25, "The CR Building Trades endorsed me because they know I'll be on the CR Council instead of Congress & need my support on Council." Seems to be some truth to that.

But the Washington Post said no one in the nation had a worse quarter than:
The Iowa Republican Senate field: A packed field with no clear frontrunner produced no clear winners in the money chase last quarter, either. As the Iowa Republican noted, neither David Young nor Sam Clovis could  break $150,000. And state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has nothing but good things to say about, raised only $250,000. On the Democratic side, Rep. Bruce Braley raised more than $900,000.

In a surprise, Republicans nominated their least crazy candidate, Rep. Julian Garrett, over three others for the Kent Sorenson Senate seat. Garrett likely faces ex-Rep. Mark Davitt for the Dems in the November 19 special. Another Democrat, Ottumwa educator Tom Rubel, jumps into the Senate 41 race for the right to defeat Chickenman Chelgren next year.

In the city election, Terry Dickens was too busy shooing the homeless away from his jewelry store to bother showing up for the environmental forum, and the Iowa City Federation of Labor endorsed Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole and Royceann Porter.

1400 students voted at Burge and Hillcrest this week: enough to win or just enough to scare the townies? The "21 Makes Sense" (sic) campaign hit with a mailing (large image) Thursday. Our house got two and Koni and I have already voted. Matt Hayek USED to know a guy who could household a voter list, back when he said "let the voters decide" in 2007. When the voters decided 19 in 2007, Hayek decided he wanted a do-over. Now that guy who's good with lists doesn't help Hayek with lists anymore.

Meanwhile my Yes for 19 piece re-ran in the Gazette and in a Facebook discussion, actual legislator Dave Jacoby said, "At some point we have to stop being candyasses and establish a consistent age of maturity!"I'd count that as a Yes except Dave's from Coralville.

Speaking of Coralville, what outsiders - by that I mean even people from Iowa City -  don't get is that Coralville is not a generic McMansion suburb where you can apply a one size fits all cookie cutter campaign. It's a real place with real roots.

And before Brian Morelli or Captain Steve checks on me, I need to confess. My voting history is less than 100%. I missed the uncontested, 0.96% turnout 1992 school board election.Still kicking myself over that one miss in 78 elections in the last 23 years. Anyone want to read a post about Johnson County's most frequent voters? Most of them are names you'll know...

Friday, October 18, 2013

26th Amendment > 18th Amendment

Amendment 18
Ratified January 16, 1919

1:  After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

2:  The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

3:  This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment 21
Ratified December 5, 1933

1:  The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. 

2:  The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

3:  This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment 26
Ratified July 1, 1971

1:  The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age. 

2:  The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Use your 26th Amendment (and 15th, 19th, and 24th) to 21st Amendment the people who are all 18th Amendment. I'm using my 1st: here's my Vote Yes piece again, this time in the Gazette.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Change Coming To Deeth Blog

Two months from today I have a major life event: a birthday ending in a zero.

I launched the Deeth Blog at the end of 2002 at age 39 and my slogan served me well through my 40s. I'm making you do the math as I can't bring myself to say it yet.

I haven't given up trying. I am, after all, the self-appointed senior defender of student rights, and I'm sincerely looking forward to that new Lady Gaga release (do they even say "album" anymore?) next month.

See? I know memes and everything.

In my defense I am remarkably immature for my age. But to be honest, any effort to stay pop-culture current in my own right ended about the day Kurt Cobain died, which is a whole person old enough to vote (if not legally drink) ago. If I know what's going on now it's because I have teen and tween kids.

So before that AARP membership card arrives, before they put me out on the ice floe, before I get called before an Obamacare Death Panel, I'm just admitting it. I am, or will soon be, finally old enough to not care. I should have admitted that about the time I got the title "grandpa."

On December 16, the Deeth Blog will permanently retire the slogan "too old to be cool, too young not to care." I may not choose a permanent replacement and instead use the tag line as another place to express the idea of the moment. Or maybe as I contemplate this millstone milestone, I'll come up with something concise and snarky yet curmudgeonly.

Suggestions are welcome. One thing's for certain, though: it will NOT be put up to a vote of the readers. That's how I got stuck with the damn beret.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Names More Than Numbers

I'm not going to crunch campaign finance numbers tonight. Yeah, I've seen 'em and they coulda been better.

I want to talk about Zach Wahls. And I want to talk about Tim Dwight. Two remarkable young - I guess Dwight is still young for a "retired" guy at 38 - young leaders from Iowa City, famous statewide and nationwide for very different reasons.

Zach Wahls stood up against powerful opposition and told a compelling personal story that captured a nation.

Zach traveled all over the country and has now returned home to Iowa to continue his work and build a life. Check out his editorial in today's Daily Iowan.
It’s the worst kept secret in Republican politics that the party’s nominee in 2016 will be far, far to the right of Mitt Romney and John McCain, assuming of course that they can find a candidate who will remember that crucial third thing. (And they probably will.) The Republican base is convinced that the party’s candidates in 2012 and 2008 were not conservative enough to rustle the interest of the American electorate. Hard as that may be to believe, listening to 30 minutes of conservative talk radio will back me up on this.
Tim Dwight also stood up against powerful opposition and also captured a nation.

Tim also traveled all over the country, and he has also returned home to Iowa to build a life and start a new career. Check out his profile in the current Little Village.
"Iowa is a good place to do business. I believe people in Iowa see how wind has helped this state with job creation, tax base and a clean fuel: Solar will do the same. Education needs to happen and once that does, people will then make the choice. There’s nothing better than working with a bunch of motivated people to change the world for better, one watt at a time."
You know what the most valuable asset both Zach Wahls and Tim Dwight have? Same answer for both. Their NAME. Their reputation. They're not going to lend that out lightly.

Zach Wahls and Tim Dwight are both supporting Anesa Kajtazovic. Here's how Dwight put it in an email to Kajtazovic supporters:
I am supporting Anesa because she gets it. I have worked with Anesa in the Iowa House to pass Iowa's first legislative solar incentives and I can tell you--she is a true champion for solar and renewable energy.

It's more important than ever that we address our energy demands through clean and renewable sources and we need someone in Washington who is going to do that. Anesa is a game-changer and we need her vision and fresh ideas in Congress.

In my years as a Hawkeye football player I learned that it takes hard work and passion to win and Anesa has both.

Stand with me in supporting Anesa with your $5, $15, or $25 contribution.

Thanks, Tim
Yeah, there's a money pitch. Money is something. It is important. But name and character and reputation are even more important.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Upcoming Events: October 14-21

Week three of the shutdown and I hear even the mail won't be delivered today. Oh, wait. That was planned? Columbus Day may be our most politically incorrect holiday, but dese guys gotta problem wid dat.


With barbecue weekend over, city election season kicks into high gear this week.

Satellite voting starts on campus this week with two days each at the two cafeteria dorms: todat and Tuesday at Burge and Wednesday-Thursday at Hillcrest, all 11 AM to 7 PM. Next Monday voting moves to Mayflower. There's also voting all week at the auditor's office, 7:45 to 5:30.

Back to back nights of Coralville candidate forums. Tuesday the League of Women Voters host the candidates at Coralville City Hall. Council candidates will begin at 7pm, and mayor candidates go at 8:15. Wednesday at 7 the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce will have the candidates at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts.

Tuesday is the deadline for federal candidates to file their fundraising numbers for the quarter ending September 30, so we'll get to examine the various races through that lens soon.

Jack Hatch is back in town Wednesday at 6:30pm at Bob's Your Uncle .

Karen Nichols and Tom Lindsey are hosting Kingsley Botchway Sundar from 2 to 4 at their place (1737 F St). They promise hot cider and pumpkin bars. 

And in non-political events, the Run for the Schools is Sunday.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Everyone Except The Main Speakers At Democrats BBQ

The only apparent failure at the Johnson County Democrats barbecue was the absence of the two main speakers. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack were on the job in DC thanks to, in a meme started by chair Mike Carberry and repeated by several other speakers, "The Party Which Must Not Be Named."

Despite Voldemort's best efforts over 250 people passed through the doors, with a final count of 29 candidates and elected officials. Mercifully, not all of them gave speeches.

With the congressmen unavoidably absent, the solo keynote duties went to Iowa City's Zach Wahls, who's grown even more solid as a speaker since the day his speech in support of his two moms and marriage equality went viral. Carberry hinted from the podium "I expect to vote for Zach one day."

Wahls isn't running for anything - yet - but he's been seen a lot on the trail recently in support of candidates, though he's sticking close to home since he's now back to school full time after spending the last couple years promoting marriage equality and his book. He says Republican stances on social and worker rights issues give Democrats a big opportunity with young people. "If you don't support civil rights & workers rights, you might not be a Democrat."

The bulk of the program was taken up by speeches from four candidates for governor. Did you even know there were four?

Rep. Tyler Olson gave an energetic version of his basic stump speech, his business and labor background and family, focusing on the need for systemic and generational change. "55% of Iowans said 20 years in office is enough. Now, I always said one year was enough" of Terry Branstad, said Olson. "We need a state government that works for all Iowans, but this governor does not agree."

Olson's lines about time in office and, by extension, age, are targeted at Branstad but serve the dual purpose of differentiating Olson from his main rival, Sen. Jack Hatch.

"It's not just about (Branstad)," Hatch said "It's an attack on the very values we have learned to represent as Democrats." Hatch focused on health care and tax reform, pledging to increase the Iowa income tax deduction per child from $40 to $1000 and to implement a dual wage earner tax credit.

Bob Krause often gets dismissed in the governor's race but he's a serious guy who'd be great for, say, a legislative seat. Krause focused on income inequality.

"We cannot do education policy or environmental policy without addressing income," said Krause. "Minimum wage earns you $14,500 a year. Don't spend it all in one place. We need to increase the minimum wage in a substantial way." Without citing it as a specific recommendation, Krause noted that the Australian minimum wage is the equivalent of $14.50 an hour, "almost a living wage."
Krause also gave the University Democrats a shout out; he was a 60s era chair of the UI Dems. "One of your best products in Johnson County is your students." Tell the Iowa City Council that, Bob. "We load them up with debt, keep wages low, and wonder why everybody leaves the state."

But the most talked about speech came from Paul Dahl, the Some Dude you probably didn't even know was running. Dahl, who won 5% in a 1994 congressional primary, concluded his slightly rambling remarks with one firm statement: "I think Jack Hatch has some issues in his background, and Tyler Olson is too young to be governor, you should at least be 40." (Olson is 37.) Dahl left immediately after his speech and thus was not available for followup. Paul, the comment section is open.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Scott Brennan was carefully neutral: "We don't play favorites in a primary, but we provide an infrastructure they can plug into after." He did offer praise for the unopposed absent Senate candidate. ""We have a great progressive ready to step into Tom Harkin's shoes, and that's Bruce Braley."

The other statewide candidates spoke late in the program as the crowd began to thin (we had to set up more tables at one point, a good problem to have).

Secretary of State candidate Brad Anderson gave a strong defense of voting rights and attacked his opponent, Republican incumbent Matt Schultz. "You can't have fair and honest elections if you are actively disenfranchising voters," said Anderson, attacking on Schultz's signature issue, photo ID. "Photo ID would disenfranchise up to 10% of Iowa voters."

I'd heard vague rumors without the name, but today was the first I'd seen or heard directly of Sherrie Taha (pronounced TAY-ha.) The Polk County soil and water commissioner is the first name in the race for Secretary of Agriculture, challenging GOP incumbent Bill Northey.

Taha compared herself to the last two Democratic nominees for the office, Denise O'Brien and Francis Thicke, emphasizing "it's the Department of  Agriculture AND Land Stewardship." Her background is primarily in consumer affairs and not farming. "You don't need to be a farmer to be secretary of agriculture. You need to work for all three million Iowans."

With so many statewide contenders speaking, the local legislative delegation deferred. The only candidates to speak were the two from the Republican-held districts that overlap into Johnson County: House 73 candidate David Johnson of West Branch and Senate 39 contender Richard Gilmore of Washington. (The buzz is: recruiting efforts continue in both seats.)

Nine out of ten courthouse officials were on hand and the only reason it wasn't 100% was we lost that one election in March. A couple 2014 supervisor candidates were also present in addition to incumbent Janelle Rettig: chair Carberry, who lost the special election nomination at the convention, is trying again, and Lisa Green-Douglass of rural North Liberty is now announced.

The six Iowa City council candidates are all registered Democrats. Rockne Cole and Royceann Porter were the only ones on hand; Kingsley Botchway sent regrets. No sign of Dickens, Mims, Champion, or either side of the 21 bar battle. The only council incumbent not on the ballot who showed up: Jim Throgmorton. (Still, Matt Hayek will get the shout-out from the stage next time the president comes to town.) John Lundell, running for Coralville mayor, and unopposed North Liberty council incumbent Gerry Kuhl (occasionally rumored interested in other office) were also on hand.

And though I invited my Republican friends last night to return the favor and visit our barbecue, none took me up on it. Maybe next year.

Week In Review: October 7 - 13

Iowa wrestlers seem very confused about hunting seasons.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper does NOT win the Nobel Physics Prize this week. But he DID predict it:
Sheldon: I am glad you asked. Are you familiar with the Higgs boson?
Penny: Of course, it is, it’s been in the news. And it’s a very famous boson.
Sheldon: Nice try. Now, in 1964, Dr. Peter Higgs, accomplished self-promoter and physicist, he wrote a paper postulating the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. Now, initially the paper was rejected, but recently, he was proven right, and now he’s on the fast track to win a Nobel prize.
Penny: Yeah, that’s basically what I said.
Sheldon: Yeah, the point is Higgs is being celebrated for work he did 50 years ago, so that got me thinking, perhaps I’ve already hit upon the idea that will win me my Nobel prize.
Looks like the Senate 13 special election - now set for Nov. 19 - will see GOP Rep. Julian Garrett against ex-Rep Mark Davitt for the Dems. Won't be shocked if another Republican tried but no names yet. A Garrett win would mean ANOTHER special election. When then-Rep Bob Dvorsky ran for the Senate in a 1994 special, he resigned from House so elections could be combined to save money. Just saying.

In Muscatine, House 91 was a four candidate race for about two days as Gary Carlson gets in... and is a three person race again as Emily Lofgren gets out.

Republican Rep. Mark Brandenburg is running for recorder not re-election in House 15, the more Democratic of the two Council Bluffs seats.

Democrats could see a primary in Senate 41. Wapello County supervisor Steve Siegel is in, and Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy is looking at it. The Republican incumbent is fluke 2010 winner Mark "Chickenman" Chelgren.

Slipped under my radar: Steve Olson of Scott County not running again in House 97. But that's barely a retirement compared to Johnson County's Berry Sass, who retired Friday  after over 60 years working in the Treasurer's Office.

And you knew I'd write the Vote Yes To Repeal 21 piece at some point.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Johnson County GOP hosts Five Senate Candidates

Political people are a lot alike, on both sides of the aisle. Local Iowa activists, Democrats and Republicans, look at an October calendar, see a Hawkeye bye week and think: "That's a great weekend for an event!"

So both parties in Johnson County scheduled their fall barbecues for the same weekend, and unless my friends back at the press table get re-assigned to cover the Democrats tomorrow, I'll be the only person to attend both.

The Republicans came up with a draw even I couldn't resist: a forum featuring five announced US Senate candidates. (The publicity said "all" five but that ignores Some Dude Paul Lunde, who had some lonely and homely looking flyers at the back table. There's also an "exploring" candidate, Mark Jacobs, who had more professional looking materials on hand.)

The hour-long program at Clear Creek Amana High in Tiffin gave each candidate an introduction, three randomized issue questions, and a "fun" question. (Sam Clovis has a weakness for chocolate, Joni Ernst loves Christmas music, etc.) Then the candidates gave closing statements, in reverse order.

The questions were an interesting insight into Republican concerns and included a couple surprises. Indicating the growing libertarian mood in the party, questions included the idea of withdrawing troops from Korea and "should Russia have returned Edward Snowden." The rotating format made for an interesting and non-repetitive show, but made it a little harder to make issue by issue comparisons. But this was a party fundraiser rather than a formal debate, and those will start soon enough.

Candidates were also asked if they would support the eventual nominee. All said yes without hesitation. GOP blogger Mike Thayer of the Coralville Courier called the question a "litmus test" from the party establishment.

At this stage, it's as much about mood and feel and biography and style. I managed to get around the room and chat informally with four of the five. (My interactions probably weren't typical since my reputation as a scout from the opposition preceded me. I get the just the right amount of a hard time at these Republican events. Someone left a Branstad sticker for me at my car, the only one in the lot with Braley and Obama and Loebsack stickers, but didn't push it over the line and stick it on.)

Sam Clovis and David Young made similar points in person and at the podium, Matt Whitaker resumed some previous friendly ribbing we'd done on Twitter when he announced. Former county auditor Joni Ernst, who quickly corrected me to "Joni" when I called her "Senator," and I talked shop. All said they could get the 35% needed to win the nomination outright, so even without Scott Schaben 140% of the primary vote is accounted for.

Sam Clovis spoke first and he's definitely got a radio voice. Asked to name his favorite non-Grassley senator, he said "I would stand on the floor with Ted Cruz & Mike Lee anytime. They stand for principles." On health care, he said "Obamacare must be pulled out by the roots and destroyed. This administration has done more damage than all previous administrations combined." He would replace it with tax credits, tort reform, antitrust action against hospitals and "Not a penny for abortion."

Clovis also spoke last and was the only one who appeared to adjust to what other candidates said. In closing remarks he re-emphasized his military service, seemingly in response to Joni Ernst's remarks.

David Young stressed his standing as a sixth generation Iowan but also tried to spin his long service in DC for Chuck Grassley into a strength. "I've seen what works in Washington and doesn't work, and most of it doesn't work." Young's speaking style lacked some of the radio pizzaz of Clovis but he looked and sounded confident and professional.

Young also name-dropped Ted Cruz, and made more towel references than the other candidates combined. (Local Republicans, capitalizing on Bruce Braley's stumble about towels at the House gym, had towels at every table.) "We need something" out of the government shutdown, said Young, "we need long term and short term deficit reduction." He called for a balanced budget amendment and zero based budget, saying economic issues will win over independents.

Young described Braley as "to the left of Tom Harkin, if you can imagine that," though in his Senate staff service he's surely met Bernie Sanders at least once. Young has almost completed the Full Grassley of visiting 99 counties; the last left is Pocahontas which he plans to hit soon.

Scott Schaben was frankly the weakest speaker, though one event organizer said he had done better than had been expected. "I am a normal guy,"  Schaben said; "To stay grounded you have to remember your roots."

Schaben said he is the candidate who can appeal to both employers and employees. "Unless we want to see results similar to 2012, we have to increase the base."

Drawing the abortion question, Schaben said he is "pro life from conception to death." But he gets bonus points from me for quoting, without attribution, Michael Corleone in the context of foreign policy.

Joni Ernst was folksy and confident at the same time, emphasizing the bullet points of "A mother a soldier and a conservative." Bullet points literally, working guns into the introductory remarks and touching all the conservative bases in just under two minutes.

Ernst got the luckiest draw of the night: the Iraq question went to the Iraq veteran. "I will always believe in my heart it was the right thing to do," she said, but she also said it was right to leave because of "restrictive rules of engagement." More important than the specific answer was the opportunity to further stress her military record. She was the first candidate to draw spontaneous applause when she stressed a "Strong. National. Defense." and also while bashing Braley on taxes.

In closing remarks, Ernst stressed personality above issues. "I take the time to know who people are, and those relationships are what make politics work."

Matt Whitaker stressed his legal and business background, but in Johnson County he wasn't afraid to play the football card. The ex-Hawkeye repeated his "Go Hawks" exhortation when the response wasn't loud enough the first time, and his goodies included toy footballs.

Whitaker got the loudest spontaneous applause of the forum when he drew the marriage question and gave the One Man One Woman response. "I'm pro-life and pro traditional marriage." (But interestingly, the question included references to appealing to young people and independents who felt otherwise.)

"If you're looking for a bring home the bacon senator, I am not your person," said Whitaker. He wants to restore "fiscal and constitutional sanity." As for foreign policy, "the lens I use is: is it in our national interest." (Syria, the specific topic of the question, failed the test.) Whitaker also pledged to do the Full Grassley annually.

Other candidates for other things were present and introduced, but by design only the Senate candidates spoke. I was a little surprised that congressional candidate Mark Lofgren didn't get a moment to speak. (Also noted: Iowa Public Health director Mariannette Miller-Meeks, often rumored to be considering another run in the 2nd CD, arrived just as the Senate forum ended.)

Elected officials present: Rep. Bobby Kaufmann and Supervisor John Etheredge (giving the invocation, which as usual at GOP events I've attended the past six years specified "In Jesus' Name.") Three candidates in open Senate 39 were on hand: Mike Moore, Royce Phillips, and Bob Anderson. (Phillips is also seeking re-election to the Tiffin City Council.)

Four or five Coralville candidates were on hand. Mayor candidate David Fesler was there and to be honest I was talking to someone and can't remember if Matt Adam was introduced or not. (Update: Yes he was.) Council candidates on hand were Mark Winckler, Laurie Goodrich and David Petsel.  Setting up his yard sign at his display table, Petsel quipped, "I wish I could fix Coralville's problems with just duct tape." Note that their mutual presence at the event doesn't mean they're on the same team, and in this case they're not. Adam, Winckler and Petsel are identified with the Citizens For Responsible Growth and Taxation group, while Goodrich is a former city staffer with backing from some of Coralville's long-time insiders.

And one last item. long rumored but now public: County GOP chair Deb Thornton is stepping down next month. Thornton will be joining her husband who is working overseas.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Joint Event For Iowa City Challengers


"They're not a slate, but I'm slating them," Karen Kubby told a crowd of about 50 at her home Thursday. She's more than a decade removed from her 11 years on the city council, but the Kubby nod is still THE endorsement to get on Iowa City's progressive left.

Kubby hosted an event for three city council candidates: at large contenders Kingsley Botchway and Rockne Cole and District B candidate Royceann Porter. They're challenging two incumbents, Terry Dickens and Susan Mims, and pseudo-incumbent Catherine Champion, trying to replace her mother Connie Champion.

"We need broader leadership," said Kubby. "If we can elect these three we'll have a much different community in five to six years."

The crowd was an interesting mix of old-school progressives and young African Americans. Racial issues, particularly disparate arrest rates, have been a hot topic in the past year, playing a role in the two defeats of the justice center.

"We must embrace and talk about race," said Porter. "The Iowa City council needs African American representation. They need me and Kingsley."

"We have a lot of new people coming here," said Porter, a 25 year resident. "This is our home and we aren't going anywhere."

Porter is emphasizing affordable housing and living wages in her District B campaign, in which all city voters can vote. It's a sharp contrast with her opponent, Dickens, whose signature issue has been cracking down on the homeless on the Ped Mall where he owns a jewelry store.

"We speak about downtown, downtown, downtown," said Botchway. "We have a very business interested city council. We have a small subset deciding where millions of dollars will go. We need to involve more people. We need an economic development plan that applies to the entire area."

Botchway and Cole are running against Mims and Champion. Voters can choose two of the four. In part, the event was designed to encourage people to vote for both Cole and Botchway, rather than "bullet voting" for just one.

"They're wonderful people," Cole said of Mims, Dickens and Champion, "but they have some enormous blind spots. We've had so much negativity, from a lack of being able to listen."

Cole seeks to build a city around strengths like walkability/bikeability and cultural amenities. "If we try to compete with more cars, more malls, and more parking lots, we lose to Coralville."

Other politicians spotted included District C council member Jim Throgmorton, not on the ballot this year (wouldn't he make a cool mayor?) and Rep. Mary Mascher.

Voting has already started, unusually early. For the first time since 1991 Iowa City did not require a primary, which would have been this past Tuesday. One more candidate would have forced the primary and thus delayed voting for the November 5 election until the field was selected.

The election kicks into high gear next week when satellite voting starts on campus. Sites will be Monday and Tuesday at Burge Hall, and Wednesday and Thursday at Hillcrest. Heavy turnout is expected on the 21 bar issue, a subject not discussed by candidates last night.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Don't Give Them Any Ideas

The latest trick in the bag for vote suppressors is a scheme that would let you vote for some things but not others.

Kansas and Arizona are trying to implement something called "two tiered voter registration" as a way to get around federal court rulings saying those states can't require proof of citizenship for voter registration.

But since those rulings only apply to federal elections, Kansas is treating voters differently depending on whether they provide the documents and which voter registration form they used. The details are complicated - long version here - Some voters would only be allowed in federal elections and would get a ballot with just the federal offices - president, US Senate and US House. 
After proof-of-citizenship took effect, sidewalk and door-to-door voting registration drives ground to a halt because of the impracticality of getting the needed documents to complete the process.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said (Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is) doing voters a disservice by demanding documents that most people don’t have close at hand and that Congress and the Supreme Court says they don’t have to provide.

He said he once asked Kobach how to collect the documents in a registration drive and Kobach’s response was “carry a copy machine with you.”

“It was a snarky response, but I think it tells you his attitude toward the right to vote,” Ward said.
States tried this before, back in the 90s when the Motor Voter law kicked in. Mississippi - very telling, there - in particular tried hard to limit the franchise for people who registered through drivers license bureaus or other agencies to just federal elections. They lost.

I hesitate to write about this because I don't want to give folks any ideas. Last year our local Farm Bureau federation passed a resolution stating that "students should be required to vote by absentee ballot from their parent's address" - a harder process which makes it less likely to actually happen. They're still mad that student votes were decisive in narrowly passing a conservation funding measure that was on the 2008 presidential ballot.

And they can't say so for obvious PC reasons, but Sally Mason, Matt Hayek, and a whole lot of Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students townies would sure be happy if it were harder for students to vote on local offices and, oh, maybe ballot issues. (If you missed it, my Vote Yes on 19 editorial re-runs today, this time in the DI.)

Monday, October 07, 2013

Vote Yes To Repeal 21

A Deeth Blog Endorsement

America has a dysfunctional coming of age ritual with alcohol.  It’s tacitly OK to start drinking in your late teens, as long as you don't get caught.  That makes access to alcohol, while not difficult, still a valuable commodity for the coming of age person, emphasizing the link between adulthood and alcohol and encouraging over-use when the “forbidden” (nudge wink) fruit is available.

The college drinking culture cost me a point off my GPA and my first serious relationship.  My own difficult experience with alcohol tells me you can ONLY learn from experience.  That’s why I so adamantly oppose the 21 drinking age and why I voted Yes to repeal the 21 bar ordinance.

21 supporters try to claim that this fight is not about the drinking age. But by refusing to engage on this under-discussed issue, they perpetuate that cultural dysfunction and lose credibility with the same young people they’re patronizingly trying to “protect.”  That makes it harder to address the binge drinking problem they claim to care about.

Nearly every politician I know privately says the 21 drinking age is unworkable.  Some even admit it's unfair to the young adults whose support they eagerly seek in general elections.  But almost none say so in public.  The city-University establishment stance on this is that the end, cracking down on Number One Party School, justifies the means.

For almost all purposes besides alcohol, 18 year olds are considered adults.  In 1971 our nation made a wartime decision, by the overwhelming majority that a constitutional amendment requires, that the age of adulthood was 18.  The drinking age is nowhere near as enshrined.  It’s just legislation.  It can be changed.

Even an assistant city attorney now admits that the 21 ordinance has human rights implications.  But instead of addressing that by recognizing rights, the city wants to redefine rights to get their desired outcome.

Rights fights are uncomfortable sometimes. You have to stick up for unsympathetic characters like Larry Flynt and Illinois Nazis, and Vodka Samm and self-interested bar owners. (Yet self-interest is OK if you want to keep beggars away from your jewelry store.)  Rights aren't less important just because the right in question is less high-minded.

Some people in this town would be happier if the University were nothing but athletes, tenured faculty, invisible grad students who never leave the lab, and the cultural amenities usually seen only in much bigger cities. But without our students, without those immature and inconvenient freshmen and sophomores, there is no Iowa City.

The young adults who drive Iowa City's economy want and deserve adult fun.  I'm not pretending that 19 year olds will go to the bar “just to dance,” or sip on one drink while earnestly discussing their literature class in a quiet pub.  They'll make mistakes.

That's the point.  “We don't want to go back,” says 21 Makes Sense (sic), yet their vision looks back to the we know what's best for you attitudes of the 1950s.  Instead, we should encourage young adults to make their own decisions and take responsibility.

Only when we separate the alcohol abuse issue from the “underage” (sic) drinking issue, and recognize the rights and wishes of young adults, can we Old People be taken seriously on the very real problem of binge drinking.  And voting Yes to repeal 21 Bar is a good first step toward the conversation about the drinking age we need to have.

Also published in Iowa City Press-Citizen,

Iowa City grandfather John Deeth turns 50 this year. He had his last drink on August 25, 1985.

Upcoming Events: October 7 - 14

It's the weekend of the barbecues, as both Johnson County political parties hosts events on back to back dates.

The Republicans are first up on Saturday at Clear Creek Amana High in Tiffin, and they've got themselves a draw interesting enough that even I'm going to go:
All five announced U.S. Senate candidates--David Young, Sam Clovis, Matt Whitaker, Joni Ernst, and Scott Schaben have now confimed that they will attend and participate in the Fall Barbecue candidate forum!  This will be the first forum with all 5 candidates to be held in eastern Iowa.

Additionally, Mark Jacobs who has an exploratory committee will also attend. 
Doors open at 4:30. Dinner at 5:15 and program at 6. Adult tickets start at $30.

Other candidates expected: Senate 39 contenders Royce Phillips and Mike Moore. And, interestingly, Iowa Public Health director Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Maybe that's why the literature Mark Lofgren, the only announced Republican in the 2nd CD, was dropping in Tiffin last month specified the date of the June primary.

Baseball card, notepad, and magnet, all packed in a ziplock baggie (it was a rainy day). But not working from a list of likely primary voters or even registered Republicans, as it was dropped at a Democratic door.

Sunday the Democrats will also have all their U.S. Senate candidates on hand at the Johnson County Fairgrounds as Bruce Braley will be there. Also scheduled: Dave Loebsack, governor candidates Tyler Olson, Jack Hatch, and Bob Krause, and secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson. And Zach Wahls isn't running for anything (yet?) but is speaking and always interesting. Event is scheduled from 3 to 7. Adult tickets start at 15 though, in JCDems tradition, no one gets turned away.

The lines are clearly drawn in the Iowa City council election between the insiders and the outsiders, and the mayor of the left, Karen Kubby, is sending a strong signal this week. Kubby is hosing an event for Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole and Royceann Porter on Thursday from 5 to 8 at her home, 1425 Ridge St.

Early voting at the Auditor's Office continues all week, 7:45 to 5:30. A week from today satellite sites start on campus.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Week In Review: September 30 - October 6

The less that really happens, the more shutdown tweets. Many journalists, little actual news. It's like a national party convention only worse.  I'm having to unfollow people just to keep up.  If only all the speculating was a good as this Onion article, from 1999 but still relevant:
The bitter "get up/get down" battle, which has polarized the nation's funk community, is part of a long-running battle between the two factions, rooted in more than 35 years of conflict over the direction in which the American people should shake it.

"The time has come to face facts: To move forward, we've got to get on up, and stay on the scene, like a sex machine," said Brick House Majority Leader James Brown, one of getting on up's most vocal supporters.
The pro-up-getting demonstrators' chants were nearly drowned out by those of a nearby group of jungle-boogie Downocrats, who called upon all citizens to "Get down, get down!"
Funny how the shutdown did not shut down the one thing the Republicans most wanted to shut down.

"Sucks to be Democrats," said redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering. "Youse have had just one bad election cycle in the last four, but because that one loss was the redistricting year, you're stuck with this crap till 2022."

One of my pet peeves is the oxymoron "meteoric rise." As any space geek knows, meteors FALL. Kent Sorenson's career can now truly be described as meteoric, as The Bald One resigns in a blaze of defiance with hints that he'll one day seek a comeback.

Senate staffer/state central committee member Wes Enos was the second head to roll, and anyone associated with the high levels of the Bachmann or Paul campaigns in late 2011 has got to be a little nervous.

The special election date is not set yet. The two state reps from Senate District 13 have both made announcements. Democrat Scott Ourth will NOT run, Republican Julian Garrett will. Garret has faced serious primaries in both his House wins, and the district's Republicans are split both ideologically and geographically (Garrett's primaries both had a Warren vs. Madison thing going on).

No Democratic names yet other than Ourth's no. I'm getting hints, and not from my usual sources, that Dems don't have this on their Urgent! list. Maybe the edge does go to Republicans now that Sorenson himself is gone, but there's a fair change the GOP nominee will have at least a little of the stench. And Democrat Staci Appel (now otherwise occupied with a congressional race) won this seat in very similar lines in 2006.

Locally, voting started Wednesday. The Coralville race continues to heat up, with Koch-brothers group Americans For Prosperity phonebanking into the city. Coralville's most prominent Democrats made their choice public this week. From Senator Bob Dvorsky:
Sue and I are supporting Councilmember John Lundell for Mayor; Councilmembers Tom Gill and Bill Hoeft for Re-Election and Laurie Goodrich for the third Council Seat. Please Vote Early! Thanks!!
That's two Democrats (Lundell and Gill) an ex-Republican recently turned independent (Hoeft) and a Republican (Goodrich). The AFP folks seem to be backing Matt Adam for mayor and Dave Petsel, Chris Turner and Mark Winkler for council. All registered Republicans. So who's the partisan?

Also through the rumor mill: hints that Swisher might get interesting this election.

In Iowa City, an endorsement that may do more harm than good:
21 Makes Sense (sic) was stepping up (get it?) its game this week, hitting the panic button with an editorial from Mayor Matt Hayek and the UI's designated in loco parent, Tom Rocklin that ran simultaneously in the Press-Citizen, Gazette, and DI. (Watch the DI for hints of editorial pressure; the University BADLY wants to be able to say "even the students support 21" even though returns from two elections show the opposite.)

"If people" - meaning Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students townies - "if people don't turn out to vote, things will go back to the way they used to be in Iowa City," Hayek said. And he said it like it was a bad thing. Watch for my rebuttal...

Friday, October 04, 2013

October Johnson County Democrats

A few notes from last night's Johnson County Democrats meeting:

Four city council candidates on hand: Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole, Catherine Champion and Royceann Porter. Also present: Senate 39 candidate Rich Gilmore.

Only elected official on hand was supervisor Rod Sullivan.

Main topic of discussion was our fall barbecue Richard Gilmore
The Johnson County Democrats Annual Fall BBQ is back and better than ever!!! BBQ by Terrence Neuzil and his brothers. Candidates expected: Bruce Braley, Congressman Dave Loebsack, Tyler Olson, Jack Hatch, Robert Krause, Brad Anderson Great desserts. Silent Auction and Raffle. $15/person $30/family. No person denied admission based on ability to pay.
And because I opened my big mouth, I'm caucus czar. I need a lot of help between now and January 21. Have I mentioned lately that the Republican caucus is the same date?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Bye Bye Baldy

One of my pet peeves is the oxymoron "meteoric rise." As any space geek knows, meteors FALL.

Kent Sorenson's career can now truly be described as meteoric. In the wake of more details on the charges that he, tl;dr, sold his caucus support to the highest bidder(s), Michele Bachman and Ron Paul in turn, Sorenson took the hint from Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix and resigned late this afternoon.

The national media, bored from waiting around for the next nothing to happen in the shutdown standoff, is climbing onto this story quick. But as a local on the ground, I'm more interested for the moment in the strictly Iowa implications.

Remember the Battle Of Marion in 2011, when Swati Dandekar turned coat and risked the Democratic Senate majority to go to work for Terry Branstad? (Anesa Kajtazovic, Pat Murphy, Monica Vernon and That Other Dude do.) Remember how the entire Iowa political infrastructure descended on Linn County?

Staffers, get ready to spend LOTS of time in Warren and Madison Counties.

This is a swing seat, the lines not changed much since last decade when three senators won in three cycles and the House seats were also revolving doors. My old District of the Day post is relevant again. Staci Appel won in the spectacular Democratic year of 2006 and lost to Sorenson in the spectacular Republican year of 2010.

With the Senate balance just one seat, both parties will make a serious effort. Mike Gronstal sure could use one more senator's worth of breathing room, and Bill Dix will have an easier time getting to 26 next by staying at 24 on whatever day Terry Branstad sets this.

It must go without saying because no one has said it yet: the resignation helps Republican chances of holding the seat in the long run. Sorenson was a goner one way or another, primary or general.

You think Terry Branstad is calling Jodi Tymeson now? You think he could get the still popular ex-House member to serve even just the one session? (Whoever wins has to defend immediately again next year. Worked for Liz Mathis.) Or does he want to keep her on to clean up the mess at the Iowa Veteran's Home? And could Branstad even get a candidate of his choice through a nominating convention? He couldn't in the Battle Of Marion...

That convention will be a nasty dust-up. Both House seats saw Republican primaries last year. State Rep. Julian Garrett represents half the Senate turf, but he's got a patchy track record: lost to Appel in 2006, won a three way primary with 44% in 2010, and got challenged by one of the same opponents, Joan Acela, in 2012. House 25 seems to have a Warren vs. Madison dynamic.

House 26 is all Warren and was Democratic till Sorenson beat Mark Davitt in 2008. When Sorenson moved up in `10, tea partier Glen Massie scored a flukish win, joined the Krazy Kaucus, and quit after one term. In the 2012 primary, Warren County GOP "co-chair" Steve McCoy defeated Carlisle mayor Ruth Randleman 56-44.

But the November 2012 winner was Democrat Scott Ourth, who was expected to win in 2010 except it was 2010, and never really stopped running. On the House 25 side of the district, Katie Routh ran a respectable but unsuccessful race against Garrett, in the tougher half of the Senate district.

So those are all the names I can drop on short notice. Expect the Democrats to come to a consensus quick and the Republicans to have a convention split by geography and ideology. Heck, even choosing between Norwalk and Winterset for a convention site might get to be a fight.

A win for either sitting House member, Ourth or Garrett, would set up ANOTHER special election, unless they did what Bob Dvorsky did back in `94 and resign from one to run for the other. The Ourth seat in particular would be another hot race.

Sorenson, for his part, launched a buh-bye email to his constituents in which he hints: "I fall not backwards but forwards, I reserve the right to get back up on my feet and fight again down the road."

We'll see about that. There's still a lot of investigatin' left to go.

Some Dude For Governor

I have nothing constructive to add to the government shutdown discussion. I haven't seen so much traffic on Twitter since the end of Republican primary debate season.

Instead, in the kind of outside the Beltway minutia that only a state-level blogger can give you, we have, via the Story County Dems, an actual Some Dude story.

Yeah, I know, the last time I called anyone a Some Dude I had to eat my words. But somehow, I think this is safe. Paul Dahl of Webster City is launching an announcement tour for governor - governor? - on Friday:

October 4

8 a.m.
Sioux City Public Library (outside)
529 Pierce Street

10 a.m.
Council Bluffs Public Library (outside)
400 Willow Avenue

1 p.m.
Central Library, Des Moines Public Library (outside)
1000 Grand Avenue

2:30 p.m.
Parks Library, Iowa State University, Ames (outside)
Corner of Osborn Drive and Morrill Road)

5:00 p.m.
Mason City Public Library (outside)
225 2nd Street SE

7:30 p.m.
Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls (outside)
1227 West 27th Street

October 5

8 a.m.
Local 838, UAW Hall, Waterloo (inside or outside to be determined)
2615 Washington Street

10 a.m.
Downtown Library, Cedar Rapids Public Library (outside)
450 Fifth Avenue SE

12 noon
Main Library, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City (outside)
125 West Washington Street

2 p.m.
Burlington Public Library (outside)
210 Court Street

4:30 p.m.
Davenport Public Library (outside)
321 North Main Street

6:30 p.m.
Dubuque Carnegie-Stout Public Library (outside)
360 West 11th Street
Note that 1) The Iowa City stop is during the Hawkeye football game and 2) the common theme of "outside the library."

Outside the library is, it turns out, very apt. Two years ago Dahl was hired and in just two months fired as Webster City's library director for numerous yet unspecified complaints from the public. Since then he's stayed in Webster City in a... wide variety of jobs, according to his resume, most recently as a bus driver. A bus driver with two masters degrees. I thought that only happened in Iowa City. Still, a step up from his previous stop at Dollar General.

Closest I can find to a platform is "The Significant Seven Issues for Iowa":
1) Agricultural Revitalization (Biotic Friendly Practices)
2) Renewable Energy Commitment
3) Tax Reform
4) Greater Higher Education Investment and Preschool - Grade 12 School Support
5) Mass Transit Infrastructure Development
6) Improvements in Health Care and Long Term Care Insurance Options
7) Criminal Justice Reforms
All interesting in their own right, but unconventionally presented. And nothing wrong with bus drivers. Yet the overall impression is of That One Guy who talks waaaay too long at the platform committee meeting.

This is the second campaign for Dahl, 49. In 1994 he won 5% in the Democratic primary in the old 5th CD. After that he had a fairly stable career in the library sciences in Iowa and Minnesota, before returning to Iowa for that ill-fated Webster City job.

Compared to this, Bob Krause's long ago legislative service is a Bidenesque Ears Of Experience. But as Sal Mohamed proved, anyone smart enough to get nomination papers in the caucus packet is likely to make the ballot, and just the name on the ballot is good for at least 1 percent.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

An Iowa Opportunity for Warren?

An epic flamewar was underway last week between, among others, desmoinesdem of Bleeding Heartland and myself. Her point of view, that Hillary Clinton doesn't "need" Iowa, is largely summarized here. To paraphrase: 1) Hillary is a more prohibitive front runner than any in history, 2) if she runs no other serious person gets in, and therefore 3) Clinton can eschew traditional Iowa retail politics because we're not special.

1) is most likely true, though it was also true circa 2005. It's probably MORE true now than it was in 2005.

But there is still considerable resistance to the Restoration Of The House Of Clinton in the Democratic ranks, and in those circles the same name comes up repeatedly: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Granted, Warren turned down an Iowa invite, and denies interest in the presidency, but such denials are rituals of the game. They only beg you to run for president once. Barack Obama heard that begging in 2005 and 2006.

Which leads us to 2). There are two big picture scenarios for the 2016 Democratic race. Hillary doesn't run = free for all between Joe Biden (who loves Iowa enough to come here this month and to release his Obamacare editorial via the Des Moines Register) and an army of miscellaneous governors. This wasn't very likely and we didn't expect it.

The MUCH more likely scenario is Clinton does run. In that case I see a race like 2000 where Al Gore was the insider choice and the outsiders clung to whatever else they had.

Circa 1997 the Anyone But Gore list was Paul Wellstone and a still significant Jesse Jackson, both of whom made a couple Iowa stops. The guy who did run, Bill Bradley, was off the B- or C+ list - out of office, flirted with an independent 1996 run, almost lost his 1990 re-elect.

I liked Bradley, a lot, but HE wasn't important. The race was Gore vs. Not Gore, and Not Gore was his role. Bradley lost 2-1 in Iowa, almost won New Hampshire which everyone forgets. Then, in the calendar quirk of the year, they was a long layoff till Super Tuesday when Bradley washed out.

There was a BIG Anyone But Hillary faction in the Democratic Party circa 2006. Some argue that's faded after her stint at State. But the stakes are so high that someone is likely to step up and play the Bradley role, and maybe more successfully.

There was and is a powerful gender and age dynamic surrounding Hillary Clinton. The idea of a woman president is huge to women of the first feminist generation, and it also seems like it's important to them that the woman be FROM that generation. (I see a similar female age dynamic in the 1st CD race bwteen Vernon and Kajtazovic supporters).

Elizabeth Warren is uniquely suited to this challenge. Despite being a relative newcomer to the national stage, she's less than two years younger than Clinton. So two women, about the same age, now let's talk issues.
Privately, some Democratic donors from the financial industry seem unnerved by Ms. Warren’s rise, underscoring the tension between the party’s liberal and centrist wings. 

“People on Wall Street perceive her to be hostile to their industry, and so there was pretty widespread terror when she got on the Banking Committee,” said Steven Rattner, a New York financier and pillar of Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising network. 

The ascendant power of Ms. Warren and her fellow populists is best captured by their torpedoing this month of Lawrence H. Summers, Mr. Clinton’s treasury secretary, who was blocked before President Obama could even nominate him to lead the Federal Reserve.
Now let's look at 3). Hillary doesn't "owe" Iowa anything.

Bill Clinton never really ran an Iowa caucus campaign, thanks to Tom Harkin's 1992 run, and Hillary did so only half-heartedly in 2007. In the post-election tell-all Game Change, Team Clinton had a particular vitriol for the Iowa caucuses:
    If Hillary was going to be competitive in Iowa, she would need to go all out. The problem was, she hated it there….

    She found the Iowans diffident and presumptuous; she felt they were making her grovel. Hillary detested pleading for anything, from money to endorsements, and in Iowa it was no different. She resisted calling the local politicos whose support she needed.

    One time, she spent forty-five minutes on the phone wooing an activist, only to be told at the call’s end that the woman was still deciding between her and another candidate. Hillary hung up in a huff. “I can’t believe this!” she said. “How many times am I going to have to meet these same people?”
The wounds haven't healed; Hillary Clinton has not been back to Iowa since Caucus Night 2008. And just last weekend Bill Clinton hinted at the discredited charge that Team Obama brought in ringers on caucus night:
“I still think we have way too many caucuses. They’re not democratic. And unlike primaries, they have no legal enforcement. You can break the rules, nobody’s going to say anything. I think there are way too many of them.”
That charge was disproven post-caucus when only tiny handfuls of voter cards were returned to sender, usually for trivial mistakes like missing apartment numbers.

I'm just one caucus goer, in one little state. But I guess before I caucus, I'd like to ask: Madame Secretary, do you still hate my state?

I, of course, believe Iowa IS special. Our 40 plus years of the serious caucus era have made us very good at ferreting out the presidents from the pretenders if we're given a chance. It seems to me that Clinton, who made a half-hearted Iowa effort in 2007, still has a chip on her shoulder and doesn't really want to give us that chance.

My friend David Redlawsk postulated the question, at book length, "Why Iowa?" His executive summary: because until people agree on something else, it's Iowa. We're still the first REAL event. If anything, the modern eternal news cycle of Twitter-era journalism amplifies that above and beyond even the levels we saw in the bygone network TV Boys On The Bus era, when Gary Hart shot from a barely second place in Iowa, 35 points behind Mondale, to a New Hampshire win eight days later.

This weekend's Register Poll is worded in such a bizarre way that it really doesn't tell us much, but it does hint at an opening for someone "new." I've got an open mind... but I'm more open to someone who comes here to ask for my vote.