Monday, July 31, 2006

Horse's Head Dumped In Councilwoman's Pool

Horse's Head Dumped In Councilwoman's Pool

We've all heard political Godfather references, but this is taking it a bit far:

New York authorities are investigating the discovery a severed horse's head in a councilwoman's swimming pool.

Police in Wawayanda, N.Y., said the head was found Tuesday and is being treated as a threat against Councilwoman Gail Soro. A spokesman said she's been harassed before.

One of the most famous scenes in "The Godfather" showed a movie mogul waking up with a horse head in his bed after he refused to bow to the will of the title character, played by Marlon Brando.

The story fails to note whether or not Johnny Fontane got the part.

Sal for President!

Sal for President!

The new definition of undaunted. Or, as Ron at Politics1 euphemizes, "frequent candidate":

While Sal Mohamed of Sioux City placed an advertisement in the Journal Thursday inviting the public to his press conference to announce his run for President of the United States, he knows his candidacy could be halted, but is hoping it won't be.

As an Egypt-born man who became a U.S. citizen in 1983, Mohamed could be tripped up by the Constitution...

He finished third of three candidates in 2004 in the Democratic Party Iowa 5th District congressional primary, and last month finished fourth of four Democrats wanting the party's governor nominee title, which went to Chet Culver.

Discussing Mohamed's presidential aspirations, Woodbury County Democratic Party chairwoman Teresa Wolff said, "I think that Sal needs to take a look at his strategies in how he wants to get involved in politics."

Hat tip to Krusty.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pate’s Shameful Record in Public Office

Pate’s Shameful Record in Public Office

I don't usually run verbatim press releases but the defense of Paul Pate in the comments has been vehement. So, via the IDP:

Pate Embellished His Educational Background in the Iowa Official Register. Pate claimed that he gradated from the Wharton School of Business when, in fact, he only attended a two-week program.

Pate Attempted to Copyright State Slogans Before Leaving Office. The Attorney General's office issued a ruling stating the state, not Pate personally, had the legal rights to marketing slogans.

Pate Said He Would Abolish the Secretary of State’s Office. Pate made a campaign promise to abolish the Secretary of State’s office or make major revisions to the position. He did neither one, and now, is considering running for the position again.

And since the question of residency has been raised: I checked the Red Book from 1993-94, Pate's last years in the Senate, and it lists a Marion (not Cedar Rapids) address. The House district he held was essentially the city of Marion; the Senate district was about half and half with Cedar Rapids.

Star Power: Lance vs. Kerry

Star Power: Lance vs. Kerry

Cyclist: banner headline.

About 600 people attended today’s Senate Field Hearing to hear seven-time Tour de France champ and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong talk about his fight with cancer.

2004 Democratic nominee: third paragraph.

The hearing, led by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and featuring Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, was organized to promote the advancement of cancer research in light of President Bush’s nearly $40 million dollar cut for the National Cancer Institute for fiscal year 2007.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Paul Pate on the comeback trail?

Paul Pate on the comeback trail?

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate is giving consideration to becoming the Republican Party of Iowa's candidate for Secretary of State, Republican activists told The Gazette.

Pate, who served in that office for eight years, would replace Chuck Allison, who dropped out of the race earlier this week, citing personal reasons...

Pate never misses an opportunity. He may be Iowa's champion job hopper: state rep and state senator from a Marion district, then in mid-senate term he jumps to Secretary of State forcing two special elections.

Sidebar: Here's the sequence from late `94 and early `95 in Linn County:

November 1994: General election, Pate elected Sec of State, resigns Senate seat.

December 1994: Representative Mary Lundby elected to Senate seat in special election. In February 1994, there was a senate vacancy in Johnson and Linn counties and then-Rep. Bob Dvorsky resigned the house seat so the two special elections could be combined. (We had a naaaaasty blizzard that day.) Bund Lundby refused to make that move, forcing yet another special election which was held in January `95.

Also in this time frame: Linn County has a special election for sheriff, AND the Marion and Linn-Mar school districts, which partially overlapped the legislative districts, had a (failed) merger vote.

So there were voters in parts of Marion that were in the Marion or Linn-Mar districts who went to the polls five times in nine weeks.

Four years later Pate loses the primary for governor, then he carpetbags into Cedar Rapids and gets elected mayor. Then the voters in effect abolish the job out from under him by making it part-time (coincidence?)

The foot doctor walks away

The foot doctor walks away

The Republican candidate for Iowa secretary of state is ending his campaign, a top party official said Wednesday.

Chuck Allison, a Des Moines podiatrist who won the Republican nomination in June, is expected to make an official announcement as early as today, throwing the race into disarray...

Sounds like the real issue is he's being sued by a former business partner.

The GOP now has about three weeks to get it together and get a new candidate, which I think - need to check the code - would require a new state convention.

Krusty beats me to the story and immediately gets behind primary loser Bob Dopf. (How did Allison win the primary in the first place?) Based on Dopf's stands in the primary, it doesn't change the eseential dynamic, the essential issue of the race: Mike Mauro wants to help people vote, the GOP wants to keep people from voting.

Clinton at JJ

Clinton at JJ

Bill, that is. Who wins? Kyle opines:

Make no mistake, getting Bill Clinton to come to this event is huge for the party. But it's also huge for Vilsack, because it means that Edwards, (Hillary) Clinton, Kerry, Gore, Feingold, Bayh, Biden, Warner, Gravel and any of the others I may have left out will not be on hand to overshadow our own federal office-seeker. And my guess is that was the goal all along.

Bill's star power relegates John Kerry's weekend visit to a sidebar - but anything Kerry does this weekend is getting blacked out by Lance Armstrong and RAGBRAI anyway. Kerry is feeling way too desperate these days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Can Polling Location Influence How Voters Vote?

Can Polling Location Influence How Voters Vote?

Two Stanford researchers say so:

“Environmental cues, such as objects or places, can activate related constructs within individuals and influence the way they behave,” says Berger. “Voting in a school, for example, could activate the part of a person’s identity that cares about kids, or norms about taking care of the community. Similarly, voting in a church could activate norms of following church doctrine. Such effects may even occur outside an individual’s awareness.”

Interesting, but relatively difficult to work around in the traditional, neighborhood polling place model of lections. Some neighborhoods simply don't have a public building suitable for a polling place and the Help America Vote Act (sic) of 2002 has raised the bar on accessibility. Johnson County had to move five polling places this year and it was all the same shortcoming: a lack of paved, van accessible handicapped parking.

So it's hard enough to find a spot, and factoring in subtle biases would make it even harder.

One alternative to the neighorhood polling place is the voting center model of organizing Election Day. Instead of a polling place in each precinct, there are several super-polls. For example, Larimer County, Colorado had 22 voting centers rather than 145 polling places. And here's the good part: on Election Day you can vote at any one of those 22 sites (they're all networked to avoid the old Boston saying, "vote often and early for James Michael Curley.") The workers are trained to give you the correct ballot for your address.

In my experience, not knowing which polling place is the right one is a big barrier to participation. With the voting center, that problem is solved - there is no "wrong place."

The voting center saves money - poll workers are the biggest cost and while there are more workers at each super-center, there are fewer in total. That's worth noting, but not nearly as important as the increase in voter convenience.

Folks can get pretty attached to their neighborhood place, and I don't have a good answer to that. Walking distance and bus lines are important components of accessibility and those things keep me from wholeheartedly endorsing the center concept.

On my way to work I pass three polling places, yet if I want to vote on Election Day (which I haven't done in 10 years) I would have to go about a mile in the opposite direction as I just so happen to live at the far corner of a precinct and legislative district. In this day and age there should be a way to let folks choose where to vote on Election Day.

Iowa law doesn't yet allow for a voting center system on Election Day, but Johnson County's been successfully using satellite early voting sites, with ballots for all precincts available, since 1992 with great success.

I have nothing against paper trails, but the issue seems to be sucking up all the oxygen at the moment. It's like my ongoing rant about how the Doors are overrated - I've nothing against the Doors but I can't stand the Morrison Death Worship Cult. It's important to remember there are a lot of other aspects to electoral reform. I'm sure that last statement will launch some sort of flame war, so I'm going to make a hasty escape to the county fair.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval

SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval

Obama rules the planet again, +50 points.

Grassley is 16th at +34. The always more polarizing Harkin is in the middle of the pack, +16.

Conrad Burns, up for re-election, is last at -20.

Too many wannabees to list them all. Joe Biden is highest of all those mentioned; Frist and John Kerry (!) are lowest. Remember, this is just home state approval.

Nolte for Iowa: Blogging, and an interesting musical guest

Nolte for Iowa: Blogging, and an interesting musical guest

Dem state rep candidate Mark Nolte (District 89 - mostly Washington County, a chunk of Johnson, a sliver of Jefferson) is doing a bit of blogging here.

He's also having a get together in Washington on August 5 with several dance and musical guests including some picker from Des Moines name of Ed Fallon.

Kos: 2008 calendar: Edwards the HUGE winner

Daily Kos -2008 calendar: Edwards the HUGE winner

Kos looks at the schedule. But he disputes my earlier judgement that Nevada will be a popular destination for the press corps:

There is another possibility -- that everyone except for Edwards and Richardson ignores Nevada to focus on New Hampshire. The political press, which is East Coast-based, won't want to travel to Nevada when New Hampshire, and its wealth of candidates, is just a short flight away.

Without the tradition of Iowa, New Hampshire, or evern South Carolina, Nevada may simply be a casualty of indifference, with its results equally discarded.

Standing by my analysis: Flight time is a minor thing compared to the attractiveness of Vegas as a destination.

Kos ALSO assumes that New Hampshire will play by the rules. Here's his projected calendar:

Iowa (caucus): 1/14
Nevada (caucus): 1/19
NH (primary): 1/22
SC (primary): 1/29

Here's mine:

NH (unauthorized primary): 1/8
Iowa (caucus): 1/14
Nevada (caucus): 1/19
SC (primary): 1/29

Sunday, July 23, 2006

January 2008 Hot Vacation Spot: Des Moines, Nashua, or Vegas?

January 2008 Hot Vacation Spot: Des Moines, Nashua, or Vegas?

Candidates and the press will love the new prominence of Nevada. Despite the widespread geography, 90% of the population is in one county. Direct, cheap flights. World class hotels. Lots of after hours entertainment and distractions for the boys on the bus crowd. Where would you rather go in January: Des Moines, Nashua, or Vegas? The Silver State might step on BOTH Iowa and New Hampshire. Look for at least one candidate (Richardson?) to adopt the Gore 88/Wes Clark Screw Iowa strategy with the Nevada twist. Placing it all on one roll of the dice, as it were.

SurveyUSA has the latest governor rankings. Who the hell is Jon Huntsman? Oh, Utah. Anyway he's +58% and #1. The lamest duck, Bob Taft, continues to bring up the rear of the parade at -61%, with Alaska's Frank Murkowski not much ahead. But Murkowski's running...

Vilsack's in the middle of the pack, +8, as the Register sums up his first year heading Democrats for the Leisure Class. He's not far behind Huckabee (+10). The other GOP wannabees are lower than that: Romney's dead even and Pataki is a miserable -18%, adding fuel to my theory that he's running for prez because he can't get re-elected governor.

Behind the Gazette firewall, a look at coping with the sex offender radius law: living at campgrounds. Can you imagine a stupider, more dangerous outcome? Can you envision a worse way to rehabilitate and reintegrate?

Not off the grid after all - some friendly neighbors have unsecured wifi...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

DNC Sets Calendar

DNC Sets Calendar

National Journal:

NV's the Caucus state and SC's the primary state.

Iowa's caucus could be held on Monday, January 14th or Monday, January 21st. If the caucuses are held the 14th, Nevada caucuses on 1/19, New Hampshire holds its primary on 1/22 and South Carolina primaries on 1/29. The window for other states to hold their primaries would open 2/5.

If Iowa waits until the 21st, Nevada would meet on 1/26. New Hampshire would vote 1/29, while South Carolina would vote on Groundhog Day, 2/2. The window would still open 2/5.

Personally I prefer the 1/14 date for Iowa. I'd rather be later but having the caucus on MLK day causes hard feelings - a lot of African-American and civil rights groups plan MLK Day events - and logistical problems since public buildings that are caucus sites are often in semi-shut down mode.

Now we'll wait and see what NH does. I'll stick by my prediction: they leapfrog the calendar to January 8 or 15. It doesn't matter what NH or the DNC does. What matters is if the candidates show up for an outlaw primary. If they do, they'll be covered and NH wins. If they don't show up the DNC wins.

Aside: Organizing a caucus in NV should be interesting. Typically a caucus depends on getting out the longtime activists, and that could be tricky in the fastest growing, least rooted state in the country.

In Connecticut, Poll Shows Lamont Ahead by 10

In Connecticut, Poll Shows Lamont Ahead by 10

Not much analysis this weekend; some family time helping my brother move. I'll be off the grid a while tonight: phone on roaming, internet not set at the new place.

Political Wire reports:

"A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Ned Lamont (D) beating Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) in the Democratic primary, 51% to 41%.

Here's the stunning finding: In the general election, Lieberman and Lamont are tied with 40% with Alan Schlesinger (R) trailing behind with 13%."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why Didn't Bill Clinton Think Of It First?

Why Didn't Bill Clinton Think Of It First?

Huckabee makes a blatant ploy for the how the hell is this guy still alive vote:

Keith Richards is set to be pardoned - for a 31-year-old driving offence in Arkansas.

The veteran guitarist was arrested in the town of Fordyce in July 1975 for reckless driving and fined $162.20.

After Richards referred to the incident during a March concert in Little Rock, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee offered to clear his record.

"I realised his impression of our state was marred by a misdemeanour traffic stop," he told news agency Reuters.

"I wanted to clear his record in Arkansas as a goodwill gesture."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Obama Comes to Iowa

Obama Comes to Iowa

Heard this through the rumor mill, now official.

"Basically, my rule has been that if I can help in the 06 cycle, then I'm going to do it,” Obama said in an interview. “The only reason not to do it would be the symbolism of Iowa, which probably wasn't a good reason for us not to help out."

Barack Obama, Harkin Steak Fry.

Obama is very smart about his superstar status. Yes, I think he'd like to be president. He's like it bad enough that he's being smart about it. He could jump in now, zip to frontrunner status, and then crash before a single vote is cast. Instead he waits and leaves us wanting more. And that's what this trip is - just a teaser. The county chairs, courthouse candidates, and midlevel donors will be there, yearning. Then when the mere mortal nominee falters, they'll remember and say "GOD I wish Obama had run!"

2008? Nah. Groundwork for the future? Yep.

Where the opinions flow with the suds

Where the opinions flow with the suds

Drinking Liberally makes today's DI. Tonight at the Mill, 8:00 to whenever. I should go one of these times...

Penny for their thoughts: Sales Tax forum

Penny for their thoughts: Sales Tax forum

I'm a no vote either way, but there's coverage in all papers this AM of last night's forum on the sales tax. The question on the table: all for schools, or share with the other governments?

Jeff Cox said Iowa City and Coralville have cost other governments tax revenue by creating tax increment financing districts for Plaza Towers and Coral Ridge Mall. This means governments such as Johnson County and the Iowa City School District do not receive about $3 million a year in taxes from those properties, he said.

'Iowa City and Coralville are raising the budgets of other communities to give subsidies to high rises and malls,' Cox said.

Rural Johnson County resident Ed Barker said the tax would not benefit low-income families, many of whom live in rental properties and would not receive property tax from cities...

'The best way to have a tax vote fail is to indicate it will be shared with other government entities...'

(Unfortunate, though, that Barker perpetuates the myth that renters don't pay property tax. We do, we just make the check out to the landlord instead of the treasurer.)

More in Gazette and DI.

In Connecticut, Lamont Grabs Lead Over Lieberman

In Connecticut, Lamont Grabs Lead Over Lieberman

I'm trying to stay in my Iowa niche and the national blogs have Connecticut carpet-covered. Still, this poll is a landmark worth sharing:

In the Connecticut U.S. Senate race, Ned Lamont (D) has surged ahead of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and now holds a razor-thin 51% to 47% lead among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

In possible general election matchups:

  • Lieberman defeats Republican challenger Alan Schlesinger 68% to 15%
  • Lamont beats Schlesinger 45% to 22%, with 24% undecided
  • Running as an independent, Lieberman gets 51%, to 27% for Lamont and 9% for Schlesinger.

  • That last item is unfortunate - but I suspect once the reality of Traitor, Sore Loser Joe sinks in his numbers will drop. The Republicans meanwhile are trying to squeeze out their candidate and recruit a stronger contender. In fact, some were trying to recruit Lieberman, and it took him waaaay too long to deny it

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Buying in: 2008 and the Dems List

    Buying in: 2008 and the Dems List

    The IDP offered a cut rate on their database to early buyers. So who's anted up?

    Vilsack - not a shocker. Edwards and Warner - both of whom are here often enough that they may soon qualify for resident status. And the odd surprise - Dodd, who's getting his act together but hasn't been here yet.

    Tom Beaumont expresses the greatest surprise that Evan didn't Bayh in (ouch and sorry).

    Massachusetts U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who won the 2004 caucuses, bypassed the deal. Likewise, Delaware U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former South Dakota U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold turned down the offer.

    Ans is this an oversight - the article doesn't even mention HRC. Not a surprise that she didn't buy in as she's committed to pretending Iowa doesn't exist until after her re-elect. But omitting her name from a list of contenders is a big oops.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    The High Cost of Free Parking

    The High Cost of Free Parking

    The bike war has been raging on the local newsgroups for nigh unto a week now; here's another great article to add fuel to the flames.

    Of all the transport systems available, including public transit, shipping, and rail, cars are unique in that terminal costs (doing something with your vehicle when the trip is finished) are offset to the rest of the economy. This 'provides a huge subsidy to motorists, and thus increases the demand for cars, parking spaces, and vehicle travel.'

    Only walking, which has effectively no terminal costs, is comparable. All things being equal, most people would rather drive than walk. The problem is that all things aren't really equal; parking requirements just make it seem that way.

    By breaking the relationship between use and payment, "free" parking eliminates the negative feedback that keeps the system in balance. As a result, everyone decides to drive everywhere, and the car crowds out other forms of transportation.

    Grassley: No to stem cells

    Grassley: No to stem cells

    Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005: A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research. Passes 63-37.

    Grassley (R-IA), Nay
    Harkin (D-IA), Yea

    Sets up W's first veto, as Bush chooses the Schaivo wing of the party over common sense.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    NY is the Greenest City in America

    NY is the Greenest City in America

    Thesis of a long article:

    Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it's a model of environmental responsibility. By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest cities in the world. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels, a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn't matched since the mid-nineteen-twenties, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That's ten times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Override Over-react from Overrated

    Override Over-react from Overrated

    The Overrated One can barely restrain his glee at the eminent domain override. He's off the mark, but not for the usual reasons.

    The analysis itself is sound - the guv was too busy with the nascent presidential campaign to pay full attention to this bill. Where Yepsen gets it wrong is thinking this is a Big Deal. Vilsack `08 is a non-starter to begin with. No one notices another dent in a $1000 Or Best Offer - Runs Good car with red duct tape on the tail lights, and this is just one more garbage bag over the window.

    The thing I'm curious about is why Vilsack has invested so much of his shrinking political capital on this anyway.

    Tom Beaumont has the for public consumption approved "this won't hurt a bit" quotes.

    Other tidbits:

  • Jane Norman reports that Nussle voted with the Steve King Wing on voting rights, and Harkin praised Lieberman (boo) while pledging to back the Connecticut primary winner (yay).

  • Feingold in Dubuque.

  • Drinking Liberally makes the Gazette; expect Stepping Up to object soon.
  • Saturday, July 15, 2006

    minutes of work necessary for the avg worker to buy gas

    Minutes of work necessary for the avg worker to buy gas

    Too damn hot to feel inspired to write the last couple days. Upper 90s till about Wednesday, and me with no air conditioning...

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Competitive House Seats: Loebsack Moving Up The Charts

    Competitive House Seats: Loebsack Moving Up The Charts

    Both Congressional Quarterly and Cook (lame pdf) have their House race rankings out, and both have Iowa 2 in the "Republican Favored" category. It's the lowest bracket of competitive races, but it stands apart from the vast undifferentiated wasteland of Safe. Dave Loebsack is the state's sleeper race...

    Both tip sheets have Braley-Whalen in the ultraviolet-hot Toss-Up pile and Boswell-Lamberti in the Leans Dem category.

    Stupid Steve King Quote of the Day

    Stupid Steve King Quote of the Day

    From Political Wire via The Hill:

    'We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.'

    - Rep. Steve King (R-IA), quoted by The Hill, equating the containment of immigrants to that of livestock.

    Video here.

    Denise O'Brien: Staffing Up, Blogging

    Denise O'Brien: Staffing Up, Blogging

    A few items landing in the in box from the Sec of Ag nominee. Denise O'Brien is blogging; thewe was a lull for a month or so after the primary but now there's an update.

    O'Brien is also announcing some staffing: of most interest in Iowa City is Regenia Bailey of the city council signing on as field director.

    UPDATE: And Regenia's at work; this was in the in box later:

    We’ll have a meeting for those in Johnson County interested in working on Denise O’Brien’s campaign on Thursday, July 20 at La Casa at 5 p.m. Bring a friend and join us to learn how you can help elect Denise O’Brien as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture in November. The meeting will last no longer than 6:30.

    La Casa is at 1200 Gilbert Court in Iowa City.

    Couple months ago I passed along a story in the Solon Economist. City council member (and Republican central committee member) Kevin Samek said, discussing utility payments, "If someone is going to try to jew us out of a water bill..."

    Anyway, Samek finally picked up on my post last night and shoots a few nasties my way in the comments. It's all the liberal media's fault, it seems. Good to know that the Solon Economist is part of the Left Wing Conspiracy.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Tom Tauke vs. Net Neutrality

    Tom Tauke vs. Net Neutrality

    Via MyDD, a blast from Iowa's past: Tom Tauke, he who knocked off Mike Blouin in `78 and failed to knock off Tom Harkin in `90 (my first Iowa campaign). Anyway, here's what he's up to now:

    Verizon's lobbyist Tom Tauke today called on Congress to act quickly on cable franchising legislation, warning that Congress is at a "critical pivot point" in policy and shouldn't delay action because of net neutrality questions drawn out of fear, not substance.

    Meanwhile you can find Fred Grandy on morning drive time in DC.

    Gronstal in IC with Bolkcom

    Gronstal in IC with Bolkcom

    Greetings from the Chait Art Gallery in downtown Iowa City, where Mike Gronstal is visiting at a little fundraiser for Senator Joe Bolkcom. Not sure how newsworthy this is; it’s just one of dozens of such things across the state, hundreds across the country, that make the difference between a majority and a minority. Or, in the case of the Iowa Senate, a tie.

    Coincidence: Joe and Mike both used to have mustaches; both have shaved. Coincidence? Don’t know but I’m keeping mine.

    We have wine and cheese in an art gallery, which is very Iowa City. No latte however, that’s across the street. Joe’s up to do the intros, thanks the food folks and the envelope stuffers first. Politicos present: Senate colleague Bob Dvorsky, Supervisors Neuzil and Sullivan, Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, and Janet Lyness our county attorney nominee. My state rep Vicki Lensing gets there a bit later.

    Joe’s got opposition this time, first time in a while. Bolkcom’s concerned about public university support. Tough budgets recently, but with the tied senate it has helped get more education resources. But still have not been able to meet university needs; “I reject the notion that we are on a track to privatize these institutions. I fully intent to keep working for strong appropriations.”

    There’s been much pressure as economy as struggled that U should play larger economic development role. True, but universities are “not an arm of the chamber of commerce. The mission is to teach our kids and do basic research,” some research may have economic application.

    Predatory lending and fair credit for Iowans: we’ve ignored the two-tiered credit system where poor people are thrown to the wolves. As we’ve ignored that, it’s crept upward to the middle class with exorbitant credit card fees and bank charges. Discussed this during the John Edwards visit; one woman got jacked from 9% interest to 30% because a payment was two days late.

    Now intro-ing Gronstal: “Mike has worked harder than anyone to get Dems into majority. He loves his work; he thinks he’s funny…” (Mike: “WHAT committees are you gonna serve on?”) The Senator from Johnson expresses great satisfaction with his committees.

    Mike likewise praises the Johnson County delegations. Mike’s first district was 61% GOP performance. Every organized group endorsed his opponent – and Mike won. “I never take anything for granted and neither does Joe – and most of you are taking this one for granted, it’s just the truth.”

    Gronstal adds: “I didn’t run to elect Democrats. I ran to change this state.” Discusses his family’s GOP banking roots and his own coming of age as a Democrat in the `60s civil rights era. I got caught up in listening to the stories rather than transcribing; if Mike is in your town he’ll fill you in.

    Gronstal says Joe likes to give me credit for stopping debate on the gay marriage amendment, all Senate Dems share credit. To a person the Dem caucus is sticking together on this.

    Environment – We’ll show the world how to transition to renewable fuels, discussing ethanol and wind. Also moving forward on water quality. (Missing a little - I'm still not the transcriber that O. Kay is.)

    Mental health parity took 24 years to pass, we got it because of the tied senate. We have an incredible opportunity – once in a political lifetime. In 1964 Iowa Dems won the trifecta - House, Senate, Governor – and in 1965 we got community colleges. Our opportunities are as great this year if we can take advantage of them.

    So… that’s the speeches! Not quite live, the wifi dropped out and I felt the need to schmooze.

    Happy birthday to my two senior cats; Butter and Spot are 9 today. They celebrated by getting way too stoned on catnip.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Bikers hassled in IC?

    Bikers hassled in IC?

    Donald Baxter writes:

    Forgive me if this is common knowledge, but a cyclist was arrested at Critical Mass Friday before last. "Interference with official acts" is the charge and I suspect it's motivated by the Iowa City police wanting to make an example of a rider. Clearly there are traffic violations by some cyclists on this ride (including me) but drivers don't get taken to jail for traffic violations--at least not minor ones.

    When the cyclist went to his arraignment the following Saturday he was told he would not be provided representation if he pleaded "not guilty." The rider is pleading not guilty and will ask for a jury trial. He has secured pro-bono representation by an Iowa City attorney. I don't really want to name names at this point because this person is not completely sure how public he wants to be. I think he's afraid that if he's too public that additonal charges might be filed. The charge, if convicted, could carry a $500 fine and up to a 30 day jail term. Is this how we think Johnson County's shortage of jail cells should be used?

    If you've ever thought you wanted to come on a Critical Mass ride before, July's ride is the time to come. I'd love to see our ranks break 100 if only to teach the ICPL that we won't be intimidated. Cyclists are not blocking traffic--we ARE traffic.

  • DI writeup on Bayh in IC. Also: Iowa for Feingold reports: Feingold Coming to Iowa July 15 and 16: Dubuque, Maquoketa, Clinton, and Davenport.

    And the last Socialist mayor of Milwaukee has died, no doubt causing Alice Cooper great distress.
  • Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Greetings from Wisconsin

    Greetings from Wisconsin

    Well, we're actually back now but we stopped for cheese on the way back.

    John Edwards: stop predatory lenders

    John Edwards: stop predatory lenders

    The Underrated One, Mike Glover, writes that John Edwards is picking up on one of Joe Bolkcom's key issues:

    "John Edwards, a White House hopeful, focused on the problem of predatory lenders in his first swing through Iowa since a statewide poll gave his potential presidential campaign a boost.

    'What we're doing is focusing on what can be done to stop predatory lenders and payday lenders from preying on our most vulnerable families,' said Edwards, who called for new regulations for an industry in which annual interest rates for payday loans can soar to 300 percent to 400 percent."

    Also a peek behind the Gazette wall at Evan Bayh's trip.

    MyDD picks up on it, too.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Road Report

    Road Report

    Fully in vacation mode here. Igor the giant mouse has returned to his place of honor on Highway 61 in Fennimore, Wisconsin.

    Coverage of the wannabees is spotty but here's the Register's updates on Edwards and Bayh.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Busy weekend for wannabees

    Busy weekend for wannabees

    Register rounds up upcoming visits by Dem hopefuls. Locally, we've got two coming in for Dave Loebsack:

  • John Edwards Friday, 11:30 am—1:30 pm, the Blue Strawberry, 118 2nd Street, Cedar Rapids

  • Evan Bayh Saturday, 5:00 PM-6:30 PM Evan Bayh - Home of Jim Hayes, 1142 East Court Street, Iowa City

    I'm out of town so I'm missing both. Something tells me I'll have more chances later.
  • Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    The Big Idea: An Energy Tax

    The Big Idea: An Energy Tax

    He's more into the idea of revenue neutral than I would be but I like the main premise:

    A carbon tax raises the price of using carbon-based energy, everything from coal to gasoline. As a society, we're better off if we curtail our use of fossil fuels. We can start to make progress on global warming; we will improve air quality; we will be less dependent on places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela; and we could even improve traffic congestion, the bane of just about every metropolitan area in the U.S., by making it more expensive to commute long distances alone by car.

    Have you seen the sales figures for SUVs lately? People kvetched about SUVs for a decade, but they only stopped buying the really big ones when gas got to be $3 a gallon.

    And if you would have to grease the skids with offsetting cuts in other taxes, that serves my 30 mpg the couple times a week I drive, bike the rest of the time self interest... parson the smug self righteousness.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Lieberman To Start Petition Drive

    Lieberman To Start Petition Drive

    Joementum stabs Democrats in the back. Of course, he does that all the time:

    "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is to announce today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an 'independent Democrat,' (sic) giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.

    Most other Democratic candidates already have said they would support the winner of the primary..."

    So I don't want to hear ANYONE give me crap about voting for Nader-LaDuke over Gore-Lieberman ever again.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Military Announces Plan to Study Blogs

    Military Announces Plan to Study Blogs

    Fom TalkLeft. Scary in an SS, Seven Days In May sort of way:

    "'The fact that the web is a vast source of information is sometimes overlooked by military analysts,' Kokar said. 'Our research goal is to provide the warfighter with a kind of information radar to better understand the information battlespace.'"

    Especially when my traffic log includes hits every day this past week from:

    Host Name
    IP Address
    Country United States
    Region Ohio
    City Columbus
    ISP Dod Network Information Center

    The second most interesting thing the traffic log has ever shown.

    UPDATE: Scratch the immediate paranoia; just a regular reader of the GI variety. Besides, any real-life Colonel Flaggs would cover their tracks well enough to fool me, or at least use The Cloak, a free anonymizer that I've seen turn up recently...

    But I do like that phrase "information battlespace." Glad to be fighting. I'll make a better effort to be more inflammatory (I don't support the troops) and treasonous (Bush is a weenie) in the future. Maybe the New York Times is hiring.

    World Most Energy Efficient Vehicle? A Bicycle

    World Most Energy Efficient Vehicle? A Bicycle

    Comparing energy used per passenger-mile (calories), they found that a bicycle needed only 35 calories, whereas a car expended a whopping 1,860. Bus and trains fell about midway between, and walking still took 3 times as many calories as riding a bike the same distance.

    Not to mention the bike and walk calories are from your lunch and not from fossil fuels. Not DIRECTLY, anyway. I suppose if you calculate in the calories needed to produce YOUR calories it wouldn't look quite as good - but it would still look better than that drive.

    They also looked at a measurement called: ‘Persons per hour that one meter-width-equivalent right-of-way can carry’. In this case Rail scored tops with 4,000 persons, but ‘autos in mixed traffic’ still managed the worse rating with only 170 people. Bikes did pretty well, relative to cars, achieving 1,500 persons per hour.

    Yes, I'm still here. What was supposed to be a minor rearrangement of furniture turned into an 18 hour internet outage, followed by additional rearrangement and a new wifi router. Also, the heat has sapped most of my will to write - there's no AC here at Bohemian Paradise which is very green but a bit unpleasant. At least the pole beans on the Smallest Farm like it, as they've shot up above my head.

    Big weekend next weekend - Edwards in Cedar Rapids, Bayh in Iowa City - and I'm missing it. My brain is on vacation mode; I'm in a stretch where I'm only working two days out of ten.