Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vote Tallon and Shipley

A tantrum in the voting booth

Today is a great day to live in Iowa City, as town and gown come together to celebrate.

But before we all settle in for the game, let me tell you about my absolute least favorite thing about my beloved, adopted home town. It's people who love the Hawkeye hoopla, or love the opera at Hancher (wherever they decide to rebuild it)... but hate the students.

I rarely do flat-out endorsements here. I usually just put out the facts I select as important and let people draw their own conclusions. But this time I'm making an exception.

In the wake of last year's conservation bond vote, it was openly argued, and not for the first time, that only property taxpayers should be allowed to vote in local elections. And that same resentment was voiced in the wake of the student-driven defeat of the 21 bar initiative in 2007.

But the students are the economic engine that drive this town, pumping in millions in tuition, rent, sales taxes, and jobs. Without students, there's no Iowa City as we know it. It's time for them to be represented in local government.

We have 25,000 or so students in a city of about 65,000. Mathematically, that works out to two students on a council of seven. But for nearly 30 years, we've had zero. Students have run, sure, but they've invariably been also-rans in the primary.

Now, for the first time in that 30 years, and merely by default since no one else filed, we have students on an Iowa City general election ballot.

Vote for them.

The 2009 city election has been one of the two most frustrating elections of any sort in my almost 20 years here (the other contender being the 2000 presidential). I've rarely been so frustrated by the lack of good choices. I've never stuck my neck out so far, or been bashed so hard, or alienated so many people, for candidates who have been more certain to lose by so much.

I've never felt less confident, yet at the same time more certain, about my vote. I've heard the most complaints over my support of Jeff Shipley. Don't interpret my vote for Jeff as a full endorsement of his staunch libertarianism. And while Dan Tallon is sincere, he's got a lack of political savvy that alienated potential supporters.

I have nothing against Susan Mims and Terry Dickens. Mims is a little conservative for my tastes, and Dickens a lot more so. But Terry is a suitable replacement for Mike O'Donnell, and while Mims is several notches to the right of Amy Correia, I anticipate she'll be approachable. They'll be able to do the job, which I can't say with certainty about my own choices.

But Mims and Dickens, with their conventional backgrounds, are exactly like nearly every other city council member in the last 30 years. For me it's really just about one thing. They're 50something, Jeff and Dan are 20something.

Would that be a good enough selection criteria for every office? No. I wouldn't vote for Jeff or Dan over, say Vicki Lensing or Mary Mascher for the legislature. But for the Iowa City council, it's what we need: representation for the single largest un-represented segment of our community.

I knew my decision, and anticipated the outcome, as soon as filing was done. "I'm voting for whichever two students make it out of the primary," I wrote.

And so I did.

(My biggest no-prize for this election goes to Jared Bazzell, the third student candidate, who endorsed Dickens over Shipley and Tallon after losing the primary and promptly vanished.)

The primary gave us a stark preview of what Tuesday will look like. All signs point to record low turnout (benchmark: 1999). Everything possible aligned to reduce interest: the lack of a card-carrying lefty in the race, no ballot issues for the first time in a couple cycles, the distractions of the fantastic football season and the supervisor appointment, even the lousy weather last week.

Everything also points to a record-size margin exceeding even the primary percentages: Mims 75%, Dickens 70... big gap... wait for it... lower... Shipley 15, Tallon 11. The general election benchmark is the 2003 District A blowout: Ross Wilburn 71%, Karen Pease 28.

But this outcome, as inevitable as the moment when you see the glass falling, time slows down, and you know it's going to break but it hasn't shattered yet, wasn't necessarily predetermined on filing deadline day. Two years ago, we saw that the students can swing a city election when they want to. But the last faint hope died this week as Shipley and Tallon failed to mobilize their own base of potential support. Votes trickled into campus satellite voting sites by the dozens when they needed to flood in by the thousands like they did in 2007.

Nothing would make me happier than seeing massive throngs of voters Tuesday at the student-rich precincts at the Rec Center and the Courthouse and the Quad. But nothing would shock me more, either.

So I'm frustrated with the very student constituency whose case I'm trying to advocate.

Hypocrisy and inconsistency are two of my least favorite things about political life. And nowhere do I see it more than in our public policy attitudes toward alcohol.

The 18 year old age of adulthood, as measured by the right to vote, was cemented into the Constitution in 1971 with a supermajority, wartime argument of "old enough to die, old enough to vote." And "old enough to drink" followed suit as I came of age. But self-appointed do-gooders, with a prohibitionist agenda couched as "safety," deliberately confused the issues of abuse and age. With purse string blackmail over highway funding they bullied the states into moving the drinking age up again.

I have heard countless elected officials tell me in private that they agree with me that the 21 year old drinking age is an unenforceable failure. Almost none will say so in public.

"It's the law," I hear. But it's a bad law. The Iowa City police could use more discretion. But backed by the permanent council majority, who in turn are backed by the love the Hawks hate the students constituency, they choose an aggressive approach of systematic harassment.

Far, far too many 18, 19 and 20 year old adults end up with career-damaging rap sheets, arrested for "crimes" that were non-issues back in my day. Is there excessive behavior that should be punished? Sure. But are there also people who are only guilty of socializing normally and getting caught? Absolutely.

Why has every "non-alcohol alternative" in Iowa City failed? I'm too old now to really say, but I still have some meaningful contact with undergrad-age people and I'll speculate: Young adults want to be treated as adults, learn adult responsibilities, and have adult fun.

And in my book, you're an adult at 18. Only when we separate the artificial age issue from the very real abuse issue can we credibly address the more pathological aspects of the drinking culture.

The University of Iowa has enough problems coming up, with budget cuts and tuition hikes. We also have a growing reputation: Go to UIowa, graduate with a police record. If you're back home in Aurora and you hear that your older brother's friend got busted by the Iowa City cops, that's not a good recruiting message.

My dad's best friend lived in a paper mill town, and when we were visiting as kids we complained about the smell. "That's the smell of our jobs," he'd say, and without endorsing his environmental outlook note that Iowa City's smell is the Saturday night bar rush. Our undergrads are the geese that lay our golden eggs, and as the University goes, so goes Iowa City.

Neither Jeff Shipley, who himself picked up an "underage" (sic) drinking ticket at 18, or Dan Tallon have made these issues central to their campaigns. And those certainly aren't the only issues that affect students. But Jeff and Dan's mere presence on the council would change the game. The next class of council members would notice at re-election time. The police department would notice at budget time.

The students saw the connection between local government and police policy in 2007, when that connection was directly on the ballot. But they have ignored the slightest level of abstraction, the necessary follow-up step of seriously striving for actual representation in city government.

Part of the problem is the structure: you can't get on the city council without ultimately winning city-wide, and Jeff and Dan aren't going to get a vote east of Governor Street. My preference would be for a completely revamped city government along the lines of what I grew up with in Wisconsin: a larger council, smaller precinct-sized districts with only voters IN the district voting, and shorter terms. What kind of person would get elected to a two-year term in a district made up of Burge, Daum, Currier and Frat Row? (Throw in an elected mayor while you're at it.)

But that's not an option--yet. Would Dan Tallon and Jeff Shipley have been my first choices? Probably not. But they were the ones nervy enough to step forward and do it.

I wanted to see a campaign to raise hell, even if it wouldn't win. But ultimately, the students need to do it their way, themselves, and not listen to what an old bald grandpa like me says.

Sara Baird has emerged as a last-second write-in candidate. I like her politically and personally, and had she started sooner I would have been right there. I hope she takes a serious look at 2011. But since this election, for Iowa City progressives, is a choice between a protest vote and mere acceptance, a write-in just mixes whatever message you're trying to send.

I've been told by good friends that I'm fighting the wrong battle, that I'm addressing the problem to the wrong level of government (and yes, some of my friends in state and federal government deserve criticism), and even that I'm marginalizing myself.

But it seems throwing a tantrum in the voting booth is the only way to get people to listen.

Vote for Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rettig Appointed

2-1 vote with Treasurer Tom Kriz backing Mike Lehman.

Quoted at the meeting: post-appointmment, applicant and Newport Road resident Greg Pickett said, "thank you for not overturning the election." (Refresher course: the late supervisor Larry Meyers had knocked off Lehman in the 2006 primary over the Newport Road issue.) So it seems the coalition of Newport Road residents and Republicans that had been backing a special election may be split. Petition deadline: Friday the 13th.

Rettig is scheduled to be was sworn in at 4:00 this afternoon at the courthouse.

Update: Tom Cardella now claiming in Press-Citizen comments that petition drive is "close to 5000 signatures."

PC Endorsements

PC Endorses the Predictable

Friday's big news of course is the supervisor appointment, but the forgotten city election keeps rolling with the Press-Citizen endorsements for... of course, Dickens, Mims, Champion:
Although we appreciate the number of ideas that Tallon and Shipley bring to this debate, they have suggested many non-starters that show they don't yet have a pragmatic sense of what's politically viable (selling the Senior Center), economically feasible (selling the parking ramps even though they are making money) or just good policy (relying less on employees and more on volunteers to staff the city's services from recreation centers to fire stations.)

Mims filed her campaign finance report late yesterday. You may recall she raised $7,010 pre-primary and spent $4,584, leaving her with $2,426. Since the October 1 report, Mims has raised an additional $3,224 and spent $3,912, leaving her at $1,738 in the bank. Less than Terry Dickens. Champion, Shipley and Tallon's reports aren't posted yet.

As for the supervisor front, the P-C quotes Lori Cardella claiming "close to 4,000" of the 7,299 signatures needed for an election.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Iowa City Summary

Thursday Afternoon City Election Update

Satellite voting on campus has come to an end and I've run out of anti-superlatives to describe how bad it did. 22 voters at Schaeffer and 28 at the Old Capitol Mall brings the eight site, four day campus total to 153. Compare that to the 2,890 on-campus satellite votes in the 2007 21 bar election, and 4,493 in the presidential.

Early voting now moves toward townie turf: the Iowa City Library and University Hospitals tomorrow, Saturday off to watch the Hawks, then the library and Hy-Vees Sunday.

The Gazette offered its endorsements this AM, backing Connie Champion for re-election in District B: "Champion especially has the history and perspective the city needs to navigate a difficult road ahead."

In the at large, they back Susan Mims ("a practical and decisive person who takes a critical look at issues and options") and, in a surprise, Dan Tallon:
But as the 20-year-old has said, he’s more than a “student candidate.” As a National Guardsman, Tallon has developed discipline and broader life experience than many students. In an interview with The Gazette’s Editorial Board, he showed a competent, thoughtful grasp of issues from public housing to taxation and economic development.

Look for Herteen & Stocker to pull their Gazette ads soon.

District B challenger Mark McCallum has filed his campaign finance report. He raised $775 from donors and loaned himself $1050; of that he's spent $829 and has $996 on hand. Not a lot by Iowa City standards, but then Champion hasn't opened her committee yet so she may not be above the $750 limit. Reports are due today but there's usually a day or so lag time on the campaign finance web site.

Thursday Morning Coffee

Thursday Morning Coffee

Five days to election day and I'm slacking a bit on the writing, sorry folks. Here's the factoids you need:

Another slooooow day of voting on campus with 37 at the UI library and a mere SEVEN at Hillcrest. Today: Old Capitol Mall and Schaeffer Hall.

The PC endorsement comes tomorrow, and today they address Coralville, backing incumbents Tom Gill and John Lundell and stealth Republican Bill Hoeft.

Blatant student bashing emerges for the first time this campaign season (OK, no candidates are mentioned) in Marshall Poe's guest piece in the PC, in which he proposed the likely unconstitutional solution of "Banish these students from the university and Iowa City for a definite period." I thought exile went out of the book of punishments about the time of Botany Bay.

Over at the DI, Will Mattessich proposes a more creative solution to downtown drinking: a wet campus.

To the north, Johnson County campaign veterans will recognize the name Kirsten Running-Marquardt, who looks set to go to the Legislature after winning the Democratic nomination last night for Iowa House District 33. Republicans nominate tonight but Kirsten is heavily favored.

And one of my least favorite plays in the book is announcing that you've "invited" a speaker to your event, without any actual concept that said speaker is going to attend. Both sides have been guilty; this time it's the Iowa Family Policy Center, who got a day worth of news for "inviting" Sarah Palin. Everyone took the bait seriously enough that Palin's peeps had to deny it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Midweek Roundup

Midweek Roundup

No news to speak of at the Adler journalism building as a mere FIVE voters exercised the franchise at the satellite site. Burge fared a little better with 31 people... but compare that to 945 two years ago. Student city council candidates: now officially 97 percent less interesting that 21 bars. Today the (lack of) action moves to Hillcrest and the UI library.

Other local stuff:

  • The DI does the Iowa Courts on line thing and finds Jeff Shipley's PAULA from 2006. All the more reason to vote for him:
    The 21-year-old said his history with downtown Iowa City and the police shouldn’t be a deterrent for voters.

    “It hasn’t been an issue yet,” he said. “A lot of students get PAULAs. I don’t think it’s anything.”

    Shipley said the tickets give him a “unique experience” of being able to relate with students’ concerns on drinking issues.

    Exactly. 21 now = 18 then = an ADULT. (UPDATE: It must just be an Iowa-City-ism since more than one person asked: the acronym is for Possession of Alcohol Under Legal Age.)

  • The Press-Citizen starts its endorsement rollout with North Liberty.

  • In honor of tomorrow's Ubuntu Linux upgrade, I get all cutesy at the Register about Grassley, Conlin, Macs and PCs.
  • Monday, October 26, 2009

    Campus Satellites Fizzle on Day One

    Campus Satellites Fizzle on Day One

    Campus satellite voting sites were drowned in waves of apathy Monday with less that two dozen voters participating.

    Pappajohn Business say only 17 voters, while Mayflower Hall was in single digits with a mere six. (Two years ago today, in the 21 Bar election, Mayflower drew 174--and that was one of the weaker campus sites in 2007.)

    Maddeningly, Mayflower is hosting a student legal clinic "What to do if you're busted" workshop Monday night, advising students about the ins and outs of PAULA and public intox.

    Gee, do you think if there were two students on the City Council -- you know, the police department's BOSSES -- the Iowa City cops might behave differently? I can make that connection, you can make that connection, but only six people at Mayflower Hall can make that connection.

    Tomorrow campus voting, such as it is, moves to Adler Journalism, a first time site, and Burge. The 945 Burge voters in 2007 set an all-time record for biggest satellite site in Johnson County history, topping even day before presidential election sites.

    Let's just say it's a record that's not likely to be broken tomorrow.

    The petitions which required the sites were the work of Jared Bazzell, the student candidate who lost the primary then immediately endorsed Lifelong Resident candidate Terry Dickens.

    Dickens, for his part, was the first candidate to file his campaign finance report. He raised another $1220 and spent $3140, leaving Dickens with a whopping $10,685 in the bank. Reports are due Thursday.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Johnson County Dems BBQ

    Loebsack, Senate Contenders at JC Dems BBQ

    "Because we've been pusing hard in on the public option, we're beginning to see some movement in the Senate," Congressman Dave Loebsack told the 150 or so Democrats gathered in Hills Saturdayfor the Johnson County Democrats fall barbecue. "We in the House helped move the Senate and, yes, the President."

    Responding to critics of health care reform he noted, "Not only have I read the bill, I've amended it" to provide better federal funding for direct care workers.

    Loebsack also took credit for improving reimbursement rates. "Finally, Iowa can be treated fairly."

    The second term congressman, who casually acknowledged ("not an announcement") that he's seeking a third term, shared the stage with the two announced US Senate candidates, Brb Krause and Tom Fiegen. But some of the buzz in the room was about the likely entry of former gubernatorial nominee Roxanne Conlin into the Senate race.

    "The grass roots isn't excited about her," said Fiegen. "There's a sense of been there, done that. She's our party's Doug Gross -- ruch and connected in Des Moines but not in touch with the grass roots." In contrast, Fiegen said, reaction to his economic message has been "tremendouus. People react to me like they've been in the dark and I'm bringing them a flashlight. They're excited to see someone who can go toe to toe with Grassley."

    "Grassley's going to have 14 or 15 million dollars," Fiegen told the crowd. "Tom Harkin says I can compete if I can raise 3 million."

    "(Conlin)'s going to have to draw heavily on the women's vote and she has a lot of support in Des Moines," said Krause, "but I don't know about the rest of the state."

    But plenty of beret-off conversations circled around the new entrant into the race.

    Reminders of the Board of Supervisors vacancy were also present, with the podium decorated with a sign from the late Larry Meyers' campaign and one of Larry's trademark "Don't Tread On Me" flags near the stage. Even the President got in on the act.

    Supervisor candidate Janelle Rettig worked the crowd, but none of the other applicants were on the scene. Also notably absent were the Iowa City council candidates (Mayor Regenia Bailey, not up this cycle, was there), though Coralville's John Lundell was on hand.

    Almost the entire courthouse and legislative delegations were on hand. The event was on the northern end of Larry Marek's House district. The first term Democrat says he hasn't hear any rumors of opponents -- "primary or general," acknowledging reports that some labor-leaning Democrats have been unhappy with his record. (Aside: one possible opponent, former legislator Sandy Greiner, seems a bit busy with Terry Branstad these days.) In the meantime, he's trying to get the crops in despite "the wettest fall I've seen in 40 plus years of farming."

    A sizeable Fairfield contingent was present: Krause, Senator Becky Schmitz, Secretary of Agriculture candidate Francis Thicke, and newly elected State Rep. Curt Hanson. "Hope and footwork carried the day over fear and money," Hanson said of his special election win.

    Hope was also a theme for Secretary of State Mike Mauro. "Democrats are all about having people participate," he said, bragging of the 45,000 people who used Iowa's new election day registration law in last year's presidential election. "The other side tries to mumble-jumble things with fear and doubt. Their real message is that if they can make things difficult and put enough doubt in people's minds, more people will stay home and maybe they can win. Don't let them do it."

    Mauro brought nomination papers for next year's election, as did staffers for Gov. Chet Culver.

    The crowd evaporated almost instantly after the conclusion of the last speech (Fiegen's), rushing home to catch the 6:00 Hawkeye kickoff. The 8-0 record and next Saturday night's home game is one more distraction from the poor, forgotten city election. (My Press-Citizen piece, specifically my announcement that I'd voted for Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon, seemed to have been noticed.)

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Iowa City faces quietest election ever

    Iowa City faces quietest election ever

    The 2007 Iowa City election was like no other in city history, as a massive wave of student voters was pulled to the polls with the gravitational force of a black hole by a ballot initiative that would have kept those under 21 out of bars.

    The student vote defeated the 21 bar issue, and on the surface, the 2009 election breaks out along the same Town vs. Gown lines, with Long Time Resident candidates Susan Mims and Terry Dickens facing students Jeff Shipley and Dan Tallon.

    Had student candidates run in 2007, we could have two to four students on the council today. Should the 25,000 students, unrepresented in city government since David Perret left office in 1983, have a say? I say yes, and that's why I've already voted for Shipley and Tallon.

    But the October 6 primary gave us a snapshot of the race in progress: record low turnout and a huge Mims and Dickens lead over Shipley, Tallon, and a third student, Jared Bazzell, who was eliminated.

    Without the bar issue, student involvement in the election is fizzling. The deep pockets of bar owner Mike Porter, who financed the No on 21 vote, have been absent from the 2009 race.

    Student solidarity is in tatters as well. The Daily Iowan endorsed Mims, along with Talon, in the primary, and Bazzell bizarrely endorsed Dickens after his loss.

    All this could change next week. Bazzell's legacy to the November election is the seven campus-area early voting sites he petitioned for. The rules are different than in 2007, since Iowa now has election day registration.

    Yet it's unlikely any of these sites will see anything approaching the 945 students who voted at the Burge Hall site in 2007. By this point in 2007, 3,800 ballots were in the box, fueled by campus voting. This year (as of Friday) only 132 were returned.

    In the weeks leading up to the 2007 election, Iowa City voter registration among 18 to 24 year olds increased by 4,500 voters. But this year, in the seven weeks since the school board election, 18 to 24 year old registration has actually declined.

    Progressives, distracted by Janelle Rettig's supervisor campaign even before the too-soon death of Larry Meyers, are also sitting this one out. They failed to recruit candidates, and all eyes are on the supervisor appointment instead.

    Dickens and Mims, for their part, are playing it smart. They've raised huge amounts of money—Dickens had nearly $16,000 before the primary--and seem focused on getting their own supporters out. No one has indulged in any gratuitous student-bashing, which is so 2007, anyway. Iowa City's new scapegoats are Chicago People If You Know What I Mean.

    Champion vs. challenger

    Lost in the Town-Gown narrative is the District B race, where Mark McCallum is left hanging. McCallum, like Dickens and Mims, was recruited to the race by the Chamber of Commerce, and the wide assumption was that three-term council member Connie Champion was retiring. Three terms has been an informal voluntary limit. Dee Vanderhoef tried for four in 2007 and lost.

    But Champion surprised folks by not stepping down. She's been an important swing vote and won some surprise liberal support after opposing the Wal-Mart rezoning. In an open seat race McCallum might be a strong contender, but against Champion he's an underdog.

    (Note: this story also appears in today's Press-Citizen.)

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Johnson County Dems BBQ Saturday

    Non-Mystery Candidates to Hills Saturday

    Well, the mystery candidate for the US Senate appears to be... Roxanne Conlin. The Reg has the scoop first while James Lynch at The Gazette talks to the non-mystery candidates.

    Those non-mystery contenders, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause, will be in Hills Saturday for the Johnson County Dems BBQ. The big name is Dave Loebsack, but we also get Sec of State Mike Mauro, state party chair Mike Kiernan, and special election winner state Rep. Curt Hanson. Doors open at 2 with speeches slated at 3:15.

    (No liveblog; the laptop's in the shop. But tune in after for the usual Deeth details.)

    Palin vs. Palin at the bookstore

    A Pair of Palins

    It's Palin vs. Palin at the bookstore November 17 as the editors of the Nation make an intentional typo in the title of "Going Rouge."

    Official test: a nine year old can tell which one is the Palin book and which one is the critique. But can conservative book buyers? (The easy method: while the anti-Palin book is paperback while the actual Palin book is hardcover, and presumably more expensive.)

    The nine year old guest author notes:
    John called Barack Obama to challenge the Republicans to a basketball game. The Republicans lost from Barack Obama's awesome shooting skills.
    Hayden is now working on a screenplay. Stay tuned.

    Meanwhile, a startling but accurate admission from conservative columnist Ross Douthat:
    At first Mr. Douthat seemed unable to get a sentence out without interrupting himself and starting over. Then he explained: "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public."

    Mr. Douthat indicated that he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, but that he does not like debating the issue in those terms. At one point he said that, sometimes, he feels like he should either change his mind, or simply resolve never to address the question in public.

    He added that the conservative opposition to gay marriage is "a losing argument," and asked rhetorically if committed homosexual relationships ought to be denied the legal recognition accorded without hesitation to the fleeting enthusiasms of Britney Spears and Newt Gingrich.

    After the panel, Mr. Douthat told the Observer: "If I were putting money on the future of gay marriage, I would bet on it."

    He added: "The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, ‘Institutional support for reproduction,' you say, ‘I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate."

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Appointment Postponed To Oct. 30

    Board Appointment Postponed To Oct. 30

    The appointment to the Johnson County supervisors will take two days longer than originally planned. The committee of three deciders pushed the appointment, originally planned for Oct. 28, back to Oct. 30.

    The move was made to accommodate applicant Edgar Thornton's schedule. What does this do?

  • It puts the appointment two days before the legal deadline of Nov. 1, the 40th day after Larry Meyers' death.

  • It lands that much closer to the poor, overshadowed city election. You DO remember there's a city election, right?

  • It also gives petitioners who want a special election two more days to gather the 7,399 signatures they need. That deadline pushes back to Nov. 13, landing it on... Friday the 13th.

    Three interviews are done: City council member Mike O'Donnell, former student government president Maison Bleam, and self-starter Kenya Badgett. (Why didn't Bleam or Badgett run for city council?) But the real drama is tomorrow morning as former supervisor Mike Lehman and announced candidate Janelle Rettig interview back to back.
  • Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Supervisor Field Down to Eight

    Supervisor Sweet Sixteen Down to Elite Eight

    The supervisor appointment committee settled Tuesday on eight applicants to interview for the Board vacancy. The Elite Eight are:

  • former UI student government president Maison Bleam
  • Iowa City Council member Mike O'Donnell
  • former supervisor Michael Lehman
  • supervisor candidate Janelle Rettig
  • Solon city council member Cami Jo Rasmussen
  • GOP activist Edgar Thornton
  • and self-starters Kenya Badgett and Gregory Pickett.

    Eight others missed the cut. Interviews start Thursday.
  • Two GOP Clips

    Two GOP Clips

    I always read Republican blogs and the Iowa Republican has two good posts:

  • Craig Robinson has a must-read: Is Romney Planning to Bypass Iowa? It's not a viable strategy for a Democrat, as Hillary Clinton got roped in against her judgement. But John McCain essentially ran a Screw Iowa campaign and got the nomination. I say "got," rather than "won," because it was more a matter of everyone else lost.

    Robinson quotes some allusions to the power of cultural conservatives in the Iowa GOP. But he dances around the exact nature of the issue: the fundamentalists won't caucus for a Mormon and vetoed Romney. I've said it before: If Mitt had been a member of Mike Huckabee's church, he would have been the nominee.

  • Also flashing back to Caucus Season 07: Ron Paul's coming back to Iowa...
  • Monday, October 19, 2009

    Supervisor applicant geography

    Supervisor applicant geography

    Since commentators asked, here's the geography on the 16 supervisor applicants.

  • Badgett: southeast side Iowa City
  • Bandy: North Liberty
  • Bickford: rural West Branch
  • Bleam: near west side, student apartments
  • Dahms: North Corridor, Penn Township
  • Dils: Tiffin
  • Green: east side
  • Knapp: Longfellow area
  • Lehman: south rural, near city limits
  • O'Donnell: Windsor Ridge (formerly Park Road)
  • Panzer: Solon
  • Phillips: Tiffin
  • Pickett: Newport Road
  • Rasmussen: Solon
  • Rettig: east side
  • Thornton: east side

    As for the incumbents, we have two on the east side, one in Newport township, one in rural Hills.
  • Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Supervisor Vacancy Factoids

    Supervisor Vacancy Factoids

    It's bad journalistic form to start with a disclaimer, but it's well known that I work for one of the deciders on the Johnson County supervisor vacancy. It's also well known that I'm a political activist in my own right.

    What I'm saying here is my own opinion only, mixed with objective facts that I consider important. It may or may not reflect my boss's opinion at all, indeed, we've been known to disagree (anyone who remembers the 2000 caucuses can vouch for that.)

    I've talked to all three deciders about process. Anyone can do that (granted, it's more convenient for me). I have not expressed to any of them my personal preference for any given name, nor have they expressed those preferences to me. Again, anyone can offer their thoughts on who should be appointed and many have.

    Johnson County supervisor is an elected, partisan, policy-making position. It isn't a pure merit hire where a blind eye should be turned to an applicant's political views. This makes partisanship a valid consideration.

    Personally, my hope was for an eminence grise, a placeholder, to step forward and serve through next November. My first choice would have been Dick Myers, but Carol Thompson would also have been good. They didn't apply, nor did anyone else fitting that mold.

    So we need to look at the 16 we have. Four contenders have clearly shown more support based on letter writing efforts. Janelle Rettig is far and away ahead, but Mike Lehman, Norm Bickford and Edgar Thornton also have significant support.

    Since the job is a partisan elected office, party affiliation and electoral history are relevant. People want to know the applicants' party affiliations, and should know. So here's where we stand, as of three or so weeks ago when I bought the voter file to prep the Democrats' barbecue mailing:
    Democrats: Badgett, Bandy, Bickford, Dahms, Green, Lehman, O'Donnell, Pickett, Rasmussen, Rettig
    Republicans: Knapp, Panzer, Phillips, Thornton
    No Party: Bleam, Dils

    Jim Knapp was a Democrat when he ran for supervisor in 2004 and finished last out of eight (behind one candidate who had quit the race). Maison Bleam has been active for Republican candidates and officials in the past but is now registered with no party.

    Other than Knapp, five applicants have run campaigns for big scale offices. (Rettig gets an asterisk here, as she was up and running for the Board before Larry Meyers' death.)

    Lehman and Mike O'Donnell both have mixed records with wins and losses. Lehman won a hotly contested primary in 1998, was re-elected uncontested in 2002, and lost the 2006 primary to Meyers. O'Donnell won city council terms in 1997 and 2001, narrowly lost the 2004 Democratic supervisor primary, then won a third council term in 2005. As for the rest:

  • Cindy Phillips lost two legislative campaigns (the 1992 general and the 1994 GOP primary) in an Iowa City based district (she now lives in Tiffin).
  • Bickford lost two supervisor primaries two decades ago.
  • Terry Dahms lost the 2006 general election for soil and water commissioner on an obscure provision of Iowa law. He finished second of three candidates for two seats. But because the first place finisher lived in the same township as Dahms, he was not seated and the job went to the last place finisher instead. In 2008, Dahms was fourth out of four in the supervisor primary, behind the three incumbents.

    Ron Bandy, Karen Dils and Cami Jo Rasmussen have won elections in smaller cities. Dils lost for re-election in Tiffin in 2007. Bandy stepped down voluntarily in 2003, but had lost his bid for North Liberty mayor in 2001. Rasmussen is on the Solon city council and currently seeking re-election unopposed.

    Thornton won a GOP convention vote to serve as a national alternate delegate, which you may or may not describe as electoral success. The rest have no electoral track record.

    With those things in mind, here are important factoids:

    Factiod: The three deciders were all elected and are all Democrats. Republicans have demanded that one of the deciders, Recorder Kim Painter, "recuse" herself, as she had previously announced her support for Rettig for the nomination for the full term. Not that she should stand aside, but it's not even clear to me in the code whether she can. And if one of the decider jobs were vacant, the replacement would also be a Democrat, County Attorney Janet Lyness.

    Factoid: Johnson County is a heavily Democratic county. The occasional personally popular Republican has carried the county, sure, but events eventually caught up to Jim Leach and may yet defeat Chuck Grassley. But at the top of the ticket, Chet Culver was at 68 percent and Barack Obama was just a smidge short of 70.

    Factoid: No Republican has won a top of the ticket Johnson County race since Bob Ray in 1978. For president, you have to go back to Nixon. Not McGovern-Nixon: KENNEDY-Nixon.

    Factoid: No Republican has won any courthouse office at all since Sheriff Gary Hughes won his last term in 1984.

    Factoid: No Republican has won an election to the Board of Supervisors since Oren Alt, who won his last term in 1958 and served until 1962.

    Factoid: Larry Meyers was elected in the 2006 general election, which was one of the few times the GOP has fielded a full slate of supervisor candidates in recent years. There was an active "Split Your Vote" campaign underway for Meyers and for one of the two Republicans, Alan Curry. The result:
    Sally Stutsman (Dem) 27,383 61.82%
    Larry Meyers (Dem) 27,300 61.64%
    Alan Curry (Rep) 13,775 31.10%
    Richard Benn (Rep) 10,613 23.96%

    The two Democrats nearly two to one ahead of the stronger Republican.

    Factoid: Local Republicans have taken a stance against the appointment process itself, calling instead for a special election. I certainly respect their right to do so; indeed, when the shoe was on the other foot in 1994 I participated in a partially successful petition drive. Partially successful in that we succeeded in getting the election--but lost the election itself. That's been the history around here with petitioned specials (1997 recorder as well as some small town contests): He who petitioneth, loseth, with the election itself usually the main issue.

    And as I know from experience in 1994, there is a certain cognitive dissonance between advocating on the one hand for a specific person to be appointed, while simultaneously arguing against appointment itself and for an immediate election. Insert the Dennis Miller Disclaimer here.
  • Friday, October 16, 2009

    Supervisor Field At 16

    Supervisor Field Closes at 16

    A flurry of last-day applications brought the field of folks seeking appointment to the Board of Supervisors to 16, topping the Bolkcom bar of 12 who applied in 1999.

    The big name on the last day was Edgar Thornton, who appears to be the Republican Party's choice. Thornton's application was anticipated, as letters backing him were already arriving. Edgar's wife Deb is the better known to the community at large, but Edgar was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention last year.

    The rest of the field:

  • Cindy Phillips, two-time GOP legislative candidate (1992 general and `94 primary) and spouse of Tiffin mayor Royce Phillips.
  • Ron Bandy, former North Liberty city council member (1997-2003) who lost a bid for mayor in `01.
  • Karen Dils, former Tiffin council member who lost her re-election bid in 2007.
  • James Knapp, who ran for the Board in the 2004 Democratic primary and finished eighth out of eight. That's only remarkable because he ran behind a candidate who had dropped out of the race.
  • And two without political footprints: Kenya Badgett and Gregory Pickett.
  • Kos polls Iowa

    Kos polls Iowa Governor, Senate Races

    With Terry Branstad set to make it official today, the timimg is on the money: Daily Kos releases a Research 2000 poll that shows Branstad five points ahead of incumbent Chet Culver, 48-43.

    "The governor's race promises serious fireworks," writes Kos:
    We polled two other Republicans, but this is the only matchup that matters -- a clash between the incumbent governor and Branstad, a Republican who served four terms as governor, between 1983 and 1999. While both candidates have most of their base behind them (Culver a bit less so than Branstad), the independents provide the margin, leaning toward the Republican 47-42. Clearly, Branstad has a great deal of residual good will left, because in the other two matchups (essentially "generic Republican"), Culver enjoys leads of 22 and 30 points.

    We know those "generic Republicans" as Bob Vander Plaats and Chris Rants. Frankly, the Dems best hope is that Vander Plaats and his Christian Soldiers beat up Branstad in a primary and squeak through to a win. Chet leads BVP 55 to 33 and is ahead of Rants 58-28.

    That tells me that Culver still has a little room to go up and Branstad, as people start to really remember him, has a lot of room to go down. It's always that way with Dream Candidates who parachute into a race late: the peak on announcement day, then slip as they start to actually campaign. Remember presidents Wes Clark and Fred Thompson?

    Speaking of Dream Candidates, Christie Vilsack and Roxanne Conlin have almost identical numbers against Chuck Grassley: 51-40 and 51-39 and it doesn't really matter which one has the extra point. "Neither bring Grassley under the 50 percent mark, but the potential for a competitive race is certainly there," writes Kos.

    The actual announced candidates, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen, have name ID problems, Fiegen more so than Krause. But what's interesting: Grassley only gets up to 52 against Krause and 54 against Fiegen. He's peaking just below that 50 percent mark.

    This is the first Kos poll on the specific matchups, but Grassley's job approval rating has dropped from 71 percent (close to his usual re-elect number) in January to the deadly 50 percent today.

    Anyway, anyone who's reading this blog would appreciate a look at the whole thing.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Board Field Up To Nine

    Dahms Applies, Brings Field to Nine Applicants

    Terry Dahms filed for the Johnson County supervisor vacancy this afternoon. With one day to go the field stands at nine applicants.

    Dahms ran for the Board in the 2008 Democratic primary but trailed the three incumbents, 700 votes short of Pat Harney.

    Dahms actually won a county-wide election for soil and water commissioner in 2006, but because of convoluted laws limiting membership to one commissioner per township, he lost. Two offices where you can get more votes and lose: soil and water commissioner and President of the United States.

    Also applying Thursday afternoon was former (2008-09) UI student government president Maison Bleam, whose CV includes clerking for Chris Rants...

    Rettig Files for Board Vacancy

    Rettig Makes It Official

    No surprise as Janelle Rettig followd through and formally filed Thursday for appointment to the Board of Supervisors vacancy. She's already publicly said she would and stacks of letters with prominent signatures (Mary Mascher, Joe Bolkcom...) have been piling up.

    Rettig brings the field of applicants to six. Charles Panzer and 1990 candidate/1999 applicant Norm Bickford filed Wednesday, joining former supervisor Mike Lehman, Iowa City council member Mike O'Donnell, and businessman John Green. Twelve people filed in 1999 when Joe Bolkcom resigned to go to the state senate.

    The application deadline is Friday at 5. The local Republicans, despite their stance in favor of a petitioned special election, have a name in the mix: Edgar Thornton.

    UPDATE: Another applicant makes it seven: Solon city council member Cami Jo Rasmussen.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Grassley Loses in Health Care Vote

    Grassley Loses in Health Care Vote

    The WaPo's Chris Cillizza lists the winners and losers from yesterday's health care vote and among the losers:
    Chuck Grassley: Grassley... took himself out of the negotiations on the bill early on -- effectively ceding any ability to influence the legislation. Grassley's pull-out allowed Democrats to paint him as a rank partisan, a portrayal that won't help him as he runs for reelection next fall.

    Attn: Christie Vilsack? (That bandwagon is rolling again...)

    Meanwhile, up in Cedar Rapids, the date is set for Nov. 24 and the candidates are emerging for House District 33:
    Norm Sterzenbach, Sr., a military veteran who has been a steady presence in county politics for years and currently serves as the county Democrats’ second vice chairman, is expected to make a bid for the seat. Kirsten Running-Marquard, 32, who works in U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack’s office and is the daughter of former state Rep. Rich Running, has also been contacting local Democrats to drum up support.

    No GOP names yet. With Terry Branstad about set to jump in and knock everyone but Vander Plaats and Rants out of the governor's race, what legislative district does Christian Fong live in? Update: I'm told he's in Renee Schulte's turf.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    O'Donnell Applies For Board

    O'Donnell's Hat In The Ring for Board

    Iowa City Council member Mike O'Donnell applied today for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors vacancy.

    O'Donnell is finishing his third city council term and is not running for re-election. He ran for the Board once before, in the 2004 primary. In a race for three nominations, he came in fourth, just 127 votes behind Rod Sullivan. (Incumbents Terrence Neuzil and Pat Harney led the field.)

    In 2005, O'Donnell came from behind after finishing third in the city primary to finish second and win-re-election to his third council term, just ahead of Rick "21 Bars Yes" Dobyns.

    Local businessman John Green also filed an application. Yesterday, former supervisor Mike Lehman was the first official applicant. Janelle Rettig, already an active candidate for next June's primary for the full term, has announced her intention to apply before Friday's deadline. Norm Bickford of rural West Branch, a 1990 candidate and 1999 vacancy applicant, is also likely to apply.

    Tuesday Clips

    City Election Voting Starts

    Voting started yesterday for the November 3 election in Iowa City and the rest of Johnson County's cities. More on that later. For now:

  • Save this clip: Hillary Clinton says three times she is Not, not, not running for president again.

  • Duke1676 at Kos has an excellent look at a third-rail issue we haven't seriously talked about in a couple years: immigration reform. Goes well beyond the Tom Tancredo round them up and send them back approach.

  • And as predicted ever since Obama carried Omaha, Nebraska Republicans want to do away with their district electoral vote system.
  • Monday, October 12, 2009

    Dick Taylor to leave Iowa House

    Special election soon in Iowa House 33

    We'll see another special election before the Iowa Legislature convenes in January as Cedar Rapids Democrat Dick Taylor announces his retirement.

    Dick Taylor (always first name to differentiate from fellow Democrat Todd Taylor, who represents the next district over) first won the seat in an early 2000 special election that was legendary in election circles; the Jan. 4 date made the voter registration deadline Christmas Day and required the Linn County Auditor to be open New Year's Day as well. That one was to replace current Cedar Rapids mayor Kay Halloran (then known as Chapman), who served three years in her second stint in the legislature. Before that it belonged to the late Phil Brammer for seven terms (1982-96).

    In 2001, redistricting got Dick tripled-up with Republicans Jeff Elgin and Chuck Larson. A lot of folks expected Dick, a minority party freshman at roughly age 70, to step down. But he moved a few blocks and represented a lot of the same turf. The new district was solidly Democratic and Dick was often unopposed. In 2008 he was close to 70 percent against Republican Kathy Potts (now running for city council).

    So the big drama may be the Democratic nomination rather than the election itself. But weird things happen in specials...

    Lehman First Board Applicant

    Lehman Files Board Application

    Former supervisor Mike Lehman is the first official applicant for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors vacancy created by Larry Meyers' death.

    Lehman was elected in 1998 and re-elected with no opposition in 2002, but lost to Meyers in the 2006 Democratic primary. The Newport Road issue was the hot button; Lehman voted to expand the road, but Newport Road resident Meyers opposed it. Meyers' election flipped the Board from a 3-2 majority in favor ow widening Newport Road to 3-2 opposed.

    While she hasn't formally applied yet, Janelle Rettig has also announced her intention to do so. Rettig was already running for the Democratic nomination to the Board in next June's primary before Meyers' death.

    Monday Clips

    Monday Clips

    I was quite happilly out of the loop and out of state all weekend (with good reason). Here's some of what I missed:

  • Potential challengers emerge in two congressional races. Iowa Republican rolls out Dubuque businessman and conservative columnist Rod Blum to challenge Bruce Braley. Someone from Braley's staff is probably even now perusing eight years of columns for gems. That's the risk us writers take.

    On the other end of the state, Mike Denklau moves back to the state to challenge Steve King.

  • Digby has an interesting post on independent voters:
    The knee jerk assumption that they are always more moderate than everyone else is probably wrong. They might just be more cranky, more cynical, more uninformed, more skeptical or more impatient.

    In fact, I suspect that a large number of them are apolitical people who don't really understand politics at all and simply reject whoever is in power when things aren't going well, without regard to party.

  • An interesting FiveThirtyEight post on Democratic Party nomination reform that I hope to dig more deeply into later.

  • Q: everything else in computing is getting faster, smaller, more-er; why not CD drive speed? It's still stuck at 52x. A: Because getting faster woul literally rip the CDs apart.
  • Friday, October 09, 2009

    Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

    Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

    Last year, when then-candidate Obama visited Europe and drew hundreds of thousands to his speech, I wrote, "The world wants to love America again." Here's our proof:
    Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.

    It's a sign of how low we had sunk and how far we have come so fast. Put together with Al Gore's award it's a sign of how hated our previous president was across the globe: you can get a Nobel Peace Prize simply for not being George Bush.

    This award, without a major concrete peace accomplishment to back it (why aren't the troops on the way home yet?) is for America rejoining the world community.

    This award is for all of us. This award is for the ideals that America represents, that we too often have turned our back on in the last three decades, and which a noisy minority of Americans would like to reject again.

    Congratulations Mr. President. This strengthens your hand at home and overseas. Now use that.

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    Iowa City Canvass Done

    Iowa City Margin Stays Seven

    The city primary is in the books as the canvass completed today. Two last-second overseas ballots got counted for a net gain of two votes Mims, one vote Dickens, and no change in Dan Tallon's seven vote margin over Jared Bazzell.

    Also released today: the satellite voting schedule for the November 3 final round, with a big array of petitioned sites on campus.

    Branstad Memories

    Do My Work For Me

    I've been pretty much all local all the time at the Deeth Blog proper the last couple weeks, since my relationship with the Des Moines Register started. But I haven't forgotten the statewide stuff, and the formal start of the Terry Branstad "exploratory" (you KNOW he's gonna) committee is duly noted.

    I know I have statewide readers and even conservative readers, but this one's just for my base, the lefty readers here in the People's Republic. Governor For Life Terry was little beloved in Iowa City, and I'm seeking your memories of the Branstad geologic era. Your prize may be a by-name mention in my Register blog, something like:
    "When I was growing up my mom was a social worker," said Koni Steele of Iowa City. "The only time she ever swore was when she was sewing or when she talked about Terry Branstad."

    Get the idea? Hit me in the comments or the in-box. Offer void where prohibited, some restrictions may apply, objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear, all your base are belong to us.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Bizarre Bazzell endorsement

    Bizarre: Bazzell endorses... Dickens?!?

    So much for student solidarity: Defeated student candidate Jared Bazzell tells the DI: “I’m going to work with Terry Dickens and help him get the student votes.” So backing a Lifelong Resident candidate, rather then successful student nominees Dan Tallon and Jeff Shipley and undercutting the fundamental premise of the election: should the 25,000+ students, the economic engine that drives the entire city, have a seat at the city government table?

    Meanwhile, no changes in the vote totals Wednesday as no ballots showed up in the mail. The canvass is tomorrow; four domestic mail ballots and 177 overseas ballots (which rarely come back in local elections) are still out.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Crunching the Iowa City Numbers

    Crunching the Iowa City Numbers

    With a collective yawn the Iowa City primary is over, and we have a contradictory set of numbers: a giant landslide AND the closest result in city primary history, both on the same night.

    But the night's big number is a small number: 1,872 voters. That shatters the previous low turnout record for a city primary of 2,475 set in 1999. Not so many cycles ago Iowa City regularly saw 5,000 people at the polls for an October primary.

    Susan Mims places first, 79 votes ahead of Terry Dickens. The differences are subtle. Mims has slight but consistent leads over Dickens in the progressive strongholds like precincts 18 and 21, Manville Heights (precinct 4) and on the west side (2, 8, 9) while Dickens was a little ahead on the southeast side (precincts 12 and 14) and the parts of the east side where every-election seniors vote (6, 16, 23 and 25). While the numbers were tiny, Mims can claim one coup: she actually carried one of the CAMPUS precincts, precinct 5 at the UI library.

    From Mims' 75 percent and Dickens' 71 percent we take a huuuuuuge drop to Jeff Shipley's 15 percent and 275 votes. Shipley's slightly higher profile as the current City Council student liaison probably gave him a slight edge, and he ran well in the off-campus student precincts (11 and 19).

    To put Shipley's 275 votes in perspective, that's fewer than past candidates like sixth-place Rachel Hardesty and seventh-place Holly Berkowitz drew in higher-turnout 2003, and less than half of what student Brian Davis won in a distant fifth-place finish in 2001 (the last year with a truly high turnout primary).

    Dan Tallon and Jared Bazzell trailed, with Tallon making the cut for November with a seven vote edge. It's the first truly close city-wide primary we've ever had (Ross Wilburn beat Gary Sanders for the last spot in 1997 by 59--and to put THAT in perspective, Sanders had more votes in fifth place in 1997 than Mims had in FIRST tonight).

    What gives Tallon seven more votes? When it's that close it's hard to say. Might be whoever had a bigger social circle, but I'll bet that DI endorsement Monday swayed more than seven people. DI readers were looking for cues on which of the three students to back. The Press-Citizen endorsement of everyone except Tallon mattered less, because their readers were already settled on the Long Time Resident candidates anyway.

    I saw fewer write-ins from frustrated progressives with no horse in the race than I expected. My guess, based solely on a hunch and the returns from Longfellow and Horace Mann, is that they bullet-voted for Mims. (And/or accounted for some of that turnout dropoff.)

    Candidates have often come back from third place finishes in October to the top two in November--but never from as far back as Shipley and Tallon are now. The turnout profile of the electorate will have to fundamentally change to something more like the 2007 city election (which of course had that well organized well financed high profile 21 bar vote). And the signs from the primary don't indicate that yet.

    Election Day

    Election Day

    You know the drill: intermittent brief updates, number crunching sometime in the midnight ballpark.

    Early voting was way low. Just based on the 546 raw requests, it's the second lowest of the last seven Iowa City primary cycles--but even that that's deceptive. The law on overseas and military ballots has changed during that era and more of those were sent out to people who asked for them at presidential election time. Factor that out, and this year's early vote is the lowest.

    The weather looks a bit sloppy, and another thing that may reduce turnout is the small field of five candidates. Over the history of Iowa City primaries, high turnout and big fields seem to correlate.

    So when you're watching turnout today, look at 1999, the record low year.

    But like I always say, your own personal turnout can be 100 percent. To inspire you here's some articles on Get Out The Vote:

  • The GOP's "72 Hour Program" fizzles

  • And while we're at it, the Republican alienation of Hispanic America.

  • Near to my heart: Dems have better data.

    UPDATE: Only 157 voters at 9:00. In record low 1999 there were 255 at 9 AM.

    UPDATE 2: 317 voters at 11:00. Still behind that record low 1999 pace (449).

    UPDATE 3: 729 voters at 3 PM. Pace picks up a little but still below 1999 (860)
  • Monday, October 05, 2009

    DI Endorsement Shocker

    Daily Iowan Endorses Tallon and... Mims?!?

    No one would have called this one: The Daily Iowan endorsed Long Time Resident candidate Susan Mims, along with student Dan Tallon, in this morning's editorial.

    In a slap at the other two students, the DI writes: "Pro-business platitudes don’t dominate (Tallon's) rhetoric like UI senior Jared Bazzell’s, and Tallon lacks the ideological dogma of Jeff Shipley." Terry Dickens goes completely unmentioned.

    Meanwhile, voting was verrrry slow at weekend satellite sites: 42 each on Friday and Sunday at the Iowa City library and a mere 24 at University Hospitals. Which means, surprisingly, that the UI Library last week was the hot spot with 57 voters.

    Saturday, October 03, 2009

    Press-Citizen Endorses Four

    Press-Citizen Endorses Four

    The P-C endorsed four candidates for Tuesday's primary, in one more example of our concoluted city council system. Don't try to actually VOTE for four, because that means you vote for none. You only get to vote for TWO, in both October and November.

    This would be an interesting type of election to try instant runoff voting. Of course, if I were reforming Iowa City's electoral system, I have other ideas, like partisan elections and precinct-sized districts.

    In any case, the P-C recommends eliminating Dan Tallon.

    Or do what I did.

    Here's some longer must-reads from the week:

  • Sad Tale One: The John Edwards sycophant who took the rap for the boss's baby.

  • Sad Tale Two: Dick Gephardt sells out.

  • "Conservatism has been converted into a religious belief, and now compromise doesn't have a prayer."
  • Thursday, October 01, 2009

    Bazzell, Shipley Finance Filings

    Two Student Candidates In Debt To Selves

    City council candidates Jeff Shipley and Jared Bazzell filed their campaign finance reports today. The third student candidate, Dan Tallon, has opened a committee but not yet filed the report due today.

    Bazzell and Shipley have crossed the $750 threshold that requires a campaign finance report from the spending side. but not from the fundraising side. Both have financed the early stages of their campaigns out of pocket.

    Shipley has raised $390 and spent $2144, loaning his campaign committee the remaining $1754. The only local donor of note is area GOP activist Deb Thornton.

    Bazzell has raised $530 and reports outstanding bills of $1314. About half his fundraising is local (including bar owner and dropped-out 2003 candidate George Etre); the other half is from family.

    These figures are better than some past primary candidates. Brandon Ross and Steve Soboroff both made it through the 2003 primary without raising or spending $750. But the totals pale next to Susan Mims' $7000 and the nearly $16,000 Terry Dickens has raised.

    Meanwhile, the first big test of student interest in next Tuesday's primary was yesterday with a satellite voting site at the UI Library. It drew 57 voters, a bit less than the 74 who voted at the IMU before the 2001 primary. And a hell of a lot less than the 945 who voted at Burge in the 2007 21 bar election... more early voting tomorrow at the Iowa City library and at UIHC.