Iowa senators react to bin Laden’s death

Iowa’s two U.S. Senators have issued statements about Osama bin Laden’s death.

From Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA):  “On a sunny September 11, 2001 our nation learned of Osama bin Laden and the organization he lead which killed 3000 innocent people on that fateful day. His death is a symbolic victory and a significant achievement in the war against terror, but it isn’t an end. Al Qaeda and radical terrorists around the globe remain a grave threat to our country and its people. We must remain vigilant in our fight to maintain the security of the United States. As the memories of 9/11 come flooding back with the death of Osama bin Laden, we remember and honor the families of those who lost their lives that day, and we pay special tribute to the men and women of our military and national security teams who continue to protect this nation and have led the effort over the last 10 years to bring justice to bin Laden. More work remains and we must remain vigilant against possible retaliatory attacks.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today released the following statement upon learning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“Just a few months short of the tenth anniversary of the worst attack in our nation’s history, U.S. forces brought to justice the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.  This victory is a testament to the quality of our intelligence service and the courage and precision of the Navy SEALs.  I commend the Obama Administration and thank the servicemen and women who carried out this operation.”

New head of Iowa Homeland Security/Emergency Management

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge served as the Culver/Judge Administration’s point person on homeland security issues.   During Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s previous tenure, Ellen Gordon served as administrator of the state’s Emergency Management Division.  Former Governor Tom Vilsack kept Gordon in place.  When Gordon (sort of) retired from state government in 2004, Vilsack appointed David Miller to the post and Governor Chet Culver kept Miller in his administration. (Gordon is doing consulting work and teaching now.  Gordon’s currently the associate director of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. )

Branstad today announced he’s chosen a military man to serve in the role of homeland security advisor to the governor as well as in the role of director of the state’s emergency management division.  Details below.

Branstad names Brig. Gen. J. Derek Hill to head Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-elect Terry Branstad announced today that Brig. Gen. J. Derek Hill of the Iowa Air National Guard will serve as the Homeland Security Advisor to the Governor and head of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.

“Brigadier General Hill’s service to Iowa and our country is to be commended,” said Branstad. “His leadership of the Iowa National Guard’s Joint Staff during the floods and tornadoes of 2008 was exceptional, and I am confident this leadership and management will continue in Brig. Gen. Hill’s new endeavor.”

[Read more…]

Culver releases I-JOBS data for July

According to the Culver administration, 7502 people were working on I-JOBS-financed projects in July.  Read the news release from the governor’s office below.

Governor Culver: New I-JOBS Report Shows Continued Growth

In less than 12 months, program makes huge strides

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today hailed July’s I-JOBS report, which shows the program is continuing to expand as more projects come on line.

“It’s just been 12 months since the first I-JOBS applications started coming in,” Culver said. “And look at the progress we have made in less than a year. This underscores the need that Iowa has had for the program since the floods of 2008.”

The report shows that in the month of July:

[Read more…]

The current and former governor debate

Lee Enterprises and Citadel Communications are sponsoring tonight’s debate, which starts at 7 p.m.  It’s being staged at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, airing live on TV stations KCAU in Sioux City, WOI in Des Moines and WHBF in the Quad Cities.   Iowa Public Television will rebroadcast the debate at 8 p.m. tonight.

KCAU’s Larry Wentz and WOI’s Amanda Krenz are the moderators.  They’re on the screen as I type, standing in front of the two candidates.  Governor Chet Culver, the Democrat, is on the left of the screen and former Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican, is on the right.

A panel of reporters/editors will ask the questions.  They are Mike Gors of The Sioux City Journal; Josh Nelson of The Waterloo Courier; Ed Tibbetts of The Quad City Times and Arian Schuessler of The Mason City Globe Gazette.

Both candidates are wearing red ties!  What follows are my notes, a sort of live blog of the event.

First question goes to Branstad.  Kors cites statistics of Branstad’s 16-year tenure as governor, then asks if his criticism of Culver is just the “pot calling the kettle black.”

Branstad: If you look at the totality of the record…I left the state is a strong fiscal position…(There is now) a projected budget deficit of one million dollars.

Culver begins with thanks to sponsors, mentions the venue.  Stresses that “Terry Branstad has been misleading Iowans.”

Moderator starts to turn it over to Tibetts, but Branstad jumps in and asks about the rules. 

Tibbetts asks about I-JOBS.

[Read more…]

A week away

I’ve been away from the blog for a week.  A lot of political hay has been made in that time, from Tom Vilsack’s firing of a black USDA employee to campaign cash reports to a senate committee’s vote on Elena Kagan.

Here are some of the bales of political hay that I’ve missed, in no particular order:

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, the US Ag Secretary, has a starring role in this week’s DC tempest.  Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Todd Dorman has a link to the video of Vilsack’s apology for firing Shirley Sherrod.  Wonkette has been blogging about it.

Money, money, money.  Bleeding Heartland had a take on fundraising in the US Senate race and the five Iowa congressional races.  The Iowa Republican offered its analysis of the $$$ in the congressional races.  Blogger John Deeth did an analysis of fundraising in state legislative races.  The Des Moines Register’s Tom Beaumont reports on the fundraising in the Culver v Branstad race.  Hint:  the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations are spending mightily.  Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports potential ’12 presidential candidates are raising money, an indication of intentions down the road.

Senator Chuck Grassley voted no on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when her nomination came up in the US Senate Judiciary Committee.  Roxanne Conlin, Grassley’s Democratic opponent, issued this statement:

(Des Moines)—Senator Grassley continued to obstruct progress today as he voted against the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Below is a statement from Democratic US Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin:
“Senator Grassley opposes Wall Street reform, he opposes extending unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Iowans and now he opposes filling the Supreme Court vacancy despite decades of support for past nominations.  Senator Grassley’s failure to act on unemployment benefits is costing Iowans food and shelter.  He gave $700 billion to Wall Street but refused to hold them accountable and now he’s casting only his second vote against a Supreme Court nominee in his thirty years in the U.S. Senate.”

Grassley and Conlin, on what happens in Vegas & DC. 

The Iowa Taxpayers Association issued a news release with its take on the FY 2011 state budget the 2010 legislaure drafted.

The largest state employees’ union — AFSCME Council 61 — endorsed Governor Culver’s reelection bid.

Des Moines, IA – This Saturday, July 17th, at the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 PEOPLE Endorsement Conference, the PEOPLE Committee made the decision to endorse Chet Culver for Iowa’s Governor.
Governor Chet Culver received the nod from AFSCME due to his support of such programs as the State Employee Retirement Incentive Program (SEIRP) and efforts to reform state government through the massive reorganization that the state began this year.  Cuvler’s opponent, Terry Branstad, has a record that public employees remember that includes refusing to honor collective bargaining agreements bargained in good faith and contracting or attempting to contract out state services and jobs.  His current pledges concern AFSCME members as well, like his pledge to eliminate many of their jobs that are important to the operation of state government, and to drain the state treasury further by cutting corporate income taxes further at a time of tight budgets at all levels of government.

“Our members who worked under Terry Branstad remember the way in which he treated public employees during his rule, and our younger members are aware of his current pledges to cut them if he is elected.  With those options in front of AFSCME members, the choice was very clear to them,” said Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61. “We need to continue to move forward under Chet Culver, not backward under Terry Branstad.”

In Iowa, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees including law enforcement and correctional officers, home health care and child care providers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers.

The three Democrats and two Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation  agree on something. 

Iowa Congressmen Seek Presidential Approval of Disaster Declaration Request
House Members Act to Spur Relief for Iowans Impacted by Severe Weather

Washington, D.C.- House Members of the Iowa Congressional delegation today sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he quickly approve Gov. Chet Culver’s request for a disaster declaration for Iowa counties that have recently suffered significant damage from a severe weather system that began on June 1, 2010 and continues today.  The storm system has produced high winds, heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding which have caused extensive damage throughout the state. Gov. Culver submitted his official request for a disaster declaration to President Obama on July 6.

Statements of Congressmen Braley, King, Boswell, Latham and Loebsack follow:

“In recent weeks and months, severe weather has taken a serious toll on communities across the state of Iowa,” said Braley. “It is critical now, just as it was following the floods of 2008, for the federal government to respond quickly and efficiently to give our communities the tools they need to recover. I look forward to working with President Obama, Governor Culver and my colleagues here in Washington to make sure Iowa’s small towns and families aren’t hung out to dry.”

 “Iowa has been hit hard by the severe weather systems that have moved through our state, and the people who have been affected expect a swift and efficient response,” said King. “In Cherokee County, for example, the waters exceeded the 1993 flood levels. There is no doubt that the request for federal help to these areas is appropriate and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Culver, the members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation and President Obama to ensure that this assistance is approved quickly.”

“For the second time in two years, flood waters have ravaged homes, farmland and businesses across the state,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell. “I support Governor Culver’s request for presidential disaster declarations for several Iowa counties that have been impacted by the flooding. Many Iowans are still trying to recover and rebuild from the floods of 2008 and this summer’s weather has set them further behind. I encourage the President to issue these declarations in order to help Iowa’s families and small businesses get back on their feet.”

“The severe weather that has recently struck throughout Iowa requires a coordinated and efficient response,” said Congressman Latham. “Iowans are no strangers to severe weather and I have no doubt that the impacted communities will come back stronger than ever. However there is a legitimate need for federal help, and I’ll do everything I can to work with my colleagues to make sure that need is met.”

“Iowa has struggled since the Floods of 2008, and the current flooding is hurting our state’s ongoing recovery efforts,” said Loebsack. “I support this request to help affected residents, businesses, and farmers and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that this is handled in a timely manner. Iowans are in trouble and we must assure them that help is on the way.”

The text of the letter follows:

July 20, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President,

We respectfully request that you grant the request made July 6, 2010 by Iowa Governor Chet Culver for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Iowa as a result of damages from a severe weather system that produced high winds, heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes beginning June 1, 2010 and continuing. Governor Culver has determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is needed.

We thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.


Steve King
Leonard Boswell
Tom Latham
Bruce Braley
Dave Loebsack

Governor Culver says a lot of people have I-JOBS jobsDave Price of WHO-TV reports there’s no way of knowing how many I-JOBS jobs there are.

Are they drinking Bohea, Singlo, Congou, Souchon, or Hyson? (Those are the types of tea dumped during the original Boston Tea Party in 1773.)

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) today issued the following statement announcing his decision to join the newly-formed  House Tea Party Caucus. The House Tea Party Caucus, which will be chaired by Rep. Michele Bachmann, was approved by the House Administration Committee on Friday afternoon. The caucus will focus on injecting the American people’s desire for fiscal responsibility, fidelity to the United States Constitution, and limited government into policy formation.
“America’s Tea Party organizations believe that Washington’s policymakers are ignoring the public’s demand for a limited government that is fiscally sound and that adheres to the principles of the Constitution,” said King. “The forced passage of the unconstitutional Obamacare bill over the objections of the American people shows that this belief is well founded.  As the new majority-makers in American politics, the views of the Tea Parties deserve a Congressional forum.  Rep. Bachmann should be commended for making sure that Tea Party voices extend from town-hall meetings to the halls of Congress.”

Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention (AUDIO)

The Iowa Democratic Party’s convention started earlier this morning.  It’s 11 o’clock and (gasp) they’re on schedule.  Roxanne Conlin, the Democratic Party’s 2010 nominee for the U.S. Senate,  is being introduced to the crowd.  What is below is a live blog of the event, which has a line-up including Conlin, Senator Tom Harkin and Governor Chet Culver.

[Read more…]

Culver kicks off reelection effort

Governor Chet Culver formally kicked off his 2010 reelection campaign this morning.  You can listen to the speeches from Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan, Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, First Lady Mari Culver and Governor Culver (in that order) by clicking here

The event was staged in the auditorium at Hoover High School. That’s because — in case you hadn’t heard — Culver is a former teacher and coach and Hoover is the school where he taught. The auditorium was a very dark room, with the only real lights on the stage.  The Hoover High concert band played a few numbers as we waited for Culver and his entourage to be about 15 minutes late.  The band’s first piece was Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.  They also played the music that’s used as the theme to a PBS public affair program — they played it twice to fill the time — plus they played some traditional marches.

“We Democrats are excited,” Kiernan said to open his remarks.  “…Students from Hoover High School, did you guys know that Chet Culver was a teacher here, a teacher and coach?  Come on, let me hear you.  Is there any Hoover students out here?”

[Read more…]

The “GOP3” debate in Cedar Rapids

It’s 3:20 and in 10 minutes the three men seeking the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2010 nomination for governor will debate for 90 minutes here in this ballroom at a Cedar Rapids hotel.  The event is sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association and is airing live on Iowa Public Television’s “IPTV World” channel.

Eric Woolson, the campaign manager for Bob Vander Plaats, is sitting two rows in front of media row.  Tim Albrecht, Terry Branstad’s campaign spokesman, is sitting five seats to the right of Woolson.  At 3:26 p.m. folks in the room were asked to put their cell phones/’berries/iPhones on silent.

A panel of journalists will ask the candidates questions.  Todd Dorman, a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette; Jeneane Beck of Iowa Public Radio and Paul Yeager, host of The Iowa Journal on IPTV are sitting on the right of the stage.  The three candidates are standing on the left, with moderator Bob Fisher of KLSS/KRIB in Mason City in the middle.

The candidates have done a good bit of traveling today before arriving.  They all attended the district conventions in Dubuque and Iowa Falls.  Riding in a plane on this windy day was an adventure.

It’s 3:30 and the show is on with an introduction of the candidates underway.  First topic:  the state budget.  How do you balance and reduce the size of government?

RR:  across the board not a responsible way to balance the budget.  Critical decisions would have been far better a year ago, with selective cuts — “a more surgical approach.” 

BVP:  “It takes no intellectual fire power” to do an across the board cut, which is what Culver did last October.  “I think we need to be funding the classrooms, not the bureaucracy.” 

TEB:  “Governor Culver’s actions have been both reckless and irresponsible.”  He insisted on “putting the state deeply in debt.”  Branstad said it’s time for “prudent and thoughtful leader.”

All three said they would have reconvened legislature in order to make selective cuts rather than cut budget across the board. 

[Read more…]

Obama in Ottumwa

UPDATE:  Here’s the Radio Iowa story of this event.  What follows is a live blog.

obama-girlsPresident Obama is due to speak later this afternoon in the student center on the Indian Hills Community College campus in Ottumwa. As the jazz of David Sanborn is pumped through the sound system, the crowd (estimated to be about 2100) slowly files into the gymnasium. here  At 2:30, several members of the Indian Hills softball team were in their seats near the back of the gym, waiting for the rest of the squad to arrive  Why the back of the hall?  The women are due to play a softball game tonight at 7:30 against William Penn, in Oskaloosa, and they need to make a hasty exit when Obama’s through speaking.

“Oh, I am stoked that he is coming.  I was so excited when I found out the news. I am a big Obama fan,” said Nicole Steinle of Fort Collins, Colorado, the Warriors’ catcher.

Steinle, who is a freshman, was not old enough to vote in 2008.  “Unfortunately I was not but both of my parents voted for him,” she said.

Jordan Grell of Moville, Iowa — an infielder on the Indian Hills softball squad — was old enough to vote in 2008 and she voted for Obama.   “I’m from a small town so this kind of stuff doesn’t happen very often and for a small college like this, it’s really big,” Grell said.  “It’s very exciting.”

Grell said she is “concerned” about the way Obama is being perceived by the general public.  “I think that it takes a while for change,” she said, “so I think he’s headed for some kind of change in a good way.”

Forty-five-year-old Kevin Pope of Ottumwa has “always been a Democrat” and believes the president’s visit to his town may help Democrats.

“It should bring us closer together and hopefully we can get some stuff done with this unemployment that’s going on,” he said.  “That’s kind of what I was trying to really see, what was going to happen there, you know, you got the extension for the third (time).  What’s going to happen the people that it runs out on?  What are we going to do for them?  People working part-time can’t find a full-time job…I work part-time at Menard’s.  (My) unemployment ran out.”

obama-crowdHe’s among the folks who’ve been invited to sit on a set of bleachers behind the stage where Obama will stand.  It’s the first time he’s seen a president in person.  “First time!  How exciting is that?  Regardless of who the president is, if you have an opportunity to see this, why not take that opportunity?” Pope said before being ushered into his spot.

Duane Fuller of Muscatine is sitting near Pope.  He is among the Iowans who supported Obama early in 2007 and joined Organizing For America after the ’08 campaign ended.  He’s been making telephone calls to the Obama network, “trying to get people on board; just got people on board with health care.”

Like Pope, Fuller is looking for a full-time job that pays well.

“I think it’s a very hard time right now in Iowa because a lot of people are out of work. I myself have been unemployed or underemployed for a year and a half and I know it’s hard to find a job and that’s what the president’s here talking about and it speaks directly to me…It’s just that nobody needs anyone and if they do, they want to pay you $7.25 an hour and when you’ve got a (college loan) to pay off, you can’t make it on minimum wage,” said Fuller, who is 34 years old.

At 3:47 p.m. a minister led the crowd in prayer, a college student sang the national anthem and then there was a lull.  By 4:25 p.m. another student introduced Obama.  A roar goes up from the crowd; after about 15 seconds “Hail to the Chief” is played over the sound system.

“Hello everybody.  Hello Ottumwa.  Good to see you,” Obama said.  “…I miss you guys.”

[Read more…]

Odds and ends, from debates to Glenn Beck

In no particular order, here are some items of political interest which have arrived in my email box this past week.

Iowa Public Television to Broadcast Republican Gubernatorial Debate Saturday, May 1

Debate sponsored by Iowa Broadcast News Association;
Broadcast Live on IPTV WORLD at 3:30 p.m., Rebroadcast on IPTV at 8 p.m.

(Johnston, Iowa)  — As part of the network’s Campaign 2010 coverage, Iowa Public Television will broadcast a debate among the three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor. The debate, sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association, will be shown live on IPTV WORLD (statewide on IPTV.3 or Mediacom channel 119) Saturday, May 1 at 3:30 p.m. A rebroadcast of the debate will air on IPTV May 1 at 8 p.m.

[Read more…]