A bunch of stuff, from Fong to Fiegen

Over the past two weeks I've accumulated a few items for the blog, but failed to post.  Here they are, in chronological order:

As James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported at the following link, Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong of Cedar Rapids challenged Democratic Governor Chet Culver's record on flood recovery on August 28, 2009.  Read Fong's news release below:

(Cedar Rapids, IA)  Today, in the New York Times, appeared a story about flood recovery and how the tragedy and devastation of the floods from 2008 are being forgotten.   In the story, Governor Culver was quoted as saying, “We’re not making a lot of noise about it” in reference to the feeling of neglect and delays.

Christian Fong, Republican Gubernatorial candidate and C.E.O. of Corridor Recovery in Cedar Rapids, said “I simply do not understand why Governor Culver would admit to “not making noise” about raising awareness and using his position as Governor to constantly be emphasizing to the Nation that Iowa was hit with the second largest natural disaster in U.S. history, and we’ve yet to fully receive the help we need.”

Fong continued, “Governor Culver’s words send the wrong message to flood families still living in FEMA trailers and small business owners trying to rebuild their livelihoods.  In my role with Corridor Recovery, I worked with the New York Times to provide them background information for the story.  We need to raise awareness because people are still hurting.  Iowans deserve a Governor who will be proactive and make things happen.”

The New York Times story, can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/28/us/28cedar.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper

Culver has hired more campaign staff.  An announcement went out yesterday (Read it below). FYI: Andrew Roos says he is not related to former Des Moines Register reporter Jonathan Roos, but Andrew Roos says he read stories under Jon Roos' byline over the years.

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“Draft Branstad” PAC formed

There's a Twitter account.  And an announcement, via Facebook (haven't received a thing in my email in-box yet, however).  And a website.  On that website there's a one-minute-long video with just music and graphics — plus lots of pictures of Terry Branstad when he was governor and a few of him at Des Moines University, where is currently serving as president.  There are 14 pictures of a very young, dark haired Terry Branstad (when he was governor), including one picture of him with then-President Ronald Reagan, but only four pictures of the modern day Terry Branstad. 

UPDATE:  At 9:45 a.m. I did receive, via email, a news release which you can read below.  The subject line of the email read: Draf Branstad PAC Formed.  (That would be a "T" for "Terry" that was left out of the first word.)  Here's the Radio Iowa story.


Des Moines, Iowa – Former State Legislator Sandy Greiner officially announces the formation of “Draft Branstad PAC” today. Draft Branstad PAC is an organization formed to encourage former Governor Terry Branstad to run for Governor of Iowa.

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Fong goes up on radio

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong wins the race to be the first to air campaign ads.  See his campaign's announcement below.  (No word on how extensive, expensive the ad buy is.)

(Cedar Rapids, IA)  The campaign of Iowa gubernatorial candidate and Cedar Rapids businessman Christian Fong (R) announced today it has started a statewide radio advertising campaign.
The advertisement, titled, “Iowa Dream” focuses on introducing Christian and outlining his story for Iowa Republicans.

“Our fundraising has been strong enough; it’s allowed us the luxury of starting our paid media campaign earlier than we had initially anticipated.  Christian has a unique story that sets him apart in this crowded Republican field and this advertisement allows us to introduce him to Republicans across the state,” said Marlys Popma, Fong campaign manager.

Here is the transcript of the advertisement, “Iowa Dream”:

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Apps in for part of I-JOBS money

Over 12 dozen communities and organizations have submitted an application for a state I-JOBS grant for a local infrastructure projects. Applicants asked for a total of $333 million; there's $118.5 million available. Read the release from the governor's office below; there's a link embedded in the release if you want to read all 136 applications.

DES MONIES – A total of 136 communities and organizations from 47 counties across the state have submitted an application for funding from the Local Infrastructure Program of the Culver/Judge I-JOBS initiative. In total, these applicants are requesting $333,619,449 from the competitive portion of the Local Infrastructure Program. Applications were due yesterday.

“These applications, from communities and organizations all across our state, show there is both great interest in and need for the opportunities supported by I-JOBS,” said Governor Culver. “Throughout Iowa there are hundreds of projects ready for construction that address real infrastructure needs in these communities, as well as improve our economy, create jobs, and continue our efforts to work our way out of the recession.”

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A minor flood at the Rebuild Iowa Office

Water pipes connected to a drinking fountain burst in the Wallace Building in Des Moines over the weekend, flooding the Rebuild Iowa Office. Tina Potthoff, a spokeswoman for the Rebuild Iowa Office, says it was "clean" water and they have fans and a dehumidifier running in the office today.  As you may recall, the agency was the target of lawmakers' criticism earlier this year for spending $19,000 to install new carpeting in the Rebuild Iowa Office. Today, Potthoff told Alex Heuer from Iowa Public Radio that the new carpet is fine and will not be replaced. 

Curiously, Susan Judkins – director of intergovernmental affairs for the Rebuild Iowa Office — posted a tweet on her Twitter account about the weekend incident, but that tweet about the irony of flooding in an office set up to help flood victims has been deleted. 

Fong mines college campuses

The youngest candidate in the race for the Republican Party of Iowa's 2010 gubernatorial nomination has lined up campus coordinators at all three of the state-supported universities, plus a few private colleges and three of the 15 community colleges in the state. Christian Fong's campaign released their list of campus coordinators today, August 3, 2009, when campuses are largely empty as summer classes are over and fall classes haven't started.  It means Fong may have mined the contact list he collected in his role on the Generation Iowa Commission.

The Jacob Kaufmann who has volunteered to work on Fong's campaign is the son of State Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton who is backing another GOP gubernatorial candidate, Rod Roberts. Representative Kaufmann says with the exception of 2008 second district congressional candidate Marianette Miller-Meeks, it's been a long time since he and his son have backed the same candidate in a GOP primary. 

Read the Fong campaign news release below:

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Late Night with Chester J. Culver

Midnight on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 was the deadline for the governor to take action on bills passed by the 2009 Iowa Legislature.  At 11:12 p.m. last night, Culver's staff sent out an email to reporters alterting us to his final decisions. The email had eight attachments — the governor's formal explanation for each of his item vetoes on budget bills as well as a copy of his executive order  Because of that "bulk" I received the email at 11:19 p.m. last night.

After reviewing it at 4:30 a.m. this morning, I wrote a couple of stories.  If you want to read the news release from the governor that was issued at 11:12 p.m. last night, I've pasted it below. The item veto messages and the executive order are embeded below, too, as pdf files so you can read every last word that came out of the governor's office overnight. 

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver has taken final action on all outstanding legislation from the 2009 Iowa General Assembly.

“These bills – which include support for the issues Iowans care most about, such as our veterans, education, renewable energy, and job creation – bring to an end the 2009 Legislative Session, and Iowans should be proud of the work we have done,” said Governor Culver. “In a year when so many Iowans are still picking up the pieces from last year’s floods and with so many Iowans feeling the effects of this national recession, we were able to lay the groundwork for Iowa’s rebirth. The $830 million I-JOBS Initiative will help revitalize our communities, create new jobs, and allow us to literally work our way out of this recession. And our efforts on education, health care and disaster recovery will help tens of thousands of Iowans. This legislative session has been marked by many challenges. But it also shows that when elected leaders put good public policy above partisan politics, we can do good works for Iowa, and move our state closer the brighter, better future we all know is possible.”

The Governor signed the following Appropriations bills:

•        House File 805:  Transportation Appropriations Bill

•        House File 809 (HF 809 item-veto message):  Administration and Regulation Appropriations Bill, with exceptions

•        House File 811 (HF 811 item-veto message):  Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, with exceptions

•        Senate File 467 (SF 467 item-veto message):  Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Bill, with exceptions

•        Senate File 479 (SF 469 item-veto message):  Economic Development Appropriations Bill, with exception

•        Senate File 470 (SF 470 item-veto message):  Education Appropriations Bill, with exceptions

•        Senate File 475 (SF 475 item-veto message):  Justice Appropriations Bill, with exceptions 

•        Senate File 478 (SF 478 item-veto message):  Standing Appropriations Bill, with exceptions

Governor Culver also signed today Executive Order 13 to promote greater transparency and efficiencies in state government. The order calls on the Department of Administrative Services to implement a new policy across the executive branch that will require every department to institute cost-effective and transparent practices to track reimbursements paid to State employees for meals, travel and other work-related costs. The Governor vetoed similar language today, added piecemeal to several budget bills, in order to issue his more comprehensive Executive Order which applies to all state departments.

“As Governor, I am committed to ensuring that state government uses tax-payer dollars wisely,” said Governor Culver. “Under Executive Order 13, we are ensuring that state employees are only reimbursed for the expenses they incur. This will help manage tax dollars wisely, and is one more sign that the Culver/Judge Administration’s commitment to sound budgeting practices will not waiver.”

A copy of the Executive Order is attached.

Below is a list of the final bills signed into law by the Governor:

•        House File 243 – Gender Balance on Boards and Commissions: Provides gender balance on local boards, commissions, committees, and councils.
•        House File 488 – Assistive Animals: Expands the rights of a person with a disability using an assistive animal to have another person to assist the person by controlling the assistive animal.
•        House File 671 – Volunteer Fire and EMS Job Protection: Prevents volunteer fire and EMS personnel from being fired from their jobs for responding to an emergency in their role as volunteer fire and/or EMS.
•        House File 712 – Private Right of Action: Gives Iowans the right to individually sue those who defraud them in certain cases.
•        Senate File 224 – Plumbers Bill: Makes modifications to the plumbing licensing statutes.
•        Senate File 291 – Retirement Communities: Allows communities that meet certain requirements be designated as “retirement communities” which could lead to state financial inducements for communities in the future.
•        Senate File 366 – Emancipation of a Minor: Sets up a legal process for minors in need of emancipation.
•        Senate File 405 – Disposal of Animal Carcasses; Grants some flexibility to veterinarians when they have an animal die over the weekend, when rendering plants are closed and the 24-hour disposal requirement is difficult to meet.
•        Senate File 432 – Manure on Frozen Ground: Generally bans application of manure on frozen and snowy ground by farmers during a specified period.  Provides procedures for emergency exceptions.
•        Senate File 433 – Health Care Facilities: Relates to the classification and assessment of violations in health care facilities and assisted living programs and providing penalties.
•        Senate File 435 – Land Surveyors Bill: Gives land surveyors the right to enter land without permission in order to survey. This has become necessary as currently a landowner can prevent resolution of a property disputed by denying access and as absentee landlords have become more common in rural areas.
•        Senate File 465 – Iowa Land and Records Bill: Increases certain real estate fees by $2 to pay for the redaction of social security numbers from IowaLandRecords.org.
•        Senate File 476 – Quality Assurance Assessment: Implements a federal Medicaid leveraging strategy for the state’s long-term care delivery system.
•        Senate File 482 – Summer Youth/Green Corps: Establishes the Summer Youth Corps, the Iowa Green Corps, and makes AmeriCorps education awards tax exempt in Iowa.
•        Senate File 815 – Articulation Agreements: Makes it easier to transfer credits from community college to a Regents’ institution.

King, Latham on “Rural-R-Us” group

Iowa's two Republican congressmen have been named to a panel of 15 Republican congressmen and one Republican congresswoman who represent rural parts of America.  The House Republican leader calls the group the "Rural America Solutions Group." 

Congressman Steve King, a Republican from the small western Iowa town of Kiron – population 273 — is part of the group, as is Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from the large central Iowa town of Ames — population of 50,731 and home to Iowa State University.  Latham, though, grew up in a small town, as you'll read in his news release below.   First, though, is the news release from King's office because it arrived in my email box first. 

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State flood aid nearing $500 million?

As you may recall, some of last year's Iowa flood victims were upset the Iowa legislature did not meet in special session last fall to address flood relief.  A story I wrote for Radio Iowa tracks the response in the regular legislative session that just concluded this morning just before six o'clock.

Over the past few days I had been talking with legislators involved in flood-related issues and checking documents assembled by legislative staff.  Here is the list of appropriations related to flood recovery and prevention they came up with and which I share with you today:

  • $56 million for JumpStart (signed into law early in the session; adding money to the $40 million Governor Culver had shifted around last fall to start JumpStart).

  • $100 million for University of Iowa flood recovery, prevention (this was part of the 'bonding package" everyone was talking about at the statehouse this year.

  • $118.5 million in competitive grants for flood victims (part of the "bonding package")

  • $46.5 million for Linn County and Cedar Rapids (a portion of that pays for new fire stations in Palo, Elkader & Charles City, too)

  • $25 million for watershed improvements to clean up after the flood and prevent future floods (this is in the 'bonding package")

  • $1.3 million for an Iowa Flood Center at the University of iowa

  • $1 million for the railroad bridge in Waterloo that was damaged by flood waters

  • $50 million over three years in tax credits for historic, cultural properties that were damaged by the floods, tornadoes

  • $15 million over three years in tax credits to spur construction of "multi-family" (apartment) buildings in cities which were flooded.

  • $2.1 million to the Department of Natural Resources for flood plain management & mapping.

  • $25 million in assistance for home owners hit by disaster (in "bonding bill").

  • An estimated $30 million, spread through a variety of state agencies, to cover flood-related responses last summer and fall and to meet some FEMA matching requirements.

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UPDATE: Senate rejects governor’s DHS director

"Your theory of the indispensible man — I just can't accept that," Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley said during today's debate. "Everybody is replaceable."

At 9:10 a.m., the Iowa Senate took up the nomination of Gene Gessow to be the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.  In Iowa, governors nominate the folks who serve in the top jobs in state agencies, but 34 of the 50 state senators must vote "yes" on the nomination in order to confirm the person for the job.

Governor Chet Culver held a news conference yesterday to pressure Republicans in the senate to support Gessow's nomination.  There are 18 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the Senate.  It means if all 32 Democrats support Culver's nominee, then at least two Republicans are needed to vote "yes" on a nomination in order for the person to be confirmed.

It's 9:14 a.m. now and Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) is still talking, about Gessow's work as manager o fthe state's Medicaid program. Gessow has been acting director of the DHS for the past six months.  Senator Rich Olive (D-Story City) offered a few positive remarks about Gessow, then Hatch regained the microphone.  Hatch began questioning Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley, asking why all 18 Republicans intend to vote against Gessow's confirmation.

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