Friday, February 27, 2009

The Union Play List: u-Tunes

I thought it might be good to recap the activities of this past week.

On Monday, Democrats accepted defeat on the Prevailing Wage. They say they will be back.

On Tuesday, the Unions attacked Principal Financial Group for belonging to a pro-business, non-partisan group called the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

Also on Tuesday, CCI, Citizens for Community Improvement attacked Rep. Dolores Mertz and accused her of being factory farmer. CCI is just a lap dog for the Unions.

On Wednesday, House Leadership (Union Thugs) took away a number of Veteran bills that Rep. McKinley Baily was to manage on the floor. Baily is an Iraq War Veteran and one of the Democrats who votes against the Union Bosses.

I thought the following video was in order.

Obama/Vilsack lash out against farmers, they would rather spend money on fat kids.

Our esteemed former Governor and current Secretary of Ag had this to say:

"If you had a dollar - one dollar - where would you put it?" Vilsack asked. "Would you give it to a child for more nutritious eating? Would you give it in a direct payment to a high-income (farm) operation?"

Tom, if I only had one dollar, I’d let the farmer keep it so he can keep producing the food that feeds the world, and the food that has become America’s greatest foreign policy asset.

Once again, liberals like Vilsack and Obama look at gross income and conclude whether or not a person is wealthy or not. They need to look at the net, ya know after they pay all the bills…

Once again, Sen. Grassley is the only adult in the room. "I'm a farmer, and I know that gross income or sales revenue does not reflect your ability to pay," he said. "Just because I sell a lot of corn doesn't mean that my input costs to grow that corn weren't even higher."


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bruce Braley and Leonard Boswell – Iowa Job Killers

Through Wednesday’s passage of H.R. 1105 – The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 - the U.S. House voted to kill a program that allows private sector collection agencies to help the Internal Revenue Service recoup old outstanding tax debts. I’m told that Federal Treasury Union Employees never liked the program because its success could have made the case for more effective collections by the private sector. And the last thing we want to do is create private sector jobs and reduce the size and scope of government…

They had reason to fear the program’s success. As of October 2007 the IRS' Private Debt Collection Program, which launched as a test program only a year earlier, successfully closed 9,000 old cases, collecting more than $30 million in outstanding debt. Knowing how much the Obama Administration – and Democrat’s like Congressman Charlie Rangel hates tax cheats (uh-hmm…) they should be very supportive of this program that collects tax dollars that are legally owed to the government and that are otherwise not likely to be collected by the IRS.

There is a unique Iowa angle to this story, which is why I’m writing about it this morning. As of October 2007, the program was responsible for the employment of 60 Iowans by the Waterloo, Iowa-based CBE Group Inc. – a company that at that time employed over 900 Iowans in Waterloo and West Des Moines. The owner of the company said that he expected the number of Iowans employed by them as a result of full implementation of the Debt Collection Program to grow to more than 200 Iowans. The CBE Group is one of those private sector companies that will be affected by the elimination of this program.

So with the economy is disarray, and with the federal government bailing out companies to prevent job cuts, I was surprised to see that Congressmen Bruce Braley (who represents Waterloo) and Leonard Boswell (who represents most of West Des Moines) voted to most kill these Iowa jobs? Why couldn’t they have convinced their leadership to remove this provision from H.R. 1105 based on the principals of saving jobs in their districts and that tax cheaters should pay up.

This just blows my mind. These are accounts that the IRS has all but written off because they don’t have the time and believe these owed taxes are un-collectible. Yet private companies have proven that they can successfully collect these dollars. Apparently the Democrats are fans of the new program where you name someone to Obama's cabinet to get the tax cheat to finally pay up!

I wonder is Senator Harkin will join Congressman Braley and Congressman Boswell in voting to kill Iowa jobs when this same measure is up before the U.S. Senate next week?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal is more than a flash in the pan.

So there is a lot of chatter today about Bobby Jindal’s poor performance in delivering the response to Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress. In the comment section a fellow krustacean asked if Jindal’s presidential aspirations ended last night. The answer is absolutely not.

If we were to follow such logic, then Jindal would have been the undisputed 2012 nominee on Sunday when he turned in a stunning performance on Meet the Press. I know we always say it’s too early for these types of setbacks to matter, but that is the case with Jindal.

While his national introduction last night wasn’t very good, meaning he’s not the shiny new penny anymore, he has plenty of time to recover. Now, I know this isn’t widely known, but President Obama was defeated in congressional primary by a two to one margin in 2000. Was that the end of the road for him?

I like Jindal a lot. If he ran, he would probably be my guy. The problem he faces is the same one that George Pataki and Mitt Romney had. No, he’s not bad on the social issues, but he is up for re-election in 2011. So I think that if Jindal wants to run for President in 2012 he can’t run for re-election as governor 2011. Trust me, it would be almost impossible.

Now unlike Pataki and Romney, I think that if he does run for President in 2012 as a one term Governor, watch out. He’s going to be a fundraising machine, and the smartest guy in the race.

So did last night help him? Nope. Did it hurt him? Just a little blow to his ego, he will probably come out a better candidate because of it.

It’s only Wednesday, and it’s been another bad week for the unions.

First, in what many in the press called a “stunning defeat”, the first of four Big Union bills, Prevailing Wage, went down in flames. Despite the Big Lug twisting arms over the weekend, Big Union members sitting in the gallery and glowering down on Representatives during the debate, and the Speaker’s self-professed Big Irish Temper causing the vote to remain open for three days, the votes just weren’t there.

The loss on prevailing wage puts in serious doubt the other three Big Union Bills. While Speaker Murphy talked a tough line yesterday, and was supported by the Big Lug, one might have to say that the engine in the old Soviet Moskvitch is sputtering a little.

And yesterday, they were dealt another blow, this time in the United States Supreme Court. In a 6-3 opinion, the Court upheld an Idaho state law banning local governments from using payroll deductions to fund union political activities. Five unions and the AFL-CIO argued the law infringed on their First Amendment rights, but the Court disagreed. Reversing the Ninth Circuit, the Court held that the prohibition merely allows the state to avoid subsidizing political activities and does not restrict them (or the First Amendment) in any way.

It is a decision that could strike at Big Labor's ability to raise funds for their political activities. Commonly known as “paycheck protection” laws, in some of the state where they have been enacted there has been a drop in union PAC contributions by up to 50%.

As I wrote about last week, the Big Union agenda is pretty simple: it’s about being subsidized, about taking money from 89.4% of us to benefit the 10.6% of union members in the State. Once you shine a light on their activities, they lose public support. Once you allow people to think and act freely, i.e., paycheck protection laws, their money dries up.

Really, the Unions ought to be a little ashamed of themselves. They just can’t convince workers that union membership adds value anymore. They just resort to scare tactics, coercion and bullying.

Electoral College Bill

Alright you guys win, I’ll mention it briefly. This has to be the stupidest thing that I have seen since Speaker Murphy spent 90 hours keeping the voting machine open, when he could have had a one yes vote change to a no, accept a motion to reconsider. Wait…

Anyway, why on earth a small state like Iowa would support a bill giving our 7 electoral votes to the winner of the popular votes is beyond me. If that would have been in effect last fall that means no big Obama rally for Becky Greenwald to get her ugly on at…

Let me get this straight. Last week the people of Iowa were clear in their opposition to the Prevailing wage legislation. They emailed and called their legislators, who then voted against it. Yet, the Democrat leaders in the House don’t want to listen to the people and those they sent to represent them. So they keep the voting machine open all weekend in hopes that they can force someone to switch their vote. Interesting.

The founders of our nation did a great job; I’m going to side with them on this one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A pattern? I doubt it.

Liberal group attacks Rep. Mertz.

Unions attack Principal for being an ABI member and want Treasury to deny them TARP funds because they're member of a group that objects to the union agenda.

Seems like if they don't like what you say, they'd rather you just not say anything. It's Iowa's Fairness Doctrine.

It ain't fair, but well, it's their Doctrine.

So much for the wide open debate on the issues, change, openess, tolerance, and all that other crap Obama and his goons spread during the campaign.

The Unions assault on Iowa businesses enters a new phase

I thought this was about jobs, good paying jobs, like the ones people who work at Principal Financial Group have…

Guess again, it’s about the Union Bosses, and they are pissed off.

Change to Win Iowa to confront the Principal Financial Group for their questionable involvement with Iowa Association of Business and Industry

(Des Moines) - With the Treasury Department poised to approve the second round of TARP funds, Change to Win has registered its opposition to granting assistance to the Principal Financial Group, which has applied for up to $2 billion under TARP. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Change to Win chair Anna Burger said, Unless and until Treasury can assure hardworking taxpayers that our money is not being used against us, firms like Principal that engage in extensive, gratuitous lobbying are undeserving of TARP assistance.

Change to Win Iowa will be confronting executive officers of the Principal Financial Group at their downtown Des Moines building at 11:00 this morning with a letter from Iowa officers of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Service Employees International Union. Change to Win Iowas dispute with the Principal Financial Group derives from their involvement with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). The ABI has been running an extremely negative and wholly false radio advertisement campaign against a number of pieces of legislation that would benefit Iowa workers.

Merle Peterson, the vice president of government affairs for the Principal Financial Group sits on the ABI board of directors. In 2008, Principal paid ABI $15,000 in membership fees. The ask from Change to Win Iowa is to stop the false radio advertising and drop their membership with ABI. They should not be using their $2 billion of tax payers money to fight bills that benefit Iowa workers and have zero impact on their company.

The text of Change to Win Iowas letter to Principal is pasted below:

February 23, 2009

Dear Mr. Vice-President

The Iowa members of Change to Win are asking for your help. Principal Financial is an important part of our Iowa economy and has a reputation for being a very good employer. In fact, Principals reputation for standing up for the civil rights of their employees is honorable. In many instances we have sat on the same side of the fight for human rights.

But Principals complicit role in anti-worker messaging is intolerable. As active members of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and through the board membership of Merle Petersen, you contribute significant resources to, and facilitate discrimination against members of organized labor.

In these dire financial times, vehemently opposing statutory changes that would empower workers and improve wages for ordinary Iowansnurses, food workers, laborers, police officersis unconscionable. Additionally, Principal Financial is the steward of the retirement resources of many Change to Win members. The same workers who ABI has opposed in their search for a secure middle class existence have been willing to support Principal Financial with their tax dollars.

Principal has the opportunity to influence ABI and help workers. We ask you today to terminate your ABI membership and/or stop the following hostile and false radio ad:
"Once upon a time, a band of union bosses roamed the Iowa countryside threatening hardworking people while claiming to do good deeds. (Sound of ripping paper.) Union bosses in Iowa are writing a very scary fairy tale. They want to make you pay union dues even if you're not a union member. The unions want to fix the cost on every public construction project, and strip our local school boards of their authority. And the unions want to control health care for Iowa workers. Their greed will cost you hundreds of dollars out of your paycheck. It will force local governments deeper in debt and raise our property taxes. It will drive up our health care costs. Please call your legislator today at (515) 281-3221 and tell them this is no fairy tale. Tell them in this story, hardworking Iowans will not live happily ever after."

We also ask you to speak out in our support. We suspect that you know as well as we do that the enactment of Fair Share will have no impact on economic development in Iowa. Please tell the truth and help your clients and benefactors win Fair Share in Iowa.

Thank you,

Jerry Messer, UFCW Sarah Swisher, SEIU Pat Navin, IBT
Quad Cities Iowa City Winterset

More to follow.

Prevailing Wage Fallout - IPERS Fraud

Culver’s Influence Not Enough to Pass Prevailing Wage

Yesterday afternoon Kay Henderson had a column about her interview with House Speaker (for now) Pat Murphy. In it Murphy said that Governor Culver was working behind the scenes trying to influence Democrat legislators to support the legislation. As we all know the legislation failed to pass giving House Leadership a huge defeat, and now it looks like Speaker Murphy wants Culver to take his fair share of the blame too.

While Iowa Democrats tried their best to spin their way out of the defeat they suffered on Friday, and the 90 hour debacle that ensued after the vote, the blame game is now fully in effect. Speaker Murphy is clearly the biggest loser, but Culver is now a close second.

Culver more than anybody needed to olive branch this session to smooth over any bad feelings that were created when he vetoed the only piece of labor legislation that has been able to pass through both chambers, the collective bargaining bill. Now Culver needs to find another way to accomplish that goal before the end of this year’s legislative session. My money is on his $700 million bonding bill.

There is no conceivable way that the legislature can tackle bills like fair share, or collective bargaining after the messy prevailing wage fiasco in the House. If the Democrats try that they are complete morons. Instead, I think that prevailing wage language ends up in Culver’s $700 million dollar bonding proposal. Culver will state that the stimulus money from Father Obama requires a prevailing wage, and to keep things simple and fair, we need to use the same standards when dealing with the State’s bonding money. Its and easy argument for Democrats to make, and it allows Culver to send a $700 million dollar “I’m sorry” note to the union bosses.

Think about that for a moment. Culver is going to use $700 million of our tax dollars, and the tax dollars of some kid who’s in kindergarten right now, to make good with the unions to help his re-election next year. That sure sounds like Illinois and not the Iowa I know and love.

We need to prepare for the next fight.


$339 million dollars of IPERS funds have been frozen from one of its investment firms. This is alarming, and once again I think the main stream media is missing the story or asking the wrong questions. Here is part of the story that I found in the Globe Gazette:

Officials at the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System have terminated a contract with a California investment management firm being investigated and demanded the return of IPERS assets valued at about $339 million.

“I’m not putting any sugar on this one,” said State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, a member of the IPERS Investment Board and fund custodian. “I’m very, very concerned. We have at least $300 million at risk here.”

IPERS spokeswoman Julie Economaki said the action was taken against Westridge Capital Management of Santa Barbara, Calif., which has managed about 2 percent of IPERS’ investment portfolio since March 2007 as the result of a competitive selection process.

So State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald is the custodian of the IPERS fund. That makes sense. He is concerned that two members of Westridge have been suspended by the National Futures Association. That makes sense. But I also read in the story that Westridge was selected in March of 2007 to manage 2% of the fund, so I want to know how much research did IPERS custodian, State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald do when he let Westridge manage $339 million of our state workers retirement money. How did this happen?

I guess I’m sensitive to things like this because Governor Culver wanted to use the state workers retirement fund to invest in his Power Fund, a move that would have been disastrous for our state employees and retirees.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Murphy’s Madness

If the defeat of the Prevailing Wage legislation wasn’t enough, Speaker of the House Pat Murphy drew more attention to the situation by staging a sit in all weekend long in hopes to switch a no vote to a yes vote and pass the legislation. There is just one problem with his strategy; there is no way he comes out looking good. And while I’m sure he would celebrate the 51st vote, the court of public opinion would bemoan the fact that Murphy had to resort to strong arm tactics and a rules loophole to get his way.

Today I want to discuss the fallout, and the winners and losers of what transpired at the Capitol on Friday night and throughout the weekend.

The Fallout:

I found it funny that the Des Moines Register didn’t seem to find the Speaker’s sit in as a news worthy event yet Radio Iowa, and the local TV stations kept checking in on the situation over the weekend. If you are looking for a reason why the newspapers are being phased out, their lack of coverage in their own back yard is all the proof you need. It was a great story, a historic one actually and they failed to cover it. I guess Jennifer Jacobs or Tom Beaumont don’t work weekends or were on furlough, and we all know that Yepsen has already checked out but at least he put up a blog post. If it were me I would have had a live web cam…

The political fallout is pretty simple and straight forward. With Republicans only having 44 votes it should be absolutely impossible for House Republicans to score any victory during the legislative session let alone a major victory over a labor bill which most people thought would pass.

Out of the four labor bills, prevailing wage was seen as one of the slam dunks. Its defeat might mean that the labor agenda will have to be put on the shelf for the rest of this year. If they couldn’t get prevailing wage through, how do they expect to get Fair Share or the collective bargaining bill passed. There is a possibility that Sen. Mike Gronstal passes prevailing wage legislation in the State Senate with language that is acceptable to someone like Rep. McKinley Bailey, but I think that’s a long shot and puts Bailey is a really bad position politically. Doing something like that would be very short sided for Iowa Democrats. I think the labor issues are dead for the time being.


Loser: Pat Murphy

I’ll go on record saying that Pat Murphy will not be the Speaker of the House a year from now. That’s right; he’s not going to last through the next election. Murphy has never been seen as the brightest legislator at the Capitol, and his mishandling of the Prevailing Wage legislation is unacceptable to the most important constituent group in the Democrat Party. If people think the Unions don’t like Culver, their feelings toward Murphy after the defeat on the floor and a terrible PR stunt is even worse.

Loser: Chet Culver

I couldn’t believe that Culver came out publically in support of Murphy’s decision to keep the voting machine open all weekend. Heck, it wasn’t till the bill was defeated that people knew where Culver stood on the bill. The only thing that makes sense is that Culver wanted to sign some labor bills in advance of his re-election campaign. Now he may not get that opportunity. Ouch.

Push: Kevin McCarthy

This one might surprise you, but McCarthy is throwing Murphy under the bus behind the scenes with is Labor Union friends. McCarty’s statements to the press after the bill failed to reach the needed 51 votes were very telling, and he’s the guy positioned to be the next leader of the House Dems.

Winner: Iowa Taxpayers

There is no doubt that that passing this legislation would have increased the cost of public projects in the state and that tab would have been passed on to the taxpayer.

Winner: The 5 Dems

Reps. Quirk, Bailey, Marek, Mertz, and Kelly all deserve a lot of credit for standing on their principles. Iowans reward legislators who do what’s right for their districts, not political party.

Winner: Kraig Paulsen

Now I’m sure that there are some people who think that this victory fell into Paulsen’s lap. While I have been a tad bit critical of him, it was Paulsen who got the debate moved from late in the night on Thursday to mid-day on Friday with a time limit on debate. These things are easy to overlook, but at the end of the day they were very important development. The extra time allowed the public more time to influence the debate, and I think it’s safe to say that on Thursday night Larry Marek and McKinley Bailey vote for the bill.

Winner: Outside Influencers

I’m surprised and encouraged that outside groups such as the Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Progress Project, Newspapers, and Blogs can still get the public engaged in a short period of time. While ABI and IPP hit the airwaves with Radio Ads that helped shape the debate, it was the blogs and people like Rep. Chris Rants who shined a bright light on the deal making going on with Marek and Bailey. Without that type of transparency I don’t think this bill gets defeated.

Loser: The Voting Machine

It just timed out for the 3rd time! Who made this thing Diebold?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rep. Larry Marek stands firm on his NO vote.

Rep. Larry Marek told his constituents at his legislative forum this morning that he is firm in his opposition to the prevailing wage legislation. Krusty kudos to Marek for keeping his word.

One has to wonder how long Speaker Murphy will hold the machine open and who will he get to switch their vote. He has run out of options, and even the voting machine crapped out this morning. Here is the press release from the House Republicans.

Man vs. Machine: House Republicans win another round

(DES MOINES) – Long after last night’s vote on the prevailing wage bill, the legislative vote machine timed out this morning, clearing the whole electronic voting board in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Democratic leadership was forced to re-enter the votes manually, re-opening the machine, which clearly was not constructed with the intention of staying open so long. Typically, the machine is closed immediately following a vote. House Speaker Pat Murphy, however, has kept the machine open, hoping someone will switch from a “no” vote.

“House Republicans continue to remain vigilant in this chamber, even if we outlast the voting machine itself,” said House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen. “Republicans believe this bill was rightly defeated, Iowa taxpayers agree, and now even the machine has said ‘enough.’ We hope the speaker will do the right thing, shut down voting and allow us to focus on other things – like how to revive Iowa’s economy, how to create new jobs and how to fix the state’s budget deficit.”

# # #

Murphy is an embarrassment to our state. I guess he is just following the democrat play book that says when you lose a close one just keep counting votes. It seems to be working for Al Franken, but I don’t think Speaker Murphy is going to be as lucky.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Prevailing Wage Stuck at 50-46

Reps. McKinley Baily and Larry Marek both voted no, and left the building.

Voting Machine still open.

One vote short of passage.

Major blow to House Leadership.

Speaker Murphy will keep the voting machine open until Monday at 1 p.m. meaning he will have to sleep in the chamber.

Strong Arm tactics no match to the court of public opinion.

Rep. McKinley Bailey folds…then does the right thing and votes no!

The young are always so impressionable…

Bailey who was thought to be one of the few Pro-Business Democrats, looks to be the vote McCarthy and Murphy need to pass the prevailing wage legislation. Don’t worry; I’m sure he will be pro-business when the next campaign rolls around. Pathetic.

Update: The amendment Baily wanted included didn't make the cut and he voted no.

Prevailing Wage: Day Two

I had a loyal Krustacean help me with the video, with the economy I had to outsource it…

Yesterday the State House was going to start debating the prevailing wage bill at 9 a.m., then it was pushed back to the afternoon, then it was going to start at 9 pm, and then they called it a night. Now we are told the debate will begin today at noon and last no more than five hours. We will see.

So what went on last night? Here is what I’ve been able to find out.

As the day turned into night, House Republicans were very vocal about their opposition of debating this bill under the cover of darkness. Why was it so important for the prevailing wage bill that it could not wait until today? Republican’s won that battle. It’s one of their strongest arguments, if you are going to raise taxes on mom and pop contractors which could put them out of business you better be willing to do it while the people are awake and can follow the proceedings. With all of this talk about transparency, Republicans had a point.

I’ve also heard that Rep. Larry Marek was locked up in solitary confinement most of last night (Speaker Murphy’s office). Obviously Marek’s vote is key, and Murphy doesn’t want anyone to change his mind, even his constituents who are lighting up his phone.

I say we keep calling Marek and tell him to keep his promise to his constituents and vote against prevailing wage. His phone number in the house is 515-281-3221. If he doesn’t answer you can probably get him in the speaker’s office, that number is 515-281-5566.

Republicans are ready for the debate and plan to offer the following amendments:

H-1049 by Horbach strikes the entire bill and replaces with intent language that the Labor Commissioner must post the prevailing prior to the General Assembly debating a prevailing wage mandate

H-1041 by Tymeson changes the title to “Price Fixing for Public Improvements Act”

H-1042 by Tymeson adds language stating this section not be construed to promote or approve the price fixing of labor rates by competing contractors on public improvement projects

H-1030 by Watts adds language protecting local taxpayers from higher property taxes that result from inflated public improvement costs due to fringe benefits.

H-1028 by Watts states that “fringe benefits” do not include non-essential administrative costs associated with third-party trustees (attempts to eliminate a slush fund for the trade unions)

H-1036 by Horbach states that the prevailing wage rate is not required to be paid to union employees unless the unions can verify that all of its officers and employees are legal United States residents

H-1039 by Grassley, Schulte and Pettengill exempts disaster-related expenditures from prevailing wage, disaster-related expenditures means expenditures that include any state funding for a public improvement in an area that the governor has proclaimed a disaster emergency or the United States president has declared a major disaster during 2008 and in an area that experiences a disaster on or after January 1, 2009.

H-1040 by Van Engelenhoven requires the Attorney General and State Auditor to work with the Labor Commissioner to develop rules for the Act, this is necessary for added transparency to the process

H-1029 by Watts removes the authority of the commissioner to administer oaths, take depositions and subpoena the books, registers and payrolls of the contractors and subcontractors.

H-1037 by Helland removes punitive damages from the punishments, contractors would still be liable for wages and reasonable attorney fees (punitive damages were added in Labor Committee)

H-1043 by Tymeson tries to prevent union harassment of employees by not allowing them to collect union dues on the job site

H-1026 by Watts gives the State Auditor jurisdiction over third-party fringe funds in order to prove that the unions aren’t using prevailing wage for non-essential administrative expenditures

H-1032 by Horbach states that it is a violation of the Act to intimidate, threaten or interfere with the work of any person who is not working under a prevailing wage system on a public improvement

H-1048 by Lukan requires that the Labor Commissioner’s posting comply with the English only law

H-1059 by Struyk states that any employer who refuses to use the federal eligibility program (e-verify) shall not be eligible for public assistance

H-1060 by Struyk directs the Department of Public Safety to study the feasibility of developing a statewide database system designed to provide information related to the immigration status of a person

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Republican Come Back? Maybe…

Michael Jordon did it, as did Lance Armstrong, Mario Andretti, and Brett Farve seems to do it on a yearly basis. They retire, and walk away from the game or sport in which they are dominate only to see those who try to fill their shoes fail miserably.

If you want to understand why Republicans in Iowa don’t have a long list of potential gubernatorial candidates, or even future legislative leaders, you need look no further than the long list of excellent legislators who have walked away, or sought higher office. People like Sandy Greiner. Chuck Larson, Jr., Jeff Lamberti, Steve Sukup, Willard Jenkins, Bill Dix, Jeff Elgin, Kitty Rehberg, Libby Jacobs, Paul Pate, Bill Schickel, Chuck Gipp, Brent Siegrist, and Dan Boddicker. And that’s just the folks off the top of my head.

With Governor Culver and the Democrats driving the state off a cliff, I wonder what the possibility of seeing some of these former legislators with plenty of gas left in the tank come back to help push back or correct the failed Democrat policies for the past few years. Maybe they don’t run for their old seats, but having them as candidate for state house, senate or statewide offices would be incredible. If that’s too much to ask for, they could be helpful in recruiting and mentoring candidates in their home areas or come to Des Moines to help our current legislators.

It might not be as farfetched of an idea as you may think. Apparently former State Rep. Sandy Greiner will be at the State Capitol today during some of the prevailing wage debate, and there are rumors out of Washington County that she has reopened her campaign account over Larry Marek’s flip-flop over labor issues.

Destroy the Rebuild Iowa Office

Destroy the Rebuild Iowa Office

So the other day there was a big hullabaloo over the fact that Culver responded to all the criticism over the Rebuild Iowa Office. Yes the Governor cut the salaries of the employees, but in my opinion those salaries are still out of whack. There are 19 employees in that office and the average salary is $75k a year. The median family income in Iowa is just over $44,000.00, which is what the lowest earner in the Rebuild Iowa Office makes.

Folks we are spending $1.5 million a year on salaries that are not needed. Those who opposed the creation of this new government bureaucracy from the state were correct. There are other state agencies that are better suited in dealing with these issues. For example the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division claims on their website that they help coordinate activities before, during, and after emergencies through partnerships with local, state, federal and private agencies. Isn’t that exactly what the Rebuild Iowa Office claims to be doing?

We don’t need to simply adjust salaries downward at the Rebuild Iowa Office; we need close it down and let IHSEMD lead the recovery effort. With the budget crisis and the fact that such a move would allow for more dollars to go directly to flood victims, this seems like a common sense approach.

How Much is too Much, and when is Enough, Enough?

David Yepsen has an interesting column today, saying that the he think that the reason legislators are still advancing the idea of the gas tax even though the governor continues to say he is opposed to it is because they are using it as leverage. Basically if Culver wants to get his $700 million dollar bonding proposal through, he’s going to have to change his position on the gas tax.

Which leaves me to ask a simple question, how much money do they need? The Time 21 Study says that they need an extra $200 million a year for the next 20 years to fix Iowa’s roads and bridges. Now we all know how government works, they WANT $200 million, what they need is probably less. I don’t know of any state agency that would submit a request of what they actually need, it’s just not how the game is played.

Speaking of “the game,” we also know that before that 20 years is up Time 21 will want to adjust the $200 million a year by adding in inflation rates, and when the 20 years is up we are going to have to do a Time 22 Study because my gosh, some of these roads are 20 years old… You get the picture.

Anyway so let’s look at what Chet Culver and the democrats really want to spend on roads in the next few years. Is it the $600 million that Time 21 is requesting? Nope, its $1.6 billion dollars, and the scary part is I think my numbers are low because I couldn’t find solid per year numbers for the increased income from the vehicle registration increases.

Here is the breakdown is the gas tax and Culver’s bonding proposal pass:

Increased Vehicle Registration: $115 Million
Increased Gas Tax: $483 Million ($161 million a year)
Culver’s Bonding Proposal: $700 Million
Obama’s Infrastructure: $358 Million

That’s $1,655,000,000.00

And you know what’s going to happen in year four, the Iowa DOT is going to raise holy hell that they don’t have the money they had in previous years to fix the roads.

What’s my point, you have enough money to comply with time 21’s request so don’t make me pay more at the pump.

Prevailing Wage Toss Up or Done Deal?

Yesterday, Rep. Christopher Rants posed on his blog that the Democrats have found the votes they needed to pass the prevailing wage legislation. His explanation seems logical, but my other sources tell me that the House Democrats spent 6 hours in caucus yesterday. Obviously, there is something going on. And to back up that point, Rep. Larry Marek who told his constituents he opposed these labor bills on Saturday is now all of a sudden in the midst of a flip flop on the issue. He wouldn’t have to change his mind if they could pass it without him. Debate on the bill is scheduled for today; I guess we will have an answer soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I don’t know what’s going on with the comment section in today’s post. Sometimes they don’t show up, other times they do but you can’t see the new comments. I have contacted blogger so we will see what happens. I guess I can’t complain too much about a free site and service…

The march toward communism continues…

I don’t know what the deal is lately, but it sure seems that I’m getting under peoples skin. Maybe it’s being confined to the Krusty Konservative World Headquarters during these winter months, or maybe it’s because I believe there are some things worth fighting for. As many of you know, I’m a passionate person and I tend to drone on and on certain issues that I care deeply about or don’t want to see screwed up.

So for those people who get a little angry with me, just remember I do what I do because I care. I want to see the gas tax defeated, I want to see those Republicans who support raising it find other ways to pay for our roads. I want to see Bob Vander Plaats become a better candidate for Governor than he’s been in the past, and I want to see a strong unified effort to defeat the four bills the Labor Unions are trying to pass through the legislature.

You know I learned a lot from my coaches in high school. To this day I still live by some of the things they said to me. Sayings like, “if it was easy everyone would do it,” or “you’ve got to want it.” The other thing that I learned is that when the coach yells at you at half time, it’s because they know you can do better. If they didn’t think so they would spend the time coaching up your backup instead of trying to motivate you. I have not called for anyone to be benched; I just want to see some better play out on the court.

Speaking of better play on the court, the Association of Business and Industry is out with a new media campaign fighting back against the Labor Unions. I’m told ABI’s grassroots media campaign will include radio, web, and direct mail. ABI’s message is a simple one:

“Only a small percentage of Iowans belong to unions, but these bills force the union agenda on all Iowans. It’s a fairy tale if they believe that these measures won't drive up property taxes, health care costs, and decrease the paychecks of working families,” said Mike Ralston, ABI President. "We want to encourage all Iowans to share their views with legislators on these controversial proposals that will cause real damage to our job climate,” he added.

I couldn’t agree more.

Chet Culver and the Democrats increased spending by a billion dollars in just two years. This reckless spending has now caused a budget crisis that is now affecting every service that state government provides. Culver’s lazy approach to the problem will force local governments to increase property taxes. If they hadn’t done enough damage to the state, they now want to absolutely ruin Iowa’s business climate, or what’s left of it by passing these labor bills.

So why should you care about these four bills? Maybe this will help motivate you:

You will be forced to pay union dues even if you're not a member.

Your health care costs will skyrocket because they want to turn Iowa's well-respected worker's compensation system on its head.

Your property taxes will immediately go higher, as school boards will lose their authority to control contract costs, and municipalities will be forced to pay construction costs that are set by union wage levels, not competitive bidding.

The story the labor unions are telling the people of Iowa is a fairy tale as ABI says.

The unions say they speak for average, hard working Iowans. WRONG, they speak for only about 12% of Iowa workers

The unions also say that this really won't cost us anything. WRONG, it’s going to drive up costs, and force local communities to increase property taxes.

The unions want to cut competition, raise construction prices, raise wage levels for union bosses, cut deeper into non-union worker's paychecks, and put increased pressure on the highest property tax structure in the country as well as our health care system that is already teetering on the abyss.

The union agenda doesn’t sound like the American Dream which was instilled in me as a young child. You know the idea that if you work hard and take care of yourself you can accomplish anything. Instead the union dream sure sounds like it came straight for the Communist Manifesto, something which I encourage all of you to read, because it sure seems like that’s where we are heading.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Labor Pains

The legislative session is about a third of the way through and already we have had a number of interesting issues come up. We have seen the idea of selling the Iowa Lottery for quick cash come and go a couple of times. There has been a healthy debate on increasing the gas tax, the disaster that is the Rebuild Iowa Office, and Culver’s budget mess. But where is the vocal opposition in the legislature when it comes to the four big labor bills that the Democrats are pushing?

Sadly, there isn’t much coming from House and Senate Republicans on these issues, at least not yet. In fact, I’m getting the same feeling I had when same day voter registration passed through without any attention what so ever. Now I understand that there are plenty of things we don’t see that are going on at the state capitol, but these are big time issues that will have a huge impact on our state, and I would think our legislators would want all of these bills being discussed all across the state, not just in committee rooms in Des Moines.

Last night there was a forum on the prevailing wage legislation. I’m told only one person spoke against it. That’s pathetic. Where are the pro business groups? Where are the business owners? Couldn’t each Republican member find one person in their district to come to Des Moines and speak out against the bill? I know we are in the minority but you just don’t bend over and take it. For us to effectively push back on issues like these we need the public on our side, and if our legislators are not out there getting their constituents fired up, we are bound to lose this battle. Mark my words, we lost this one. Will we stand up against the other three?

While there is no doubt that Republican’s are against these bills, our Republican leaders need to be rallying the troops and educating Iowans on how disruptive these bills would be to Iowa’s business climate.

Follow up on Vander Plaats

Yesterday I wrote about Bob Vander Plaats and once again his supporters think I’m being unfair. I’m not going to apologize for wanting to see a little substance, especially when dealing with a gubernatorial candidate. Our state has serious problems, and I’m looking for a candidate who can provide some solutions. Is that out of line? Is that too much to ask for?

If Vander Plaats wants some good coverage on this blog he simply needs to do some things that get my attention. I think I’ve been extremely helpful in providing him some questions he needs to be out there answering. Bob needs to convince me that he would be a good Governor. While it is obvious some people are already convinced, I on the other hand want to see some indications of what he would do differently, and that means providing me with some specifics.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What about Bob?

Its been 21 days since Bob Vander Plaats announced his campaign for Governor; and while a number of other candidates have indicated interest, Vander Plaats remains the only official candidate in the field to date. Vander Plaats was clear when he announced his campaign last month that an official announcement would come later in the year after he has tested the waters. For those of you new to politics “testing the waters” means can I raise enough money to run an actual campaign.

There is no doubt that Vander Plaats is trying to tap into Governor Mike Huckabee’s supporters from last year’s caucuses. In fact, I’m told that Vander Plaats plans to attend a HuckPAC house party in Urbandale on February 26th. While attending events like these are no brainers for Vander Plaats he also needs to expand his following outside of those groups if he wants to be successful in June of 2010.

While I know we are still more than a year from the primary, I’ve been surprised by the lack of buzz created by Vander Plaats since announcing his candidacy. First, I thought Vander Plaats would have responded directly to State Senator Mike Gronstal’s challenge about what and where to cut in the state budget. This is the advantage of being the only candidate in the race, yet Vander Plaats have been mum on the subject. Additionally he has been silent on the hullabaloo over the management of the Rebuild Iowa Office. I know the focus is on raising money, but being covered in the press does wonders for your campaign coffer.

Vander Plaats did talk to the Iowa Independent on Friday saying that the current budget crisis provides the state with an opportunity to cut spending outside of our priorities. I know I’m picky but I’d like to see him give some specifics. Heck, I’m a little disturbed that his website doesn’t have any information on any issues. I know some new candidates sometimes struggle to fill out their issue page, but Vander Plaats has been around long enough to know where he stands on most issues that voters care about.

One thing that should concern Vander Plaats is the fact that David Yepsen thinks more of his campaign’s state chair Rep. Jodi Tymeson than his own candidacy. The way I read Yepsen’s article it seemed to me that David doesn’t realize that Tymeson is Vander Plaats’ state chair. That’s a problem, and while Yepsen is known for mailing it in on occasion, Tymeson was part of Vander Plaats announcement tour.

Maybe Bob should spend a little more time talking to Yepsen at the Register, than doing an interview with Iowa Independent which is funded by Tim Gill, a gay rights activist.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kevin McCarthy’s Night Court Comments Come True

Shenanigans? Details of Rep. Burt’s Arrest Blacked Out

It seems that the police report from Rep. Kerry Burt’s arrest is creating more questions than providing his constituents answers about what really happened early Wednesday morning. Even personal information that is typically released has been blacked out. Charlotte Eby has the story here.

In Eby’s story the Ankeny Police Captain said, “Let me put it to you like this, we took an accident report, but I cannot put Kerry Burt behind the wheel at the accident, OK?” So, I know this sounds ridiculous, but I can’t specifically say that he was driving at the time of an accident. However, I can say that when our officers stopped Mr. Burt, that he was driving and we are – as a result of our investigation -- charging him with operating while under the influence of alcohol.”

I think people need a little more than the generic apology that Burt issued yesterday when he said, “I will work to assure that I never have a similar incident." Maybe he was still hung over, but that sentence doesn’t really make sense.

Another person I would like to hear from is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. You see back in October McCarthy was feeding the Des Moines Register court records of a few Republican candidates. In fact this is what he was quoted in the Register saying:

"If these candidates were elected to office, would not be a stretch that we would need to establish night court at the state Capitol, together with a bailiff and maybe bring in Jerry Springer to cover it."

Well since McCarthy’s golden boys got in trouble, he has some explaining to do. It is appropriate to hold McCarthy to the same high standard he was holding Republicans to back in October.

RIO Facebook Staffer Strikes Again

Facebook Rio staffer, Jacqui DiGiacinto, set up the visit where Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t actually tour any of the flood damaged communities, instead she watched a DVD. DiGiacinto’s Facebook status said that she was in Cedar Rapids preparing for the event 3 days before the event occurred.

Seriously, how some of these people still have job?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pelosi Sends Mighty Mouse to Stimulate American Economy

Iowa State Busted for Being Stupid

My Lord, first the Rebuild Iowa is messing around on Facebook all day.

Culver’s Communication staff is busy trying to provide for the RIO office by attacking Rep. Rants on something he didn’t have any control over.

Governor Culver has the Homeland Security Director come to Cedar Rapids to watch a DVD. (Great Read by Hawkeye Review)

And now Iowa State University is spending time producing a knock off of the TV show The Office. I was amused for a few minutes, but then started thinking about how much time and money went into this. Our tax dollars at work!

No wonder we have a budget crisis!

Democrat Legislator Busted for Drunk Driving

A freshman state lawmaker from Waterloo has been arrested for operating while intoxicated in Polk County. State Rep. Kerry Burt, a Democrat from Waterloo, was arrested Wednesday at 2:34 a.m. in Ankeny for operating while intoxicated, according to a police report obtained from the Ankeny Police Department. Burt, a native of Waterloo, also is a member of Waterloo Fire Rescue.

Voters elected Burt, 44, to his first term in the Iowa Legislature in November, when he defeated incumbent Republican Tami Wiencek. Burt also is known for his football career at the University of Iowa, where he was an All-American from 1983 to 1987, according to a biography on his campaign Web site.

Burt is expected to release a statement through a spokesman later today

Blog Wars – Krusty vs. The Des Moines Register, RIO, and Culver Press Shop

Yesterday I posted about Rebuild Iowa staffers creating a Facebook fan club in support of their controversial boss Emily Hajek, another example of the lack of professionalism in the Rebuild Iowa Office. To my surprise last night, I noticed that the Des Moines Register political staff had a post about Rep. Christopher Rants spending $78,000 to carpet the House Republican office last year. Quoted in the story was Troy Price, a Culver spokesman.

The problem is the Register never thought to call Rants about the incident. In an email exchange, Rants told me:

“Ya know, you'd think the DMR might have called me to ask about it.... If they had the conversation would have started like this, Hmmmm, unlike Patty Judge, I specifically told them NOT to install any new carpet."

Rants then posted this on his website:

The DM Register’s Bias is Showing

So is their sloppy reporting…

So the DMR posted on their blog yesterday an attack from the Governor’s office that taxpayers’ dollars had been spent to replace carpeting in the Republican Leader’s office at the time I was the leader.

Before we get to the timelines and the inaccurate accusations by the Governor’s office, let me say first, it would have been nice if the “reporter” at the DMR would have picked up the phone and called me to ask. But it is a habit of the Register to write stories that attack Republicans and their proposals without asking them for comment. Puts a whole new take on the idea of the “fairness doctrine.”

So, let’s look at the facts and the timetable.

On Christmas Eve 2004 a pipe froze and broke in the northeast dome of the capitol building, and water came pouring out. The water flooded offices from the third floor to the basement. The next day the DMR published a photo of the water running down the steps outside the capitol. Damaged by the water were third floor committee rooms, the chief clerk’s office on the 2nd floor, the minority leader and staff offices (home to Pat Murphy and the Democrats at the time) on the 1st floor, and non-partisan Legislative Service Agency staff offices in the basement. Ceiling caved in, paint bubbled and peeled, and carpeting was ruined.

In the spring 2005, the replacement carpeting was purchased. It was stored in the attic of the capitol – yes there is an attic above the chambers, which is a really interesting place to visit, I found an old desk there once that I used in the Speaker’s office.

In the summer of 2007 the replacement carpeting was installed in a portion of the Chief Clerks office.

In the fall of 2008 the Department of Administrative Services, the executive branch agency that handles capitol maintenance, let the bid for the installation of the replacement carpeting in the remaining offices.

In the summer of 2008 the replacement carpeting was installed in the minority leader’s office, caucus staff offices, and the remaining portions of the Chief Clerk’s office.

When last I checked, the state was in mediation with the contractor, Neumann Bros, for payment to cover the cost of damages. At issue is whether or not the contractor improperly installed the pipe, as it should have been protected from freezing. The responsibility for paying for the replacement carpeting – and the replacement of the ceiling in the basement, the repairing of the walls in the stairwells, and the damaged computer equipment – all lies with the contractor and not with the taxpayer.

The DM Register would know this if they had asked anyone; me, the Chief Clerk of the House, the people responsible for maintenance of the building, even the contractor. But instead they apparently just took the barb from the Governor’s office and ran with it.

I did not ask for carpeting to be installed. In fact, I asked my staff to not have it installed because I thought it would look awful in light of the disaster. I was told, however, that the carpet was already in hand, and the bids had been issued and the work contracted for the previous year.

An additional bit of sloppy reporting - the DMR reported that my office was 2,335 square feet. The capitol floor plan shows that my office was 412 square feet.

While the DMR is a willing accomplice in this misleading attack, I know that its origins lie in the Governor’s office. After all, Troy Price, Culver’s spin meister is the only person quoted in the article. Perhaps the Governor and his agents don’t understand the difference between requesting that something be done, and having something done without their consent. It’s clear they are anxious to deflect any criticism or demand for accountability, but now we know that they have become so desperate as to make things up.

This whole ordeal shows us two things.

First, The Register bias toward Democrats is obnoxious. I seriously wonder if Culver’s press shop has the ability to post whatever they want on the blog section of the Register.

Second, it shows that the immaturity that is apparent in the Rebuild Iowa Office also exists in the Governor’s office. I find that troubling. We have serious issues like flood recovery and a financial crisis to deal with, and they are all consumed by what’s being discussed what’s on a little blog like Krusty Konservative.

If elected Governor I promise to hire grown-ups.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Rebuild Iowa Office staff has a little too much time on their hands…

Sure we’ve talked about the obsessive salaries, the incompetence, and the 19 grand for new carpet, but it just keeps getting worse.

Jacquie DiGiacinto, a RIO staffer has created a Facebook page called “Open to any one who thinks Emily Hajek is one amazingly cool person.” I wonder how flood victims feel about this? Seriously, don’t we have better things to do? Shouldn’t they have gotten the message that they need to straighten up because people are watching their every move.

It’s a secret site so I can’t see what’s going on there, but you can email them at I sent them a note, so should you.


Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and Susan Collins are pawns. Seriously can someone tell me why they are even Republicans? I don’t get it.

Another thing.

For my entire adult life the Democrats have been attacking trickle-down economics. To Republicans trickle-down economics provided tax cuts or other benefits to businesses and individuals. They would then take those incentives and create jobs, expand existing businesses, and reinvest; all of which would benefit the American economy.

Now we have a united Democrat Party and three Republican pawns who keep throwing trillions of dollars at these huge banks and corporations because they are too large to fail. The reasoning behind this approach is that the benefit of giving them taxpayer money is that it will trickle-down to help all of us someway or somehow.

What about the American people? It’s our money they are giving away!

The Gas Tax Can Wait

So you all know I absolutely hate the idea of raising the Gas Tax during these difficult economic times. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in investing in our roads and infrastructure. If you listen to any of the legislators who support the gas tax increase you would think that Iowa hasn’t done anything to recently to help fund road improvements, which simply isn’t true.

Last year the legislation was passed and signed into law that increased vehicle registration fees substantially in our state. The increase in registration fees was one of the recommendations from the Time-21 study. The problem the legislators are having is that money isn’t rolling in fast enough. Remember Time-21 says that $200 million is needed per year at a minimum, but we should remember Time-21 is the Iowa DOT and just like every state agency they are lobbying for money. Just because state money goes for roads or schools does not mean we shouldn’t scrutinize their request.

I find it ironic that the story here isn’t about Speaker Murphy and Supreme Leader Mike Gronstal both wanting the increase and Governor Culver opposing it. Last session it was news worthy when they were at odds over labor issues, but we are not hearing anything about this dispute. Republicans need to be more disciplined, if the Governor is public in his opposition to the tax why on earth would anyone in the minority party think it’s a good idea to even address this issue until he publicly says he would sign it into law.

I don’t know why on earth we need to do this now. Like any family going through tough economic times we can fix what’s critically important now, and do the rest later. We also might be wise to see that the federal stimulus will mean to Iowa. If they want to fund shovel ready projects, nothing is better than roads. It also means that things bike trails will have to wait as I have yet to see major economic development take place around them.

I think the gas tax debate also feds into the labor bills that will be up for debate. On one hand we have all of these needs in terms of road construction, but at the same time they are pushing 4 huge labor bills which would raise the cost of construction exponentially. Which one is more important, roads, or the 12% of Iowans who belong to a labor union? I think we know that answer.

Finally, I’m troubled by the fact that Time 21 will not say what the immediate priorities are. They say they don’t want to politicize specific projects. What if there is some sort of bridge to nowhere? It’s our money they are spending; shouldn’t we know where it’s going? In FY07 Iowa received around $1.5 billion from state and local taxes and the feds, thats a lot of money for roads but yet we are being told another $200 million is a life and death matter. Meanwhile, I’m told that the Road Use Fund has more money it in now than ever before.

Would the goverment please stop taxing me. Go and find more money elsewhere in the budget to fix our roads. $200 million isn’t all that much to find in a $6.2 billion dollar budget; however the $400 to $500 a year a family will pay in increased taxes will hurt them.

I also was thrilled to see Iowans for Tax Relief come out against the gas tax. Historically they have been neutral in this matter. There help will be critical in getting Iowa Republicans to say no to higher gas taxes. Krusty Kudos to my good friends ins Muscatine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

8 Cents a Gallon! GAS Attack!!! (Update)

HSB 164 was introduced today by the House Transportation Committee.

The bill would increase taxes on gas and diesel fuel by 4 cents when the bill is signed, and then by an additional 4 cents on Jan 1, 2010. I’ll have more on this tomorrow. But if you’re one of my Republican friends who want to support this I’ll leave you with the following to chew on.

Our state will spend 17 million dollars a day under Culver’s proposed budget. Don’t tell me there isn’t $200 million somewhere in that 6.2 BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET that could be used to fix our roads. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Fund the priorities, you have all claimed that roads and infrastructure are one of the top priorities of state government, so find other places that are not priorities to cut.

For the few of you who are delusional and think this will not happen. The ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee is for it, the Republican Leader in the House is for it, the Farm Bureau is for it, and Bill Northey is for it. This will absolutely kill us if we help pass it. People are losing their jobs and you want them to pay more at the pump? You better be willing to put that one on your door knocker.

More tomorrow.

ITR Came out against the bill today, and they have been neutral on previous gas tax increases. Sorry for any confusion, I was basing their stance on the Register's interview with ITR's President, Ed Failor, Jr.

Iowa a Monarchy?

Congressman Steve King is the latest to indicate that he might run for Governor in 2010. King joins perennial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, Secretary of Ag Bill Northey, State Auditor Dave Vaudt, businessman Bruce Rastetter, State Representative Rod Roberts, and syndicated blogger Krusty Konservative in exploring a potential run for Governor.

King’s presence in a primary would create difficulties for any other candidate as nobody carries as much weight with Iowa conservatives as King does. King also has flexed some fundraising muscle as of late which could signal a possible nod to the future. That said I believe it would be very difficult for King to give up his congressional seat to run against an incumbent governor.

Who will join the party next? Stay tuned.

Rapid Consolidation of Schools?

The Register has an article today where Sen. Matt McCoy says he wants to consolidate districts with 750 or less students. This is a lot like Governor Culver dealing with the budget crisis with across the board cuts instead of cutting the fat. This too is a lazy approach if you ask me.

Consolidation should first be done to guarantee every student has the same educational opportunities in each district across the state. So if a school cannot provide advanced math and science courses for instance then consolidation is probably needed.

If large consolidated districts lead to better educated kids and more cost effective schools, the Des Moines School District should be the model district right? They are far from that. The goal needs to be the best product (educated kids) we can produce. I think the 750 number seems too high, especially in Iowa’s rural areas. That said, I do think there are schools that need to consolidate and it’s no secret to the people in those communities. Let’s start with those districts before we start floating out some arbitrary number.

I wonder is General Dardis regrets joining the Culver administration…

Seriously, this guy is now defending the purchase of carpet in the Rebuild Iowa Office. Read Kay Henderson’s carpet report here.

The Rebuild Iowa Office is just a huge bureaucracy, and it funds itself by skimming off money that is supposed to be going to flood victims. Instead they are spending over 200k on salaries for their communications staff, Emily Hajek the Chief of Staff and former Culver fundraiser made 66k last year in her government job, and now she’s making 120k. Heck she’s so stupid they don’t let her go to meetings with Legislators anymore. Seriously the Chief of Staff of Rebuild Iowa can’t meet with the legislators?

And why are these people not working out of Cedar Rapids? Wait, Chet says he wants to work out of Iowa City. I think he really just wants to hit the bars in the ped mall.

This is a scam and it’s being funded by the people they are supposed to be helping.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Big Labor Week

Big Labor is going to be the focus this week in the State Legislature. While we celebrated the defeat of Fair Share and the expansion collective bargaining agreement is years past, they keep coming back, and they will continue to do so until their wish list is enacted.

This year the game plan is to spread the field. So instead of focusing on what they really want, they instead are advancing four separate pieces of legislation; Fair Share, Prevailing Wage, Choice of Doctor, and expanding Iowa’s collective bargaining law.

With this approach they will get some of this legislation passed. The question is how much and which ones. If I was a betting man, I think their main objective is passing some version of Fair Share. The rest will be determined by what type of opposition the Republicans put up. If they roll over without a fight, they might just pass all four of these.

IDP and RPI tab Executive Directors

If you ever wanted some proof that Republicans have turned the corner in this state, one needs to only look at who will be running the day-today operations of the political parties in Iowa. Strawn’s choice is Jeff Boeyink, the former President of Iowans for Tax Relief. Boeyink brings a ton of experience to the table.

Leading the Iowa Democrats is Norm Sterzenbach. Sterzenbach ran Patty Judge’s gubernatorial campaign, and then was Culver’s deputy campaign manager in 2006. This last cycle Sterzenbach served as Political Director at IDP. There is no doubt that Culver and Judge are making sure that their people are running their Party, but the best and brightest Iowa Dems are now out of state.

Krusty Kudos to Strawn, this is a good move.

Krusty Wish List

I really want to see Tom Harkin head to HHS. Why? To get him out of the Senate, but also I would love to see a 2010 cycle with two US Senate campaigns and a Gubernatorial Campaign. Man that would be awesome, and good for Republicans too. Unless we help the Dems pass the Gas Tax….

9.7 trillion!?!

The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.

Think about that for a second.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jeff Boeyink to serve as RPI’s Executive Director

Earlier today RPI Chairman Matt Strawn sent an email to the State Central Committee and other Republican leaders in the state letting them know that he will be forwarding Jeff Boeyink’s name to be his ED. Boeyink brings a ton of experience from his time with Iowan’s for Tax Relief.

This is a good hire, we are lucky to have someone of his qualifications run the day-to-day operation at the Republican Party of Iowa

Michael Steele in Legal Trouble

Yesterday RNC Chairman Michael Steele fired most of the 100 people who worked at the RNC. Today, Steele finds himself in legal trouble which could lead to him being removed as Chairman.

The Washington Post has a story about Steele’s campaign spending. Its not just your typical run of the mill story, the Feds are involved. You can read the story here, below are some of the interesting parts of the article.

In one of his allegations, Fabian points to a February 2007 payment by Steele's Senate campaign of more than $37,000 to Brown Sugar Unlimited, the company run by Steele's sister, Monica Turner. Campaign finance records list the expense as having been for "catering/web services." Turner filed papers to dissolve the company 11 months before the payment was received.

In a separate allegation, Fabian described the bank withdrawal. After the 2006 election, an aide transferred the funds that had been raised for Steele's lieutenant governor campaign -- more than $600,000 -- out of what had been the campaign's bank account.

The money had been raised for Steele in concert with Ehrlich (former Governor). Much of it, in fact, had been brought in by Ehrlich's team, said a senior Republican fundraiser and as well as a former Steele aide, each speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

We will see if this story has legs, but when Obama’s cabinet appointees are falling like flies from a bug zapper because of tax problems, one has to wonder if this story gains steam, if Steele will be able to hold on to the reins of the RNC.

Friday, February 6, 2009

President Obama, the campaign is over…

If you watch the 10 o’clock news or nightline you have undoubtedly seen the ad by Americans United for Change which urges Senator Grassley to support Obama’s stimulus package and “reject the failed policies of the past.” Below is the ad:

I think the ads are well done, but I also think these ads show Obama’s arrogance. Yes President Obama, we know you won the election, but Grassley has also won an election or two, and if Obama thinks that 53% vote provides him a dictatorial mandate, then he should have more respect a Senator like who has been re-elected with 70%, 68%, 69%, and 66% in his last 4 campaigns.

I also think that it’s ironic that Obama lashed out last night at Republicans for being united is their opposition to the bill. Obama and the Democrats are blaming the Republicans for being partisan, but wasn’t it Obama who is playing partisan politics by attacking people like Grassley in his home state with TV ads rather than sitting down and talking with him? I don’t see the Republicans running anti-stimulus ads out there?

I also think it was a bad move for these ads to use Obama’s voice. I understand why they would think that’s a good idea, but now with the bill in doubt, Obama risks putting up a big loss on his record in the early days of his administration. And like I said above, using Obama’s voice shows the American people that it’s Obama who is using the partisan politics of that we are so used too.

Obama and his team need to realize that the campaign is over and it’s time to govern. His little temper tantrum last night about how the economic crisis was a little gift waiting for him is ridiculous. He ran for the job knowing what it entailed, and one could say that it was the economic crisis that lead to him winning in November. A majority of the American people thought Obama was best suited to deal with this crisis, now he needs to affirm they faith the American people have entrusted him with.

Lead or Go Home

I guess that’s my new motto…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rod Roberts Considers a run for Governor

Sorry I that I’m a little late posting about Rep. Rod Roberts running for Governor. It seems with each new day or week another Iowa Republican lets it be known that they are interested in running for Governor in 2010.

A week or so ago Bob Vander Plaats entered the race. To date he’s the most “official” candidate out there, but he even stated that this is an exploratory committee, not an all out campaign yet. Quickly joining him were the following: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, State Auditor Dave Vaudt, Businessman Bruce Rastetter, syndicated blogger Krusty Konservative, and now State Rep. Rod Roberts.

Robert’s is soft-spoken, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a single person under that dome that has any sort of beef with him. Everyone really likes and respects Rod, and when he speaks into the microphone, his voice is quaint but his presence looms large. He is a staunch opponent of gambling, which endears him to the right. However, he voted for the dreaded Dream Act, which has left more than a few political careers in its wake.

He is largely unknown, which is a problem for him. While he has great things to tout - anti-gambling, elected in a strong Democratic seat, evangelical conservative pastor, assistant House majority leader - he has two big things against him, namely that he has not demonstrated that he can raise any appreciable sum of money and his legislative resume is thin in terms of policy that's been enacted with his name on it. If Robert’s is serious we will probably see him flexing some legislative muscle by floor managing some serious Republican amendments.

In terms of what this means politically, it’s more bad news for Bob Vander Plaats. Bob’s announcement created very little buzz around the state and smoked out more potential candidates that I ever expected to see. Again, I think it will be difficult for Vander Plaats to gain traction with so many potential candidates lurking. I really think he would have been better off saying that he’s “all in” rather than saying it’s an exploratory campaign.

Additionally, Robert’s poses an interesting dilemma for Vander Plaats. Both are from Western Iowa, and both should play well with the social conservatives in the state. I think Vander Plaats is going to find it much more difficult to campaign against people like Roberts, Northey, or Vaudt.

Speaking of Vaudt, I wonder if he has let the Rebuild Iowa Office that he’s going to stop by for a little audit. Now that would be interesting.

Unbelievable: Dems Gone Wild

Rebuild Iowa or Carpet the Office?

A week ago the coffee shops were abuzz about the CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, spending more than a million dollars to redecorate his office, including $131,000.00 for a rug. Well it seems like Iowa has its own John Thain; her name is Lt. Governor Patty Judge, and she spent $19,000.00 to carpet the Rebuild Iowa offices.

This is a ridiculous use of taxpayer money, like I said after Culver’s Condition of the State speech, I’m all for helping those affected by last year’s floods, but opposed to funding the bureaucracy he has created. State Representative Jeff Kaufmann also brought up an interesting tidbit in saying, "the lowest paid job in this new bureaucracy is $46,700”, and he went on to say there are people in the Rebuild Iowa Office making more than $100,000.00 a year. When Kaufmann asked who authorized spending $19,000 for carpet, Emily Hajek, Rebuild Iowa’s Chief of Staff said “the lieutenant governor wanted to put new carpeting in."

One legislator has pointed out that Emily Hajek earned $66k last year, but as COS of Rebuild Iowa she’s pulling in $121k. Not bad work in this economy if you can get it…

And people wonder why our state finances are a mess…

The Lottery Lease is Back!

I wonder if my friends over at Iowa Independent are going to continue to say that this is some conspiracy cooked up by Republicans… The Register has a story today about Sen. Gronstal and Speaker Murphy still pushing for this to happen. You all know where I stand. Don’t sell something that brings in around $60 million in to the general fund every year for some quick onetime money.

I find it ironic that this story comes on the heels of Terry Rich, the director of Blank Park Zoo being named the lottery’s director. I find that weird anyway…

The fight to keep our Right to Work Law

Some might think that the Democrats effort to scrap Iowa’s Right to Work Law is something new. Not at all, Democrats have been trying to overturn the law for years. Need proof? Check out the Mason City Globe Gazette from February 3rd 1959, ya know the Day the Music Died…

Lets do a quick review…

Sell the Lottery for some quick cash, around $200M,

Apply some lazy across the board budget cuts that will force local governments to increase property taxes.

Revoke Iowa’s Right to Work law, meaning union thugs can force local governments to hire more teachers or city/county workers, which means increased property taxes.

Show an emotional video in the Condition of the State speech demand the legislature to pass a flood relief bill 6 months late, and then use the money to pay former campaign staffers 6 figures, and spend 19k for some carpet.

For Republicans their slogan should be “Iowa, fields of Opportunity.” Yet many Iowa Republicans are willing to piss it all away by helping the Dems pass an increase to the state’s gas tax.

PLEASE, I’m begging you just say NO.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lead or go Home

We elected our elected officials to go to Des Moines or DC to represent us, to do what’s right for our district, state and country. For the most part they do a good job, while partisan politics sometimes occurs, I think it’s safe to say that they all want to do what’s best for the people they represent.

That said; I’m a little miffed that the Democrats and Republicans in the House had created websites or blog posts to solicit budget cuts from the people without offering any of their own. So when you ask me what should be cut, my first suggestion is their salaries and their daily per Diems. They are elected to make the difficult decisions, they pledge to do what’s best for the future of our state and when our state is in a great time of need they punt the ball to the citizens? They sure didn’t ask me for my input when they increased the state budget by 20% over the past 2 years…

Lead or go home. Don’t waste millions of taxpayer dollars to sit in Des Moines and do nothing. Be part of the solution. K’mon.

Follow up on the Gas Tax

So I got a few emails yesterday questioning my criticism of Iowans for Tax Relief on the gas Tax. First, let me apologize for not explaining what I based my criticism of ITR on. My criticism was based on what ITR said in the Des Moines Register editorial board meeting a few weeks ago. You can see here what I'm talking about.

Again, the Legislative Republican’s are stupid if they help pass the Gas Tax increase. The Dems will use it against our incumbents, and you know that road money isn’t going to go to those districts represented by Republicans who help pass the tax increase. The Dems are going to take care of their own, meaning all of those road dollars go to Dem Districts, and then they beat Republican incumbents over the head for raising taxes.

Farewell Yepsen

A few week ago I was told that David Yepsen didn’t get the gig at SIU. I felt bad because I really thought he was a great fit for them, and it has to be difficult working for a company like the Register which is bleeding financially. So I was happy to hear that Yepsen got the gig. No comment from him yet, apparently he is on an unpaid furlough this week.

Fair Share is Coming

Get ready to fight folks. It looks like a fair share bill is coming down the pike and this time it’s being written by the Governor himself. Which means it will happen unless the people of Iowa rise up and stop it. So let me see if I have this right. Culver’s budget under funds city and county government meaning they will be forced to raise property taxes. Last year it was accepted that Fair Share legislation would also cause property taxes to increase. So how much of an increase will we see? And when is enough, enough?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Gas Tax

If you want to see my blood boil, just send me some a news story or show me a clip from Iowa Press of a Republican in the state legislature agreeing to raise the gas tax if their Democrat counterparts decide to act on the issue. While I agree that one of the purposes of state government is to invest public infrastructure, state government also must realize that raising taxes or fees during the current economic crisis is risky, especially when you realize that the state raised motor vehicle fees just last year to help pay for our infrastructure needs.

I love to hear how some legislators think an eight to ten cent increase per gallon is really no big deal. Some suggest that it would only cost Iowa’s another $50 bucks a year give or take. I think that number is low, and I choose to resist the government incrementally taking more of my money. Maybe our elected officials should look at what the DNR just did; they took fee increases off of the table for the time being because of the economy. The same should be done with the gas tax.

The most frustrating thing in regard to this issue is the lack of discipline on the Republican side. State Representative Dave Tjepkes, the top Republican on the House Transportation committee is for the increase, as is House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen. Paulsen is employed by a large trucking firm in Cedar Rapids, CRST who want to see the increase in the gas tax. Trucking companies prefer paying gas taxes for road improvements over vehicle registration fees because it’s easier for them to pass on the cost of fuel to their customers.

Another group that is surprisingly silent on the issue is Iowans for Tax Relief. One would think that a large organization like them would at least weigh in on the issues. Their silence on the gas tax may have something to do with Scott Newhard, the VP of Public Affairs for the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, and Scott Weiser, a long time lobbyist for the trucking industry, both serve on ITR’s board of directors.

Let me paint a quick picture why this issue is a loser for Republicans.

First, when the Democrats insist that any increase in the gas tax has to be a bipartisan effort, be weary. If increasing the gas tax was such good public policy the Democrats who have majorities in both chambers and occupy the governor’s office would simply whisk the legislation through.

Maybe our leaders in the House should call up Jamie Van Fossen and Dan Rassmussen and ask them if the hint of their willingness to increase the gas tax affected their failed reelection attempts. The senate should do the same with Mark Zieman, maybe they could go talk to him about it at an Iowa Motor Truck board meeting just down the street. Zieman is their chairman.

In the 2008 elections the Democrats showed us that they could beat incumbents who supported higher gas taxes, yet many of our Republican legislators seem willing to march straight into the trap. They need to wake up. Iowa Democrats are not interested in passing good public policy for our state, they are simply just interested in getting reelected and keeping their majorities. Republicans supporting the gas tax will just help them achieve this goal.

What we have on the Democrat side is the classic good cop vs. bad cop. The bad cops are guys like Gronstal, Murphy, and McCarthy whom all represent solid Democrat districts. They are going to be very public in their support of increasing the gas tax and will pass the legislation in both chambers. This is music to the ears for trucking companies, road builders, unions, and other contractors meaning the money will flow into their campaign coffers. The good cop, Chet Culver who has already publicly said he opposes the gas tax increase due to the economy. Culver, the populist, will veto the bill and run for reelection using the line, “When Republicans and some in my own party wanted to raise gas taxes during this economic crisis, I said no!” Meanwhile the bad cops will be out there running anti-gas candidates against our Republican incumbents who supported it.

Trust me, if Republicans help pass the gas tax we will continue to lose seats in both chambers, and Chet Culver will be reelected. This is just another case where Republicans are failing to win the debate on the fiscal issues.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Democrat Train to Nowhere

On Friday I had a post about Rep. Kraig Paulsen wanting the state to disappropriate some $300k for an Amtrak station in Dubuque, Murphy’s home town which doesn’t even have Amtrak service. Then today the trusty Krusty research staff reminded me that some Iowa Dems think that the economic stimulus plan currently being considered by Congress provides an “incredible opportunity to build a modern regional passenger rail network.” Their words, not mine.

I seriously doubt we are going to see the revival of train travel in this country.

Lets say that I’m a big Steelers fan and want to go to Pittsburgh to celebrate their 6th championship. I could travel there one way for $142.00. Below is my itinerary:

Osceola to Chicago - Board at 8:40 a.m. Arrive in Chicago at 3:50 p.m. (7 hours 10 minutes)
Chicago to Pittsburgh – Board at 7:05 p.m. Arrive in Pittsburgh at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. (9 hours, 25 minutes)

That’s almost 24 hours to get to Pittsburgh. Or I could fly for $400 bucks round trip and get their in five hours. Now I know some liberal is going to come on here and tell me that $116 is a lot of money in this economy. But one also needs to consider how much longer you would need to miss work if you opted for the train.

Our society is never going to embrace something as slow as train travel. Our society values freedom, and instant gratification, meaning if I was going to take that trip, I’d fly, probably rent a car so I didn’t need to depend on public transportation, and most likely drive through a McDonalds for a meal.

Train travel reached its height in 1916, but with the invention of the automobile on the 20s and 30s ridership declined. In the 40s the railroads saw its highest ridership as our soldiers were headed out to fight World War II. After the war however, ridership declines. It gets worse for the railroads in the 50s and 60s as the first passenger planes take to the skies. In the late 60 the two major railroads merge, but just two short years later it too files bankruptcy.

What’s left for passenger rail service is Amtrak, a government owned entity. Amtrak employs 19,000 workers, and had an operating loss of $381.1 million in FY 2008. Yet our federal government wants to throw more and more money into it and Iowa Democrats are leading the way.

News Release
January 30, 2009

Contacts: Senator Daryl Beall, 515-573-7889 (Home); 515-570-0779 (Cell)
Senator Jack Kibbie, 712-852-4140 (Home); 712-260-2345 (Cell)
Representative Paul Bell,
Laura Kliewer, Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, 630.925.1922


DES MOINES – Three members of the Iowa General Assembly joined colleagues throughout the Midwest today to urge federal lawmakers to invest significantly in intercity passenger rail in the economic stimulus plan working its way through the U.S. Congress.

State Senators Jack Kibbie and Daryl Beall and State Representative Paul Bell are Iowa’s legislatively-appointed members to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC), a 10-state coalition that advocates at the local, state and federal levels for passenger rail development. The MIPRC commissioners urged the public to contact their members of the U.S. House and Senate, urging support for an increase in funding for passenger rail.

"The economic stimulus plan currently being considered by Congress provides an incredible opportunity to build a modern regional passenger rail network that makes America and Iowa more energy-efficient, sustainable and prosperous, while at the same time putting more Iowans and Americans to work," said Sen. Beall (D-Ft. Dodge), who serves as MIPRC’s financial officer.

Unfortunately, the first drafts of the federal stimulus plan miss the mark, the lawmakers said.
Wednesday night the U.S. House passed its stimulus plan, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The bill allocates only $1.1 billion to rail – $800 million to Amtrak and $300 million to state projects to improve intercity rail outside of Amtrak's capital needs. While investing in state projects is the best way to build up the Midwest’s intercity passenger rail network, $300 million is not nearly enough to build up intercity rail.

A much better proposal came from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which recommended a $5 billion total investment in rail: $3.4 billion for state passenger rail projects, $1.5 billion for Amtrak and $100 million for short line railroads.

"The best way to make sure our transportation investments meet our energy policy goals is to invest in intercity rail, said Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg). "We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to create jobs that lead to long-term prosperity through better intercity rail that connects the Midwest."

Passenger rail is the most energy-efficient means to move people over medium distances (100–600 miles). Increased funding for states to plan, design and construct these interconnected passenger rail systems would bring tangible benefits to the Midwest, not only creating short- and long-term jobs, but building a new, efficient passenger rail system across the region.

Investing taxpayer money into the railroads is just ridiculous. I would suggest the next time Speaker Murphy, President Kibbie, or Sen. Beall or Bell need to travel to D.C. they hope on the train instead of that airplane. Maybe then they will stop wasting our money on foolish projects.