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.