This is not what leadership looks like

When the Iowa Board of Regents picked Bruce Harreld over finalists far more qualified to be president of a major university, supporters of the hire touted the non-traditional candidate’s leadership ability, honed in the corporate world. Regents President Bruce Rastetter has repeatedly commented on Harreld’s "successful, collaborative skills" and experience "making organizations better and bringing teams together and developing a strategic plan of how we make organizations better."

Six months into Harreld’s tenure, those purported leadership skills have yet to be seen. The president declined to respond when challenged over the University of Iowa’s refusal to release documents related to statewide opinion polling. He extended Athletic Director Gary Barta’s contract for five years despite lawsuits and federal investigations of possible gender discrimination on Barta’s watch. (The university didn’t disclose that decision until a journalist asked weeks later to see the contract.) When the Associated Press reported that the head of campus police had "interfered with an investigation into a hit-and-run drunk driving accident by his stepson," an incident not disclosed even to key members of the Board of Regents, Harreld made no public statement for two days. Then he told one reporter "there’s no there, there"—less than 48 hours before the university announced the official’s demotion.

Yesterday Harreld showed up at a forum on social justice issues unprepared to answer the most obvious question that could have been asked.

Continue Reading...

IA-Sen: Poll shows Grassley's favorability below 50 percent

Only 42 percent of Iowa voters have a favorable view of Senator Chuck Grassley and a majority disagree with the Senate Judiciary Committee chair’s refusal to give U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland hearings and a confirmation vote, according to a new poll Seung Min Kim reported exclusively for Politico today. Hart Research Associates surveyed 400 Iowa voters and conducted "101 additional interviews with registered independents in the state" between April 22 and 24 on behalf of the Constitutional Responsibility Project and the League of Conservation Voters. Geoff Garin’s two-page polling memo is available here.

While Grassley’s favorable/unfavorable ratings were 42/30 in the new poll, a Hart survey two years ago showed 60 percent of Iowa respondents responded positively to Grassley and just 19 percent negatively.

A couple of caveats:

Continue Reading...

Was "streamlined" voting rights process designed for felons or Iowa Supreme Court justices?

Last week, Governor Terry Branstad’s office rolled out a new "streamlined application form for those seeking a restoration of their voting rights," so that "Iowa’s already simple voting rights restoration process will become even more efficient and convenient."

"Simple," "efficient," and "convenient" wouldn’t be my choice of words to describe a process used successfully by less than two-tenths of 1 percent of affected Iowans since Branstad ended the automatic restoration of voting rights for felons five years ago. The governor’s first stab at simplifying the system in December 2012 did not significantly increase the number of Iowans applying to get their rights back. Three years after that change, fewer than 100 individuals out of roughly 57,000 who had completed felony sentences since January 2011 had regained the right to vote.

The new double-plus-streamlined process seems unlikely to produce a large wave of enfranchised Iowans, because it leaves intact major barriers.

The latest announcement looks like an attempt to convince Iowa Supreme Court justices that they need not intervene to give tens of thousands of felons any realistic hope of exercising a fundamental constitutional right again.

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic district conventions edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s conventions in the four Congressional districts yesterday elected 29 delegates and four alternates for the Democratic National Convention as well as members of various party committees.

Unlike 2008, when Barack Obama gained significant ground at Iowa’s county and district conventions, this weekend’s allocation of delegates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was the same as what would have been predicted based on the February 1 precinct caucus results. The Iowa Democratic Party released this table on April 30:

IDP district convention delegates photo IDPdistrictconventions_zps5ibx8ljl.png

I’ll update this post later when the full lists of delegates and State Central Committee members become available. Some notable results are after the jump.

Continue Reading...

IA-Sen: Two big labor endorsements for Rob Hogg

Two of Iowa’s largest labor organizations are backing State Senator Rob Hogg in the four-way Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Speaking to delegates at the Iowa Democratic Party’s second Congressional district convention this morning, Hogg announced that the Iowa Federation of Labor has endorsed him, Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble reported. A couple of hours later at the first district convention, Hogg announced the support of AFSCME Council 61, which represents tens of thousands of public employees.

During his speech at a campaign event in Urbandale on April 25, Hogg mentioned his strong pro-labor voting record during four years of service in the Iowa House and ten in the Iowa Senate. Also relevant: Hogg’s main primary rival is Patty Judge, who was not known as a champion on labor issues in the Iowa legislature and was lieutenant governor when Governor Chet Culver vetoed a collective bargaining bill in 2008. I do not recall Judge speaking publicly about that bill at the time, but the veto caused lingering bad blood between Culver and the organized labor community.

Labor support doesn’t always carry the day in Iowa Democratic politics. Mike Blouin fell a bit short against Culver in the 2006 gubernatorial primary despite having more labor endorsements, including from AFSCME. Still, financial and/or organizational help from AFSCME and the IFL will be a boost for Hogg as he competes against Judge, Bob Krause, and Tom Fiegen to get out the vote before June 7. Judge spoke this morning to delegates at the third and fourth district conventions and is scheduled to appear at the other conventions in the afternoon. Krause and Fiegen were planning to appear at all the conventions today as well.

Any comments about the Senate race are welcome in this thread. At this writing, statements about the latest endorsements for Hogg have not appeared on either labor organization’s website or on Hogg’s Senate campaign website. I will update as needed.

UPDATE: Speaking by phone on April 30, Hogg said he was "really excited about the labor endorsements. I think it will really magnify the grassroots support that I already have. I think it’s because we share a view that we need to create an economy that works for all Americans. And I have that voting record in the Iowa legislature—I’ve got a 99 percent lifetime Iowa Federation of Labor voting record. I didn’t set out to have that, but that’s how they’ve scored me, and I’m very, very proud of that and very excited about the endorsement."

Continue Reading...

Fake compromise lets Iowa GOP save face on Planned Parenthood capitulation

The Iowa House and Senate adjourned for the year this evening. As usual, the health and human services budget was one of the last deals Senate Democrats and House Republicans agreed on. Both sides gave significant ground on oversight of Iowa’s recently-privatized Medicaid program; a future post will look more closely at the terms of that agreement. In another example of history repeating itself, key negotiators had trouble finding common ground on what to do about Planned Parenthood funding through the Iowa Family Planning Network.

The outcome of last year’s budget talks left little doubt that Republicans wouldn’t achieve their goal of creating a new state family planning program, excluding abortion providers. Yet House Speaker Linda Upmeyer had promised a "deliberate and unwavering battle" on "pro-life issues," and specifically to make defunding Planned Parenthood a "priority" for her caucus.

I’ve been wondering what Democrats might offer Republicans in exchange for preserving status quo language on state funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to make any real concession.

Continue Reading...
View More...