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IA-Gov

"Quality care" is in the eye of the beholder

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 20:05:00 PM CDT

The nursing home industry already had too much political power in Iowa before Terry Branstad returned to the governor's office. Since late 2010, Branstad has repeatedly demonstrated that he prefers a more lax inspection regime for residential care facilities, with fewer nursing home inspectors than state lawmakers are willing to fund.

But Branstad may have hit a new low this month, according to a story by Clark Kauffman in Monday's Des Moines Register. Kauffman has reported extensively on substandard care in Iowa nursing homes. Following up on this year's winners of the "Governor's Award for Quality Care in Health Care Facilities," Kauffman learned that one of the three honored facilities "was cited by inspectors seven weeks earlier for widespread unsanitary conditions and failure to meet residents' nutritional needs."

At this writing, I could not find the July 9 press release announcing the awards on the governor's official news feed. I found it on the Department of Inspections and Appeals website and posted the full text after the jump.

I also enclosed excerpts from Kauffman's report, but you should click through to read every disgusting detail about the Woodland Terrace in Waverly (Bremer County). I challenge Branstad or Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to move any of their own beloved relatives to a home with such low standards of hygiene. It's bad enough that Woodland Terrace wasn't fined after the conditions inspectors found when they visited in May. To honor that facility is outrageous.

Regarding the other two award-winners, Kauffman noted that Prairie View Home in Sanborn did not have any violations during its most recent inspection, but Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge was cited in late 2013 "for failure to provide adequate incontinence care for residents; failure to adequately treat bedsores; and failure to keep food at the proper temperature before serving."

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Republicans nominate Jonathan Lochman in Iowa Senate district 17

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

After fielding candidates in every Iowa Senate district in 2012, Republicans left a bunch of low-probability seats uncontested this year. One of those districts now has a GOP candidate, however: a special convention on July 24 selected Jonathan Lochman to run in Iowa Senate district 17. I don't see a website for his campaign, but Lochman's on Facebook here. During 13 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, he served wartime tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's now the Iowa coordinator for Team Rubicon (the Iowa chapter is on Facebook here).

Iowa Senate district 17 is open because State Senator Jack Hatch is running for governor. Tony Bisignano narrowly won a contentious three-way primary in this heavily Democratic seat covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. In a press release, Lochman asserted that Bisignano would "be a rubber stamp for the radical, obstructionist agenda of Mike Gronstal," whereas the Republican would "be an independent voice for my community." Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix asserted, "Des Moines voters deserve a candidate​ like Jonathan Lochman, who has​ the integrity, honor and passion to effectively represent their interests at the State Capitol​." Judging from that comment and various Republican posts on social media, the plan is for Lochman to win by playing up Bisignano's drunk driving arrests and scandals from his previous term of service in the Iowa Senate during the 1990s.

It would be a historic upset for a Republican to win a state legislative seat here. The latest official figures show that Senate district 17 contains 16,388 active registered Democrats, 6,559 Republicans, and 9,792 no-party voters. Bisignano should have help from the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, because other Democratic candidates (notably Hatch, U.S. Senate nominee Braley, and IA-03 nominee Staci Appel) are counting on good GOTV in strongholds like the south side of Des Moines.

Also on July 24, Polk County Republicans held a special convention to nominate Army veteran Tom Hess in Iowa House district 34, covering half of Senate district 17. Hess will challenge longtime Democratic State Representative Bruce Hunter and has about the same chance of winning as Lochman (slim to none). As of July 1, House district 34 contained 8,404 active registered Democrats, 3,497 Republicans, and 5,114 no-party voters.

P.S. - I would have posted the full press release on Lochman's campaign launch, but the "latest news" on the Iowa Senate Republicans website is a press release from mid-May.

UPDATE: Cityview's Civic Skinny published a detailed account of Tony Bisignano's drunk driving arrest and how the case unfolded from there. Many details were new to me, and I suspect that if they had been more widely known, Nathan Blake might have won the Senate district 17 Democratic primary.

The most surprising fact recounted by Civic Skinny is that Jennifer Jacobs apparently e-mailed her draft Des Moines Register story on the OWI to Bisignano before publishing. Double-checking quoted remarks is one thing, but I am not aware of any newspaper where it is standard practice to run a full draft by the public figure who is the subject of the article.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Martin O'Malley: Presidential candidate? Maybe. Clinton rival? No way.

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CDT

It makes perfect sense for potential Democratic presidential candidates to visit Iowa, meeting activists and keeping their options open. That doesn't mean any of them would run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Case in point: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Having keynoted the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention last month, he's coming here again this weekend, headlining events for State Senator Rita Hart and state Senate candidate Kevin Kinney on Saturday, then Council Bluffs and Sioux City events for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch on Sunday. Politico's Maggie Halberman notes that O'Malley "has said he's exploring a 2016 presidential run." A Des Moines Register headline writer termed him a "possible rival" to Clinton. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post speculated, "O'Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration."

I just don't see it. Laying the groundwork for a potential campaign is not the same thing as preparing to embark on a suicide mission. O'Malley doesn't come across as a guy like Senator Bernie Sanders, who knows he will never be president but might run to shine a light on issues important to him. O'Malley goes way back with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He stuck with Hillary for president even after Barack Obama dominated the 2008 Maryland primary. From where I'm sitting, CNN's Dan Merica had it exactly right when he described O'Malley as an "understudy," "angling to be the person who could step in" if Clinton does not run for president for whatever reason. Maryland's term limits for governors make 2016 an ideal time for O'Malley to run for president, but he's only 51 years old--young enough to wait until 2020 or 2024 if necessary.

Meanwhile, I hope all of this weekend's events are successful, because Hatch, Hart, and Kinney are very worth supporting.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Hart's re-election bid in Senate district 49 is a must-hold for Democrats. Kinney's running in the open Senate district 39, and if he wins, it would virtually guarantee a Democratic majority in the state legislature's upper chamber for the next two years.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

More Iowa political reaction over unaccompanied immigrant children (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 20:49:39 PM CDT

As new reports indicate that Iowa families are caring for more than 100 unaccompanied immigrant children who have entered the U.S. illegally during the past year, Governor Terry Branstad stands by his cold shoulder to the kids, while leading Iowa Democrats have called for a more welcoming stance.

I enclose below some recent news and commentary about how Iowans should react to the humanitarian crisis.

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More signs that Hillary Clinton has no "Iowa problem"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:15:10 AM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest Iowa caucus poll adds to the growing body of survey research suggesting that Hillary Clinton's supposed "Iowa problem" exists only in the minds of some political reporters. Details are after the jump.  
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Bleeding Heartland 2014 primary election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 20:07:14 PM CDT

Now that Republicans have selected a nominee in the third Congressional district, it's time to examine results from Bleeding Heartland's primary election prediction contest. You can view all the entries in this comment thread.  
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Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic Party convention edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 15:34:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The Iowa Democratic Party's state convention got overshadowed by the circus-like spectacle Republicans put on in Urbandale yesterday. We're talking about David Young's surprising nomination in IA-03 here. This is an open thread for all other topics.

After the jump I've posted several links about the Democratic convention and the full text (as prepared) of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's speech. He seems to have made a good impression, as he did at the Harkin Steak Fry in 2012. O'Malley won't challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination; he was loyal Clinton surrogate during the 2008 primaries, even after Barack Obama crushed her in his state. If Clinton decides against running for president again, O'Malley could have a lot of upside potential in Iowa. He's much more familiar with this state than your average east-coast governor, having worked as a field organizer for Gary Hart's 1984 Iowa caucus campaign. John Deeth wrote up O'Malley's appearance for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch and running mate Monica Vernon in Iowa City.

UPDATE: Added below a short version of what would be the progressive case against O'Malley if he competes in the Iowa caucuses.

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IA-Gov: "Stache-less" Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:14:20 AM CDT

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced today that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon will be his running mate. In addition to following the Iowa tradition of female lieutenant governors, Vernon balances the ticket geographically and ideologically. An elected official in Iowa's second-largest city for seven years, she has been campaigning around northeast Iowa since last summer as a Democratic candidate for Congress. She carried Linn County and finished a strong second to Pat Murphy district-wide on June 3.

Some Democrats are grumbling that Vernon is a longtime Republican who joined our party just five years ago. But frankly, Hatch isn't running in a Democratic primary. He needs to appeal to a statewide electorate including thousands who have become disaffected from the GOP, just like Vernon did. Anyway, she is arguably more progressive than Governor Chet Culver's running mate, lifelong Democrat Patty Judge. Despite the complaining, there shouldn't be any major snags when the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention officially nominates Vernon for lieutenant governor this Saturday.

After the jump I've posted background on Vernon and other recent news from the Hatch campaign, including his first television commercial for the general election and highlights from his weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.

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Branstad vetoed funds for Iowa civil rights history project

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 17:10:00 PM CDT

I was so focused on the environmental impacts of Governor Terry Branstad's recent vetoes, I failed to look closely at other appropriations in a supplemental spending bill he axed. Today I learned from Democratic State Senator Rob Hogg,

Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the start of Freedom Summer and the murder of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney - it is too bad Governor Branstad vetoed the $300,000 the Legislature appropriated on a bipartisan basis to help the African-American Museum of Iowa collect Iowa's civil rights history and educate the public about these historic events.

There it is on page 4 of Senate File 2363: $300,000 for "an oral history of civil rights" at the African-American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

It's maddening that Governor Branstad has no problem with tens of millions of dollars in tax giveaways to wealthy corporations, yet he pleads fiscal prudence when vetoing spending like this, which serves the public interest without major impact to the state budget. Many of the 1950s and 1960s civil rights activists have already passed away, and those who haven't are senior citizens. "Freedom Summer" was a major event in 20th century American history. Some Freedom Summer veterans with connections to Iowa City or the University of Iowa have already told their stories to historians or recorded their memories on paper or film. The Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network are doing their part too, and you can follow their work here. I'm disappointed that the African-American Museum of Iowa won't have the funding to collect and archive these stories on a larger scale.  

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Weekend open thread, with Iowa GOP state convention highlights

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 21:58:07 PM CDT

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

The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today in Des Moines. Links and highlights are after the jump.

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Gaming commission grants casino license to Greene County (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:35:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted 3-2 today to grant a casino license for a $40 million project near Jefferson (Greene County) in western Iowa, between Boone and Carroll counties. Residents had overwhelmingly approved a gambling referendum last year, but the outcome was in doubt because the commission recently voted down a casino proposal for Cedar Rapids. According to Dar Danielson's report for Radio Iowa, the commissioners who opposed the license cited evidence a new casino would largely take business from existing Iowa casinos, and that the Greene County community didn't need a gambling facility as much as other amenities. The commissioners who favored the license cited the potential economic impact for a rural area.

The Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Polk County had lobbied the commission to reject Greene County's application, citing potential impact on its business. Jefferson is a little more than an hour's drive northwest of the Des Moines metro area. But in casting the decisive yes vote, Racing and Gaming Commission Chair Jeff Lamberti noted,

We have lots of advantages in Polk County and I think we have lots of advantages that are going to come in the future," Lamberti explained. "We've got significant population growth amongst all of our suburbs. We've got some good things that are in the work that are pretty historic by Iowa standards. And quite frankly, we have advantages that a lot of other parts of the state don't have, and quite frankly I think we are going to be just fine."

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who has vowed to keep working toward a casino for his city, sounds furious about today's decision. I've posted some of his comments below.  

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What caused the big drop in Iowa Republican primary turnout?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 13:39:01 PM CDT

Earlier this year, I would have predicted high Republican turnout for Iowa's June 3 primary elections. The five-way race for the U.S. Senate nomination was highly competitive, as was the six-way contest in the open third Congressional district. Multiple candidates contested GOP primaries in the first and second Congressional districts too. The 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, which involved going out for an hour or more on a cold night in January, attracted a record turnout of roughly 122,000 people.

Yet according to unofficial results, just 158,031 Iowans cast ballots in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, and 156,275 cast ballots in the governor's race, where Terry Branstad had a token challenger.

The 2010 midterm election saw much higher Republican turnout, with some 227,404 people voting for one of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates. There weren't any high-profile statewide Republican primary contests in 2006, but in the 2002 midterm year, 199,234 Iowans cast ballots in the three-way GOP primary for governor, and 197,096 Iowans cast ballots in the two-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

In IA-03, five of the six Republican candidates raised enough money to run district-wide campaigns before this year's primary. Yet only 42,948 Iowans voted in a Congressional district with 160,660 active Republican voters as of June 2014. The seven-way 2010 GOP primary in IA-03 attracted more than 46,000 votes in a district that included only one-fifth of the state's population at the time and 118,850 active Republican voters. (Iowa lost one of its Congressional districts after the 2010 census).

A similar story took shape in IA-02, where about 30,500 people cast ballots in this year's GOP primary, compared to nearly 40,000 who voted in the 2010 primary, at a time when the district covered one-fifth of the state's population rather than one-fourth.

In this thread, please share your thoughts on why Republicans didn't show up to vote in larger numbers this year. Julie Stauch, a veteran of many Democratic campaigns, speculated that the low turnout "is the cumulative result of every extreme and outrageous statement over the last four years. The current Republicans in Iowa are only talking to those who agree with them 100 percent, which creates a rapidly shrinking base as every outrageous statement drives away a few more people. We can see the effect of this from the loss of 40 percent of the 2010 participants. That's a serious decline over any range of time, but very bad over four years."

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Jack Hatch running mate edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 07:14:21 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch will announce his choice for lieutenant governor sometime before the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention on June 21. He has been vetting and interviewing possible choices for several weeks. According to Hatch,

"I want to choose a running mate that can become governor on Day One, at any time, and that really supplements and adds to my experience as an elected official and a business person," he said.

He added he would not be "restricted" by demographic concerns such as a candidate's gender or geographic location - suggesting he would not consider women exclusively.

I think we can all agree that it would be a huge mistake for Hatch to choose a man, when Iowa Democrats are nominating only one woman for statewide office (Sherrie Taha for secretary of agriculture) and only one woman for federal office (Staci Appel in the third Congressional district).

The last five Iowa lieutenant governors have been women: Jo Ann Zimmerman (independently elected), Joy Corning (Terry Branstad's running mate), Sally Pederson (who served under Tom Vilsack), Patty Judge (Chet Culver's running mate), and current Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

The logical choice for Hatch would be a woman from eastern Iowa, where two-thirds of the state's voters live. A few days ago, Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque told Erin Murphy that she won't be the lieutenant governor candidate and "declined to comment on whether Hatch had asked her to run with him." State Senator Liz Mathis, from the Cedar Rapids metro area, told James Q. Lynch, "I have been approached and encouraged, (but) it is not the right time for me to do that."

Lynch mentioned two of the unsuccessful candidates in Iowa's first Congressional district: Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who finished second to Pat Murphy, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo, who finished fourth. Vernon would be a better fit for the ticket, according to the criteria Hatch laid out for Lynch: a person "who could actually become governor, someone who does not need to be trained, who has had accomplishments in public life and or business, and who brings a level of depth to a campaign that we would want." Also, since Vernon was a Republican until about five years ago, she has a potentially compelling message for moderates and swing voters.    

Discuss :: (14 Comments)

IA-Gov: Republican Governors Association hits Hatch as Branstad launches positive ad

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 06, 2014 at 08:07:06 AM CDT

The Republican Governors Association jumped out the day after the primary election with a television commercial attacking State Senator Jack Hatch, the Democratic nominee against Governor Terry Branstad. I've posted the video and transcript after the jump, along with the Branstad campaign's opening tv ad, touting Iowa's "comeback" under his leadership.

It's standard procedure for incumbents generally, and Branstad in particular, to try to define challengers before they've had a chance to introduce themselves to most voters. That said, this spot is also a sign that the RGA may be more concerned about Iowa than they're letting on. I wonder whether their internal polling is showing a shrinking lead for Branstad over Hatch, as we've seen in several polls released in the last two months. Hatch plans to start running a biographical television commercial later this month, but he can't match Branstad and Republican-aligned forces in money spent on advertising.

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Iowa primary election results thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 20:20:00 PM CDT

Polls close at 9 pm, and I'll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor's office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today's GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa's largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion's share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still--that's a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

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Branstad slashes conservation and clean water funding

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

It's one of the oldest tricks in any governor's playbook: schedule media events for bill signing ceremonies you want the public to hear about, while burying bad news late on a Friday, after reporters have filed their stories. I was worried Governor Terry Branstad would make big cuts to environmental funding just before Memorial Day weekend, as he had cut food bank money two years ago.

Instead, Branstad's office released the news about this year's spending vetoes after dinnertime on Friday, May 30. Hours earlier, the governor had welcomed reporters, lawmakers, and members of the public to watch him sign a bill legalizing the possession of cannabis oil to treat seizure disorders, as well as a bill altering Iowa's HIV transmission law.

Follow me after the jump for the gory details. I no longer consider 2014 a good year for Iowa environmental funding.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2014 Iowa primary election prediction contest

by: desmoinesdem

Sat May 31, 2014 at 16:10:00 PM CDT

I forgot to put up this year's primary election prediction contest earlier this week, but better late than never. To enter, post your answers to the twelve questions after the jump as a comment in this thread sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 3. It's fine to change your mind about some or all of your answers, as long as you post a comment with your new predictions before the deadline.  

Only comments posted in this thread will be valid contest entries. Predictions submitted by e-mail or twitter will not be considered. Please try to answer every question, even if it's just a wild guess. We're all guessing anyway, since few polls have been published about these races.

The winner receives no cash or other prizes--just bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community. Can someone stop ModerateIADem from "three-peating"? He won both the 2010 and the 2012 primary election prediction contests.  

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IA-Sen, IA-Gov: Highlights from PPP's latest poll

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 22, 2014 at 13:57:10 PM CDT

Public Policy Polling released its latest Iowa survey yesterday; click here for the memo and here (pdf) for full results from the poll of 914 registered voters between May 15 and 19 (margin of error plus or minus 3.3 percent). Some highlights are after the jump.
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There's never a good time for a speeding ticket

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 20, 2014 at 16:05:00 PM CDT

But there may be a worst time: when you're a candidate for public office, and your campaign has already run a tv ad blasting your opponent for a speeding violation.

As you've probably heard by now, State Senator Jack Hatch got ticketed yesterday for driving 65 miles per hour (or maybe 68 mph) on a stretch of I-80 near Altoona, where the speed limit has been lowered to 55 because of road construction. He was lucky his fine wasn't doubled for a speeding infraction in a work zone, apparently because "road workers were behind concrete barriers all day." Hatch quickly released a statement praising the work of law enforcement and taking full responsibility for his actions, along with a shot at Governor Terry Branstad: "I will pay this ticket in full when I return to Des Moines Tuesday. Accountability is important. I offer a stark contrast to the current Governor when it comes to dodging responsibility and attempting to hide the truth from Iowans."

Granted, Branstad tried to evade responsibility when his vehicle was caught going way over the speed limit last summer, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds made lame excuses at the time. And according to the Des Moines Register, yesterday was only the second time Hatch has been ticketed for speeding, while Branstad received four tickets during his time away from the governor's office. Still: when you've bashed the incumbent for this behavior, you need to be extra careful. Speed limits may be the most commonly-broken laws in the country, judging by how often I get passed on Iowa highways, but that's no excuse.

Speaking of which, the Sunday Des Moines Register reported that former State Senator Staci Appel, the Democratic candidate in Iowa's third Congressional district, was ticketed in March for driving her pickup truck 83 mph in a 60 mph zone on a four-lane highway in Warren County.  Her comment to the Register: "In my enthusiasm to talk to voters I regret that I inadvertently made a mistake, and I have paid my ticket." Unless you're rushing someone to the hospital, there's no reason to go that far over the speed limit, ever. Build more time into your campaign schedule or settle for running late. It's not Appel's first traffic ticket either.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- Who else is insanely jealous of Todd Dorman's headline-writing ability?

I reluctantly went with "Hatch Me if You Can," after considering "Troopers in Hatch Pursuit," "Speed Trap Delivers Hatch Slap" and "Hatch Trails Branstad by 19 in State Patrol Poll."
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Cedar Rapids mayor won't give up casino dream

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:53:00 AM CDT

Talk about opportunity costs: Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett will not pursue any alternative development plans for a downtown parcel of land where backers hope to build a casino. Rather, he will continue to pursue the casino project despite last month's 4 to 1 vote by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to reject a gambling license for Cedar Rapids.

Speaking to Rick Smith of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, onetime Iowa House Speaker Corbett said he hopes the Iowa legislature will approve a bill granting a license for a smoke-free casino to Iowa's second-largest city. Democratic State Senator Wally Horn already tried to add such language to a bill limiting greyhound racing, but his amendment was ruled not germane.

Independent research has repeatedly shown that the hidden economic costs of casinos "far exceed their benefits and that [casinos] are a poor use of precious downtown land." But even if that were not true, why waste years trying to persuade the Iowa legislature to pass this kind of bill? What are the chances lawmakers will go along with a special deal for Cedar Rapids, when many of them represent districts with casinos that stand to lose market share? Furthermore, current Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, who represents a suburban Cedar Rapids district, screwed up Iowa's chance to get passenger rail to Iowa City (and possibly later to Des Moines and Council Bluffs).

Corbett seems to hope Jack Hatch will win the governor's race; Hatch has expressed support for a Cedar Rapids casino. If elected, he might sign a bill for this purpose, or might appoint like-minded people to the Racing and Gaming Commission. But that process would take years. Why not pursue plan B or plan C for Cedar Rapids? There are many other approaches to economic development that do not hurt other local businesses the way casinos do.

The spin about a smoke-free casino being a "healthy" option for a "Blue Zone" community like Cedar Rapids is a sick joke. Casinos are no benefit to public health. On the contrary, problem gambling increases with accessibility and incurs major hidden health costs.  

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