For months, the Des Moines rumor mill has said former Governor Chet Culver was under consideration for some federal government position. The speculation was confirmed this week when President Barack Obama named Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation board of directors. An excerpt from the White House press release is after the jump.
Better known as "Farmer Mac," the corporation purchases agricultural loans, in theory freeing up credit to "improve the ability of agricultural lenders to provide credit to America's farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners, businesses and communities." Farmer Mac also "finances rural electric and telephone cooperatives."
Many Iowa politics-watchers will recognize the name of the Farmer Mac board chairman: Lowell Junkins. He served 12 years in the Iowa Senate, rising to the position of majority leader, before he ran for governor against Terry Branstad in 1986. President Bill Clinton appointed Junkins to the Farmer Mac board in 1996.
In April of this year, Culver formed a consulting firm "to work with individuals and public and private sector entities to provide strategic consulting, cut through red tape and promote cutting-edge ideas that will move the country forward." He also became "co-champion" of the national popular vote movement, an effort to ensure that the winner of the presidential election is the candidate who wins the most popular votes.
There was bad news for travelers in north central Iowa this week. Delta Airlines announced plans to drop service to 24 unprofitable small markets across the country, including Fort Dodge and Mason City. According to KSCG radio, "Delta flights in Mason City have a 46-percent load factor, with Fort Dodge flights having a 39-percent load factor." Senator Tom Harkin warned in a statement that Delta's decision "could disrupt air service across the state, forcing Iowans to drive farther and travel for longer periods of time to meet their destination. It will also negatively impact business operations in these areas." Harkin noted that Delta is also seeking aid to continue serving Sioux City and Waterloo. The whole statement from Harkin's office is after the jump. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill this year eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes air travel to smaller communities. The Senate is trying to preserve the program, but House and Senate negotiators haven't reached a compromise on that provision, which is part of a larger Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill.
By the way, that FAA bill passed the House on a mostly party-line vote (roll call). Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05) voted for the bill, while Democrats Leonard Boswell (IA-03), Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Bruce Braley (IA-01) voted against it. Currently Burlington, Mason City and Fort Dodge are the only Iowa communities receiving support through the Essential Air Service program. Loebsack represents the Burlington area, while Latham represents Mason City and Fort Dodge. Both of those cities are part of the new fourth Congressional district, where King will be running against former First Lady Christie Vilsack in 2012.
This is an open thread. What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers?
UPDATE: Someone tried to break into Representative Leonard Boswell's farm outside Lamoni on Saturday night. Boswell was there with members of his family at the time. No one was seriously injured; a statement from Boswell's office Sunday morning suggests that the intruder hasn't been apprehended. That statement is after the jump.Continue Reading...