# Kate Gronstal

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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The case for Kate Gronstal on the I-JOBS Board

Iowa Republicans are bashing Governor Chet Culver for appointing Kate Gronstal to the I-JOBS board, which will decide how to spend $118.5 million of the $830 million in I-JOBS money. Kate Gronstal is the daughter of Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.

Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn slammed what he called “political nepotism”:

“I’m sure there are thousands of qualified engineers in this state that don’t raise the red flag that someone who is an immediate family member of a legislator in charge of ramming this through the Senate,” Strawn said.

Since Culver “declined to respond” to Strawn’s allegation, I want to lay out the case for putting Kate Gronstal on this board.

1. She is qualified for the position as a professionally trained structural engineer. It’s not as if the governor put a well-connected person with no relevant experience on the board.

2. By all accounts she is smart and highly capable. People born into political families have certain doors opened for them. I’m sure Marcus Branstad had a leg up on the competition when he was starting his career in Iowa Republican circles. Who cares as long as he is good at what he does?

3. Kate Gronstal’s presence on the board will subject its award process to a higher level of scrutiny. That’s good.

I supported the large infrastructure bonding package because Iowa’s debt load is not that high, interest rates are relatively low, and public works projects can improve the quality of life in the long term while creating jobs in the short term.

However, it is critically important that the I-JOBS money be spent wisely to benefit whole communities, not just a few wealthy developers.

Iowa Republicans never liked Culver’s bonding plan, and they’ll be watching for any mistakes that bolster their misleading talking points. With Kate Gronstal on the I-JOBS board, Republicans will use any unworthy project approved to highlight alleged Democratic nepotism and mismanagement.

I-JOBS has the potential to make Iowa a better place to live. Governor Culver has appointed a qualified board to administer the program. All the board members, and especially Kate Gronstal, have strong incentives to demonstrate that they can handle this responsibility.

After the jump I’ve posted the governor’s press release containing bios for all members of the I-JOBS Board and the Accountability And Transparency Board, which will “make sure Iowa meets or exceeds the accountability and transparency requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (also known as the federal economic stimulus bill).

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