# Robert Ray



The Register and blue ghosts from 1974

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

The windowless Office Lounge bar on Grand Avenue nestled across a narrow alleyway from the Register and Tribune Building in downtown Des Moines was a hopping place in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 6, 1974.

Longtime Office Lounge owner Dorothy Gabriel continued her election-night tradition of keeping the Register’s semi-official bar open after hours (to the apparent indifference of the Des Moines police) so that the newspaper’s staff could blow off the heat and tension of election night.

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Ferentz fields questions, but governor rarely does

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

It is safe to assume Kirk Ferentz has not enjoyed the glorious autumn in Iowa the way he would prefer.

He has feverishly worked his Bubble Yum during the Hawkeyes’ games this season. He has been worked over during his post-game press conferences and again at his weekly meetings with the media on Tuesdays.

Being a college football coach is never a picnic. But this year, life for the longest-tenured football coach in big-time college athletics has been more stressful than most years.

We saw that last week when the normally measured coach referred to the media session with journalists following the Hawkeyes’ 54-10 loss to Ohio State University as an “interrogation.” 

But I come today to sing Kirk Ferentz’s praises, not to dog-pile on him.

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Iowa governor not even close to keeping one 2018 campaign promise

“If elected, will you commit to weekly press conferences?” a moderator asked during the first debate between Iowa’s candidates for governor in October 2018. “I do it all the time,” Governor Kim Reynolds replied.

Asked again during that campaign’s third debate whether she would hold weekly press conferences, Reynolds claimed to have already made that commitment, adding, “If there’s any ambiguity, I will.”

Bleeding Heartland’s review of the governor’s public schedule reveals she has not come close to keeping that promise for most of the past four years. After a period of greater accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds held just four formal news conferences during the second half of 2021. More than 40 weeks into this year, she has held only ten news conferences, the last occurring on July 12.

Reporters with access have sometimes been able to ask the governor a few questions at a “gaggle” after a bill signing or another public event. But most weeks, Reynolds has not scheduled even an informal media availability.

Avoiding unscripted questions on camera gives Reynolds greater control over news coverage of her administration, and keeps awkward moments mostly out of public view.

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Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel retiring soon

Iowa’s State Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications to replace the longest-serving current Iowa Supreme Court justice.

Justice Brent Appel, who has served on the court since October 2006, will step down on July 13, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 72. Since Justice David Wiggins retired in early 2020, Appel has been the only one of the seven justices appointed by a Democratic governor.

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Redistricting commission opts not to advise lawmakers on Iowa map

Iowa’s Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission reported to the Iowa legislature on September 27 about public feedback on the first redistricting plan offered by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

In contrast to the last four redistricting cycles, the five-member commission did not recommend that state lawmakers accept or reject the proposal when they convene for a special session on October 5.

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Stake out moral ground

John Tyson is a Mennonite pastor. He lives in Waukee. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am the pastor of a church in Des Moines that played a major role in Governor Robert Ray’s resettlement of Tai Dam refugees in Iowa in the 1970s. Although some Iowans voiced familiar concerns that new arrivals would take away jobs, Ray persisted regardless of political risk.

To justify his humanitarian welcome of refugee families, he put a stake in moral ground: “I didn’t think we could just sit here idly and say, ‘Let those people die’. We wouldn’t want the rest of the world to say that about us if we were in the same situation…Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

This is moral language in defense of policy – and from the vantage point of 2021, it is jarring to see it coming from a Republican.

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