# Sports

More secrecy and signs of a corporate leadership culture at the University of Iowa

From the day Bruce Harreld was hired as University of Iowa president, his resume problems indicated a disconnect from academic culture. He admitted he would need “a lot of help, a lot of coaching” to adapt to his new position, thanks to an “unusual background” in the corporate world. Harreld paid out of pocket for media training with “top-notch” consultant Eileen Wixted, not only to improve his skills as an interview subject but also to “be as transparent and natural to the UI community as possible.” A different part-time consultant on a contract running to the end of 2015 was charged with writing a communications plan for Harreld.

The Harreld administration has been anything but transparent so far: withholding documents related to statewide polling and other work the university awarded through no-bid contracts; rushing to rename a nearly century-old children’s hospital without public input; appearing to pressure a university librarian to revise her recollection of controversial comments Harreld made at a Staff Council meeting; and combining two top staff positions in the health care unit without going through the usual process to gain prior approval from the Iowa Board of Regents.

On Wednesday Iowans learned that weeks ago, Harreld signed a lucrative contract extension for Athletics Director Gary Barta. The deal’s terms came to light only after an Associated Press correspondent asked to see the contract. Moreover, Harreld gave Barta this strong vote of confidence despite multiple lawsuits and civil rights complaints charging gender bias, as well as “a wide-ranging federal civil rights investigation into allegations that its athletics department does not provide equal opportunities for female athletes.”

The unusual secrecy surrounding Barta’s contract extension and its generous terms while the athletics department is under investigation suggest that Harreld is still operating from the perspective of a corporate executive rather than a leader of a public institution.

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Weekend open thread: Numbers games

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

Congratulations to Hawkeyes and commiserations to Cyclones over the outcome of yesterday’s big game. Not being a football fan, I can’t remember how many years it’s been since I watched Iowa play Iowa State. The last time I focused on the Cy-Hawk game was in 2013, when Iowa running back Mark Weisman’s decision to play on Yom Kippur (the most important Jewish holiday) was a big topic of conversation for central Iowa Jews.

The hoopla surrounding yesterday’s game reminded me of a good commentary by “Civic Skinny” in the Des Moines-based weekly Cityview last month. Skinny called attention to how rapidly athletic budgets have grown at Iowa and Iowa State in recent years, and how the athletic departments “continue to find ways to spend” the extra money, “without shipping any to the libraries or the English departments or any other academic endeavors at the two big universities.” I would bet few Iowans know that for many years, Iowa and Iowa State “regularly subsidized the athletic departments with money from the general fund.” I recommend clicking through for all the data in the original piece; excerpts are after the jump.

For two days, the Des Moines Register reported the Des Moines School Board District 1 race as “too close to call,” but Shane Schulte finally conceded to Heather Anderson on Friday. Schulte had earlier indicated plans to seek a recount, but truthfully, the race was never too close to call. When all the precincts reported on election night, Anderson led by 36 votes out of a little more than 2,500 ballots cast. The next day, her lead in unofficial returns grew to 46 votes. That’s a close election, but not close enough for a recount to have a realistic prospect of changing the outcome. Recounts of two Iowa Senate races in 2010 did not overturn Mark Chelgren’s twelve-vote lead out of more than 19,000 ballots cast or Tod Bowman’s 70-vote lead out of nearly 20,000 ballots cast. Two years later, Republican leads of fewer than two dozen votes in Chris Hagenow’s Iowa House race and Mike Breitbach’s Iowa Senate race both held up after recounts of roughly 17,500 ballots and 30,000 ballots, respectively.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, conservative pundits and Republican politicians have predicted that “Obamacare” would force many businesses to drop health insurance coverage for their employees. This week, the Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys covered the latest data on employer-provided insurance in Iowa. The Clive-based David P. Lind Benchmark research firm surveyed 1,001 employers and found that only 1 percent (mostly “companies with fewer than 10 employees”) stopped offering health insurance coverage this year. The cost of insuring employees in 2015 increased by an average of 7.7 percent, up from the 6.8 percent increase in 2014 but “significantly lower” than typical price hikes “Iowa employers faced a decade or more ago.” Michael Ralston, who leads the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, told Leys “he heard more complaints about insurance costs years ago, when employers’ health insurance prices were rising at more than double the current clip. He still hears grumbling about the complex requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but not as often as in the years after it passed in 2010.” Scroll to the end of this post for more excerpts from Leys’s report.  

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When will our culture recognize domestic violence as violent crime?

Not being a football fan, I had never heard of Ray Rice until the Baltimore Ravens running back received a pathetic two-game suspension for beating up his fiancee Janay Palmer (now his wife) earlier this year. Rice finally lost his job yesterday, after a leaked video showed him punching Palmer in an elevator. But Louis Bien’s timeline of key events in the case underscores how many authority figures bent over backwards to help Rice avoid any serious repercussions.

For months, top management for the Ravens made clear they hoped Rice would continue to play football with minimal interruption. The team’s official twitter account promoted the idea that Palmer shared some responsibility for getting knocked out. Having given other players one-or two-game suspensions for domestic violence incidents, the National Football League didn’t ask the Atlantic City casino for video footage before deciding on an initial consequence for Rice. Unbelievably, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell interviewed Janay Rice about the incident in the presence of her husband. In a meaningless gesture, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely yesterday–after the Ravens had ended his contract.

Instead of moving forward with aggravated assault charges, New Jersey prosecutors offered Rice a deal involving probation and anger management counseling rather than prison time. The “pretrial intervention” agreement means that Rice can avoid trial and even have the criminal charges expunged, as long as he complies with the program. I’m all for abusers getting counseling, in addition to facing legal consequences for their actions. Rice’s deal seems way too lenient, given the evidence prosecutors had on videotape. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office says Rice “received the same treatment in the court system that any first-time offender in similar circumstances has received,” which doesn’t inspire confidence in the court system.

Rice is lucky that he’ll probably never serve a day in prison for this assault, yet football legend Mike Ditka noted sympathetcally yesterday that Rice is “not a bad guy” who has seen his life “ruined” and his earning power “destroyed.” Right-wing media darling Ben Carson loves to talk about “personal responsibility.” But when asked about Rice yesterday, Carson said, “Let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy. He obviously has some real problems. And his wife obviously knows that because she subsequently married him. […] let’s see if we can get some help for these people.” In what other context would a conservative show such sympathy for a man who had beaten someone unconscious? Yes, Rice has problems. Let him get help while he faces responsibility for his crimes.

By the way, Carson spent a few days in Iowa during the last week of August. The possible 2016 presidential candidate headlined fundraisers for the Polk County Republican Party and GOP Congressional candidates Rod Blum (IA-01) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). I hope that Blum, Miller-Meeks, and Polk County GOP Chair Will Rogers will repudiate Carson’s comments about Rice. Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violent crime in Iowa, affecting tens of thousands of people every year.

UPDATE: Worth reading Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on Rice and our cultural attitudes toward violence. Biden was the lead author of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.

World Cup discussion thread

Anyone else watching the World Cup? When the groups were announced, I thought team USA had zero chance to advance from the “Group of Death.” But a bit of a lucky start against Ghana and a solid game against Portugal (with a few sloppy moments) saw the U.S. Men’s National Team through despite today’s loss against Germany.

My friend Tanya Keith never doubted that the U.S. would advance to the elimination rounds at this World Cup. She is the ultimate true believer and author of the new book Passionate Soccer Love: A Memoir of 20 Years Supporting US Soccer. You can listen to interviews about her memoir here.

Aside from the U.S. getting out of the “Group of Death,” my biggest surprises from the tournament have been 2010 World Cup champions Spain being eliminated so quickly and FIFA disciplining Uruguay’s Luis Suarez for his third biting incident in four years. I thought the thoroughly corrupt organization would overlook the offense, given Suarez’s international popularity as a striker for Liverpool in the English Premier League. I hope this talented player uses his suspension from the soccer world to get some badly-needed therapy.

Any comments about the World Cup are welcome in this thread.

Weekend open thread: Winter Olympics, British invasion

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I’m excited about the Winter Olympics starting, despite NBC’s horrible coverage. (In some countries, television networks allow viewers to watch entire Olympic events from start to finish without commercial interruptions, and you can see all the competitors rather than the handful contending for medals.) The opening ceremony was spectacular, especially the holographic projections such as Peter the Great’s ship. I only wish NBC hadn’t repeatedly cut to a shot of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s smug face.

February 7 marked 50 years since the Beatles arrived in the U.S., and February 9 marks 50 years since their first live performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the highest-rated television program of all time. When I haven’t been watching the Olympics, I’ve enjoyed listening to the Des Moines oldies station KIOA, which is playing wall to wall Beatles songs all weekend long. After the jump I’ve posted a few links about the Beatles in America and the British invasion. This is an open thread.

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New Year's Day open thread

Happy new year to the Bleeding Heartland community. Here’s an open thread. I’m among the minority of Iowans not watching the Outback Bowl today, but for what it’s worth, I do hope the Hawkeyes beat Louisiana State. LSU jumped out to an early lead.

Several new laws take effect in Iowa today, notably the alternative to expanding Medicaid, just approved by the federal government in mid-December. Under the plan, federal funds will cover Medicaid for Iowans earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level and private health insurance for Iowans with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In theory, the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan is supposed to cover between 100,000 and 150,000 people, roughly half of our state’s uninsured population. Problems with the federal health insurance exchange website may leave a lot of people with a gap in coverage, though. The Iowa Department of Human Services has advised roughly 16,000 Iowans who applied for coverage through Healthcare.gov and may be eligible for Medicaid to apply again to the state agency. If they apply by January 31, they can get coverage retroactive to today.

Teen drivers in Iowa face new restrictions under Senate File 115, which passed both chambers with large bipartisan majorities last year. After completing driver’s ed and having an instruction permit for six months, teenagers will have an intermediate license for 12 months (extended from six months under the previous statute). Also, the teen driver’s parents have the option to limit the driver to having no more than one unrelated minor passenger in the vehicle. Rod Boshart explained more details about the new law, intended to reduce the risk of traffic accidents involving young drivers.

Boshart also reports, “Thousands of commercial property owners in Iowa face a Jan. 15 deadline to apply in their counties for a new tax credit established” in the compromise property tax bill approved at the end of last year’s legislative session with strong bipartisan support.

As of today, it is legal in the state of Colorado to sell marijuana to people over age 21 at certain licensed stores. Drivers with Colorado license plates were already among the groups more likely to be pulled over by Iowa State Patrol. I would guess that profiling will increase.

In some parts of the country, black-eyed peas are considered a lucky food to eat on New Year’s Day. I’m not a fan of “hoppin’ John,” the most traditional preparation, but I’ve posted the recipe for my favorite black-eyed peas dish after the jump.  

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Weekend open thread: Sports talk

Apologies for not putting up this weekend’s open thread sooner. What’s on your mind?

The weather was good this morning for runners in the IMT Des Moines Marathon and Half Marathon. Congratulations to anyone in the Bleeding Heartland community who raced today. I saw that Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey, who is suing the state after Governor Terry Branstad tried to force him out of his job, ran the half in an excellent time of 1:50:59 (8:29 per mile).

Yesterday was an abysmal day for college football in Iowa, as all three state universities lost in painful fashion. Paraphrasing a question posed by a friend last night, what do you think is the worst way to lose a football game? Blowing a three-touchdown lead in the second half before losing in double overtime, as the University of Northern Iowa Panthers did? Building a halftime lead against a heavily favored team before dashing your fans’ hopes, as the Iowa Hawkeyes did? Or almost getting shut out 71-0 before scoring a touchdown in the final minute, as the Iowa State Cyclones did? To my mind, the UNI loss would be the most painful by far, but the ISU loss would be the most embarrassing.

Speaking of which, as a West Des Moines Valley High School alumna I was appalled to see that on Friday night, Valley defeated Council Bluffs Jefferson by 88-0. Running up the score like that is arguably inappropriate in any football game, but especially in high school. What a lack of sportsmanship and failure of leadership by Valley’s coach. In conversations with me yesterday, several Valley fans defended him, saying put in second-string and third-string players after the team went up by 30 or 40 points. I say there must be a way to run down the clock in a football game without scoring an extra eight or nine touchdowns you don’t need. They humiliated the other team in front of their home-town fans.  

Weekend open thread: Tough choices

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

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday. Naturally, the situation in Syria is on a lot of people’s minds and prompted some animated discussions between services. Our rabbi’s sermon focused on a freakish lightning strike at a Reform Jewish summer camp in June. Another popular topic of conversation for central Iowa Jews was University of Iowa running back Mark Weisman’s “tough choice” to play in the football game against Iowa State. Weisman felt obliged to honor his “commitment” to the Hawkeye football program. His father told the Des Moines Register a few days ago, “He wouldn’t let his teammates down, his coaches down, himself down, the whole nine yards […] It was a tough decision, but I think he made the right decision for him.”

As the old joke goes, ask any two Jews a question and you’ll hear three opinions. I heard lots of perspectives on Weisman’s choice yesterday. Many disapproved and felt he was setting a bad example for Jewish kids. (Almost 50 years after the fact, many American Jews are still proud of Sandy Koufax’s decision not to pitch in a World Series game on Yom Kippur.) But I heard someone comment that Yom Kippur would be almost over by the time the big game started at 5 pm anyway. The guy’s on a scholarship, and there are only twelve college football games in a year.

I knew lots of Jewish kids in college who didn’t observe Yom Kippur, and many Jewish adults don’t fast or spend the whole day in services. If marking the Day of Atonement is not particularly important to Weisman, who am I to say he should sit out a football game?

I will say this: I believe Coach Kirk Ferentz should have shown some leadership so that Weisman wasn’t made to feel that he would be letting the whole team down by not playing.  

Olympic wrestling celebration thread

Chris Essig of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier observed on Sunday, “You might live in Iowa if… Wrestling being retained as an Olympic sport is the lead sports story over the NFL kicking off its season.” True that. You also might live in Iowa if politicians in both parties remind you how hard they worked to get wrestling back into the Olympics. Shortly after the International Olympic Committee’s vote on Sunday to reinstate one of Iowans’ most beloved sports for the 2020 summer Olympics and beyond, celebratory press releases from Representatives Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) and Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) appeared in my in-box. I’ve posted those after the jump, along with comments Governor Terry Branstad made today at a telephone press conference.

Although I’m not a wrestling fan, I was very happy to hear the IOC corrected their idiotic mistake. You don’t have to follow the sport closely to comprehend that wrestling belongs in the Olympics. Few sports have as much history or connection to the Olympic tradition.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I recommend this ESPN feature on Iowa wrestling legend Dan Gable.

P.S.-The Branstad campaign’s “Let’s Keep Wrestling” website was the best list-building exercise I’ve ever seen in Iowa politics. The governor claims that more than 25,000 people supported their efforts.

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Mid-week open thread: Varnum v Brien anniversary edition

What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? Four years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court announced its unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien, striking down our state’s Defense of Marriage Act. After the jump I’ve posted some links about that case, marriage equality in general, and today’s Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The return of Iowa wildflower Wednesday is probably still a couple of weeks away. By the first week of April 2012, many spring wildflowers were already in bloom (far earlier than usual), but even the bloodroot isn’t out yet where I live.  

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Mid-week open thread: Sports and the great outdoors

I’m not much of a wrestling fan, but what the heck were members of the International Olympics Committee thinking when they voted to eliminate wrestling as an Olympic sport beginning in 2020? Wrestling is a much more important sport than some other events they’re keeping. The IOC is adding golf as an Olympic sport in 2016, but even professional golfer Zach Johnson, an Iowa native, disagrees with the IOC’s decision on wrestling. I’ve posted some Iowa political reaction to this news after the jump. UPDATE: More comments are below; also, Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign set up a “keep wrestling” website.

A few weeks ago, Republican State Representative Josh Byrnes made the discovery of a lifetime for a Hawkeye fan: a football signed by Nile Kinnick and other members of the 1939 University of Iowa team. Mike Wiser wrote up the story. Byrnes found the football in the place he’s renting with three other Iowa House Republicans during this year’s legislative session.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is training volunteers to help with their wildlife monitoring programs. They are looking for people to identify certain types of bird nests and frog and toad calls. I’ve posted some details after the jump.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is happening from February 15 to 18. You don’t have to be an expert bird-watcher to help scientists collect information about bird populations. This winter we’ve had more birds at our finch feeder than usual, and I learned they are pine siskins (closely related to goldfinches). They don’t always over-winter in Iowa.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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Weekend open thread: Non-election clips

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? More posts related to Tuesday’s elections are going up today and tomorrow, so after the jump I’ve enclosed a few links on stories not related to any political campaigns.

This is an open thread. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour before you go to sleep on Saturday night.

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Weekend open thread: Anti-bullying edition

A report on alleged misconduct by three football coaches on suspension from Lincoln High School in Des Moines put bullying on my mind this weekend. After the jump I’ve posted background on the football coach story and on the statewide bullying prevention summit that Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds will host in late November.

All topics are welcome in this open thread.  

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Royce White is a brave man

A win-at-all-costs mentality pervades sports culture, with praise heaped on athletes who put the team’s needs first. For instance, Kerri Strug is best known for vaulting on a sprained ankle at the 1996 Summer Olympics. The vault aggravated an injury that ended her gymnastics career, but she is still hailed as a hero for helping the U.S. women’s team win gold.

This week former Iowa State basketball player Royce White, a first-round draft pick for the Houston Rockets, did not show up for training camp. The reason was unprecedented: he is insisting on a plan to address his anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. By making his health a priority, and leveling with the public about his reasons for doing so, White may encourage many other people to seek help for serious mental illnesses.

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Weekend open thread: Final Olympics thoughts

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I’ve enjoyed almost everything about the 2012 Summer Olympics, except for NBC’s atrocious coverage. They don’t even show most of the finalists in the diving or gymnastics events. Their evening broadcasts ignore almost all the events lacking Americans as medal contenders. They don’t broadcast the marquee track and field events live. Worst of all, they show extended previews of lousy-looking new sitcoms during their prime-time Olympics recaps.

Other news that caught my eye this weekend: U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono won yesterday’s U.S. Senate primary in Hawaii. She faces former Republican Governor Linda Lingle this November for the seat left open by retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka. Veteran Iowa campaign professional Julie Stauch managed Hirono’s first U.S. House race in 2006, helping her win a crowded Democratic primary.

According to this Associated Press story, Iowa’s county auditors are not happy that Secretary of State Matt Schultz is paying for a Division of Criminal Investigation agent to spend two years investigating alleged voter fraud. That solution in search of a problem will not only cost $140,000 per year, but also leaves a full-time position unfilled in the DCI’s major crimes unit in Council Bluffs. Priorities, priorities.

Weekend open thread: Olympics opening days

All restrictions on television go out the window at our house during the Olympics. So far we’ve watched parts of the competition in archery, fencing, volleyball, beach volleyball, bicycling (men’s 250K road race and women’s 140K road race), swimming, tennis, table tennis, badminton, men’s gymnastics, and soccer/football (men’s and women’s). I wish NBC broadcast more profiles of outstanding non-American athletes and showed highlights from some sports where Americans are not necessarily medal contenders. The insane number of commercials makes me nostalgic for the years I watched the Olympics on state broadcasters in Europe.

Our state’s favorite Iowan-by-choice Gabby Douglas started competing today in the women’s gymnastics and did well enough to contend for the all-around gold later this week. I think it showed incredibly poor taste for her former coach in Virginia to complain to the Des Moines Register about Douglas’ decision to leave two years ago.

What Olympic sports are you watching? What else is on your mind this weekend? This is an open thread.

UPDATE: Fun story on Radio Iowa: “once again this year most of the [Olympic] swimmers will be wearing suits designed in part by a professor at Iowa State University.”

Weekend open thread: Football blues

I’m not a big football fan, but NFL Hall of Famer Junior Seau’s suicide is on my mind this weekend. Seau apparently shot himself in the chest, and his family will donate his brain to be studied for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. That disease has affected many retired NFL players, including at least two others who committed suicide in recent years. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy was found in one former Cincinnati Bengals player who died at age 26. One of the league’s most notorious underperforming high draft picks showed signs of frontal lobe brain damage as a middle-aged man.

Last week Hawkeyes fans celebrated another solid year for University of Iowa players in the NFL draft. Meanwhile, Superbowl champion quarterback Kurt Warner says he would prefer that his sons not play football. I feel fortunate that my sons have never showed any interest in that sport. The NFL is trying to punish excessive violence on the field, but I don’t know whether it’s possible to separate chronic head injuries from the way the game is played.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Weekend open thread: Dumb ideas edition

In case you hadn’t noticed that President Barack Obama named the wrong people to his debt commission, check out the commission’s preliminary recommendations, an idiotic blend of Social Security cuts and tax increases for most Americans. The cuts would cover the cost of deeper tax cuts for high earners, as if the top 1 percent in the U.S. need any more help. Congress would never pass this package as-is, but it was probably leaked to make the final horrible recommendations look reasonable by comparison. The best thing Obama could do is dissolve this commission. It only puts bipartisan window-dressing on right-wing ideas.

Speaking of Washington Republicans, the incoming House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, recently assured the Israeli prime minister that Congressional Republicans will be a “check” on the Obama administration and that “the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States.” Imagine if a Democratic Congressional leader had promised a foreign prime minister to stand up for that country against the Bush administration if necessary.

When Congress reconvenes next week, members will consider budget bills for fiscal year 2011. Incredibly, the Senate seems poised to reduce funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), even though poverty rates are up because of the recession and high unemployment rate. Helping families pay their heating bills keeps people from freezing in the winter, or burning their house down by using unsafe portable heaters. It also is stimulative, because it cash that qualifying families don’t have to spend on utility bills is cash they will spend on goods and services. The LIHEAP Action Center calculates that if the Senate doesn’t approve the higher level of funding passed by the House, Iowa’s share of LIHEAP funding stands to drop from $75 million in fiscal year 2010 to $36.8 million in the coming year.

Speaking of unwise budget cuts, Governor-elect Terry Branstad and the Republicans in the state legislature want to eliminate public funding for family planning services. That will please the GOP base but doesn’t make fiscal sense:

The results of the study by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center show that publicly funded family planning services are cost-effective for women who would use Medicaid and other public assistance programs if they became pregnant and gave birth.

“With the prevention of an unintended pregnancy, a significant amount of future public funding expenditure can be avoided,” said lead researcher Belinda Udeh, assistant research scientist at the Public Policy Center.

The study focused on women being served by Iowa’s publicly funded family planning clinics in 2009. Study co-authors were Mary Losch of the Center for Social and Behavioral Research and the Department of Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa and Erica Spies, a UI graduate research assistant.

The study based on data collected in 2009 also concluded that publicly funded family planning is most cost-effective for women under the age of 30. When considering forecasting the avoided expenditures for just one year for this age group, over $3 could be saved for every $1 spent on family planning services, Udeh said. The probability of averting a pregnancy need only be 2 percent for this age category for family planning services to be considered cost effective, she added.

The study further reported an overall weighted average for all age categories.  For women already receiving assistance, $3.40 could be avoided in the first year for every $1 spent on family planning services, and $10.84 when the savings are forecast for five years. The savings are even greater for women who would be newly eligible for assistance with savings of $3.78 and $15.12 for every $1 spent on family planning in one-year and five-year forecasts, respectively.

Taxpayers get excellent value for money spent on family planning services. Can’t say the same for the absurd amount we spend on salaries for the head football coach and his assistants at the University of Iowa.

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

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World Cup thread

The “knockout” round of 16 at the World Cup begins today. In a few minutes South Korea will play Uruguay. Uruguay is favored to win, but South Korea is extremely fit and played well together as a team in the early round. The winner of that match will meet the winner of the U.S. vs Ghana, which takes place this afternoon (central time). Ghana happens to be the team that ended our World Cup in 2006.

From the commentary I heard yesterday, no team is strongly favored in the U.S./Ghana match. The crowd will probably be mostly cheering for Ghana, as they are the only African team to advance to the knockout round. Ivory Coast is considered the best African team, but they had a very tough break at this World Cup, ending up in the “group of death” with Brazil and Portugal. South Africa just barely missed out on advancing to the knockout stage.

The best-ever showing for the U.S. at a World Cup was in 2002, when we advanced to the round of 8. We have a lucky draw this year, because as strong as Uruguay and South Korea are, we have a much better chance against them in a quarter-final than we would again, say, Brazil or Spain or Germany.

The biggest surprise for me in this World Cup is that France and Italy both failed to advance out of the group stage. Those two teams met in the championship game four years ago.

Share any World Cup thoughts in this thread, and check out Tanya Keith’s “Soccer…Family Style” blog for a view from the ground in South Africa. If you like watching sports in large groups, here are some places in the Des Moines area to watch the World Cup.

UPDATE: Missed this morning’s match, but my family watched Uruguay beat South Korea 2-1. Watching the U.S.-Ghana match now. We got outplayed in the first half but almost scored at the start of the second half, so maybe some magic will happen.

LATE UPDATE: Disappointing outcome, but you can’t say Ghana didn’t deserve to win that game. The U.S. had many chances in the second half to score the winning goal after Landon Donovan equalized with that penalty kick. You can’t expect to win at the World Cup without converting the kind of opportunities we had. Then we let Ghana get the jump on us in the extra time. Maybe team USA will have better luck in Brazil in 2014.

Big Game open thread

Possibly the only person in Iowa who cares less about the Iowa/Iowa State game than I do is Mr. desmoinesdem.

But for those of you who do care, feel free to share your predictions and/or trash talk.

This is also an open thread for anything else on your mind this weekend.

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