Civic Skinny

Jerry Crawford, John Carlson and the history of chai

Just a bunch of stuff:

Stuff No. 1. Jerry Crawford has registered to lobby for Monsanto in Washington, according to the conservative Washington Examiner, which doesn’t think it’s merely a coincidence now that Crawford’s pal, Tom Vilsack, is Secretary of Agriculture. Tim Carney, an Examiner columnist, writes: “This situation — the Agriculture Secretary’s top fund-raiser, top donor and long-time confidant serving as a Monsanto lobbyist — would seem to create an awkward situation for the Obama administration given the President’s pledges to crush lobbyist influence.”

Stuff No. 2. Word in The Register newsroom is that one reason columnist John Carlson quit is because the management was periodically hassling him about the conservative views that would sometimes pop up in his columns. Carlson, who has been at the paper for 31 years and who has been writing his column for 11 years, was encouraged by previous editors to air his views, but things changed when Carolyn Washburn arrived a few years ago, newsroom folks tell Skinny. Finally, they say, Carlson just decided to hang it up. Nah, says the affable Carlson, he just grew tired of the grind. And, he says, he’s enjoying his three-month-old grandson. “Little guy puked on me three times before I left for work this morning,” he says. “Loved it.”

Stuff No. 3. Your tax dollars at work. Among the 114 semester-long, paid sabbaticals the Board of Regents will be asked to approve at its meeting this week are: Philip Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa will “conduct research in India, collecting archival materials as well as oral histories, to produce an illustrated book on how this everyday drink is interwoven with the South Asian experience of modernity and change.” The everyday drink is chai. ... Prof. Dare Clubb also proposes to go to India, where he “will research Indian theatrical and theoretical forms...[and] explore the relation of dramatic form to dramatic logic, an issue that has interested dramatic theorists for more than 2,000 years.” ... Prof. Kenneth Tse, noting that “over recent years, the development of saxophone performance in China has seen tremendous growth,” plans to spend his sabbatical performing and giving master classes at music conservatories in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. “This will benefit his teaching at Iowa,” his proposal states. ... While Prof. Tse is playing the sax in China, Prof. Rene Lecuona hopes to “present solo piano recitals and piano master classes in South America and Mexico,” a plan that will “enhance her international visibility.” ...And Prof. Craig Gibson will examine “the role of compositional instruction in the mental and moral development of young men in Greece during the Roman Empire.” Meanwhile, union workers will be taking five days of unpaid leave so that their colleagues at the universities will not be laid off.

Stuff No. 4. The election of Skip Moore and Halley Greiss to the Des Moines city council will change the dynamics. Council member Christine Hensley — the de facto leader of the Council since Archie Brooks resigned — will have to work harder to find a four-vote bloc, while Mayor Frank Cownie, who has been pretty much powerless on divided issues in his years in office, gains new allies. Depending on where Greiss lands, Councilman Chris Coleman could emerge as the powerful swing vote. But Moore, Cownie and east-side Councilman Bob Mahaffey seem to be a solid bloc, with Hensley and south-sider Brian Meyer in another camp when differences arise. But, usually, everyone agrees on everything. ... Folks keep telling Skinny that Democrat Cownie is planning on running for Leonard Boswell’s Congressional seat when Boswell retires in three years. A couple of problems with that: Boswell hasn’t said he’s retiring, and the list of Democrats who want to succeed him is long. For that matter, so is the list of Republicans. Also, Boswell has an election next year — and it’s not a laydown.

Stuff No. 5. Where was former Iowa Congressman Ed Mezvinsky the other day when it was announced that his son is engaged to Chelsea Clinton? Hard at work in Ames, where he has donated his papers to Iowa State University and where he shows up periodically to help catalog and organize them. Mezvinsky now lives in New York State. Given his roles as Congressman and imprisoned felon, the papers surely must be interesting. The young couple has more in common than most; one of their fathers was sent to prison, the other impeached.

Stuff No. 6. End of an era. Badower’s/Reichardt’s is now just Badower’s. That’s sad.

Stuff No. 7. What’s the most expensive home ever listed for sale in the Des Moines area? It’s the bank-owned, 13,942-square-foot place at 3800 Fuller Road in West Des Moines. It’s on nearly 10 acres, has a two-bedroom guest house, a large swimming pool, a “hidden poker room” and — the clincher — an 11-car garage. The house was built in 2005 and was formerly owned by developer David Walters, who has had financial troubles. Assessed value: $2.8 million. Asking price: $3.2 million. One other thing: The property taxes are $43,312. A year.

Stuff No. 8. What is “The Des Moines Register”? Last week, television quiz show “Jeopardy” featured a category entitled, Life in Des Moines. Four questions were answered correctly, including one about The High Life Lounge, but the final category question left the contestants scratching their heads. “Des Moinesians keep current with this newspaper, founded in a log cabin in 1849,” drew blank stares from contestants as time ran out. A person who watches such shows tells Skinny, “It says a lot when out-of-towners know more about a bar than ‘The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon.’” CV

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