Columns

Civic Skinny

Culver, Edwards, Branstad, a Dead Prince — and Slipknot!


Apparently in anticipation of the coming legislative session — or as a comment on Civic Skinny — a fellow sent Skinny a note asking if he knew about Hanlon’s Razor. Skinny didn’t. But this is it: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Do not confuse Hanlon’s Razor with Ockham’s Razor, which is, put simply, “keep it simple.” (Technically, it’s “plurality should not be posited without necessity,” which means “keep it simple.”) Ockham’s Razor is also the name of an Irish and folk-music band in Seattle.

Unbelievable segues follow:

Speaking of bands, another member of Slipknot has bought a place at the Brown-Camp Lofts, Skinny is told, though no real-estate transaction has been recorded yet. Craig Jones, one of Slipknot’s nine masked members, has owned a unit there since 2002.

Speaking of real estate, Sandra Pomerantz Reed, one of the four daughters of the late Marvin Pomerantz, has plunked down $904,150 for a newly built four-bedroom, three-bath, two-fireplace, one-whirlpool house at 1019 Burr Oaks Drive in Glen Oaks, the highest price paid for a home in Des Moines or West Des Moines this year. The two title-holders are her trust and Des Moines lawyer Steve Zumbach, the trustee. (Skinny asked its second deputy assistant general counsel/real-estate why a lawyer’s name would be on the deed, and the second deputy assistant general counsel/real-estate gave several reasons, ending with, “And then there’s ego — it’s the ‘he’s my lawyer/she’s my client’ declaration, usually accompanied with the subhed, ‘so don’t fuck with us.’”)... And former Register publisher (and current Drake dean) Charlie Edwards has sold his house at 422 Glenview Drive and bought a new place at 3720 Oneida Point in Southern Hills. Edwards paid $400,000 — less than the assessed value of $417,400 — for the new house, which was owned by the Marguerite Boss Trust. He sold his old place for $345,000 to Thomas Chase. That house has had six owners in the past dozen years, including a former Cityview editor. In 1997, it sold for $136,000. ...

Speaking of “don’t fuck with us,” Skinny joins the world in mourning the death of Giorgio Carbone, for 46 years the prince of Seborga. According to The New York Times, Carbone determined Seborga was not part of surrounding Italy and convinced his neighbors. In 1995, they elected him prince for life and ratified the independence of Seborga. He “established a palace...minted money (with his picture), issued stamps (with his picture) and license plates, selected a national anthem and mobilized a standing army, consisting of Lt. Antonello Lacala. He adopted a motto: sub umbra sede. (Sit in the shade.)” He was known by the informal title of His Tremendousness.

Speaking of goofy things, spending at the athletic department at the University of Iowa rose 51 percent — from $43.2 million to $65.3 million — from fiscal 2005 through fiscal 2009, according to figures released the other day by the Board of Regents. The athletics budget at Iowa State rose 33 percent, to $39.7 million from $29.7 million, and the athletics budget at the University of Northern Iowa rose 36 percent, to $12.1 million from $8.8 million. During that same period, the general-fund budget — that’s the bulk of the educational budget at the schools — rose 25 percent at the University of Iowa, 22.3 percent at Iowa State University and 20.7 percent at the University of Northern Iowa.

Speaking of money, it seems like just a couple of weeks ago — in fact, it was just a couple of weeks ago — that Skinny said “look for everyone to try to figure out another way to get at Department of Transportation money, which comes from the road-use tax and isn’t part of the general fund.” We didn’t have to wait long. Chet Culver now sees a savings of $50 million a year if he can persuade the Legislature to have the road-use fund pay the cost of Iowa’s state troopers. That means $50 million less spent on roads and bridges — many of which are in awful shape — and legislators tell Skinny it’s doubtful the Legislature will go along. Iowans like their roads. Contractors like their road business. The Governor is going to have to look elsewhere.

Speaking of Culver, he got a break a few weeks ago when Survey USA quit doing its monthly check on the approval ratings of Iowa’s governor and its two senators. The ratings had been a monthly disaster for the Governor, but Survey USA’s Iowa client — a television station in Mason City — dropped the business, a Survey USA official tells Skinny. The last survey, taken in late September, showed the Governor with just 41 percent approval among Iowans — and 49 percent disapproval. The poll costs $2,400 a month, if you’re interested; a head-to-head poll would cost you $3,400....

Speaking of polls, Bloomberg News last week published a poll giving Barack Obama a 54 percent approval rating among Americans. That’s higher than most other polls rate him. The Bloomberg poll was taken by Des Moines’ Ann Selzer, who is always rated among the best one or two pollsters in America. “Checked, double-checked.... I think our poll is good,” she tells Skinny.

Speaking of politics, a guy who says he knows says Terry Branstad is rolling in dough for his run to get the Republican gubernatorial nomination in June and then the governorship next November. No campaign reports have been filed yet, but this guy says Branstad is getting big checks. Among other things, this guy says, Branstad sometimes takes big-hitter Bruce Rastetter with him to help twist arms. It works, he says.

Speaking of segues, Amazon has a new one for sale for $7,299.99.

Oh, wait. That’s a Segway. CV



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