Civic Skinny

A couple of cheap shots, a few facts, some limp humor


Not much interesting stuff this week — except for the complaint about the seven-foot penis — so it’s probably best for you just to go straight to the Food Dude.

First cheap shot: After noting that Gov. Chet Culver is touting a four-day week as a way for the state to save money, a fellow Democrat e-mailed Skinny: “He likes the idea so much he’s been trying it out ever since he’s been in office.”

Second cheap shot: After noting that Sen. Chuck Grassley “has probably not hurt himself quite enough to lose” after shedding his image as a “bipartisan dealmaker” during the health-care fight, the mathematician-turned-political-analyst Nate Silver refers to Grassley challenger Roxanne Conlin as a “semi-interesting candidate.”

After watching the shuffling of the deck chairs at the Department of Economic Development and the Iowa Finance Authority, another Democrat — who apparently watches “Sesame Street” in his spare time — asks: “Can you say merger?” …

Followup: Mick Thomson, the Slipknot guy, has indeed bought a loft at the Brown-Camp building. He paid $365,000 for a 1,750-square-foot, third-floor, two-bedroom unit that comes with an indoor parking space that’s worth about $25,000. Seller David Owens had bought the unit in 2004 for $345,000 from former Des Moines Tribune managing editor Bill Maurer. It’s assessed at $276,300. Fellow band-member Craig Jones paid $286,000 for a slightly smaller unit in 2005. In case you care. Also, in case you care, of the 60 lofts in the Whiteline Lofts Building downtown, 36 of them are still owned by the developer or the tenants association. Neither the two huge apartments on the ninth floor — that’s the top floor — nor the four pretty-big ones on the 8th floor have been sold. Three units changed hands this year, but those sales seem to be transfers among the developer. The last sale not involving a developer or relative seems to have been in July of 2008. …

Through November of this year, 811,441 people got off planes at the Des Moines airport. In the same period, 806,223 got on planes. That means 5,218 people are driving around looking for parking places at the airport. Those numbers, incidentally, are down sharply from a year ago; arrivals are down 7.06 percent, departures down 8.15 percent. …

Question no one asked: “If I am caught speeding in a city in Iowa and fined $10, where does the money go?” Well, if you are fined $10, you end up paying $73.50. In Iowa, there is a 35 percent surcharge on every fine except those for parking violations. So the fine is really $13.50. Then you need to add court costs, usually $60. The city gets to keep 90 percent of the fine — or $9, in this case. The other $1 goes to the state general fund. The city also gets 5 percent of the surcharge — which would be rounded up to 18 cents. The Victim Compensation Fund gets 15 percent of the surcharge — 56 cents in this case — even though there is no victim in an arrest for speeding. The remainder, $2.76, goes to the state general fund. So, if you’re pulled over on a city road by a city cop and charged with violating a city ordinance and your total outlay is $73.50, the city gets just $9.18, the Victim Compensation Fund gets 56 cents, and the state pockets $63.76. The whole thing is just one more way in which the state — which mandates but doesn’t fully fund such things as the homestead property-tax exemption and mental-health care — screws the cities and counties. …

That’s it for this week.

Oh, wait — what about that seven-foot penis?

On the day after Christmas, every council member was sent this e-mail from a woman on Northeast 34th Street:

“Subject: complaint about 7ft tall snow penis

“Dear Mayor and City Council,

“I would like to register a complaint about an offensive snow ‘sculpture’ in the front yard of a house on NW 2nd Avenue. The house is about two blocks North of Euclid on the East side of the street. I am sorry, I do not remember the exact address but I assure you you cannot miss it. I was driving my cousin to and from Christmas lunch when we saw a 7 ft tall snow penis in a front yard, very realistic. I called the police to file a complaint at approx. 2:30 pm on Christmas day. Today at 5pm it was still in the front yard. The immature home owner nor the police seem to care that anyone with common sense would be offended by this stupidity. The Highland, Oak and Union Park neighborhoods are continually neglected. I am sure that the snow ‘sculpture’ would not have been up 5 minutes in Urbandale, Windsor Heights or West Des Moines before the homeowner was required to knock it down. Although I do not live in the neighborhood I drive down 2nd Avenue almost daily. In the interest of decency and common sense please see that the homeowner is made to knock it down promptly.

“Thank you.”

End of e-mail. Beginning of sophomoric comments:

The guy who passed this along to Skinny added: “The mayor has a new yard sign out already.”

“Sounds like a case for Dick Tracy,” said another Skinny reader, who proposed a headline for the item: “Larger than life: 7-foot snow penis gets frigid reception.”

Still another proposed: “After four hours, Frosty called the doctor.”

And a final question: How long do you have to look at a seven-foot snow penis to determine it is “very realistic?”

Better stuff next week, we hope. CV