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Civic Skinny

Iowa’s Sally Mason screws Iowa State; Some other sh... errr, trash

University of Iowa President Sally Mason may turn out to be the biggest loser in the turmoil that realigned the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. Iowa is the only state with a school in each conference, and Mason — citing a conflict of interest — could have and should have abstained in the Big Ten vote to admit Nebraska, Iowa State fans and some unbiased and powerful Iowans say.
Wait a minute, this just in...


The plane was nearing Des Moines. “We’ll be landing in about 20 minutes,” the stewardess (oops: flight attendant) announced to the passengers. “I’ll be coming down the aisle to collect your old newspapers and any other shit you want to throw away.” Long pause. “I meant trash.”


Back to Sally Mason. An abstention wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the Big Ten vote, but it would have gained Mason important points — for being an Iowan, for being a team player, for being smart — with legislators, regents, government officials and other Iowans who care about all three state universities. “She stuck her thumb in the eye of [Iowa State University president Greg] Geoffroy” and Iowa State, said a Des Moines lawyer with close ties to Iowa State and even closer ties to the Legislature. “People won’t forget that.” By “people,” he means “legislators.”
A guy who seems to know what’s going on said Mason was asked — even urged — by friends outside of Iowa City to abstain, but that she rejected the idea. The former Purdue provost apparently cares more about getting along with her Big Ten colleagues than with her peers and bosses and fellow citizens in Iowa, this guy said. Said another: “The Kingdom of Iowa City remains intact.”


Geoffroy and his athletic director, Jamie Pollard, were near panic when it seemed Iowa State could be one of the odd men out in the conference realignment, a situation that would have cost the university $5 million or more in precious lost revenue. (No one was calling in to order seats for an Iowa State-Wyoming game.) But the 11th hour deal that keeps the Big 12 together (yes, the Big 12 now will have 10 teams and the Big 10 will have 12) will be to the financial benefit of the Cyclones. And they won’t have to play Nebraska in the future. Sometimes, luck is better than strategy.


Two guys who reacted — with muscle — to help Iowa State were Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin. Together with two or three other Senators, they sent what could only be viewed as a threatening letter to Jim Delany, the Big Ten Commissioner. No newspapers seem to have picked up on the letter, which cited the little-known fact that the Big Ten and other conferences are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations under the federal tax code and noted the conference’s primary purpose for its tax exemption “is to regulate intercollegiate athletics as institutional activities to encourage sound academic practices for student athletics, and to establish harmonious relationships among member institutions.”


The letter went on: “Despite this stated charitable purpose, it appears that the majority of the Big Ten’s operations revolve around NCAA athletics and the marketing, promotion, and revenue-generating activities affiliated with those athletic activities.” It then demanded a filing-cabinetful of documents as well as “a detailed explanation of how any considered, planned, or possible expansion of the Conference will help further the stated charitable purpose of the Conference” and, finally, it said, “explain why [the conference] should continue to be tax-exempt.”


The words are chilling. The demands apparently remain in effect, even though the immediate crisis — and it was a crisis for Iowa State — is over. ...


It must have been just an oversight, but Roxanne Conlin’s operatives — who are quick with the e-mail blasts — didn’t call attention to the latest Rasmussen Poll. The poll has Conlin trailing Grassley 54-37, slightly worse than the Democratic challenger’s showing in a Rasmussen poll in May. Still, she’s running stronger than her ticket-mate, incumbent Democratic governor Chet Culver. ...


Happy Father’s Day, ladies: In a Feb. 11 column, Cityview editor and publisher Shane Goodman pointed out how a once male-dominated newspaper industry has changed to female domination. He editorialized how this employment shift in the corporate-owned dailies has changed the content of newspaper publications, too. Feminists across the country were outraged at this assertion, blasting Goodman in blogs. But those feminists apparently don’t read The Des Moines Register. A guy who does still read it pointed out to Skinny that last Friday’s newspaper (just prior to Father’s Day) had two Register publications inserted in it, Des Moines Woman and Moms Like Me, containing such hard-hitting pieces as “Girls’ Time Out,” “Fashionably Fresh,” “Serious Shoes,” “Mom of the Month” and the coup de grace, “Tips For Moving From BFFs to Business Partners.” These niche publications are crafted in the same building, by many of the same people, with some content republished in the pages of the daily. Skinny’s guy says he continues to patiently search for the men’s magazine in the paper. He hopes one will come out in time for Mother’s Day next year.


And interpret this any way you want: Sunday’s paper reprinted an excerpt from a speech by Register publisher Laura Hollingsworth. It began: “The Des Moines Register, formerly a newspaper and now a transforming multimedia company, has” blah blah blah.


It was printed in the Opinion section of what once was “formerly a newspaper.”
Alas. CV


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