Civic Skinny

Funk for supervisor? Stuff on Grassley and Culver


“Not sure if you have heard the scuttlebutt,” a guy who hangs around the water cooler told Skinny last week, “but the Republicans are rumored to add Dave Funk to their November ticket as a candidate against [two-term Polk County Supervisor] Tom Hockensmith. Maybe his slogan ‘Congress Needs Funk’ can be recrafted to ‘Polk Needs Funk?’”

Skinny hadn’t heard. But it’s possible this will be official by the time Cityview comes out, a guy says. So if it is, skip this item.

Funk, who lives in Runnells, finished third in the seven-way Republican congressional primary in which Brad Zaun won the right to take on Leonard Boswell. Funk was generally known as the Tea Party candidate, and he got around 20 percent of the vote while winning several precincts in the supervisory district.

All three Democratic supervisors are up for re-election this fall, and Angela Connolly and John Mauro are generally considered shoo-ins. Indeed, neither has an opponent as of yet. But a Funk-Hockensmith race might be closer than Democrats want, and a Funk victory would give the Republicans control of the county for the first time in decades. The two incumbent Republicans, E.J. Giovannetti and Bob Brownell, are not up for re-election this year.

At any rate, a Funk candidacy would energize the labor people, who could raise lots of money and get out lots of voters to support their pal Hockensmith. The third-district supervisor has been a member of both AFSCME and the electrical-workers union and is always a sure vote for any union-backed issue.


Start of lesson:
Scuttlebutt? In olden days — even before Chuck Grassley was born — a barrel on a ship was called a “butt.” One barrel was always filled with drinking water, and to get at the water the sailors would cut a square piece out of the top of the barrel. That square looked like a hatch on a ship, and in those days one word for hatch was “scuttle.” So the scuttlebutt was, in effect, the water cooler. Then, as now, folks gathered around the water cooler to gossip, and that’s why still today some people refer to gossip and rumor as scuttlebutt.
End of lesson. …

Bad news continues to mount for Chet Culver. Auditor David Vaudt’s report on apparent misuse of funds in the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Division is the sixth or seventh — who’s counting? — scandal the Republicans can capitalize on. And the governor’s response to The Des Moines Register’s Clark Kauffman isn’t going to do anything for peace and harmony among Democrats. He threw Tom Miller under the bus, saying the attorney general’s office wouldn’t let him fire now-departed director Lynn Walding because, according to Kauffman’s story, “there was no legal basis to do so.” So much for party unity.

That was last week. This week, look for new voter-registration figures that will deal a huge blow to the Democrats. Today or tomorrow, the state will release figures showing a 38,000 jump in the number of active registered Republicans in the state between June 1 and July 1 — and drops of 9,000 Democrats and 23,000 independents. The new figures will show around 683,000 active independent voters in the state, about 661,000 Democrats and 615,000 Republicans. Those tightening numbers are approaching the 2008 pre-Obama figures.

And when there’s good news, it’s missed or played down. The Legislative Services Agency reported Thursday that state revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30 were higher than the Revenue Estimating Conference had predicted, but there was no story in Friday’s daily newspaper. ...

Back to Grassley: The senator gave a 17-minute speech to the state Republican convention the other day. He didn’t mention Roxanne Conlin, the Democrat who is running against him, but he did talk a lot about the Constitution.
“It is not a living, evolving contract,” he said. “It is exactly the same as originally intended except when the American people from time to time might amend it.” At the same time, Grassley continued to question Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan about her views on the Second Amendment — he queried her on that when she was nominated to be Solicitor General last year — and all that prompted a guy to e-mail Skinny: “I guess this means Grassley feels the Second Amendment means it is okay for people to own only muskets and other 1770s guns.”

What about catapults and tomahawks?

“Americans deserve from their government a lot — but everything they deserve is in the Constitution, and nothing more,” Grassley said at the state convention. It’s unclear which provision in that Constitution allows the deserving Grassley family — the Senator and his children — to have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies in the past 15 years.
But surely it’s there.
And then he said: “One issue I have not mentioned — it’s the most important — but, above all, life must be defended.” It’s clear he was talking against abortion, though another guy said he can’t find that word in the Constitution, either. He also made a clear pitch to the religious right — which was heavily represented at the convention — by noting that if you “read the background of the Founders” you’ll see that their “good government policy” was based on the “proven principles...founded upon Biblical conviction.”
Grassley gave a big shout-out to Terry Branstad and his running-mate, Kim Reynolds, and Branstad needs it with that right-leaning convention crowd. The far right’s Bob VanderPlaats carried 74 of Iowa’s 99 counties in the primary, and it was little noted but VanderPlaats carried much of Des Moines as well. He won virtually all of the east side and chunks of the south and north sides. Branstad ran strong in the wealthier west side — allowing him to win the county by a mere 133 votes — but VanderPlaats took the neighboring Story, Warren, Madison and Jasper counties. ...

The death of Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia means that Iowa now ranks second in terms of combined seniority in the United States Senate. Grassley has been there since 1981, Tom Harkin since 1985. Only Hawaii, whose Senators were first elected in 1963 and 1991, ranks higher. ...

A lot of supporters of Dowling Catholic High School — formerly known as Dowling High School/St. Joseph Educational Center — are dismayed by Bishop Richard Pates’ efforts to establish a second Catholic high school in the area. Backers want a 400-student school — perhaps downtown — modeled on the Cristo Rey concept, which is a Jesuit-styled program for “urban young people who live in communities with limited educational opportunities.” There are 24 such Cristo Rey schools in the nation, and support for one is growing in Des Moines, but some Dowling supporters say the big West Des Moines high school already provides opportunities for poor, urban students. Unstated: some of the poor urban students who might be siphoned off to Cristo Rey are good athletes. ...

For your holiday planning: According to a new supplement to the Iowa administrative code, it is illegal to schedule a boxing match in Iowa on Christmas Day. CV


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