Civic Skinny

December 30, 2010

Gibbons’ lawsuits, Boswell’s fund-raiser, Strentz’s sign


Jim Gibbons has signed on as chief deputy and director of business services in the office of Secretary-of-State-elect Matt Schultz. The former Iowa State wrestling coach brings some unusual credentials to the job.

Credential No. 1: Gibbons worked for Edward D. Jones & Co., the brokerage house, from April 23,1996, until August 6, 2004, when he resigned without notice and, according to court documents, “immediately joined a competitor,” Wachovia Securities. According to a lawsuit filed against him by Jones, Gibbons, “while still employed by Edward Jones, conspired with Wachovia to wrongfully convert Edward Jones’ records and to secretly divert Edward Jones’ customers to Wachovia,” which allegedly violated the terms of his employment contract. Neither Gibbons nor his attorney showed up for a court hearing, and on Sept. 21, 2004, the Dallas County district court found that Gibbons “has breached and continues to breach” his contract with Jones, and the court “enjoined and restrained” him from using Jones records or soliciting Jones customers. Perhaps because of a settlement, the case was dismissed two-and-a-half years later.

Credential No. 2: In 2009, the estate of Lester D. Gardiner Sr. sued Gibbons and others for negligence and breach of duty, saying that Gibbons “knew or should have known” that two aged clients of his “were not competent” to change the beneficiary on an account at Jones with $200,000 in cash and securities. The “dementia and confusion were obvious to persons having contact with them,” the suit notes. The suit was part of a family dispute. It appears to have been settled without further court action.

At any rate, the former coach probably will earn something over $100,000 a year in his new job directing business services for the Secretary of State. That’s a big cut from what he earned in 2009. According to a financial disclosure statement filed with the House of Representatives when he temporarily moved into the district and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination to run for Congress against Leonard Boswell, Gibbons last year earned $226,884.57 from Wells Fargo Advisors. He also picked up $7,500 as a color-commentary fee from the Big 10 network, $4,400 for color commentary for Iowa Public Television and $1,200 from ESPN.

Gibbons became Iowa State’s wrestling coach in 1986, at age 26, succeeding the legendary Harold Nichols. Gibbons was Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1991, and he had a 96-32-1 record before retiring after the 1992 season. As a wrestler at Iowa State, he won the 134-pound title at the 1981 NCAA meet. He showed interest in returning to Iowa State as coach in 2009, following Cael Sanderson’s widely lamented decision to quit and go to Penn State, but by then he had some detractors. Among them was former ISU wrestler Frank Santana of 7 Flags fitness in Clive. In a long and widely circulated e-mail to Gibbons (with a copy to ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard), Santana cited “five reasons we cannot support you in your quest for this position.” Among them:

“Your actions taken toward the former ISU wrestling alumni upon your first ISU coaching go-around made you a divisive and polarizing figure within the ISU wrestling family and gave clear evidence of your lack of the appropriate personal and business maturity. We see nothing in your recruiting and coaching record...which merits another consideration....”

[In passing, Santana noted: “After all, we have had little communication since I was a senior at ISU in 1978 and you were a freshman, and my only substantive recollection of you was when you wrestled on the west coast trip my senior year, the only times I ever saw you wrestle, and when you disgorged the too many tequila shots you had at the ISU wrestler’s barbeque. Both occasions were less than memorable.”] ...

Meantime, Schultz and two fellow elected officials — state treasurer Mike Fitzgerald and auditor David Vaudt — will need to sharpen their elbows while legislators again eye the beautiful and spacious offices the three have in the Capitol. Legislators have long wanted the space for themselves and their staffs, and four years ago they almost succeeded with their eviction notices. The plan involved a new building and some pay raises, but the economy torpedoed the building and Chet Culver reneged on the deal and blocked the pay raises, so they stayed put for four years. But the legislators still want the space and already are making noises about eviction. ...

Christie Vilsack’s broad hints about running for Congress in 2012 aren’t scaring incumbent — and fellow Democrat — Leonard Boswell out of the race. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite. Boswell has scheduled a fund-raiser for early January at the Cub Club. The raised funds are not for Vilsack. ...

Channel 13 continues to make inroads into Channel 8’s longtime news leadership in central Iowa. While Channel 8 (KCCI) has widened its 10 p.m. lead among adults 18-49, Channel 13 (WHO) has taken over the lead in that demographic at 6 p.m., according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. The period measured was the four weeks from Oct. 28 through Nov. 24. With that demographic, KCCI leads from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., WHO from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., KCCI from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The NBC Nightly News on WHO continues to beat the CBS Evening News on KCCI at 5:30 p.m. WOI, the ABC affiliate, simply isn’t a player in the market.

On election night — in the slim case you are interested — WHO led KCCI in adults watching from 9 till 10 in the evening. From 10 to 10:30, they tied. Each had nearly five times the adult audience that WOI had. ...

So Herb Strentz, the former Drake educator and current nag about the First Amendment and the loveliness of the Iowa Constitution, woke up on Christmas morning to find this sign planted in his yard by a daughter visiting from Australia:

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