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Civic Skinny

February 24th, 2011 |



Frank Chiodo eyes council seat; a kind-of-snide note

Former legislator and current lobbyist Frank Chiodo says he’s thinking of running for City Council this fall. He has his eye on veteran councilwoman Christine Hensley’s Third Ward seat. The only problem: Hensley’s four-year term doesn’t expire until 2014. But Chiodo, who always has his ear to the ground, thinks Frank Cownie will decide not to run for re-election as Mayor this year and Hensley — who clearly would like to be mayor — will seek the job.

Which she’d probably win.

Oops, another problem: Hensley wouldn’t have to give up her Third Ward seat to run for mayor. She ran in a primary for mayor in 2003, finishing behind Cownie but ahead of Mark McCormick, and she didn’t give up her seat then. In fact, Chiodo is assuming she’d keep her seat and there’d be a special ward election if she became mayor.

Hensley last ran for her seat in 2009 and had no opposition.

Hensley’s ward runs roughly from University on the north to the city limits on the south and west to Southwest Ninth on the east, and it includes downtown. She gets much of the credit for the spectacular sculpture park that replaced some dreary blocks there. She was first elected to the Council in 1994 and is the senior council member. And since Archie Brooks left, she’s probably the best member at finding four votes when they’re really needed.

The four ward districts will be redrawn this summer as a result of the new census, but they probably won’t change much. At least six of Des Moines’ 102 precincts have more than the maximum number of 3,500 people, according to County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, who keeps track of such things. The growth areas are northeast Des Moines and the Easter Lake area.

If Cownie does leave, and if, as widely expected, east-side representative Bob Mahaffey steps down, the Council could take on a whole new look next year. Some people think at-large Council Chris Coleman also will retire, but he didn’t respond to an e-mail putting the question to him. ...

From a letter from Kaywin Feldman, president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, to the Board of Regents:

“We sympathize with the challenges faced by the University and its museum, beginning with the devastating flood and continuing through the economic downturn that has put pressure on non- profit organizations everywhere. But we believe it would be nothing short of tragic to compound the devastation of the flood with the loss of one of the University’s premiere attractions. As a part of the Museum’s collection, Mural’s greatest value is as a tool for learning and teaching, representing a pivotal period in the history of American art and culture.”

One of the university’s premiere attractions? Maybe so, but the number of visitors to the university’s museum in a year is about half the number who attend a Hawkeye football game in an afternoon. Of course, the football picture is understandable. In the past decade or so, 60,000 people have viewed the painting in Iowa City and Davenport — equal to about 0.2% of the state’s population. But the issue is moot: The Legislature killed the bill on Monday....

Former Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn wasted no time in getting to work in her new job as editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Late last week, she laid off half a dozen newsroom managers and administrators. And just down the Ohio River in Louisville, former Register editor and current Courier-Journal publisher Arnie Garson laid off 11 workers in five departments. ...

Now, a kind-of-snide note from a Democratic senator:

“Earlier in the session one of our newest elected State Senators, Bill Dix, stood on the Senate floor and demanded that the Iowa Senate begin each day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Senator President Kibbie, who commanded a tank brigade in Korea, responded by saying that Democrats fought for the flag also, and we liked the flag, too. He agreed to begin each day with the Pledge.

“Today, Adjutant Brigadier General Tim Orr spoke to a Joint Convention of the Iowa House and Senate on the State of the Iowa National Guard and the more than 3,000 Iowa soldiers serving on foreign soil in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq. He talked about the families and shared sacrifice of Iowans across the State.

“Senator Bill Dix was too busy to get out of his chair and walk across the Capitol to listen to General Orr. I guess wrapping yourself in the flag gets in the way of walking.”

Skinny, of course, is always happy to pass along kind-of-snide notes. CV