was a slow week, so Skinny started calling around
asking questions. First question: Whatever happened
to that deal where the Savery Hotel was going
on the block because it didn't pay its taxes?
The Des Moines Register had it on the list of
parcels you could buy — maybe, and after some
time — by paying those taxes yourself. So who
Oh, that never happened, a guy replied. You
can look it up, he said. Indeed, records show
that the Savery's owner, Choa Hospitality of
Escondido, Calif., paid the taxes just before
the tax-sale auction. The tax of $165,057 was
due March 31. That, plus a penalty of $7,428,
was paid on June 24. The tax sale was June 27.
The next installment — $143,189 — is due at
the end of this month. Choa Hospitality owns
a dozen or so hotels around the country, including
the Clarion in Sioux City, in case you were
wondering. Which you probably weren't.
Second question: How's the Iowa Supreme Court
shaping up now that the three new justices have
been sworn in? Well, that's kind of interesting,
a close watcher of the court said, but you're
at least the second person to wonder. It has
veered to the right. Go to The Iowa Republican
blog to find out, he said.
Sure enough, the blog's Nathan Tucker took a
look at decisions since Ed Mansfield, Thomas
Waterman and Bruce Zager joined the court, and
it found that the three of them have on occasion
lined up with Chief Justice Mark Cady to outvote
hold-overs Dave Wiggins, Brent Appel and Daryl
Hecht. The court had been remarkably unanimous
under Marsha Ternus, who was voted out last
fall along with colleagues Michael Streit and
David Baker following the court's decision saying
gays had a right under the Iowa constitution
to be married by civil authorities.
The number of dissents has more than doubled
since the court was changed, and more often
than not the three holdover judges — excluding
Cady — have been in the minority. "Chief
Justice Cady has apparently found his majority
with the arrival of three new justices, though
it is unclear if he can be described as the
leader of his new majority," Turner wrote.
The leader clearly isn't Waterman, another guy
who monitors every decision pointed out to Skinny.
He said Waterman seems to be taking his cue
from Mansfield in almost every case. The statistics
bear that out. According to Turner's figure,
Mansfield took part in 12 decisions between
April 8 and mid-August. He wrote the opinions
in seven of those; Waterman wrote two. Meantime,
Wiggins wrote six opinions — and four dissents.
No other justice wrote more than one dissent.
Still, it's a good bet that if the gay-marriage
case were to come before this court, the right
to marriage would been upheld. But maybe not
unanimously, as it was in the original case.
Word is that The Des Moines Register is cutting
back on distribution of its free community newspapers.
Skinny hasn't officially confirmed it, but we're
told the Tuesday papers now will go to subscribers
only, not to every household, while Friday's
papers will continue to blanket the zones. If
so, that's a big cutback. The Waukee/West Des
Moines zone has 13,901 subscribers — and 25,122
nonsubscribers, for instance. All told, free
papers in the six zones — Waukee/West Des Moines,
Johnston/Urbandale, East/North, Ankeny, Des
Moines West and Des Moines South — go to 167,569
households, but only 58,871 of those are subscribers.
So if what we hear is true, nearly 110,000 households
will be cut out of the Tuesday news. That's
something advertisers will clearly want to know.
Last week, Skinny said "no dogs" this
The greatest of all puff pieces ran last week
in The Washington Post. It told the story of
Leonard Boswell fighting off the intruder at
his farm. Boswell comes off as John Wayne, Dody
Boswell as Aunt Bee, Boswell's daughter as Pauline
in "The Perils of Pauline," and his
hero grandson, Mitchell, as a young Fess Parker.
One fact Tom Latham should consider: Boswell
has two Rottweilers.
Not counting anyone on his staff. CV