Democrats are pissed — really pissed, really
really pissed — at Swati Dandekar for putting
Democratic control of the Iowa Senate in peril
by resigning to take Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's
offer of one of three seats on the Iowa Utilities
Board. "Honest to God, what she's done
is beyond anything...," says one leading
Democrat. "It's terrible what she's done."
The resignation proves "she's never been
a real Democrat," says another. Indeed,
Democrats have long been irked by her conservatism
on economic issues, but she always has professed
to support the party's agenda on education and
civil rights — an agenda that is endangered
by her resignation. ("Abandonment,"
not resignation, is the word one Democrat used
over the weekend.)
But, Democrats concede, it was a deft political
move by the governor. "He went after her,
bought her, and got her," says a Democrat.
"It was brilliant."
The Democrats hold a 26-24 edge in the Senate,
and if they don't hold on to her seat in suburban
Cedar Rapids the Senate will be split down the
middle for the next session. Neither party will
get anything done without peeling off an opponent
here and there, and there are more conservative
Democrats for the Republicans to woo on such
issues as gay marriage and taxes than there
are liberal Republicans to cross the line to
vote for Democratic education and labor issues.
"She has put her issue — education — at
risk," says a party colleague.
The district is almost evenly split between
registered Democrats and registered Republicans,
but there are more independent voters than voters
aligned with either party. A liberal Republican,
the late Mary Lundby, held the seat for 14 years
before the conservative Democrat got 54 percent
of the vote to beat Republican Joe Childers
for the seat in 2008. Earlier, Dandekar had
served six years in the Iowa House and two terms
on the Linn-Mar School Board. She recently finished
a term as chairwoman of the National Foundation
for Women Legislators. She was born and educated
in India, and she is the first woman from South
Asia ever to be elected to public office in
Just a few days ago, there was every indication
the 60-year-old Dandekar planned to run for
re-election in 2012. She held a fundraiser on
Sept. 8, and the attendees included Senate Majority
Leader Mike Gronstal. "Amazing," says
a guy who was there. Her resignation makes life
infinitely more difficult for Gronstal, who
has been a stalwart supporter of the Iowa Supreme
Court's decision that gay marriage is constitutional
in the state and who is the liberals' great
hope in standing up against the Republican-controlled
house and governor's office. Now, not only does
he face the possibility of losing his fingernail-thin
majority in the Senate, he also will see money
he needs for his own-reelection next year drained
off into the special vote. Republicans have
made him their No. 1 target for 2012, and it's
believed each side is prepared to spend a whopping
— for Iowa — $1 million in that race. (But election
of a Republican could endanger the Senate leadership
of Paul McKinley, who this session has been
feeling the hot breath of leader-wannabe Bill
Dix. Election of a Dix supporter could put the
Shell Rock Republican in the leader's chair.)
Sue Dvorsky, the Democratic state chairwoman,
says the party will have a candidate chosen
for Dandekar's seat in a few days, and while
declining to speculate on how costly the race
will be she did say that "we will have
the resources and a superior field operation."
Without directly saying Democrats are hugely
pissed, Dvorsky said party leaders have "no
choice except to channel their feelings into
action." Matt Strawn, the Republican chair,
says his party is "putting together the
most sophisticated voter-education and get-out-the-vote
program ever assembled by Iowa Republicans."
The election will be Nov. 8. The winner will
have to run again in 2012 in a slightly reconfigured
— and slightly more Republican — district. As
of this weekend, the Republicans hadn't picked
a candidate. One person it won't be: Lundby's
son, Daniel, who has switched parties and announced
in July he'll run in House District 68 as a
Democrat. Don't be surprised if the Democrats
try to woo him — with his well-known name in
Cedar Rapids — to run for the senate seat instead.
Another name being mentioned: State Rep. Tyler
Dowling Catholic High School's ham-handed handling
of the alumni award intended for Loretta Sieman
won't go away. The Des Moines Register on Saturday
ran a long opinion piece by Des Moines lawyer
Mike Manno in which he defends the school's
decision to in effect withdraw its offer of
the award because of Sieman's connection to
Planned Parenthood. He likens her role to that
of a director of a company producing pornography,
which is not exactly offering an olive branch
to the 50 percent or so of Catholics who are
Ironically, while the controversy has split
the Dowling community — noisily and nastily
— it has helped Planned Parenthood. "We
have received several calls and emails of support
along with some donors offering a financial
gift," Planned Parenthood's Jill June told
Cityview on Friday. She called the Dowling decision
"disheartening" and praised Sieman's
dedication in supporting "a health-care
provider that does so much for low-income women"
Jill June is not one of those low-income women.
Skinny stumbled across the Planned Parenthood
tax returns while looking up something else,
and it turns out June's salary as head of the
organization has gone up 45 percent in the past
two years. In the fiscal year ended June 30,
2010, Jill June earned $265,389. A year before,
it was $217,774, and the year before that it
was $182,356. She put down on the form that
she works 80 hours a week. Her empire has expanded
in the past couple of years as Planned Parenthood
has merged or taken over several neighboring
organizations. It has 297 employees, runs about
30 health centers and in fiscal 2010 had revenue
of $23.5 million.
Penny Dickey, the second-highest paid employee,
earned $137,030 in the latest year, up 5.1 percent
from her two-years-earlier pay of $130,386.
The tax form says Dickey, too, puts in 80 hours
a week. ...
The "John Holmes Prick Parade" — those
decorated, "life-size" plaster casts
of the penis of the late porn star John Holmes
— is appropriate "artistic expression"
because it falls within the guidelines for what
is deemed tasteful and appropriate for its art
students to produce, a University of Iowa spokesman
told the Register the other day. So Cityview
asked the university what those guidelines are.
Here are the School of Art & Art History
— No illegal acts are permitted.
— Use of a live nude model requires a signed
agreement and permission of the Director before
— Use of equipment with sound should be kept
at low and reasonable levels due to the proximity
of offices, classrooms, and studios.
— Artwork, as well as props, wires and cords,
should not interfere with the normal flow of
— Alcoholic beverages of any kind are not allowed
on the University campus; therefore, they cannot
be used as any part of your show.
— Blood, body fluids, or any other type of pathogens
— State Fire Safety laws prohibit the use of
open flames of any kind.
— Firearms (i.e.: any usable weapon or usable
weapon parts) and explosives are prohibited.
— Live animals or live insects are not permitted
as part(s) of exhibitions.
The guidelines also "remind students to
be cognizant of the university's policy not
to discriminate against any individual or group
based upon their race, religion, gender, national
origin, disabilities, or sexual orientation."
But no mention of size. CV