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Civic Skinny

Sept 29 , 2011
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A lawsuit, a mural, some condo bargains, and absent doctors

What goes around comes around. Or, it all depends on which side your bread is buttered on:

In 1974, Gov. Bob Ray vetoed a chunk of an appropriation bill passed by the Legislature but did not veto the money appropriated to finance the program he eliminated, meaning he could use the money elsewhere. Some legislators sued. The case reached the Iowa Supreme Court, which on May 12, 1975, held: "If the governor desires to veto a legislatively imposed qualification upon an appropriation, he must veto the accompanying appropriation as well." The veto was thrown out.

In 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a piece of an appropriation bill passed by the Legislature but did not veto the money appropriated to finance the program he eliminated, meaning he could use the money elsewhere. Four Democratic legislators and Danny Homan, the head of the public-employees union, sued. The case now is in Polk County district court.

So what?

The so-what is this: Among the legislators who sued Bob Ray in 1974: Freshman representative Terry Branstad of Leland, Iowa.

As long as we're in it this far. ...

The plaintiffs in that suit also included Chuck Grassley, who was just finishing his eighth and final term in the Iowa House. And, for the record, Bob Ray was represented by Des Moines lawyer Bob Mannheimer. Branstad, Grassley and the other plaintiffs were represented by David Hansen of Iowa Falls, who later served with distinction on the Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. It's unlikely any of the lawyers were being paid $275 an hour from state funds, as Branstad's private lawyer Dick Sapp is getting. ...

There is talk that the famous Jackson Pollack "Mural" will make a stop at the Des Moines Art Center as part of a world-wide tour. The painting, which is worth $150 million or more, was at the University of Iowa art museum until the floods of 2008, though few Iowans knew of it and even fewer had ever seen it. After the flood, it was put in storage in Chicago, and a couple of years ago it was loaned to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

The university and the federal government have been arguing about who should pay for a new museum, and there's been no indication that an agreement is near. It's unlikely that the painting will return to the campus for at least three more years, even though when it was suggested that the painting be sold to finance scholarships for thousands of needy Iowans art lovers and university officials became apoplectic in saying how vital the painting was to the education of students and the very essence of the university. The fact that it has not been on campus for several years does not seem to have affected the university's well-being, enrollment or quality of education. ...

Meantime, the university is getting ready to host Special Olympics Iowa's Medfest, and part of that is a plan to provide free physicals for more than 200 participating athletes. One problem: the doctors at the university don't seem to have the time or inclination to volunteer the five or six hours needed for this Saturday's exams.

"Everything is set to go with over 200 athletes registered to participate, but we have encountered a huge snag — we can't get doctors from the University of Iowa to volunteer their time for the day!" Kathy Irving, director of special programs for Special Olympics Iowa, wrote to colleagues on Friday. "We are truly desperate." Doctors from elsewhere are stepping in, many of them driving for hours to get to the site that is just minutes from the U of I hospitals and the homes of university doctors, one irritated parent tells Skinny. ...

Real estate news: Some folks picked up some real bargains recently in the Park Fleur condos at 3131 Fleur Drive. Urban Family Investments paid $225,000 for a 2,614-square-foot unit that comes with three indoor parking spots. It was assessed at $376,900. Dick Levitt, who already owns much of the top floor, bought an additional 2,076-square-foot unit there with four parking spots for $190,000; it's assessed at $336,900. In each case, a bank was the seller. And Robert Eells sold a 1,249-square-foot fourth floor unit to Marilyn Short for $99,000; it's assessed at $209,700. ...

What recession? The state of Iowa — which is closing offices and laying off people because of alleged budget issues — says tax revenue in the 12 months ended Aug. 31 was $6.534 billion, up $364 million, or 5.9 percent, from a year before. A little-noted state report issued last week says receipts from individual income taxes, corporate incomes taxes, sales and use taxes, fuel taxes and gambling taxes all were up. Cigarette and tobacco taxes and insurance-premium taxes were down. ...

Skinny screwed up (again) last week. Revenue at Planned Parenthood is about $23.5 million a year, not the $7.3 million that was printed here. CV



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