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Civic Skinny

March 22, 2012
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A fine speech, a cheap dinner and student drunks

Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady spoke at the Constitutional Law Center at Drake University the other day, but you probably don’t know that. Cady, which you probably do know, wrote the eloquent opinion that said gays have the right to marry in this state and churches can’t be forced to perform such marriages. It was merely the latest in a long line of decisions establishing Iowa as a state that honors and values rights for all, dignity for all and equality for all. The unanimous, seven-justice opinion then led to the defeat of the three members of the court who were up for a yes-or-no vote in the 2010 election.

“It was a bold and courageous speech,” says a lawyer who attended the Drake talk. “Cady said what many would not, without apology or boastfulness, and with an appropriate amount of pride.” Another guy who was there emailed Skinny the next day praising the speech. The talk was “rich in substance,” the fellow reported. And he added: “It’s still available (to Cityview) as an exclusive.”

Indeed. The first guy: “I was struck by the sad juxtaposition that occurred. Steve Wozniak spoke at an event on a public community-college campus (that same day) that required advanced ticketing, with many seats reserved for paying sponsors. For all we know, he was paid a speaker’s fee. Media coverage of the Apple co-founder included a reporter’s live ‘tweets’ and newspaper articles.

“The Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice spoke at a private college where the event was open to all comers and attracted a full room. He spoke for free and for freedom. No press tweeting and not a peep in the paper.”

The Cady speech, the first of what is expected to be an annual program at Drake on the Iowa Constitution, was entitled: “A Pioneer’s Constitution: How Iowa’s Constitutional History Uniquely Shapes Our Pioneering Tradition in Recognizing Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Alas, it is on neither the Drake nor the Iowa Supreme Court website.

In fact, Wozniak was paid $25,000 as a fee plus $5,300 for travel and transportation. And the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites provided hotel rooms. Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) president Rob Denson, in an admirably quick reply to a freedom-of-information request, said the college raised $54,500 in cash and got $6,500 of in-kind help to bring in Wozniak, Dr. David Gallo, Adam Carroll and Fritz Maytag for Innovation Week. He said Gallo got a $5,000 fee, Carroll a $2,000 fee and Maytag nothing. All got expenses. He also said Wozniak usually gets $100,000 for a speech.

The U.S. Army contributed $11,000 in cash and $4,000 in services. Microsoft, J.E. Dunn Construction, CDS Global, and the city of West Des Moines each pitched in $8,000. The Iowa Economic Development Authority and Club West each added $5,000, the Holiday Inn provided $2,000 in rooms, and Tassel Ridge Winery gave $1,500 in cash and $500 in products.

So $24,000 in cash and $4,000 in services came from tax-supported organizations. In case you were wondering. ...

Meantime, DMACC is almost finished with its Spring Gourmet Dinner series. The dinners, put on by the school’s Iowa Culinary Institute, cost $90, and $25 of that is tax deductible. That means the school values the meals at $65 each. That’s kind of interesting, for in the midst of that series the Institute also hosted an “Iowa Republican Legislators’ Dinner,” which cost $20 to attend. (The menu also referred to it as the Iowa Republican Legislator’s Dinner, apparently in case just one legislator showed up.)

One Republican who went said there was a well-stocked open bar, and there were bottles of California and French wines on the tables to go with the cherry smoked pork tenderloin, with the “duet of Dauphinoise Potatoes with Gruyere and Parmesan Cheese and Pan-Roasted Pattypan Squash and Zucchini.” The wines were Schramsberg Mirabelle Non-Vintage Brut, Schramsberg’s Mirabelle Brut Rose, Domaine Franck Millet Sancerre Blanc 2010 and Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2008.

The wines are listed on the Internet at $20 to $40 a bottle.

If the cost per person exceeded what was charged by more than $3, DMACC would be in violation of Iowa Code Section 68B.22. Asked about this, one long-time lobbyist said, “Long story short: The event seems to violate the ethics law, but good luck proving it.” …

The good news: Crime is down at the University of Iowa.

The bad news: The University of Iowa told the Board of Regents this week that in 2011 there were 858 arrests for liquor law violations, 439 for drunkenness, 131 for driving under the influence and 169 for drug and drug-equipment violations. Among other things.

The bad news: Crime is up at Iowa State. Last year, there were 446 liquor law violations, 298 arrests for drunkenness and 142 for drunk driving. There were 182 arrests for drug and drug-equipment violations. Crime is also up at the University of Northern Iowa. Last year, there were 15 arrests for liquor law violations, 58 for drunkenness and 52 for drunken driving. There were 83 drug arrests.

But look on the bright side: There were no arrests for peeping toms or prostitution at any of the three universities. ...

The folks trying to screw up UNI President Ben Allen’s plan to make the university viable by, among other things, killing the Price Lab School have hired a lobbyist. Tom Stansberry, the onetime president of West Bank who now is a lawyer at the Davis firm, added “Support Price Lab School” as a client on March 5, according to state reports.

Told that UNI had hired Stansberry, one pal of Skinny emailed: “Maybe he will rely on old banking contacts at Master Card to sell naming rights to the place. New name: Priceless Lab School.” CV

Editor's update: The podcast is now available through the following link- http://www.law.drake.edu/podcasts/public.aspx



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