Let’s see now, p.m. means….
Leonard Boswell last week endorsed Desmund
Adams, a state senate candidate from the western
suburbs. “I see, in Desmund Adams, a bright,
fresh, engaged and articulate public servant
who will bring substance and reasoned dialogue
to the Iowa State Senate,” the Congressman said.
He should have stopped at “engaged.” Adams is
black, and “articulate black” is, to many black
people, a kind of backward way of saying, “This
guy is black, but he can talk.” Think about
it. How often do you hear someone referred to
as an “articulate white?”
“Black people get a little testy when white
people call them ‘articulate,’ ” Lynette Clemetson,
a black woman, wrote in The New York Times five
years ago. That was after both Joe Biden and
George Bush referred to Barack Obama as articulate.
“When whites use the word in reference to blacks,
it often carries a subtext of amazement, even
bewilderment. It is similar to praising a female
executive or politician by calling her ‘tough’
or ‘a rational decision-maker,’ ” Clemetson
wrote. And she quoted Anna Perez, the former
communications counselor for Condoleeza Rice
as saying, “When people say it, what they are
really saying is that someone is articulate...for
a black person.”
Skinny, often inarticulate, is always trying
to be helpful. ...
Des Moines officials are breathing easier now
that the Legislature has gone home. By doing
nothing on property-tax “reform” — one man’s
reform is another’s regression — legislators
did Des Moines and other cities a big favor,
for the “reform” would have cost the cities
millions. And by slipping in a last-minute paragraph
or two to let Des Moines temporarily raise its
utility franchise fee to 7 percent, the legislators
gave the city a way to fund the $40 million
refund to utility customers that the Iowa Supreme
Court ordered earlier this year. The bill lets
the city tax people to pay them a refund for
over-collections from 2004 to 2009, in effect
taking money out of one pocket of a property
owner and then giving it back for another pocket.
The fee must first be approved in an election,
which is always a hazard, of course. ...
Let’s see if we have this straight: You’re now
paying anywhere from $16.31 (that’s what a friend
pays) to $17.39 (that’s what the website is
listing) to $18.69 (that what Skinny is billed)
a month for home delivery of the daily Des Moines
Register and Sunday Register. And the stuff
on the website is free. Starting June 1, you’ll
be paying $23 a month for the same thing. That’s
an “extremely great value,” according to a letter
to subscribers from Register Publisher Laura
Hollingsworth. It’s also an increase of 23 percent
(for Skinny) to 41 percent (for our friend).
The letter also said the paper would be bringing
“enhanced coverage of the topics most important
to you,” though it didn’t say how that squares
with the wave of furloughs, early retirements
and resignations at the newspaper. If you’re
interested in the courts, for instance, there
is virtually no coverage except for criminal
trials, and coverage of the city, the suburbs
and the county is minimal. The newspaper now
is being beaten on important or interesting
stories by the TV stations. Last week’s amazing
story about the missing 750,000 pills at Bauder’s
Pharmacy was on KCCI’s website, and picked up
by the Business Record’s morning blast, well
before the Register website had it, for instance.
As of mid-day Friday, there was no report on
Thursday night’s Iowa Cubs baseball game. Still,
Hollingsworth says under the new deal you will
have the “privilege” of looking at the website.
But, of course, you’ll be paying for that privilege.
The subscription model is “broken,” Hollingsworth
said the other day in a long, editorial-like
piece in the news pages of the Register. “Like
anything that is broken, it needs to be fixed.”
She went on about how readers “want to have
access to their local news and information in
any form, at any time, with any frequency.”
One problem, though, is that some subscribers
— especially older ones — just want their news
on the doorstep (or driveway or neighbor’s yard)
and nowhere else.
“Sue and I don’t need all the electronic ‘enhancements’
the Des Moines Register has in store for us
effective June 1, 2012,” Jim Cornick emailed
a bunch of his friends. Cornick, who retired
in 2001 after 20 years as publisher of Successful
Farming Magazine, added: “We don’t want our
paper 24/7, nor do we want it on our phone,
nor do we want it on a smartphone, or computer
or tablet, etc. We just want the paper version
we’ve enjoyed for decades. We called them up
to bitch, and they offered us another full year
at the same price if we paid for it $208.68
in advance, but then promised we would have
to pay the $23 fee/month after the year is up.
So, we decided to go ‘cold turkey’ and cancel
the whole subscription.
“We were on ‘hold’ over thirty minutes because
of ‘an unusual number of calls.’ So it took
us over a half hour to cancel our sub! This
seems like a pretty desperate move from a paper
which is shrinking in size, coverage and significance
in our lives. It will be interesting to see
how we adapt to not having the paper every morning.
Maybe we can get on the treadmill 30 minutes
sooner in the day.
“It will be interesting to see if we miss the
paper. We may be going to Hy-Vee more often
for breakfast to read their paper.”
One guy who got the note responded that he,
too, had canceled. “I will miss the 15 minutes
(5 minutes on Monday) that it takes me to read
the paper, but I will join you and become a
former very-long-time subscriber.”
There is no option for those who just want the
print edition. Even though as of Monday morning,
the website was still offering the old options
for print edition only and did not mention the
electronic edition. And you still couldn’t get
through to the 800 number.
“I hope your paper crucifies the Register in
the next edition. I cannot believe they are
raising subscription rates for all subscribers,
even if they do want online access. Don’t they
understand there are many people who do not
own a computer (my mother, for instance), who
don’t need to pay more for a service they’ll
never use?” reader John Moore emailed Cityview.
“That’s like the cable company charging everyone
extra for 3D content even if they don’t own
a 3D-capable TV set. I’ve always liked the way
you call this publication out in print. Please
do not disappoint.”
Meantime, Skinny hears the newsstand price of
the daily Register soon will go to $1, the Sunday
paper to $3. ...
Word is that Matt Hinch, the trusted Administrative
Assistant to Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig
Paulsen, may be leaving his position now that
the Legislature has adjourned. The rumor around
town is he will take a position with the Downtown
Des Moines Chamber. Further word is that he’ll
be succeeded by Doug Struyk, the former legislator
from Council Bluffs who lately has been working
for Secretary of State Matt Schultz. ...
Nancy Sebring leaves town with a check and a
handshake and, apparently, no guilty feelings
about walking away from the school superintendency
in the middle of her contract. She leaves with
a check for $31,719, compensation for 37.5 unused
vacation days, according to school officials.
She forfeits any accumulated sick leave. One
modest suggestion: In the “contract” for the
next superintendent, why not at least make the
person pay for the search for a successor if
he or she, too, walks away mid-contract? Just
a passing thought. ...
So far this year, there have been 25 or so sales
of homes for more than $500,000 in Polk County.
Only one of those homes is in Des Moines. In
January, Mark Poole paid $560,000 for a 5,000-square-foot,
five-bedroom, four-bathroom home at 339 45th
The seller was Chris S. Karas. ...
Back to the Register: One reason long-time print
subscribers like the paper is because it runs
columns by Don Kaul. But those columns are available
— free — at otherwords.org. …
Line of the week, from The New York Times obituary
on Maurice Sendak:
“Roundly praised, intermittently censored and
occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were
essential ingredients of childhood for the generation
born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn
for their children.”
Now we know why the delicious ice cream at Bauder’s
is so addictive. CV