A bulletin sent to subscribers of The Des Moines
Register on July 4:
“DMNEWS. Gov. Branstad hospitalized after choking
incident; spokesman says he’s OK.
“For a diet tip, reply EATWELL”
Numbers, numbers, numbers:
Year-to-year circulation of the daily Register
dropped sharply in the 12 months ending March
25. And that was before the paper raised its
prices and irritated so many of its older readers
by forcing them to pay for the Web version that
they don’t want. Average Monday-to-Friday circulation
in the latest period was 101,915, according
to the figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
That’s down nearly 6 percent from the 108,247
of a year earlier. The newspaper considers its
home market to be Polk, Dallas, Warren and Story
counties, plus a couple of outlying townships,
and home-delivery and single-copy sales in that
territory fell to 60,847 in the latest period
from 63,928 a year before. That’s a drop of
3,081 copies, or nearly 5 percent.
Seven years ago, the daily circulation averaged
150,907. In the metro area, home-delivery and
single-copy sales were 84,997. Put another way,
daily circulation has fallen 48,922 copies,
or nearly a third, in seven years. Metro circulation
has dropped 28.4 percent.
In that same period, the price of the daily
Register in the metro area has gone from $124.80
a year to $137.80. And the number of households
in the area has gone from 221,484 to 249,030.
Advertisers concentrate on market penetration
— the number of households that get the paper
— and that penetration for the daily Register
has fallen to just less than 25 percent from
just more than 38 percent. Put another way,
about one in four households in the metro area
now subscribe to the daily Register or buy it
on the newsstand, down from about four out of
10 seven years ago.
Sunday circulation dropped just a bit in the
latest year, falling to 200,660 from 202,223
a year earlier. In the metro market, Sunday
circulation fell to 108,075 from 110,032. Seven
years ago, statewide Sunday circulation was
239,368; metro circulation was 118,573. While
the drop in Sunday circulation over those seven
years has been 16 percent, nearly all of that
has been outside the metro area.
The newspaper changed its pricing model on June
1, raising its price to $23 a month, an increase
of 20 percent to 40 percent, depending on what
kind of a deal you had. Under the new plan,
everyone has access to the Web version of the
paper, which is what dismays and distresses
some older readers who don’t have computers
and don’t want them. ...
Branstad job watch: When he was running for
office two years ago, the Governor promised
to add 200,000 jobs in five years. When he took
office, nonfarm employment in the state was
1,488,100, according to the nonpartisan Legislative
Services Agency (LSA). The latest number, for
the month of May, is 1,510,800, the agency reported
last week. In 17 months, employment has grown
by 22,700 jobs, or about 1,335 a month. To reach
his goal, he’ll have to triple the pace, to
4,123 a month.
The state ended its fiscal year last Friday
in very good shape, the LSA figures indicate.
Its total net receipts were $6,122,900,000,
up $289 million, or 5 percent, from the $5,833,400,000
of fiscal 2011. And that’s after taking $106
million in cigarette tax revenue out of the
general fund and putting it in the Health Care
Trust this year, something that didn’t happen
a year earlier. The actual fiscal 2012 figures
also beat the estimate of the Revenue Estimating
Commission by 2.6 percent, or about $150 million.
The gains were across the board. Personal income
tax revenue was up 5 percent in the year, sales-tax
collections were up 5.2 percent, the corporate
income tax take was up 32 percent. ...
Still more numbers. The outlook gets tougher
and tougher for Leonard Boswell and Christie
Vilsack, if voter-registration numbers are any
indication of voter sentiment. Republicans last
month widened the registration gap both in the
Third Congressional District, where eight-term
incumbent Boswell faces nine-term incumbent
Tom Latham in a redesigned district, and in
the Fourth Congressional District, where Democrat
Vilsack is challenging five-term Republican
On Feb. 1 of this year, Republicans held a 6,000
vote edge in the Third District. By June 1,
that had widened to 11,206, and on July 1 —
Monday of last week — it was 14,741. In the
Fourth District, the gap on Feb. 1 was 47,105.
By June 1, it had widened to 48,245, and last
Monday it was 53,214. Democratic campaign operatives
will point out the huge numbers of independent
voters in each district — currently 140,679
in the Third District and 167,128 in the Fourth
District — but campaign veterans will tell you
that at the polls independent voters tend to
break roughly along party lines.
Statewide, there now are 655,457 registered
independents, 619,452 registered Republicans
and 598,074 registered Democrats. ...
Boswell tried his damnedest to insert himself
into the July 4 nonpolitical ceremony swearing
in 28 new citizens at Principal Park. His aides
called government offices several times asking
to be included, and each time he was turned
down. Then he showed up at the park and marched
down and went on the field — without permission
and without a field pass — to shake hands with
the new citizens, mildly disrupting things.
Finally, a Cubs official had to go over and
take him by the elbow to shoo him off before
Senior Federal Judge Robert Pratt gave a lovely
talk and swore in the new Americans. The citizens
and the judge got rousing ovations. ...
Your tax dollars at work: The Cedar Rapids Gazette
ran a story over the weekend pointing out that
Courtney Kay-Decker, the head of the Iowa Department
of Revenue, got $8,000 in expenses for moving
to Des Moines — but that she didn’t really move
here. On April 13, 2011, she and her husband
closed on a one-bedroom, 1,270-square-foot,
$210,000 condo in the Water Street Brownstones,
but, according to the Gazette, she “works in
Des Moines an average of only 12 business days
a month.” The rest of her time she lives with
her family in Davenport in a 4,085-square-foot
house that is on 3.6 acres and assessed at $749,780,
according to the Scott County Assessor.
The Gazette’s Erin Jordan reported that Kay-Decker
took the job on the condition that she could
spend half her time in Davenport with her husband
and two children. The state’s relocation-expense
policy is for costs incurred in the purchase
of a new principal residence, the Gazette noted,
and it quoted Deputy State Auditor Tami Kusian
as saying “principal residence” is where the
family lives and where an employee spends the
bulk of her time.
The governor’s office doesn’t seem concerned.
A quote: “You blew into my life like a force
of nature, and my life is no longer as it was.”
— Nancy Sebring