Thursday, July 30, 2015


Posted July 29, 2015in Civic Skinny

Wife-beating charge could complicate plea deal in Sorenson case. Grassley’s money. And Juice.

If you’re awaiting sentencing on federal charges that could send you to prison for up to 25 years but hoping you can cut a deal for lesser time, it’s probably not a good idea to drink 12 ounces of rum and then beat up your wife. And then get in

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Posted July 22, 2015in Civic Skinny

Gronstal joins Clarinda suit; 1973 ruling unearthed.

Four more legislators — including powerful Senate leader Mike Gronstal — have joined the suit challenging Gov. Terry Branstad’s decision to close the mental health institutes at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. And the Polk County District Court has granted the plaintiffs’ request for an expedited hearing. The suit, filed July

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Posted July 15, 2015in Civic Skinny

Who will make what in the city and county this year.

Ninety-two of the 1,191 full-time employees of Polk County will make $100,000 or more in the fiscal year that started July 1. And 102 of the 1,555 employees of the City of Des Moines will top $100,000. The two highest paid: county medical examiner Gregory Schmunk, at $238,689, and city manager

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Posted July 08, 2015in Civic Skinny

AFSCME will sue Branstad for closing Clarinda facility.

The state’s largest public-employee union certainly will sue Gov. Terry Branstad for vetoing the legislature’s attempt to keep open the mental-health facility in Clarinda — if, indeed, the suit hasn’t already been filed by the time you read this. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) sued

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Posted July 01, 2015in Civic Skinny

Register circulation drops again. Klinefeldt won’t run.

Dave Chivers, the new publisher of The Des Moines Register, has his work cut out for him. Audited figures show the newspaper’s slide in circulation is continuing unabated. In the quarter ended March 31, print circulation of the Sunday Register was 132,544. That’s down 13,330 from the year-earlier figure of

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Posted June 17, 2015in Civic Skinny

Happy Father’s Day. A dad who lived to be 102 tells his son the secret to a long life: No left turns

Michael Gartner is on vacation. This column, about his father, ran in USA Today just before Father’s Day in 2006.   My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was

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Posted June 10, 2015in Civic Skinny

Gabus Motors gets $72,500 judgment against Marty Tirrell.

This slipped through the cracks: Marty Tirrell has lost his fight against Charles Gabus Motors. In April, after a nonjury trial, Polk County District Judge Douglas Staskal ordered the beleaguered sports broadcaster to pay the auto dealer $72,034, plus interest and costs. The issue was simple: Tirrell, who at the

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Posted June 03, 2015in Civic Skinny

James Conlin spends $100,000 on a matter of principle.

Remember James Conlin’s lawsuit against the city on the pressing issue of wood windows vs. vinyl windows? Probably not. But how about this: Conlin has spent $100,000 in legal fees in the suit, which concerns a $6,000 issue. So far. It’s a matter of principle, he says. “I think people

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Posted May 27, 2015in Civic Skinny

Branstad’s Expo money-raising broke ethics rule.

Jason Noble of The Des Moines Register wrote a first-rate story last week on the woes of the Central Iowa Expo in Boone. In it, he noted that between gubernatorial stints, Terry Branstad was hired to try to raise money for the beleaguered facility. He noted, too, that a 2010

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Posted May 20, 2015in Civic Skinny

The docket: Des Moines sues over dead trees.

At least 232 trees planted in Des Moines by Frontline Lawn and Landscapes of Pleasant Hill have died, and the company has refused to replace them, the city said last week in a lawsuit filed in Polk County District Court. Two years ago, Frontline won a competitive bid to plant

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