Friday, July 3, 2015


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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Posted May 13, 2015in Civic Skinny

Culver eyes Congress in 2016, or maybe in 2018

Chet Culver is testing the waters. The former governor is checking with former aides and former donors with the idea of relaunching his political career, which came to an abrupt end when he was unseated by Terry Branstad in 2010. “I’m giving serious thought to getting back in the ring,”

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Posted May 06, 2015in Civic Skinny

Godfrey bills now near $770,000. Van Orsdel home sold.

Your tax dollars at work: The cost to the state in defending the lawsuit filed by former Workers’ Compensation Director Chris Godfrey now tops $750,000. The state Executive Council this week will consider — and surely approve — an invoice from the LaMarca law firm for $120,135.43 for defending Gov.

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Posted April 29, 2015in Civic Skinny

Anonymous fellow Democrats pile on Matt McCoy.

Some of his fellow Democrats are anonymously stabbing Matt McCoy in the back. Or maybe in the front. McCoy, the 49-year-old state senator who represents sections of Des Moines and West Des Moines, is considering running for Congress against Republican incumbent David Young. McCoy would be a strong candidate —

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Posted April 22, 2015in Civic Skinny

Brownell sends blistering memo — and wishes he hadn’t.

Bob Brownell, the usually mild-mannered Republican Polk County supervisor, sent an intemperate email six weeks ago blistering Democratic legislator Tony Bisignano (“Senator Boozehound”) and plotting how to use a Bisignano-backed bill to embarrass Democrats and take over the state Senate in the 2016 election. He sent it to seven Republican

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