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Civic Skinny

Leach is leaving; Appel is re-reconsidering;

5/15/2013

No one seems to have noticed, but Jim Leach has resigned as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a job he has held since August of 2009. Leach, a Republican, served 30 years in Congress from eastern Iowa before he was upset by Dave Loebsack in 2006. Two years later, the Republican endorsed Barack Obama instead of fellow Republican John McCain. Perhaps as a result, President Obama nominated Leach to head the NEH.

Leach announced his resignation on April 23, effective last week, but the news apparently didn’t reach Iowa. Word is he is considering a couple of academic appointments — he was a professor at Princeton after leaving Congress. He was in the early running to be president of the University of Iowa a few years back but faculty members of the search committee laughed his name off the list because he wasn’t one of them. The job instead went to Sally Mason. …

A story: Luther Hill, who loved all things Simpson, was concerned 30 or 35 years ago because the football team at Simpson wasn’t very good. So when the coach quit, Hill went to see Bill Reichardt, the onetime all-American football star at Iowa and the guy who owned the store.

Hill asked Reichardt if he’d become the part-time coach for Simpson. Reichardt didn’t reject it out of hand, so they kept talking. Making his case, Hill said, “We don’t need to win them all, Bill. We just want to win our share.” Reichardt then abruptly turned down the offer. “I told him,” Reichardt told a friend at the time. “I don’t want to win my share. I want to win them all.”

That’s everything you need to know about the thinking of two fascinating men.

Hill died a couple of weeks ago at age 90. Reichardt died in 2004 at age 73. …

Attorney General Tom Miller punted last week on whether Iowa Public Radio is subject to the Iowa Open Meetings Law. Legislator David Johnson had asked for an opinion following the bizarre claim by IPR that it isn’t subject to the law.

“While we believe it is likely” that IPR is subject to the law, Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff wrote Johnson, “it is unnecessary for us [to] muster and evaluate all of the facts that may bear on this determination,” because IPR intends to amend its operating agreement in July to state that it is subject to the law.

Of course, Johnson didn’t ask whether IPR will be subject to the law in the future, he asked about right now because of the closed meetings the board held to discuss the employment of Mary Grace Herrington, whom it subsequently fired. If the board were subject to the law, those two meetings would have been illegal, lawyers and reporters who deal with the law say. If a court agreed, six of the seven IPR board members would have been forced to quit.

Meantime, Herrington has settled her claim against IPR for around $200,000, which is about $140,000 more than she would have gotten had the IPR board not screwed things up. …

Times change. A Las Vegas lawyer named Jennifer Dorsey has been nominated to be a federal judge in Nevada. Sen. Charles Grassley, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is holding things up because two partners in the firm she’s in made $150,000 contributions to a political action committee for Senate Democrats. The committee is linked to Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

CVA_16PAGE 6Grassley seems to find it unseemly for people with political links to be nominated to the court.

It wasn’t always thus.

Jim Gritzner now is the senior judge for the federal courts for the Southern District of Iowa, sitting in Des Moines. He was nominated in July of 2001 and and confirmed by the Senate in February 2002. Gritzner managed Grassley’s 1986 campaign for the senate, co-chaired the 1992 campaign and was the campaign’s chairman from 1998 to 2001, according to a 2006 report called “Money Trails to the Federal Bench.” It also says he contributed $970 to Grassley’s campaigns.

At the time of Gritzner’s nomination, Grassley issued a press release saying he would “do all he can to expedite the process” of confirmation. And after Gritzner was confirmed, Grassley took to the Congressional Record to heap praise on him as a lawyer and a public servant. The statement never mentioned the judge’s campaign work. …

Democrat Staci Appel, who was considering running for Congress against 10-term Republican incumbent Tom Latham and then reconsidered and decided not to, is reconsidering her reconsideration and might take Latham on. “I do not seem to be able to go to the grocery store or out for a meal without being asked about running,” she told Cityview last week.

Appel served one term in the Iowa Senate before losing to far-right-winger Kent Sorenson — who now seems to have a major ethics problem related to his work for Michele Bachmann. If Appel runs, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson — both prodigious fund-raisers — will co-chair the campaign, she told Cityview.

If Fred Hoiberg never wins another basketball game at Iowa State University, he’ll still get a raise of $100,000 annually until the end of his new contract on April 30, 2023. That would put his pay in that final year at $2,400,000. And if he never wins another game, ISU can’t fire him for having bad teams. According to the 10-year contract he signed that went into effect the first of this month, the popular coach can be terminated for cause — things like major crimes — but “cause” specifically does not include “team performance, including but not limited to the win-loss record or public unhappiness with win-loss record; or other general displeasure at the direction or success of the basketball program.”

Of course, if he wins he gets all kinds of rewards, ranging from $25,000 for each victory in the NCAA tournament to $50,000 for getting into that tourney or for winning the Big 12 post-season tournament, to $100,000 each time ISU wins or ties for the conference regular-season tournament to $250,000 for getting into the Final Four.

If he quits to become head basketball coach at another Division I school, he has to pay ISU $2 million. If he quits to be head coach or general manager at a National Basketball Association team, he has to pay $500,000. But if he quits for any other reason, he can just walk away — to coach at a small school, to run for office, to go into business, to simply sit home and clip coupons. If he’s fired without cause, he collects immediately 60 percent of everything owed him until April 30, 2023.

But the ISU people did drive a hard bargain: While the contract does provide the coach with a car and initiation and annual membership dues at the Ames Country Club, the ISU negotiators drew a line in the sand and specifically will not pay for the “minimum food and beverage requirements” at the club. That’s $150 a quarter. CV

Jokers