Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Civic Skinny

Besieged Dr. Baldi sells Foster Drive home.


Two homes in the suburbs have recently sold at big prices. On July 19, Marcus Hasting paid David E. Short $1,520,000 for a 5,122-square-foot home at 1732 Glenleven Terrace in Glen Oaks, the most anyone has paid for a house in Polk County this year. The four-bedroom, four-bath home was built in 2009 and is on 1.059 acres, according to county records.

On Aug. 8, Kyle J. Alliman, an eye doctor, paid Jeffrey Larson $1,250,000 for a 5,717-square-foot home at 7611 N.W. 104th St. in Grimes, the second highest sale in the county this year. It’s a four-bedroom, five-bath home built in 2007 and is on a 1.5-acre lot.

In Des Moines, a 4,628-square-foot house at 515 Foster Drive sold for $942,010 on Aug. 15, which was the most a house has sold for in the city this year. The seller was Daniel J. Baldi, the pain doctor who is battling 10 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of patients, one of whom was Slipknot bassist Paul Gray. The buyer of the Foster Drive home is Michael J. Ross. The stately, brick house was built in 1932 and remodeled in 1989, shortly after it was bought by the late Bill Krause and his wife, Nancy.

So far this year, six homes in the county have sold for $1 million or more. All are in the suburbs. Three are in West Des Moines, two in Ankeny and one in Grimes. …

An almost-comfortable majority of Polk County voters would vote for a bond issue to provide money to restore and refurbish the Polk County Courthouse, build modern courtrooms in the old J.C. Penney building downtown that the county recently obtained, and improve the Criminal Court Annex, which was once the downtown jail, according to a confidential poll commissioned by the Partnership.

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A Partnership member who has seen it was surprised by the result — pleasantly surprised — but noted that it takes 60 percent approval to pass. And while the survey did mention the issue would raise the annual property taxes $1.50 per thousand dollars of home assessment it didn’t mention the actual size of the issue, which probably would be $81 million. The issue will be on the Nov. 5 ballot. …

Brian Meyer’s decision to run for the legislative seat being vacated by his boss, Kevin McCarthy, is adding some intrigue to Des Moines politics, which is usually intrigue-less. Here’s the way things could play out: Meyer resigns from the city council, but too late for would-be successors to get their names on the November ballot. So the council picks an interim member for the south-side seat and sets an election date, probably the same March date as the vote on how to deal with the franchise-tax problem. (That’s way too complicated to go into here.)

A couple of names being mentioned for the interim appointment: Mel Pins, who works for the Department of Natural Resources, and Jim Bollard, head of the Easter Lake Neighborhood Association. The thinking today is that neither of those would run when the election came about, but that a passel of others might. Two names mentioned: Joe Gatto, the co-owner of Baratta’s restaurant, and Joe Henry, a real-estate agent and member of the Polk County Democratic Central Committee. Others probably would jump in.

This wouldn’t be all that interesting, except there are three other council races that could determine whether Christine Hensley or Skip Moore can control four votes on the seven-member council. Hensley, the senior council member with almost 20 years of service and probably the most powerful member, ran unopposed four years ago but suddenly faces a challenge in Ward Three from Cal Woods, a real-estate agent and former broadcaster who is reasonably well known. East-sider Moore is facing a very strong challenge for his at-large seat from Chris Diebel, a 32-year-old who has wide support on the West and South sides. And there’s an open race for the Ward One seat being vacated by Halley Griess in northwest Des Moines.

Henry is the brother of Moore campaign operative Mitch Henry, and if Joe Henry and Woods and Moore were elected, they probably would align with Mayor Frank Cownie for a four-vote majority on dicey issues. (Most issues are routine and unanimous.) If Hensley and Diebel and, say, Gato were elected, they probably would join with at-large councilman Chris Coleman, perhaps Ward Two councilman Bob Mahaffey and whoever wins in Ward One for a five-or-six-vote majority, leaving the Mayor with no close allies. That would cement Hensley’s role as the de-facto leader. Or maybe all of this is just meaningless political bullshit. …

Almost all candidates for next week’s school-board elections in Des Moines and the suburbs have sterling voting records. But Toussaint Cheatom, who is seeking the District 2 spot in Des Moines, voted in one general election in 2006 — and nothing since. Urbandale’s Aaron Applegate voted in general elections in 2008 and 2012, but in no other elections. Graham Giles of Urbandale voted in one school election five years ago, and Christopher Gunnare of Urbandale votes in general elections but hasn’t voted in any city or school election in Urbandale. Tali Greenspon has not voted in any school elections in West Des Moines. And Jayme McFadden of Southeast Polk has not voted in any city or school elections there. CV

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