Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Sheriff Wants GOP’s Linder to pay for her jail time. Plus: ‘Not real terrible crime’ and ‘good fun torture!’


Troy Bishop, the executive director of the Polk County Republicans, quit unexpectedly the other day, and in the story about it The Des Moines Register wrote: “The capable April Linder is filling in for now on organizing the March 8 county convention, party insiders told The Register.” Apart from the unusual use of the editorial word “capable,” the story left out at least two facts: An April Gayle Linder is a “wanted person” in Florida, according to the Florida Crime Information Center, and last month the Polk County Sheriff went to court saying Linder still owed the county $810 for room and board for the 26 days she spent in the Polk County jail in 2012.

Linder, 36 years old, has worked for the campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry and Brad Zaun in the past four or five years, and she spent some time in 2011 as director of communications for the Iowa Tea Party.

But as Cityview pointed out last July, she has a criminal record in Iowa and is a “wanted person” in Florida. In 2011, she twice pleaded guilty to fourth-degree theft charges — once for stealing $500 from the West Des Moines Mariners baseball team fundraiser and, then, for stealing property valued at $400 or more from a West Des Moines home. She spent at least 26 days in jail in 2012, and as of last month she still owed Polk County $810 for room and board while in the jail, according to an application for reimbursement that the sheriff filed with district court on Jan. 16.

In 2012, according to the online news source Patch, Linder got into an argument with a neighbor over a pair of allegedly stolen shoes. According to the report, she scratched her neighbor by “putting her hands on her neck and pushing her back.” In 2012, also, according to court records, she was twice taken to court for failing to pay rent.

Meantime, as of last weekend an April Gayle Linder — an April Gayle Linder who has the same name and birth date as the GOP’s April Gayle Linder — was still a “wanted person” listed on the Florida Crime Information Center. An arrest warrant was issued on Nov. 9, 2009, and the offense is listed as “larceny.” The wanted person is listed as being 4 feet tall and weighing 50 pounds, which is 22 inches shorter and 160 pounds lighter than when April Gayle Linder was weighed in at the Polk County Jail a couple of years ago.


Last year, when Cityview asked Polk GOP Chairman Will Rogers about his colleague’s criminal record, he said he was “glad to stand behind her.” “She is someone I do trust,” he said. He added that he was “confident Mrs. Linder has gone through the criminal process and been dutiful in getting the record set in order….She, in my opinion, may have lacked in some judgment, but did nothing of a real terrible nature.”

And the other good news for the GOP: Fourth-degree theft is a serious, but not an aggravated, misdemeanor, so Linder has not lost her voting rights. …

Life’s little coincidences: 

Shawna Johnson, the Des Moines woman who unsuccessfully challenged the residency listed by city council candidate Joe Gatto, testified that she did not know Gatto’s opponent, Joe Henry, and had never met him.

So be it. But her Linked-in page — where she has the name Shawna Johnson-Miers and notes she’s a Drake Law School graduate — says she’s a Level III instructor at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping. (“I motivate, push, inform and to some degree torture students! It is good, fun torture that they look forward to.”)  And if you go to the Farrell’s web page for the Fleur Drive business, you’ll find that the head coach is Susan Henry. Susan Henry is married to Joe Henry.

Johnson was represented at the proceeding by lawyer Brad Skinner, whose questions got a little pointed. Why does Gatto reside with his mother rather than his wife — who lives outside the Ward 4 boundaries — Skinner asked. Because his mother is 82 and has had a double mastectomy and needs help, Gatto replied. What are your relations with your wife and children, Skinner asked. That’s personal stuff that isn’t germane to the election issue, Gatto replied.

Whether a resident of Ward 4 or Ward 3, Gatto is the favorite to win the special election on March 4, people who follow the race say. The county auditor’s office has received around 1,000 requests for absentee ballots, and it’s a pretty good guess that the big majority of those were generated by Gatto’s get-out-the-vote effort.

At any rate, Johnson’s interest in city elections appears to be newfound. Records at the office of Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald indicate she has not voted in a municipal election in at least 10 years. …

Still more housing is planned for downtown. Hubbell is said to be planning some luxury apartments for the east side of the Des Moines River, south of the Freeway and north of the Armory. The site is owned by Principal and has some one-story commercial buildings on it that would be torn down, and Principal might be a partner in the deal, a guy tells Cityview.

The guy is usually right.

And folks who watch such things say the proposal by Bill Knapp to develop the city-owned block at Fourth and Court is hugely significant. Knapp’s is one of five proposals — it’s the one that includes a Hy-Vee Grocery Store — but what makes it so noteworthy is that it’s the first housing venture by Knapp in downtown Des Moines in more than 30 years.

Knapp is as cautious as he is rich — which means he’s plenty cautious — and a bid to build apartments downtown is sort of the final stamp of approval for the massive downtown renovation. “There are 80,000 people who work downtown, and only around 8,000 apartments,” he told Cityview the other day. “The demand [for apartments] is there.”

Knapp has on and off owned commercial properties downtown — he once owned the Savery Hotel, and he now owns a building south of the Events Center — but his last venture in downtown housing was in 1981, when he was one of the developers of the Civic Center Court apartments at 2nd and Grand. …


There are 50 miles of unpaved streets in Des Moines, with some in each of the city’s four political wards. Over the next three fiscal years, the city plans to spend a bit more than $3 million to reduce the number. Of that, $750,000 will come from assessments against those homes and business on those streets.

There are about 450 miles of concrete streets in Des Moines, and the city plans to spend more than $2 million over the next three years patching and fixing and restoring those. It costs about $70,000 per mile to restore a concrete street. All told, the city has more than 900 miles of streets, with the rest being asphalt streets. The city plans to spend about $1 million a year to put an asphalt overlay on about 80 residential blocks per year.

There are 700 miles of sidewalks in the city, and it costs the city about $185,000 — $35 a foot — to build or replace a mile of sidewalk. The city plans to spend close to $2 million replacing sidewalks in the next three years. In that period, too, the city plans to spend $4.5 million to put in curb ramps at intersections, something that under the law it should have been doing since 1992. “The city did not always to do this,” the capital-improvements plan for Des Moines notes matter-of-factly and without giving a reason.

There are 1,400 miles of curbs in Des Moines, and 128 miles of those “are in various stages of deterioration,” according to the capital-improvements plan. The plan is to replace about 3.8 miles of curbs a year, at a cost of around $700,000 a year.

All told, the city plans to spend about $40 million next year on street and sidewalk and traffic-light and other road and traffic matters. That includes about $12.5 million for work on the imaginatively-named Southeast Connector from Southeast 14th Street to Southeast 30th Street. …

Everything is relative. City Hall is insured for $12,570,449. The police station and garage is insured for $12,722,503. CV

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