Friday, July 1, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Change coming at Iowa Energy. Duffy is irked. Is Kay-Decker the Mistress of All Evil?


A guy told Cityview that Jerry Crawford has sold or is selling the Iowa Energy basketball team. Asked about it, Crawford at first said, “Your question isn’t a yes or no answer.”  Then: “There is an expansion of the ownership group under way, and we are going to be able to offer Iowa Energy fans an even more exciting product in future seasons. We will have more to say soon.” …

A note from Brian Duffy, Cityview editorial cartoonist laid off years ago in one of those periodic cutbacks at The Des Moines Register:

skinny“I got a call from a collector who said he bought a World Hunger Media Award with my name on it. I asked him if he was sure. He said he was staring at it at the moment. It resembles a large wooden spoon, but it’s made of silver and is encased in plexiglass.

“The awards were designed and produced by Cartiers of New York.

“The Register won two awards in 1985, one for news coverage and the one I received for a selection of cartoons. As I remember, the Register received an award with my name on it, too.


“The collector said that the award came from the company the Register contracted with to clean out the old building. So instead of contacting the people who won the awards or donating to the Historical Society, they throw them in the garbage.

“What a bunch of bastards.

“Could be a good Civic Skinny piece for next week.”

Could be. …

Is Courtney Kay-Decker, the director of the Iowa Department of Revenue, a wicked fairy godmother, the Mistress of All Evil?

She was the other day. Kay-Decker brings props to meetings. She wears a white tiara when she’s in a good mood, but she’s not always in a good mood. The other day, says a long-time employee, “she wore her crown for when she is in a bad mood. She actually announced at the beginning of the meeting that she was the evil witch Maleficent and wore headgear emulating the character on the upcoming movie.” For those who don’t read fairy tales, Maleficent is not a nice person. In Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and in the new movie, she is the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil, a vengeful villain with a pet raven and a heart of stone who puts an irrevocable curse on a newborn princess.

At the meeting the other day, Kay-Decker brought a wand like the one Maleficent wields, this employee says. She apparently did not bring a raven.

On occasion, Kay-Decker brings other props including applause signs, buzzers and the like. Folks are beginning to wonder if Kay-Decker “is sane or crazy,” this person goes on. “Her latest fantasy craze has really gotten people, both inside and outside the agency, wondering if she has all of her marbles.”

Nah, it’s just called having fun, says Victoria Daniels, the spokesperson for the agency. She says she herself made the applause sign. “I created it for employee presentations,” she says, “for a brief moment of celebration when we’ve accomplished something.” She adds that the props are things “to add levity to a job that is not always the most pleasant.”

“Maleficent,” the movie starring Angela Jolie, opens May 30 in a theater near you. …

Jim Gibbons earned more from the state for not working for seven months than Chris Godfrey earns in a year. …

Gloria Gibson is out as provost at the University of Northern Iowa. In a “Dear UNI Family” letter this month, UNI president Bill Ruud said she had submitted her resignation, effective at the end of June. She’ll go on administrative leave and, if she doesn’t land elsewhere, can return as a tenured professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Her departure was expected; many on the faculty lost faith in her after she and retired president Ben Allen made big cuts in the operation to try to balance the budget at the school, which gets the short end of the stick in state appropriations. …

That meeting where Courtney Kay-Decker appeared as Maleficent was with division managers and top managers of the Department of Administrative Services, which has had no need for an “applause” sign lately. The subject was: DAS-ITE/Project Prioritization.

Soon to be a major motion picture. CV CVA_01 PAGE 7


This is nuts.

The state’s Executive Council met Monday and approved, among other things, paying another $23,831.82 to LaMarca & Landry, the law firm representing the state and state officials in the extortion, defamation and discrimination lawsuit brought by workers compensation director Chris Godfrey.

That raises the total paid the firm to $525,591.08.

And the case is still in its early stages.

This is nuts.

Yet, running true to form, the members of the Executive Council voted unanimously to spend the money. The council comprises Gov. Terry Branstad — who as a defendant might be considered to have a conflict in the case — and Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, state auditor Mary Mosiman, Secretary of State Matt Schultz (who was absent Monday) and Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald.

Why doesn’t someone step up and say enough is enough?

Especially Treasurer Fitzgerald?

The fight is about politics. Godfrey is a Democrat (and, what’s even more galling to the administration, a gay Democrat) who was twice confirmed by the Iowa senate in overwhelming votes. The Branstad people tried to fire him but couldn’t — he has a fixed six-year term that runs to next year — so they cut his pay from $112,000 a year to $73,500, the lowest the state can pay him legally, and tried to make his life more or less miserable. So he sued.

Reasonable people agree he is very good at his job.

But he’s a Democrat. A gay Democrat.

Schultz, Northey and Mosiman are Republicans, and the Governor has put them in a bind by letting the suit drag on. Branstad votes yes, of course, because he started the fight. Schultz, who talks endlessly about saving the taxpayers money — except when it comes to hiring his brother or paying his own assistant in a phantom job — readily goes along. Mosiman, who is relatively new in her post and who seems to be vigilant on other things, hasn’t made a peep. Northey, popular and unbeatable with almost an apolitical air, keeps voting yes.

And so does Fitzgerald.


Fitzgerald has been state treasurer since 1982. Yes, 1982. He is politically bullet-proof — the Republicans have yet to find an opponent for him this fall — and is popular among Democratic politicians. He is a stand-up guy. He is under no moral or ethical obligation to approve these legal bills. He has nothing to gain politically by voting yes. In fact, he is aiding and abetting the Republicans in their fight against a fellow Democrat.

Asked a couple of weeks ago why he keeps voting yes, he said, in effect, the Executive Council is pretty much a routine operation and he hadn’t really given it much thought.

He should.

He should start raising hell about letting this lawsuit drag on and on.

He should start insisting it be settled now before the $325-an-hour lawyers get even richer.

He should start pointing out the spending hypocrisy of this administration.

It’s the right thing to do ethically.

It’s the right thing to do politically.

It’s the right thing to do for the taxpayers of Iowa.

This is nuts. CV

— Michael Gartner

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