Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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Civic Skinny

Trump helps Branstad. Family helps Adam Gregg. Gannett might sell papers. No sweat for chicken.


Gleanings from the latest campaign-finance reports: Eldon Roth, the Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, founder of Beef Products Inc. — maker of the beef product unfortunately known as “pink slime” — has given the Terry Branstad campaign $110,000 since the last election. Bruce Rastetter, the ag entrepreneur who is head of the Board of Regents, has given $90,000, including $10,000 in the most recent reporting period.

Josh Nelson, head of Great Lakes Communications Corp. in Spencer, was Branstad’s single largest contributor in the most recent two-month reporting period, writing a check for $50,000. Nelson, who had made no significant contributions to state or local candidates until this year, wrote checks for $110,000 in June. Checks included $25,000 to state senate minority leader Bill Dix, $10,000 to House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, and $10,000 each to Woodbury County senators Bill Anderson and Rick Bertrand.

Apparently to keep his hand in Iowa politics, Donald Trump has given another $10,000 to the Branstad campaign. Last September, he tossed in $15,000, the first time he ever has contributed to a state or local candidate in Iowa.

Harry Bookey gave another $5,000 to Jack Hatch in the latest reporting period, raising his total to $25,000 — the second-highest total anyone has given to the cash-starved Democrat. Fred Hubbell is in for $35,000 so far but added nothing in the latest period. Fred and Emily Weitz added a $7,000 check to the $10,000 or so they had given earlier. And Toni Urban wrote Hatch the single largest check in the latest period — $10,000.

As of a few days ago, Hatch’s gubernatorial campaign had $183,230.20 in the bank. Branstad’s had $4,030,121.25.

Prep Iowa

Jerry Crawford has so far given $25,000 to the campaign of Attorney General Tom Miller. Miller raised $55,826 in the latest period and had $245,219.67 on hand as of July 21. In the latest period, Miller picked up $5,000 from Bill Knapp, $2,500 each from Fred Hubbell and Owen Newlin, and $2,000 from Bob Riley.

Miller’s Republican opponent, Adam Gregg, raised $191,359 in the period and had $174,987.57 cash on hand at the end of the period. He got a lot of help from his family in Hawarden in Sioux County. His mother-in-law, Shari Rehder, and her father, Orville Rehder, each gave $10,000. The John Borchers Revocable Trust also gave $10,000, and a note notes that “trustor is candidate’s grandfather by marriage.” Two uncles, Jeff Rehder and Kevin Rehder, each gave $2,500. A brother-in-law, Trent Rehder, gave $2,500, and a grandparent, Glenn Gregg, tossed in $1,000. His father, Larry Gregg, added another $2,500. All of those people live in Hawarden. All told, 17 relatives contributed to Gregg, who announced just last month and was until then a lawyer for Branstad.

Gregg also picked up $10,000 checks from Bruce Rastetter and Diane Crookham-Johnson. …

Will The Des Moines Register be sold? From a USA TODAY story about Gannett earnings last week:

“An analyst on the call noted that Gannett had bought a lot of broadcast properties and asked, ‘Are newspapers for sale, and at a price would you be interested?’ Gannett’s chief executive, Gracia Martore, replied: ‘Yes, there are newspapers for sale. Look, what this company is focused on and laser focused on as I said before is creating additional strong shareholder value. We are open to any opportunities that will do that …We are always evaluating the best ways to continue to meaningfully increase value for both the near and the long term.’ ” …

A reader writes: “The National Junior Olympics Track meet is in Des Moines this week. The Register is not covering it, not at all, not even a mention in Area Events or the agate (as of Day 2). They don’t have enough staff, they say, but strangely, Sunday they published a long story about ‘The Culture of Youth Sports in Iowa.’ It took up a page and a quarter with no mention of track and field at all.”

One of the many things the Register seems to have missed in its story about sports-talker Marty Tirrell: About a month before the story ran — on June 13 — the Dallas County District Court sent the Polk County Sheriff an order to levy a $182,172.73 judgment against Tirrell. He has 120 days to pay up.

The judgment results from an action brought this spring in federal district court in Chicago by First Hand Tickets Corp., a ticket broker in Syosset, New York. In March, a principal of the company didn’t want to discuss details with Cityview except to say that Tirrell “is a complicated individual.” Apparently, Tirrell didn’t pay for tickets he purchased. A similar judgment, for $107,665, was sent to the sheriff in March on behalf of Profile Network, another ticket broker that won a federal case against Tirrell, as reported in Cityview last spring. There is no indication in the court files that he has paid any of the judgments. Seventeen companies Tirrell has done business with were sent notices of garnishment instructing them not to pay him any money owed. …

In case you were wondering: In 1919, the Women’s Drafting Department of the Transportation Commission produced the state’s first official road map. The DOT has been producing the maps annually, but it is about to go to a two-year cycle. According to the Legislative Services Agency, the DOT has been producing about 1.4 million maps a year; now, it will produce about 1.8 million every two years. …

The Famous Chicken was at Principal Park the other evening. It was a hot night, and a guy sympathized with Ted Giannoulas, who has been parading around in the chicken suit for 40 years. “It’s going to be hot in there tonight,” the guy said. “It’s OK,” Giannoulas replied, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the chicken.” CV

Words, Words, Words

What’s the difference between “hook up” and “having a hookup?”

That’s a question in the rancorous and complex legal battle involving former Iowa State University basketball player Bubu Palo, former Iowa State co-ed Hunter Elizabeth Breshears, Story County District Court, Iowa State President Steven Leath and the Board of Regents.

A little background, for those just tuning in: Palo and Breshears were classmates at Ames High School, class of 2009, and then went on to Iowa State, where during their freshman year they began sleeping together. They never went out socially but were, Breshears later testified, just two friends having sex. “They would only text each other to ‘hook up’ for sex,” court papers say.

In May of 2012, Palo sent her a text asking “What’s up?” She replied that she was “pregaming,” which meant, according to brief in a Palo lawsuit against the Board of Regents, that “she was drinking to get buzzed prior to go[ing] to the bars.” They agreed to get together, and later that night she had sex with Palo as well as with a friend of his, Spencer Cruise.

The next day, her boyfriend called the police, and ultimately she accused the two of rape. In January of 2013, prosecutors asked that both cases be dismissed because evidence against the two appeared to have been manufactured. The court agreed. But a parallel action against Palo for violating the student conduct code proceeded. An administrative law judge ruled for Palo, but with no new evidence and no new hearing Leath overturned that and suspended Palo from the basketball team. The Board of Regents concurred.

Palo then sued the Board of Regents, a case that now has been heard in Story County court. One issue, did Breshears consent to “hook up?” At one point, Breshears had asked Palo — who was under age — how he got into certain bars. He knew some of the doormen, he replied. “That’s a good hookup to have,” she texted back.

So is a “hookup” just a friend who can do favors — or is it a person willing to have sex? A hookup “regards knowing an individual who can provide access to a certain thing, in this case allowing Palo into local bars,” his lawyers argue in the Board of Regents case. Hook up “regards meeting up with someone for sex.”

It is evident that from Breshears’ use of the phrase “she certainly did not have the same understanding,” the Regents say in their 44-page response.

On such issues turn the wheels of justice.

A nonjury trial was held by Judge Steven Oeth on July 16. No decision has been rendered. CV

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