Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Tunks has political edge in police-chief search. Gasp: Populist Art Cullen endorses Branstad.


The opening for police chief of Des Moines was posted on Friday, and since it’s a Civil Service job, it’s an elaborate process to choose a chief. There will be interviews and exams of a sort, and up to 40 names could be sent on to new city manager Scott Sanders, though realistically the number probably will be closer to 10. After more interviews and with community input, he then will send a nomination to the city council, whose approval is needed.

That means that politics will play a role.

There probably will be three internal candidates to succeed the very popular Judy Bradshaw — Majors Steve Waymire and Dana Wingert and Captain Al Tunks — and Tunks has the edge politically. All three men are well-liked inside and outside the department, but Tunks, who has put in time in the Sheriff’s Department as well as the city police force, is especially well-connected politically. His wife, county official Lisa Moody Tunks, is the daughter and brother of men who were on the force, and the Moodys have always been well-versed in city and county politics.

The job requires someone who is “politically astute,” the recruitment brochure says, but who also is “completely non-political and non-partisan in behavior and actions.” Those two qualities don’t always go together. At any rate, people who want Tunks in the job have already started calling some council members, Cityview is told. But Sanders, who was city finance chief, is a dollars-and-cents guy who has never been in the political fray. That will make it interesting.

The deadline for applications will be Nov. 14, and it’s possible a new chief will be in office by mid-January. …


Further proof — not that it’s needed — that Gov. Terry Branstad will be re-elected: The outspoken Art Cullen, a Storm Lake populist and perhaps the best and maybe the smartest editorial writer in the state (now that The Des Moines Register’s Randy Evans is bailing out), has endorsed Branstad in the Storm Lake Times. It’s a back-handed endorsement, but it’s an endorsement.

CVA_23 PAGE 9Branstad has “surrounded himself with political hacks who created scandal around him with secret payoffs of fired state employees and cover-ups of abuse of needy children,” he writes. He has “flanked himself with zealots who do not understand the basic Iowa values of honesty and fair-mindedness,” he writes. In his next term he must “regain his reputation for honesty and fair play…must clean house of right-wing radicals and return to the ways that made him Iowa’s most enduring politician,” he writes.

Not exactly ringing praise, to be sure. But as for Democrat Jack Hatch: He “cannot stir his own to carry the flag.” He “has run an anemic campaign.” “The progressive argument deserves better.” Branstad is “a fully decent man with whom we deeply disagree,” Cullen writes. But, ultimately, “Branstad is the better candidate.”

Just to be safe, though, it’s nice that Mike Gronstal is leading the Senate Democrats — so “we can be assured of protection from Branstad’s excesses.”

Sounding dejected or wistful, one Democratic office-holder told Cityview: “He could have endorsed the libertarian, or independent, or socialist candidate.” …

As of the weekend, outside groups had spent $40 million in the Iowa Senate race. The money is almost evenly divided between candidates. That’s the third highest total of any race this year — behind only the $47 million spent on the North Carolina Senate race and the $45 million on the Colorado Senate race. The biggest spender: Karl Rove’s American Crossroads had spent just under $5 million in ads in Iowa opposing Bruce Braley or supporting Joni Ernst.

These outside groups also have spent $4.7 million on the Congressional race between Republican David Young and Democrat Staci Appel; again, the money is fairly evenly divided. …

The Krauses have chosen six firms as finalists to design the planned headquarters of Kum & Go on Grand Avenue downtown. No local architect is involved, which has at least a few of the locals irked. Ultimately, though, the winning firm and the Krauses will choose a local firm to work with the lead architect. That local firm and the general contractor will be selected by the end of the year, according to Kum & Go’s Traci Rodemeyer.

The six finalists are Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Philadelphia. It designed the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York, and its buildings use lots of glass. Renzo Piano Building Workshop, an international firm, is well-known for its museums and lesser-known for the New York Times building in New York. Safdie Architects, whose U.S. office is in Boston, designed the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Skidmore Owings & Merrill, an old-line firm started in New York, designed the iconic Air Force Academy Chapel, Union Station in Denver, and, in downtown Des Moines, the American Enterprise Group (once American Republic) building. Morphisis, based in Los Angeles, has been selected to design the first building in the huge new Cornell Tech campus on an island in New York City. Bjarke Ingles Group, headed by a Danish architect, has done much praised work in Europe. …

Open wide: The proposed tuition and fees for a non-resident first-year dental student at the University of Iowa next year will be $65,298, the highest of any tuition for anyone at any of the three state universities. An Iowa resident entering dental school will pay $41,726 in tuition and fees. A nonresident in the medical school will pay $51,819; a resident $34,749. At Iowa State, a fourth-year non-resident in the Veterinary Medicine school will pay $56,581.90; a resident $31,618.90.

The Board of Regents calculates that room, board, tuition, books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses will cost the average resident undergraduate $20,335 at the University of Iowa next year. The figure for Iowa State University is $19,456.90, for the University of Northern Iowa $19,198.

It calculates that the state’s cost of educating an undergraduate student is $11,428 at the University of Iowa, $10,611 at Iowa State University, and $13,324 at the University of Northern Iowa. …

Remember last year when the Board of Regents established a Transparency Task Force? It held hearings, had meetings and issued a report. But the word must never have gotten to Bob Donley, the board’s top staff guy. According to emails obtained by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, when UNI president William Ruud emailed Donley to complain about the controversial new plan for dividing state appropriations among the three universities, Donley told Ruud to “hold this discussion via phone. Not email.”

The Transparency Task Force recommended “providing additional access to public information of interest to Iowans.”

Right. CV

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