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Civic Skinny

Pappajohn and Noyce to get little-known Iowa Award. Judge has $228,000 in the bank, Grassley $5.3 million.


John Pappajohn and the late Robert Noyce will be given the Iowa Award later this year.

The Iowa Award is the highest honor the state gives to a citizen, though most citizens have never heard of it. It’s given by the Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation, and most Iowans haven’t heard of that, either.

The foundation was established in January of 1949 — Iowa became a state in December of 1846 — by executive order of Gov. Robert Blue. (Most Iowans haven’t heard of him, either.) Its purpose is to “encourage and recognize the outstanding service of Iowans in the fields of science, medicine, law, religion, social welfare, education, agriculture, industry, government, and other public service.”

At first, the awards were handed out sparingly, which added to their prestige. In the first 20 years of the award, only five were given: to former President Herbert Hoover in 1951; to cartoonist and conservationist Ding Darling in 1955; to educator and chemist Frank Spedding in 1961; to physicist and rocket scientist James Van Allen in 1961, and to agricultural innovator and former vice president Henry A. Wallace in 1966.

Pappajohn and Noyce will be the 24th and 25th recipients. Winners have included Artists Grant Wood and Maurice Lasansky, musicians Karl King and Meredith Willson, botanist George Washington Carver and pollster George Gallup.

Prep Iowa

In recent years, Gov. Terry Branstad — the sitting governor always chairs the foundation and, in fact, usually picks the recipients — has been handing out more of the awards. Two weeks ago, with no fanfare, five of the 12 foundation members met and decided, on Branstad’s recommendation, to honor Des Moines businessman and philanthropist Pappajohn and Noyce, the Iowan who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor, co-founded Intel Corp., spurred the personal-computer revolution and worked hard to make Grinnell College very, very rich.

For some reason, no announcement was made. The Governor told the board he wants to honor the men in separate ceremonies.

There seems to be a trend developing.

No businessman had won the award until 2001, when Gov. Tom Vilsack gave it to John Ruan, whose friends lobbied hard. In 2011, Gov. Chet Culver gave it to his friend Bill Knapp, and in 2012 Gov. Branstad gave it to Republican businessman Dick Jacobson. Ruan, Knapp and Jacobson all were, or are, rich self-made businessmen and hefty givers to good causes; Ruan’s and Knapp’s causes often included politicians.

Pappajohn fits that mold, too: a poor boy who came to Des Moines, became enormously rich and successful, and gave — and continues to give — huge amounts to education and the arts. While Noyce was a businessman, he also was a scientist who truly did change the world (and Grinnell, his alma mater).

It’s a nice honor, and it’s a line for obituaries, and it’s usually accompanied by a nice little ceremony. But there’s no real process in picking and choosing, apparently. There’s no formal solicitation of nominees. Sometimes friends of an Iowan launch a little lobbying campaign; other times, a Governor himself will deem someone worthy. The honor has to be approved by the Centennial Memorial Foundation members — but they don’t always show up. The members include the Governor, the state Treasurer, the Attorney General, the president of the state Board of Education, all living former Governors, and four citizens appointed by the Governor.

The only members who showed up at the 45-minute meeting two weeks ago were Branstad, state Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, Attorney General Tom Miller, and citizen members Arvid Huisman and Janet Metcalf. Not present: former Governors Robert Fulton, Bob Ray, Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, Board of Education President Charlie Edwards, and citizen members Elaine Estes and Wayne Marty of LeMars. The bylaws don’t say anything about a quorum.

Another trend: Of the 23 winners, only two have been women — and no woman has been given the honor since 1992, when it went to suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. The only other female winner: Boone native Mamie Eisenhower, who seems to have won because she married a great man. No Amelia Bloomer, no Jessie Field Shambaugh, no Louise Noun, no Edna Griffin, no Betty Jean Furgerson, no Marsha Ternus, no Annie Wittenmyer, no Cora Bussey Hillis.

The foundation has about $750,000 in an endowment, and every year it gives a few “Robert Blue” scholarships. In palmier times, it gave out $30,000 or more in scholarships, but the amount has dwindled in recent years. This year, it will give five $500 scholarships. But these, too, are little known.

Indeed, the state won’t have a ceremony to give out the awards this year “due to turnout in previous years,” the minutes of the most recent meeting say. …

Patty Judge, the 72-year-old Democrat trying to beat Chuck Grassley, the 82-year-old Republican senator seeking his seventh term, has raised $716,767 since she announced her campaign and had $228,292 in the bank on June 30. Grassley has $5,298,000 in the bank. She has spent about $500,000; he has spent about $1.775,000, according to federal finance reports due the other day.

Jim Mowrer, the Democrat seeking to unseat first-term Congressman David Young in Des Moines and southwest Iowa, has raised $959,101 so far and had $161,507 on hand as of June 30. Young has raised $1.6 million and had about $1,250,000 cash on hand for what is expected to be a close race. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Republican” moving toward a tossup.

In the first Congressional district, first-term Republican incumbent Rodney Blum has raised $1.6 million in what is expected to be a very tough fight against Democrat Monica Vernon. She has raised $1.3 million. As of June 30, he had $1.4 million on hand; she had $354,000. The Cook Political Report says the race “leans Democrat.”

And as of last week, Hillary Clinton had raised about $375 million; Donald Trump had raised about $95 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. CV

‘Iowa Award’ winners

1951 — President Herbert Hoover

1955 — Conservationist Ding Darling

1961 — Scientists Frank Spedding and James Van Allen

1966 — Vice President Henry A. Wallace

1970 — First Lady Mamie Eisenhower

1975 — Composer Karl King

1978 — Geneticist Norman Borlaug

1980 — Monsignor Luigi Ligiuitti

1984 — Pollster George Gallup

1988 — Composer Meredith Willson

1992 — Suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt

1996 — Opera singer Simon Estes

1999 — Artist Maurice Lasansky and inventor John Altanasoff

2001 — Businessman John Ruan

2002 — Scientist George Washington Carver

2005 — Gov. Robert D. Ray

2006 — Political adviser Harry Hopkins

2009 — Artist Grant Wood

2011 — Businessman Bill Knapp

2012 — Businessman Dick Jacobson

2014 — Ambassador Ken Quinn

2016 — Businessman John Pappajohn

2016 — Businessman Robert Noyce





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