Thursday, June 24, 2021

Join our email blast

Civic Skinny

Nationwide warrant issued for Luebke after 8th OWI arrest. Frank Severino leaving county.


UPDATE 8/29/2016: Steve Luebke was arrested for parole violation and sent back to Polk County jail on Saturday, Aug. 27.  On Sunday, the court ordered him to be transferred to the Iowa Medical Classification Center in Oakdale with the order that he ultimately be sent to corrections facilities in Newton or Oakdale until his parole-violation hearing is held. He is being held without bail, and he refused the offer of a court-appointed attorney.


A nationwide warrant has been issued for the arrest of Steve Luebke, the onetime sales manager at Toyota of Des Moines and at Deery Brothers Chevrolet who has been arrested for drunken driving eight times.

“Upon apprehension, Luebke will be extradited back to Iowa,” the Department of Corrections told Cityview on Tuesday, Aug.23. In all likelihood he’ll be sent back to prison for parole violation.

Luebke, 59, was arrested twice for drunken driving — in Des Moines and in Jasper County — on Sept. 13, 2014 and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released on March 20 of this year after serving 15 months. He had served seven months in 2013 for an earlier conviction. (Although he has been convicted seven times, the ultimate plea deal was always for a first-offense or second-offense OWI.)

Prep Iowa - Pride Month

On Aug. 2 he was arrested again, this time in St. Louis.

He apparently spent a night in jail there and was released. But no one seems to know where he is.

Luebke was supposed to appear in court in Polk County on Aug. 5 on a related issue, but his lawyer asked the court to allow him to phone in. The court agreed, which is a good thing for Luebke since he apparently isn’t keen on returning to the state.

The Aug. 5 proceeding was in a case that was settled the other day after wending its way through the courts for the past 16 months and that stemmed from the first of those Sept. 13 DWI arrests. Luebke, Deery Brothers and their insurer were sued by Warren Beattie, who was in an accident that Beattie says was caused because he was blinded by smoke from a burning Camaro that the drunken Luebke had wrecked on the Freeway in Des Moines.

According to court documents in the case, Luebke was convicted of drunken driving in 1994, 1997, 2007, 2010 and 2012 as well as the two-in-one-day arrests in 2014. Deery was a defendant because at the time of the 2014 arrest in Des Moines Luebke was driving a company Camaro. He apparently was in a Deery car because his own car had been outfitted with a breathalyzer to keep him from driving and drinking.

Beattie was seeking money for past and future medical expenses, for property damage, for loss of earnings end earning capacity and for “loss of enjoyment of life” and “loss of use of the mind/body.” Settlement terms are not part of the court record….

Frank Severino, long the second-ranking person in the County Attorney’s office, is leaving to become Chief Deputy Clerk of Court for the Southern District of Iowa, a federal job.

Severino, 49, has been in the County Attorney’s office for 24 years and was widely expected to be elected — or appointed, should John Sarcone step down in mid-term — to the office whenever Sarcone decides to retire. Severino’s leaving caught colleagues by surprise.

“This move makes it crystal clear Sarcone is running again” when his term is up in two years, says a guy who follows county politics closely. Severino himself says he expects Sarcone’s leadership “will continue for some time,” but he doesn’t rule out running for the office. “A person should never close the door to a good opportunity if the timing and circumstances are right.”

“The position I am leaving is a very good job,” Severino told Cityview, but the federal job will “challenge me to learn new skills and become a better leader.” It also will take him out of the courtroom, out of a job that “has given me more than my share of gray hair.”

He’s not leaving for the money. As the top deputy in Polk County, his salary this year is $162,245. He didn’t disclose his new salary — “since I have not been sworn in and started yet” — but the job posting put the starting range at $117,000 to $153,000 with “promotion potential” to between $138,000 and $170,000.

Who will step into his county job? “My shoes at the County Attorney’s office will be easy to fill,” he says. “I wear a size 9. Not very big shoes to fill.”

His last day with the county is Sept. 2. …

Kim Walker, one of the three founders in 1990 of the Des Moines law office of what is now Faegre Baker Daniels, has been nominated to be inspector-general of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a government agency that finances U.S. exports. The nomination, by President Barack Obama, has been gathering dust for nearly three months, partly because Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, who opposes the bank as “corporate welfare,” has stopped consideration of all bank nominations. As a result, three of the agency’s five board seats are unfilled. …

George Anthan was an exceptional reporter. First as a political reporter for the wonderful Des Moines Tribune and then for 30 years as an agricultural reporter in Washington for The Des Moines Register, he was unstoppable and unflappable. From 1985 until he retired in 2001, he was the Register’s Washington bureau chief. He was proud to be a Greek, proud to be a reporter, and proud to be with the Register.

He was 80 when he died the other day in Kansas City of complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Sen. David Johnson (Ind., Ocheyedan)

The Republican Party chairs of the five counties in northwest Iowa represented by Sen. David Johnson have told him they want nothing to do with him now that he has changed his registration from Republican to “no party.”

That’s politics.

They told him he “will receive no support of any kind from us….[and] we will make every effort to elect persons who support the party of Lincoln and the values we hold dear.”

That’s politics.

And, in a letter to him, they say: “You recklessly abandoned your party, your supporters, your constituents and your friends,” adding that he has “deserted our district.”

That’s wrong.

The people of northwest Iowa have elected David Johnson to the Legislature six times — twice to the House and three times to the Senate. They first elected him because they liked what he said. They kept electing him because they liked what he did. The last two times he was elected — in 2010 and 2014 — he had no opponent.

David Johnson has not abandoned his constituents or deserted his district. He has not changed his views on any issue. He still is vehemently against abortion and strongly for protecting the environment. He still thinks Gov. Terry Branstad was wrong in closing the two mental-health hospitals, and he still is a careful watchdog of government spending. He still considers himself a conservative, and he still tends carefully to the needs of the people.

He left the party because he couldn’t stomach the fact that the Republicans nominated Donald Trump as their Presidential candidate.

He has two more years to serve as an independent before he decides whether to run again. In those two years, he could well be the most powerful person in a split chamber. He will not be bound by the caucus on issues of concern to him — passing the Natural Resources Trust tax increase that the people have called for, certain gubernatorial appointments where party discipline demands agreement, tighter regulation of livestock — and he will be able to leverage his unique status into good things for his constituents.

If Johnson runs again in 2018, as an Independent, the chairs of the Republican Party in Dickinson, Lyon, Osceola, Clay and Palo Alto counties say they will “make every effort” to support someone else. Given their job titles, that’s understandable. But they’ll have to look hard to find someone who represents the voters as well as Johnson does.

  • • •

Come January, Johnson will be the first Independent in the Iowa Legislature since William Schmedika served two terms in the Senate starting in 1923. Schmedika was a farmer from Hardin County.

Before him, there hadn’t been an Independent or third-party member in the Iowa Senate since 1893, according to Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency.

Schmedika later became a Democrat, and in 1938 he again ran for the Senate — unsuccessfully. “I am a farmer,” he said at the time. “I have just one plank in my platform. It is ‘the people of Iowa need a taxpayers’ rest.’ ”

Michael Gartner

One Comment

  1. Jim Hardy says:

    Schmedika is my great grandfather. My mother is a Schmedika.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Summer Stir