Friday, January 21, 2022

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Civic Skinny

A potty-mouthed coach, a big-hearted Knapp


Ousted Lincoln High football coach Tom Mihalovich says that “in 35 years of coaching, I have never cussed out a player. I have never used profanity toward an individual player.”                

It’s probably all in the definition of cursing.               

Maybe he doesn’t think “motherfuckers” is cursing. Or “Do your fucking job!” Or “Quit being a fucking baby!” or “Pussy fucking baby!” Or “Run the fucking play right!” Or “That was fucking stupid.”                

Maybe he just thought that was the language of the business he’s in.                

At any rate, that’s the stuff about Mihalovich that wasn’t in The Des Moines Register’s print edition last week when it reported on the school board’s investigation of the conduct of the coach, presumably because it’s not exactly family fare — unless, apparently, you’re a Lincoln football family — and doesn’t go down well at the breakfast table. But Cityview is more of a lunchtime read, so here it is. (Campero V. Mihalovich)                


And when Coach Mihalovich allegedly told players that they were children whose mothers should have had an abortion, maybe he thought that that wasn’t ridicule or public degradation, two things he was warned about six years ago in a written disciplinary action from the school district. Maybe the same goes for the day he “allegedly took out a $20 bill during a game and told a player to go by Vagisil because he was a ‘pussy.’ ”                

All this stuff is included in the school district’s 22-page “Personnel Investigation of an Alleged Violation of Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment Policy, Corporal Punishment and Allegations of Conduct Unbecoming,” which was released the other day by Gary Dickey, the lawyer for Mary Walker and her son, Dante Campero. They complained to the school district after Campero, a member of the school’s sophomore football team, posted a profane but true tweet about the varsity team — “The reason I don’t go to the Varsity games at Lincoln is because they get fucking destroyed when they play half-decent teams” — and then was given “extra conditioning” as punishment. He did it up to the point where he “physically could no longer perform,” Dickey says.               

Campero has since transferred to Dowling. Mihalovich has been suspended, and the investigating committee found credence in allegations of corporal punishment, of unethical behavior regarding student discipline, of engaging in intimidation and retaliation and violating the district’s bullying and harassment policy, of conduct unbecoming a school-district staff member, and of insubordination.                

He can appeal those rulings.              

Mihalovich and assistant coach Kevin Johnston are on paid administrative leave. They can request a hearing now that the investigative report is finished. Both are part-time coaches who have no teaching or other duties in the school system. Mihalovich is paid $6,319 a year and Johnson $3,303. Like nearly every coach in the system, they can be fired for no reason on 30 days’ notice.                

Mihalovich’s lawyer is Marc Ward, who served six years on the school board, including two years as president. According to the Dickinson law firm’s web site, his areas of practice are business law and banking law.                

The Lincoln football team has won two games and lost five so far this season. …                

Branstad job watch: Iowa’s nonfarm employment was 1,479,300 for August, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. The total was 1,488,100 when Gov. Terry Branstad took office nearly two years ago — and promised to add 200,000 jobs over five years. Still to go: 208,800. …                

The National Organization for Marriage, which is based in Washington and which doesn’t like same-sex marriage, is spending about $100,000 on a new wave of TV ads urging Iowans not to retain Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins. That’s not as bad news for Wiggins as it might seem: $100,000 doesn’t go very far in buying state-wide coverage on television in this election season. …                

Remember Johnny’s Vets Club? It was, for generations, a speakeasy-type restaurant owned by the Stamatelos family at 63rd and Railroad in West Des Moines. It had good steaks, a gregarious owner and, at times, a good piano player. No one would confuse it with, say, The Des Moines Club. “Those steaks…that atmosphere! Always the vague aura of dangerous excitement, like Sinatra or someone was about to walk in,” a blogger reminisced five years ago. Johnny’s was wiped out in the flood of 1993, and, somehow, Bill Knapp ended up with the land.                

Somehow, Bill Knapp always seems to end up with the land.                

But he quietly gave it away the other day to Meals from the Heartland, a five-year-old Des Moines nonprofit organization that packages meals for the hungry in Iowa and, now, throughout the world. In its first four years, its volunteers — there were 20,000 last year — packaged 22 million meals with the help of local churches and the people who run the Hy-Vee Hall, where there’s a sort of pack-a-thon every September. That 22 million works out to feeding 15,000 people a day.                

But the place needed a permanent packaging center, and someone told Knapp, whose heart can be as soft as his head can be hard.                

So he gave them the land. And then he quietly and quickly raised more than $1 million — from the usual suspects — to finance a building where volunteers can package meals 24 hours a day. The goal is to package 10 million meals the first year and ultimately assemble a million meals a month, according to Jerry Armstrong, who retired from Pioneer Hi-Bred and now is chairman of the group. This year, it hired Dave Bradley as its first full-time executive director.                

It works this way: Meals From the Heartland buys rice and textured soy that is fortified with vitamins, dried vegetables and mineral mixtures. The mixture is cooked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then poured through a funnel, weighed, and bagged. Each bag holds six meals. Each meal costs the group about 20 cents.                

Knapp’s gift “is kind of overwhelming,” Armstrong said last week. “We’re so indebted to him.” Groundbreaking might happen next month. The building will probably be called the Patty Cownie center, Knapp said. …                

Vagisil? You have to say this about Coach Mihalovich: He knows his vaginal-infection products. CV

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