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Mannheimer is a ‘shady personality’

11/19/2014

Des Moines newspapers and magazines must have a yearly quota on the number of stories they do about the Des Moines Social Club. At least Cityview’s recent cover story, Social Status (Nov. 13), isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Obviously Christine Hensley isn’t aware of the theatrical irony of her reference to “The Rainmaker,” a play by N. Richard Nash. The main character, Starbuck, “is the nom de pluie for this hustler in the drought-stricken 1930s Midwest. Traveling from town to town, he collects fees by promising, on a sliding scale, anything from a drizzle to a flood.” One of Mannheimer’s old blog posts states, “I don’t believe art should cost money. And I don’t want anyone to give their money either through grant or personal donation.” He certainly changed his tune and is an expert at patting your back with one hand while reaching for your wallet with the other. He’s smooth-talked Des Moines’ power players, but most local artists, even if they won’t admit it, have always recognized him for who he really is — Starbuck. I wait for the day when articles about the Social Club focus on the art it creates rather than the shady personality behind it.

Trent Keller
–Des Moines

Dems learn from Braley loss

I agree with everything Michael Gartner said about Bruce Braley in Civic Skinny in the Nov. 13 issue of Cityview. After Tom Harkin made his big endorsement of Braley in 2013, I was looking forward to the campaign being much better than it turned out to be. I hope we Democrats have learned some lessons from that loss. I personally don’t think campaigns are much about philosophy anymore but about the candidate and their campaign. An independent friend of mine told me three reasons why she didn’t vote for Braley:

• The remark he made about Grassley and chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee

• He missed so many VA Committee meetings

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• Rumors that he ran the worst campaign in the nation

Voters don’t want arrogance — they want someone who makes every effort to be at his or her assignments. They want someone who has run a good campaign as it reflects on the job he or she will do once elected.

Gary Schmidt
–Ankeny

An open letter to the 114th Congress

Dear 114th Congress: Since so many of you campaigned to change Washington, here are some fresh ideas to get you started on the process:

 • Work a little more — Last year the House of Representatives had 118 working days and not one consecutive five-day schedule spent drafting legislation; a law should mandate 200 working days.

• Replace one dollar, one vote — Presidential and midterm races shouldn’t cost billions; asking for money distracts you from writing law. Replace private money with public financing; it can also deter special-interest lobbyists harassing you as quid pro quo for paying for your campaign.

• Make campaigns shorter — Eliminating money as the holy grail will shorten the election season, but an additional amendment restricting the length of an election cycle to less than 100 days would leave you freer to govern.

• You shouldn’t have to sell yourself like laundry detergent — Ban advertising for elections on the public airwaves; the FCC will help us get to know candidates by securing public channels for lengthy televised debates between candidates during the 100 days before the vote. While you are at it, wave the magical antitrust wand over our airwaves and break up media monopolies; free up private enterprise to own pieces of a large pie and let us return to the days of community radio. Remind public radio and TV to read their original mission statements.

• Make sure Iowans vote like Minnesotans, like Californians — Make how and when you vote standard for all 50 states — including a simple paper trail for ballots. If Venezuela can do it we can, too. Stop barraging people for hundreds of days if you are only going to give them 14 hours to cast a ballot; national holidays and weekends work overseas.

• Increase the number of people who go to the polls — States shouldn’t draw congressional districts; rewrite large House districts with proportional representation seating. Think of it this way: instead of casting a ballot for one party in a single-member winner-take-all district, a Libertarian could vote and see his party capture, hypothetically six chairs out of 100 seats with a six percent vote.  You might be giving up some power moving to a parliamentary structure, but your approval ratings will soar. State governments will also not be able to rig House elections through gerrymandering.

• Fight the good fight  — If the President grumbles or Supreme Court interprets any of this as out of bounds, at least you can look voters in the eye rather than through an artifice and tell them you did try to change our nation’s capitol.

Jeffery J. Weiss
–Des Moines

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