Friday, May 20, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Merry Christmas


Twelve drummers drumming…

…for Gabriel Espinosa and the other 29 new citizens from 16 countries sworn in at a baseball game on July 3…and for Judge Robert Pratt, who swore them in… and the 40,000 or so (who knows?) undocumented immigrants who are changing the state for the better…and the 2,800 or so Dreamers living in Iowa…for Omar Padilla and Rob Barron at the Latino Political Network…and Erica Johnson and Jody Mashek and the people at the immigrant-rights program of the American Friends Service Committee….

Eleven pipers piping…

…for Schoolboy Johnson (bats left, throws right), the Negro League pitcher and, later, Des Moines Bruins outfielder who just turned 90…and former Chicago Cub (and Little League coach) Byron Browne…and Drake basketball coach Darian DeVries…for the Grand View wrestling team, which this year won its seventh straight NAIA national team title…and its 10 (count ‘em: 10) all-Americans…and coach Nick Mitchell…and Iowa amateur golf champion Mike McCoy…for Drake’s Becca Hittner…University of Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee…baseball expert John Liepa…for Laura Leonard… and Drake’s new radio guy, Michael Admire…and sports talker Ken Miller….

Ten lords a-leaping…

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

…for Max Wellman at Noce Jazz Cabaret…and his dad, Mike…and Marty Scarpino at the Embers on Ingersoll, and we’re glad he’s back…and brother Ken Scarpino, too…for Chris Diebel and the folks at Bubba’s…and the breakfast regulars at the Cub Club…and the very nice people at Teriyaki House on East 14th…for Alexander and Whitney Hall and everyone at St. Kilda’s…and C.J. and Kari Bienert at The Cheese Shop…for Bruce Gerleman, who shepherds Splash and Jethro’s…and, of course, for the Food Dude….

Nine ladies dancing…

…for Kim Reynolds, the first woman to be elected governor of this state…and the victorious women politicians of Polk County: Jennifer Konfrst and Heather Matson and Karin Derry and Claire Celsi and Kristin Sunde — who are joining the Polk County delegation in the Legislature…and repeat winners Marti Anderson and Ruth Ann Gaines and Jo Oldson, too…and especially Janet Peterson, who Counts the Kicks…and Angela Connelly, re-elected to the Board of Supervisors…and Amber Gustafson, who came close in Ankeny…and for Cindy Axne, our new Congress member…and her new colleague Abby Finkenauer….

Eight maids a-milking…

…for Harry Hillaker, who has retired after 37 years as state climatologist, and for Justin Glisan, his successor…for everyone at, especially Troy McCullough who is back in America…for Kathie Anderson at Tandem Brick Gallery…for Zachary and Mackenzie and Christopher and Maggie, the world’s best grandchildren…for Gary Galinsky…for Mark Eggers…for new neighbors Kirk and Janel Tyler…and baseball fans Mike and Mary Pitcher…and Christy Anderson, who is nice to people and cats….

Seven swans a-swimming…

…for Lynn Hicks and Anna Backstrom and Kyle Munson and Mackenzie Elmer and Aaron Young and Grant Rodgers and Mark Marturello and Lauren Ehler and Jason Noble and Clark Kauffman and all the others who left the Register’s newsroom during the year…and former publisher David Chivers, too…for the retiring Dave Busiek of KCCI, newly named to the Iowa Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame…and his successor, Allison Smith…for Andy Garman, who has moved on to new things, and Scott Reister, the new boss at Channel 8 sports…for Rick Brown and Indianola’s Ken Fuson and John Carlson — three great reporters…for Bodie Birch (and mom and dad Allyson and Tommy)…for Kevin Cooney (and bring back Wonks!)…and Mollie, too…and Alex…for Kay Henderson…for indefatigable bloggers Laura Belin and Pat Rynard…and freedom fighters Mike Giudicessi and Randy Evans….

Six geese a-laying…

…for Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht, Chief Appellate Judge David Danilson and Chief District Judge Art Gamble — all of whom are retiring…and new Supreme Court Justice Susan Christensen…for Lucy, the court’s top dog…for Chris Godfrey and his lawyer, Roxanne Conlin…for Danny Homan and his lawyer, Mark Hedberg…for everyone at the Roosevelt Barber Shop…and all those nice people at the downtown Hy-Vee…for retiring sheriff Bill McCarthy — and thanks for everything — and probable incoming sheriff Kevin Schneider….

Five golden rings…

…for Gary Palmer and Kurt Rasmussen, who keep pouring Prairie Meadows money back into the community…and Bob and Laurel Kirke…for John Mauro, who gave his all…for Adam Emmenecker — the man, not the sandwich…and Earl Short, who loves streetcars…for Art and Gloria Filean…for Lynn Yontz at the community foundation…for the ageless Chuck Betts and his pal George Turner…for Dr. Bob Shreck, who reads CITYVIEW…and Celeste Tilton, who designs it….

Four collie birds…

…for Fred and Charlotte Hubbell, who love this state and proved it…for State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, who always wins, which is a good thing…for David Johnson, who will be missed in the Iowa Senate…for Maya Miller, who’s off to college…and her uncle Marty…for Nancy Winget, who keeps track of things…and so does Katie Miller…for Steve Beckley…and everyone who works for him…for Chris Anderson at the Playhouse…for Julie Stewart and her mom….

Three French hens…

…for Neal Smith, who also loves Iowa and who showered it with largesse during 36 years in Congress and who now — going on 99 — rarely misses a meeting or a lecture or anything else of interest. Enjoy Gray’s Lake and Brown’s Woods? They’re public parks because of him. And so are Rathbun Lake and Saylorville Lake and the Des Moines River Greenbelt. And, of course, the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. He is an expert on the past and, still, a thinker about the future. Farmer, soldier, lawyer, legislator — there is no one like him….

Two turtle doves…

…for Kristin Steele at the county…and Joseph Barry at the state…for Beth Giudicessi, who may or may not be the employee of the year (there’s a recount)…for new supervisor Matt McCoy — and his colleagues Steve Van Oort and Bob Brownell and Angela Connolly (who gets two mentions today) and Tom Hockensmith, who worry about the needy and do something about it…for everyone in the Polk County Election Office, especially John Chiodo and Rosemary Moody….

And a partridge in a pear tree…

…in memory of the wonderful Dan Miller and the witty Don Forsling…and Gil Cranberg, who made us think…and Don Kaul, who made us laugh…for Bob Ray, who changed the state…and Johnny Danos, who knew the numbers…for Bill Sailor and Sean Sellers and Ralph Schlenker… for Donna Red Wing, fighter and advocate and protector…for Tom Slater and his wife Valentina Slater Fominykh… for Florence Buhr and Mary Grefe, who got involved…and Michael Sadler…for Meredith’s Bob Burnett and David Jordan…for Larry Cotlar, who always had a good word…and Gene Ratffensperger, a terrific newspaperman with an equally terrific laugh…and the inventive (and nice) Eugene Sukup…oh-so-sadly for Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena and Iowa’s Mollie Tibbetts…and reporter Larry Fruhling…and B.J. Furgerson…for Giles Fowler, who taught newspapermen…and Leonard Boswell, farmer and soldier and politician…for pollster and artist Glenn Roberts, who was ahead of his time…for Red Hollis…and, always, for the first Christopher. ♦

Sabbaticals: Space bicycles, a suicide in 1634 and Mexican accents. LaMarca bills top $1 million.

Your tax and tuition dollars at work:

John Cunnally, an art professor at Iowa State, will spend next academic year completing a third book about antiquarianism during the Renaissance. “Tentatively titled Amici Huberti, the book will shed light on the people who collected, interpreted, and exchanged ancient Greek and Roman coins during the 16th century, and provide value to undergraduate and graduate students studying art history and theory.” Cunnally makes $77,000 a year, according to state records.

Jeremy Withers, an assistant professor of English at ISU, will spend the fall semester “to complete Futuristic Cars and Space Bicycles, the first book to examine the history of representations of road transport machines in American science fiction from the late 19th to early 21st centuries.” Withers earns $67,000.

Reinier Hesselink, a history professor at the University of Northern Iowa, will spend the academic year working on his book about the suicide of Takenaka Uneme, a suicide that took place in 1634. The book will “describe the warrior class of Japan as it was reorganizing itself during the reigns of the first three Tokugawa shoguns after the end of a civil war that had lasted for more than a century (1467-1600).” Hesselink earned about $85,000 in fiscal 2018.

These sabbaticals — or “professional development assignments” — are designed to promote “effective use of resources meeting institutional missions.” The assignments also help the teachers compete “for external grants that benefit the professors, programs, the universities and the state by generating revenue for core university activities.” In the coming fiscal year, 135 faculty members will take sabbaticals.

Hesselink says his sabbatical matters because “for a state, like Iowa, that depends for much of its economy on Japan (most of its soybean crop and a large part of its corn harvest are exported to East Asia), it is of great importance to foster an awareness of Japanese culture and history.”

Alison Altstatt, an associate professor of music at UNI, will spend next academic year researching a project on “religious women’s music and ritual in the thirteenth-century Wilton Processional,” a medieval manuscript from a Benedictine convent. The project, Altstatt says, “benefits the people of Iowa by contributing to a more educated populace in the fields of History, Religion, and the Arts.” Altstatt is paid around $60,000.

Damani Phillips, an associate professor at the University of Iowa, will spend the spring semester traveling to four undisclosed cities outside the U.S. to study “iconic folk/dance/music styles.” He then will compose a jazz album, “a slate of compositions that embody an experiential comprehension of the music’s source culture.” Phillips earns $81,000.

David Stern, a philosophy professor at Iowa, will spend a semester “mapping the origins and structure of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922): a bilingual digital humanities edition of the book and its relationship to its sources.” Wittgenstein’s Tractatus is “one of a handful of key works of early analytic philosophy,” Stern notes. Stern earns $110,000.

Melissa Tully, who teaches journalism at Iowa, will spend a semester studying “the spread of misinformation on social media in Kenya and how to develop media literacy interventions to combat it.” Tully earns $79,500.

Christine Shea, an associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Iowa, will spend the spring semester working on a paper to be titled “Social Sensitivity to Different Accents in Mexican Children.” Shea is paid $72,000.

Robyn Schiff, a professor of English at Iowa, will spend half time of the academic year composing “Information Desk,” which will be “a book-length poem in the epic tradition that draws on her personal experience formerly working at the information desk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to contemplate art, commerce, and epistemology.” She adds: “Both a work of art history and a coming-of-age story, the poem is as concerned with the forces of power and history that drive the museum’s encyclopedic collecting as it is with the social and psychosexual workplace dynamics of the museum itself at the turn of the 21st century.” Schiff earns $94,000.

And Raymond Mentzer, a professor of religious studies at Iowa, will spend his spring semester working on an article to be called “Training and disciplining Protestant pastors in early modern France.” He views his sabbatical as “an unparalleled opportunity to scrutinize misbehavior among theology students and the manner in which they were disciplined.” Mentzer earns $145,500.

Perhaps the most useful sabbatical will be that of Ann Gansemer-Topf of the school of education at Iowa State. She will spend the spring semester addressing “current challenges facing colleges and universities by investigating effective strategies for translating higher education research into policy in areas such as student learning, degree attainment, diversity and inclusion, and accountability.” Gansemer-Topf earns about $80,000 a year. …

The debt-ridden scammer and former sports talker Marty Tirrell didn’t show up for the hearing in which Mari Jo Corley, his former girlfriend, sought a protective order against him. The court then ruled that Tirrell “represents a credible threat to the physical safety” of Corley, and it issued a restraining order against him until Oct. 30, 2019.

Corley, 57, sought the order after reporting that the 58-year-old Tirrell “physically abused me with his fist, hitting me in the chest, breast and torso” on three occasions. The sheriff’s office was unable to serve the final order on Tirrell.

“There is no address for this defendant,” the sheriff’s office reported. “Spoke by phone and text 3 times…He said he would call and meet me twice and does not follow thru…avoiding service.”

Tirrell, who has millions of dollars in judgments against him for scamming friends, former advertisers, former employers and ticket brokers, rarely shows up to dispute the charges. …

George LaMarca may be through representing Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds and others in the seven-year-old Chris Godfrey case, but he’s still sending bills. The Executive Council the other day approved bills totaling $18,067.32, bringing the total to date to $1,005,917.12.

A few months ago, LaMarca withdrew from the case, saying he was retiring, and the state then hired Frank Harty of the Nyemaster firm. The case was scheduled to go on trial in Polk County District Court in January, but the change in lawyers has caused yet another delay. Trial now is scheduled for June 3 of next year. So far, at least 50 depositions have been taken.

Godfrey has sued Branstad and Reynolds and three others for discrimination and defamation and retaliation after then-Governor Branstad tried to fire him as head of the Workers Compensation Board — that didn’t work, because Godfrey had a fixed term — and then cut his pay. Godfrey was a holdover from Democratic administrations and at the time was the only openly gay department head in the Branstad administration. The pay cut totaled about $150,000 over the 46 months remaining in the term.

If Godfrey wins, his lawyer — Roxanne Conlin — can submit her fees to the court, too. It’s a pretty good bet that they’ll end up at $2 million or more. ♦


  1. bob nandell says:

    Merry Christmas to one of the best newspaper editors it was ever my honor to work for! Thanks for all you continue
    to do for the community….

    1. Marijo Corley says:

      So you have worked for only one newspaper editor?

      He exploits innocent people without knowledge of the truth AND makes no attempt to get to investigate the truth.

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