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Civic Skinny

Coach Jennie Baranczyk’s deal with U of Oklahoma. Supervisors await redistricting. Courthouse tops out.


What did it take for the University of Oklahoma to lure basketball coach Jennie Lillis Baranczyk away from Drake University?

Here’s what, based on a freedom-of-information request made by CITYVIEW to the Big 12 school:

A base salary of $300,000 a year.

Plus $175,000 a year from “unrestricted private funds.” This goes up $25,000 in each year of the five-year contract.

Plus an “annual stay benefit” of $150,000.

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Plus “performance bonuses” of up to $100,000 if Oklahoma should win the NCAA national championship.

That adds up to $625,000 a year before bonuses.

It’s unclear what Drake was paying the onetime Dowling Catholic star — Drake is a private university and not subject to open-records laws — but a guy who sometimes knows what’s going on says not very helpfully that it probably was in the neighborhood of $250,000, “maybe more but maybe less.” If that’s the case, Oklahoma more than doubled the pay of Baranczyk.

And it’s probably a bargain for Oklahoma.

Baranczyk succeeds Sherri Coale, 56, who coached at Oklahoma for 25 years and who earned about $1.3 million in the 2019-2020 school year and then took a 10% cut when the university had budget woes caused by the Covid pandemic. (The men’s coach at Oklahoma makes $3.2 million.) Baranczyk’s new salary is not far below that of Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly, who will make $800,000 this year and whose contract calls for an additional one-time payment of $700,000 if he is still employed by Iowa State on Aug. 1, 2027. At the University of Iowa, Coach Lisa Bluder made $1,100,000 last year, including bonuses. 

Coale retired this spring following three bad seasons and allegations from some Black former players that she was racially insensitive. During her run, she took the team to the NCAA tournament for 19 straight years and to the Final Four four times.

Baranczyk, 39, had a 190-96 record in her nine seasons at Drake, took the Bulldogs to three NCAA tournaments, won at least 20 games for six seasons in a row, and attracted fans and givers who liked the success and who admired the home-grown coach. The Drake women averaged 3,523 fans at home games in the 2019-2020 season — 32nd highest in the nation. Oklahoma averaged 2,254.

Two years ago, Suzie Glazer-Burt, a Drake trustee, gave $5 million to the women’s basketball program, and part of it was to be used “to transform Jennie’s salary — and keep her in Des Moines,” Glazer-Burt told The Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson at the time.

“Jennie doesn’t make very much money,” Glazer-Burt said. “There are professors on this campus that make more money than Jennie.” …

Former Gov. Chet Culver is going back on the board of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp., the country cousin of Ginnie Mae and Freddie Mac, quasi government organizations that increase the availability of credit for borrowers. It’s a lucrative appointment that doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting.

There are 15 directors — five, like Culver, are appointed by the President — and they receive an annual retainer of $62,000. Each year, each director also gets stock awards valued at $50,000 or more, and committee chairs — there are 8 committees — get another $10,000 or $12,000. The board met 22 times last year.

Culver was first appointed to the board by President Barack Obama, but President Donald Trump removed him a couple of years ago. Now, President Joe Biden has put him back on. The appointment is subject to ratification by the Senate, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Culver, who was ratified once before and whose father served in the Senate and is remembered fondly by many current members.

Culver will be the third Iowan on the board. Lowell Junkins, a longtime Iowa political operative and a former state senator, has been on the board since 1996. He served 10 years as chairman (now, an extra $40,000 a year) and another eight as vice chair (an extra $20,000). Last year, he was paid $140,122 for his service. Earlier this summer, farmer Roy Tiarks of Council Bluffs was elected to one of five spots assigned to Class B stockholders. …

The new federal courthouse in downtown Des Moines topped out in July, about two years after the groundbreaking ceremony for the $137 million building at First and Locust on the west riverfront downtown. The building is “on time and on budget,” says John Jarvey, the chief judge of the federal court for the Southern District of Iowa.

It’s unclear what will happen to the classic current courthouse on the east bank of the Des Moines River but in all likelihood a developer will buy it and turn it into apartments or a hotel. There would be an outcry if someone wanted to tear it down.

The new building is so far without a name, as is the (much more handsome) Cedar Rapids Courthouse for the Northern District, which was opened in 2012. Congress and the Judiciary could prevent a lot of bickering by simply naming the Cedar Rapids courthouse for Chuck Grassley and the Des Moines one for Tom Harkin, Iowa’s two longest-serving Senators and the men who secured the funding for the buildings. …

Real estate note:

Walter Lauridsen Jr. just paid $1,060,000 for a condominium in the White Line Lofts downtown, one of the highest prices ever paid for a downtown apartment. The apartment, one of two on the top-floor of the nine-story building on Fifth Street, has 4,044 square feet of living space, including three bedrooms, three bathrooms and three half-baths. The purchase includes an indoor parking spot and one or two outdoor spots.

The sellers were Craig and Carol Faber, who paid $430,000 for the unfinished space in 2014. The apartment now is assessed at $1,293,500. …

Rob Barron will not run for a third four-year term on the Des Moines School Board, but “you will see my face on a ballot again sometime in the future,” he said. “I’m in love with the idea of public service,” Barron said in a YouTube video. “I’m a better person for this experience.” He said he leaves the board “with hope, not frustration.”

When the Des Moines native and Grinnell graduate was elected to the school board eight years ago, he was the first Latino elected official in Polk County. Soft-spoken and intense, he worked hard in the job to provide opportunities for the very young, the disadvantaged and the immigrant. 

Along the way, he founded the Latino Political Network, to train and encourage Latinx to run for office. He has said he will endorse one of those persons to run for the School Board seat he is vacating. 

After graduating from college in 2002, he spent 12 years on the staff of Sen. Tom Harkin, in Washington and in Iowa, and until this spring he had been at Grand View University for five years working on government and community relations, a task that included bringing in more minority students. In March, he became executive director of the Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact, an organization of 60 colleges and universities that strive for more civic engagement of their students. …

Polk County politicians are eagerly — and, some, anxiously — awaiting the every-10-years redrawing of the five supervisory districts based on new census numbers. Some incumbents fear that any two might be drawn into the same district — meaning they would face each other in an election or one would have to move to stay in office because you have to live in the district you represent.

The nervous waits won’t be over soon.

The official census numbers are expected on Aug. 16, but the Legislative Services Agency, which will draw the map, can’t start on the county map until the new Legislative districts are drawn and new precinct lines are drawn (there are 177 precincts in Polk County, and none can have more than 3,500 people). Those maps then are sent to the Secretary of State, and once he approves them the work can begin on the Polk County maps.

In the past, the every-10-years map was drawn by a five-person special committee, with each supervisor appointing a member. This year, the job will be done by the Legislative Services Agency, which Ed Cook runs and which has a sterling, nationwide reputation for the fair way it draws state legislative districts. The rules for the county districts as set down in the Iowa Code remain the same:

The population of the five districts must be as equal as possible, meaning each probably would have to have about 100,000 people. No city other than Des Moines can be divided among districts, and Des Moines must have “the smallest number of districts possible.” Each district must be composed of contiguous territory and be “as compact as possible.” And no precinct can be divided by supervisory districts. The map drawers cannot give any consideration to the addresses of incumbents, to the political affiliations of registered voters or to previous election results.

From a practical standpoint, that means the Legislative Services Agency must start in two places: Ankeny and West Des Moines. Ankeny has about 65,000 people, all in Polk County. West Des Moines has an estimated population of about 66,000, but they are spread among four counties. The Polk County population of West Des Moines is about 50,000. So the questions are: Which direction does the new district go from Ankeny, which from West Des Moines?  

Here’s one issue: Tom Hockensmith, the Democrat who represents the solidly Democratic east side of town, recently moved and now lives very close to Ankeny, which is represented on the Board of Supervisors by Republican Steve Van Oort. If the new Ankeny district heads south, the two could easily be thrown into the same district. It’s quite possible that Angela Connolly and Matt McCoy — two Democrats, but not the best of friends — could face one another.

At this point, everything is speculation, but among those said to be watching closely are Des Moines councilman Joe Gatto and state legislator Tony Bisignano, two Democrats who live on the southside in a district represented by McCoy. McCoy lives in another part of the district on the west side of town, and could end up losing the southside area and facing Connolly or perhaps Republican Bob Brownell. Gatto and Bisignano are said to be eager to jump in if the seat opens up.

Besides personal fates, at stake is the issue of which party will control the county. The Democrats have controlled it for decades, but the Republicans are always hopeful. Still, they probably shouldn’t be too hopeful: There are currently 119,070 active Democrats registered in Polk County, 79,603 active Republicans and 76,767 active independents. ♦

Comment: The Godfrey case

Here’s the thing you have to understand about the Chris Godfrey case:

It started out as petty politics by a vindictive Governor who wanted to please his big business constituents and who — a jury unanimously concluded — didn’t want a gay man running a state agency. Especially a gay Democrat. 

The case lasted almost 10 years, went to the Iowa Supreme Court three times, and cost the state — that is, taxpayers — about $2,800,000 in legal bills to hire private attorneys to represent Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. But it was — from a money standpoint — just a dispute about $150,000 in pay over four-and-a-half years.

Here are the facts:

Chris Godfrey was head of the Iowa Workers Compensation Board. He was a Democrat who had served under Governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, who had been confirmed by the Iowa Senate, and who had a fixed, six-year term running until 2015. Despite the fixed term, then-governor Branstad asked him to resign shortly after being elected in 2010, later alleging Big Business didn’t like the decisions coming out of Godfrey’s department. When Godfrey refused, the Governor cut his pay by the maximum allowable amount, to $73,250 from $112,068. At the time, Godfrey was the only openly gay department head in the Branstad administration.

Godfrey then hired Roxanne Conlin, a high-profile lawyer who — adding a little political drama to the case — had run unsuccessfully for governor against Branstad in 1982. She sued, alleging, among other things, discrimination and retaliation under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and violation of Godfrey’s due-process rights under the Iowa Constitution. Ultimately, in July 2019, after a nine-week trial, an eight-person jury in Iowa District Court in Newton determined Branstad had indeed discriminated. It said the state should pay Godfrey $1.5 million in damages, and Judge Brad McCall ruled that the state should pay Conlin around $4 million in legal fees. McCall refused a motion to overrule the jury.
Branstad appealed to the Supreme Court, which had twice ruled in Godfrey’s favor on legal points that had been raised during the trial. But the Court had changed — two justices had died since the case began and another two had retired — and on the last day of June this year it reversed the jury verdict and threw out the case.

The 53-page decision, by Justice Christopher McDonald, was pointed, if not nasty. He rejected as “illogical and fallacious” Judge McCall’s ruling that a jury could infer that Branstad knew Godfrey was gay. (In wandering testimony at the trial, Branstad had denied that he knew.)

But Justice Brent Appel objected to that. In an even-longer opinion concurring in part but dissenting in big part, Appel wrote: This case “is about the respective roles of the jury and a reviewing court. Determining whom to believe is a classic function for the jury.” What weight to give to competing evidence, he wrote, “is at the heart of the jury’s role in our system of justice.”

In other words, the Iowa Supreme Court assigned to itself the role of jury in this case, though it did not see the trial, did not see or hear the witnesses, did not see who squirmed and evaded, did not see the intensity of the questions or the firmness or evasiveness of the answers. There were eight jurors in Judge McCall’s courtroom. But this case was decided by seven who were not there.

“The founders of our Nation considered the right of trial by jury in civil cases an important bulwark against tyranny and corruption,” U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote 40 years ago, “a safeguard too precious to be left to the whim of the sovereign, or, it might be added, to that of the judiciary.”

The current majority of the Iowa Supreme Court doesn’t seem to understand that.

The Iowa Supreme Court has a long and magnificent record of staying true to the state motto — “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain.” Its very first decision, on July 4, 1839, freed a captured slave from Missouri and said slavery could not exist in this state. Seventy-five years before Little Rock, it ruled that Black children could go to school with whites. Fifty years before Rosa Parks, it ruled that businesses had to treat minorities equally to white people. Six years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, the Iowa court said gay marriage was a matter of equal rights. 

The list of decisions is wondrous and is a badge of pride for Iowans.

The Godfrey decision is neither.

— Michael Gartner

Who makes what? 

Here are salaries for top earners at the City, Polk County and the three state universities.

A new fiscal year started on July 1. CITYVIEW asked the city of Des Moines, Polk County and the Board of Regents for the top earners at each place for the new fiscal year. Here they are:

City of Des Moines

Scott Sanders, city manager $282,152

Jeff Lester, corporation counsel $222,165

Matt Anderson, deputy city manager $199,597

Lawrence McDowell, deputy city attorney $193,794

Dana Wingert, police chief $193,627

Pam Cooksey, assistant city manager $193,627

Jonathan Gano, public works director $191,880

John TeKippe, fire chief $186,181

Carol Moser, deputy city attorney $185,099

Kathleen Vanderpool, deputy city attorney $185,099

Malcolm Hankins, assistant city manager $184,475

Steven Naber, city engineer $180,731

Jim Wells, human resources director $179,795

Anna Whipple, information technology director $174,013

Ben Page, parks and recreation director $177,778

Chris Johansen, neighborhood services director $174,013

Susan Woody, library director $173,534

Scott Hutchens, assistant public works director $170,768

Erin Olson-Douglas, development services dir $170,602

Jennifer Schulte, assistant city manager $165,194

Allan Tunks, police major $164,403

Note: In Des Moines, Mayor Frank Cownie is paid $57,760 a year and the other six council members are paid $28,880. The jobs are, in theory, part-time.

Polk County

John Sarcone, county attorney $219,381

Joshua Akers, medical examiner $208,821

John Norris, county manager $205,000

Nan Horvat, county attorney’s office $186,474

Ralph Marasco, county attorney’s office $186,474

Tom Miller, county attorney’s office $186,474

Jeff Noble, county attorney’s office $186,474

Daniel Voogt, county attorney’s office $186,474

Bryanna Walton, county attorney’s office $186,474

Jim Ward, county attorney’s office $186,474

Kevin Schneider, county sheriff $182,549

Anthony Jefferson, IT department $179,393

Robert Rice, public works director $179,393

Rich Leopold, head of conservation $171,046

Meghan Gavin, county attorney’s office $167,081

Keith Olson, treasurer’s office $163,052

Julie Bussanmas, county attorney’s office $160,248

Ben Lacey, treasurer’s office $155,434

Kenneth Pilch, sheriff’s office $155,167

Steve Hoffman, sheriff’s office $155,167

Tim Krum, sheriff’s office $155,167

Frank Marasco, sheriff’s office $155,167

Robert Stanton, sheriff’s office $155,167

Helen Eddy, director of health department $152,980

Notes: While County Attorney John Sarcone, Sheriff Kevin Schneider and County Recorder Julie Hagerty ($130,214) are the highest-paid persons in their departments, two other elected officials employ persons who make more than they do.

County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald makes $130,214, but five of his employees earn more. County Treasurer Mary Wells also makes $130,214, but Benjamin Lacey in that department earns $155,434.

The five county supervisors — Bob Brownell, Angela Connolly, Tom Hockensmith, Matt McCoy and Steve Van Oort — earn $130,214 a year.

University of Iowa

Kirk Ferentz, head football coach $2,720,000

Fran McCaffery, head men’s basketball coach $1,750,000

Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO, UI Hospitals $1,100,000

Jay Brooks Jackson, VP for medical affairs $1,056,250

Matthew Howard, medical school professor $908,850

Phil Parker, assistant football coach $890,000

Ronald Weibel, medical school professor $886,740

Brian Ferentz, assistant football coach $860,000

Marco Ricci, medical school professor $823,666

John Michael Buatti, medical school professor $784,987

Alan Reed, medical school professor $776,890

Lisa Bluder, women’s basketball coach $776,394

Bruce Gantz, medical school professor $736,871

Colin Derdeyn, medical school professor $697,857

Kenneth O’Keefe, assistant football coach $685,000

Evan Dale Abel, medical school professor $674,760

Kirk Lee Fridrich, medical school professor $672,900

Marlan Rex Hansen, medical school professor $668,640

Karl Kreder, medical school professor $667,789

Gary Barta, athletic director $650,000

Bradley Haws, chief financial officer UI Health Care $650,000

Notes: The salaries listed for coaches are their base salaries. Many contracts have incentives for reaching bowl games or achieving a certain number of victories. For example, Kirk Ferentz could earn $5,595,000 if he makes good on all seven of his bonus opportunities, ranging from $50,000 for being Big Ten Coach of the year to $1.5 million for winning the national championship. With fees for public speaking, shoe contracts, and TV and radio appearances, Fran McCaffery is guaranteed annual compensation of $2.9 million this year.

In May, the University of Iowa named Barbara Wilson as president. She signed a five-year contract for $600,000 a year with an additional $400,000 a year in deferred compensation.

Iowa State University

Matt Campbell, head football coach $2,700,000

T.J. Otzelberger, men’s basketball coach $1,000,000

Jon Heacock, assistant football coach $925,000

Tom Manning, assistant football coach $925,000

Bill Fennelly, women’s basketball coach $800,000

Jamie Pollard, athletic director $775,000

Wendy Wintersteen, president $600,000

Nate Scheelhaase, assistant football coach $500,000

David Andrews, strength coach $500,000

David Spalding, dean of business school $473,325

Jonathan Wickert, provost $406,273

Samuel Easterling, dean of engineering $400,743

Joel Gordon, assistant football coach $400,000

Tyson Veidt, associate head football coach $400,000

Eli Rasheed, assistant football coach $390,000

Adam Schwartz, director of Ames Lab $369,753

Peter Dorhout, vice president for research $362,455

Matt Caponi, assistant football coach $355,000

Daniel Robison, dean of agriculture $354,083

Beate Schmittmann, dean of liberal arts $352,055

Notes: Wintersteen also gets $300,000 a year in deferred compensation. Coaches can receive additional money for taking teams to bowl games of tournaments and the like.

University of Northern Iowa

Ben Jacobson, men’s basketball coach $675,000

Mark Farley, head football coach $400,000

Mark Nook, president $357,110

Michael Hager, senior vp for finance $240,974

James Jermier, vp for advancement $233,450

Leslie Wilson, dean of business college $230,496

David Harris, director of UNI-Dome operations $219,845

Randy Pilkington, director of community serv $211,885

John Fritch, dean of humanities, arts & sciences $193,826

Brenda Bass, dean of college of social services $191,001

Mary Connerley, business professor $190,271

Marty Mark, chief information officer $186,987

David Grady, head of student affairs $180,000

Colleen Mulholland, dean of college of edu $177,625

Kent Johnson, dean of continuing education $175,000

Tanya Warren, women’s basketball coach $174,456

Douglas Schwab, wrestling coach $174,004

Tim McKenna, university counsel $172,390

Patrick Pease, associate provost $170,817

John Vallentine, associate provost$170,817

Note: Nook is eligible for $100,000 a year in deferred compensation, but he forfeited half of that for last year and this year because of budget issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. ♦

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