SCC Vacancy

I am sad to report that due to his ongoing medical condition, my friend Karl (Big Killer) Gilbertson is resigning from the State Central Committee effective immediately. Karl is one of the good guys and he will be missed.

Karl's replacement will be selected by the District Executive Committee for the 1st Congressional District. The Committee is essentially the chairs and co-chairs of the various county parties in the district.

Big Killer — you are in our prayers!

Party Unity

There has been a great deal of talk this year about party unity. Some have portrayed it as social vs. fiscal conservatives. More colorful commentators have referred to the battle as being between the mods and the gods.

For all the talk about conflict within our ranks, I am pleased to see our representatives in the Iowa House working together with our leadership to stand up for the people of Iowa. This prevailing wage bill has given the House Republican Caucus a chance to stand up and be counted.

While Speaker Murphy is playing games in the House, Kraig Paulsen has shown that he is more than capable of standing on principle and bringing the caucus with him.

Kudos to the entire GOP leadership team. Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, Republican Whip Linda Upmeyer,
Assistant Leader Jeff Kaufmann
Assistant Leader
Steve Lukan
Assistant Leader
Rod Roberts


Assistant Leader Jodi Tymeson.

Keep up the good work — we'll work to get you into the majority.

The Electoral College

According to the Des Moines Register, Democrats in the Iowa Senate are proposing a change to Iowa law that would grant Iowa's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Currently Iowa's electoral votes go the winner of the vote in here Iowa.

Democrat Senate majority leader Gronstal said:

I think there's broad support for the concept that a majority of the people in the country should elect a president,… This is a mechanism to get there and it doesn't require a constitutional amendment.

Wow, the Democrats take control and they think they can do anything. In this case, Gronstal is suggesting and end run around the Constitution.

Of course all of this is in response to the 2000 election where George W. Bush lost the popular vote but became president after winning in the Electoral College. Not only does Gronstal not respect the Constitution — he also does not respect Iowans.

Listen carefully to what he is proposing. If Iowa votes for one candidate but the nation votes for another, Gronstal would negate our votes in favor if the national vote.

What Gronstal really means is:

I think that voters in the more populous urban centers on the East and West Coasts should choose the president based on their values and needs. The opinions and interest of those of us who live in flyover country really don't matter.

In forming our constitution, the founders understood that the interests of both large and small states had to be respected. The Electoral College allows small states to have a voice in selecting the president.

So, Gronstal wants to take away Iowans' voice in choosing the president. The next logical step is to do another end run around the Constitution and take away one of Iowa's Senators. On the other hand, if we could convince Tom Harkin to stay home — I might be OK with that.

Petition and Recall

In my previous post

I wrote about the Linn County Board of Supervisors and my support for Kraig Paulson's proposed bill allowing voters to petition to recall local officials. I wrote:

If the petition and recall bill included state officials, I would be all for it.

I was just being snarky. We already have the means to remove elected officials at all levels — it's called an election. While sentiment in Linn County is running high, making our elected officials constantly look over the shoulders for fear of recall would make it difficult to get work done. I expect my elected officials to make tough decisions both the Linn County Supervisors have many to make.

I do not however want to let them off the hook either. The three supervisors who lied about the salary issue will be held accountable. Lu Barron, Linda Langston and James Houser (did I mention that they are all Democrats) we will remember what you did come election day.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors

There has been a storm brewing in Linn County. Last year, I along with a majority of Linn County voters approved a plan to increase the number of county supervisors from 3 to 5.

According to the Gazette:

Supervisors changed their status to part-time and lowered their salaries to about $70,000. In December, they rescinded that motion and restored their $87,662 salaries.

Before I go further let me say this. I supported the increase in supervisors in order to elect them from districts and increase their number. My goal was to have a board that better represented Linn County including smaller cities and rural areas. The gerrymandering that occurred is a discussion for a later date. I do not have a problem with supervisors making $87,000 a year. I did not believe that increasing the number of supervisors would significantly reduce their workload.

The problem is that the three (did I say Democrat) incumbent supervisors lied. They declared themselves to be part-time and lowered their salaries in order to get elected. As soon as they got re-elected they made themselves full-time again and now they have accepted the County Compensation Board's recommendation to re-increase their salaries to $87,662.

While I have no problem with the salary amount — I am outraged that the incumbents on the board pulled this stunt. Apparently I am not the only one.

Today, Republican House Minority Leader, Kraig Paulsen, plans to introduce a bill giving voters the right to petition and recall local elected officials. On similar lines, all Linn County legislators, except Democrat Nate Willems, have signed on as co-sponsors with freshman Republican representative Nick Wagner on a bill to decouple Supervisors salaries from other county employees.

I understand why people are mad. As a voter, I don't like to be lied to. If the election were held again today, none of the three incumbents would be re-elected. The lone Republican on the Board of Supervisors, Brent Oelson noted that was elected in November and neither he nor Supervisor Rogers were a part of this fiasco. 

Interviewed about Paulsen's proposed bill on KCRG, Oleson said:

Isn't that convenient the people writing the law aren't applying it to themselves …

I don't mean this as a criticism of Kraig, I am a friend and supporter, but I agree with Brent. If the petition and recall bill included state officials, I would be all for it.

Once burned twice shy

I mentioned in a previous post that I agreed halfway with my friend Brent Oelson over at The Marion Contrarion about the LOST bill that that just passed in the Iowa House. Oelson supported the measure and another friend, newly-elected State Rep Renee Schulte, voted for it. I have to admit being very conflicted about the issue.

LOST stands for Local Option Sales Tax. The purpose of this bill is to give counties hit by flooding, specifically those included in a Presidential Disaster Declaration, a fast track mechanism to put a local option sales tax to a vote. Under the bill, such a tax could be on placed on the ballot for a March 3rd vote and if passed collection would begin on April 1st.

Like Oelson, I believe that local option taxes are generally a good idea as taxes go. I have had experience with these taxes in Linn County and over the years, voted for some and against others. The idea that these taxes are levied by a government body that is close to the people and the people have the ultimate say is appealing. In the case of some previous attempts to pass a tax to support schools in Linn County, we the voters told our leaders on multiple occasions to convince us. It took multiple attempts but eventually, the school districts came up with plans that the people supported and we voted to implement the tax.

So I like local option taxes. Local decisions. Local accountability. Local control. All good things.

THEN CAME SILO

Last year, after all 99 counties in Iowa enacted local option taxes for schools. The legislature then made the 1 cent local option tax permanent state-wide. Now I understand some of the reasoning. For example, small county districts near a larger county with significant retail outlets simply could not raise enough money through local options taxes. The problem is that SILO took away all the things about a local option tax that Oelson and I both think our good. Local control, local accountability and local decision-making have all been co-opted.

I also agree, that Cedar Rapids, city government has been negligent. According to Oelson, the city could  have put a tax on the November ballot under existing law. Ultimately this fast track rule was not even needed.

I think that Linn and Johnson counties need to raise revenue to fund flood recovery. I think that local option taxes might be a good way to do so. Our legislature has shown that they can't be trusted to keep their hands off. Therefore, no matter how good an idea — I will find it very difficult to support a local option tax in Linn County.