October 31, 2014

Ernst: ‘Yes, we can’ do better as a country (AUDIO)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst wraps up her 99 county tour.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst wrapped up her 99 county tour Thursday night. She made 112 campaign stops in the past 39 days and held a rally with a crowd of supporters in an Ames brew pub last night.

“Chuck Grassley has set the bar high: 99 counties every year for 34 years,” Ernst said. “Our governor does the 99 county tour which we fondly call ‘the full Grassley.’ Our lieutenant governor does the ‘full Grassley’ and, senator, it is my intent as the next United States senator from Iowa to do the ‘full Grassley’ every year.”

Grassley spoke briefly, just before Ernst, and told the crowd there’s “building enthusiasm” for Ernst as “the polls spread to her advantage.”

“She’s on FOX News more than a sitting senator is,” Grassley said, and the crowd laughed, “so that tells you something as well.”

Congressman Tom Latham of Clive also campaigned with Ernst yesterday (Thursday) as she made stops in his congressional district.

“Let me just say that probably the happiest guy in the country today is Jimmy Carter,” Latham told the crowd in Ames last night, “because Barack Obama is making him look competent.”

Ernst is sounding a confident theme, not talking about “if” she’s elected, but “when” she becomes a U.S. Senator.

“We can do better, can’t we folks?” Ernst asked the crowd. “Yes, we can. Yes, we can and we are going to do better.”

AUDIO of Ernst rally, 28:00

Ernst will campaign through the weekend with Republican Governor Terry Branstad and other Republican candidates for statewide office. On Saturday, former President Bill Clinton will hold a get-out-the-vote rally in Des Moines for Democratic candidate Bruce Braley and then Clinton will headline a Braley fundraiser Saturday evening in Waterloo.

Also Saturday, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will hold events in the Waterloo area to encourage Christian conservatives to vote.

Quinnipiac Poll shows Ernst ‘inching ahead’ of Braley, 49-45

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

A new poll of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race released this morning shows Republican Joni Ernst with a slight lead over Democrat Bruce Braley.

“The latest Quinnipiac Poll finds that Joni Ernst is inching ahead,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “She has a four point lead over Bruce Braley which is slightly outside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s still a very close race and anything can happen in the final week.”

Five percent of those surveyed were undecided. Ernst got the backing of 49 percent of those polled. Braley got 45 percent support.

“Certainly one would rather be in Joni Ernst’s shoes this morning than Bruce Braley, but with a week to go, anything can happen,” Brown says.

Ernst is leading among independent voters by nine points.

“And that’s a key to victory in a state like Iowa, which is a swing state with the two parties tightly bunched together,” Brown says. “…If Ms. Ernst wins by about 10 points among independents, she’ll be difficult to beat.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from last Wednesday through Sunday has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Nine percent of voters said they might change their mind between now and Election Day. The Quinnipiac Poll also found Governor Branstad with a 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.

Democrat Hatch says his campaign ‘is about doing the impossible’ (AUDIO)

Hatch-busDemocratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch and his running mate Monica Vernon kicked off a 37-city tour of the state with a rally in Des Moines last night. Hatch embraced the underdog role in his race against Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

“This campaign has always been about doing the impossible. I mean who thought anybody would have a chance against a five-term incumbent,” Hatch said. “..The impossible is always something you chase. The impossible is what makes us work harder. The impossible makes us dream. You know, we did this not because we knew it was going to be easy. We did this because we knew it was going to be hard.”

Hatch gave a brief speech, mentioning his top priorities of state-sponsored preschool for all four year olds, raising the mandatory school attendance age to 18 and taking steps to improve water quality and prevent soil erosion.

Hatch-bus2“It’s not about soundbites,” Hatch said. “What’s happened to this country when we trade soundbites and think that they’re a platform for governing our state?”

During last night’s rally a local performer sang his version of a song that he joked was titled: “End the Reign of Terry”.

AUDIO of event, 27:00

Photos courtesy of the Hatch campaign.



Iowa organizations getting part of Penn State penalty money over Sandusky scandal

Over the past two years Iowa organizations have received more than $417,000 of the penalty money Penn State University paid the NCAA after one of its assistant football coaches was found guilty of child sex abuse.

“Essentially how these funds are being used is to support organizations that are involved in either preventing or treating child sex abuse,” says Steve Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. “The other recipients are child protection centers here in Iowa that are all involved in identifying whether or not abuse has occurred.”

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa is using its latest $27,000 from this fund to spread the message that child abuse and neglect leads to long-term physical problems in adulthood.

“Child abuse and neglect and other traumas in childhood have a long-lasting effect in a broad range of areas going all the way from COPD, to heart problems, to diabetes, to risky health behaviors like a greater likelihood of using illegal drugs or having substance abuse issues,” Scott says.

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa will use part of the grant money to launch community projects in Black Hawk, Johnson, Lee and Wapello Counties to raise awareness of child abuse. There will be two more years of grants from Penn State’s penalty payments in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse in mid-2012 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Iowa restaurant owner’s fight against the IRS gains national attention

Carole Hinders in front of her restaurant.

Carole Hinders in front of her restaurant.

A restaurant owner in northwest Iowa has landed in the national news spotlight over her fight with the federal government. Carole Hinders has operated Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food in Arnolds Park for 38 years.

On May 22nd of last year, she says her life was turned upside down. “I got a knock on the door and it was two IRS agents who informed me they had closed my business bank account and seized all my money, which was almost $33,000,” Hinders said. The restaurant only accepts cash, which means Hinders makes frequent trips to the bank to avoid having large sums of money in the business.

Larry Salzman is with Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm that’s helping Hinders with her case.

“Federal law requires banks to report cash deposits greater than $10,000. The federal government used civil forfeiture to seize Carole’s bank account, claiming by making small deposits, she was evading that requirement,” Salzman said.

The Institute for Justice produced a video telling Hinders’ story. “It’s been a year from Hell,” Hinders said in the video. “I decided to fight this fight because I didn’t do anything wrong. They took my money and I don’t think they should have the right to do that.”

The law firm reports federal law enforcement agencies — using civil forfeiture — can take cash, cars and other property without charging the property owner with a crime. The 67-year-old Hinders said she received no warning from either her bank or the government before her money was taken.

Since then, she’s borrowed money and used credit cards to pay bills and keep her restaurant in business. The New York Times recently featured a story about Hinders’ plight on its front page. The Institute for Justice analyzed civil forfeiture, or “structuring,” data from the I.R.S., and determined the feds made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005.

Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case.


Photo courtesy of Institute for Justice


One serious, one minor injury reported in opening of pheasant season

Pheasant hunter. (DNR photo)

Pheasant hunter. (DNR photo)

Thousands of hunters took to the field on the opening weekend of pheasant season, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it had just two reports of injuries. DNR spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says the first happened in Plymouth County on the first day of the hunt Saturday.

“That gentleman is still in the hospital, he has undergone some surgeries, really don’t know what his condition is, but that one was fairly serious,” Baskins says. Baskins says 18-year-old Ross Arens of Remson was shot in the stomach as he handed a gun to a fellow hunter while trying to cross a creek.

The second accident involved a stray shot by a hunter. “Over by Barnes City in Mahaska County, we had one hunter in a group that shot at a pheasant and hit another person in that group,” according to Baskins. The hunter who was hit came out in better shape.

Baskins says, “Fortunately on that one, it was fairly minor injuries and he was treated and released from the hospital in Oskaloosa.”

He says these and any other accidents with guns can be prevented and stresses again that at this time of year when you have a lot of hunters out in the fields, it’s important to always review where everyone is going to be and review your safety procedures. “One of the unfortunate things about hunting, is once you pull that trigger, you really can’t take that shot back,” Baskins says.

The DNR survey shows the pheasant numbers are up this year, but Baskins says a couple of things may’ve help the birds survive the first weekend. “It was kind of an interesting, unusual pheasant opener for us as it was unseasonably warm, and we do still have some crops in the field,” he explains. “If we get those crops out, those birds are going to be much more accessible.”

That warm weather played against hunters and their dogs in favor of the birds. “In pheasant hunting a lot of times you are really depending on those dogs, and when it gets warm like this it is really hard for those dogs to work very long, they get overheated fairly rapidly in that kind of heat,” Baskins explains.

Baskins says the good news is there should be more birds later in the season this year, as the ones who escaped in standing crops and benefited from tired dogs will still be out there.


State adds college certification to Home Base Iowa program for veterans (Audio)

Brigadier General Steve Altman of the Iowa National Guard.

Brigadier General Steve Altman of the Iowa National Guard.

Governor Terry Branstad announced another component of the “Home Base Iowa” program today which allows Iowa colleges and universities become certified to educate veterans in an effort to lure them to the state. Branstad says the schools must follow certain requirements to become a Certified Higher Academic Military Partner or CHAMP.

“It will provide a series of on-campus veterans resources, demonstrate an understanding of the transitions that service members need to go through with practical solutions to help them make the change from military life to academic life, and demonstrate an awareness of the financial challenges that transitioning active service members may be experiencing,” Branstad explains.

Three schools, Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids have already become certified for the program. The governor says many more schools have expressed interest and are hoping to become certified.

Iowa National Guard Brigadier General Steve Altman says the addition of the certification program for colleges adds to what is already a good program. “I’d like to thank all the institutes of higher education for their efforts in making it really seamless for service members to bring their military transcripts to the state and get the maximum credit for it, allowing them to expedite their transition from schooling and getting degrees, to entering the workplace so much faster,” Altman says.

He says CHAMP will get the attention of military members who are leaving the service. “I believe that the education pillar will be a great boon for all of our service members and it will make Iowa the state of choice as they transition,” Altman says.

Kathy Anderson

Kathy Anderson

Homebase Iowa program manager, Kathy Anderson, talks about the things the CHAMP program provides to former service members.

“Early registration, all types of things, taking a look at their record to make sure their academic credit transfers,” Anderson says. “All of those things can be really important and really critical for that transition for the military member.”

The governor says 495 veterans have been hired since Home Base Iowa was enacted in July. Anderson was asked if those are service members who would have returned to Iowa anyway. Anderson says she doesn’t have the exact breakdown of how many are Iowans, as she says employers don’t keep track of that.

“We are having veterans, transitioning military members, who could have considered going anywhere. And they’re seeing what we have to offer in Iowa now through so many of the facets of the Home Base Iowa Act,” according to Anderson. “But, now with the businesses making a committed effort to hire veterans — with 5,000 pledges to hire veterans. I would argue that we may be capturing Iowan’s back as well, but I would argue that that is a fantastic thing and that is something that we would certainly want.”

For more information on the program, go to www.HomeBaseIowa.org

Audio: Discussion of CHAMP program. 20:12