July 25, 2014

Senator Harkin ‘upset’ with governor’s stance on illegal immigrant children

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is chiding Iowa’s governor over the situation with thousands of Central American children entering the U.S. illegally and unaccompanied via the border with Mexico. Republican Governor Branstad has said he has empathy for the children but he does not want any of them coming to Iowa. Harkin, a Democrat, says he’s disappointed with Branstad’s decision. “I’m just upset at this harshness — this harshness — that seems to be pervading our politics these days,” Harkin says. “Even in a terrible situation like this, even the administration says we’ve gotta’ change the law to send them back quicker. No we don’t.”

The mayor of Davenport is offering to create a refuge for some of the children. Mayor Bill Gluba says he’s working with hospitals, churches and other groups to make a haven for the refuges in the Mississippi River town. Harkin applauds Gluba’s effort. “What we need to do is make sure the kids are safe, well-fed, housed, clothed and that we do our utmost to make sure they are not returned to dangerous situations,” Harkin says. “Then we can be talking about how we work with Central American governments to crack down on the gangs and the violence in their own countries.”

The federal government has placed some 200 of the immigrant children with families in Nebraska, but that state’s governor says no one in state government was told where or with whom. Governor Branstad was trying to prevent a similar move in Iowa, but Harkin says that’s the wrong attitude. “Governor Branstad said don’t send immigrant children to Iowa,” Harkin says. “You know, why not? Why can’t we help protect these kids too? Open up our arms to keep them safe and to give them every reasonable opportunity to apply for asylum.”

Harkin notes a contrast between Branstad and another Iowa Republican. “What a departure from Governor Bob Ray, back in the ’70s, when he was governor and we took all the boat people from Vietnam and the Hmong from Laos,” Harkin says. “They didn’t go through proper channels. They were refugees and we took them in and they have become a wonderful part of the Iowa community.”

Since October, some 57,000 children have come across the U.S. border with Mexico illegally from nations like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Harkin says Iowa should welcome the children, saying, “that’s in keeping with our history in Iowa.”



Names of potential dead voters sent to county auditors

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has sent a list out to the 99 county auditors with the names of voters who may’ve died but are still on the voting rolls. Chance McElhaney, spokesman for the Secretary of State, says they found 1,234 names after cross-checking a federal list called the Social Security Death Index. “We’ve been able to match a voter’s name, birthdate information, their previous address on file and if available, the last four digits of the Social Security number. If all that information matches, we just want to get that information to the county auditors,” McElhaney says.

He says the county auditors regularly update their voter registration lists, but can miss some names. “They’re checking obituaries, a multitude of things. But if somebody passes away and that say they went and lived with a family member out-of-state, some of those folks may fall through the cracks,” McElhaney explains. “So what this is doing is kind of helping with that. Anybody that is deceased according the federal government, we are trying to make sure that they are not on our voting lists.”

McElhaney says they first did this cross check in 2012 and found it was helpful to the auditors and they decided to do it again. The number of names on the list ranges from 100 in Wright County to none in Wayne County. McElhaney says he’s not sure why there is such a big difference in the numbers in each county, but it may be due to the county’s work in already updating their voter list. “Perhaps some of those counties may’ve caught more of the folks when they passed away, they may’ve gotten information form a different source, so maybe their list was a little cleaner before the search was done,” he says.

McElhaney says the voters on the list aren’t automatically removed by the counties. He says they ask them to analyze it and not just take these people off the list before doing a little research to see if they are actually dead.

What happens if your name is on the list and the report of your death is greatly exaggerated? “We do send out a postcard saying we have removed this individual and if there is an error, please contact us,” McElhaney says. “In 2012 I believe the list as was roughly 2,800 people who had passed away, and I think they got back eight responses.”

McElhaney says all of the people on the list have not had any recent voting activity, so these are not cases of numbers that were stolen and used by someone else. See the individual county numbers below.

County Number of Records Sent:
Adair 6 ; Adams 1; Allamakee 5; Appanoose 11; Audubon 2; Benton 3; Black Hawk 13; Boone 2; Bremer 15; Buchanan 3; Buena Vista 9; Butler 10 ; Calhoun 9; Carroll 11; Cass 2; Cedar 7; Cerro Gordo 9; Cherokee 1; Chickasaw 3; Clarke 3; Clay 55; Clayton 2; Clinton 8; Crawford 14; Dallas 23; Davis 5; Decatur 6; Delaware 1; Des Moines 12; Dickinson 4; Dubuque 34; Emmet 5; Fayette 5; Floyd 4; Franklin 2; Fremont 4; Greene 6; Grundy 2; Guthrie 8; Hamilton 18; Hancock 1; Hardin 16; Harrison 3; Henry 12; Howard 4; Humboldt 7; Ida 1; Iowa 6; Jackson 16; Jasper 8; Jefferson 8; Johnson 15; Jones 14; Keokuk 9; Kossuth 1; Lee 6;Linn 103; Louisa 19; Lucas 6; Lyon 20; Madison 5; Mahaska 22; Marion 37; Marshall 9; Mills 5; Mitchell 11; Monona 3; Monroe 6; Montgomery 6; Muscatine 91; O’Brien 9; Osceola 1; Page 3; Palo Alto 4; Plymouth 8; Pocahontas 4; Polk 85; Pottawattamie 13; Poweshiek 12; Ringgold 8; Sac 8; Scott 55; Shelby 16; Sioux 2; Story 10; Tama 6; Taylor 5; Union 8; Van Buren 5; Wapello 4; Warren 13; Washington 7; Wayne 0; Webster 10; Winnebago 5; Winneshiek 2; Woodbury 15; Worth 3; Wright 100.

Republicans ridicule Braley for complaining about chickens roaming on his vacation property

Republicans are criticizing Bruce Braley, the Democratic Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate, for a neighborhood squabble over chickens. American Crossroads, the conservative group founded by George W. Bush’s top political aide, has produced an on-line video ridiculing Braley for complaining about chickens that were running loose on his vacation property.

Pauline Hampton lives at Holiday Lake, a vacation community near Braley’s hometown of Brooklyn and she bought the chickens last year. Braley’s wife, Carolyn, went to the neighborhood association’s meeting in May and complained about the chickens and the smell. Hampton, who is a mental health counselor, said she uses the chickens as “animal assisted therapy” for her clients.

“You know I could have resolved this issue face-to-face,” Hampton told Radio Iowa this week.

Hampton said she was unaware the neighborhood’s rules require property owners to keep their pets on their own property and she has put up a pen to keep the “therapeutic chickens” in her own yard. A Grinnell lawyer who works for the neighborhood association wrote an email posted on TheIowaRepublican.com indicating Bruce Braley had phoned him to talk about the chickens. Attorney Thomas Lacina, who has not responded to Radio Iowa’s phone calls this week, wrote that Braley wanted to “avoid a litigious situation,” but Braley, according to Lacina, “believes strongly that chickens are not pets.”

Hampton, the owner of the four hens, said the Braleys did not threaten legal action against her, but Hampton said Carolyn Braley did refuse her offer of eggs that had been laid by the chickens. William Nagle of Malcomb, who serves on the board of directors for the Holiday Lake Owners Association, told Radio Iowa he wishes the Braleys had handled the situation “like adults” rather than involve the neighborhood association.

“Really, I don’t know why it got to be such a big deal,” Nagle said. “…All we can do is enforce the covenant, which we did.”

The American Crossroads video accuses Braley of waging a “war on chicks” since his first campaign ad against Republican rival Joni Ernst featured a baby chick. The video also suggests the episode shows Braley isn’t a “true Iowan” who would “just talk to his neighbors” to resolve this kind of a dispute.

Jeff Giertz, a spokesman for Braley, issued a written statement.

“The wild claims made in this Karl Rove smear video are simply false,” Giertz said, “and it’s sad that the Ernst campaign and her special interest friends are trying to smear Bruce and his family just to distract from her extreme views, like privatizing Social Security, voucherizing Medicare, and opposing a federal minimum wage.”

Hampton, the chicken owner who lives next door to the Braley’s vacation home, is a registered Democrat. She won’t comment on whether she’ll vote for Braley or for Ernst.

“I am still mulling over my options at this point for both candidates,” Hampton told Radio Iowa on Tuesday, adding that her recent experience with the Braleys “would seem…kind of contradictory to what (Bruce Braley) represents.”

Other neighbors say they didn’t like Hampton’s chickens roaming around either, but they didn’t file a formal complaint with the Holiday Lake Owners’ Association.

NBC/Marist poll finds Braley/Ernst race deadlocked, Branstad leading Hatch by 15

Another poll shows Iowa’s U.S. Senate race is a dead heat.

Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst each had the support of 43 percent of registered voters who were surveyed by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion for NBC News. The two candidates still have work to do in introducing themselves to more Iowans. One-third of those surveyed said they are either unsure about the candidates or have never heard of them. Another 14 percent were undecided.

The poll found almost six out of 10 the Iowans surveyed gave Republican Governor Terry Branstad a positive job approval rating. Branstad led Democratic challenger Jack Hatch by 15 points in the poll.

Pollsters also pegged President Obama’s job approval rating in Iowa at 37 percent.

The poll’s margin of error is 2.5 percent. It was conducted from Monday, July 7th through the 13th, which was Sunday.

Iowa home sales down in the first half of the year

Iowa home sales decreased by 3.4 percent over the first half of this year compared to the first six months of 2013. That information comes from new data released by the Iowa Association of Realtors (IAR). Sales picked up in the month of June, however, according to IAR President Kathy Miller. “We sold 4,047 homes in June 2014 and 3,905 homes in June 2013. That’s an increase of 3.6 percent,” Miller said.

The median sale price of a home sold in Iowa last month was $145,000. That’s down just one-percent compared to June of 2013 when the median price was $146,500.

“Now’s a great time to take advantage of the affordability in home ownership,” Miller said. “Interest rates are still good.” The report shows the average days on the market for a home sold in Iowa dipped to 81 days, down from 85 days in June 2013.


U-I basketball player Peter Jok arrested

A University of Iowa basketball player was arrested again last night. A police report shows 20-year-old Peter Jok was pulled over on his moped on campus shortly before midnight for having an improper tail light. He was arrested after officers learned his license had been revoked in connection with an incident less than three months ago. Jok admitted to drunken driving after being pulled over on his moped on April 26.

The West Des Moines native played in 27 games as a freshman last season and averaged just over 4.4 points. There’s no word yet if Jok will face suspension from the team or other discipline for this latest run-in with the law. Coach Fran McCaffery previously said he did not plan to suspend Jok for the drunk driving incident.

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta released the following statement this morning:

” (Coach) Fran (McCaffery) and I were made aware of the incident involving Peter Jok and a moped this morning. We don’t yet know all the facts, but we are gathering those today. I’m very disappointed to learn about this, especially in light of the fact that Peter had a previous incident earlier this summer. We will work through this in accordance to our student-athlete Code of Conduct and team rules.”


University of Iowa spending thousands of dollars on marketing campaign

The University of Iowa is spending $765,000 on a marketing campaign.

The University of Iowa is spending $765,000 on a marketing campaign.

The University of Iowa is launching a marketing blitz that’s directed at potential in-state students.

Joe Brennan, U-I Vice President for Strategic Communication, says the effort is partially in response to the Board of Regents policy change, which will link the amount of funding from the state to the number of in-state students enrolled at each school.

In addition, Brennan says the University of Iowa is poised to grow. “We have just about finished recovering from the flood of 2008, we’ve got new buildings opening in 2016, and a new residence hall coming on-line next year,” Brennan said.

The U-I is spending $765,000 on the campaign, which will involve pitches on TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, and social media. “We see this as an investment in the growth of the university,” Brennan said. “This is just the first step. If this is successful, we plan additional campaigns in the fall and the spring.”

The university also plans to reach people through an expanded presence at the Iowa State Fair and on RAGBRAI. Brennan said the university’s admissions staff will also line up visits to every high school in Iowa. The University of Iowa’s enrollment has held steady, between 30,000-31,000 students, since 2008.

Here’s a TV ad for the campaign: