The 32 state C-E-Os gathering in Iowa for the National Governors Association meeting will talk about things like education, health care and homeland security during the four-day convention. With Iowa recording its highest temperatures of the summer, the weather’s a hot topic, too. Earlier this week, Governor Tom Vilsack asked reporters to somehow turn down the heat a little.
This is the 97th annual National Governors Association convention, and the first time Iowa has hosted the event. “We want (an) opportunity to showcase Iowa, Iowa’s people, hundreds of volunteers providing a friendly and professional atmosphere for the governors and their staffs and families as well as folks from Fortune 500 companies and the national media,” Vilsack says. The price tag for the event is over one-and-a-half million dollars. One-hundred thousand of that came from Iowa taxpayers. The rest came from private donations, mostly the Fortune 500 companies Vilsack just talked about. Vilsack rejects the idea the four-day event is merely an opportunity for big business executives and lobbyists to bend the ears of governors.
Vilsack says the governors will have work sessions that are “extraordinarily hard and difficult for the governors.” He cites their scheduled discussions of high school reform, health care reform and homeland security. “It’s not fun and games,” Vilsack says. But the group will see at least the first inning of the Iowa Cubs game this evening and a “martini luge” will be set up at some of the private receptions for the governors. The luge is a block of ice through which the vodka for the martinis will flow. The contraption was brought in for the occasion by Ketel One, a vodka maker — just part of the company’s 50-thousand dollar contribution to the governors’ meeting.