One legislative leader is engaging in the kind of hi-jinks that college students sometimes employ in the cafeteria. Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal has delicate tea cups and saucers in the open bookcase in his statehouse office. The cream-colored bone china has a gold rim, with a gold seal on it, too. It’s the governor’s china and Gronstal often walks out of the private budget meetings in the governor’s office carrying the saucer and cup in which he’s been served coffee.
By this past Monday morning, Gronstal had a set of six. “If you have a good bridge club you’re having two tables and you’re changing partners around, so it takes eight cups to have a decent bridge club,” Gronstal said.
Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson asked if the number of cups he’s walked out of the governor’s office with is some sort of measure of the progress of budget talks. “It’s a measure of who’s paying attention,” Gronstal said.
Gronstal boasted that last year he lifted a total of 16 dark blue coffee mugs with the gold seal on the front. “By the way, I returned all of them last year,” Gronstal said. “And do you intend to return these?” Henderson asked, in reference to this year’s stash. “No comment,” Gronstal replied.
On Monday morning, Gronstal and the rest of the legislative leaders met in the governor’s office and were served coffee and scones. Gronstal took a china plate to add to his temporary collection.
The china, by the way, is made by Pickard, an Illinois-based company that has made the china used aboard Air Force One, the president’s plane. Governor Vilsack “inherited” the official state china from former Governor Terry Branstad.