Vander Plaats at Madison County GOP Event: Republican Lawmakers ‘Defending Small Businesses, Working Families’ in Prevailing Wage Fight

February 22, 2009


WINTERSET – Average Iowans never expected nor wanted state lawmakers or Gov. Chet Culver to push a union agenda that includes prevailing wage legislation and other efforts to undermine the foundation of Iowa’s right-to-work environment that benefits working families and small businesses, gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said Saturday night.


“It’s almost become a cliché to say it, but elections do matter and this week’s prevailing wage debate proves it,” Vander Plaats said.  “I don’t believe average Iowans expected a Democrat-controlled state government to cram a union-written agenda down their throats – but they shouldn’t be surprised. The Democratic leadership talks a lot about working families but every time they’re able to grab the levers of power it becomes clear in a hurry that they’re really all about expanding organized labor’s control over workers and businesses.”


He added, “Their stated goal is to force people who don’t belong to unions to pay union dues. They want to set the cost of public projects by union wage levels instead of competitive bidding.  That’s what the prevailing wage is all about. It’s a guarantee that your property taxes will go up because cities, counties, school boards and state government will be forced to pay more for every construction project,” Vander Plaats said. “Our Republican legislators have been fighting that and I give my word to you that as your governor I will veto prevailing wage legislation.”


Vander Plaats singled out several GOP lawmakers for additional praise, including his state committee chair, five-term state Rep. Jodi Tymeson of Winterset.


“Jodi introduced an amendment that would have changed the title of the bill so Iowans know exactly what it is.  The title would have become the ‘Price Fixing for Public Improvements Act.’  As you can imagine, the majority Democrats voted that one down,” Vander Plaats said.  “On a more serious note, she also offered an amendment to state in the bill that it was not to be construed as promoting or approving price fixing of labor rates on public projects.  But the Democrats weren’t really in the mood to accept even serious amendments by our legislators.”


He also noted that state Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel, proposed an amendment to protect local taxpayers from higher property taxes that result from inflated public improvement costs due to fringe benefits and state Rep. Lance Horbach, R-Tama, introduced an amendment making it a violation of the prevailing wage act to intimidate, threaten or interfere with the work of any person who is not working under a prevailing wage system on a public improvement.


“These were common-sense protections for working families and taxpayers and the Democrats shot them down,” Vander Plaats said. “Our Republican legislators are standing up for us. Let’s make sure we’re standing up for them and giving them all the support they need so they can continue to fight for us.”


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Parents seek second opinions in death rulings

February 19, 2009

One of the most-read stories on the website today is a piece by CNN reporter Chris Welch about Roger and Jane Hargens, a central Iowa couple whose son’s 2005 death was initially ruled a suicide despite clear evidence of homicide.

The Concept Works provides public relations counsel for the Hargens family.  The story begins:

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) — Four years ago, Roger and Jane Hargens were told that their 24-year-old son, Ryan, was dead. It was a gunshot wound to the head, and it was a suicide; at least that’s how it was originally labeled.

To read the entire story, click here

Woolson to be guest on Iowa Public Radio today

February 18, 2009

Eric Woolson of The Concept Works will be a guest on the Iowa Public Radio program “Talk at Twelve” at noon today.


Moderator Greg Shanley will host a conversation between Woolson and New Hampshire political analyst Arnie Arenson. Woolson, a GOP strategist, and Arenson will provide counterpoints on a range of current national political issues. Arenson, a former Democratic state legislator and talk show host, has served on the national board of Common Cause.  She hosts the weekly television program “Political Chowder” in her home state.  Her website is


The program can be heard in central Iowa at 90.1 on the FM radio dial or by logging on to the live simulcast on