Vander Plaats to Culver: Don’t Wait, Bring Economic Improvement Group Together Now

August 26, 2009

SIOUX CITY – Republican gubernatorial front-runner Bob Vander Plaats said today that Governor Chet Culver should bring together the state’s best business minds to develop a plan to fix Iowa’s economic climate and stop mounting job losses, including Tuesday’s announcement that 400 Lake Mills workers will be laid off as their jobs are moved to Mexico.

“This isn’t something that can wait until the next governor takes office. This is something that needs to be done right now, immediately, today,” Vander Plaats said in remarks prepared for a campaign appearance in Howard County.

Despite the state’s history of emerging from recessions later than other states, Culver has said since June that he hopes Iowa’s economy will lead a national recovery. Culver bases his prediction the state can wipe out a $900-million budget shortfall on that hope of a fast recovery.

“We know Chet Culver and legislative Democrats have spent far too much money and followed the foolhardy approach of adding 2,500 new state employees. On top of that, he’s borrowed money that’ll have to be paid back over many years to pay for his short-term I-Jobs program,” Vander Plaats said. “The answer is not to keep hiring public employees at the expense of the private sector and individual taxpayers. The answer is an immediate, laser focus on private sector jobs creation.”

He also said Culver’s support of broadening organized labor’s power and gutting Iowa’s right-to-work laws have sent a negative message to the state’s employers and prospective new businesses.

Noting that Culver just hired a Pennsylvania firm at a cost of $300,000 for an efficiency review of state government, Vander Plaats added, “He doesn’t need to hire out-of-staters and pay them big money to learn how to improve the economy. He needs to bring together a group of Iowa business leaders and entrepreneurs – people from companies large and small, successful and struggling. He needs to listen to their best advice about how to make our economy and tax structure more competitive and then he needs to follow that advice.”

Speaking specifically about firms that move to Mexico or off shore, the Sioux City businessman said that employers base their decisions about plant locations on more than simply wages. “If it was simply about paying the lowest possible wage, we wouldn’t have the iconic corporate names that we have in our state like Pella, John Deere and Principal, to name just a few. Iowa workers’ productivity makes them competitive across the world but we can no longer afford a business climate that puts them at a disadvantage.”

Iowa’s unemployment rate hit 6.5 percent, its highest level in more than two decades, under Culver’s watch.

“If there’s a glimmer of good economic news in Iowa, Chet Culver immediately tries to take credit for it. If it’s bad news, he continues to say it’s ‘one more sign of the impact the national economic recession is having on our state.’ At a time when he insists things are getting better, people are being laid off all around our state,” Vander Plaats said. “If there was ever a time for him to show leadership on an issue that matters to Iowans the issue is improving our economic competitiveness and the time is now.”

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Rickert First to File in West Des Moines Council Race

August 24, 2009

WEST DES MOINES – Brian Rickert today became the first candidate to file nomination papers in this year’s municipal elections as he seeks to succeed retiring incumbent Loretta Sieman in the Third Ward.

“Today’s the first day for candidates to file and I’ve been looking forward to it because we’ve already received such tremendous support within the Third Ward and beyond. I know some candidates wait until the last minute to file but I have a real passion for West Des Moines and there was no reason to wait,” Rickert said, who was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, and three young children. “We took the kids because it’s a fun, special day and the success of our community is important to their futures.”

Rickert’s campaign is based on a platform of fiscal restraint, managed growth and the continuation of quality municipal services for all residents. Brian noted when he grew up on 34th Street Place that much of the land west of 35th Street, now known as Valley West Drive, was a cornfield. “I’ve seen and helped our city grow over the past 35 years – and I’m proud to say that growth has served to improve the quality of life for the people who live, work and raise their kids here,” he said. “As vibrant as West Des Moines is, I know its best days are still ahead if our city’s leadership remains focused on the things that have made us successful. That’s what I’ll do representing the constituents of the Third Ward.”

Rickert, 36, has lived in West Des Moines nearly his entire life graduating from Western Hills, Stilwell, and Valley. He also graduated from the University of Iowa with a finance degree and earned his law degree with honors at Drake University Law School. He is a trustee on the West Des Moines Water Works Board and vice president of the West Des Moines Development Corporation, helping to promote economic development in West Des Moines. He also serves on the board at the Blank Park Zoo, is a long-time member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church and is a former officer and board member of the Salvation Army. Brian is a graduate of the inaugural class of the West Des Moines Leadership Academy, as well as the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, and Leadership Iowa. He also was named one of central Iowa’s top business leaders in the Forty Under 40 Program.

Rickert is an attorney at BrownWinick, the state’s third-largest law firm. Listed in Best Lawyers of America 2008® and Chambers USA®, he serves as corporate counsel to a number of businesses across the state.

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Vander Plaats to Make Gubernatorial Bid Official with Sept. 7 Announcement in Sheldon

August 24, 2009

SIOUX CITY – Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats, the 2006 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor who is leading the field for the party’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination, will officially launch his campaign on Monday, Sept. 7 in his hometown of Sheldon in northwest Iowa.

“Labor Day is the traditional start of the election season and Sheldon is the natural place for me to officially kick off the campaign. Sheldon is where I learned the value of freedom and leadership. It’s where my parents, teachers and neighbors instilled a traditional Iowa work ethic in me. And, it’s where I learned that the family is the foundation of society and it is government’s responsibility to foster a strong family instead of trying to replace it,” Vander Plaats said.

He continued, “The response we’ve seen since forming a campaign committee in January has been extraordinary. Support is growing every day around the state, pushing us far out in front of the five other candidates in the Republican field. Iowans of all political stripes recognize that Chet Culver is spending too much and demanding too little for taxpayers’ hard-earned money. They know he has to go and that we need a governor whose core principles will be less government, lower taxes and higher quality. They’re rallying behind this campaign because they know I’ll be that governor.”

Vander Plaats’ announcement will be at noon on Labor Day at the City Park in Sheldon. Vander Plaats will make a second appearance on Labor Day, visiting the Marlin Bontrager farm near Kalona. Bontrager and his wife, Becky, own and manage a livestock and grain farm. The couple and their 10 children have also formed the Bontrager Family Singers, a ministry that performs gospel/bluegrass music.

After growing up in Sheldon, Iowa, Vander Plaats pursued a career as an educator. After attending Northwestern College in Orange City on a basketball scholarship, Vander Plaats taught at Boone and Jefferson-Scranton High schools. Earning his master’s and specialist’s degrees in the area of educational leadership from Drake University, Vander Plaats also served as principal at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn and Sheldon High schools.

In 1996, Bob became president and chief executive officer of Opportunities Unlimited, a Sioux City health and human services organization that provides rehabilitative services for young adults with brain or spinal cord injuries or other life-altering disabilities. In 2002, Bob led a positive and energetic campaign for governor. Though he narrowly lost in a three-way GOP primary, that campaign laid the foundation for a statewide organization that has continued to grow. Vander Plaats also served as Iowa chairman for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Vander Plaats is currently president of MVP Leadership, Inc., which specializes in strategic vision and executive leadership for business and industry, economic development, education, health care, human services, and private foundations.

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Vander Plaats Dismisses Christopher “Ready, Fire, Aim” Rants’ Attack on Health Care Core Principles

August 19, 2009

DES MOINES – Bob Vander Plaats, the front-runner for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, today dismissed an attack by fellow candidate Christopher Rants as “more of the same from a career politician.”

Rants issued a statement falsely claiming Vander Plaats “unveiled a health care plan over the weekend” that would “double the size of the state budget.” Instead, Vander Plaats was a discussing what Iowans could do if the state retained the tax dollars currently being sent to Washington, D.C., for Medicaid and Medicare.

“First, let me say, I will base my decisions as governor on the core principles of less government, lower taxes and higher quality, including the area of health care. I was speaking to fellow Republicans in Dallas County about core principles, not a plan. It’s clear to me that President Obama and congressional Democrats are going to push more health care costs onto the states. I’m making the point that they want socialized medicine and I’m saying, ‘What happens if you move the pendulum the other way? What if you take the federal government out of it and leave the money here?’” Vander Plaats said. “It’s not the federal government’s money, it’s our money. We don’t want federal bureaucrats and politicians making health care decisions for our families and getting between us and our doctors. We know how to spend it more wisely than Washington does. Not many Iowans would argue with that reality.”

Noting that Iowa doctors are reimbursed much less than their peers in other states under current Medicaid rules, he continued, “Why would Iowa trust the federal government today? I don’t doubt that we could come up with a better reimbursement plan if the states were allowed to control their own Medicaid dollars. Does Christopher really think Barack Obama would do a better job of managing our health care than we would?”

Vander Plaats said his approach to health care is to “put the focus on the person not on government.” He favors a greater emphasis on preventive care, more insurance coverage pooling, liability reform, allowing Iowans to put more dollars into medical savings accounts and health savings accounts and other innovations.

“Those are just some of the strategies Iowans have told me they favor,” Vander Plaats said.

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Food for Thought: We’re Overled and Undermanaged

August 15, 2009

Corporate America has had too much of fancy leadership disconnected from plain old management, writes Henry Mintzberg in the latest issue of Business Week. Mintzberg is the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University and a founding partner of

To read the entire column, click here.

The Concept Works to Host Taiwan DPP Official on Aug. 20

August 13, 2009

The Concept Works will host an official from Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party on Aug. 20.

The visit by Mr. Cheng-yi Lee, who is the party’s deputy director of its Section of Social Movement, comes on the heels of a recent visit by an official from the Kuo-min-tang Party.

Mr. Lee was Chairman of the DPP’s Taipei party headquarters from 2006 to 2008. He has served in a number of government and party positions during his career and was a research fellow with the Decision-Making Survey Consulting Group.

The visit is part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The Iowa portion of Mr. Lee’s visit is coordinated by Deborah Lake of the Iowa Council for International Understanding.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is a major political party in the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. It is the dominant party in the Pan-Green Coalition. It has traditionally been associated with strong advocacy of human rights and a distinct Taiwanese identity, including promotion of de jure Taiwan independence.

Vander Plaats on WHO Radio: “Culver in Over His Head, Has Bad Leadership Instincts”

August 6, 2009

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver’s second dispute with the facts in less than a week proves he is “in over his head,” Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats said today.

“It’s the propensity of the governor to ignore the truth and bend the facts to the way he wants the facts to be,” Vander Plaats said during an interview on the Steve Deace program on WHO Radio. “Here is a great example of what many people across Iowa have told me and that is that Governor Culver is in over his head.”

Vander Plaats, who is the frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination referred to a “repetitive theme with Governor Culver,” who is claiming that the $47 million the state has spent on his pet project, the Iowa Power Fund, has created 8,700 jobs. A Legislative Service Agency analysis has concluded the fund has created only 100 jobs, meaning each new job has cost Iowa taxpayers $470,000. Culver also claimed Monday that state revenues went up in July, contradicting the LSA’s determination that receipts actually fell 6 percent last month.

Vander Plaats pointed out that Culver and his aides told Iowans earlier this year that the first-term Democratic governor’s borrow-and-spend I-Jobs program would create or retain 30,000 jobs. An Iowa State University economist said the $800 million program would create approximately 4,000 jobs – one-seventh of Culver’s inflated estimate – while costing Iowans an additional $750 million in interest and other fees.

“Chet Culver has bad leadership instincts,” Vander Plaats said.

Noting his prior experience as a turnaround CEO, Vander Plaats said he would exert his leadership to stop the state’s overspending, reform the delivery of state services and reopen Iowa for business again with policies that spark and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.

Vander Plaats also said the Obama administration’s proposed health care plan would be “devastating for an insurance capital like Des Moines” and would eventually bankrupt state governments as more and more costs would shift from the federal government to the states.

“The ‘public option’ will squeeze out private options,” he said. “While people don’t want to say ‘rationed care,’ it will lead to rationed care. … It will bankrupt states. It’s also going to threaten state sovereignty.”

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