The Limits of Charisma

September 29, 2009

Howard Fineman has an extraordinarily perceptive analysis of President Obama’s heretofore triumph of style over substance — and pitfalls ahead, including the growing possibility of a one-term presidency.

As Fineman writes in the Oct. 5 issue of Newsweek, “If ubiquity were the measure of a presidency, Barack Obama would already be grinning at us from Mount Rushmore. But of course it is not. Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked “done.” This is a problem that style will not fix. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he’s not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota.” To read the complete article, click here.

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Rasmussen Reports Poll: Vander Plaats Leads Culver

September 24, 2009

DES MOINES – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats has opened a lead on Gov. Chet Culver in a head-to-head match up of likely general election voters, according to a poll released today by the respected Rasmussen Reports.

“This poll reflects Iowans’ strong belief that Chet Culver is simply in over his head and has poor leadership instincts,” Vander Plaats said. “He’s swimming against the tide. As far as the majority of Iowans are concerned, his last day in office can’t get here soon enough. Iowans are going to sweep him out of office next November and a growing number of Republicans, Democrats and independents are joining our campaign to get the job done.”

Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman who was the GOP’s 2006 lieutenant governor nominee, leads the first-term governor 43-to-39 percent, the survey of 500 Iowa voters indicates.

The polling also shows that 50 percent of voters have a somewhat unfavorable or strongly unfavorable opinion of Culver. In fact, 27 percent of voters say they have a strongly unfavorable opinion of Culver’s performance. Meanwhile, 17 percent had a strongly favorable opinion of Culver, 26 percent have a somewhat favorable opinion and seven percent were unsure.

Fourteen percent of the poll respondents had a strongly favorable opinion of Vander Plaats while 31 percent expressed a somewhat favorable opinion, 16 percent had a somewhat unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, 14 percent had a strongly unfavorable opinion and 25 percent were unsure.

“In addition to having a better overall favorable rating than Chet Culver, it’s telling that very few voters are unsure how they feel about him. At the same time, a quarter of the people responding to this poll said they need to learn more about our campaign and that represents a big opportunity to increase our lead in this race,” Vander Plaats said.

Widely respected by Republicans and Democrats for its independence and the accuracy of its polls, Rasmussen Reports does not sell its polling services to any candidates or corporations.

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Dutcher Announces Candidacy for Waukee City Council

September 21, 2009

WAUKEE – Dan Dutcher, a long-time Waukee resident with an extensive business background that includes managing the construction of the 801 Grand Building in Des Moines, said today he will seek a seat on the City Council in the Nov. 3 municipal election.

“Waukee has a lot of great things going for it. I believe my expertise can help us capitalize on those assets by preserving our history and the best of our past while capitalizing on future opportunities,” said Dutcher, who has served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for four years. “There’s no doubt Waukee is going to continue to grow. Our citizens need a voice on the City Council that will speak for them so we can continue to expand and improve our infrastructure and services while keeping property taxes in check.”

Dutcher, who has a long and successful history of working with officials from the state, federal government and surrounding cities, said he would be an active backer of additional funding for the Alice’s Road interchange project. He will advocate for centrally located, shared services with neighboring communities to expand recreational options for Waukee residents while holding taxes in check. An active bicyclist, he also is a proponent of additional recreational trails.

Dutcher, who is a senior vice president with the Terrus Real Estate Group, added, “I believe the best way to improve our local business environment is for the city to actively work to retain the businesses we currently have, stand firm against tax increases and make sure we provide the municipal services that families and companies need to thrive.”

He has been a driving force behind the city’s Green Initiatives Committee, which will promote environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings, services and practices. He noted that Waukee was one of the first communities in the state to adopt a wind-turbine ordinance.

Dutcher, who has earned designation as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, said his expertise would be especially helpful on the council as the city moves forward with projects such as a proposed renovation of the old elementary school into city offices.

“A project like that would give Waukee a great opportunity to preserve its history and to show our support for the Triangle business area. At the same time, with the right leadership on the city council, it can be done with an eye to the future while protecting taxpayers’ money,” Dutcher said. “I want to provide that leadership.”

Dutcher and his wife Mary have four adult children, including 20-year-old triplets who are attending Doane College in Crete, Neb. Dutcher, who is a graduate of the Des Moines Leadership Institute, is a member of the Waukee Rotary Club and a former board member of the Waukee YMCA and Waukee School Foundation.

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One Day After Chet “What, Me Worry?” Culver Says State Retirement Fund is OK, Gronstal Says Lawmakers Will Act

September 17, 2009

DES MOINES – Iowa Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal’s statement Wednesday that lawmakers will take action to shore up the ailing finances of the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System underscores anew Gov. Chet Culver’s failure to understand the gravity of challenges facing the state and his inability to provide effective leadership, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said today.

Responding to a report from an actuarial consultant that IPERS is “in a deep hole” and could require more taxpayer money and sacrifices from the system’s members to ensure its long-term stability, Culver said Tuesday there is “no need for alarm.”

Once again, Culver revealed his only plan is to passively hope things get better as he told reporters, “I doubt that we’ll have to do anything next session other than hope we continue to have economic recovery and that certainly, long-term is going to do the best in terms of our IPERS investments.”

Gronstal and his legislative colleagues obviously disagreed with Culver’s do-nothing approach, saying they will step in to ease the system’s long-term problems, which the consultant said are “highly unlikely” to be resolved by a stock market rebound.

“I don’t know how many times I have to say it until Chet Culver gets the message but hope is not a leadership strategy,” Vander Plaats said in a prepared release. “This latest episode is just more evidence that Chet Culver doesn’t know what’s important or even what’s going on around him. He has poor leadership instincts. He’s like Alfred E. Neuman, the little character from Mad magazine who’s perpetually saying, ‘What, me worry?’ Maybe Chet Culver is not worried but the people who are relying on IPERS for their retirement and the people who are funding it sure are concerned. Chet Culver is part of the problem when more than ever we need a governor who is part of the solution.”

Noting that effective communication is a critical component of effective leadership, the Sioux City businessman added, “It’s no secret that Mike Gronstal and I have our honest differences on some issues but I have no doubt I’ll communicate with him more effectively than Governor Culver has on issues that greatly affect the state’s finances and the future of so many Iowans.”

Vander Plaats applauded Gronstal’s intention to take action in the legislative session that begins in January to address the problems facing the fund that has 312,000 members who are current, former or retired employees of schools, cities, counties and state government. While not announcing specific changes on Wednesday, Gronstal said legislative action is “exceedingly unlikely” to affect IPERS members in the midst of the retirement process but could result in some changes for those who are 15 years from drawing benefits.

“Frankly, that’s the sort of work that Congress should be doing right now to fix Social Security’s long-term problems,” Vander Plaats said. “I’d urge Senate Majority Leader Gronstal to include his Republican colleagues in the process of reforming IPERS but I commend him for taking steps in the right direction and I wonder what it’s going to take to wake up Chet Culver to the real world around him and his responsibilities.”
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Vander Plaats: Set Up Fund to Repay Culver’s I-Jobs Budget Debacle, Spare Next Generation from Debt, Gambling Hook

September 15, 2009

MANCHESTER, Iowa – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said today that he will establish a fund during his first term in office to repay the massive long-term debt created by Gov. Chet Culver’s I-Jobs program.

In remarks prepared for the Delaware County GOP Dinner, Vander Plaats noted that Culver and legislative Democrats approved a plan this year in which the state has borrowed $800 million for a temporary jobs program that will cost taxpayers more than $1.7 billion over the next two decades. In addition, the bonds cannot be repaid before 2019.

“We may not be able to repay the bonds for at least 10 years but we can create a bond ‘sinking fund’ to repay them. That means we put money into a fund that, with proper investment, earns interest at a higher rate than is being charged on the bonds and we pay back the bonds through that fund,” Vander Plaats said.

He explained, “There are several very big benefits to that approach. First, we don’t kick the can down the road so that future generations are stuck paying this debt. Second, by providing for the I-Jobs repayment now we don’t restrict our future ability to fund state priorities like public safety, infrastructure, education and economic development and human services in coming years. Third, we release Iowans from forced addiction to gambling and gambling revenues through 2019 because we no longer are forced to rely on those dollars to repay a long-term debt. Finally, we send the message that a new era of fiscal and social responsibility has arrived in Des Moines. It makes it clear that we will live within our means and we will pay as we go.”

Former State Auditor Richard Johnson, who serves as Vander Plaats’ state co-chair, noted today that the sinking fund is a debt management and reduction tool often used by a number of nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses. “Again, Bob Vander Plaats leads with an executive mindset that focuses on solutions versus hurdles,” Johnson said. “His plan to establish a payment mechanism for the I-Jobs bonding is fiscally prudent, needed and doable.”

Vander Plaats also took aim at critics who have claimed his hands would be tied as governor because current state officials agreed to a deal in which the bonds cannot be repaid for at least 10 years.

“It’s always important to take things with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to the I-Jobs program. You’ll remember that Governor Culver claimed it would create or retain as many as 30,000 jobs. It wasn’t long after that an Iowa State University economics professor calculated the number of those jobs at a few dozen over 4,000 and a Heritage Foundation researcher backed him up,” Vander Plaats said. “It wasn’t surprising that Governor Culver exaggerated the benefits of that program more than eight times over yet refuses to take responsibility for saddling the next generation of Iowans with the bill. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Chet Culver’s problem is that he has poor leadership instincts. Unfortunately, his problem is Iowa’s problem, but we can make amends next November by voting him out.”

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The Results are In: Vander Plaats Wins Big Again

September 14, 2009

DES MOINES – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats scored a huge victory in a straw poll conducted at the Iowa Family Policy Center’s gubernatorial forum Saturday night, receiving 197 votes to easily outdistance a field in which former Gov. Terry Branstad received three votes.

Vander Plaats won by a more than 4-to-1 margin over the nearest candidate and beat the entire field by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

“The Iowa Family Policy Center forum was another opportunity for people to see the GOP field side-by-side and to hear them speak on important issues and once again Bob Vander Plaats came out far ahead of the pack,” Team Vander Plaats State Chair Jodi Tymeson said.

A scientific poll conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based polling group Voter Consumer Research on behalf of TheIowaRepublican.com in July showed Vander Plaats leading the field by more than a 3-to-1 margin. The polling also showed Vander Plaats has the strongest favorability ratings among all the candidates and is the most recognized name in the field. When Branstad, a former four-term governor’s name was added to the mix, support for all of the candidates but Vander Plaats slipped even farther. The results for Vander Plaats and Branstad were within the polls margin of error.

“Saturday’s straw poll supports all the data we’ve seen and reflects this campaign’s hard work. Bob Vander Plaats has strong support especially among Republican primary voters but also among voters of all stripes all across our state,” Tymeson said.

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Vander Plaats Tours Council Bluffs Business as Part of Official Announcement Swing Across State

September 9, 2009

COUNCIL BLUFFS – Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats, who formally announced his candidacy for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination on Monday, toured Taylor Plastics in Pottawattamie County on Tuesday as part of a statewide tour of small- and medium-sized companies to learn more about how state government can help them grow and thrive.

Mike Taylor, who has been in business since 1991, gave Vander Plaats a tour of his rural Council Bluffs firm that specializes in plastic welding techniques. One of the company’s products is the Taylor Fountain, a maintenance-free, handicapped-accessible drinking fountain for parks and other recreational areas.

“I was very impressed with his innovation, creativity, and technology,” Vander Plaats said. “Here’s a person like many other business owners across the state; they just want to succeed and they’re not afraid to work hard to do it. They want an environment, climate and structure that allow them to compete. As governor, I hope to come alongside not only Mike Taylor but a lot of other business owners and entrepreneurs across the entire state of Iowa and do what needs to be done at the state level so they can be even more successful.”

He added, “Iowa and America are built on the back of small business. That’s why I’m committed to marketing our state as a right-to-work state, having a competitive tax structure and a friendly regulatory structure, as well as reining in state government so it doesn’t continue to grow at the expense of the private sector.”

Reiterating his commitment to “open Iowa for business,” Vander Plaats said, “I want to make sure Iowa will be a bridge to anywhere – a place where the top companies in the world, large or small – want to locate, grow and thrive. We cannot afford to have hit-and-miss cell phone coverage across parts of the state and internet service that’s 10 years behind the times. Just as we need our roads and airports to be up to standard, we need a reliable 21st century communications infrastructure. ”

Vander Plaats launched his campaign in his hometown of Sheldon on Labor Day by pledging to pay down the enormous debt generated by Governor Chet Culver, improve Iowa’s tax and regulatory climate to draw new companies to Iowa, create a 21st Century communications infrastructure and take action to allow a statewide vote on the definition of marriage. He set a goal of repaying by the end of his first term the long-term borrowing Governor Chet Culver and legislative Democrats approved to create the short-term I-Jobs program. The $750 million they borrowed will require the state to pay $1.8 billion in principal, interest and fees if the state takes the entire length of time scheduled to repay the debt.

Vander Plaats vowed to reassert the governor’s authority and a proper balance between the judicial, executive and legislative branches in the wake of the Iowa Supreme court’s opinion earlier this year to same-sex marriages are legal. He pledged to sign an executive order on his first day in office to stay future same-sex marriages until Iowans have an opportunity to vote in a statewide referendum on the definition of marriage.

“I will be a governor who stands up for true conservative principles. I will work to reduce the tax burden on Iowans instead of increasing it. I will oppose the drumbeat of expanded gambling. And I will be a governor who supports a culture of life from conception to natural death, and I’ll appoint a lieutenant governor who is as passionate about that foundation of society as I am,” he said in Sheldon.

Vander Plaats’ administration will remove the public school system’s “model core curriculum” and aggressively reform education through the setting of international standards, simplified funding, accountability and transparency.

“I want Iowa to lead the United States and the world and the only way to do that is to have high standards in math, science, communication, technology and authentic American and world history. To reestablish Iowa as an educational leader, we need less federal interference and we must get rid of Chet Culver’s one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “I will create an environment where resources are directed towards student achievement, where districts learn from the successes of others, where all districts are held accountable for results and where they report those results in the most transparent and accessible manner.”

Vander Plaats said his campaign is “about leadership and freedom” and he is not running to be a governor who defends the status quo or tinkers at the margins.

“I’m in this race to be a transformational governor who limits the size of government, reforms our tax structure to make Iowa far more competitive, sets our education system on course to be the international standard and demands excellence from every dollar we spend on public services,” he said.

Vander Plaats, 46, is a former high school teacher and principal, former president and chief executive officer of a nonprofit rehabilitation facility for people with brain injuries and the Republican Party’s 2006 nominee for lieutenant governor. He is the president of MVP Leadership, a consulting firm that helps business executives hone their leadership and strategic skills. Vander Plaats and his wife, Darla, live in Sioux City. They have four sons. Their third son, Lucas, was born with a severe brain condition. He inspired Vander Plaats to write the book “Light from Lucas,” published by Focus on the Family.

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