Woolson Featured in Politics Magazine Roundtable Discussion

October 30, 2009

Eric Woolson, owner of The Concept Works, is featured in the latest issue of Politics Magazine.

Woolson, who managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s victorious campaign in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, joined former McCain campaign Iowa state chairman David Roederer and key Mitt Romney adviser David Kochel in a roundtable conversation about last year’s campaign and the 2012 caucuses.

To read the entire article, “Shop Talk: Revisiting Iowa” on the Politics Magazine website, click here.


b-Calm Enters New Phase of Autism, ADHD Work with Dec. 5 Conference for Parents of Autistic Children

October 27, 2009

ANKENY – With the cost of therapy for individuals with neurological disorders increasing and state education budgets being cut at historic rates, parents and teachers are hard-pressed to provide for children with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. One central Iowa company is working to stem the tide of rising costs and provide real help to parents by coordinating a one-day conference in Des Moines on Dec. 5.

The conference, “Unlocking Autism: Peace Within the Noise,” is being organized by b-Calm, an Ankeny firm that manufactures noise control systems, in cooperation with Easter Seals Iowa. It will feature a variety of experts talking to parents about topics ranging from new therapies to defending their child’s civil rights. It will be at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost of the conference is $25 (Pre-Registration is $20). Lunch will be provided.

“Our goal for the conference is to raise awareness in Iowa to families, school districts, service providers, and local agencies on the need for early detection, evaluation, diagnosis and intervention strategies for children with autism and/or ADHD,” said Brent Carmichael, who leads b-Calm’s new non-profit organization called “Champions of Autism and ADHD.”

Carmichael, who also is the parent of an autistic son, added, “Even as a small company, we’re out to do some big things. It’s a real blessing to be able to give back and we’re excited to give back to community through a variety of different programs, beginning with a conference in Des Moines on December 5.”

In early 2008, Dr. Ken Budke, a Cedar Falls dentist, and a small group of engineers developed a system for calming fearful dental patients. The simple noise control system hid the disturbing noise of the dental office with an engineered mix of sounds from nature. Patients to Dr. Budke’s office enjoyed the escape from the typical dental experience. As Dr. Budke recalls, “A young boy with autism came to my office very frightened. His grandmother and I decided to try to relax him with our b-Calm system. We were amazed when he calmed down and I was able to work on his teeth. I knew right away we needed to look at what the b-Calm system could do to help autistic kids in other areas.”

Dr. Budke sent his engineering team back into the lab to develop a b-Calm system exclusively for autistic kids. “We immediately started working with a local elementary school to hear from the teachers if a system like ours would help in the classroom,” said Curtis Carroll, audio engineer for b-Calm. “We found that by blocking the distracting sounds of the classroom with a b-Calm system, student behavior and concentration improved. I have a stack of evaluations on my desk from teachers that were excited by how easy this was and how much it helped.” In late 2008, b-Calm launched their AudioSedation system for autistic and ADHD students. Its low cost and ease of use have made it a favorite among local teachers.

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Des Moines Register Endorses Peard

October 27, 2009

The Des Moines Register today endorsed Waukee Mayor Bill Peard, who is a client of The Concept Works. The endorsement, in part, reads:

“As mayor, he has helped the city strike a balance between attracting new commercial and residential development and preserving the qualities that have fueled growth.

“Under Peard’s watch as mayor, the council approved a new comprehensive plan – a blueprint for the city’s growth. A key next step is for the mayor and Waukee to be an active partner in regional issues. Peard deserves a third term to work to meet those challenges.”

To see the entire endorsement click here.

Vander Plaats: Culver’s Layoff Plan “Reckless, Irresponsible and Unconscionable”

October 21, 2009

DES MOINES – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats issued the following statement in response to Gov. Chet Culver’s layoff of 515 employees in the Iowa Department of Corrections and a total of 792 layoffs across state government today:

“Governor Culver’s actions are reckless, irresponsible and unconscionable. After he has bankrupted state government, he comes out today, puffs up his chest and claims he’s making tough decisions and exercising leadership. Today’s move is a direct reflection of his lack of leadership. If he had done the right thing in the past two years by holding the line on state spending, especially in the face of a worsening economy, he would have avoided today’s situation.

“He has increased the number of state bureaucrats by more than 2,500 over the past two years and now that he’s spent the state broke he takes a meat cleaver to essential services and front-line personnel responsible for protecting Iowans. Laying off 515 Department of Corrections employees and leaving another 262 position vacant in our prisons and laying off 53 Department of Public Safety employees while leaving another 25 positions open is putting the lives of our public employees on the line and putting our citizens at risk. Laying off front-line Department of Human Services employees will also make it harder for the workers who remain to protect children. I’m concerned we will again see tragedies like the Shelby Duis case, which will result from Chet Culver’s lack of decision-making skill rather than a lack of resources.

“This certainly has to be considered one of the darkest days in state government history because we’re witnessing a governor who has completely lost the ability, if he ever had it in the first place, to make rational decisions about personnel, services and the state budget. These cuts should not stand. He needs to bring the General Assembly back into session and learn how to set real priorities.”

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Vander Plaats: Impact on Public Safety Proves Culver’s Across-the-Board Budget Cuts Aren’t Leadership

October 14, 2009

DES MOINES – The devastating impact of Gov. Chet Culver’s across-the-board budget cut on public safety puts law enforcement personnel at greater risk and proves “all spending cuts aren’t equal but his failed leadership is now undeniable,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said today.

“The consequences on Chet Culver’ fiscal mismanagement have been building for months. He’s waited and waited and waited to take action while publicly saying he hoped things would get better. That procrastination and lack of leadership have made a bad situation worse. Hitting the Department of Public Safety with a massive budget cut likely to result in law enforcement personnel being laid off is about as bad is it can get,” Vander Plaats said.

Public Safety Commissioner Gene Meyer said Tuesday that one option for dealing with Culver’s mandated 10-percent cut is to lay off approximately 100 sworn officers and civilians and to require all employees to take 13 unpaid furlough days. Without the furloughs, Meyer said 169 officers and civilians would need to be laid off if furloughs aren’t possible.

“Whichever way the department is forced to deal with the situation, there’s no doubt that more trooper positions will be left open through retirements and other moves because Chet Culver didn’t set the right priorities. Our troopers are already stretched thin and are in life-threatening situations every day. There’s no other way to say it: Chet Culver’s budget mismanagement will endanger the lives of the very people we count on to protect us. It’s also bound to lengthen response times to accidents and other emergencies and that will endanger citizens’ lives, too.”

Vander Plaats has urged Culver since June to work with legislators to reduce the impact on essential services by cutting back on other state spending.

“I’ve said it before: I don’t mean any disrespect to my 12-year-old son, but he could make an across-the-board cut. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to do one. Unfortunately, that’s all this governor seems capable of doing,” Vander Plaats said. “Iowa desperately needs a governor with the courage to address our problems head on. We need a governor who will work with legislators, state agencies and the public to rein in spending and focus our limited resources so we’re not putting lives in danger because our public safety budget gets the same treatment as every other project out there.”

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Napoleon’s Tailor, Iconic Clothier for Short Men, to Close Chicago Store

October 12, 2009

Napoleon’s Tailor, a Milwaukee-based clothier with a national reputation for catering exclusively to men who are five-foot-eight and shorter, will close its Chicago location with a going-out-of-business sale that begins next week, its owner said today.

“It’s a tough decision. It’s not one I made lightly,” Gary Anders said.

Anders cited several industry trends and the prolonged economic slump as reasons for the decision to close the store that has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, on the CBS national news and by Reuters news service. He emphasized that Napoleon’s Tailor in Milwaukee will remain open.

“We’re one of only four clothiers in the entire United States to serve shorter men even though 30 percent of men are five-foot-eight or under. There should be far more stores of like Napoleon’s Tailor but fashion habits and the clothing industry’s move overseas have worked against us as time has passed,” Anders explained. “The men’s clothing industry has been shrinking ever since Levi’s introduced casual Fridays. Unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where many men think they’re dressing up when they wear khakis and a polo shirt.”

He added that moving apparel production off-shore has had serious consequences for specialty stores like Napoleon’s Tailor.

“Fifteen years ago when I entered the business, there were many apparel makers in the United States and Canada. They were willing to make production runs to meet our needs because they had excess capacity and they were geared to smaller production cycles,” Anders said. “Today, when we’re talking to factories in China, Pakistan, India or other places, they’re geared to very high volume. We simply don’t do that volume and so we can’t get items in the quality and variety that we require. So, we’re being squeezed from both the supply and demand sides.”

Anders said he hopes some Chicago-area customers will become patrons of his Milwaukee store or shop online via its website, www.napoleonstailor.com.

Anders said the store will host a sale for long-time customers on Oct. 14 before the sale for the general public begins on Oct. 15. Store hours will be expanded to 9 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sundays. The store will only remain open until its inventory is sold out.

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Ratliff, Des Moines Pastor and President of Iowa/Nebraska NAACP Conference, to Co-Chair Vander Plaats Campaign

October 12, 2009

DES MOINES – The Reverend Keith A. Ratliff Sr., pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Iowa/Nebraska Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, today announced his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and will serve as one of the campaign’s co-chairs.

Speaking at a morning news conference at the Statehouse, Ratliff noted that his support for Vander Plaats is “an individual decision based on Bob’s commitment to improving our educational system, economic opportunities for all Iowans and ensuring that our criminal justice system is equal to all.”

He added, “I know that Bob Vander Plaats is not afraid to stand up for what is right. That takes courage. He has what it takes to be a fiscally responsible governor who gets Iowa’s financial house back in order, but there is so much more work to be done,” Ratliff said. “I’ve heard Bob talk about economic empowerment for all Iowans. He’s talked about reviewing our criminal justice system. He’s talked about getting more results from government with less money. He’s talked about the importance of defending the institution of marriage. And, most importantly, he won’t just talk about those things he’ll do something about them. That takes backbone and determination. That’s what I want in my governor – and that’s why I’m standing here today to show my support for him.”

Ratliff, who has been in the ministry 31 years and pastored 29 years, is involved in numerous social and community causes. He is the state historian for the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention and Affiliated Churches. His church opened Joshua Christian Academy this fall to provide parents and students with the option of Christ-centered education in Des Moines’ inner city.

Ratliff also is a national board member with the NAACP, which is the nation’s oldest and most respected civil rights organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Simpson College in History/Education and earned his master’s degree from Drake University in religious leadership. He recently retired as a senior engineering analyst at John Deere Des Moines Works, where he has worked for 33 years.

Ratliff and wife Deborah have been married for 31 years and have five children. He has been the recipient of numerous honors for his community service, including the Des Moines Area Religious Council Interfaith Service Award, Fraternity Omega’s Citizen of the Year Award, Des Moines Human Rights Commission Award, Black Ministerial Alliance Community Service Award and induction into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame in December, 2003. The City of Des Moines proclaimed April 17, 1994 as “Rev. Keith A. Ratliff, Sr. Day” and he was awarded the Key to the City of Des Moines.

“I’ve been honored to know Reverend Ratliff and impressed by his years of dedication to serving others. He’s a rock who is the foundation upon which so many others have built a solid future,” Vander Plaats said. “He makes a difference in people’s lives every day. He makes his city and our state a better place each and every day. I’m truly humbled by his support and his confidence in me.”

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