Two Years After Loebsack Voted to Block Rangel Investigation, N.Y. Congressman Charged with Multiple Ethics Violations

July 23, 2010

OTTUMWA, Iowa – Rep. David Loebsack’s vote to block an ethics investigation of a powerful Democratic leader accused of tax avoidance and other ethical lapses was pushed back to the forefront Thursday when the House Ethics Committee voted to send the case to a trial of the full House.

“It’s said that justice delayed is justice denied. David Loebsack did his best to deny justice in September 2008 when he voted to block the investigation into Rep. Charles Rangel’s alleged wrongdoing,” Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said today. “It took a long time – too long – but the House Ethics Committee’s decision on Thursday is also an indictment that David Loebsack was too eager to fall right in with politics-as-usual crowd.”

When Loebsack was elected in 2006 he told voters he was going to reform Washington. He hadn’t even completed his first term when he accepted a $5,000 contribution from Rangel and voted to block the ethics probe into Rangel’s activities. It was only when Miller-Meeks challenged Loebsack about the contribution that he sent the money to a charity.

The House Ethics Committee did not immediately specify the charges against Rangel. However, the New York Democrat who is fourth in House seniority, was accused in 2008 of using a rent-subsidized apartment as a fundraising office, failing to pay taxes on at least $75,000 of rental income from a Caribbean villa he owns and using his House stationery to solicit contributions to a City University of New York school to be named in his honor. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which he resigned in February, Rangel had been in charge of writing the nation’s tax policy.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t have had to wait two years for the House Ethics Committee to act. They wouldn’t have had to wait that long if David Loebsack hadn’t been standing in the way because he was so out of touch with his constituents’ values,” Miller-Meeks said. “This is why it’s time for a change in Washington. This is why we need to replace David Loebsack with someone who has the courage to stand up for right.”

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Forbes: Des Moines Best Place in the Nation for Business and Careers

July 19, 2010

Communities across the U.S. were ranked according to a dozen metrics designed to identifty where businesses and individuals have the best chance to prosper. You might be surprised at the metro areas atop the list, writes Forbes.com.

Anyone who lives in greater Des Moines shouldn’t be surprised at all. Here’s the Forbes.com list.


Success of Midtown Heights Development Reflects Buyers’ Attraction to Central Des Moines

July 14, 2010

DES MOINES – The recent sell-out of townhomes near the west edge of downtown reflects the current strength of the metro’s housing market and is likely to set the stage for similar construction in the near future, a local real estate executive said today.

Steve Niebuhr, Hubbell Realty Co. senior vice president of construction and development, said buyers closed on the last of the Midtown Heights development’s 17 three-story townhomes in June.

“I’ve called Midtown Heights an ‘in-betweener’ because it’s close to downtown and it’s part of the Ingersoll neighborhood mix. It’s a unique product because it offered a suburban townhome with two-car garage in an urban setting at a very reasonable price. We found that had tremendous appeal,” Niebuhr said. “It provides quick, clean access to downtown yet for people working in the western suburbs, there’s easy access to I-235 for an easy ‘reverse commute.’ It really fit well with all the positive activity in the Ingersoll neighborhood and sets an eastern boundary for that redevelopment.”

While the majority of buyers are young professionals, Niebuhr noted that some empty nesters purchased homes. The townhomes also sparked interest among the parents of some students at Des Moines University and Drake University.

Niebuhr said the much-publicized federal tax credit to stimulate housing sales was not a driving motivator for buyers. Instead, the city’s tax abatement on property taxes was especially appealing.

“When potential buyers ran through the numbers, they saw the abatement made the cost of the homes at Midtown Heights equal to a row home or townhome in the suburbs. That was a huge consideration and, in fact, it was part of our sales program,” he said.

The townhomes, which sold from $177,900 to $189,900, were built on property acquired privately and from the city. Each home’s exterior features its own unique color and design with a private entrance, deck and tuck-under garages.

Niebuhr indicated the project’s success foreshadows the construction of similar housing. “Based on our success at Midtown Heights, we’re looking at moving ahead with similar homes in the downtown area based on what the sale of these townhomes told us,” he said.

Hubbell Realty has been a staple in the Des Moines real estate market for over 150 years. Its superior craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail has established its reputation for excellence and value. Buildings that Hubbell has constructed for over a century remain prominent throughout the Des Moines metro today.

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The Concept Works Hosts Visit by Morocco’s Director of Elections

July 5, 2010

The Concept Works hosted a brief visit by a Moroccan official visiting America to gain a greater knowledge of the U.S. electoral system.

Governor Hassan Aghmari, Director of Elections, Ministry of Interior, Rabat, began his U.S. visit on June 19 and will be in the country through July 10. His Des Moines stop is hosted by the Iowa Council on International Understanding as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

Aghmari is making his first visit to the United States. He is responsible for coordinating, at the national level, all election activities from polling places and voter education to fraud prevention tactics and political campaigning. He has served as an election observer in Spain and Burkina Faso, and has participated in international seminars about the electoral process. He is preparing for Morocco’s 2012 legislative elections.

“The visit was an excellent opportunity to outline the history and value of Iowa’s precinct caucuses, discuss U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s re-election campaign and share other aspects of our electoral process such as the new communications challenges created by the rise of blogs and the citizen-journalist,” said Eric Woolson, owner of The Concept Works.

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