Friday, February 02, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 377 - Feb. 2

Feb. 2, 11:45 a.m., 2:15 p.m. (Molly Ivins)

What looked like a slow news day or two has now reversed field and requires a catch up.

Another great woman has been lost to breast cancer, my friend Molly Ivins.

The UI Presidential Search Committee will be meeting today, so there may be more news coming on that story. Meanwhile, Iowa's undergrads are (understandably) still upset at having been given the cold shoulder by the Regents and Search Committee -- especially since they are clearly the largest category of stakeholders in this search, and are shouldering the burden of ever-increasing tuition at this "public" university that continues to become ever more indistinguishable from an "elite private college."

In what I believe to be a related story (though others minimize the connection) there has been an increase in departing faculty -- some for greener pastures, some simply fired from the Hygienic Lab, with timing UI's critics suggest is suspicious.

Those administering Iowa's semi-pro farm clubs continue to see nothing wrong with profiting from gambling -- whether the Riverside gambling casino or the Iowa Lottery -- but have acquiesced to talk about it with administrators.

Colloton's friends are lining up to sing his praises, but the Press-Citizen editorial board isn't buying all of it -- though, as always, opening its pages to a range of views.

Someone who actually knows what he's talking about has fired off a letter to the editor of the Daily Iowan that seems totally consistent, and supportive, of the off-the-top-of-my-uninformed-head letter I wrote about alternatives to more and bigger jails and prisons.

[There will be additional commentary on these items later today.]

Molly Ivins

For the most part, I'm going to defer to Rekha Basu and her column this morning about the loss we all suffer as a result of the death of Molly Ivins. As we say in legal documents, I'd like to "just incorporate it by reference" in my remarks -- since she's a much better writer than I and we share similar sentiments about Molly Ivins. (Rekha Basu, "Thanks for the truth - and the laughter, Molly Ivins," Des Moines Register, February 2, 2007; and linked below.)

All of Molly's friends and admirers (and I know of no one who knows her who is not both -- though she might have said in response that my comment is simply proof that my range of acquaintance is far too narrow) have their own collection of stories. Rekha tells of being joined in a hot tub by Molly Ivins at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I have a number of stories -- though none involves a hot tub -- but will just tell one.

As a Texan of sorts myself, having spent the 1950s living in Austin (while attending the University of Texas as an undergraduate and law student) and then Houston (clerking for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge John R. Brown) before going to Washington (which ultimately included a couple of presidential appointments from a President from Texas), I was able to share an attraction for The Texas Observer, and both the outrage and sense of humor she brought to her many fans by way of her columns about "the Lege" and other Texas institutions.

We were generally aware of each other, but it was not until one morning, listening to her commentary on NPR, that something she said struck me as so clever and funny that I picked up the phone, called her, and we had our first delightful conversation.

It seems that British royalty was coming to visit Texas, and to present the Lone Star State in the most favorable light possible, someone had baked "a yellow cake the size of a basketball court" (if I remember her phrase correctly) in their honor.

I remembered from my Austin days that Texans were actually proud of the fact that, outside of town, along the highway, Texas had the distinction of having "the world's largest billboard." (This may have contributed to Lady Bird Johnson's insistence on billboard restrictions along the Interstate system.) The Longhorns' band proudly paraded with what they insisted was "the world's largest base drum." I could go on, but you get the idea.

I had just never heard a way of putting Texans' obsession with being the biggest in a succinct phrase. Molly did it. As she explained this (probably) "world's largest yellow cake" to her listeners: "Texans believe that 'more is better, and too much is not enough.'" I decided I needed to get to know better anyone who could put a line like that in a commentary.

In the conversations we had after that she never failed, not only to entertain, but to bring to the subject at hand a knowledge, a mind both curious and analytical mind, and a creative intelligence that always left one wanting more.

We continue to lose too many women to breast cancer. My own mother was blessed with twenty more years of life than Molly Ivins, but it eventually got her as well. In her later years she commented to me how, as you grow older your circle of friends shrinks as they die off. With every passing year I come to better understand just what she was talking about. Last Wednesday that circle got a lot smaller.
# # #

[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story, these blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006. Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.) For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006. My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006. And the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References". A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 (updated January 17, 2007) is also available.]

# # #

Media Stories and Commentary

Kurt Hiatt, "Two more terminated at Hygienic Lab," The Daily Iowan, February 2, 2007

Richard Gibson, "Look beyond new jail," The Daily Iowan, February 1, 2007

Dane Schumann, "UISG: Put undergrad on panel," The Daily Iowan, January 31, 2007

Terry McCoy, "Panel begins UI-head search," The Daily Iowan, January 29, 2007

Rekha Basu, "Thanks for the truth - and the laughter, Molly Ivins," Des Moines Register, February 2, 2007

Tony Leys, "2 more dismissed at Hygienic Lab; Researcher, deputy chief were associates of fired director," Des Moines Register, February 1, 2007

Diane Heldt, "Ex-director: UI lab firings raise concerns," The Gazette, February 2, 2007

Editorial, "Celebrate the Colloton era, but don't return to it," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 2, 2007

Brian Morelli, "Regents to set committee's duties; Presenting president finalists top responsibility," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 2, 2007

Brian Morelli, "Two more let go at Hygienic Lab at UI; Gilchrist calls the timing suspicious," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 2, 2007

Ryan Suchomel, "UI to Examine its Lottery Ties," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 2, 2007

Reginald R. Cooper, "Colloton Deserves Better," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 2, 2007

Brian Morelli, "Pres search committee to meet Friday," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 31, 2007

"UI Search Committee to Hold Meeting Friday," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 30, 2007

Brian Morelli, "Will UI funding return to 2001 level?; Higher education officials hope for more money," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 29, 2007 (with link to "State Appropriations")

Charlotte Eby, "Regents like Culver proposals," Sioux City Journal, January 31, 2007


Patton's Pad (Bob Patton), "UI News Cartoon Caption Contest from Jan. 23," January 30, 2007 (sale of UIHC)


Brian Morelli, "Letters touch on allegations of blame; Correspondence shows glimpse into Wellmark dispute," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 30, 2007

"Selection of Universiy of Iowa Presidential Search Committee," Board of Regents Agenda Item 1, January 11, 2007

"Naming of Interim President" and "Selection of Executive Search Firm," Minutes of Telephonic Meeting, April 3, 2006
, Board of Regents Agenda Item 13B, May 3-4, 2006

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Anonymous said...

Gibson is totally ignoring the facilities angle. Which I find odd since he was once head of UI Facilities. It seems completely lost to people for some reason that the building itself is just plain outdated regardless of the bickering about who should or should not be in jail. That will never end.

By any objective measure, this building needs replacement or a major renovation to modern standards. It has been used 24 hours a day for 365 days a year for 25 years. If this was an office building, that would be the same as nearly 75 years of use.

I do not understand why the County gets NO credit for the years and years it has pumped money into programs like United Action for Youth or Youth Homes or Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

John Neff said...

There are 76 beds in the Johnson County Jail that can be used by sentenced prisoners and persons detained for pretrial or noncompliance. There are in cell blocks A(16), B(8), C(8), D(16), F(8),G(8) AND I(16). Cell blocks E(4) and H(8) plus holding cell 4 are used for arrestees most of them are released after initial appearance and a few are detained. Sentenced prisoner overflow is dealt with by placing then on a waiting list. The detainee (and a few sentenced prisoners) overflow is transported.

In January the number of sentenced prisoners and detainees averaged 121 or 45 more than the maximum capacity of the jail. To provide room for growth without increasing the capacity of the jail it will be necessary to reduce the average number of sentenced prisoners and detainees to about 60. That means we have to move 60 of our present set of prisoners into some type of jail alternative.

There are people in Johnson County who insist this is possible. Ok then they should show us how to do so.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog.

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