Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement: Gov. Branstad’s tour is ‘little more than publicity stunt’
A statewide organization of political activists typically mobilized to protect individual over corporate interests wants to know why Gov. Terry Branstad is jetting around the state under the guise of “working together” while offering little time for actual discussion at tour stops.
A release distributed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement notes that “Branstad’s tour schedule today and tomorrow suggest that the tour may e little more than a publicity stunt and photo-op, with little time for meaningful public participation or dialogue.
Following a weekly press conference Monday, Branstad embarked on a 43-city “Working Together for a Better Future” tour. On Monday, Branstad visited Ankeny, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids and Davenport. The longest leg of today’s agenda is the trek from Council Bluffs to Cedar Rapids, and while it isn’t possible to exactly calculate how long the flight will take without knowing what type of aircraft is being used, there are estimates that can be made. In the past Iowa governor’s have flown out of the Omaha, Neb. airport to the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. The drive time between Council Bluffs and the Omaha airport averages about 15 minutes.
Typically Iowa governor’s have have used a Beechcraft King Air or similar two-engine craft, which can make the trip from Omaha to Cedar Rapids in just over an hour. Branstad’s whistle stop in Cedar Rapids is at the airport and won’t require additional drive time upon arrival.
According to the Branstad tour schedule, his stop in Council Bluffs was slated for 11 a.m. and his subsequent stop in Cedar Rapids was at 1 p.m. (It’s worth noting that political events rarely begin on time, often due to increased travel time between stops.) Assuming that both stops are on time, and using our estimate of just over 90 minutes of travel time needed between the stops, Branstad would have allotted roughly 30 minutes for his remarks and public discussion in Council Bluffs.
“Branstad claims we’re broke, yet today he’s flying to every major media market in the state to push his corporate agenda,” said Vern Tigges, Iowa CCI’s Board President and an independent family farmer from Carroll, Iowa. “Is air travel the most affordable way for the governor to take his message to everyday Iowans? Who’s paying for it?”
In addition, Iowa CCI members want Branstad to release his full tour schedule immediately in order to give hardworking Iowans adequate time to attend – and participate in – the events. To date, the Governor’s Office has provided the date and time for about 20 of the tour stops.
“Working Iowans can’t just schedule vacation or personal time off on 1 or 2 day’s notice,” Tigges said. “Branstad needs to release his full tour schedule to the public immediately and ensure that there’s adequate time for public comment at each stop.”
The state of Iowa is projecting a $1 billion surplus for the fiscal year ending June 30. In spite of this, Branstad is pushing spending cuts to vital public services.
“Iowa’s not going broke,” Tigges said. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. We need to close corporate tax loopholes so corporations are paying their fair share here in Iowa.”