As an Iowa taxpayer, I’m hoping to get a thank you letter from the Obama administration for footing the bill for yesterday’s regional health care forum in Des Moines. According to Governor Culver, the tab for the event was about $40,000.00. In these difficult economic times when Governor Culver is being forced to cut another $130 million out of the current year budget, $40,000 might save one teacher’s job.
Having organized my share of political events over the years, I’m a little surprised by the cost of the event and by the fact that Iowa taxpayers are required to pay the tab. President Bush himself made a number of stops in Iowa to promote his agenda on Medicare prescription drug coverage, Social Security reform, and other issues. I can’t think of one time when the State of Iowa was asked to pay the tab for those events. I’m pretty sure if that was the case, we would have heard about it.
The blame for the $40,000 bill for the event belongs to Governor Culver and his staff. When these types of events are in the planning stages, it’s local Iowans, and in this instance, the Governor’s staff, who determine where the location will be. Their first mistake was renting the Polk County Convention Complex. The Plex is a great location, but it’s a big ugly room that needs a lot of help to make an event look good.
Instead of the Plex, they should have held the event at Des Moines University or Drake. Both institutions would have bent over backwards just for the opportunity to host the forum. DMU would have been the perfect backdrop for this event; it also wouldn’t have cost taxpayers anything to have it at either of these fine institutions.
Last week’s health care forum in Vermont was held in the Davis Center at the University of Vermont. The advantage of using a college facility like the Davis Center is that it comes equipped with most things that a forum like this will need. In the video below you can see a very simple set up, of chairs, simple podium, and a few cameras.
Iowa’s health care forum was a much larger production. Having done a similar set up at the Plex for a Republican Party of Iowa dinner, I can tell you that the cost of all the audio-visual equipment, pipe and drape, and labor made up the majority of the cost of the event. To be honest, it looked to me as if the organizers of the event thought that President Obama was going to be in attendance.
Below is the video of the event that shows the elaborate set up used in Iowa. Notice that they light the stage, light the audience, use two projection screens, and have at least six manned cameras to record the action, all at the cost of the tax payer.
Once again Culver and his staff show their incompetence. Saddling the taxpayer with paying $40,000 for this event is ridiculous and inexcusable. How can we expect Governor Culver to navigate the state of Iowa though these difficult financial times when he and his staff can’t event figure out how to pull off a health care forum without socking it to taxpayers?
I’m almost afraid to ask how much his “I-Jobs Shovel-Ready Tour” cost us.
While I hope to get an apology from President Obama, Governor Culver owes the people of Iowan an apology.
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