The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Miller wants Langston off panel that will decide Hanson’s fate

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller wrote a letter to Linda Langston asking her to get off the panel that will on Thursday decide whether auditor candidate Lyle Hanson’s name can be on the ballot in the Democratic primary on June 3.

Here’s the letter: recuse-langston-request.pdf

Hanson and Miller were getting ready for one of the more interesting races in this election when Hanson’s nomination papers were challenged late last week. He had a date wrong on his paperwork, and two Cedar Rapids residents filed objections to his candidacy.

The Board of Supervisors Chairwoman — that’s Langston — is responsible for appointing a three-member panel of county elected officials to weigh the objections and decide whether Hanson can be on the ballot despite his slightly defective nomination papers. Langston appointed County Attorney Harold Denton, Treasurer Mike Stevenson and herself, thinking they are the three available elected officials with the least personal stake in the decision.

Miller thinks Langston has plenty of personal stake in the decision, and he said so in the letter. He thinks Supervisors Lu Barron and Jim Houser should be off the panel too.

His reasons?

He says there has been a “persistent rumor” that the supervisors recruited Hanson to challenge Miller in the first place. The supervisors deny this, but Miller cites the rumor as a reason Langston shouldn’t be on the panel. He also points out that Hanson attended Rotary meetings as the guest of Barron and Langston, and that all three supervisors signed Hanson’s petition papers.

The real issue appears to be, however, that Miller and the supervisors can not get along. They constantly disagree about things and Miller even says in the letter that “disagreements over the past 13 months…cannot be easily forgotten.”

So he asks that Langston “recuse” herself from the panel. 

It could be a problem, because Recorder Joan McCalmant is on vacation in Florida, and Sheriff Don Zeller has a more obvious conflict of interest than the supervisors, Langston said. He’s endorsed Brian Gardner for sheriff, and the panel has to decide on sheriff candidate Bill Elam’s nomination papers as well. Elam was missing the year on some of his papers.

“You’ve got this sort of process of elimination,” Langston said. “I’m mostly concerned that we don’t have enough bodies…I don’t care who’s on the panel.”

She’ll get together with county legal guru Gary Jarvis, the assistant county attorney, and figure out what to do. A conference call with McCalmant from Florida is a possibility.


Filed under: County Government, , , , , , ,

Doh! Hanson’s papers challenged

Two challenges were filed today against Lyle Hanson’s candidacy for Linn County auditor, because he has a date wrong in his nomination paperwork.

David A. O’Brien of 4726 Leprechaun Lane NE and Curtis Steuber of 6001 E Ave. NW objected to the fact that the date of the Democratic primary is incorrect on Hanson’s nomination papers, which he filed with the auditor’s office on Tuesday.

Hanson lists the date as June 6. The actual date is June 3.

Sound like a small thing? Nope.

“Comes now David A. O’Brien, a duly registered voter in Linn County, Iowa, with the right to vote in the Democratic Primary for the Office of Linn County Auditor, and objects to the Affidavit of Candidacy filed by Lyle K. Hanson, as follows…”

That’s from O’Brien’s objection, obviously, and you get the idea.

Hanson is the fourth — and Sheriff candidate Bill Elam is the fifth — candidate to have problems with his nomination papers. Steuber also objected to Elam’s papers, because he doesn’t include the date of the primary.

Earlier in the week, Supervisors Lu Barron and Linda Langston had to hustle to redo their paperwork after someone pointed out problems with it. Then District 3 candidate Mary Arenas didn’t file her paperwork in time. She’ll run as a write-in candidate.

Current Auditor Joel Miller, who is Hanson’s opponent, says Linda Langston will be the one who oversees creation of a three-member panel that will discuss whether Hanson and Elam can run in the primaries. I’m trying to reach Langston on the phone right now…

Filed under: County Government

Mahoney’s to go smokeless

One of the smokiest bars in Cedar Rapids will be non-smoking beginning Tuesday.

Mahoney’s Irish Pub, in the heart of the Irish district at 1602 E Ave. NE, is beating the state legislature to the punch and going fresh and clean. It was reported on The Gazette’s Money page (on the back of the Iowa Today section) on Tuesday.

It’s a little surprising. Mahoney’s feels like one of the last strongholds for the smoking public. Some bartenders there smoke, and half the customers, according to Carrie Mahoney, wife of bar owner Dennis Mahoney.

Dennis Mahoney said he made the decision for the health of his staff and to remain an authentic Irish pub — since all pubs in Ireland are now non-smoking. The “authenticity” of banning smoking in drinking establishments is debatable, but I get the point.

Filed under: Other

Find your district

Lots of people aren’t sure which supervisor district they live in. I’m sure even the candidates themselves will be regularly consulting the map at this page on the county auditor’s website. Follow the link, then click on All Districts (24″ x 36″). If you live in Mount Vernon or Central City, it’s easy to figure out which district you’re in, but in parts of Cedar Rapids, the districts fit together like a very, very complicated jigsaw puzzle, so look it over carefully.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Sibling rivalry no more

Update: Mary Arenas says she will run as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary. 

In case you missed it in the paper this morning, here is the list of candidates who’ll be in the June 3 primaries in Linn County. You’ll notice that Mary Arenas, who announced she was running for supervisor in District 3, isn’t on the list. Apparently she missed the deadline in filing her nomination papers, and showed up this morning at the auditor’s office asking for an exception. Auditor Joel Miller says there is no recourse. She will have to run as an independent.


District 1:
– Cary J. Hahn, (D), 60, of 1600 A Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids
– Lu Barron, (D-i), 54, of 195 Braybrook St. SE, Cedar Rapids

District 2:
– Linda Langston, (D-i), 54, of 4257 Sunland Ct. SE, Cedar Rapids
– John H. Erceg, (R), 60, of 5212 Windmill Ct. SW, Cedar Rapids
– Bernita Rozinek, (D), 56, of rural Ely
– Dale Stanek, (R), 39, of Ely
– Kevin J. Lynch, (D), 53, of rural Mount Vernon

District 3:
– Benjamin Rogers, (D), 28, of 634 Ashton Pl. NE, Cedar Rapids
– Randy S. Oakley, (R), 56, of 7915 Marquette Dr. NE, Cedar Rapids
– Eric Rosenthal, (R), 48, of 3935 Nancy Jane Lane NE
– Jesse A. Arenas II, (R), 57, of 302 C Ave., Hiawatha

District 4:
– Richard Heeren, (D), 58, of Springville
– Mary Lundby, (R), 60, of 1240 14th St., Marion
– Don Gray, (D), 60, of Central City

District 5:
– Dave Machacek, (R), 64, of rural Alburnett
– Jim Houser, (D-i), 53, of 505 Rock Valley Dr. SW, Cedar Rapids
– Larry K. Wear, (D), 51, of rural Center Point
– Tom Watson, (R), age unavailable, of rural Palo


– Bill Elam, (D), 53, of 255 27th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
– Brian Gardner, (D), 46, of 4407 Wendy Lee Lane NW, Cedar Rapids
– David Zahn, (R), 44, of 7417 Idledale Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids


– Joel Miller, (D-i), 52, of 375 Phaeton Dr., Robins
– Lyle Hanson, (D), 55, of 2561 L Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids

Filed under: Uncategorized

On vacation

I’m on vacation until Wednesday, in Utah. That’s why I haven’t been posting. I’ll get right to it when I get back. 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Sibling rivalry on the campaign trail

Republican Jesse A. Arenas, II filed his nomination papers this afternoon for a run at county supervisor. He’s going to run in District 3. 

Funny thing is, so is his sister.

Mary Arenas, a Democrat, announced last week she is running for supervisor in District 3. If the two of them make it through the primary (both have opponents), they’d run against each other in the Nov. 4 election.

More on District 3 matchups — and Districts 4 and 5 — later.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Supervisor matchups 1 and 2

A week from Wednesday the filing deadline will pass and we’ll know who the candidates for Linn County supervisor are. Let’s look at the matchups we’ve got right now in the five districts. Here are the first two (will get to the other three in coming days). We’ll talk more about this as things move along. Primaries are June 3. The election is Nov. 4.

District 1: Lu Barron vs. Leon Dale?

A man named Leon Dale requested nomination papers from the Linn County Auditor’s Office, but I haven’t heard from him and neither has Joel Miller, as of Friday afternoon. He doesn’t show up in our archives, and a phone number listed with his name and a B Avenue NE address is disconnected. This leaves Barron alone in District 1, for now, where you’d have to think she’d be a pretty strong favorite, even with opponents. We’ll see what pans out, but Barron sailed to victory last time she was up for reelection in 2004, and her constituency under the new districts is downtown Cedar Rapids and other parts of the city.

District 2: Linda Langston or Bernita Rozinek vs. John Erceg

Rozinek and Langston are the Democrats and Erceg is the Republican. As with every race in Linn County government (all Linn County elected officials are Democrats), it seems prudent to give the edge to whichever Democrat makes it through the primary.

Langston is the current chair of the board, but Rozinek, of Ely, is well known in the county as well. She ran in 2004, and lost in the primary. She got 1,218 votes, or 19 percent (or fourth out of four). Current supervisors Jim Houser and Barron took the top two spots and Marion Council Member Mary Lou Pazour came in third that year. Rozinek has in the past aligned herself with Republicans like Dave Machacek, because she thinks rural interests are not represented on the board.

Erceg is a former health official who lives just off of Highway 30 east of the Kirkwood exit. He served in the Navy for much of his career, and says he’s pretty well known in District 2, which covers the southeast quarter of the county, including parts of southern Cedar Rapids.

A strong candidate out of Mount Vernon would make some sense, but none of the three in District 2 is from there. 

Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s too hot in here, Miell says

The infamous landlord Robert K. Miell wants a change of venue for his federal criminal trial, on that old argument that the publicity surrounding his case has been too extensive and corrupting for him to receive a fair trial here in Cedar Rapids.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office thinks his argument is pretty flimsy, because what they’re accusing him of happened five years ago, and because media coverage of his case (the stories in the Gazette) has been pretty darn good. (They don’t say that exactly, but it’s the basic idea.)

Miell also wants a new judge for the trial, because U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade’s husband works for the law firm that represented the insurance company that was the victim in the civil trial that ended in January with Miell paying up to a $1.5 million judgment.

The connection is tenuous, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says, but the point of the hearing earlier today was for Miell’s attorney John Lane to ask Reade to “recuse,” or excuse, herself from the case.

On the face of it, Reade doesn’t see how her husband’s involvement in that law firm causes a conflict for her. But the judge, who is renowned in our newsroom for her toughness, said she’d check around and get back to the lawyers in a few weeks. 

Filed under: Courts

Prominent Buchanan County Democrat dies

Farmer and former Buchanan County supervisor Richard L. “Dick” Cameron died Monday at age 83 and his funeral is going on right now. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who is from Independence, is up there for the service. You can read Cameron’s obituary here.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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