The Hot Beat


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

Certificates don’t expire, licenses do

Regardless of whether the public attention span has room for further examination of Eric Rosenthal’s accounting credentials (I highly doubt it), I will forge ahead and try to clarify something Mr. Rosenthal has pointed out as inaccurate in one of my stories.

I said in an Oct. 14 story that Rosenthal’s accounting certificate in Illinois was “expired.” Not true, he has informed me. Certificates never expire. Doesn’t happen. What does expire, and what did, was his authorization to practice as a CPA. My feeling is this causes no confusion in the general public. The effectiveness of the certificate expired, not the certificate. Big deal. People thought Rosenthal wasn’t authorized to practice in Illinois, and…he wasn’t. Now Rosenthal, with the weight of the Gazette’s editorial board (I’m not a member) behind him, is arguing that there was “confusion” about his accounting credentials, confusion that has now been corrected.

Um, not really. Rosenthal and I talked for nearly an hour Tuesday afternoon, and we agreed that the public has been informed from the beginning that he has a master’s degree in accounting, that he practiced as an accountant in Illinois in the late 1980s, that he did not practice as an accountant for almost 20 years and that he never practiced or was licensed to practice in Iowa. This is all very clear. What’s also clear is that the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board takes a dim view of men and women who call themselves CPAs here if they’re not licensed here. Whether this matters very much is a different question, but on the basic facts there is no confusion.

The lion’s share of the confusion can be directly attributed to Rosenthal. He has said simply that he is a CPA, in campaign material and in conversation. That’s confusing to people when you don’t mention that you have no license and haven’t practiced for almost two decades. Now he has renewed his license in Illinois (as of Oct. 22), something which has no bearing on his pre-Oct. 22 statements and the confusion they caused. But it does prove that he has the background to be a CPA, something I for one never questioned, not after he stopped by my office and showed me photocopies of his 1985 certificate and his master’s degree from the University of Iowa.


Filed under: County Government, ,

‘Preciate ya. Still want to knock you out of office.

After the Walker Pickle Days Parade in late July, a small-town parade in which both Jim Houser and Dave Machacek walked, the two men had a brief conversation. They remember it in different ways.

At the end of the line, after having passed all the greedy children and their sagging bags of candy, Machacek stuck his hand out to Houser and said this, according to Houser:

“I want you to know you’re doing a great job, but I’m still running against you.”

No, no, no, says Machacek, the words “great job” were never uttered. Here’s how he remembers it:

“I want you to know that we appreciate the work you supervisors are doing now with the flood crisis. That doesn’t mean I’m not still going to run against you.”

Machacek has said in the past that he thinks the supervisors do more or less a decent job. His major criticism this year has been twofold: they screwed up the salary issue and they don’t make tough decisions or disagree with each other very often.

I’m going to liveblog the candidates forum tonight in Robins, and dad-blaim it there better be more fireworks than at the first League of Women Voters forum, the one for Districts 2 and 3. This one’s at the Robins Community Center, 265 S. Second St., Robins.

Filed under: County Government, , ,

Rosenthal e-mail on ethics complaint

Here’s the news story about Eric Rosenthal and the ethics complaint against him. He sent me this e-mail Monday afternoon:

My attorney recently filed another response to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board regarding an investigation which I was notified of on November 16, 2007. The investigation is in response to a complaint that I was reimbursed for expenses that I did not incur, specifically to InSync Marketing and Sales. I had directed the Linn County Republican Central Committee to pay InSync in November 2004, which they subsequently did in May 2005. However, during the fall of 2004, I submitted numerous requests for reimbursements, and, unfortunately, when I was reimbursed, those reimbursements did not specify what items were being reimbursed with each payment. The reimbursement requests to the committee always included receipts and invoices. I always had to submit requests for reimbursement and did not have control of the finances of the organization, proper segregation of duties precluding such.

Subsequent to the 2004 general election, I tried to work with the leadership of the Republican central committee to sort through numerous bills and requests for payments, for both vendors and individuals that had provided goods and services to the committee during the general election cycle. However, my attempts were repeatedly rebuffed. It is interesting to note that the complainant waited three years to file a complaint, and, during that time did not attempt to resolve the issue in good faith with me. It is also important to note that local, state, and federal Republican candidates have continued to ask me for help on numerous campaigns.

My attorney and I have communicated with the IECDB throughout the past year. It is unfortunate that this issue has not been resolved, but that is primarily due to two factors: first, I had serious illness in my family – both my wife and my mother – which has taken an extraordinary amount of time; and, second, the complaint was filed more than three years after the event and collecting documentation was diificult, especially given the adversarial nature of some in the committee.

Filed under: County Government, , , ,

Houser vs. Machacek

It’s the big one.

We had both of them up in the newsroom this week for editorial board meetings. The muckety-mucks (yes, that includes Todd Dorman) will decide who they want to endorse in the election.

I do not help make endorsements, but I sit in on the meetings to see what I can glean.

So, Houser and Machacek came in for back-to-back interviews on Tuesday.

Here’s what it appears to come down to.

Houser: The county runs well, I do a very good job and all Machacek has to go on is “making a mockery” of county government by exploiting the salary issue.

Machacek: The county runs reasonably well, but Houser is a “career politician” who doesn’t contribute to a mediocre governing discussion run by “Lu and Linda” (Barron and Langston).

He’s not the first Republican to say this. Houser has countered that talking doesn’t equal thinking, an assertion that’s difficult to disagree with.

Houser is more anxious to move out of Westdale than Machacek is, who thinks three years there is realistic. Houser advocates for a joint government building “in the downtown area” that would inspire “community pride.”

Machacek is a farmer, and he mentioned county roads. Houser lives in Cedar Rapids, but he also hammered on roads: He brought it up several times without being asked about it, flourished paperwork littered with figures, expounded on the Road Use Tax and Gas Taxes, and talked about the possibility of a local option sales tax to sink money into those rural roads. Machacek liked the idea too.

On salaries, Machacek said $50,000 per year would be more than adequate. This is where the “mockery” comes in. Houser said the salary controversy in January and February was “purely political.” Being a supervisor is “absolutely” a full-time job. Machacek doesn’t dispute this, just says it should be paid a lot less than it is.

The two guys are running against each other in District 5. That’s Walker, Center Point, Palo, southwest Cedar Rapids and Fairfax. The election is Nov. 4.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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