U of Iowa hires $895-an-hour lawyers

Culver to the Y? A little lesson for Branstad. And some real-estate deals.


Your tax dollars — or your medical dollars or tuition dollars or philanthropy dollars or something — at work:                

The University of Iowa is about to hire McDermott, Will & Emery, a Chicago law firm, to “assist and advise” it in response to a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. The subpoena “relates to the health-care operations of UI Health Care,” according to a document sent to the Executive Council from Solicitor General Jeff Thompson.

According to the memo, the Chicago lawyers will be paid up to $895 an hour. “Payment for these services will be made directly by the University of Iowa,” the memo says.

Put another way: The yearly tuition paid to the university by an in-state undergraduate will go to a Chicago lawyer for 10 hours of work.

The word — from four folks associated with the YMCA — is that Chet Culver will soon be joining the organization as the No. 2 executive, charged with helping raise the millions of dollars still needed to finish the pool at the downtown Y. Culver didn’t confirm or deny it. The Y recently hired West Des Moines Chamber boss Dave Schwartz as chief executive to succeed Vernon Delpesce, who resigned or was fired a few months ago because of the financial mess at the organization. …

It was little noticed, but Gov. Terry Branstad the other day signed a bill allocating $6,718,443 (who knows how they come up with such figures) for furniture and equipment for the courts and offices that are being put into the redone J.C. Penney building downtown. The money can be spent over the next three years.


So Gov. Branstad has proclaimed that all Iowans should join the “Iowa 99 County Bible Reading Marathon” from June 30 through July 3. We should gather “in front of all 99 courthouses,” he has proclaimed, and that prompted a guy who knows his way around the state to wonder which courthouse we should shun.

For there are, as this fellow notes, 100 courthouses in the state’s 99 counties — with Lee County housing two, in Keokuk and Fort Madison. And there used to be 101, he notes, until the East Pottawattamie Courthouse in Avoca got demoted.

Meantime, puzzle over this sentence: “Whereas, the Bible is recognized as the one true revelation from God, showing the way of Salvation, Truth, and Life, and enriching the daily lives of millions of men and women who through the ages of the Bible was removed from our schools; and….”

The proclamation does not say anything about the separation of church and state.

Only one home in Polk County has sold for more than $1 million in the past four months, according to records in the Polk County Assessor’s office. Last month, Jakob and Natalie Johnson paid $1,560,000 to David Robbins for a 4,800-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom, three-fireplace home at 1316 Burr Oaks Drive in the Glen Oaks section of West Des Moines. The house was built in 2010 and is assessed at about $1.2 million.

Sales of condominium apartments downtown are picking up. In the first five months of the year, 19 units were sold — including four at the Plaza at Third and Walnut streets and four at the Brown-Camp Lofts at Market and Water. Prices ranged from $122,500 for a 536-square-foot, first-floor unit at the Whiteline Lofts to $470,000 for a 1,900-square-foot unit on the 25th floor of the Plaza. Prices also seem to be rising. A unit in the Liberty Building that sold for $331,000 two years ago just resold for $425,000. The Whiteline unit that sold for $122,500 changed hands for $93,000 two years ago.