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Sunday, May 1, 2016

From the Midway: Culver reaches out ... to me

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In my last 'Midway ' column, I wrote about how Lt. Governor Patty Judge had the audacity to stand me up recently.

Well, as it turns out, the Monday after that column ran I received a call from Governor Chet Culver's staff.

The call wasn't exactly about my column, but to tell me that the Governor would be in Cherokee that afternoon. Some of you may recall his visit here to Cherokee to unveil the new 'Iowa Helping Iowans' Program.

When Gov. Culver's staffer called, she told me that the Governor would be at the Cherokee Airport about 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. After I received the information, I asked the staffer why I should go, and I told her about my experience about Patty Judge standing me up a few weeks prior.

She commented, "Yeah, the Governor read your article and he told me that he wanted me to reach out to Mike."

That's me.

So, in the spirit of forgiveness, I went to the airport to get a picture of the Governor and cover the press conference that was scheduled. After seeing his plane land, I went out near the runway to try to get a picture of him exiting the airplane.

For some reason an image of him at the airplane door entered into my mind's eye. So I snapped a few frames of Chet getting off the plane but didn't get the picture I wanted. I waited for him to go inside. As he approached me, I introduced myself and told him that I was with the local newspaper.

As soon as I said my name, the Governor thought for a couple of moments and then realized I was the same person who wrote that column. Then he said that after the press conference that he would 'give (me) a few minutes.' I agreed but was hesitant. It's been my experience that when a politician tells you that they'll give you a couple of minutes it's the same as a guy that owes you money saying that 'the check is in the mail.'

The press conference lasted about 30 minutes or so, and when it was over the Governor shook hands with many of Cherokee's leaders and various business people and then headed out the door.

Not wanting to miss my "promised meeting" , I headed that way, too. There, the Governor was waiting for me and he then said "Mike, I'm sorry about what happened the other day, Things got real busy andÍ" ... At that point I stopped him and said 'don't worry about it.'

I felt that the effort made by Governor Chet Culver was honest and sincere. He didn't have to really apologize. He didn't stand me up, but it showed to me the man's character. It seems that people do care about us here in our 'Podunk' town. It was a stand-up effort by a stand-up man.

The next thing I know ,I placed my arm around the Governor and said that there is one thing he could do for me. I asked him that when he got on the plane, could he turn around and wave so I could get a picture of him. (I still wanted that picture that was in my mind's eye). He said "sure," and then put his arm around me.

We walked arm-in- arm to the plane and made some more small talk , and I made sure to invite the Governor back to Cherokee. At that point we said our 'good-byes' and Chet got on the plane - but not before turning around and giving me what I had requested.

A big old 'thumbs up.'

Mike Leckband
From the Midway