Lynn M. Walding, Administrator
e - NEWS
January 23, 2004
By Tom Suk– Des Moines Register
January 20, 2004
Master whiskey distiller Jimmy Bedford's visit to Hy-Vee Food Store in Johnston last week drew a crowd, from a man named Jack Daniel to the driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
Bedford, who oversees the making of Jack Daniels, autographed a bottle of the whiskey for Jack Daniel Creason of Des Moines. The 20-year-old was named "for what his daddy drinks," said his mother, Tracy Creason.
Michelle Norton, who drives the hot-dog shaped vehicle, stopped by as a courtesy, from one promotion professional to another. Norton, of Johnston, was leaving for Omaha for an Oscar Meyer promotion, "but I heard Jimmy was here and I had to stop in to see him," she said.
Norton watched the silver-haired Bedford patiently autograph empty and full whiskey bottles and other Jack Daniel's memorabilia for about 80 people. In a smooth, southern-tinged voice, Bedford answered questions about Jack Daniel's in particular and whiskey in general.
Unlike some of the visitors, Norton is not an avid Jack Daniel's fan. At times she has had a sip or two, "but never when I'm driving the Wienermobile," she said.
Bedford is the sixth master distiller in the history of the Lynchburg, Tenn., company.
Scanning the crowd, Joe Florek, Midwest sales manager for the firm that distributes Jack Daniel's, said, "not a bad crowd for 9 o'clock in the morning."
Customers stood in line with hands or shopping carts full of Jack Daniel's bottles, ranging in size from a few ounces to a half-gallon. Mary Marrs of Ankeny had Bedford autograph an empty bottle commemorating Tennessee's 200th anniversary as a state.
"I bought it in 1999 in Tennessee," Marrs said. "I opened it on Aug. 30, 2003, when I got married."
Some fans were furtive. One man had Bedford use a gold ink marking pen to autograph an unopened 1914 bottle. Asked where he got the rare memento, the man, who would not give his name, simply replied "connections."
"I'm not supposed to be here," he said. "I'm supposed to be at work."
Chuck Raffy of West Des Moines brought in an old ashtray, an official Jack Daniel's whiskey sipping glass, plus several decades-old framed lithographs of Jack Daniel's advertisements. Raffy also had a proclamation naming him Tennessee Squire 3446, issued to him by the distillery.
Raffy said he became a Tennessee Squire because he was unable to purchase the Black Label brand Jack Daniel's when it was introduced in 1957.
"I called the distillery and asked where I could get Black Label," he said. "They said they were sorry but they were not distributing it in Manhattan, Kan., where I was living, but made me an official Tennessee Squire instead" and occasionally sent him collectible items.
Bedford asked if Raffy was still receiving promotional items. Raffy said no, he had moved a number of times and lost contact with the distillery.
"You are not receiving our mail anymore?" Bedford said. "We will take care of that today. Right now." He took Raffy's address, then signed all the memorabilia the West Des Moines man had stuffed in a canvas bag.
The Johnston stop was part of a one-week blitz to 29 Hy-Vee stores in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.
"I've been working for (Jack Daniel's) for 36 years," Bedford said. "I've enjoyed it. It treats its people well. It is a good company with a good story behind it, an American company. All the Jack Daniel's you see in the world was made and bottled in that little town in that county in Tennessee. Every drop of it."
Bedford oversees the making of Jack Daniel's, from ensuring the grain brought to the distillery meets standards, to overseeing the distillation until it is stored in oak barrels, to mellowing and aging.
Does he use the product he promotes?
"Why, sure," Bedford said. "Sure, I use it. If you use it in the proper way, it is good for you."
2. Attorney General Says Court Went Too Far:
Tom Miller Wants the U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold a Conviction
for Felony Drunken Driving
By Frank Santiago – Des Moines Register
January 21, 2004
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller will ask the U.S. Supreme Court today to revive a felony drunken-driving conviction thrown out by the Iowa Supreme Court.
The case involves Felipe Tovar, a former college student in Ames, who didn't have a lawyer before pleading guilty of drunken driving.
Tovar contended that a judge should have told him about the value of having a lawyer before he made the guilty plea. He had two prior drunken-driving convictions against him when he was charged with third-offense drunken driving in December 2000. The charge carries an enhanced penalty of a year in jail upon conviction.
Tovar claimed an earlier guilty plea should have been dismissed, allowing him to avoid the enhanced penalty. He alleged the plea was uninformed and violated his constitutional right to have a lawyer. Tovar took his case to the Iowa Supreme Court.
In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa court agreed that Tovar's rights had been violated and that he might not have known the full consequences of the plea without a lawyer's help.
Trial judges, the court said, should not be expected to be a defendant's lawyer. "Rather, the trial judge need only advise the defendant generally that there are defenses to criminal charges that may not be known to lay persons," the court ruled.
Miller said Tuesday that the ruling went too far.
"We believe the rule crafted by the majority in the Iowa court is not required by the Sixth Amendment and unnecessarily diminishes a solemn admission of guilty in open court," Miller said. "We disagree that a defendant who knows he was driving drunk but wants to plead guilty and knows of the right to counsel must be cautioned that an attorney might help find an overlooked, technical defense."
Miller claimed the Iowa court's ruling had affected many criminal cases in the state and had made it difficult for prosecutors to charge repeat offenders. Guilty pleas, he said, account for the majority of criminal convictions.
Miller said the U.S. court was expected to establish a uniform standard based on the case. He said several briefs had been filed supporting his position, including those from 33 other state attorneys general, the National District Attorneys Association and the U.S. solicitor general's office.
By Christina Smith – Des Moines Register
January 22, 2004
Sue Allen has always worked in the restaurant business. She was a waitress at Skips Restaurant for years, then decided she wanted to run her own restaurant. Eleven years ago she became co-owner of the restaurant, joining owner Skip Backman as partners.
Skips, located at 4000 Fleur Drive, has changed since it opened in the early 1980s serving mostly hamburgers. Today, it serves a variety of entrees, from blackened cod in a dill sauce to rib-eye steaks to jambalaya.
WHERE TO FIND IT: 4000 Fleur Drive; 287-1820
WHAT IT OFFERS: A full lunch and dinner menu, complete bar and wine list
OF NOTE: Skips does not take reservations but recommends that parties of eight or more call ahead.
EXPECT TO PAY: Blackened cod sandwich, $8.50; pecan chicken salad, $8.50; roasted Italian chicken, $10.95; orange roughy, $15.95; 8 oz. filet, $22.95; grilled pork medallions, $15.95; cavatelli, $11.95; lemon and garlic shrimp, $14.95. Desserts, $4.25 and $4.50; soups, $2.95 and $3.95; appetizers, $5.25 to $9.95.
It has also grown in the beverage area, expanding from selling mostly beer to having lengthy wine and liqueurs lists.
Allen said the most popular food item on the menu is probably the fresh salmon steak, but there are other customer favorites too.
"There really isn't anything that we sell more of than other items," she said. "People like our pastas, large salads and the tenderloins that are the size of a plate. But people seem to like our fresh salmon - it is absolutely fresh."
Along with the set menu items, Skips also offers a daily chef's lunch and dinner special. Fridays and Saturdays are Skips' prime rib nights.
Although the food at Skips is good, Allen said, it is probably the atmosphere that keeps the regulars coming back.
"We try to keep the atmosphere friendly. There is no waiting list of names, we try to learn everyone's name, so you're not just a part of four to us," she said. "That's what Skips is all about."
Once a private residence, Skips is complete with a fireplace, linen napkins and low lights, giving the restaurant an intimate feel.
Allen said on any given weekday Skips serves 400 people, and a lot of them are regulars.
"Our clientele is so loyal. A lot of people hear about Skips through word of mouth," she said. "They call Skips the Cheers of the south side."
South-side residents Darrell and Karen Kearney called Skips their favorite restaurant in town.
"My wife and I come to Skips all the time," Kearney said. "There is a consistency in the quality of the food and service. You get your money's worth."
For Allen, the hardest thing about owning a restaurant is the food cost.
"It's a constant battle with food costs. You get to a limit on what you can charge people," she said.
Allen credits her staff with the restaurant's popularity.
"We have a wonderful kitchen crew," she said. "Some of the wait staff have been with me for all 11 years. That's history and that's what makes Skips."
By Annie Shuppy - The Daily Iowan
January 22, 2004
permitting Iowa municipalities to institute smoking bans has a good chance of
making it through the Iowa House, but it faces a tougher battle in the Senate,
one of the bill's sponsors said Tuesday.
Getting legislation that would enable cities to pass smoking bans through a House committee could pose some challenges, and Rep. Ro Foege, D-Mount Vernon, a co-sponsor of the bill, said its battle through the Senate could also prove to be "difficult."
An state Supreme Court decision in May overturned restaurant smoking bans in Iowa City and Ames, ruling that cities may not enforce stricter standards than the state's. Critics have already expressed concern that it would "open up the floodgates for cities," giving local entities too much freedom, Foege said.
Iowa City's smoking ban, enacted in March 2002, required that restaurants collecting more than 50 percent of their revenue in food sales must be smoke-free, with violators facing a $25 fine. Although several restaurants remained smoke-free after the law was tossed out, a handful of local establishments immediately let patrons light up.
Foege, a member of the Iowa Tobacco Use Prevention Commission who proposed the bill with Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said the cities' autonomy would only apply to smoking issues. He described the bill as a "public-health initiative," pointing to the $385 million the state pays in Medicaid for smoking-related illnesses.
"If it ends up in a committee that is not friendly to anti-smoking legislation, they could bury it," said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City.
"The people of Iowa City have already been able to enact" the smoking ban, she said. "The standards are such that people with families, the elderly, and those with breathing complications really and truly don't want smoking when they're trying to eat."
It remains to be seen whether the Iowa City City Council would try to re-institute such a ban, considering that two members were replaced in the election last fall. New Councilor Bob Elliott said that while he understands the alleged health concerns behind the smoking ban, he would not favor Iowa City re-implementing such an ordinance. He would, however, favor a comprehensive county or a ban that included Coralville and North Liberty.
"I think if there is not a ban, people can vote with their feet," Elliott said, referring to the establishments that remained smoke-free.
Daryl Woodson, the owner of Sanctuary Restaurant & Pub, 405 S. Gilbert St., said state government, not the city, should handle such decisions.
"If Iowa City has a smoking ban and Coralville does not, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage," he said. "It should be done at a state level, and until that time, we ought to leave it up to customers whether they want to enter certain establishments."
Experts Say Grape Glut's Over but Bargain Pricing Likely to
By Tim Tesconi – The Press Democrat
January 22, 2004
The California wine industry hit bottom last year and is bouncing back as supply and demand come into balance, eliminating the wine glut that has pushed down wine and grape prices since 2000, industry experts said Wednesday in Santa Rosa.
The sea of surplus wine is dwindling as consumers drink more lower-priced wines and financially strapped Central Valley growers pull out more than 100,000 acres of vineyards. Mother Nature also helped ease the oversupply: Last fall's wine grape tonnage was down from the previous year, helping cut wine inventories as growers and winemakers move into a new production year.
"We no longer have a wine glut out there. There are excesses in some varietals, but glut is a word we won't be hearing this year," Joseph Ciatti, owner of Joseph W. Ciatti Co., a wine and grape brokerage business based in San Rafael, said Wednesday.
The end of the glut doesn't necessarily mean an end to the vintage bargains that consumers have been enjoying, he said. Even as grape prices stabilize, he said, wineries that make palatable $1.99-a-bottle wines will likely continue to produce them for consumers who have become accustomed to good, cheap wines.
Ciatti and Glenn Proctor, a wine and grape broker for Ciatti Co., were speakers at Wednesday's Dollars and Sense Seminar held at Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. The annual conference, sponsored by the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association, gives growers information on marketing and production so they can remain competitive in producing premium quality grapes.
Ciatti and Proctor said it may be a long time before grape prices return to the record levels of the go-go 1990s, when wineries, enjoying soaring sales, were literally knocking on growers' doors to secure grapes to fill their pipelines.
Proctor said the market has moved to more value-oriented wines, meaning wineries will be negotiating to buy grapes at prices that reflect the bottle price of the wines they sell.
The need to hold down wine prices also stems from fierce competition from low-priced foreign wines from European countries and Australia. Proctor said foreign wines, which comprise 26 percent of the wine consumed in the United States, are growing in volume. Imported wines are up 12 percent over the past 12 months, with Australian wine up 43 percent.
The light-yielding grape crop throughout California last year is credited with easing the wine surplus and getting the wine industry moving out of the down cycle. Although official figures for the 2003 crop won't be released until next month, the Ciatti Co. estimated Sonoma County's tonnage at 153,000 tons, down 16 percent from 2002. Heavy rain in April and scorching heat spells during the summer took a toll on grape production.
Grape production also was lower in Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties, according to Ciatti Co. estimates.
Proctor said California wine shipments are up 7 percent from the same time last year, with the "extreme value varietals," such as the $1.99 Charles Shaw wine, better known as Two Buck Chuck, driving the growth.
"The good news is we're selling more wine but we're selling it for less," Proctor said. He said many wineries are doing heavy discounting to sell wines, with consumers responding by buying and drinking more.
Proctor and Ciatti said the rebound will mean increased demand and higher prices, compared to 2003, for chardonnay, merlot and zinfandel grown in Sonoma County.
More troublesome is cabernet sauvignon, which continues to be overplanted in Sonoma County in relation to its demand.
Proctor said Sonoma County has 14,000 acres of cabernet grapes. He said nearly 30 percent is newly planted acreage, which will be coming into production this fall and over the next few years.
"The potential for an increasing supply of cabernet sauvignon will challenge the market for the next two to four years," he said.
He said if there's a big crop this year, it could spell trouble for pinot noir, which also is overplanted. He said 40 percent of Sonoma County's 12,000 acres of pinot noir haven't started producing but will begin to yield fruit this year and in 2005 and 2006.
Proctor said the light crop in 2003 stabilized pinot noir prices, with spot market prices ranging from $800 to $1,500. But he said the potential for increasing supplies of pinot noir could challenge the market for next two to four years.
The spot market is the term for uncontracted grapes sold on the open market just before or during harvest. Most Sonoma County grapes continue to be sold through long-term contracts, although the percentage of contracted grapes is declining as contracts expire and wineries decline to renew them.
Proctor said the prices on the spot market for other leading varietals in Sonoma County were: chardonnay, $500 to $1,400 a ton; zinfandel, $850 to $1,800; sauvignon blanc, $700 to $1,300 a ton; and merlot, $800 to $1,500 a ton.
The low end of these spot price ranges are generally half of what the varietals averaged in 2002 in Sonoma County.
January 22, 2004
CESKE BUDEJOVICE, Czech Republic -- It's the battle of the Buds. A nearly century-long trademark dispute is intensifying between Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, and tiny Czech producer Budejovicky Budvar. With both claiming they produce the only genuine Budweiser beer, they've taken their sudsy squabble to courts in 24 countries around the world.
Budvar won the latest round in South Korea, where a court ruled last month that the company's name and trademark doesn't conflict with Anheuser-Busch or infringe on its rights. But elsewhere, the fight continues.
"It's part of our business - a big burden, but we've gotten used to it," said Jiri Bocek, Budvar's general director.
Budejovicky Budvar was established in 1895 in Ceske Budejovice, called Budweis at the time by the German-speaking people who formed about 40 percent of the area's population. Beer has been known here for centuries as Budweiser.
The founders of Anheuser-Busch used the name for their product because it was so well-known. The St. Louis-based brewer, founded in 1852, began producing Budweiser, America's first national beer brand, in 1876.
Disagreements over the trademarks Budweiser and Bud date to 1906.
"It's a dispute between an original beer producer from a particular location and another one that just used the well-known name of the location for its product made in the United States," Bocek said.
Anheuser-Busch, however, claims it started using the Budweiser brand in 1876 and registered it two years later, 19 years before its Czech rival came into existence.
A 1939 agreement gave Anheuser-Busch sole rights to the name Budweiser in all American territories north of Panama, but a clash was inevitable as the two breweries expanded their exports. Budvar sells its lager to 60 countries, while Anheuser-Busch says Budweiser is brewed in 10 countries and sold in more than 80 others.
"Anheuser-Busch has unchallenged rights to the Budweiser name in most of the world," Stephen J. Burrows, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch International Inc., said in a statement.
The battle of the Buds grew in the mid-1990s after talks aimed at settling the dispute failed and Anheuser-Busch went to court.
"They were talking about a win-win situation for both sides, but in our opinion, what they offered was a win-win situation just for them," Bocek said.
Although trademark rights usually are granted to only one rival in any given country, a court ruling in Britain allowed both brewers to sell their versions of Budweiser there.
"It was an unusual decision, but consumers are not confused and are able to tell the difference between the two brands very well," Bocek said.
Meanwhile, Budejovicky Budvar remains a state-owned company in this country where beer is both a source of national pride and a major export. In 2002, Budvar posted a profit of US$10.3 million, and it expects a profit of about US$13.3 million for 2003.
Budvar was to be privatized after the fall of communism in then-Czechoslovakia in 1989, and foreign brewers including Britain's Bass and Denmark's Carlsberg at one point expressed interest in adding Budvar to their holdings. Foreigners already own Budvar's main domestic rivals: South Africa's SAB Miller acquired Pilsner Urquel, and Belgium's Interbrew controls Staropramen.
Czechs, the world's biggest per-capita beer drinkers, seem content to keep Budvar in their own hands.
"I would never sell Budvar to (Anheuser-Busch)," said Ivan Hoffmann, a businessman from Ceske Budejovice enjoying a pint of Budvar with friends in a local restaurant. "Their beer is sinister," he said.
Budvar lovers abroad share that sentiment. More than 2,000 people in Britain signed a petition in August by the Campaign for Real Ale, a British consumer organization urging the Czech government not to sell Budvar because it could fall into the hands of Anheuser-Busch.
"Budvar is a unique beer," campaign spokesman Jonathan Mail said. "We believe the only way to protect its long-term future is to maintain Czech ownership."
Budvar fans may well get their wish. Martin Severa, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, said the company's privatization "is not on the agenda."
But Bocek concedes the state might not own its beloved nectar forever.
"The question only is when and how," he said.