Despite a looming strike by Northwest Airlines’ mechanics, Iowans should have no concerns about making reservations, according to travel expert Terry Trippler, although he admits there will likely be some hiccups.Trippler says “I think by and large that the airline will continue to operate pretty much in normal fashion. And if the strike goes on, after three, four or five days you won’t even know the difference.” Trippler says Northwest is for real when it says it has hired and trained enough replacement workers to keep operating during a strike, which could begin as early as August 19th.
Archives for July 2005
The Dixieland tunes are flowing over the Mississippi River this weekend in Davenport. The annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival kicked off last (Thursday) night and continues through Sunday. The festival is named for Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, who was born in Davenport and was considered one of the greatest jazz coronet players of the 1920s. He died in 1931 during an alcoholic seizure at age 28. Jim Arpy writes and edits the highly-acclaimed Bix newsletters and festival program, and has uncovered some strange Bix-related stories. One dealt with two young children, Bix relatives, who died of cholera around the year 19-hundred and were buried in the yard of a Davenport house. Arpy says the current residents claim they’ve been seeing the ghosts of the children in the house, playing with toys. Another festival-goer is Joe Lynch of Ankeny. Calling himself Jazzman Joe, Lynch says he’s attended all of the Bix Jazz fests — except the first one back in 1972. Lynch says he didn’t know about it and was instead visiting a jazz museum in New Orleans. This year’s fest features a big name in the jazz world, according to Ray Voss, president of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society. Voss says Randy Sandke of the New York All Stars will perform tonight, taking the festival to a new level. The first outdoor concert is noon to five today on the riverfront. The shows started last night, indoors, at the Col (call) Ballroom in downtown Davenport.
A rural Decorah man who jumped into the Upper Iowa River to help rescue a woman had to be rescued himself. 19-year-old Brent Hovden was with a group of people at the Upper Iowa Dame four miles northeast of Decorah Wednesday night when an unidentified woman fell in. Hovden and another man jumped in to help the woman, and all three were swept over the dam. The woman and other man were able to swim to shore, but Hovden had to hang onto a concrete section of the old dam for about two hours before rescue workers were able to pull him to shore using ropes.
A Fort Dodge woman and her two sons are dead in an apparent double-murder suicide. James Saunders of the Iowa Department of Public Safety says officers responded to a 9-1-1 call from a neighbor’s home at about 5:30 Thursday night. “Upon arrival, they found two young boys, deceased, and an adult female who was critically injured. She was taken to a Des Moines-area hospital,” Saunders says. “They did recover a handgun at the scene.” The woman — 29-year-old Richella Stark — died at the hospital. The two boys found dead in the home are three-year-old Braydon and two-year-old Brody Gollob. It appears to have been a double-murder/suicide, but Saunders says agents aren’t making that call yet. “This is an on-going death investigation, trying to determine what really happened,” Saunders says. “It’s too early for any comments with regards to this particular case.” Fort Dodge police say two of the woman’s older children were outside the home at the time of the shooting and ran to a neighbor for help. The boy and girl are reportedly living with their biological father.
A small group went to St. Josephs’ Parish south of Dubuque this morning to stage a “sidewalk news conference” over the latest case involving accusations of priest abuse. A man who now lives in Texas has sued the diocese charging a priest molested him in the 1960s. The priest, William Roach, has since died. Steve Theisen with SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says the diocese is trying to put blame on the victim instead. “They’re trying to put the onus on the victim instead of the perp,” Theisen says. He says the defense argued that the victim, who was 17 at the time, was not a child. “We think that’s very wrong to say that basically fifteen, sixteen and 17-year-old kids are fair game.” The lawyers for the Dubuque diocese are also using a novel tactic in trying to deflect the accusation. They’re saying that Monsignor Roach was not an employee of the diocese — that he was an independent contractor. “We find that very misleading,” Theisen says. Theisen says such “hardball” tactics prevent young victims from coming forward. Theisen says the archbishop has the legal right to defend the priest and the archdiocese. “But… he doesn’t have the moral right,” Theisen asserts. “What he’s really telling every little kid right now is that nobody’s going to believe you and we’re going to fight you tooth and nail.” Theisen says it’s the wrong message to be sending out today to children who may be abused by people, and not necessarily by the religious. Roach was pastor at St. Joseph’s Parish from around 1968 till 1978. SNAP members say they want the diocese to handle the case fairly, and also to release names of priests sent to the Vatican by the parish to be defrocked, so victims of other abuse cases can heal and other children may be protected.
Former University of Iowa linebacker Bret Bielema was tabbed Thursday to become the successor to Barry Alvarez as the head football coach at Wisconsin when Alvarez steps down after the 2005 season. Alvarez is staying on as the Badger Athletic Director and hand-picked Bielema as his replacement.
Bielema joined Alvarez’s staff last year as the defensive coordinator, coming over from Kansas State. Bielema says he never lost to Alvarez as a player, but he says as a coach he did. Bielema says he’s eager to take over. He says he’s seen first hand what it takes to win. He says hard work is one of the keys that makes Wisconsin special. Bielema spent nine seasons as an assistant at Iowa, then two at Kansas State before joining the Wisconsin staff. Bielema is only 35-years-old, but says that won’t matter. He says age isn’t a factor, success has been the factor in every job he’s gotten. Bielema says every head coach he worked for said he’d be doing this some day.
Bielema was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa after joining the Hawkeye football program as a walk-on. A member of Iowa’s 1990 Big Ten champion team, he was a starter as a junior in 1991 and helped the Hawkeyes to a 10-1-1 record, fifth place national ranking and a Holiday Bowl appearance. He was a team co-captain as a senior in 1992. Bielema is also remembered for a confrontation with former Iowa State University head coach Jim Walden after an Iowa victory over the Cyclones. Bielema told Walden he enjoyed beating Iowa State every year. Bielema is a native of Prophetstown, Illinois.
The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a state law that says sex offenders can’t live within 2,000 feet of a school or child day care. A sex offender convicted of abusing his teenaged daughter was released from prison, and he moved to Riverside, Iowa, but he was told he couldn’t live where he intended because it was too close to a day care. The man sued. A district court ruled the law restricting where sex offenders can live in Iowa was unconstitutional — “cruel and unusual” punishment after a convict had completed their sentence and probation. Five Iowa Supreme Court justices have now ruled the law is constitutional. The justices cited the “frightening and high” chance that a sex offender would commit another sex crime, and the court said the legislature and governor had “important public interests in mind” in trying to protect society from sex offenders. A federal court has also upheld the residency restriction. Two Iowa Supreme Court justices disagreed, though, saying the law amounts to putting a scarlet letter on an offender after they’ve done their time and banishing them from the community.
U.S. Attorneys from Iowa and Nebraska joined forces this week in Omaha to announce they’ll cooperate to crack down on illegal drug-makers on both sides of the border. Matt Whitaker, US Attorney for Iowa’s Southern District, met in Omaha with Nebraska US Attorney Mike Heavican, who says Iowa’s got the toughest law around limiting sales of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making meth.They may have the strongest legislation in the U.S., he says, to keep pseudoephedrine out of the hands of methamphetamine manufacturers. But though Nebraska’s lawmakers passed a similar measure, it’s not set to go into effect until September third. Heavican says the three-month gap could encourage meth producers to cross state lines in search of the key ingredient.He says drugmakers will try to get around the possession limits in both states, by crossing the river and buying cold pills on both sides. Or, he says they’ll steal it. On Thursday, a U.S. Attorney from Iowa joined Nebraska’s federal prosecutor in Omaha to pledge they’ll work together. They want to make sure everybody knows there’ll be united front, and they’ll investigate and prosecute anybody crossing the river to try and get pseudoephedrine for making meth. Heavican says people convicted on the federal charges are more likely to get jail time and to get a longer sentence.He figures they might file charges of attempting to manufacture a drug, or possessing pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture. There are laws about specific “precursor” substances used to make the illegal drug. Heavican stresses the U.S. Attorneys have no intent to trump the powers of state lawmen.At last night’s press conference in Omaha there were local lawmen and officials, people from the Nebraska Attorney General’s office to help give the picture. He says “The state prosecutors are going to get some of these cases, and they are determined to prosecute them just as vigorously.” Heavican says in the past year and-a-half the Omaha Metro Drug Task Force has arrested 77 people for “intent to manufacture” methamphetamine. 43 of those were from out of Nebraska — 35 from Iowa.
The top Republican in the state legislature says he’ll try to pass a law that would overturn Governor Vilsack’s executive order that grants voting rights to felons. Vilsack signed the order July 4th, giving voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentences and probation. But Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City has been raising objections since some haven’t paid their fines or paid restitution to the victims of their crimes. Whether it’s through a resolution, or legislation to require payment of restitution to get back voting rights, there are options. He says. “it’s more than just serving your time, it’s about paying your debt to society.” “You can’t undo what’s been done,” Rants admits, “but you can have a conversation about what the appropriate thing is, going forward.” The legislature reconvenes next January, and Rants says lawmakers who will be running for reelection in November of 2006 are “interested in who’s voting.” “If the Democrats go out and try to register every felon to vote,” he says, nobody can prevent it. Then, they’ll be registered voters. Before Vilsack’s action earlier this month, felons who’d been released from prison and completed their probation had to apply to have their voting rights restored. Because of Vilsack’s move, an estimated 30-thousand more Iowans may be eligible to vote in the 2006 election. With many legislative races decided by a few dozen votes, those 30-thousand new voters could swing the election. “I think the victims will still care, and that’s who we heard from,” says the Republican leader. “People who had property theft, had violence committed against them, those are the folks who are still out there wondering ‘Where’s the justice in this for me?'” Vilsack was also under pressure nationally to make the change because one-quarter of black Iowans old enough to vote couldn’t because of a felony record, and critics of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses cited that stat as evidence Iowa shouldn’t retain that status. Vilsack has responded to Republican critics like Rants by saying Republican George Bush, when he was governor of Texas, also enacted a law restoring voting rights to felons. Vilsack also says two state legislators who are Republicans were among those pressuring him to make the move.
The state auditor is chiding Iowa lawmakers for raiding the cookie jar. Republican Dave Vaudt says his review of the 2006 budget approved in May shows the legislature and governor once again spent more money than the state is expected to collect in taxes… forcing them to borrow 346 million dollars from special savings accounts. He says this is the sixth year in a row they’ve relied on shifting money from other funds, and the eighth year the legislature’s spent more than the expected revenue source. Vaudt says it’s time for the legislature and governor to spend within their means and repay the money they’ve borrowed from special savings accounts over the past six years. He compared them to little kids in a candy store. They should calculate how much they can get, but Vaudt charges instead they go “I want this, and I want this, and I want that.” He compares it to the kid in the candy store asking for more than he has the money for, except the state leaders aren’t limited by the money in their pocket, and take it from other funds and special accounts. Vaudt’s been saying the same thing, and noting the same spending pattern, for several years now. Is he discouraged? “No, I’m really not,” he insists. “In fact, I’m encouraged.” I’ve always known in government nothing happens fast. The key thing is to see progress.” Vaudt says he does see some change and finds that encouraging. The auditor says the legislature and governor borrowed less money from special savings accounts than the year before. In 2005 lawmakers diverted 420-Million dollars from rainy day accounts.