The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

April 4, 2013

Department of Labor frustrates Grassley

Senator advocates for full enrollment at Job Corps

OTTUMWA — Ignoring a problem will rarely make it go away. Worse is trying to convince everyone else to go away and ignore a problem; that approach seems to draw more attention.

“I’m very, very irritated with the Department of Labor,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The Republican was in Ottumwa Wednesday to visit the Ottumwa Job Corps Center on his annual tour of Iowa’s 99 counties. Grassley is one of the elected officials credited with helping Wapello County get the multi-million dollar center and the accompanying 100-plus jobs.

A congressional liaison from DOL had called his office with what he called “new” rules. Late Tuesday, his office received instructions from the U.S. Department of Labor: Grassley could have his town hall meeting at the Ottumwa Job Corps Center. But if he wanted to talk to the press, he’d have to leave the property.

In fact, for the first time since construction started at the site, members of the media were denied permission to come on the property with a camera. Reporters either didn’t attend the town hall meeting, or did so with the order that they could not ask questions of the senator, Job Corps staff or bring any recording device with them.

“Don’t blame the people locally,” said Grassley, explaining those orders came from the Department of Labor.

And he’s not pleased that the public is being shut out of any conversations about current DOL restrictions on enrollment at Job Corps centers nationally, including Ottumwa.

Grassley said clamming up to avoid discussing financial decisions they’ve made is a bad idea for a taxpayer-funded entity.

Grassley said if mistakes have been made, let’s fix them. Ignoring them isn’t going to resolve any shortcomings. Some sort of action needs to be taken, including assistance from those within the Labor Department.

“If this is because they’re embarrassed over mistakes,” Grassley said, “they can’t ...  pull their head in like a turtle,”  Grassley said.

Except on national security issues, Grassley said, he prefers to do business in the open, where the public and the press can see what is going on. Even when talking to the young people at Job Corps, he told them it was their chance to ask anything, even if it’s “to put me on the spot.” When a young trainee asked if he preferred to be called Chuck or Charles, he said he went by Chuck.

“Because when my wife calls me Charles, she’s mad,” Grassley told the student.

Afterwards, he drove over to a nearby state government building to borrow their parking lot for a press conference.

“I don’t appreciate [being forced] to meet with the press in a parking lot on a 30-degree Iowa day,”  he said Wednesday morning.

A state official allowed Grassley to use the foyer of the building to speak with reporters.

The DOL’s reason for their new restriction, that his presence constituted a political event, was nonsense, he said. Nobody is campaigning now.

“It’s four years until the next election,” he said. “I was invited by the Job Corps Center; I’m here on official business.”

He toured the facility, talked to staff and took questions from students. He said all were aware of a letter he’d sent to the Department of Labor with some tough questions. A young lady training at Job Corps told him that because of the enrollment freeze, she can take the basic Certified Nursing Assistant course but can’t continue on into the nursing program.

“The Department of Labor has shut down enrollment during a time of high unemployment,” Grassley said. “That’s not the right decision to make.”

So why did the federal department make such a decision, and how did they spend the money set aside for the Job Corps program? Was there mismanagement of taxpayer money? Grassley said he asked the same questions. He has not received an answer from the department.

In fact, other congressional leaders have sent written inquiries to the DOL, ranging from requests for information to angrily worded demands for action.

“The [enrollment freeze] wasn't justified,” said Grassley, before promising, “We’re going to get answers.”

1
Text Only
Wapello County
  • 0423 OTT Recycle center color photo 2 -T -M Where every day is Earth Day

    OTTUMWA — Putting cans in the correct bin, saving electricity and adjusting the thermostat are not new concepts to the Ottumwa/Wapello Recycling Center staff. "We try to practice what we preach," said Janice Bain,

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0423 OTT lottery retailers graph -T -M Hoping for riche$ — Part 2

    OTTUMWA — We’ve all heard countless stories of lottery winners and losers. The winners, some of whom hold down multiple jobs, have modest dreams for now. One wants to buy a new home or car, another wants to pay of their debts or give to charity and e

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • 0422 OTT Lottery graph -T -L -M Hoping for riche$ — Part 1

    OTTUMWA — Despite a struggling economy — or perhaps because of it — Iowa lottery tickets sales have surged over the past decade in southeast Iowa. Since the lottery began 1985, its players have won more than $3.2 billion in prizes while the lottery h

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard color cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book

    ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • County signs law enforcement agreement with Eddyville OTTUMWA — A law enforcement service contract between Wapello County and the city of Eddyville received supervisors' approval on Tuesday. Beginning July 1, Eddyville will pay the Wapello County Sheriff’s office $3,833 per month or $45,996 for law enfo

    April 15, 2014

  • County considers hiring conservation aide OTTUMWA — On Tuesday morning, Wapello County Board of Supervisors will consider hiring a part-time conservation aide at its weekly board meeting. The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the board’s meeting room located on the third floor of the c

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Brush fire color photo 2 -T Brush fire breaks out on east side of city OTTUMWA — Late Friday morning, a fire broke out in a vacant area of trees and brush next to the Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility. Both the Wapello County Rural Fire Department and Ottumwa Fire Department were called to the scene of the fire,

    April 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wapello County Courthouse.jpg Courthouse to receive facelift

    OTTUMWA — First, Chief Wapello received a facelift. Now, it’s the county courthouse’s turn. On Tuesday evening, Wapello County Board of Supervisors approved spending $139,000 for repair and maintenance of the historic courthouse. Karr Tuckpointing o

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Another health care option OTTUMWA — If you didn't get your "mandatory" health insurance by the deadline earlier this week, you may have another option. Or two. "I'd certainly keep trying," said Greg Kenning, a Wapello County supervisor. He said it's his understanding that the

    April 2, 2014

  • Trial set in child pornography case OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa man accused in a child pornography case will go on trial this summer. Rass Kerby Jr., is charged with enticing a minor to engage in a sex act or simulated sex act and possession of media of a minor engaged in a sex act. He was a

    April 2, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National