The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

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
Local News
  • Three appointed to Board of Adjustment OTTUMWA — Three new faces will appear on Wapello County Board of Adjustment, thanks to help from the county’s newspaper of record, the Ottumwa Courier. Four applicants applied for the positions and three were selected. New members include Marcia Week

    July 22, 2014

  • Slain woman's boyfriend: I didn't kill her DAVENPORT — A married man who had an affair with a slain Wapello County woman testified this morning that he did not kill her. Jason Tinnes, a jailer who worked with the late Lisa Caldwell Techel, said their affair ended shortly before she died. Tinn

    July 22, 2014

  • 0723 OTT Grass photo -L -T Is your grass too tall? OTTUMWA — Do you let your grass grow to 12 inches before it's mowed? Do you park a vehicle in your front yard on the grass? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you could be violating the Make Ottumwa Shine Committee’s proposed amendment

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill OK'd for data recovery OTTUMWA — Almost a month ago, the city’s Engineering Department’s server failed. After receiving and installing the necessary parts, attempts to restart the server failed, resulting in a drive being shipped to Data Recovery Services in St. Louis in h

    July 21, 2014

  • Man killed in Wapello County BLOOMFIELD — A man was discovered dead Monday of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, but a press release said that at 1:21 a.

    July 21, 2014

  • Forensic scientist: Residue doesn't determine who fired gun DAVENPORT — A forensic scientist who testified today in the trial of a Wapello County man accused of murdering his wife said that gun residue should be collected if possible. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges o

    July 21, 2014

  • Welding academy at Cardinal becomes reality ELDON — Many high school seniors find themselves making the decision to pursue college coursework or enter the work force upon graduation. A new program at Cardinal High School (CHS) eliminates this decision by offering courses that will allow studen

    July 21, 2014

  • 0722 stick horse color photo -L -T -M 4-H Expo encourages creatitivy OTTUMWA — Typically during the 4-H Expo, horses are kept at the horse arena in Ottumwa Park, but Saturday kids galloped around Bridge View Center on homemade stick horses. Children at the expo spent Saturday morning creating their own cowboy vest and

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gunshot victim found dead BLOOMFIELD — A man was found dead of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Though authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, a press release said at 1:21 a.m. Monday the

    July 21, 2014

  • NEST program educates parents OTTUMWA — With any new job, you typically go through a training period that prepares you for the future. The Wapello County Iowa State Extension Office is offering both first-time and experienced parents helpful training through its NEST program. NES

    July 21, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook