A Korean War veteran from Clear Lake never thought he would see the leaders of North and South Korea meet.
As he walked over the countries' border to greet South Korean President Moon Jae-In, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un became the first leader of his nation to set foot on southern soil since the Korean War. Both leaders then briefly stepped together into the North and back to the South.
“I think China has something to do with it,” said A. James "Jim" Bonner of Clear Lake. “It’s suspicious.”
Bonner, a 1949 graduate of Swaledale High School, was drafted into the Army at age 20 after getting his first trucking job. He was a chief radio operator stationed at an air base in Okinawa, Japan, that bombed North Korean targets.
He's unsure of what will become of this step in diplomacy between the two Koreas.
“I guess we’ll wait and see, I don’t know,” Bonner said. “They never got along before, I don't know why now.”
Nels Goldberg, of St. Ansgar, was a 23-year-old carpenter when he was drafted and assigned to the military police. He was sent to Korea in March 1956, after the war had ended.
Goldberg, who joined the 8th Army's 728th MP BN, was responsible for guarding a highly-classified Air Force installation north of Seoul. He has "no idea" what was at the secretive base, but believes the installation is still being used today.
The base is located near the 38th parallel, or the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
“North Korea said they would never be satisfied until South Korea was a part of North Korea and now we know that’s never going to happen,” he said.
The meeting of the two leaders is a historic moment, according to Goldberg.
“They’ve let this go for 50 years and I’m sure the leaders are looking at this and going, ‘we can’t let this go on,” Goldberg said of the tension between the two countries.
He spoke of the unfortunate splitting up of families due to the conflict.
“It wasn’t good from the start,” he said.
Goldberg has personally seen the toll the conflict has taken on the citizens, mostly the children.
His unit was stationed about three-fourths of a mile away from an orphanage, and even took in a 13-year-old boy, "Tony" Lee In Soon, who was found alone during the war. The teen was eventually reunited with his grandma, according to a letter Goldberg received about two years after he returned home.
"There’s no one that suffers more in war than the children," he said.
Goldberg said he hopes the two countries can work something out for the sake of the citizens and the families torn apart by the conflict.
“The citizens are the ones who suffer,” he said.
He described a time when he had R&R and flew to Tokyo. When he flew over Korea, he could see city lights in the south and complete darkness in the north, highlighting the differences in industrialization between the two countries.
“The poor civilians are at the mercy of their leaders,” Goldberg said. “They’re so brainwashed up there.”
Goldberg said the average person has no idea what life is like for people in North Korea.
“I feel sorry for the people of North Korea,” he said. “North Korea is so backward.”
Still, Goldberg said he does not trust North Korea and believes China is heavily involved in this diplomatic move.
“I thought that the only way people can work things out is to come together and make it happen, because you have to meet and you have to talk,” he said. “I blame part of this problem on our leaders, because for years they didn’t try.”
Both Koreas agreed to jointly push for talks this year with the U.S. and also potentially China to officially end the Korean War, which stopped with an armistice that never ended the war.
Kim and President Donald Trump are expected to meet in coming weeks.
CHARLES CITY — Floyd County voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to approve spending $13.5 million for a new jail and law enforcement center.
The referendum follows years of study and planning after the state jail inspector in 2013 declared the current 77-year-old jail on the fourth floor of the courthouse no longer meets current standards.
Sheriff Jeff Crooks, knowing the county is asking a lot of its taxpayers, has opened the facility for public tours in the weeks leading up to the vote.
“We’ve had good turnout, but we haven’t had everybody that’s going to vote,” Crooks said. “I can’t tell people how to vote. I am asking them to educate themselves before they vote.”
There are a number of “Vote Yes” signs in yards around Charles City, but no organized group has formed to oppose the measure.
The bond issue, which requires 60 percent for approval, would fund an addition on the west side of the courthouse to include a 32-bed jail, sheriff’s offices, communications center and emergency operations center.
The project also includes an atrium and entrance area between the courthouse and law enforcement center, while adding a central heating and cooling system and replacing windows in the existing courthouse now cooled with multiple window air conditioners.
A home with an assessed value of $50,000 would pay about $30 more in taxes annually — $60 a year for a $100,000 home — to retire the bonds over 19 years. The debt payment would cost about $1.07 more per acre of agricultural land.
County officials worry the Iowa Department of Corrections, which recently shut down the Warren County Jail, may eventually do the same to Floyd’s 14-bed jail.
“The only reason we’re even allowed to use this jail is because we are grandfathered in,” said deputy Travis Bartz. “If you see it, it speaks for itself.”
Bartz and Crooks led a tour of the current jail and sheriff’s office Thursday night.
Visitors were lead through a labyrinth of narrow hallways into crowded cell areas separated by metal bars, which can be a hazard to suicidal inmates and have been replaced in modern jails with glass and doors. While the jail was clean, the atmosphere was dark and stuffy.
State jail inspections noted the current layout is dangerous because visitors were allowed into secured portions of the jail for inmate visitation or to attend magistrate court. Inmates also are moved through public hallways and an elevator to get to courtrooms and the jail.
“When we move an inmate it’s one of the most dangerous things we do,” Crooks said. “It’s dangerous for the general public to even be around that.”
The new jail would provide separate elevators, intake and courtroom holding areas to keep the inmates away from the public until they actually enter the courtroom itself.
Meanwhile, the proposed jail would use a “pod” system with a central master control center where one person can monitor all inmates. It provides segregation of inmates that is often difficult or impossible in the current jail.
“We need men away from the women,” Bartz said. “We need the adults away from the juveniles. We need somebody that’s brought in on a warrant separate from somebody that’s wanted for murder.
“We need to separate people that are parties to the same crime,” he added. “Right now we cannot do that.”
The law enforcement center also boosts space for the sheriff’s administrative offices, which are currently squeezed into a renovated apartment on the courthouse’s top floor. Deputies share desks and computers while old closets have been turned into evidence storage.
“We’re using every square inch,” Crooks said. “We really are.”
Polling places throughout Floyd County will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
I suppose it should not come as a surprise that men capable of habitually sexually harassing women also display staggering hubris and a serious lack of self-awareness.
Still, my jaw stood agape on multiple occasions this week as I read one incredibly arrogant statement and one ridiculously bad idea coming from men who have been charged with extensive counts of sexual harassment.
Starting here in Iowa, the list of roughly two dozen accusations of sexual harassment against former Iowa Finance Authority David Jamison read like dialogue rejected as too sleazy for an adult film.
But what really struck me was Jamison’s alleged comments to his accuser about the possibility of her suing him for his behavior.
“I forgot, Matt Lauer told me not to say that,” Jamison allegedly told the victim of his harassment, referring to the former NBC news anchor who was fired earlier this year in the wake of multiple charges of sexual harassment against him.
“Did you hear? I hired the law firm of Lauer, Weinstein and Franken to represent me,” Jamison allegedly continued, referring to two more individuals — former movie producer Harvey Weinstein and former U.S. Senator Al Franken — who faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
The arrogance that spills from those comments is remarkable. If they are accurate as alleged, they show Jamison knew full well what he was doing was wrong — many men when faced with similar charges have claimed they did not realize the severity of their actions at the time — they also show Jamison’s complete disregard for the potential to be held accountable for his actions at a time when so many others are facing the music for the exact same appalling behavior.
On the national stage, a television producer told Page Six that a show is being pitched in which Charlie Rose, the former PBS and CBS news host who was fired from both jobs after facing multiple charges of sexual harassment, would interview other famous men — including Lauer and actor and comedian Louis C.K. — similarly disgraced by tales of sexual harassment.
If you can consider that idea for longer than five seconds without losing your lunch, you have a stronger constitution than I.
The #MeToo movement has been encouraging in that more and more women feel comfortable sharing their horrible stories in order to hold harassers accountable and change behaviors for the better.
Unfortunately, it would seem some slow learners remain.
Grassley lets Mueller bill move
Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator is running a bill that he knows would be rejected by President Donald Trump, and defies the wishes of many in his party, including its leader in the Senate.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, this week held a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs on legislation that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump during Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Grassley acknowledged it would be extremely unlikely Trump would ever sign such a bill that reached his desk, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the bill will never make it to the Senate floor for debate or a vote, Politico reported.
Yet Grassley ran the bill this week, keeping his word to a bipartisan group of senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — who put together the proposal. The bill passed the committee on a 14-7 vote; Grassley supported it.
Grassley this week received the seventh-highest score in a numerical ranking system that attempts to display bipartisan work by U.S. Senators.
Grassley received the high marks in the Bipartisan Index created by the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and the Lugar Center, led by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.
In a media statement noting the Index ranking, Grassley touted legislation he has sponsored or co-sponsored with Democrats that deal with prescription drug costs, school safety, fraud awareness for seniors, and criminal justice reform.
“I always do my best to work with my colleagues to find areas where we can reach consensus, even when we disagree on other issues,” Grassley said.