July 2008


Just like apparently more than 10 percent of people STILL think Barack Obama is a Muslim/terrorist sympathizer, the rumor that Ronald Kitch meant to cause the wreck that tipped over the WindStar bus near Tama last week is baloney. Well, at least from what I can find.

Kitch, 79, simply doesn’t remember what happened, said Iowa State Patrol Trooper Eric Vanderwiel. He did not intentionally cross the center line, for suicidal or other purposes. It was purely accidental.

“I heard that rumor before I even got there,” Vanderwiel said. “I don’t know who started it, but it’s wrong.”

Things that are true are that Kitch’s house was slightly flooded, and he goes to the casino several times a week. At any rate, if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s this: People will believe what they want to believe, and hear what they want to hear.

When I wrote my story in Friday’s paper about the car that crashed into the WindStar bus on Wednesday morning, I stuck to the facts. But no matter how I wrote the story, I knew people would try to blame Tama County Deputy Chad Hansen for not doing something to stop Ronald Kitch from driving. I usually never talk about how I feel in situations relating to my job. This time, I need to.

What could Hansen have done to prevent the bus crash? Even if Hansen had written Kitch a ticket for hitting the telephone pole, he still could have driven home. No one would be taken off the road unless their driving skills were clearly impaired. And, like Hansen told me, he didn’t see anything unusual about his driving. He followed him long enough to notice anything that could have been wrong. Kitch was simply tired. And who knows what influenced him in the second one? The Iowa State Trooper who handled the accident report said Kitch didn’t remember what happened. Like I wrote in my story, he was looking at his dog.

Law enforcement officers are always damned if they do, damned if they don’t, in my opinion. Someone, somewhere, will think they made the wrong decision, whether it’s to show a little compassion to an older gentleman who appeared to just be tired or absolutely refuse to let him drive another inch. If Hansen had made him stop driving, I’m sure some of the same people would be screaming about it. That doesn’t keep us from holding them accountable for truly bad decision-making, though. In this case, it could have gone either way.

If anyone’s going to point fingers (and nothing good ever comes from that), place the blame where it really belongs: No matter the reason, Kitch’s car crossed the center line. End of story.

For those of you interested in knowing all the sordid details of scandalous crimes, here’s a short timeline of how Daniel Dostart and Jamie Mortimer fell in love, then fell apart. Eventually, he wanted her dead.

May 1983 — Daniel Dostart and Jamie Mortimer graduate from Waterloo East High

April 1984 — Dostart joins the U.S. Air Force

September 1986 — Dostart and Mortimer marry, eventually move to New Mexico

February 1990 — First child, Alexa, born

February 1992 — Last child, Aaron, born

1994 — The Dostart’s buy a house in Davenport

2002-2003 — Daniel Dostart is twice officially commended for his recruiting efforts

January 2004 — Daniel Dostart files for divorce, Jamie is awarded custody of the children and nearly 40 percent of Daniel’s military pension in addition to child support

March 2004 — Daniel Dostart and Tamara Beltramea sign contract to buy home at 205 16th Ave. Ct. in Hiawatha

July 2004 — Jamie Dostart files for temporary protection from domestic abuse and is granted temporary custody of their children

August 2004 — Protective order dismissed

January 2005 — Daniel Dostart retires from the Air Force in rank of Master Sergeant

April 2005 — The Dostart’s divorce proceedings are completed

July 2005 — Daniel Dostart marries Beltramea, the two later move into their Hiawatha home with her two children

February 2006 — Jamie Dostart marries Gary Kluever, the two settle in Bettendorf with Alexa and Aaron Dostart

May 2006 — Daniel Dostart’s appeal in the divorce proceedings is heard in the Iowa District Court of Appeals, arguments between the two on credit card payments owed continue into 2007

July 14 — Daniel Dostart calls a friend in Idaho and asks if he knows anyone who would kill his ex-wife

July 15 — Dostart’s friend calls Hiawatha police to tell them of Dostart’s plan

July 17 — Police follow Dostart as he drives around Bettendorf to find Jamie Dostart Kluever’s home and workplace

July 18 — Dostart mails the friend a key to Jamie Dostart Kluever’s car, a copy of an expired driver’s license with Jamie’s photo on it and a hand-drawn map to her workplace.

July 21 — A federal arrest warrant is issued for Dostart, he appears in court for the first time the next day

 

A few times today, there was a police officer standing on top of the 8th Street SE bridge over the northbound lanes of I-380 running radar on the cars below. There were officers farther up pulling people over like crazy. I’ve heard higher-ups in the department talking on numerous occasions about how they need to stop the excessive speeding through town, and that they’re figuring out better ways of catching people.

So keep it below 65 miles per hour when you’re driving through town, a’ight? It’s the safe thing to do, anyway 🙂 And you never know, the speed traps will probably be back.

I set out Thursday afternoon to tell the story of the thousands of people who are being paid $10 an hour (some maybe more, many much less) to clean out all the nasty, smelly crap left behind after the flood. The most obvious gathering place for day laborers was the parking lot behind Wells Fargo Bank, where Able Body Labor has its big brown motorhome parked, so I started there. Many of those workers coming downtown are parking in the lots underneath the Interstate 380 bridge, where a few who have come from far away are still sleeping in their vehicles. Those lots are filthy because the rain hasn’t washed away all the muck, and garbage bags are hanging from some of the parking meters to hold the overflowing amount of trash. Some trash is still not making it into the bags, though. And to think there was a veritable village of day laborers sleeping on mattresses and cardboard on the ground there…

I met Nancy Martinez of Dobson, N.C., who told me of her experience on camera (video will be back after editing):

But to get the full effect of what it is like to be a day laborer (for one day, at least), I got up at 4:30 a.m. to go down and watch how the selection process is done. I wanted to see if there was any curious activity (i.e. under the table labor), and we ran into a woman running such an operation out of a van underneath Interstate 380. Her workers, all Latino, were already awake and ready to go by 5:30 a.m., hard hats on and plastic bags over their bodies to keep out the hammering rain. She told us she was from Florida, but wouldn’t provide any other details. I’m hoping those workers are getting paid well, but probably not.

Able Body’s selection process was much more above board. They had new workers filling out applications and providing Social Security cards, and provided everyone with sanitized cleaning gear. They pay their employees $10 an hour, minus taxes, by check every day.

These are the workers who are cleaning out Quaker, Penford Products, the Paramount Theatre, the Linn County Jail. These are the workers who are working hard 10- to 12-hour days for our community so we can rebuild.

When your city is experiencing a huge flood, and everyone is just worried about keeping their water supply intact or starting their lives over. That’s when. As a matter of fact, it’s the ONLY Cedar Rapids murder that hasn’t made The Gazette’s front page, ever.

Aubrey Young, 35, was found shot to death between two cars in the 200 block of 16th Street SE. Hardly anyone has come forward with information, and no one has been able to give us a photo of him. Fifty ducks were killed in Bever Park about the same time, and no one has any info on that, either. But people have rallied to raise $3,685 in reward money to catch the creeps who attacked the ducks, and two other organizations are offering an additional $5,500. Who is rallying to find Young’s killer? Where is his reward?

“It’s sad that people put a higher price on an animal’s life than they do on a human life,” said Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said to me yesterday. “Abused animals always get stories written about them, they get TV coverage, but what about all the abused children we see every day? No one seems to care.”

It’s true. And it’s everyone’s fault. Including mine.

If anyone saw anything suspicious between 2 and 2:15 a.m. June 15 near the 200 block of 16th Street SE, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CR-CRIME. You may get a reward if your info leads to an arrest.

“The story is all wrong,” former FEMA housing inspector Vince Koley called yesterday to tell me. “Tom Kramer is not what he’s cracked up to be. He’s lying.”

Vince Koley

Koley, 74, is accused of hitting Kramer, a Penford Products employee, with a golf club during an argument last Thursday and trying to run him over with his vehicle. He takes the most umbrage at the police reporting he actually told Kramer “I don’t have to slow down, I’m with FEMA” during their confrontation at the 10th Avenue SW crosswalk outside the plant. “I never said that,” he said.

But the golf club, well, that happened. “He was coming toward me, not walking away,” Koley said.

Two messages he left me yesterday morning, though…interesting. “Ran into somebody, laugh for the day, he said to me ‘Are you that famous FEMA inspector? You should be on the David Letterman show.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t like David Letterman. I want to be on the Jay Leno show.’ You may not think that’s funny but that’s my type of humor.”

“Any way you could do an article on me like a Barbara Walters interview? … Listen, I had a thought. If we just put it on the Internet and not in the local paper, we can explain what really happened, like what really happened from the horse’s mouth, some catchy title we can put on. We can charge for each hit, to pay for some of the damages I’m suffering.” It’s true, Koley did lose his job over the incident.

I feel for the guy, but we’re not Dateline NBC. We couldn’t afford to pay people to talk to us if we wanted to. Yet they still talk.

Kramer hasn’t returned my phone messages yet.

(P.S. — This pic was snapped on the go by the Cedar Rapids PD. Since our jail is closed here, we haven’t had access to mug shots. How sad.)

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