One of the oldest and largest charitable campaigns in the country will make a 21st-century update this year.
Cynthia A. (Hunt) Clendenon
Carole A. Colombe
A dozen or so tables at the Salvation Army were full at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday for the nonprofit’s daily lunch services.
Maj. Tom McDowell said it was a slow day for the lunch program despite the packed room.
Without red kettle donations, the Salvation Army could not provide its basic food and housing services, McDowell said.
The 2018 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign provided 28,971 hot meals to the community this year.
This year’s campaign kicked off Friday in Janesville at Maurer’s Market on East Milwaukee Street.
The 2019 Christmas campaign goal is $400,000, down from last year’s $425,000 goal.
The Christmas campaign combines red kettle donations and mail-in donations.
In Beloit, the goal is to raise $120,000, which is an increase from last year’s goal, in part to help balance the Beloit location’s budget, McDowell said.
The Salvation Army corps in Janesville and Beloit combined administrative services in the last year to become the Salvation Army Rock County. Both locations still offer different services tailored to the communities.
Culver’s in Beloit offered to match all red kettle donations made in Beloit on Friday. It is the first time—as far as anyone working at the nonprofit remembers—an organization offered to do a match in Rock County, McDowell said.
It would be “tremendous” if someone in Janesville offered to do a match like Culver’s did in Beloit, McDowell said.
The nonprofit fell $54,400 short of its Christmas campaign last year with donations totaling $370,500.
McDowell can count on one hand the number of times he has seen a Christmas campaign exceed its goal since he started in 1982, he said.
Budgeting becomes more difficult the less money is raised, McDowell said. He hopes this year’s addition of Kettle Pay, which allows shoppers to donate via Google or Apple Pay, will increase donations.
In 2018, kettle donations provided the following in Rock County:
More than 4,000 bellringer shifts still need to be filled from now until Christmas Eve, McDowell said.
One of the oldest and largest charitable campaigns in the country will make a 21st-century update this year.
A jury found a Beloit man not guilty of murder Friday night after a weeklong trial.
Jacob M. Davenport, 38, was accused of shooting and killing his sometimes-crack cocaine supplier, James M. Tomten, on Feb. 9 in Tomten’s SUV in Beloit.
Prosecutors acknowledged Tomten, 28, was a drug dealer but also a dedicated husband and father to his daughter and to his wife’s other children.
Davenport also was a father who had lived with his fiancée for 20 years. She was all smiles after the verdict was read but declined comment.
Davenport lowered his head to the defense table as the verdict was read. He later dabbed his eyes.
Defense attorney Michael Murphy said Davenport told him he felt lightheaded and light-footed.
“And he’s looking forward to getting home to his wife and kids,” Murphy said, adding he hopes Davenport can get back to leading a productive life, “if not in Rock County, somewhere warm.”
Murphy said the case was about addiction, and he said he hoped Davenport, a smart guy and hard worker, could get clean and get his life back on track.
Murphy suggested Tomten had made enemies as a drug dealer and said the case is a cautionary tale for those who might want to get into the drug trade as Tomten did.
“I think, frankly, it was just a matter of time,” Murphy said when asked if people should be concerned about a murderer on the loose. “So I don’t think anybody else should be concerned that they’re going to be part of the target group unless they’re going to go down that same road.”
Davenport took the stand Friday to tell what he said happened the day of the murder. He said he was driving another cocaine dealer around Beloit in exchange for crack, and then he drove his son to Skatin’ Station in Beloit, all around the time of the murder.
When Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik asked Davenport if he expected the jury to believe this story, Davenport responded, “You’re damn right they should.”
Urbik needled Davenport on several occasions, implying he might be untruthful. At one point, Judge Karl Hanson told Urbik to cease the “side comments.”
Murphy attacked prosecution witnesses as being unreliable and often with long criminal records of their own.
A key to the case was a cellphone-mapping expert who testified it was highly unlikely Davenport was on the same side of the Rock River as Tomten at the time of the murder.
Cellphone records also indicated Davenport was on the phone with another person—the drug dealer he was driving around—at the time of the shooting.
Urbik suggested the call might have been placed inadvertently and said records couldn’t tell the difference between an accidental pocket dial and an actual conversation.
The jury requested phone records and cellphone mapping analyses as it deliberated. It returned a verdict in about 3 hours, 40 minutes.
The prosecution had no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking anyone other than Tomten to the murder scene and no murder weapon.
Davenport portrayed himself as a flooring installer who got hooked on crack cocaine and lost his house, friends and almost lost his family.
Davenport had been planning to move his family to Texas, where he had friends and where he hoped to get clean and restart his life with his family.
He took a bus to Texas two days after the murder. He admitted under questioning from Urbik that this might look suspicious, but he denied Urbik’s assertions that he killed Tomten.
Tomten was found dead after his Cadillac Escalade plowed into a snowbank on Vine Street on the city’s west side. Surveillance video showed a man getting out of the SUV and leaving on foot.
The man who left the scene was apparently the same man who had gotten into the Escalade Tomten was driving at the Save A Lot parking lot minutes before, as seen in the store’s surveillance video. Both videos showed the same clothing, including a red hooded sweatshirt and red athletic shoes. But the videos were not clear enough to identify anyone.
Davenport said he was wearing a black sweatshirt that day. The only video of him that day showed him wearing a white T-shirt in the February cold. Prosecutors suggested he took off the red sweatshirt because he wore it when he shot Tomten.
Assistant district attorneys Urbik and Alex Goulart pointed to Facebook Messenger messages Davenport sent in the days after the murder. In one message sent while on the bus, he said he had “dropped some weight” because he was worried about law enforcement meeting him when he got off the bus in San Antonio.
In another, he wrote: “I’m on my way south. But things went real bad before I left. Look into the Beloit News. Not gonna say much more than that. I love you.”
Davenport said he was upset that the video police released showed a suspect who looked like him.
Prosecutors said Davenport had two motives: He needed money to move his family to Texas and Tomten had “disrespected” his fiancée several weeks earlier.
But the two men had dealt with the issue the day it happened, shook hands and never spoke of it again, Murphy said, and Davenport had the money he needed from a tax return.
Murphy went on to suggest that somebody else might have had a motive to kill Tomten, describing an incident outside a bar the night before the murder. Two witnesses said Tomten told them he “got lucky” with an unnamed man’s girlfriend outside a bar, and that the boyfriend caught them in the act, the defense attorney said.
In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”
Unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, Trump focused even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her—a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.
Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice” and could be part of an article of impeachment.
The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.
Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”
When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.
Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”
But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting about the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”
More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.
Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.
During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.
She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.
The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.
In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.
“These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.
She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”
After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.
“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.
Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”
Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.
In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.
Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.
Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.
It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”
The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”
Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.
Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.
Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.
Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”
Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.
She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.
The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe. Most have been issued subpoenas to appear.
An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately today. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.