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Archive for April 1, 2011

An Open Letter to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

An Open Letter to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

by Paul Deaton

[Editor's Note:Sometimes progressives feel like they are tilting at windmills, and some of us are old enough to associate that metaphor with Miguel Cervantes. If we seem quixotic
from time to time, we are serious in our pursuit of clean air and water, social justice and the opportunity to get a fair shake in life. The author wrote this letter to Governor Branstad Thursday afternoon.]

Dear Governor Branstad:

It has come to my attention that settling the debt to attorneys who represent indigents has been politicized to a degree that despite efforts in the House and Senate to pass a supplemental appropriations bill, these past due accounts languish and are likely to remain unpaid until the final days of the session when Senate File 209 is finally passed. I am confident no attorneys will starve or miss their mortgage payment. At the same time, I am outraged.

A person can understand your desire to have honest, open budgeting, but what I don't understand is why you and our legislators would choose to make a point using an issue affecting those who have the least among us, and I am not referring to the attorneys.

Right to counsel, when a person can't afford an attorney, is protected by our constitution. It is the state's obligation to timely pay these debts. So please figure out a way to honor this obligation.

The way this budget issue is being politicized is shameful. One hopes that you, as our governor, can rise above the political fray and make a decision that serves to timely pay these past due accounts for attorneys that serve as indigent counsel. It would be the right thing to do.

Thank you for reading my letter.

~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton