Closure requires answers

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: January 6 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:39 am in
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By Bill Skow

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If conditions at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo are so abhorrent that Gov. Terry Branstad has chosen:

1. To fire 93 dedicated, hardworking and professional employees.

2. To do so without providing retraining or transfer opportunities.

3. To close the institution in conflict with current law that mandates the state provide such a facility.

4. To do so without providing the Legislature an opportunity to consider changes to the law and raising the question of whether the action is even legal.

5. To close the institution, citing recommendations from the “task force,” when their final report contains no such recommendation.

6. To contend that the decision is based on doing “what is best for the children,” when there are so many former students who offer testimonials to the contrary that are supported by empirical evidence.

7. To ignore more than $23 million of physical improvements to the facility in recent years, funded by the hard-earned tax dollars of Iowa residents and approved by the Legislature.

Then why:

1. Are Department of Human Services Director Charles Palmer and his line supervisors not held accountable for their complicity in failing to provide proper oversight and forestalling such massive problems, if they truly exist?

2. Does Branstad choose not to rely on the legislative process to address these issues?

3. Does Branstad not apply the same logic to the State Training School for Boys in Eldora and unilaterally close it?

4. Does Branstad ignore the obvious gender-equity issue when no state-administered, residential treatment facility is provided for girls and is for boys?

As a 16-year member and former president of the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation, a charitable, non-profit organization that has raised and spent $600,000.00 to benefit the students of IJH, I feel entitled to answers from the governor. I’m sure many voters in our state would like answers as well, would desire the Iowa Juvenile Home remain open or, at the very least, allow our legislature to have a say in the matter.

Bill Skow of Toledo is a retired executive vice president of the State Bank of Toledo. He has been associated with the Iowa Juvenile Home for 49 years and served on the original Iowa Juvenile Home Advisory Board, charged with assisting in the development of treatment standards at IJH. He is Is a founding former member, previous president and previous treasurer of the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation. Comments: bill.skow@yahoo.com

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