How The Grinch Stole Christmas In Iowa

grinchby Carol Thompson

There are 20 girls still living there who do not know where they will be at Christmas, and 93 dedicated state staffers who will be unemployed in January.”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Grinch. Sometimes he resides in Washington, cutting food stamp programs and whining about Obamacare. Sometimes he travels around, stepping on people’s rights and interfering with women’s control over their own bodies.

Currently, the Grinch resides at the state capitol in Des Moines Iowa, where he maintains his winter residence. He’s had a busy few years, cutting programs for the poor, trying to figure out the difference between people with mental illness and those with mental retardation, and keeping needy folks from having good health insurance. His latest caper is to close the only gender-specific treatment program for girls in the state, the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

In the past ten years, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the legislature has been upgrading the old campus with around $26 million of taxpayers’ dollars, including a new vocational building with a safe security/infirmary unit on the lower floor, a geothermal system for the whole campus, and a complete renovation of the school and one of the cottages. The Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation – supported by local grantors such as the Carver Trust, the R.J. McElroy Foundation, the Alliant Foundation, American Association of University Women, ACT, Boeing Corporation, Shopko/Pamida, the Gibson Guitar Co., Dollar General, Iowa Arts Council, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Women’s Foundation, the Tama County Community Foundation, the Toledo State Bank, Variety of Iowa, service clubs, churches and people from all over the state who care about Iowa’s children— has invested over $600,000 to renovate the school library, provide an arts program (especially important now that no arts programming is provided in the state budget), sponsor a traveling art show to highlights the students’ considerable talents, fund an Angel Fund to pay for incidental expenses for students, give a holiday to look forward to every year by paying for staff support and training. This year’s project was outdoor tennis/basketball courts, which the students have hardly used.

branstadMeanwhile, the Grinch has been sitting in the Governor’s office,licking his chops, waiting for his big move. Now he has struck. He is closing the juvenile home! All the troubled boys have left. There are 20 girls still living there who do not know where they will be at Christmas, and 93 dedicated state staffers who will be unemployed in January.

The Grinch no doubt revels in the thought of a facility that could have become an exemplary treatment program for generations of young women sitting empty, not to mention all those new applicants for unemployment compensation.

No doubt he is delighting in the thought of these young women going out into the world, friendless and unprepared, to become the mothers of children he can deny preschool and health care in the future.

Send the Grinch a message:   [515.281.5211]

–Carol Thompson
is a former Johnson County Supervisor who lives in Coralville

prairie-dog-logoReprinted with permission from the January 2014 issue of The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter, available only in hard copy for $12/yr.!!  Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.

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