President’s Message – Oct/Nov 2013

It is now less than a month until November 5 when voters in Polk County will be asked to vote on Public Measure “A” – the Polk County Public Safety Judicial System Bond. Our Historic Courthouse – because of its age (built in 1906) and the retrofitting of space not originally designed or intended for court use – has inadequate provisions for security and life-safety needs.

Criticism of the failed 2008 bond measure focused on the dollar amount of the referendum and the construction of a new facility. In response, the County tasked the National Center for Safe Courts and OPN Architects to come up with a new and more fiscally responsible plan that involved the use of existing county buildings with the work being done on a phased approach.

The bond proposal calls for the issuance of bonds in an amount not exceeding $81 million, to be borrowed in phases, for the purposes of paying costs of improving public safety in, remodeling, reconstructing, historically rehabilitating, furnishing and equipping the buildings of the Polk County Judicial System – which include the Historic Courthouse, the Criminal Court Annex (former jail), and the Polk County Justice Center Annex (former J.C. Penney/Wellmark building). With such funding, Polk County will be able to use existing owned space for justice system operations and will reduce dependence on leased space.

As previously communicated by the Polk County Bar Association Board, the Referendum effort will take $300,000 and the PCBA has been asked to raise half of this amount. To date, we have made great strides, but we still have a ways to go in a very short period of time. If you already have given, thank you very much!  If you have not yet made a contribution, we need your support! Just make your check out to Public Safety for Polk County and deliver it to the Polk County Bar Association at 625 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309. Checks can be written by individuals or businesses. If your firm or company is making a contribution in an amount of $750 or more, click here to download a one-page form that you must fill out and return to the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board..

We also need your help to get out the vote!  We are asking everyone to commit to getting absentee ballot request forms to voters.  Also, if you prefer to not vote absentee, please consider voting early by going to the Polk County Auditor’s office at 120 Second Avenue, Suite A in downtown Des Moines.

On behalf of the PCBA Board, I thank you very much for your support of this important initiative!