Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blackmail over a prison? Really?

This article from the Burlington Hawk Eye caught my eye today, not so much because of the headline, but some of the content. If you're not going to follow the link, I'll give you the basic version:

In light of last year's prison escape, there's been some discussion about building a new Iowa State Penitentiary to replace the current, pre-Civil War facility in Fort Madison. The prison currently employs 550 Fort Madisonians, so the Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce is concerned, and reasonably so. However, their reaction has crossed the line.

They're asking all gubernatorial candidates to sign this pledge:

I will use the power of my office to assure that the Iowa State Penitentiary maximum security facility will remain in Fort Madison as long as I serve as Governor of the State of Iowa.

That, in and of itself, is a little problematic for me. You see, the next Governor of Iowa will have around 3 million constituents, many of whom won't live in Fort Madison. He'll be entrusted with acting in the best interest of ALL those Iowans. If he outsources the prison to South Dakota, yeah, he's done them a disservice. But if he's even open to the possibility of pursuing the best possible option for the state, the Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce is going to burn him in effigy. Just look at these quotes from Chamber Exec. Director Tracy Vance:

"We are going to make it public. We're going to make Lee County residents aware of who signed the commitment and who didn't."

"This is a Fort Madison issue. This is a southeast Iowa issue. Those gubernatorial candidates that do not make this commitment do so at their own risk with the voters in southeast Iowa."

The message Tracy Vance is trying to send is perfectly clear. The gubernatorial candidates had better give the Chamber what it wants, or Tracy will throw a tantrum like no two-year-old you've ever seen.


1 comment:

JE said...

That's some scary stuff. I know Blouin has put out a few press releases concerning his support of the Fort Madison facility.