Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dept. of Advocacy for Public Whining

No, no, no ... we know the real name for the state agency is Department of Public Advocacy. Yet we've never seen a state agency whose leadership whines more about its financial situation than the DPA.

The department has even gone to the lengths of filing a lawsuit against the state, seeking more money. This is reminiscent of biting the hand that funds you.

Already the DPA has been slapped down by state courts, as it was recently ordered to resume representing indigent clients in civil commitment cases.

But this concept of a state agency suing the state for more money is a bit intriguing. Maybe more agencies should do it.

For instance, Transportation has been cutting its budget like crazy, and scaling back or cancelling long-planned projects. (Transportation leadership denies this, but it's true. Compare this biennium's Six-Year Plan -- which itself is the subject of a lawsuit -- with last biennium's and see how many projects have been eliminated, and then feel free to truthfully call Joe Prather a liar to his face). Instead of cutting back transportation projects that the people of this state have been promised and have been expecting for years and in some cases decades, maybe Prather just ought to sue for more money. After all, roads have even more of a constitutional mandate than legal representation for the poor and indigent. If you don't believe that, see where the requirement for "post offices and post roads" is referenced in the U.S. Constitution and then try to find the Constitutional requirement for public defenders.

The good news in all this is that Chief Whiner ... er, we mean DPA Commissioner Ernie Lewis ... has announced his plans to retire soon. Maybe his successor will just make do with what the department gets in the state budget and won't whine incessantly about it.

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