December/January 2011 President’s Message

The PCBA has published its first electronic newsletter. I am delighted to report that we will be sending you an electronic newsletter every other month to keep you up to date on issues of interest to lawyers in Polk County. The content will be relevant and important to your practice. It might even teach you something new. I guarantee you will look forward to receiving it.

The PCBA recently hired Lana Schlapkohl, the retired communications director of the 34,000-member Iowa State Education Association, to become our new director of communications. In that role, she will be in charge of publishing our newsletters, updating our Web site, and communicating with you. If you have any thoughts or ideas on content for the newsletter or the Web site, or if you have any ideas on how the PCBA can better communicate with you, please e-mail Lana at

By publishing the newsletter electronically, not only is the Association saving a few trees, but you, the reader, are able to read it at your convenience and save any information you might want to access in the future. But in order to do so, the PCBA must have your email address. Just let Carol Burdette know of any changes at and please use the “Forward to a Friend” function at the bottom of the newsletter to encourage fellow PCBA members to stay in the loop by sending us their e-mail address.

Without a doubt, the retention election last month was a dark day for Iowans. A vocal minority supported by large out-of-state special interest groups defeated three highly qualified justices of the Supreme Court. I couldn’t believe that Iowans had forgotten their high school civics lessons.

Within days of the election, I was flipping channels on the TV when I came across the old Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. As you may remember, the judge in the movie had a campaign manager who kept reminding him that ruling against Santa Claus would be bad for the judge’s upcoming election.

Can any of us imagine a day when one of our Polk County judges consults with a campaign manager before issuing a decision? It is hard to imagine; but unless we take steps to eliminate politics from our retention elections, we may some day see judges with campaign managers.

I want all of our members to know that the Polk County Bar Association is committed to eliminating politics from the selection and retention of our judges. To that end, the PCBA has created a new committee called the Retention Election Committee to take all appropriate steps to avoid another judicial retention fiasco. If anyone is interested in serving on this Committee, please let us know. Let’s not wait until the next retention election. Let’s take action now to make sure that special interest groups don’t control our judicial retention elections in the future.