Today's Troy Record newspaper has a picture on it of a lawyer I know. She was appointed to represent a very young, very sweet child I know in a custody dispute between her parents many years ago.
So I read the article (similar article on-line in the Albany Times Union)and what do I find? Bushies at it again. Apparently this lawyer, Jo Katz, does pro bono work for something called The Legal Project.
According to their web site:
The Legal Project is a private, not-for-profit organization that was founded by the Capital District Women's Bar Association in 1995. It provides a variety of free and low cost legal services to the working poor, victims of domestic violence and other underserved individuals in the Capital District of New York State.
The list of awards from all sorts of sources on the web site is too long to provide here. Click The Legal Project to read about the recognition for the good work that they do.
From the Times Union article:
And that when only two years ago the U.S. Office of Justice Programs identified the initiative as a national model for communities striving to better serve and protect poor victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
So what does the Bush Administration think should be done with programs identified as "a national model for communities striving to better serve and protect poor victims of domestic violence and sexual assault?"
Well... how would you expect them to react:
(from Times Union)
What is in jeopardy now is the Legal Project itself, now that the Bush White House has dropped the agency's primary grant, resulting in a $300,000 budget deficit -- or half of the organization's annual budget.
(from Troy Record)
We just found out we will not receive (a grant from) the federal Violence Against Women Office," said Lisa Frisch, Executive Director. The Legal Project had received the grant regularly since 1999.
The Legal Project provides legal services to more than 1,300 people a year. The annual budget is about $500,000. The organization received $300,000 from the federal office. Two of the Project's most prominent programs provide services to individuals impacted by domestic violence or sexual assault.
And from the Times Union:
It provides a variety of free and low-cost legal services to victims of domestic violence and other underserved individuals in the Capital Region. It serves more than 4,000 "working poor" women whose income is too low to hire a private attorney, but too high to receive public legal services.
Plus, it is the only comprehensive program of its kind in upstate New York.
Back to the Troy Record article a little further down:
The Legal Project was founded in 1995 by the Capital District Women's Bar Association. Today it has more than 200 pro-bono volunteers and four regular employees.
And later still:
The Project will hold a 10-year anniversary celebration at the New York State Museum on Thursday [Oct. 20] at 5:30 p.m. "It is extremely important that this organization continue to exist," said attorney Jo Katz of Troy, who will be honored for her volunteer pro-bono work.
"I do believe, contrary to popular belief, that law is a public service profession," Katz said. "The majority of lawyers went to law school to make a difference...."
"I do it because of the need (for volunteers) and because I need to. It's something I need to do as a lawyer and a person."
Sadly, the Times Union article points out the truth of Ms. Katz's words:
Ironically, word of the lost grant came on Sept. 15. That was two days before Cohoes newlywed Melissa Paradise was allegedly murdered by her husband, and two weeks before Kinderhook resident David Lee killed his wife on Oct. 1, and then himself.
The Lee shootings occurred on the first day of Domestic Violence month.
And finally from Ms. Frisch:
"I'm sorry, I'm not going to go quietly into the good night," she said. "It takes a lot for a battered woman to reach out for help. We don't want to turn anyone away. We don't want to see a woman say there is no option but to stay and be abused."
I don't know how to properly express my outrage at stuff like this without breaking things and swearing enough to make a sailor (or even MaryScott O'Connor) blush.
Sen. Clinton is quoted in both articles as being outraged and hopefully she is on the case. $300,000 is a pittance in the Federal budget. Are these the sorts of things George Bush and Dick Cheney are cutting in order to pay for their ultra rich friends tax cuts? Are these the domestic programs that have to be cut in order to give tax giveaways and subsidies to the oil companies that are already making record breaking profits? Are these the programs that get cut in order to give Iraqi women a constitution that deprives them of rights they had under Saddam Hussein?
Are we going to go quietly into the good night? Are we going to going to turn away these women and children that need this wonderful help?
I'm not sure who the proper contact is in the Bush Administration but here is a link the donation section of The Legal Project and here is a link to the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sen. Clinton can be reached here.
Sen. Schumer can be reached here.
Congressman Michael McNulty here.
Congressman John Sweeney here.
I'm guessing you folks know how to take it from here.