The most critical problem facing
the Governor, the General Assembly and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission
involves the huge backlog of unresolved cases. The two obvious measures
are: (1) Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation as funded.
(2) Increase funding to permit additional staff.
Thus the elimination of the backlog has become the Commission's major goal. As long as complaints cannot be processed promptly, fair treatment and respect for law suffer. Witnesses become less available., memories fade, important information vanishes, and justice goes unserved.
Respondents also suffer from backlog when important business decisions hinge on unresolved complaints. Prolonged action makes a sham out of the law. Respondents stall, complainants lose heart, and Commission staff becomes frustrated.
A second Commission goal involves the development of a better monitoring system to enforce the terms of conciliation agreements, Commission orders, and Court decisions.
Thirdly, the Commission plans to increase its services to all segments of the community through expanding its educational activities and by providing technical and advisory services to groups upon request.
The law stresses the elimination of discrimination., not punishment. The Commission will continue its efforts to keep the public informed with respect to discrimination in Iowa. It will continue to cooperate with respondents and assist complainants as the efforts toward eliminating the backlog continue.
The Commission has begun developing rules and regulations for deferring complaints to local commissions. This deferral process will protect the rights of both the complainants and respondents by establishing sound standards with respect to local authority, mode of operation, paid professional staff, public hearings. Members of the staff will continue frequent meetings with local commissions regarding complaint processing, program development, and staff training.
Finally, the Commission will continue fostering harmonious relationships with Contract Compliance agencies within state government. Some needed approaches include: (1) Coordination of methods in collecting data; (2) Assisting in the adoption of similar contract compliance processes; and (3) Coordination of compliance work and complaint activity to insure that serious or continuing violators will be brought to justice.
The future of civil rights enforcement
activities will be pervaded with change. The Commission must continue to
adjust as circumstances dictate. Additional funding and more authority will
be necessary. The Commission will continue its efforts to develop better
working relationships with the General Assembly in order to enhance understanding
and cooperation. The elimination of discrimination often is permeated with
complexity, frustration, and disappointment. Yet it remains one of Iowa's
foremost challenges, and the people of Iowa must continue efforts to guarantee
true equality of opportunity for all Iowans.