Open Letter to Governor Haley

Dear Governor Haley,

As governor you have the opportunity to shape this great state of ours for generations to come – what an honor. I can’t begin to comprehend the enormous amount of stress you must be under with difficult decisions put in front of you daily.

I’m writing to bring awareness to one particular major decision awaiting you – the proposed development of a casino brought forth by the Cherokee Tribe in the Hardeeville and Jasper County areas.

However, I would like to present a different side of this debate – not economic, moral, ethical, or social – but of respect.

Just over six weeks ago, a family in Charleston by the name of Matt and Melanie Capobianco had their adoptive 2-year-old daughter taken from them and returned to the biological father. During this time, the state of South Carolina was unable to step in and intervene. As such, a young child was uprooted from the only family she has ever known and returned to someone who demonstrated he had no plans to be a part of her life.

Please note that I do not know the Capobiancos. I’ve never met them, spoken to them, or even traded e-mails. I only know of their story through the media. It has hit home.

Something very similar happened to dear friends of ours. They too adopted a little girl. They too took her home from the hospital. They too raised her. And they too lost her following a lengthy court battle.

Much like the Capobiancos, they thought they were protected. Protected by lawyers. Protected by the State. Protected by common sense and a sense of understanding.

And in the end. They lost. The little girl lost. Their friends lost. A community lost.

So as you decide how to handle the proposed casino, I ask that you consider all angles. While one Native American tribe is promoting the casino, another fellow Native American tribe just supported the removal of a little girl from her only home.

While Native American tribes promise major economic and social benefits, they are also supporting a law that just wrecked a family’s bank account and tore apart their home. While the Indian Child Welfare Act has a purpose, I’m sure you will agree the intent of the law is not to destroy families; which is what has occurred ironically within weeks of Jasper County unanimously voting to approve the development of a Cherokee-operated casino.

And this group wants your blessing. What will you do? Will you stand up for your citizens?

You have a great opportunity before you. And while it may not return Veronica to the Capobiancos or Abigail to the Andricain’s, it could protect the next child.

I still believe every person in this great State has a voice. And I hereby willingly trade my voice, and what may be best for my family, to someone who did not have a voice.

Willy Powell
Beaufort County