Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Longest Month in History

Here we are finally... the last day of January. For the life of me, I can't recall a month that has lasted this long. It's not like it was a bad month. It just feels like 2008 has been hanging around a lot longer than 31 days. New Year seems like a mighty long time ago to me. Maybe it's because so much has happened this month. Any way; you probably have more important things to do than read this thought.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oregon Concept 87 Pondering

In response to the latest, Oregon Legislative Concept 87 (LC87):
SUMMARY OF LC87*: Proposes, in response to an emergency, to change the Oregon code and/or statute and/or rules to reserve a “special fund” in the Treasury (the “Quality Care Fund”), set aside from the fines collected from agencies employing persons found of substantiated abuse, to be reserved for the exclusive purpose of allocating resources to DHS to administer the training, technical assistance and quality assurance necessary to meet their obligation under current requirements of law. *[DAWGOregon’s interpretation of a piece of the proposal].

After much thought about the Quality of Care Fund I’ve come to a few conclusions that I’d like to share with you. I don’t see this as much more than a temporary band aid for the problem of abuse/neglect. I’d like to know what your feelings are.

I guess the plan is to fund training and monitoring through fines levied on agencies where incidents of abuse and neglect of people with developmental disabilities occur. While I agree that this problem must be dealt with immediately, it’s hard to see how this plan will be preventative.

First of all, it seems to me that this concept is short sighted, and will only facilitate the cycle of abuse. The best way to demonstrate this is through a map I made in figuring this out. It’s below the text here.

Secondly, this unsustainable fund asks nothing of anyone other than people who experience abuse, their abusers and the agencies they work for. Isn’t it time that the people of Oregon invest SOMETHING in our citizenry?

I’ll look forward to your thoughts.

Friday, January 25, 2008

And From Tennessee...

Cops Now Taser an Unarmed Scared Mentally Handicapped Woman into Submission
Mentally Disabled Unarmed Woman Tortured and Shocked repeatedly with Taser

Officer denied using weapon, suspended after investigation
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Amanda Beets is 28 years old, but she still refers to herself as a child, even when discussing her own little girl, Ashley.

As she recalls the events of March 21, 2005, when she was shocked repeatedly by a Knoxville Police Department Taser although she wasn't fighting with officers, she describes the experience in the plainest of terms: "It hurt. It really hurt."

Beets lives in a small house on Connecticut Avenue in North Knoxville with her mother, Carol Dianna Lewis. A bout with spinal meningitis when Beets was an infant left her with a speech impediment and impaired mental functioning, problems that have kept her from striking out on her own.

Lewis is anything but evasive when asked who started the chain of events that led up to the Tasing of her daughter: She did, by leading Knox County deputies on a car chase that began in Halls and ended a few minutes later in her driveway.

She readily concedes that the deputies - and the two KPD officers who showed up at her house to provide backup - had every reason in the world to be scared and angry after the lengthy pursuit, which ended in her arrest on charges of evading arrest, driving on a revoked license and simple possession of marijuana.

Lewis said she understands that what she did was wrong. What she doesn't understand is why her daughter, who she says functions at the level of a 12- or 13-year-old girl, was hurt in the process.

When Lewis pulled into her driveway, she was swiftly taken into custody by the numerous officers who responded to the scene. Beets was inside the house with Ashley but ran into the driveway after hearing several loud bangs that she mistook for gunshots.

Terrified that her mother was dead or dying, she raced toward where Lewis was being subdued by deputies. She began screaming at the officers. She was grabbed by KPD Officer Brian Headrick, who was soon joined by KPD Officer Chad Riggs.

What happened next is unclear, although more than a dozen people were interviewed during the ensuing Internal Affairs probe. Beets said she was kicked by someone and that Riggs used the Taser on her three times even though she wasn't struggling with officers.

Riggs admitted that he got out of his cruiser with the Taser in his hand, although KPD's rules at the time prohibited officers from deploying the weapons without getting a supervisor's approval. He said Beets seemed to be attacking Headrick and that during the melee, Beets ran into him. He said he did not know if the Taser came in contact with Beets but that it was "possible," records show.

"Headrick said Beets was yelling and 'flailing her arms around' but did not try to attack him," according to the IA report filed later on the incident. "He described her behavior as 'disorderly' and also said it was obvious by this point she was mentally challenged or 'there was something wrong with her.' He said at one point he, Beets and Riggs were all in close proximity to each other and he 'heard a Taser going off'... for 'five or six seconds.' "

Beets was released without being charged, and Riggs later told Headrick that he hadn't used the Taser and therefore didn't need to fill out a use-of-force report, records state.

Headrick reported his suspicions to his supervisors, who quickly contacted Beets and her family to find out what their accounts of the incident were. Riggs' supervisors were able to use a computer printout from Riggs' Taser to confirm that the weapon had been discharged three times, and a physician who examined Beets said she had "dual Taser burns on her upper back, chest, neck and on (her) breasts," the IA report states.

Sgt. Keith DeBow, who heads KPD's Taser training program, said "he felt it was 'highly unlikely' that Riggs' Taser could have been activated accidentally three times," the IA report notes.

Riggs was later suspended for 10 days without pay after the IA investigation concluded that he'd used excessive force and failed to make a use-of-force report. He resigned about six months after the incident.

Beets has since sued the police department, Headrick and Riggs for $1 million in
compensatory and punitive damages in Knox County Circuit Court.

Headrick, who is still a KPD officer, couldn't be reached for comment, and Riggs' attorney, Richard W. Krieg, said he's advised his client to not discuss the case.

KPD officials and Beets' attorney, Herbert S. Moncier, declined to comment on the incident, citing the pending litigation.

Beets says she was traumatized both mentally and physically by the event and wants the police department to make sure that more officers like Headrick are encouraged to turn in officers who break the rules. "I want to stop this before another kid gets hurt," she said.

Lewis said that she has nothing but praise for Headrick, whom she describes as "one of God's own." Lewis, who has a history of low-level criminal offenses, said that before the incident with her daughter, she didn't trust police officers to be moral. But Headrick's actions and the swift response of KPD supervisors, she said, convinced her that KPD genuinely wants to do the right thing.

When it comes to Riggs, however, Lewis is clear that an administrative punishment isn't satisfactory.

"I admitted I did wrong; I pleaded guilty to what I was charged with," she said.
"He assaulted my daughter. ... I would prefer that he was put in jail."

Do You Qualify??

If you or someone you know are uninsured and low income in Oregon there is a chance you might be able to get on the Oregon Health Plan. It's only a bandaid, but you might be able to get help...

To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Edmund Burke

DHS is about to take a step that will make a life-changing difference in the lives of several thousand low-income Oregonians. Each of us should be prepared to play a role in that.

On Monday, we will open the reservation list for the Oregon Health Plan’s Standard benefit plan, which will lead to the first new enrollments in Standard since June 2004. From that reservation list, the names of several thousand people will be randomly selected to receive Standard applications.

Sadly, right now more than 600,000 individuals in Oregon are without health insurance, over 100,000 of those are individuals in severe poverty. At its peak, OHP Standard enrolled nearly 132,000 people.

We at DHS know all too well the consequences that individuals and families who are unable to get health care face and the painful fact that those without health insurance are sicker and die sooner. We also understand how this blemishes our collective community, our humanity, and our state. We know health care is among our state’s and our nation’s top public policy issues. But on a human level, we don’t need polling data to tell us the impact it has on the lives of real people.

Reopening OHP-Standard for the first time since June 2004 is supported by one of the most aggressive public awareness campaign in this agency’s history. We’ve contacted hundreds of thousands of organizations, partners and households, printed thousands of brochures in 10 languages and taken our story to the news media.

Because the need for health care is so much larger than the available slots in OHP Standard, we’ve worked hard with our community partners to ensure the enrollment system is fair – that the individual in Scappoose, Shady Cove or Spray has the same chance to enroll as someone in Salem. That the last person to put her name on the reservation list on Feb. 29 will have the same odds of receiving an application as someone who signs up this Monday.

But the success of this effort isn’t limited to our hard-working employees who will be taking names for the reservation list. Every one of us at DHS should be familiar with the process so we can help people who ask us questions. I’m not asking you to memorize the 1-800-699-9075 toll-free phone number, although that would be nice. But you should at least know how to find contact information posted at the top of the DHS Web page (

True, one could argue that only a few people will ultimately be enrolled compared with the heavy demand. But see the Edmund Burke quote at the top of my message. For the several thousand people who are enrolled, it will make a difference in their lives.

Meanwhile, The Oregon Health Fund Board, ( born out of Senate Bill 329, is working hard to develop a comprehensive plan to reform Oregon’s health care system. They are making progress in designing the path that moves us rapidly toward being a state in which affordable and effective health care is available and accessible to all.

While we await that plan, which cannot come too quickly, we must still do all we can to help people get the health care that they need. Because DHS employees live and work in both our urban and rural areas, you are in a good position to spread the word about OHP Standard to people in your neighborhood, children’s school, a service club, faith community or other setting.

As an agency, we will show how well we can handle an unusually complex process to enroll people fairly in a high-demand program whose enrollment is capped. As individuals, each of us can do our part to reach out to as many Oregonians as we can.

Thank you for your energy and commitment to serving Oregonians.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gaining Ground... Slowly

This is a short speech given by 2 women in the state of Virginia recently. It says a lot about the steps being taken to recognize folks with developmental disabilities as complete human beings.

Speech Given to Health, Welfare and Institutions January 15, 2008 and Health and Education January 17, 2008
by Jill Egle’ and Erin Thompson

Jill Egle’:In our self advocacy group, People First, we don’t like the “R word” which is label and stands for Retarded. We don’t like it because it hurts our feelings and it puts us down in our lifetime. 40 years ago doctors used to label us as retarded because it was accepted in society when a child was born with a disability it was okay to say the “R word”. Erin Thompson:In 2008 it is NOT okay to use the “R word” when you are talking about ANY PERSON. We want to be known as a person first. A person with a name– not called a diagnosis, an I.Q. Score, a mental age, or somebody’s child. If the State and state organizations must describe our disability– we request that the term Intellectual Developmental disability be used rather than the current termMental Retardation. Jill and Erin:We would like to leave today and be able to proudly state that HB 760 and SB 620passed unanimously and… Virginia is not Retarded anymore…

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Quote # 3

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

Martin Luther King Quote # 2

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr.

An idea just came to me... why not post quotes I Like from martin Luther King on my blog in honor of his birthday. The hope is that readers will figure out for themselves what he was saying, and the meaning.

"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."

The Struggle Takes No Day Off

I found the following on the net. I'm posting it in honor of the work Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to.


Here is a disturbing report: Black nursing home residents in Maryland and Virginia are more likely than white residents to be sent to hospitals for dehydration, poor nutrition, bedsores and other ailments because of a gap in the quality of in-house medical care, according to a new study.

Researchers affiliated with Brown University's medical school found that 23 percent of black nursing home residents in Maryland were hospitalized in 2000, compared with 17 percent of white residents. In Virginia in 2000, researchers found 20 percent of black nursing home residents were hospitalized, compared with 18 percent of white residents.

Researchers said the findings in the two states reflected a national trend. The study is scheduled to be published in the June issue of the journal Health Services Research.

Why? My guess is that economic factors play a significant role. Nursing homes which rely heavily on Medicaid have lower employee-to-patient ratios and often operate without a nurse practitioner or a medical director, which results in more residents needing to be hospitalized. Whatever the reason….its is a sad commentary on how we care for our elderly!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From The Mouth Of A Nun

Sister Helen Prejean summed up the reason people stay committed to attempting to bring about needed change in society for me this morning. She is the author of the book "Dead Man Walking" which was made into the Academy Award winning film. She says that those of us who become aware that the suffering people experience is caused by injustice, cannot walk away from it.

This is very powerful thought for me. I had the question posed to me yesterday, and couldn’t find the answer. In fact, at a focus group concerning the abuse and neglect of people with developmental disabilities, all in attendance were asked the question; “Why is it that you stay in the field for as long as you have; knowing how broken the system is?” We all looked around at each other like dear caught in headlights, with no answer forthcoming.

I think I’ll get in touch with the people who were there to share Sister Helen’s belief. Maybe they’ll also recognize her words as their truth.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Commercializing Martin Luther King's Birthday

At Thanksgiving we gather the homeless and hungry for turkey dinners. We make sure they have a hot nutritious meal...on that one day of the year. I tend to believe it’s more for the community at large than those being fed. It relieves guilt we may have for not taking care of these folks year round.

I see the same sort of dynamic growing more each year around Martin Luther King’s birthday. Next Monday there will be breakfasts honoring civil rights champions all over the country. There will be celebrations and TV broadcasts. There will be quotes and speeches about how great Dr. King was. There will be volunteer opportunities to paint, restore, clean up, and care...on that one day of the year.

I’m not buying any of it. I’m quite certain that Dr. King would not buy it either. He was much more of an in-the-trenches warrior than a celebrity. He was a year round activist who was more concerned with results than pomp and circumstance.

So I choose to have a day of fasting and praying on Monday. Something very low key. I’ll set my sights on what I can do when Tuesday rolls around.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What a Difference A Dollar Makes $$$

Back in June I wrote about a friend of mine who was “placed” in deplorable conditions to heal from an injured knee. The place was a Nursing Home, which catered to folks who were primarily on the Oregon health Plan (Medicaid), in need of rehabilitative services..

I wrote about what the place was like, how it smelled and the general vibe. It was nasty to say the least.

For the last week I’ve been dealing with another friend (this time a hip) who was discharged from a hospital to a Nursing Home which also provides rehabilitative services to people on better, private insurance and Medicare.

The differences in Facilities has been amazing! This place has a professional yet homey atmosphere. The paint and decor are very cheery and conducive to feeling good about one’s self and situation. Going there to visit is a pleasant experience compared to the depressive atmosphere in the other facility. The people there are talkative, smiling, and very much involved in their treatment.

I spoke with my friend yesterday, comparing her experience to my other friend’s. She didn’t feel guilty, but made it clear that she feels that everyone should be able to have the same sort of treatment for rehabilitation that she’s having. I couldn’t agree with her more.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Something New! Really...

I just finished writing the first verse and chorus to a new song. I have an idea for the melody and style for the song, but there's no title and it needs at least 2 more verses. A bridge would be cool too. In other words I want some help with it. I figure where else to go for help than the good old internet where there has to be a number of tunesmiths and poets who could contribute to this song. I envision a contest. The person/people who help me complete the song will receive free lunch on me as well as co writer credit.

So come on over and flex your writer muscles with me...


I don’t want no “A” for effort
I don’t want no hero’s crown
I don’t want no fancy titles
Followin’ me around.

I don’t want no big ol’ paycheck
I don’t want pats on the head
I don’t want no fame or glory
For the flowery words I’ve said.


I want YOU to get up off your ass.
I want YOU, even more than me, to make something happen fast
If you’re sick of doing nothing while the fire turns to ash
I want YOU to get up off your ass.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Nile Is A River In Egypt

I heard a guy on Democracy Now say “My personal mission is to leave the world a little bit better off than it was when I came into it” this morning. I think many people feel the same way he does. I know I do. His words got me thinking about the current state of the world, and whether I’ve accomplished my own similar mission. In all honesty, I have to say the answer to that question is no.

Have I tried? Absolutely. Where then, have I failed? I have failed because the world is a very corrupt and unfair place. On all levels. Watching a year in review show on Democracy Now really opened my eyes. All the national and international failures to improve the world in 2007 are far more numerous than the successes. You can say I’m being pessimistic or negative, but I believe I’m simply being honest and a realist.

Let me walk you through the year’s failures, not chronologically, but as thoughts come to me:

1) Kucinich tried to get Chaney deservedly impeached but he failed.

2) I tried to see justice served on behalf of a friend who was euthanized but I failed.

3) The occupation in Iraq continues in spite of the larger number of Americans opposed to it.

4) Bush continues to spy on us though it’s common knowledge he’s doing so illegally.

5) Hunger and homelessness throughout the world continues to grow.

6) AIDS still takes way too many lives.

7) The ideas I’ve brought to legislators regarding health and safety for people with profound disabilities have gone nowhere.

8) The whole Bhutto assassination has been mired in cover up and lies.

9) Corporate America continues to control us, like it or not.

10) Lack of accountability in Oregon and America in general, is the status quo. More so than at any time I can personally recall.

11) The disparity in income between rich and poor continues to grow throughout the world.

12) People with disabilities are still having their civil rights violated daily in the U.S.

13) Healthcare costs continue to rise while most of the people in the world don’t have any at all.

14) Israel is still practicing Apartheid on the Palestinian people.

15) The Democratic Congress that was supposed to shake things up has given Bush everything he’s asked for.

16) People continue to stick their heads in the sand, pretending everything’s just ducky.

ENOUGH! I don’t want to continue on with this list. The bottom line is that overall I believe humanity earned a “D” in 2007 for its successes in making the world a better place, and continues to move toward an "F". Including me.