Talk about skirting "around" an issue, without giving a direct answer to a question. I received the following "answer" to my concern about what happened to my friend from Sara Gelser last night. Not only was she a month and a half late, but she offered the same old lame excuse that politicians always offer. "It's not my fault, I was busy doing business on behalf of the people". Notice the bs. regarding "snow days". At least she had the balls to respond... I guess the bottom line is that Disability Rights of Oregon (in the person of Bob Joondeph)and Multnomah County Developmental Disabilities (in the persons of Patrice Botsford, Bill Toomey, and Vicki Danielson) are beyond reproach. I wonder what happened to Kotek?
Subject: RE: Ways and Means Date: 12/18 10:49 PM From: Gelser.Rep@state.or.us
Subject: RE: Ways and Means
Date: 12/18/2008 10:49:37 PM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
Internet Address Card Attached
Thank you for sharing your story. Between holidays, snow days, and moving offices, I have fallen behind on my email correspondence.
As for investigating allegations of abuse, mistreatment, or wrongful death of people with disabilities, I have actively requested information and put pressure on investigators in specific cases involving my constituents. Through this process I've learned that I have very little standing to get information or have access to information without a signed release from the individual or their parent or guardian. This is particularly true for situations outside my district. In the case of your friend, I do not have the ability to access information about the case because I have no way to obtain a signed released from the victim.
Though I can't conduct my own investigation, stories like the one you shared are very helpful for developing the policy framework to better protect individuals with disabilities. This story certainly fits in with the work I have done in the past year attempting to improve investigations, provide greater protection to vulnerable adults, and engage the criminal justice system in looking at abuse of people with disabilities a public safety issue.
Two specific points are relevant to the email you sent. First, the omnibus vulnerable victims bill endeavors to update the definition of neglect to clearly include medical neglect. In addition, I've recently been in a number of conversations about how to improve public guardianship programs in Oregon to offer protection to vulnerable adults in jeopardy. Given the budget climate, I think we are unlikely to be able to expand guardianship budgets in 2009. However, I do have a task force bill which would bring stakeholders together to develop a thoughtful plan for how to best expand these important services.
I'm very sorry that you went through this situation and I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. She was very lucky to have you advocating on her behalf. I wish you luck in your endeavor to find answers, and am sorry that you haven't been able to get the answers you are seeking.
I look forward to working with you on our shared vision for a community which supports and celebrates all of its members, including those with disabilities.
Representative Sara Gelser
House District 16 (Philomath, Corvallis)
Capitol Line: (503) 986-1416