Archive for May, 2009

Casualties of the State Budget Crisis

May 21, 2009

2,400 people will be deprived of their freedom for another year because of the state’s continuing fiscal crisis.

Their only crime? When they were young, somebody hung a label on them that said “Mentally Retarded” and sent them to an institution where they didn’t belong.

 Many of them have been locked up in those places for twenty, thirty even forty years. During that time, they’ve had to live with people they didn’t choose, eat what and when someone else told them to, get up and go to bed at the convenience of others, often with the lights on and the TV blaring 24/7 year after year.

Ten years ago, the Supreme Court said they didn’t belong there and told the state to free them as soon as it could. During those times of plenty, the state dragged its feet to avoid meeting its responsibility to these people, some of its most vulnerable citizens, freeing as few of them as it could get away with.

It missed a real opportunity to do well by doing good. You see, it spends a quarter of a million dollars for each person in those places each year and only $80,000 to support them in the community. For a one-time start-up cost of $10 million, it could have saved itself twice that much every year just by freeing them.

Then, a couple of years ago, the state’s budget problems began to loom large and the trickle of people leaving the DCs slowed to a drip. Money already appropriated wasn’t spent; the state, which had been sued by Disability Rights NJ to free them, said it no longer had money to negotiate in good faith and spent it on lawyers, not on freedom.

There’s even less money this year and next year will be worse.

When I was younger, I supported the state when it closed Johnstone and North Princeton DCs. After they closed, I spent a lot of time serving on countless task forces, writing white papers analyzing the political and economic benefits of closing the remaining developmental centers, once more doing the state’s job for it.

No more. The state has a moral and legal obligation to free these people and give them the opportunity to live the rest of their lives with the dignity they deserve as human beings. How it does that is its problem. 

Making sure it does is my problem and the problem of every other person with a conscience in New Jersey. Please join me with your ideas about how to make that happen.

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Casualties of the State Budget Crisis

May 21, 2009

2,400 people will be deprived of their freedom for another year because of the state’s continuing fiscal crisis.

 Their only crime? When they were young, somebody hung a label on them that said “Mentally Retarded” and sent them to an institution where they didn’t belong.

 Many of them have been locked up in those places for twenty, thirty even forty years. During that time, they’ve had to live with people they didn’t choose, eat what and when someone else told them to, get up and go to bed at the convenience of others, often with the lights on and the TV blaring 24/7 year after year.

 Ten years ago, the Supreme Court said they didn’t belong there and told the state to free them as soon as it could. During those times of plenty, the state dragged its feet to avoid meeting its responsibility to these people, some of its most vulnerable citizens, freeing as few of them as it could get away with.

 It missed a real opportunity to do well by doing good. You see, it spends a quarter of a million dollars for each person in those places each year and only $80,000 to support them in the community. For a one-time start-up cost of $10 million, it could have saved itself twice that much every year just by freeing them.

Then, a couple of years ago, the state’s budget problems began to loom large and the trickle of people leaving the DCs slowed to a drip. Money already appropriated wasn’t spent; the state, which had been sued by Disability Rights NJ to free them, said it no longer had money to negotiate in good faith and spent it on lawyers, not on freedom.

 There’s even less money this year and next year will be worse.

 When I was younger, I supported the state when it closed Johnstone and North Princeton DCs. After they closed, I spent a lot of time serving on countless task forces, writing white papers analyzing the political and economic benefits of closing the remaining developmental centers, once more doing the state’s job for it.

 No more. The state has a moral and legal obligation to free these people and give them the opportunity to live the rest of their lives with the dignity they deserve as human beings. How it does that is its problem.

 Making sure it does is my problem and the problem of every other person with a conscience in New Jersey. Please join me with your ideas about how to make that happen.

BUDGET MAGIC: NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T

May 12, 2009

On May 18th, Governor Corzine, supported by both New Jersey Senators, will host an Open House at the Trenton War Memorial from 8:45 am to 1 pm explain what our state is doing with our share of the American  Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the federal stimulus package. He’s afraid to do it alone.

 The money is supposed to be spent to create jobs and services to improve the economy. However, rumor has it that Corzine is just going to dump the money into the bottomless pit of the state’s budget deficit and none of us will benefit from it as Obama and Congress intended.

 I’ll be there to ask questions and find out if any of that money will trickle down to benefit those of us with disabilities as it’s supposed to or whether he’ll just use it so he and his rich friends can continue to enjoy the 30% tax cut Governor Whitman gave them 14 years ago.

Please join me and add to the fun. Just email the Governor’s Office and tell ‘em you’ll be there. I’ll save you a seat.