Dear 4LAKids Reader,
Please excuse this, I try to keep my politicking focused on education and children's issues — but the the following forwarded e-mail came to me from a friend. Normally I would either ignore it - or just respond personally. I promise there won't be a lot of messages like this in the future — but in the end this is about how we care as a society for children and those less fortunate
I checked this out, it isn't an urban legend - there are George Miller Centers and they do the good work the letter writer describes! I really hope that Governor Schwarzenegger and the budget cutters reconsider on this one; otherwise he will be tarnished with the same reputation that dogged Governor Reagan to his grave when he was blamed — fairly or not (the legislature went long then too!) — with closing California mental hospitals and forcing the mentally ill onto the streets.
Please write Governor Schwarzenegger — there are programs like the Miller Centers up and down California; every single one of them is facing the same fate as the Miller centers in Contra Costa County.! ....and please pass it on!
The following is a plea from a friend of mine. As you know when it comes to saving money in the budget, the first to feel the ax are those unable to speak for themselves or make donations to political coffers. However, if there is enough noise made on behalf of the voiceless, it could make a difference. (1 letter roughly equals 10,000 voters.) All it takes is a 37cent stamp, and maybe you sending this along to friends of yours. Please help.
Although I generally do not like to send people things of a political nature, events in Sacramento have suddenly taken a very personal turn for my family, and I am asking for your help. AS many of you know my older brother is disabled; he has cerebral palsy, and is severely mentally retarded and physically handicapped. Currently he lives in a lovely home in the community in Concord with other disabled adults. During the day he attends "school" at the George Miller center, where he has been going for most of his life. There he receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a host of other things that are vital to his being able to function in a community. The people who work there are specialists, caring people who gave my brother language, who helped us figure things out when problems arose.
But Governor Schwarzenegger, in his efforts to cut California spending, wants to close the center down. An appropriate education in mandated by the California Disability Act -- but Sacramento's answer to this is to "do things in the community" My personal experience translates that to someone will get paid minimum wage to take my brother to the movies once a month.
This year, the George Miller center was narrowly saved, but the funding is going to be "reconsidered" next year. Our experience over the years has taught us that while our letters do not always get read, they do get COUNTED -so many for an issue, so many against-- and here is where you can help us out. Below is a letter my parents wrote for our friends to send to the governor. Please copy the letter to whatever word processor you use, print your name, sign your name, and put your California Address in the heading, and mail it to the governor's address included. (Emails are not as effective as a good old snail mail drive).
Please feel free to forward this on to any other Californians you think would be willing to help.
I thank you. By the way, my brother's name is Erik. He likes to drink Coke, swim, and look at magazines.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
I am deeply concerned about the possible closure of the George Miller Centers.
For over 36 years these Centers have delivered services to the most severely disabled infants, adults, and seniors in the community.
I find it appalling that the County Board of Supervisors plans to fire over 60 expert, skilled workers, leaving over 450 disabled individuals without critical services.
While turnover in community facilities is a constant problem, the staff at the George Miller Centers stay for a long time and this stability is instrumental in developing and maintaining quality programs. These Centers are a resource of unparalleled standards and excellence , and because of funding cuts, the services for the developmentally disabled are now in jeopardy.
I am writing to urge that you and the legislature not abandon this essential community program, and find the resources that will allow it to continue. The economic advantages of serving this population in the community in programs like those at the George Miller Centers are undeniable and well documented when compared to the alternative of institutionalized care. With the significant financial challenges now faced by the State of California, we cannot return to the failed practices of the previous century.