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News from the September 2003 Mouth.


Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican, shepherded a dangerous IDEA Reauthorization bill to passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. “It’s about discipline,” he says. One of the parties in need of discipline is the pesky parent with the greedy attorney.

Probably he can’t imagine why parents would need attorneys to deal with their friendly neighborhood school districts anyhow. So he got the House to cap legal fees and put a two-year statute of limitations on cases, with a 90-day limit for filing appeals.

Then there’s that silly old paperwork. Parents would receive exactly one —count ’em, one— notice of procedural safeguards annually, just one opportunity to learn of their kid’s rights.

The focus for Parent Training Information centers would be on
“improving parent-teacher collaboration.” (Question: Will a kid have an advocate if everyone’s busy collaborating?)

Anyhow. The only hope is the Senate, where Sen. Jim Jeffords, one of the original heroes of IDEA, has gone on record saying the Castle bill is “a bad bill.... This is not just some policy situation,” he told NPR. “It’s a matter of the constitutional rights of a child with a disability.”


Call your Senator and ask him or her to watch over the Conference Committee where the House and Senate bills will be reconciled. Our kids need your help and your senator’s help too. Now.


Disability Awareness
• Joey Salas has CP and when he arrived at the University of Texas to earn his degree in criminal justice, his fellow students wouldn’t have known what to do with a fellow student who couldn’t even feed himself. So he taught them, inviting classmates to compete in a pie-eating contest with hands tied behind their backs. He reports that since then, “A lot of people have helped me.”

The Rogue of Rogue Bayou

• How the mighty are brought low—now that the FBI has got the hang of prosecuting health care fraud. Melville Borne of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, was indicted in July for bilking the residents of his three nursing homes, misusing his employees’ retirement savings, and “diverting” $6.5 million in Medicare and Medicaid for patient care to upkeep of his homes and estates, one of them a 150-acre estate on Rogue Bayou that has four ponds, exotic swans, and two groundskeepers.

Meanwhile, residents at his nursing home hellholes went without air conditioning, hot water, and clean clothes.

Borne bought himself a corporate jet, too, although all his nursing homes are located in Louisiana’s backwaters. He faces as many as 125 years in prison and $16 million in fines.

Refuses the Borgs
• Emma Sullivan, an IL hero of ours who fights the good fight in Indiana, was recently invited to join the board of a national sellout group which shall remain nameless here. “No thanks,” she said. “I don’t want to be assimilated.”

Death by Committee
• Bemoaning the fact that several people previously incarcerated in state “developmental” institutions are currently in hospitals on expensive life support, the New Jersey Department of Human Services has issued new rules to allow a state “ethics” committee to determine when plugs should be pulled. Joe Young, director of the state’s Protection and Advocacy System, did some actual P-ing and A-ing, snapping back as follows: “There is a flippancy that people in poor health don’t want to be alive... The misperception is, since the person is cognitively impaired, of course they might want to terminate their life.”

No Complaints
• South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford praised the state’s Disabilities and Special Needs Department in July, saying he “gets nothing but compliments” about its programs. The same article noted that 1,600 people in the state are currently on waiting lists for services. They’re not complaining?

A New Regime
A good place to start getting involved in next year’s elections is a website, One of its downloadable posters reads, REGIME CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME. Time to get involved as if your life depended on it. More than ever before, it does.

Yoshiko Dart issued a call to action on the anniversary of Justin’s death, saying “We congratulate all the patriots who have worked so hard to defend democracy. We need you now more than ever. Democracy is under attack. Although democracy has seen an explosion of positive change unequaled in the history of humanity, it is broken, weak and fragile. We who love democracy must mobilize to save it.”

U.S. to U.N.: Forget About It
• Although it “supports the concept of rights for people with disabilities,” the United States says it won’t sign any disability rights treaty issued by the U.N. An ad hoc committee there is gathering statistics, and “refining the definition” of who’s disabled and who’s not.
Tomas Lagerwall, secretary general of Rehabilitation International, calls for a U.N. convention on our rights similar to its successful convention on the rights of women and children.

“Different is Cool”
• Luke Jackson, a fourteen-year-old British boy with Asperger Syndrome, looks back on his youth and says, “Until I was about nine years old, I thought the rest of the world was weird. And maybe I was right!” He asked everyone reading this to remember, “Different is cool.”

Submit and Re-Submit, Inc.
• The Chicago regional office of the Social Security Administration “accidentally” tossed out the SSI and SSDI applications of “at least 570 people” from six states. An audit of its Milwaukee office found hundreds of backlogged appeals cases, and 700 pieces of unopened mail dating back months.

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