Monday, July 25, 2011

An advocacy organization acting irresponsibly: Disability Policy Consortium

Here’s some inside baseball that reveals how desperate and conniving one advocacy group has become over an issue.

There is a legitimate issue over the use of electric shock therapy and other aversive treatments allegedly being used on children with disabilities in Canton, Massachusetts. A senate amendment to the FY2012 budget was offered by Senator Brian Joyce to make more stringent the regulations dealing with aversive treatments and the amendment passed unanimously in the senate.

The conference committee then hashed out the senate and house versions of the budget and the resulting compromise budget excluded the amendment.

Now the Disability Policy Consortium is conducting a campaign of extortion, threatening to release a survey that indicates all house members are for electric shock treatment of children and people with disabilities, unless legislators fill out their questionnaire and commit to vote on a separate bill by October 1, 2011.

For the record, I do not know enough about the issue to commit to a vote at this time. Most bills are not cut and dried; there are legitimate arguments for and against. I always do my due diligence and vote in an informed way and I will do the same if this bill reaches the floor of the house. Secondly, to commit to voting by October 1, 2011 is silly. I do not control the agenda. How could I make a statement that “I will vote for passage of this bill by October 1, 2011?”

My advice to the DPC? Do not publish a survey that declares that I am in favor of electric shock treatments of children and people with disabilities; that I am a supporter of torture. Are you kidding? There is absolutely no nexus between the conference committee’s decision not to include Joyce’s amendment in the FY2012 budget and accusing me of supporting torture. That is ludicrous and verges on defamation.

The issue should be managed in an appropriate way. We have a process. Not everyone likes the process, but to resort to character assassination to try and get your way is the epitome of irresponsibility. The Disability Policy Consortium’s board of directors had better nip this in the bud before the organization follows its executive director down a very precarious path.

On their most recently filed Form 990 (for calendar year 2009), the organization claims to have spent $1,266 dollars out of a total of $110,468 collected on “direct contact with legislators, their staffs, government officials, or a legislative body” (Schedule C, Page 3).

Their exempt purpose is stated on Part III, Line 28: “Foster understanding and support through education and advocacy by empowering people to represent themselves before executive and legislative, prepare a report on health care disparities and people with disabilities, work with deaf and hard of hearing people on communication access issues in health care, continue streetscapes work meeting regularly with City of Boston officials on curb cuts and street repairs.” Total expenditures for program services were $126,366. I assume that the organization will add direct lobbying of legislators to their 2011 Form 990 statement of exempt purpose.

Here are the emails that ignited this issue for me:

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From: lizhardy@dpcma.org [lizhardy@dpcma.org]
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 12:48 PM
To: Nugent, Ben (HOU)
Subject: Adversive Treatments on People with Disabilities in MA

Bernard [that’s Ben, my legislative aide]: A letter was left and email was sent on Tuesday to Representative Hunt's office. This is a copy of the letter.  Please email or call us with any questions.  We look forward to his answers to the survey.

Thanks again, Liz Hardy-Jackson 
617-542-3822 or lizhardy@dpcma.org
Disability Policy Consortium
Dear Representative:

The FY12 budget conferees had an opportunity to address one of the most shameful facts of life in Massachusetts.  The Senate budget included language that would have authorized more stringent regulations on the use of aversive treatments on people with disabilities that occur in one place in the United StatesCanton, Massachusetts.

Senator Brian Joyce sponsored the amendment that passed the Senate unanimously.  The House Conferees representing you did not agree with the Senate amendment, so this opportunity died in Conference Committee.  We also know that advocates tried to convince House Members to support the Senate language. 

Each House Member is now on record as supporting the use of an unregulated treatment model that brought a conviction for the program director by the Attorney General and for a treatment modality that the United Nation has call “torture”.

The Disability Policy Consortium does not believe that you actually offer unmitigated support for the unregulated use of electronic shock on children and people with disabilities.  Unfortunately, the fact that the Leadership has never let this issue come to the House Floor for a vote leaves you in the unenviable position of being counted as a supporter of torture.

You have the opportunity to change this view of your position and that of the House in general.   The DPC is contacting all members of the House and asking them the following questions:

  1. Do you favor the use of  electric shock treatments on children and people with disabilities. 
Yes __√__  No _____

(At this point in time ALL House Members are recorded as being in favor).

  1. Rep. Tom Sannicando & Sen. Brian Joyce have sponsored bills (HB77, SB51) that would prohibit the use of “any procedure which causes obvious signs of physical pain”.

Will you vote for passage of this bill before October 1, 2011?
Yes ____  No _____

  1. The Department of Developmental Services is currently holding public hearing on new regulations that are similar to the language Senator Joyce’s budget amendment. (http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eohhs2terminal&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=Newsroom&L3=Open+Meeting+Notices&sid=Eeohhs2&b=terminalcontent&f=dmr_g_open_meeting_notice&csid=Eeohhs2)

Will you vote for passage of legislation that would codify these changes before October 1, 2011?
Yes ____  No _____

We are offering this opportunity for you to set the record straight on your record and to put the House of Representatives in a better moral position to lead the Commonwealth. 

The DPC will publish the results of this survey in our DPC Update and daily and weekly press throughout the Commonwealth.

The DPC will be calling to record your answers.  You may also respond directly to this email or by calling 617 542-3822. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Bill Allan
Executive Director
Disability Policy Consortium
617 542-3822. 

------------------------------
From: Nugent, Ben (HOU)
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 12:41 PM
To: Hunt, Randy - Rep (HOU)
Subject: FW: Adversive Treatments on People with Disabilities in MA
You also may have received this, not sure if you responded.  I've a call into the Dep. of Developmental services to get some for info on this.  Quite frankly the letter is out of line, but probably should be responded to shortly.

I will let you know when I get some more background on this.

Ben

------------------------------

July 25, 2011

Ben, their email amounts to extortion. I won't play.

Here's how it works:

Unless you answer my questionnaire, I'm going to assume (and publish) that you molest children, torture animals, and want your grandmother's utilities cut off.

If this is Liz Hardy's idea, she should call me at 508-833-8511 ext 201 and explain to me how desperate she was to come up with this juvenile approach.

Randy


Randy Hunt, State Representative
5th Barnstable District
93 Route 6A
Sandwich, MA 02563
(508) 888-2158

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