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What Would Helen Keller and Others Say?

A Legacy (The Former)

“Connecticut Institution and Industrial Home for the Blind”                  

Versus Political Expediency

In 1893, Mrs. Emily Wells Foster, a Sunday school teacher at the Morgan Street Chapel in Hartford, had a vision – to provide a way in which blind children could learn, grow and live meaningful, productive lives.

She formed the nation’s first nursery for blind children in her home in Hartford. (Photo above right) Through Foster’s efforts an institution grew and changed forever the lives of hundreds of blind Americans and their families. It would become known as the Connecticut Institution and Industrial Home for the Blind.

 With the passage of time, it was known as the Board of Education and Services for the Blind-BESB (currently a Connecticut state agency for the Blind) and Oakhill school (a non-profit organization for the blind and other disabilities).

Thanks to the tireless efforts of this dedicated woman, hundreds of children and adults with visual impairments and other disabilities have been given the opportunity to live with dignity.

 BESB, as a state agency, will no longer exist as a stand-alone agency for the blind.  This demise of this stand alone institution has a proud, rich and varied history. I’m sure Helen Keller, a former client, would have much to say …or be turning over in her grave….

As of this writing, among the two budget proposals put forward recently in the Connecticut Legislature, the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee have presented their own budget proposal known as the Biennium.  This budget proposal was passed on April 21st.  Its next stop (HB 6380) will be the House of Representatives yet to be voted on. 

Significant Changes:

Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Appropriations Committee are not proposing consolidation.  Rather, they are proposing the creation of a new Disability “Umbrella” agency.   

This proposed organizational structure may have been modeled after the service delivery in the state of Texas (who also has excellent services for their blind residents).  Whether it will operate as efficiently, is anyone’s guess.  The devil is in the details…                              

The Good News:

Legislators appear to have heard and responded to the organized outcry to keep all divisions together and not banish Children’s Services to the policy making Department of Education.

The Appropriations budget does not have any significant cuts to BESB services within the four program divisions.

However….

The new agency will be known as the “Bureau of Rehabilitative Services” containing a handful of “disability entities”… and leaving out others (not too carefully selected in this bloggers opinion) to include:

1)  The former Bureau of Rehabilitative Services;

2)  The Board of Education and Services for the Blind-BESB

3)  The Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired-CDHI;

4)  Two people from the Department of Motor Vehicles-DMV  who train people with disabilities how to drive;

5)  Six people from the Worker’s Compensation Commission who offer vocational services to permanently injured workers who are unable to return to their former jobs.

The new BRS eliminates the four Administrative positions of BESB, including the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and the Legislative Liaison/Staff Attorney and Executive Assistant.

The elimination of these positions saddens this blogger, as this action represents a true loss of excellent and dedicated professionals!

The physical location of the new agency is to be determined. It would make sense to stay in a fully equipped building (into the second year of a five year lease with the state).

The Governor Gives Warning:

Dannel P. Malloy must have been in the Boy Scouts….  He has given forewarning that layoff notices will go out to several hundred employees in a week if the Unions don’t provide sufficient concessions for a 2 billion hole in the budget.   There was a somewhat premature recent celebration by the Dems that a budget was passed (Excuse me, except for 2 billion from the unions).  Many have questioned if, this unbalanced budget is constitutional???

The Unions

Unions in and of themselves, are supposed to serve a worthy purpose and this bloggers is very glad to have fought for inclusion when it was needed.  However, it is a broken system that perpetuates and protects not only excellent workers like ladyjustice, but also those that do not have any work ethic, stroll around the office all day doing nothing, continue to offend with virtually no consequences  and survive by using the system, by virtue of their longevity- a numbers game.  This former group has no business being in state service in the opinion of this blogger.                           

Lady Justice had to rise up recently and contact her union on behalf of her peers, when they were not communicating whatsoever.   (Union leaders and reps rake in lots of money from our paychecks bi-weekly.)  We need to know where we are located on seniority lists, our chances of layoff versus being retained … and what it means for each person’s situation….  

The representative in question rose to the call Friday and a meeting will be arranged thanks to ladyjustice for the benefit of the employees. 

Is this just a scare tactic by the Governor to force the unions to comply?  ‘Don’t know… but ladyjustice is taking it seriously. 

The plain truth is, Lady Justice does not want to be laid off (like the rest of the world) without that job opportunity commencing in San Diego to assist others.

This blogger has one other person sharing her job title within the agency.  Although seniority applies for Lady Justice, she has no desire to “bump” that person out of her job and take over a job that is somewhat different.

The Strange Phenomenon of “Bumping”

The details of bumping can be complicated.

State employees with at least 15 years of experience must receive eight weeks’ notice before being laid off. The newest state employees who are not in a union, including those with fewer than five years on the job, must receive two weeks’ notice — a sharp difference from their veteran colleagues.

A veteran employee, for example, can bump “the least senior employee in the same or lower classification in the series in the agency at any facility within a 25-mile radius,” according to the budget office.”  The employee may choose which facility to re-locate. The 25 miles is measured from the employee’s existing work location.

Help San Diegans- Lady Justice does not want to bump or be a victim of layoff!!  I can work for you… Check out my many skill sets on https://donnagore.wordpress.com

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