Public administrator as parent is inappropriate analogy

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT

Columbia should demonstrate and promote an equality amongst all of its citizens including persons with disabilities.

The Boone County Public Administrator serves minor and adult persons with disabilities. Public Administrator candidate Cathy Richards is quoted on the Columbia League of Women Voters' Web site as saying, "in essence, the public administrator is a surrogate parent to many of the individuals under his/her care. And just like a parent the Public Administrator is required to maintain their welfare, dictate rules and limitations and make certain their necessities and needs are taken care of."

It is never appropriate for any government official to analogize that their position is parental in any fashion.

An adult person with a disability is first and foremost a person. If they require a conservatorship or guardianship, they currently have the inability to manage their proprieties and have additional concerns and strife that the average person is fortunate enough not to have. They do not deserve being patronized. Public administrating should always be done from a position of respect from one adult to another adult.

Nor should a public administrator "dictate rules" to its clients. It is unprofessional and insulting. A public administrator regulates rules. It should only dictate professional respect toward the clients that it serves. This office is a direct reflection of how the government of Columbia treats its citizens, particularly, those who are disabled.

A public administrator is fiduciary, carrying duties to regularly disclose material information, to act in the utmost good faith, to act scrupulously and honestly and to avoid acts of self-dealing.


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Tam Jones August 8, 2008 | 5:10 p.m.

"It is never appropriate for any government official to analogize that their position is parental in any fashion." Huh?!?? Does this person have any clue about the types of disabilities the Public Administrator has to deal with??? No doubt every person, no matter what, is deserving of basic respect and dignity - but if Mr. Lewis believes that some of these people don't need protection, oversight and rules .... well, let's just say he be about a shade green.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 8, 2008 | 9:40 p.m.

In response to Tam Jones I think you owe Mr Max Lewis a huge apology and in fact I recommend you even offer to take him out to lunch some time and ask him in person how it is to be disabled because you just flamed one of the biggest advocates in our community for the disabled who is disabled himself and is wheelchair bound. The man knows from many many years what he is talking about I guarantee you.

Now go wipe the egg off of your face please. I am serious though I know Max Lewis personally and really you should hook up to meet with this great individual for a one on one basis for a very long heart felt chat and I hope you come away a changed individual yourself.

Oh and about the last Public Administrator I can assure you Connie had so many complaints against her over the years she was in that position I bet they would fill up an entire file cabinet with nothing but complaints against her. Just in the 8 years I have lived in Columbia I heard countless stories about her over bearingness towards those she was supposed to watch over.

In fact word on the streets is that Cathy Richards is/was buddy buddy with that last person in that position and is how she got voted in so easily.

Oh and Tam Jones why don't you go attend one of those meetings of "People First" and ask some of them how they feel about the last Public Administrator and after you meet with them why don't you try out a meeting of the Disability Commission Advisory Council as well.

(Report Comment)
Tam Jones August 9, 2008 | 2:54 a.m.

I don't owe anyone an apology, Mr. Dudley. I appreciate and respect all of Mr. Lewis' well placed efforts for the disabled - but when it comes to making a blanket statement about the PA's duties as they apply to *all* clients - well one can't simply do so with any authority unless they have knowledge of the situational complexities that often accompany guardianship.

The disabled I speak of don't attend meetings. They don't write commentary, rarely read it, nor are they available for coherent interviews. There is no such thing as a respectful "adult to adult" exchange of ideas or respectful conversation about care options because unfortunately, many don't have the cognitive ability to appropriately process and retain the information.

For example, would you suggest that a schizophrenic with multiple co-morbid conditions coupled with a history of drug addiction not be subject to the guidelines and rules of their treatment plan - rules which serve to protect not only the disabled client, but also the community at large? How about a client whose brain injury sadly causes them to do sexually inappropriate things in public? Should the PA avoid a parent type role and let them do as they please in order not to offend and conform to someone else's idea of respect?

There is no egg on my face, sir, but there is a lot of first hand knowledge of what it is like to deal with an extremely ill family member who is a danger to himself and others. There's not one miniscule bit of yolk on my cheek - but there are years of watching my elderly and ill parents suffer tremendously over an adult child who was noncompliant with meds (as most seriously mentally ill are) with no relief in their lifetime. And should I be so bold as to disregard confidentiality and disclose the identity of my family member (which i will not), there would be many people in Columbia who would say, "Parent label or not, thank God, this person is finally under the directive of the PA and in a safe place."

There is no doubt in my mind that Connie Hendren, the Public Administrator in Boone County saved my family member's life. She also protected my family, my children and untold others by placing my family member in a safe place where compliance to meds is "dictated." It's an ugly truth that wouldn't look good on most advocacy posters, but it is reality nonetheless.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 9, 2008 | 5:25 a.m.

Ok but your post originally to Max Lewis is out of line whether you believe you are or not I guarantee you 100%. Yes your case might be severe but by the percentages it is just one or maybe a few who actually needed to be treated as Connie did not every single person. If as you say is the case across the entire board how come Connie had so many complaints and was so ill liked by many she was watching over and in control of their lives? I can put you in touch with one who took Connie to court recently and the judge chewed Connie's hind end over her actions towards that client due to Connie had a "control issue" and thought she was so called acting in the client's best interest. I speak to alot of those who had been under her so called "care" before she left and believe you me that was probably one of the most hated women in the system bar none.

(Report Comment)
Dennis Wylie August 9, 2008 | 8:00 a.m.

Ms Jones
What information do you have that every one whom uses the PA office is people whom are promblems? You must have no clue or idea of what you may be saying I work with Connie she is my consvestor. You say that Max Lewis has no idea will let me explain my dealings with this office.
Connies office was appionted to help me not to be my mother or father. I ask each month for a statement where my monies goes I was told that she is to busy to give me this information because they have 400+++ clients.
WHERE every thing is done by computer. each of us has our own bank account. it would only take if the people in her office has the ability to do simple spread sheets which any person whom works in this office should know how to do.
You think that this office is so great yes it is their to oversee peoples property when they can no longer. Take care of this due to some illiness. All of the clients are not mentail, handicapped some of us are sever physicailly handicapped. in closing I would apparate people whom blast other pepeoles opions should know what is they are takling about. Iam a 47 yearold man and a life.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 9, 2008 | 9:41 a.m.

A "good parent" includes his or her adult son or daughter in their life. Likewise, a "good" son or daughter includes their mom or dad in theirs. When adults with disabilities are treated as children by their "parent" it becomes a dysfunctional relationship. Especially when the adult's strengths are ignored or not appreciated. When adults with disabilities are treated as inferiors or "less than perfect human beings" or overly policed by government officials, it becomes irresponsibile. Additionally, children seem to have more rights today than adults with disabilities. Both however are sometimes abused by those who bully and are insensitive or afraid. Worse yet, they may hide behind "just doing my job." Lessons should be taken from special ed teachers and occupational therapists and not from buracrats or politicians.

(Report Comment)
Ed Ricciotti August 10, 2008 | 9:52 a.m.

While working for people with disabilities for over a decade, I have seen many barriers that those who live with disabilities have to transverse. One of the greatest barriers that needs to be overcome unfortunately is the attitudinal barriers. Throughout history, society has seen people with disabilities as either a punishment for moral transgressions or a calling from a higher power. In the last century, they fared no better by being seen as a diagnosis and not as a person.
In recent history, organizations like People First are heading up efforts to overcome the stereotypes and are pushing for more self-advocacy.
It is inappropriate for public servants to treat its citizen as children, regardless of guardianship or cognitive ability. Even if a person doesn't understand the concept of rights or respect doesn't mean they do not have it or deserve it.
Looking out for someone's welfare does not require parental oversight. It requires a good rapport with the client though mutual respect and professionalism.
Mr. Lewis is spot on in his criticism

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 10, 2008 | 10:14 p.m.

Ed, you said exactly what I was feeling. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. All too often "mainstramers" treat people with disabilities as lepers, commodities or animals to be pitied. A more 21st century view might be as simple as challenged human beings with intense feelings and preferences. I look forward to attending my first "People First" meeting this Thursday and appreciate your involvement on the city's disabilities advisory board.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 29, 2008 | 5:43 p.m.

This is an open public apology to Cathy Richards the candidate for the Public Administrator Position. After meeting her today and talking one on one with her seems very genuine in her actions and does not want to be compared to the current Public Administrator now or in the future. So a big heart felt apology here to Cathy Richards and I hope you will live up to how you told me you will run that position once you are elected. I'll be holding you to your word being as we talked you know how I feel.

(Report Comment)
Abraham Joseph April 11, 2009 | 12:53 p.m.

I am a philosopher from New Delhi,India. I was writing a discourse on Democracy these days in an attempt to reinvent and re-define it for giving it a much needed momentum.Science has seen unmatched development in 2 millenniums but democracy is there as it was in the beginning!I happened search web for any reference in the world for Democracy as parental form and the only reference I have seen was that of Ms.Cathy Richards!I appreciate her for sharing the idea!

I strongly believe Democracy can be and should be a parental form of government to ward off all its present evils! Parents are the first ones to give one his adulthood by looking at him as an adult.I write the discourse under my NGO viz.'Conscience of the Society'.For full text of the discourse please contact me!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 11, 2009 | 1:38 p.m.

("I strongly believe Democracy can be and should be a parental form of government to ward off all its present evils!")
I wouldn't call what you believe a Democracy.
The American Declaration of Independence tells us the rights which each of us possess were given to us by God. When He decided to give each of us equal rights ...
In your quest for warding off present evils you may want to read the following:
Good luck with your discourse...

(Report Comment)

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