The County of Summit Board of Developmental Disabilities and Superintendent Tom Armstrong are to be commended for initiating a candid discussion on county run adult services (“Summit board might cut employees,” June 19).
While some may view this as a negotiating ploy, Armstrong’s comments are supported by serious realities facing the developmental disabilities system throughout Ohio. These realities would indicate that the current system is not sustainable without serious cost-saving measures.
State subsidies to the county have been drastically reduced in recent years. It is also a fact that personal property taxes have shrunk. As with most other industries, the system is forced to do more with less.
Most services to people with disabilities are funded by a Medicaid waiver program in which the county pays 40 percent of service costs and Medicaid pays for 60 percent.
The county must pay these matching funds for their services, as well as those of any qualified private provider. The reimbursement rates were established nine years ago, and there has never been an increase.
Obviously, everything is more expensive, and these stagnant rates have placed a significant strain on the service delivery system. Without an increase, it will be increasingly difficult for any provider to offer quality services. Under Medicaid rules, individuals with disabilities are entitled to a “free choice of providers.” Historically, individuals were slotted to fill vacancies at county programs.
Now, more and more individuals are choosing services offered by a growing number of quality private providers. Armstrong indicated that the number of clients in the adult services program is declining, and staff attrition has not kept pace with the drop-off.
The board’s decision to review staffing patterns and take action, while difficult and controversial, is essential if it is to be a good steward of public dollars.
The superintendent stated that the county has “not been able to compete with the private sector from a cost standpoint.” He is correct.
The Weaver Workshop and Support Association bargaining unit has asked if the board is trying to privatize adult services. While it may not be the board’s intention, it would be prudent to give this concept serious consideration.
The board has a long history of honoring the public trust by effectively fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities. To dismiss the notion that privatizing services may be in the best interest of taxpayers would certainly deviate from past practices.
These problems are not unique to Summit County. These are statewide issues, and, much like Summit County, many of the 80 county boards across the state are thoughtfully examining their role in the future of service delivery.
We applaud the board for tackling these difficult issues in a transparent manner, recognizing its obligation is to ensure that quality services are available.
President and chief executive
United Disability Services
In May 2009, Blogger.com posted Ervin Darnell Worthy’s plea for clemency to President Obama (“He’s Darnell Worthy”).
For all who care about fairness, justice and mercy, the letter should serve as a catalyst for change. Worthy, of Akron, was convicted 17 years ago for conspiring to sell 5 to 15 kilograms of cocaine.
He “took it to the box,” and a jury convicted him. Prior drug convictions mandated the judge to sentence him to life without parole. Had he admitted his guilt and shown the remorse expressed in his clemency plea, he would have been freed years ago. He made a mistake. Must we punish him for the rest of his life?
His plea for clemency was denied or ignored. He does not have the money or connections of the Jeffrey Skillings or the Marc Richs of the system. We must reconsider the mandatory life sentence guidelines of our federal drug laws.
I ask every lawmaker to read his request for mercy. Perhaps one lawmaker might resubmit his plea for clemency to President Obama.
Marriage in the Bible
The writers of recent letters opposed to the biblical view of marriage claim the Bible doesn’t define marriage (“Preach tolerance,” June 25 and “No definition of marriage,” June 26).
In Matthew 19:4-5 Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24, “Have you not heard that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave his mother and father and shall cleave to his wife and they two shall be one flesh.’ ” Yes, polygamy was practiced by some in the Old Testament (not in the New Testament), but this practice was not approved by God.
One writer mentioned Romans 1:26-27, which warns of the consequences of homosexuality, but he claims that since Paul wrote this book in Corinth, this is directed only against immoral temple worship.
That is ludicrous. This scripture is directed to gentiles in Rome, where homosexuality ran rampant. Paul later addresses the Jews, not against this sin, but for abandoning the law of Moses.
Jesus doesn’t mention homosexuality to the Jews, because the sin’s penalty was stoning, which controlled the problem very well. But Jesus did talk about the condemnation of Sodom for its sin of homosexuality and the destruction of the city by God.
But the good news is that Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, who the Jews wanted to stone. However, he told the woman. “Go and sin no more.” Likewise, he will forgive those who practice homosexuality (or any other sin) if they repent, abandon their sinful lifestyle and receive Jesus Christ as their savior and lord.
Robert L. Rosnack
I read with interest how late fees were a “cash cow” for the Cuyahoga Falls Library (“Library sees late fees fall during theft,” June 27).
In the Akron system, you pay an arm and a leg when you lose a magazine. I expected to pay full price for the magazine, even though I know libraries have large discounts when they order.
But they tack on a $5 fee, to reprocess the loss. I would have paid $8 to $10. I did find my magazine.
Interest of students and the economy
Last week, Congress let down students, families and the economy when it failed to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling.
Congress was blocked in its attempts to prevent the increase by legislators who insisted on charging students more for their loans as a way to lower the deficit. As a result, the rate on these loans doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1. This increase will cost over 360,000 student borrowers in Ohio an additional $890 on each loan they take out.
This failure will not only affect student borrowers, it will also harm the economy, to the tune of over $320 million in additional spending on student loans.
Fortunately, Congress can still act this summer to pass a retroactive extension, before colleges issue student loan packages at the beginning of the school year in August and September.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has been a champion for students on this issue. We urge him and the rest in Congress to protect students and the economy by acting quickly to reverse this rate increase.
Tabitha M. Woodruff
Ohio Public Interest Research Group
Exchange of fish stories
This is in response to the June 30 letter “State of limited fishing,” in which the writer says he quit buying an Ohio fishing license when the law changed and a keeper walleye had to be a minimum 15 inches in length. He stated, “We would put 12- to 14-inch walleyes in the cooler for a good meal.”
My buddies and I refer to 12- to 14-inch walleyes as hammer handles because they don’t have a lot of meat on their bodies and are about the size of a hammer handle.
The writer also stated, “A 15-inch walleye is an old fish, and doesn’t taste very good.” I’ve eaten many walleyes over 15 inches, and they are delicious. Even larger walleyes are delicious, unless you have been spending too much time in the Frosty Bar at Put-in Bay eating pizza and drinking beer.
There is a perfectly good public fishing lake known as Mosquito Reservoir, and you can keep any size walleye that you care to.
Of course, you must buy a fishing license to legally fish there. From his letter, I get the impression that the writer just doesn’t want to buy one, period.
A fishing license is the least expensive part of fishing. I have many muskie lures which cost a lot more than a fishing license.
I really can’t see the purpose of his confession?