In a surprise turn of events Thursday, Murray Parents Association President Rita Winkeler finally had the opportunity to meet with Gov. Pat Quinn, when the MPA was in Springfield for budget hearings.
Winkeler encountered the Governor as he was stepping down from a podium where he had been speaking at a gun control rally. She walked up to him and said they needed to talk about Murray Center, to which he repeatedly mentioned the “person-centered” plan being used for placements.
She says she told the Governor there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for the developmentally disabled and invited him to visit the Murray Center, something to this day he has never done.
Quinn was told about three families who had failed community placements of their disabled loved ones, some as many as three failed placements, and of the abuse and neglect their loved ones suffered – of being hit and kicked – while in community living arrangements.
The two spoke for only five minutes, but the entire time cameras at the Capitol were rolling and microphones were in their faces, noted Winkeler.
Following her few minutes with the Governor, Winkeler, along with Brenda Hamilton, was interviewed by Illinois Public Radio and Illinois Issues Magazine regarding the Murray Center and Hamilton spoke of her brother’s failed attempt at community placement.
The MPA group also visited every senator and representative in Springfield, dropping off a packet of information put together by guardian Steve Groner, which included letters written by the parents/guardians of Murray residents who had failed community placements, before finally finding their home at the Murray Center. Winkeler emphasized the fact that the Murray Center is home to the more than 200 residents and is much more than an institution.
The group also met with some of the Human Services Committee members, and guardians Karen Kelly and Laurie Stengler spoke in front of the Budget Hearing Committee about the value of Murray and disproving Quinn’s media statements Wednesday in which he said families and residents of Murray are looking forward to the closure.