According to state Representative Charlie Meier, an Okawville republican, he and fellow representative Naomi Jakobsson, a Champaign democrat, toured the Warren G. Murray Center in Centralia this weekend and left with some heartbreaking stories.
Meier says residents repeatedly asked him and Jakobsson to help them stay at Murray, crying from the knowledge they would soon be moved.
Meier commented that residents who are wards of the state and are aware of their pending transfers are upset, with one Elm Cottage resident crying for help and even noting he would soon be moved to Fox Developmental Center in Dwight.
Meier is angry that residents are being moved into other SODCs and not community integrated living arrangement homes, or CILAs, as the state has repeatedly said was its goal.
He says that any move out of Murray results in an additional $5,300 for the private Missouri company hired by the state to oversee the closures of state developmental facilities, and calls the practice a sickening display of politics.
Department of Human Services spokeswoman Januari Smith says the claim of a $5,300 bonus per resident placement is not true.
However, according to a document on the Commission of Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) website shows a per resident assessment and transition fee of $5,300 per resident as part of the closure costs of both Jacksonville and Murray developmental centers.
The downstate lawmaker also claims the residents are being moved without benefit of visits, which the state has always claimed would be done prior to any transfers.
Instead, he claims, the residents are told they are going to workshop and never again return to Murray even to be able to say goodbye to life-long friends.
Smith said she could not confirm or deny that residents are told they are going to workshop and simply never return to Murray, but she says all transfers go for pre-visits and 11 residents are currently on pre-visits at this time.
According to Meier, Jakobsson was shocked by her visit, saying she didn’t realize the severity of the disabilities at Murray.
He says she had initially voted against his measure to keep Murray open, but that as she left the center she told him she would call Gov. Pat Quinn every day to ask for Murray to remain open.