State Rep. Charlie Meier
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
OKAWVILLE — Since taking office, I’ve had many people come up and thank me for all of my work trying to save the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center. Lately though, after thanking me, they say they’re sorry to hear it’s closing on November 30. Mr. Twain put it best with his quote that the reports of Murray Center’s closure in November have been greatly exaggerated.
Plain and simple, this is just another bunch of political hogwash to try and keep people scared and not actively helping to raise funds to fight this historic battle for our community’s most vulnerable citizens. The Governor and his administration have been involved in a long fight with the Friends of Murray and the Murray Parents Association. Those groups have made things happen in Illinois that have never happened before.
I was told when I was sworn in that the state can’t be stopped, but that is exactly what has repeatedly happened by federal and state judges. Those judges have put a halt on the transfer of residents, at least until the federal case can be heard in Chicago in early October. How can the Governor say for certain that Murray Center will close on November 30 if he doesn’t know how that court hearing will go?
The Governor has tried to sell this closure as a cost savings, but that’s not what happened in the case of the Jacksonville Developmental Center closure. The state’s unemployment cost will be an extra $6 million for the first six months. The costs the state will incur creating 546 new jobs to replace the ones being cut at Murray Center will cost $7,098,000. The CRA Contract totals $2,400,000, plus an extra $5,300 per resident moved. Then there are all of the court costs related to HIPPA violations, which could total $200,000 or more. This still doesn’t take into account the cost of maintaining the property, loss of taxes, and other trickle down effects. Where’s the savings Governor?
Now let’s talk about what the state says they want to do for our residents to get them out into the community. They say they’ll let them garden. They even promised one that he can go to a Cubs game every week. Can you believe these administration officials would promise a developmentally disabled person they can go to a baseball game every week if they just stop fighting a transfer to a CILA from Murray? Do you really believe they will keep this promise?
We’ve seen reports of residents being beaten by other patients because the CILA is so understaffed they don’t have the manpower to break up the fights. We’ve had other reports of caregivers taking residents to the hospital and not knowing where the patient’s medical records are. These folks are paid to take care of these patients and they are failing.
Some of the residents of Murray Center have been there for 20 to 40 years. Their only friends and family are the other Murray Center residents and staff. This extended family is denied the right to visit their friends after they’ve been moved out to CILA’s. Does this seem like a way to acclimate a patient to the community, locking these special people behind closed doors and denying them access to the only people they remember and love? We were told in court by the state that the Friends of Murray Center Association are little more than total strangers to these residents, but if that’s the case why has every one worked so hard to protect them? Why have we spent so much time and money on legal fees? Just because you’re not from the same blood, doesn’t mean you’re not family.
We have seen what this Governor and his administration has done to the state of Illinois. Their mismanagement has driven a once proud state with a lot to offer into the ground. At this point, I can only hope the judges that hear the Murray Center case in court will side with what’s legal and right.
Please continue to pray for and support the residents and families of Murray Center. Remember to give a hug to the staff members that are worrying about both the residents and their jobs under these extreme conditions.
There’s a lot of fighting still to take place, and there are a lot of good people still standing, ready to take on that fight. Murray Center only closes when we give into the Governor’s pressure. It only closes when we allow the Governor to win.
The reports of Murray Center’s death have been greatly exaggerated.