The following comments where presented to Michigan’s Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) on June 20, 2016, immediately preceding a nearly unanimous vote to approve Michigan’s State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL).
By Eleanor Canter
This Council, which is not consumer controlled, does not have the consent of the disability community to approve or implement this State Plan.
The SPIL does not in any way address the need for improved or expanded Independent Living services for Michiganders with disabilities. Consumer input was taken as required by law, but no consumer input made it into the SPIL. The reason is clear. Because Michigan’s CILs are not consumer controlled and are aggressively opposed to Independent Living philosophy, consumer input on improving Michigan’s Independent Living Program was completely ignored by the SPIL writing team, which featured the non-disabled Executive Directors from Michigan’s worst CILs.
In Muskegon, Tamera Collier and Mike Hamm openly treat consumers with contempt and extreme disrespect. People with disabilities in Muskegon have no access to the core services Disability Network West Michigan collects over one million dollars in taxpayer money annually to provide. It is fraud and no one cares because everybody’s getting paid not to care.
I specifically object to the refusal of Michigan’s CILs to provide the 5th core service. Youth transition as a core service was specifically designed by Senator Harkin to break the school-to-sheltered work pipeline. Michigan CILs are implementing the youth transition requirement by partnering directly with sheltered workshops. This partnership is funded by MRS, so everybody wins – except consumers.
The State of Michigan is leading an attack on Independent Living values and principles. Michigan’s Independent Living Program will soon be completely overtaken by vocational rehabilitation. Advocates are no longer welcome at the CILs and SILC. If we do not document and oppose what’s happening, we will lose an entire state of CILs to vocational rehabilitation and Michiganders with disabilities will continue to suffer without access to IL services, including disability-led advocacy. We cannot let this happen.
The Independent Living community has always been home to me. We will never accept CILs dominated by departments of state government, and run for the enrichment of the businesses exploiting consumers.
The new Executive Order defines a quorum as a majority of voting members, but that is not actually legal. The Rehabilitation Act requires a majority of members not employed by CILs or the state to establish a quorum of this Council.
I do not believe you have a quorum today. The Michigan SILC does not meet the requirement to be composed of a majority of individuals with disabilities not employed by CILs or the state. A quorum cannot be achieved because we don’t have a SILC.