Petition to Disability Network West Michigan

Total petition signatures so far: 57

Disability Network West Michigan (Muskegon CIL): Follow the Law – Implement Consumer Control Now!

Centers for Independent Living are the only organization required by law to be staffed and led by people with significant disabilities. The Muskegon CIL does not employ people with significant disabilities on their staff and Board, and is therefore unable to represent our interests. Muskegon desperately needs a functioning Center for Independent Living so that we can have equal education and employment, accessible housing, increased control over our healthcare decisions, and – most importantly – an organization that is truly ours.

We cannot tolerate another decade of the voice of the disability community being sidelined and silenced. DNWM Board of Directors, take action – hire people with significant disabilities to staff and lead the CIL now!

Please sign this petition to help Muskegon’s disability community regain control of our greatest potential asset so that we can create an accessible and inclusive future for all.

>> Sign the Petition!

To Disability Network West Michigan (formerly Disability Connection West Michigan) Board of Directors:

  • Sandy Baker, President
  • Janet Thom, Vice President
  • John Wahlberg, Chairperson
  • Carl Occhipinti, Treasurer
  • Mark Stein, Secretary
  • Frank Hollister
  • Mike Hamm
  • Joe Doyle
  • Caryn Vennema
  • Diane Fleser, Executive Director
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2 thoughts on “Petition to Disability Network West Michigan

  1. Ms. Canter: Are you aware that people with disabilities may NOT wish to disclose their disability? And regardless of their disability, they still have the ability to perform the functions of the job? Unless you personally know all of the medical background of every staff member and board member at DNWM and also have read their individual medical records, I would strongly suggest that you back off in making such associations unless YOU can produce medical documentation that shows these individual at DNWM do NOT have disabilities. If I were a person who was either on the Board or a staff member employed at DNWM, I would make sure you were called into court over tis matter. Further because of this, I want to make sure that all staff employed and board members are personally aware of these accusations that you made. YOU appears that have lots of energy that could be better put to use in a more positive manner! I will make sure I will individually contact every staff and board member and get their feedback. Who serves on Peer Action Alliance’s Board? Are you registered as a non-profit or are you a One Person Alliance? I will look forward to the names of the individuals on your board or is it a private alliance?

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    • Hi Curt,

      I’d be happy to answer your questions.

      I am also a person with a disability. I’ve worked in the field of Independent Living for the past 12 years, in Muskegon and at the national level. I’m extremely familiar with the laws, history, and culture of America’s Independent Living Program.

      First, I’d like to address your statement that “Unless you personally know all of the medical background of every staff member and board member at DNWM and also have read their individual medical records, I would strongly suggest that you back off in making such associations unless YOU can produce medical documentation that shows these individual at DNWM do NOT have disabilities”.

      Disability is not the same as diagnosis. In fact, Centers for Independent Living were specifically created to exemplify the Independent Living Model of disability, as opposed to the Medical Model. The Independent Living Model sees disability as a construct of society, not as inherent to an individual’s perceived differences. The law says that the staff and Board of a CIL must be comprised of a majority of individuals who identify as persons with significant disabilities. That means they must – literally – identify as persons with disabilities. I’ve asked them. They don’t.

      I’m glad you found assistance at your CIL. That’s what they receive a quarter million dollars in taxpayer funds to do! Unfortunately, they are not in compliance with the law – plain and simple. That’s not defamation of character – it’s a fact. If their staff and Board are comprised of people with disabilities, why don’t they identify as such? In the Independent Living Movement, we celebrate disability pride by staffing CILs with at least 51% people who proudly, publicly, and passionately identify as members of our community. It is essential to the mission of a CIL.

      It is my dream that we will have a fully functioning CIL in Muskegon. We need it desperately. All across this country, Centers for Independent Living – run by and for people with disabilities – are doing amazing things. I want that for us. We need to start at the start – by following the law.

      We are only having these discussions in public because our CIL refuses to have them in private. What we’re doing is not easy, and I ask you to consider that. No one has defamed anyone’s character. This is disability rights advocacy and it’s not ok that this is the first time Muskegon’s witnessing it.

      Peer Action Alliance is an informal group of advocates who are doing exactly what our CIL is required by law to do: consumer-driven advocacy. I hope you’ll join us!

      Please let me know if you’d like to continue the discussion.

      Eleanor

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