Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Disability and Poverty Story by Mike Ervin

Mike is a friend of mine and this article is pretty good, but one thing I would add: IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY WOMEN WHO ARE AFFECTED BY DISABILITY AND POVERTY. 3/4 of caregivers are women, and 2/3 of nursing facility residents are women. Disability and poverty are WOMEN'S REALITIES.,0,3993221.story

Poverty and disability greatly correlated, new study shows

Hard economic times are even harder when you have a disability. But poverty and disability don't have to be synonymous if we design our policies well.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (a Washington-based think tank) titled "Half in Ten" states that almost 50 percent of working-age adults who experience poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities.

People with disabilities, the report says, account for a larger share of those experiencing poverty than people in all other minority, ethnic and racial groups combined and are even a larger group than single parents.

The extra costs associated with living with a disability such as purchasing expensive equipment like wheelchairs and catheters or obtaining specialized medical attention keep many disabled people and their families in poverty, the report notes.

The report also astutely observes that direct care workers who assist people with disabilities in their homes and communities are often themselves in poverty. The median income for the 3 million direct care workers in the United States is only $17,000 a year, the report says.

Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to ensure that disability doesn't spell poverty.

The first step is universal health care. The report stresses "the fundamental importance of health care reform, especially the provision of universal coverage, to anti-poverty efforts." The lack of good health insurance, the report says, "is one of the most significant drivers of income poverty and severe disadvantage." Another important step is for the United States to adopt "the kinds of paid-sick-day and paid-sick-leave policies that are already in place in all other similarly wealthy nations."

At least 40 percent of private sector workers in the United States have no paid sick days or leave, the report says.Third, we should ease the ridiculously harsh restrictions on assets and earnings imposed on those receiving Social Security Disability Income. The current Social Security policy basically requires you to impoverish yourself before you can get disability aid from the government.

And, fourth, we should pay a decent wage to the health care providers who do such a superb job in tending to the needs of the disabled.It's clear that the current economic hardship is being made much worse for many people than it needs to be due to the disregard politicians and policymakers have for the well-being of Americans with disabilities and those who work in providing them with assistance.

It's time for that to change.


Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT ( He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; e-mail:; Web site: For information on PMP's funding, please visit article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.(c) 2009, Mike Ervin Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Monday, November 02, 2009

LGBTQ Long Term Care Survey! Check it out!

Dear Colleague:

The National Senior Citizens Law Center, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), are working together to raise awareness of the issues facing older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") and live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities. We hope to identify areas where policy changes will improve care, and to find other older adults, advocates and providers interested in these issues.

The survey is only 16 questions. It should take no more than ten minutes to fill it out. The survey completely protects your confidentiality. (However, we are looking for volunteers willing to be interviewed, so please consider checking that box!)

Click here to fill out the survey: ; or if you would like to fill out this survey manually, you can print it out from the link above and mail it to:

Nancy Arevalo
National Senior Citizens Law Center

1330 Broadway, Suite 525
Oakland, CA 94612

The deadline for responding to the survey is December 15, 2009.

Whether you are an older adult living in a long-term care facility or a family member, caretaker, social worker or friend, your answers to these questions will help as we work together to fight discrimination, abuse and neglect against LGBT older adults. Specifically, you should fill out this survey if you are:

· A lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender older adult who lives or has lived in a long-term care facility;
· A caregiver of an LGBT older adult who lives or has lived in a long-term care facility;
· A family member or friend with knowledge of an LGBT older adult's experience in a long-term care facility;
· A social worker or other helping professional who works with older adults.

Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, assisted living communities and senior living facilities.
Again, click here to fill out the survey: ; and share the survey with your colleagues!

If you have any questions, please contact Heather Wollin at: hwollin(at)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

FRIDA Update; Dixon Killer Pleads Guilty; O'Leary Case Indictments; Hate Crimes Bill Signed

Since this past July, the FRIDA blog has been on hiatus due to the retiring of our regular blogger, Linda Edwards. However, have no fear, FRIDA Fighters! We continue to look for regular contributors and I will post myself as time allows. Sometimes life can get in the way of FRIDAs, but we will never desert our cause. If you are interested in being a FRIDA blogger, please e-mail me at ambity (at) aol dot com.

A key update, for those who may have missed it, is that Michelle Riley, who was accused of being the ringleader of the group that tortured Dorothy Dixon to death, pled guilty last week. See the story at this link: We do not yet know what her sentence will be, but may it fit the crime.

In New Jersey, a grand jury indicted a care giver and a state employee in the neglect-related death of Tara O'Leary, a woman with a developmental disability. See the story at

I am sickened at the continuing neglect and abuse of people with disabilities of all ages and gender identities. It bothers me deeply that the overwhelming majority of people who can claim the title of "caregiver" are women and people who identify as women, and that women attendants and caregivers are often the perpetrators of neglect and abuse of people with disabilities. I feel very strongly that if society really valued and understood the role of attendants and caregivers, we would see much less of these abuse and neglect cases. In addition, if state case workers really knew how to do their jobs and report abuse when they see it, many of these deaths would not happen.

Can these cases be considered hate crimes? Given that we now have a new hate crimes law that covers people with disabilities as a protected class, this is a question worth considering. Would Tara O'Leary and Dorothy Dixon have died if they did not have disabilities that made them easy targets for abuse? I can only guess that they would not. Did their murderers intentionally kill them just because they had a disability? That gets foggy. Were they tired? Did they have a disability themselves? Was financial stress a cause that could be cited? Seems hard to prove and I'd love to hear feedback from the community on what you think about this issue. Any lawyers or victims advocates out there with an angle on the issue?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nov 12: FRIDAfest 2009!

Join us as we celebrate our 4th Anniversary!
$15 admission, $12 if you're not working
6 to 9 pm
115 W. Chicago, Chicago IL 60654

We have a really amazing double bill of speakers! We can't even begin to imagine all the conversations we'll have with Eli and Jenni....

Writer, speaker, and activist Eli Clare weaves together hope, critical analysis, and compassionate storytelling in his works on disability and queerness, including Exile and Pride. To learn more about Eli, see .

ChronicBabe Jenni Prokopy discusses ways to live well with a chronic illness on her website, in podcasts and in person. To learn more about Jenni and ChronicBabe, see .

6 p.m. Reception and Silent Auction
6:30 p.m. Program
8 p.m. Eli Clare Exile and Pride Book Signing

And....this is a costume party with a prize to the person who dresses most like Frida Kahlo!

ASL interpreters and PAs will be available. Access Living is a green, universally designed space. For more info and RSVP, contact Cecilia at 773-621-1718 or cmreyes21(at) Come get your FRIDA on!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Roundup

From the Los Angeles Times in Los Angeles, California, July 9, 2009 - Twenty people were arrested this morning in a $4.6-million Medi-Cal fraud scheme that allegedly used unlicensed individuals to provide in-home nursing care for disabled patients. According to the United States Attorney's office, about 75 patients, many of them children with cerebral palsy or developmental disabilities, were treated at home or at school by the unlicensed individuals who stole identities to pose as licensed nurses.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Seattle, Washington, July 8, 2009 - A disability watchdog organization has filed a law suit against Washington state, claiming that hasty budget cuts threaten to push some 900 adults with disabilities into nursing homes. The law suit seeks to delay funding cuts to a nursing care program that allows adults with disabilities to live in a state-run group home and still receive Medicaid-supported health care services.

Press release from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, July 8, 2009 - A coalition of disability advocacy organizations has sent a letter of support for Supreme Court candidate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter is signed by more than twenty disability rights organizations, including the Alexander Graham Bell Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the United Spinal Association, and cites Sotomayor's "extensive experience in, and careful approach to, deciding disability rights cases," as well as her life experience managing diabetes.

From BBC News, July 7, 2009 - According to a report by the cerebral palsy charity Scope, hate crimes against people with disabilities in Wales (UK) are unreported or unrecognised for what they are. While police recorded 132 such crimes last year, charities and campaigners said the true figures were much higher. According to Scope, of 50 serious assaults against disabled people, only one was recorded as a hate crime.

From Newsday and the Associated Press, July 7, 2009 - At the annual Little People of America (LPA) conference, the organization called for the Federal Communications Commission to ban the word “midget” from broadcast TV. The group said it had filed an official complaint with the FCC. The request was prompted by an episode of Donald Trump’s NBC reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” in which contestants created a detergent ad called “Jesse James Dirty with Midgets.” Contestants, including Joan Rivers, used sexual innuendo in talking about little people actors and suggested that they be hung up to dry.

From CBC in Canada, July 6, 2009 - Four Winnipeggers will be sentenced next Monday July 13) for their part in abusing a 23-year-old woman with developmental disabilities in early 2006. According to the report, the woman was subjected to beatings, pushed down a flight of stairs, and starved to the point of emaciation. She was also repeatedly burned with lighters, cigarettes and even a kitchen tool heated red hot on a stove. Thelma Hendricks, 63, and Amanda O'Malley, 21, have pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of assault causing bodily harm and are seeking conditional sentences that will keep them out of jail. Dale Hendricks, 34, faces 6 years in prison for his part in the abuse, and April Armstrong, 33, between four to five years.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The killing of Donna Slater: an update

Pascagoula, Mississippi, July 8, 2009 - Further to my earlier posts about the arrest of Johnny Townsend and Joe Loggins on charges of the death by stabbing of 46-year-old Donna Slater on March 5, 2009, the Associated Press reports that a third person, Nancy Scott, has been arrested and charged with her murder. Ms Slater, who had spina bifida and used a wheelchair, was found dead on the kitchen floor of her home. She had been stabbed in the neck during an apparent robbery.

For earlier reports, see WKRG-TV and here.
Arrest made in the murder of Chicago Heights woman 16 years ago

Chicago Heights, Illinois, July 7, 2009 - Police have arrested 45-year-old Van Buren Hutchinson on charges of murdering and raping 25-year-old Jeanette Reeves, a disabled woman who went missing in December 1992 from Chicago Heights and was found dead in April 1993 in the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan. As reported by the Southtown Star, Hutchinson, a private contractor who became a suspect in 1995, was arrested in South Bend, Indiana, on Friday and is being held in a South Bend jail. According to a detective with Michigan's Allegan County sheriff's office, Hutchinson is refusing extradition from Indiana to Michigan.

The story in full is here.
Abuse trial date set

South Dos Palos, California, July 7, 2009 - Martha Franco, 44, who is accused of beating her her 5-year-old autistic son until he was unconscious on May 22, 2007, will stand trial for the alleged crime on September 14. Ms Franco faces many charges, including attempted murder, torture, aggravate mayhem and child endangerment. The trial is expected to take eight days. As reported in the Merced Sun Star:

According to a sheriff's investigation report, Franco admitted abusing the boy, but was careful not to kill him so she wouldn't lose a $2,000-a-month government subsidy she received.

Investigators described the boy's injuries as horrific. For example, after the boy was transported to the hospital in a coma, doctors said he suffered a massive head injury that pushed the left side of his brain to the right side of his skull.

He also had several burn marks on his face and bite marks, scratches and bruises across his body, according to a sheriff's investigation report.

If convicted, Ms Franco faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Her husband, Jose Franco, pleaded no contest in 2007 to charges of failing to intervene in the alleged abuse. He was sentenced to 90 days jail and two years of probation.

According to Merced County Deputy District Attorney Marit Erickson, the boy is recovering and doing well.

Exploitation charges

Lexington, Kentucky, July 7, 2009 - According to WYMT, Daisy Edwards, who is the legal guardian of her sister, Ivalene Smith, who is developmentally disabled, has been charged with three counts of knowingly exploiting her. From the article:

In court Tuesday, police testified Edwards used hundreds of dollars of her sister's money to pay rent and utilities after Smith had moved to Georgetown with another family member.

Edwards is also accused of using $6,000 of her sister's money to bond a boyfriend out of jail and another $8,000 for his attorney.

Police say when questioned, she admitted to those crimes. Then, a few days later, officers say Edwards spent more than $10,000 on new furniture for her home.

Edwards' attorney says she was simply borrowing money the money and had every intention of paying it back. If she's convicted Edward's could face 15 years behind bars. She's in jail on $30,000 bond.

Caretaker abandonment charges

West Valley City, Utah, July 7, 2009 - The Salt Lake Tribune reports the arrest of a 35-year-old woman who is accused of abandoning her caretaker duties for a 91-year-old woman who died in June.

The victim suffered from renal failure, pneumonia, multiple bed sores and considerable weight loss, police wrote in charges filed Tuesday. The victim's home was found in poor condition, with black mold in the refrigerator, no appropriate food supply for the victim, empty prescription bottles and a mattress covered in stains believed to be caused by the victim's bedsores.

One of the victim's bedsores was estimated to have gone untreated for weeks, possibly months, police wrote.

A 35-year-old woman had been the victim's caretaker for three years, police wrote. She and her children were receiving mail at the victim's home, police said.

The woman was charged with aggravated abuse or neglect of a disabled or elder adult, a second-degree felony.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Alexis Glover: an update

Manassas, Virginia, July 7, 2009 - Further to my posts of March 4 and March 17 about the indictment of Alfreedia Gregg-Glover in connection with the murder of her daughter, 13-year-old Alexis Glover, the Washington Examiner reports that Ms Gregg-Glover pleaded guilty on Monday to her killing. From the article:

Alfreedia Gregg-Glover, 45, admitted Monday in Prince William County Circuit Court to felony murder, felony child abuse and filing a false police report. The Manassas woman faces up to 51 years in prison at her sentencing, which is set for October 2.

According to the Washington Post, after the plea, county police released the findings of an internal audit that found "deficiencies" in their response to reports concerning Alexis over the years.
Despite reports made to several county agencies over six years, the girl, Alexis "Lexie" Agyepong-Glover, was not removed from the home, and the case has highlighted shortcomings in the county's policies on child abuse and runaways.

The audit called for reforms in how officers train, respond to abuse reports and communicate with other agencies. From the Washington Examiner:
The report found that Glover lied to authorities; police and county social services failed to communicate with each other, and county employees did not follow proper procedures in response to abuse and neglect reports. The police department disciplined three officers for failure to follow department policy. Last month, a senior social worker was fired and two managers were disciplined.

As conveyed in earlier posts, Alexis, who was developmentally disabled, was reported missing on January 7, 2009. Sadly, her body was found submerged in a shallow creek two days later. Police said Alexis' body was placed in the creek bed the day she disappeared and before her disappearance was reported. Medical examiners determined that she drowned.