Even though the developmentally disabled community, #KeepThePromise and #LantermanAct, has been neglected, again, there is still action that can be taken in hopes of seeing an increase in funding for service providers throughout the state of California. Another terrific article (below) by Greg deGiere, Public Policy Director at the Arc California, clearly articulates how we can all press in to save developmental services using very practical steps. We must keep up the pressure in hopes that the Legislature will #KeepThePromise.
I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking what people can do now to keep the pressure on the Legislature to put their votes where their mouths are and save our developmental service system.
Thank you for asking.
The state senators and assemblymembers are out of the Capitol until January — unless they come back to pass a bill to stop our services from collapsing, as they should. Most of them will spend most of their time in their home districts, somewhere around where you live. This is our chance to up their awareness of us even more.
This following suggestions are based on my years of working for legislators and seeing how people at the grassroots sometimes succeed in influencing them. And they’re based on the facts that, as everybody knows, out of sight is out of mind, but the squeaky wheel sometimes gets the grease. Sometimes even a few determined people can get what they need this way, and I know our community has a lot more than just a few determined people.
And frankly, they’re also based on my own frustration and, OK, anger with the fact that the Legislature still hasn’t fixed the problem.
So, if you’re really committed to saving our services, and you are able, here’s how to spend some time from now through Christmas ….
Find out about all of your senator’s and assemblymember’s town hall meetings and other public events, and go to all of them. You can find their town halls and some other events on their web sites, and with some research you should be able to find other events, too.
If you don’t know who your legislators are, they probably don’t know who you are, either, and it’s time for them to find out. Click here.
Go prepared to talk. Take some friends with you — even if they’re too scared to talk, they can cheer when you do. And you can all hold up signs.
Don’t be rude to your legislators or treat them as enemies or stupid. They aren’t. Treat them as if they deserve respect, which they do, and as if you deserve the same respect from them, which you do, too.
Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.
Start by thanking them for being supportive in the past, if they have been (as most have, some a lot). But make it clear we need them now more than ever. Our service system is falling apart, and despite their best efforts, the Legislature has done exactly NOTHING to stop it. They’ve tried, but they have to try a lot harder and smarter.
Tell them about yourself (if you’re a person with a developmental disability) or about the people you love and those your serve (if you are a family, member, friend, or service provider). Show them pictures of your loved ones.
Tell them we can’t wait until 2016 — the Legislature needs to act this year because the services are falling apart now. We don’t know how many more services will be lost forever if they keep waiting.
If they try to blame the deadlock on the other party, tell them they’re probably right. (Honestly, they probably are, there’s plenty of blame to go around.) But ask your legislator what he or she is doing to talk to members of the other party and reach a compromise, which is the only way we’ll ever get anything.
If they try to blame it on Governor Brown, you can agree with them wholeheartedly. He’s been abominable. But tell them it’s time for them to stand up to Jerry Brown — including by being willing to override his potential veto of the Democratic-Republican compromise bill they need to develop and send him. Standing up to Brown will be a lot harder for the Democrats than for the Republicans, but we didn’t elect them to do easy things.
Then go to the next event. Repeat what you have to say, and ask them what they’ve done since the last time.
If there’s no time for the public to talk at one of these events, hold up your signs. If it’s a campaign fundraiser and you can’t afford to pay to go, or if it’s some other private event, stand outside with your signs so your legislator and all their supporters can see.
If your legislators are among the few who are unresponsive to all this, and the fall is slipping away with still no action, go stand outside their local offices with your signs. Call the media. Tweet pictures. Then come back again the next week — and every week.
And keep it up all fall. It gets easier every time you try it.
Sounds like it will take a lot of time and energy and courage, doesn’t it? Yes, it will. The mothers who pestered Frank Lanterman and all the other legislators into passing what because the Lanterman Act didn’t get what they wanted by being quiet.”
Thank you again for asking.
And thank you for your advocacy.
One good way to keep track of what’s happening this fall is to subscribe to The Arc’s Monday Morning Memo. Click here for that.