Archive for Friday, July 29, 2011

Local officials, representatives hope to prevent closure of Lawrence SRS office

July 29, 2011

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Talks are under way to save the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, officials said Friday.

Douglas County commissioners met in closed session to gather information aimed at keeping the office in operation.

And a meeting is scheduled next week between House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and Gov. Sam Brownback.

“I’m encouraged that SRS and the governor’s office are at least willing to talk with us,” Davis said.

Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. have proposed closing nine SRS offices, including the one in Lawrence, to save $1 million in administrative costs.

Douglas County commissioners met with Administrator Craig Weinaug and Chris Berger, assistant county counselor, for 80 minutes Friday afternoon, during an executive session at the Douglas County Courthouse called to discuss matters deemed privileged through their attorney-client relationship.

Commissioners declined to comment on their discussions, but they clearly walked out with the SRS situation on their minds.

“We’re continuing to work on that issue,” said Jim Flory, a Republican who serves as commission chairman.

Added Mike Gaughan, a Democrat, “We have not yet had any discussions with the state about alternative outcomes. However, everybody recognizes the importance of resolving this in a way that maintains the relationships and the unique services that SRS is able to provide to our community.”

Gaughan added: “We’re looking forward to working with the state to keep this office open.”

The Lawrence office, with 87 employees who assist thousands of clients, is by far the largest slated for closure.

Since the announcement July 1, officials in Lawrence have asked Brownback to keep the office open, saying the decision to shut it down was made with incomplete information.

Siedlecki has said closing the Lawrence operations — housed in two buildings at 1900 and 1901 Del. — would save the state $400,000, mostly in rental costs.

But about half the rent is paid for with federal funds. And a possible lawsuit against the state for breaking its lease at the SRS office could negate any savings, local officials have said.

Some in the community have suggested local government could help out with the costs, but no public discussion among policymakers of that has taken place yet.

Brownback and Siedlecki have also argued that SRS clients could access services online or by traveling to offices in Topeka, Kansas City or Overland Park. Advocates for the poor and those with disabilities say many SRS services, such as applying for Medicaid, cannot be done online, and many of those seeking assistance don’t have transportation to other cities.

“Our most vulnerable citizens lack the resources or ability to travel 40 miles and would therefore be left unable to access services when a visit is required,” Douglas County legislators said in a letter to Brownback.

“Overall, it may not be cutting costs, but simply shifting them to the community, the clients and to other state agencies,” the letter said.

It was signed by state Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and state Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, Ann Mah, D-Topeka, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and Davis.

Comments

skinny 4 years ago

Sorry, it's a done deal. The SRS office is closing!

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

Doesn't sound like a done deal to me! Seems to me that Brownie and his chronies are gettin' a whole lotta heat from many angles. I think the kitchen is on fire and Brownie is lookin' for the extinguisher in order to save his fried chicken!

angelbear 4 years ago

Well this is the most postive thing we have seen yet. Finally got a meeting with the governer. But i wonder is this a smoke screen or a distracton for something else?

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

There is something to be said for fighting the good fight. There is something sad about fighting a losing battle. Where are we now? Well, I suspect the closure will happen. How we all respond to it is the next question. We can work to elect representatives that will re-open the office at some future date. If nothing else, our current governor is a politician's politician. A strong showing in the next state election will send a message he will need to listen to. Or we can begin now to build a consensus candidate that can successfully challenge Brownback during the next governor's election. Or we can encourage local service agencies to expand their services to lessen the negative impact to recipients. Or we try to establish transportation for recipients so they can access services at the nearest SRS office. There are several ways to continue the fight. If I'm right that the closure is inevitable, then wasting energy fighting a losing battle will ultimately hurt those you are trying to help. That's "if" I'm correct, which I don't know if I am.

ChangeIntheWind 4 years ago

I sense moderates and liberals of all parties observing this change of the guard and wondering if it represents the real values of Kansans. Keep looking beyond the smoke and mirrors and look to what values are being forced on us. We do need a consensus candidate. Who will step forward or be thrust into answering this need?

Mike1949 4 years ago

jhawkinsf, if mickey mouse was on the ballet against Brownback he would win a land slide. That idiot has got just about everyone, and I am talking about stanch Republicans madder than all get out. So not only Democrats and Independents are planning on removing the Republican facade for the first time in Kansas history that I can remember, but it is going to be done with vengeance!

SDTPlant 4 years ago

Oh, I dunno. I think it's a mutual effort.

LH3867 4 years ago

Send Siedlecki packing. Here comes the spin. SRS is keeping the office open because it would cost more to close it with the lawsuit and other things they failed to take into consideration with NO plan. " However, everybody recognizes the importance of resolving this in a way that maintains the relationships and the unique services that SRS is able to provide to our community.” Interpretation: SRS and the governor need to save face before they come out with the fact they are keeping it open. Let's meet and let them do that. At this point though, it doesn't matter. The citizens of our community that need service can continue to get them. That is good. Bottom line.

myopinion 4 years ago

We don't need this Siedlecki plan here in Kansas that failed in Florida. Go to Google and check it out. Access Florida. There are numerous reports of the problems they are trying to force on Kansas now. Some of he reports are over 100 pages long. Who asked the tax paying citizens of Kansas if they want this ridiculous system that merely saves money because it is on-line, gets rid of all Social services, and replaces them with "State of Kansas On-line services".

Alceste 4 years ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFReXI... = Robert Siedlecki speaks at the Kansas Family Strengthening Summit (June 08, 2011): http://thefamilystrengtheningcoalition.com/2011/05/presenteeism/

That guy isn't going anywhere and will be in Kansas, I predict, for AT LEAST eight years (unless he gets a better offer from some other Republican hack....).....

xyz 4 years ago

Since a meeting is scheduled with Flim Flam Sam next week, flood his email and phones with messages to keep the Lawrence SRS office open! www.governor.ks.gov

xyz 4 years ago

The web address that I posted, www.governor.ks.gov is not under construction, but Flim Flam Sam does make you hunt to find the link to email him!

Soapbox 4 years ago

It's done and closed..............sorry bad economy..........no matter who is to blame Bush or Obama............IT IS OVER, QUIT complaining and deal with it............

jafs 4 years ago

Except there's money for new administrative positions, massive statehouse renovations, massive road projects, and outside counsel for lawsuits.

It's a matter of priorities - I'd rather keep SRS open, and cut back on some of the above instead.

LH3867 4 years ago

Don't think so Soapbox. It's staying open.

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

The proof will be in Brownback's "Crow" Pudding!! lol

LH3867 4 years ago

INDEED!!! I agree with you larrytowngirl. Can't wait for the spin they put on this one.

4accountability 4 years ago

SRS was never supposed to be the end all be all for any community. Family, friends, neighbors, community members were always (and still are) supposed to be the first hearts and hands to help those in need. Everyone likes the easy answer of referring to SRS. I have a family member I wish had never been referred to SRS. A real job referral would have been much more productive for her, her children, and the rest of us as well. Not going to work was made too easy. Staying on welfare was made way too easy too. Lifetime limits sound good but they rarely have been used. A person only need say they have been a victim of domestic violence and they can stay on welfare roles forever, always the victim. Sad.

lunacydetector 4 years ago

this closing will hurt too many people....the county is buying land for the homeless shelter, all the low income housing will be empty, the homeless will move away, the t-bus won't have anymore riders, all the supporting agencies won't have anything to do, throw in the frivolous unwinnable wasteful lawsuit most likely paid for by douglas county citizens to sue the rest of state....i see why everyone is up in arms.

LHS56 4 years ago

If you were Brownback wouldn't you agree to have a meeting? He has stated the reasons the SRS office will be cloosed. Unless "we"...being the City/County...propose a cost/face savings plan, Brownback will not change his decision. But....keep flooding his e-mail. And not for this issue but so many others. Just how much do you think it will cost the taxpayers to pay for his and his staff's trip to Texas for the "prayer day.?" Separation of Church and State must not be on the agenda.

Steve Miller 4 years ago

Nothin like seein a politician backen up.. what else woudl you expect from brownie ...

nouseforaname 4 years ago

I talked to an employee at the Lawrence SRS office last night and I found it interesting that Douglas County has a one worker-one family policy in the sense that if a family needs a social worker for different situations, the same social worker will be assigned to all their cases. This allows the social worker to build a strong relationship with the family and be able to tend to their needs and provide a better response. I thought it was really touching that our local office was so committed to providing that extra step in social welfare, which is compassion. What has the potential to be a strictly bureaucratic process was turned into an opportunity to build and foster human connections which has been shown time and time again to be the foundation of a healthy and happy communities and individuals.

I think it is very telling of our current administration and a large portion of our population if they're willing to get rid of this valuable component of our community in the name of dollars and cents. Compassionate Conservatism: "We would feel bad about it, but look at all this money we're saving!"*

*actual savings not typical

XTC 4 years ago

What about the other eight offices that are being closed? Is it fair to their community that the Lawrence should remain open??? Sure Lawrence has more citizens, but I sure those out West also want a free lunch....

deec 4 years ago

Of course they should remain open. What are those communities doing to try to make that happen?

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

from my e-mail inbox this morning... Dear Friends, It’s been a long, hot summer and thanks to all your efforts, there’s no doubt that Gov. Brownback is feeling the heat regarding the shortsighted decision to close the Lawrence SRS Office.

Help us as we continue to apply pressure to Gov. Brownback and Sec. Siedlecki by attending a rally at the capitol. Save Our SRS: Rally at the Capitol Saturday, August 13th 11:00am to 12:00pm South lawn of the capitol building The plan is to deliver our petition to Gov. Brownback that day, but before we do so, we need more signatures! We’re looking for volunteers to walk door-to-door in their neighborhood and collect signatures. (sign petition here:
http://www.ipetitions.com/​petition/saveoursrs/ ) (posted it to my facebook with request..hope some of you do the same.)

Want to help? Send us an e-mail with “Neighborhood walk” in the subject line. We’ll e-mail you back with all of the documents you need to get you started. You can also join us on the following dates as we spread out across the Lawrence community:
Thursday, August 4th: 7 – 8:30pm Saturday, August 6th: 10am – 12pm Tuesday, August 9th: 7-8:30pm Thursday, August 11th: 7-8:30pm We’ll provide you the location, team you up with a partner, and give you a walk packet. We’ll update you on where you’re needed as the date approaches. Sincerely, Save Our SRS

deec 4 years ago

Do they have it on facebook yet?

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

deec.. I have not seen it posted on facebook yet.

LH3867 4 years ago

I notices that "Save our SRS" does have a page on Facebook.

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

yes.. and here is that link LH3867.. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/SaveOurSRS However.. the rally in Topeka on Aug 13 has not been posted to it.. seems as if it should be, but it's not. ???

JayhawkFan1985 4 years ago

What's the real difference between Republicans and Democrats these days?

Republicans govern based on fear and blind faith. Democrats govern based on hope with eyes wide open.

downriverdan 4 years ago

top SRS official asks district judges not to commit people who are a danger to themselves or others to state mental health centers.

The state hospitals, he said, should not be required to take more patients than budgets allow. “They need to figure out a way how not to break the bank,” Moreno said, referring to the judges and to the state’s community mental health centers. http://www.gbtribune.com/section/41/article/18417/

LH3867 4 years ago

Putting money towards marriage initiatives when cutting srs services and asking judges not to committ individuals that are a danger or self or others is beyond messed up! Something has to change.

Alceste 4 years ago

LH3867 (anonymous) says… Putting money towards marriage initiatives when cutting srs services and asking judges not to committ individuals that are a danger or self or others is beyond messed up! Something has to change. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So, you're FINALLY getting the picture that SRS is messed up from the top down and the bottom up? Brownback inherited a swamp and instead of draining the swamp, he's adding more bugs.

This "SaveOurSRS" is all fine and good....but it begs the larger question: Will this "public outcry" be a force that stands the test of time and is committed to reversing the past trends within SRS which center around destruction of families via the child welfare process in this state; mis-use of federally ear-marked money for specific programs; mis-application of federal rules and regulations relative to the removal of children and the placement of them into foster care; mis-allocation of staff time and efforts (far too few eligibility workers and case managers and far too many actual social workers who really don't have all that much to do given that case management in SRS once a child has been removed has been farmed out to the private sector); etc., etc., etc.

Or is this "effort" simply to make life easier for those who have friends and family who work in an office....and after it's protected, it's back to business as ususal: Porch slaves telling on the field slaves to the house slaves who tell Mr. Charlie?

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