Board should work together to serve developmentally disabled

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I am Larry Tidd, vice chairman of the Cape County Board for Developmental Disabilities. First, I want to point out that the following is my opinion, not necessarily that of the other members of the board. This board is a nonpaid, all-volunteer board appointed by the county commissioners per Missouri statute.

The recent parade of articles in the Southeast Missourian have purported to show problems within the board, certainly from a one-sided point of view.

During the last two years, we have worked toward becoming a board that had agreed to work toward serving as many of the developmentally disabled people in Cape Girardeau County as we are able.

The current condition we find ourselves in is having a board chairman that has her own agenda and acts to carry out that agenda without bringing it to the board for discussion, development and getting a majority of board approval. By statute this is supposed to be a nine-member board, not a ONE-person crusade. Instead of working within the board, Ms. Johnson uses such tactics as innuendo, character assassination, threats, blackmail, stonewalling and "public-opinion" to serve her agenda. This has been encouraged by a number of sensationalized articles in the Southeast Missourian and the interference of one of the county commissioners.

The article in the July 8 paper is a perfect example. It is about an upcoming regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 12, at the county administration building. The first few paragraphs lay out what should be a desirable path, however, the policy and procedures Ms. Johnson wants to push through have not been examined, discussed or modified to fit with this county. They are a direct copy of another county's SB40 Board's procedures that evolved through years of hard work. While I am in favor of using the best information available, I cannot recommend that we "rubber-stamp" another's procedure.

Another item on Tuesday's agenda is to discuss moving the Targeted Case Management offices to "remove the 'dark cloud' of conflict" that Ms. Johnson states she believes hovers over the existing one. At the time of selecting these offices, everyone on the Board agreed that this was an excellent arrangement to start our Targeted Case Management program. It had twice the space at half the cost of the alternative our former executive director had agreed to without board approval and was the best option that the officers could find at the time. So now because of Ms. Johnson's smear tactics against Jeff Baer, board treasurer, we have a "dark cloud" over the current office. Does this mean that we should move the offices to another property of Ms. Johnson's personal friend without any costs considerations or knowing anything about a potential lease's details? While the proposed building may be a worthwhile consideration, I don't think that this has been properly evaluated by the board.

According to Scott Moyers' earlier article, and I quote, "However, at that same meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the county administration building, Johnson may also be fighting to keep her post as president. The agenda also includes election of officers, and Johnson recently said she fears certain board members may be planning to name someone else to the job." The election of officers is also on the agenda as it is on an annual basis. The job or responsibility of being the board chairman is not Ms. Johnson's automatic right. It is supposed to be an election from the entire board by the entire board. Outside pressure from a few vocal people in the audience should not control or shape the function of this board. It would appear that other similar boards have put very short term limits on their officers (one to two years), perhaps to help prevent some of these same problems we are experiencing at this time.

The article continues to quote a private citizen and Commissioner Jay Purcell, stating their personal views in an effort to pressure the members of the board to vote a certain way. This is neither news nor newsworthy. It is however an attempt to intimidate members of this citizen board.

Finally, this article restates views about the other property Ms. Johnson wants considered and Mr. Purcell's opinion about the performance as board chairman by Ms. Johnson. The primary legacy of her term as board chairman is to create and perpetuate discord and division within the board to the level of paralysis.

It is my hope that the entire Cape County Board for Developmental Disabilities can begin to work together to develop proper policies and procedures that will allow it to best use the moneys provided by the county tax levy to serve as many as possible of the developmentally disabled persons within our county.

If current board members cannot find a way to work together, then I feel all members should resign and let the county commissioners replace the board with people who can find a way to work toward that end.

Larry Tidd is the vice chairman of the Cape County Board for Developmental Disabilities.

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