Public Hearing Announcement and Response from Jodi James

South Bend Public Hearing & State Plan information

Keith Coros sent the following announcement about a public hearing in South Bend to a e-mail list.
When I read the announcement it made me sad, because I respected Keith Coros. He was a man that I looked up too, and now he has become a tool used to maintain the very system he wishes he could have change, but has apparently decided he cannot. He was the reason I became secretary, and before it became more financially lucrative for him not to, he motivated me to be honest and accurate and to just do the best job I could.

Whatever Keith gains by becoming one of the people afraid to push buttons he was critical of in his May 13, 2006 Letter to the council, I really hope it was worth it.

Note: To clarify issues or concerns, my own comments are inserted in red

On March 29, beginning at 2:00, there will be a public hearing at the main branch of the South Bend public library in South Bend to discuss a new state plan for independent living in Indiana.

This comes about every 3 years where Hoosiers are invited to make statements about what existing centers have meant to them, how centers need to improve, and the need for new centers in underserved and underserved areas. It may seem somewhat strange to ask for comments on a plan which has not yet been formulated, but as long as we live in Indiana, we must make the best of their wisdom. I am attaching a copy of the current, 2004-2007, plan to give you an idea of what a plan looks like. Comments will be recorded by a stenographer, but no questions aside from forum procedural ones, can be answered.

The above paragraph is disturbing for many reasons:

it is very important that as many challenged individuals (think he means people with disabilities) as possible and stakeholders come to this hearing. I think we all can agree that we all have a right to self-determination, which needs to be the basic cornerstone of a center for independent living in our area. Local service providers do a great job with helping challenged individuals make decisions, via a social service person or a team, but are sometimes limited by funding and programing, in the types of individuals which they can serve. Those of us who prefer to make our own decisions to persue our life goals need to have choices, options, an advocacy based, consumer oriented center for independent living to be funded and established in our area.

Lets Rock the boat as long as we don't really. It is very important that you come and support our areas need a center. Lets not look at the entire state as a whole, but as long as we can get something (even if we can't maintain it) that would be good. Having people in south bend say they need money will help validate any fiscal support Keith is hoping to get by playing the game the way the council and the state wish him to.

Lets ignore that there are other places in Indiana with even greater needs that don't even get a chance to go to a hearing where they can't ask questions.

Those of you who share my belief in the independent living movement, please come to this hearing, and let your voices be heard about our need for a Center for Independent Living in this area. Please forward this to all who may have an interest in this hearing. Thank you....Keith Coros

Former Chair of the Council (See Secretary's Chronicles) and the state plan committee, Jodi James sent the following information to the list that the announcement was sent to in the hopes of helping people to be informed:

Former Chair of the State Plan Committee Jodi James writes:

Thank you, Keith, for sharing this information. I feel it is very important that those who attend are educated as to what a State Plan is and why it is so important. There are specific requirements that must be in a state plan. I encourage you to familiarize yourselves with these requirements and see if there are any missing in the current state plan. If so, these need to be brought to the council's attention.

The federal government gives each state a certain amount of funding under Title VII, Part B based upon percentage of population. Determination of how the Title VII, Part B funds will be spent in each state will be made jointly by the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and the VR agency.

The specific requirements of the state plan include:

You should also be aware that the centers who were started 15 years ago are now receiving 40% less than they did in the beginning. During the development of the last state plan, the state took away a million dollars over a three year period from centers and the independent living movement.

There is no money to start a new center at this time. What needs to be done is to do some real advocacy work in this state and make sure that the centers that are there are doing what they should be doing.

Currently, there are 3 state-funded centers who have never been reviewed. The state has no idea what they are doing, who they serve, and where that money is going. You have an opportunity at the public hearing to make sure that a proper review gets put into the state plan.

We also have a real job to do here and that is to make sure that Indiana uses its Money Follows the Person (MFP) money correctly. Indiana is being given $850,514 to help get people living on their own and out of nursing homes. The state now has to write up what's called a "Demonstration Operational Protocol". In its development, stakeholders and people with disabilities MUST be consulted. Have you been asked for your input yet? This is a real opportunity for people with disabilities in this state to band together and do something really positive to help ourselves and our brothers and sisters. For more information on this and the New Freedom Initiative, of which this is a part, go to

I encourage you all to take an active part in this process. People with disabilities in the state need you because the people who are supposed to be doing this are not and they need to be held accountable.

Thank you for reading this. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Jodi James

Secretary's Chronicles documents page

Secretary's Chronicles