State agencies around the country say they are seeing an increase in reports of abuse of elderly people. That’s according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. And the reports don’t tell the whole story. The Center estimates that as few as 1 in 25 cases of elder abuse are reported to the authorities. This morning Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with the director of the state agency responsible for investigating elder abuse in Indiana for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
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By Joe Crawford
Proponents of a major recycling operation vowed to keep fighting for the project after it was voted down a second time on a technicality. The Monroe County Solid Waste Management District’s Board of Directors called an emergency meeting August 15th to effectively redo a vote on a materials recovery facility, also known as a MRF. The previous vote at a meeting August 8th produced confusion and frustration when several Board members either didn’t show up for the meeting or needed to leave early. In the end, only three of the Board’s seven members voted for a budget that specifically excluded $60,000 to investigate the viability of a MRF.
But, as Board President Steve Volan explained, attorneys for the District later decided those three members successfully passed their version of the budget. One of those three members, Cheryl Munson, made a motion August 15th to effectively reverse her previous vote. The motion was to approve a version of the budget that includes money for a MRF, which would allow the District to process and sell its own recyclables. The two main opponents of the MRF were Board members Patrick Stoffers and Iris Kiesling, who are also both County commissioners. Kiesling said she opposed spending money on the project partly because the District is on track to run a deficit next year. Members of the public and the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee spoke in favor of the MRF. Committee member Stephen Hale said the facility could give the District an opportunity to make more money on its recyclables.
When the Board voted on the motion to include the MRF in next year’s budget, three of the five members present approved. Volan, Munson and Julie Thomas voted for the MRF. But another technicality worked to help the opposition. Because this was a vote to amend a budget that had already been approved, attorneys said this time a majority of the full Board – or four members – was needed. Without enough votes to support the MRF, Volan said he planned to force another vote on the subject as soon as all seven members could attend a meeting. Volan said the two absent members, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and Ellettsville Town Council member Dan Swafford, were absent for health reasons.
At a meeting July 19th, the Monroe County Election Board approved a plan aimed at making voting sites more accessible for people with disabilities. The Board voted to have a team of workers inspect voting locations for compliance with the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA. That federal law includes requirements that sites have appropriate parking and equipment such as ramps. The Board first had a conversation about whether it would be acceptable to use strategies such as shuttling people to and from parking lots in golf carts..
“If somebody cannot make the walk from the parking lot, we have a golf cart that picks them up,” said County Clerk Linda Robbins.
“I do not like segregating people that,” said Judith Smith-Ille.
“That is not HAVA compliancy. That is making some people different from others and I will never vote for that.”
Smith-Ille said the golf carts idea would effectively segregate people with disabilities from other voters.
“Let us use the golf cart idea,” said Randy Paul, a disabilities rights activist who has lobbied the Country to comply with HAVA.
“The reason I think that idea should be temporary is that I understand what Judy is saying. It does make someone who has a disability feel different. For some people there is embarrassment. That is why I was so negative about the wheelchair option. I know what it was like when I first started using a wheelchair. I think we need to move off of where we were and move forward, and I think in doing that if we have an agreement saying let us move towards compliancy. Let us do what we have to in short-term to make it work. So at North let us do the golf carts or whatever we have to do with the idea that we will move towards total compliance.”
Robbins said she is still committed to making the County’s voting sites comply with the law. But she suggested advertising one particularly accessible voting site as an alternate location for any voters who worry their regular sites won’t be accessible.
“I just want to be clear here is that that suggestion in no way meant that I was looking at making the site of it accessible, HAVA compliant,” said Robbins.
“I just thought that could be an option for someone who was concerned. Someone who has maybe had a poor experience in the past, that wants to make sure they can. That they know that there is a place that they can go.”
Smith Ille was opposed to that plan, saying she wouldn’t want voters to feel embarrassed for using a special voting site. She instead said the County should work to make all the sites compliant with HAVA. Robbins later suggested the County have a group of inspectors check each voting site for accessibility once the Board selects the sites.
“I would like to make a motion that once we determine our polling location sites,” said Robbins.
“That we do request that Randy Paul and other selected employees of the clerk and other representatives that seem necessary will be to review the sites for HAVA compliance and what we need to do to make them HAVA compliant. “
The Board voted unanimously to approve Robins’ plan.