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Springs Splash - Thomas Martin - September 2015

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Springs Splash - September 2015

by Tom Martin

Over 200 citizens, employees, parents and relatives of clients debated the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) at a late August meeting at Altimira Middle School. State Senator Mike Maguire called the Town Hall Meeting to review where matters stand as the deadline for submitting a closure plan approaches.

September 1 – Final Date For Public Comment Submissions 

The final date for submitting ideas and recommendations for the SDC has passed. Those present at the Town Hall Meeting voiced concerns and questions. The unified sentiment was to keep the Center open.

October 1 – Closure Plan To Legislature 

A plan will be sent to the Legislature by October 1. Santi Rogers, Director of the Department of Developmental Services said plans will be open to amendment. Nancy Dooley Secretary of California Health and Human Services Dooley pledged, “I will create an environment for making a good decision.”

Public Doubt Expressed On Several Fronts… 

Audience members voiced fears for clients based on experience and knowledge of Regional Centers where clients will be sent if closure comes in 2018. Several people asked how their relatives could be protected in a Regional Center when they suffer from multiple problems requiring 24/7 care, special medications, and unique physical equipment. To such questions, Director Rogers stated many times that before placement those individual needs will be part of the client’s “individual life plan.”

Political Leaders Lend Support

Congressman Mike Thompson, State Senator Lois Wolk, and Assemblyman Bill Dodd expressed views of support for the SDC.  Each praised those working to prevent closure. Dodd said, “I oppose closure by 2018.” Sen. Wolk added, “Whatever plan is adopted there must be oversight.”

Meaningful commentary… 

Sen. Mike Maguire: “The State must get involved to allow SDC to go longer.

Secretary Nancy Dooley: “There is no plan to make the property “surplus.”

Supervisor Susan Gorin: “You can’t separate these components, residents and families, 1300 employees, and the 900 acres of land.”

Parent: “The State is making a train wreck for my son.”

Parent: “I’m not convinced the funding will follow the clients (to Regional Centers).” 

Helen Rountree: “This is a humanitarian decision. The Sonoma Valley Democrats and Sonoma County Democrats support extension of the program, not closure.”

John Doyle, DDS: “The Dept. of General Services has control over the land, not DDS.” 

Supervisor Susan Gorin: “If we fail to use the land and facilities, shame on us!”