Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disability Rights Group Under State Investigation

As I have been reporting, Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele had once again had a temper tantrum aimed at the Milwaukee County Board.  This tantrum had to do with the fact that the County Board had the audacity to put into place safety nets for the patients at the mental health complex who are being forced into the community, whether there is an appropriate support system in place or not.

Abele's tantrum was enough that he once again went to his Teapublican allies in the state legislature to strip the board of any oversight authority over the mental health system.  Instead, the fate of the patients will rest on a panel of political appointees and the heads of the companies that will be profiteering from Abele's abdication to the patients of the hospital.

The proponents of this power grab said that it was to take the system from politicians.  No, really.

In an effort to justify his abdication and auctioning off of the mental health system, Abele used a report issued by the advocacy group, Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW).

The report in itself was the subject of great controversy.  County board supervisors accused the group of violating patients' confidentiality and that the report was kept secret from them for months in order to advance their political agenda:
Disability Rights Wisconsin was accused by irate county supervisors of violating patient confidentiality laws, of playing politics and working to wrest control of the complex from the county, during a meeting of the County Board's health committee.

Supervisor John Weishan Jr. accused the rights group of conducting a media campaign "to slander our system so you can fulfill your strategy of a state takeover" of the complex.

A concern of supervisors was why Disability Rights Wisconsin did not include the County Board when it secretly sent its report on patient safety last June to County Executive Chris Abele and two county health administrators, as well as state and federal regulators.

Corporation Counsel Paul Bargren also faulted the group for disseminating the report earlier this month, after the Journal Sentinel first reported on it Jan 14.

"This constitutes a grave breach by DRW of its statutory, ethical and contractual patient confidentiality obligations," Bargren wrote in a Jan. 20 letter.
Abele and his pet Teapublcans ignored this issue, blowing it off as an example of how overreaching the board could be.

Turns out that the Board was right on the button.  Again.

Bargren had written to Scott Walker to express his concerns about the report.  Surprisingly, Walker responded.  Even more surprisingly, he agreed that there needs to be an investigation into DRW and their report:

It's anybody's guess where this matter might lead. Just like his protege Abele, Walker is not one to be trusted. After all, Walker is the one that used this report to claim that the mental health system was like a "natural disaster" while totally ignoring the role he played in ruining the system.  Now he is saying that he agrees that it might be faulty?

My prediction is that it will be found faulty only if it doesn't reflect poorly on him.  If he would get painted in a even worse picture than he's painting for himself, then nothing will be found with the report.

It's also worth noting that the report focused on the deaths that occurred at the mental health complex in 2012, while Abele was administrating the facility.

That's significant because it shows that two consecutive county executives brought the system into ruins.

Yet it is the Board, which had no control over the operations of the facility, outside of setting basic policy and the budget.  Yet it is the Board - along with the patients and the taxpayers - who are being punished for Walker's and Abele's misdeeds.


  1. Taking this "investigation" under his wing, he has the ability to direct and control it. Much like the the O'Donnel parking garage fiasco. Control what information gets released, control damage.

    1. Very Christie-like, with Scotty's hand-picked buddies running the "investigation", no doubt.

  2. Capper, nice scoop

  3. Look, you may disagree with Disability Rights on this issue (and I'm not taking a position on this issue). But if you think there is ANYTHING good that can come out of a state-led investigation of them you are simply wrong. DRW is a non-profit that protects the rights of people with disabilities. They have, among other things, stood against this administration on issues like voter ID and school vouchers and medicaid expansion. I'm sure Walker would love to try to cripple them.

  4. ugh, that was a terrible and unintentional last sentence in the post above. I'm sure Walker would love to try to eliminate their effectiveness (or existence).

  5. This is political theater. Like the O'Donnel parking garage death, which emails show that SKW micromanaged for damage control, it looks like he will do the same here, using his appointees to make a real "investigation," so that he will come out spotless, and Abele--the "Democrat" who so eagerly goes right along with the Teapublicans--takes the blame, even though he lobbied for the power grab over the County Board.
    Once again, so much for local control.

  6. Incontrovertible WisdomMarch 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Have you intentionally chosen to ignore the fact that the county’s total disregard for the health and safety of those admitted into its mental health institutions has resulted in the horrific and entirely avoidable deaths of 6 individuals, or are you more interested in pushing your vapid assumption that facts do not matter? Had you cared to even do the most rudimentary of research, you would have determined that DRW has no political bend to it; it will take to task any organization on any side of the isle that it views as being unfair or acting improperly towards those with disabilities. In my opinion, your article reveals you to be nothing more than a shill for the Milwaukee County Board. A board that is seemingly more interested in concealing its faults and evading blame than ensuring that a modicum of care is being provided to the most vulnerable of our society. Bravo.

    1. Not at all. But unlike you, I have also not ignored that it was Abele, not the County Board, who was administering the day to day operations. It is Abele that chose to understaff the facility endangering workers and patients alike. I also am fully aware that it was Abele that is ultimately responsible for those deaths.

      I am also aware that by not bringing their concerns to the board so that policy could be changed, Abele and DRW chose to play politics with those deaths.

      And considering that I have occasion to have dealings with DRW for the past 19 years, I know them all too well. To put it politely, they are rather agenda driven.

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