Patrick, moreover, has not provided the Commission with a staff or budget. As a result, Jean McGuire, assistant secretary of health and human services, has been put in charge of it.
Patrick has also failed to appoint anyone representing facility residents to the re-established Commission. At least nine of the 13 members he appointed or reappointed either have ties to human service vendors who do business with the state, with DMR itself, or with groups that provide community-based services.
In announcing last month that they are planning to close four of six remaining state facilities for persons with mental retardation, the EOHHS and DMR stated that the Governor's Commission will have oversight of the facility closings. In our view, this subverts the original intent of the Commission.
Weld's original executive order had noted that the purpose of the Commission included “monitoring the quality and effectiveness of the state's services to people with mental retardation.” Weld also charged the Commission with recommending resolutions of disputes between DMR and its clients and making its analyses public twice a year.
Now, with a top EOHHS official in charge and with no staff or budget, the Commission's purpose will be to provide political cover to the administration as it dismantles the facilities.
Weld's original executive order had specifically stated that the Commission would be located in the Governor's Office and that its administrator would be provided with “staff, secretarial support and other resources necessary to meet their responsibilities.” Patrick's executive order re-establishing the Commission states only that the Commission and its now EOHHS administrator “shall be provided with resources necessary to meet their responsibilities.”
The downgrading of the Commission actually began under Romney, who took it out of the Governor's Office, removed its reporting requirement to the governor and made it report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
If there is no budget or staff, how can this Commission satisfy the commitment to improvements that Judge Tauro talked about and how can it monitor the quality and effectiveness of the state's services?
On top of that, if the Commission does not include any guardians or family members of facility residents, how can it effectively resolve disputes involving facility residents? And with a top administration official calling the shots, how can the Commission act with impartiality in overseeing the closing of facilities?
Unfortunately, this is one more case in which this administration has shown its lack of concern for a group of some of the most vulnerable citizens of this state. Their interests are no longer being represented in the way the original Governor's Commisson on Mental Retardation had intended.