Action Update: The Mental Health Crisis Is Here

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketYour emails and phone calls are working. I talked to nearly twenty Representatives and Senators today and found them all quite interested in listening. Rep. Verla Insko, an honest-to-God leader in this fight, had 210 messages in her inbox by 1pm, and she, along with the other legislators are prepared to find a solution to the crisis wrought by Carmen Hooker-Odom's ruinous decision.

The mental health system has been unstable since it was unmoored under the 2001 reform legislation. As private businesses work to create a sustainable infrastructure, they are repeatedly thrown into crisis by the state's decision. Let's remember that the consultant hired by the state recommended a five-year period of stability to foster innovation and build infrastructure.

Taking Action on Global Warming (listen live at 9am Thursday)

A few weeks ago I live blogged here on BlueNC. One of the hot topics was the possibility of a renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS) in North Carolina. REPS would require utilities in our state to get a certain percentage of energy from renewable energy sources. Reps. Pricey Harrison, Jim Harrell, Carolyn Justice and I introduced a bill (HB77) that will do just that, along with some energy conservation measures. Sen. Charlie Albertson has filed a similar bill in the Senate.

Thursday morning at 9am we're holding a press conference

The Asphalt King . . . Working Hard

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It must be nice to have your own personal newspaper to write puff pieces about your campaign for governor. Which is exactly with Fred Smith has in the Goldsboro New Argus. A newspaper that just loooooooooooves the Asphalt King and everything he stands for.

State Sen. Fred Smith, R-Johnston, is campaigning for governor, but that doesn't mean he is ignoring his duties in the Senate. "I think I'm meeting the needs of the people in my district," he said Tuesday after leading a devotional at the Tuesday Morning Men's Prayer Breakfast at Wilber's. "It just requires long days, but that comes with the territory. I'm working hard to be a good senator in the 12th senatorial district." And, he continued, while it can be difficult for a Republican to be effective in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, he's doing his best.

Miller v. Dole?

Jim Morrill at the Charlotte Observer got the scoop on this one.

A Democratic congressman from Raleigh said today that he's weighing a 2008 U.S. Senate run, making him the first potential challenger to Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, 53, said he's discussed the race with party officials in Washington and now plans to consult with friends in North Carolina.

"I don't plan to play Hamlet," Miller said. "I plan to get a sense of the lay of the land and make a decision."

Despite early speculation to the contrary, Dole, 70, has said she plans to run for a second term. Last week, she announced that her campaign had raised $1.7 million in the first three months of the year.

Call to Action: Save our Mental Health System (Fire Odom)

UPDATE: Screwy here. I've been hard at it all day, and your emails and phone calls are working. The heat is rising, and tomorrow's protest in Raleigh will be covered by all the major media outlets. Please come to the protest, organized by NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) and NCAC. I'll have more once the day is done. Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to make our voices heard.

Call To ActionTomorrow at 11 a.m. we need bodies to gather at the Governor's office, 116 W. Jones St. State Capital in Raleigh. Signs saying "Save Our System" and "Fire Odom" would be appropriate.

As of this afternoon, not one Western North Carolina mental health care provider has figured out a way to stay in business under the recent (and retroactive) fee cuts. Appalachian Counseling and Families Together, two of the three major service providers for the region are planning to shut down.

The best way to help is call Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom or Alan Dobson, Director of the Division of Medial Assistance, both at 919-733-4534. Or call Governor Easley at 919-733-4240

See yesterday's post for background information on the NC Mental Health Reform or go below the fold.

Open letter to Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom, cc: Gov. Easley

Dear Madam Secretary:

It's obvious you are dismantling the mental health system for the entire state of North Carolina.

You and Governor Easley have been cutting the budget for mental health services for the last five years. We already had the lowest per capita expenditures in the entire country. So, this week, when you cut the hourly reimbursements for community support services by a whopping 33 percent (effective retroactively), you knew exactly what you were doing. You were destroying the system.

I hope no babies die from mothers with untreated post partum depression. I hope no one kills a police officer or no police officer ends up being forced to kill some untreated mentally ill individual, an individual to whom you helped deny services.

I call on you to restore the fee schedule immediately and resign your position. If you have ties to a company that might take over services in North Carolina in the near future, you'd better hide them.

Welcome Margaret Johnson

Polk County Democratic Party Chair Margaret Johnson will be with us for an hour starting at noon.

Here's the profile and the previous thread of questions.

In the last two election cycles, Margaret has led Polk County from red to purplish-blue. Through extensive strategic planning which has led to community action, the Polk County Democratic Party has become proud of what they stand for and inspired Republicans to say, "I may not agree with your politics but I sure like what you're doing."

Please post any questions as a comment below.

Mr. Protzman. The legislature did not do this.

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Ever feel like you're stuck in an Abbott and Costello skit trying to figure out "who's on first?"

Mr. Protzman,

The Legislature did not do this. It was done by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Carmen Odom.

Jan Lee,
Legislative Assistant

That's the message I got in response to this email yesterday:

Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:47 PM
To: Sen. Martin Nesbitt
Subject: Community mental health

I have followed with dismay the Legislature’s irresponsible positions on mental health funding in North Carolina. From the miserly overall budget to the destructive practices of reducing payments to providers, you are doing something the right-wing our state has never accomplished – you are gutting the safety net.

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