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.

Rabid Republicans

The N&O today reports on the newfound fame of another rabid Republican, one Monty Johnson, who happens to be the neighbor of John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Monty Johnson was heading home Monday with a cooler full of catfish when he learned his new neighbor had turned him into a minor celebrity. The first calls on his cell phone came from two lawyers asking to represent him in a slander case. Elizabeth Edwards, they told him, had called him a "rabid, rabid Republican." That wasn't all. The Democratic presidential candidate's wife also told The Associated Press she didn't want her children near Johnson because, she said, he once pulled a gun on workers investigating a right of way on his property.

Slander? Are you kidding? They guy IS a rabid Republican by his own admission. And even if he hadn't admitted it, his support for Rudy G., in 2008 should be evidence enough. Any Republican who would vote for a cross-dressing serial-adulterer to be president would be "rabid" by any standard.

Call To Action: The Mental Health White Paper

UPDATED: Action needed today: Call Secretary of Health and Human Services Carmen Odom at 919-733-4534. Do not let them fob you off to some "Citizen Services" phone line where you will be put on hold forever. Contact Governor Easley so he can't say he has heard no complaints, at 919-733-4240. And we're going to need LTEs.

Background information on the mental health crisis here.

action1.jpgCreated by an Asheville mental health practitioner, this paper will be distributed to legislators in Raleigh. Feel free to use any of it in your phone calls and emails. Contact info for key legislators is at the end of the letter. Go get 'em, Hooligans!

- North Carolina’s mental health spending is near the bottom in the nation.

- Five years of constant changes to the mental health system has left a fragile core of private providers and public/private hybrids serving tens of thousands of clients and employing thousands of mental health practitioners.

Will Dole Follow Burr?

Will the blind follow the blind?

It's amazing after all that has been said and done around the OLF fiasco, that North Carolina is still waiting on Liddy Dole to do her job. The title of this post is the headline in the Wilmington Star editorial this morning.

After almost everybody and his brother said it would be a terrible idea for the Navy to build a practice landing field near a wild bird refuge, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr followed their lead - and firmly, it must be said. In a letter to the secretary of the Navy, Burr cited the threat to birds and pilots, as well as the noise and the loss of farmlands in Washington and Beaufort counties.

Noting the "insurmountable and growing opposition," he called the Navy's plans "untenable."

Live Blog Wednesday noon with Margaret Johnson

Before and after you do phoning and emailing to help the state's mental health care debacle tomorrow, check in at noon with questions for Polk County's Margaret Johnson. Here's her profile from last week (when the site was all scroogied up.)

She's a fighter, a vet who now works in health care. She's been heavily involved in her county's strategic planning process. She's led a fractured and demoralized county from red into purplish blue. Click on the video to find out why I consider Margaret to be a real patriot.

Legislators Throw Mentally Ill Under The Bus - Tomorrow is a Day of Action

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{Division of Medical Assistance Team Forsaking North Carolina's mental heatlh service recipients}

Tomorrow BlueNC will join with bloggers across North Carolina to urge our readers to contact legislators and bureaucrats in an effort to reverse a killing blow first mentioned here yesterday. This post is a background piece for the action tomorrow.

In 2001, North Carolina undertook a massive reform of its mental health system. The network of publicly funded providers had grown bureaucratic, bloated and stagnant. While individual practitioners continued, in most cases, to provide excellent care, the system was buckling under its own weight and lacked innovation.

Squeezing the sponge, Bob?

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When you're running for governor in the Party of Greed and you're not a multimillionaire like Bill Graham and Fred Smith, it's gotta be rough. Which might explain why Judge Bob Orr is having such a hard time cutting the strings that connect him to Art Pope. After years of toiling in the Pope's employ, Orr appears reluctant to bid the Puppetmaster farewell and strike out on his own.

A vocal critic of incentives used to attract businesses is preparing to sue because of tax breaks worth millions that the state recently promised Google. Bob Orr, executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law in Raleigh, said Monday that the group's directors have authorized the institute to "move forward in its research and preparation of a legal challenge."


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