Keet presses on center treatment | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 29, 2010

Keet presses on center treatment

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet presses today on an issue squarely at issue in the governor's race: Problems at the state's residential centers for the developmentally disabled.

Keet's news release makes his worst point first -- the state has turned to an out-of-state consultant for help. Yes, but the consultant has a track record of success. His better  point is the continuing question of whether the Beebe administration is due blame for failure to diagnose problems earlier (a question that could just as readily be asked of the previous 10 years of Republican administration). Keet steps carefully around the Conway Human Development Center, targeted by the feds for the state's resistance to community mainstreaming of residents, but generally stoutly defended by families with relatives in the Conway center's care.

This is a tough issue. It's a fair one to discuss. Keet hasn't demonstrated much on the issue beyond opportunism, however.

KEET NEWS RELEASE

Today, Republican Candidate for Governor Jim Keet responded to Governor Beebe’s decision to hire a New Jersey-based consulting firm to help remedy the problems at the Alexander Human Development Center. “It is disappointing that we have once again reacted to the serious problems in our human development centers rather than being proactive in addressing the issues,” said Keet.  “Governor Beebe has now decided to remedy the situation by hiring a New Jersey consulting firm with a price tag of $841,000 to “overhaul” and straighten out the mess at the Alexander unit.”

Keet also questioned why Governor Beebe waited so long to tackle this serious issue. 

 “This problem could have been, and should have been, addressed during the last three years,” said Keet. “But rather than taking the initiative and addressing the problems with knowledgeable Arkansans in this field, Governor Beebe has now hired an expensive out-of-state firm to get our state out of a jam.  This means the price tag for Arkansas is almost $8000 per resident at the Alexander unit.  Those resources could have been used to improve the physical condition of the unit or hire more support staff.” Keet concluded, “I hope the recent problems at the Conway Human Development Center are now being addressed so that the Governor will not feel compelled to hire out-of-state consultants to straighten out their problems as well. There are many hard working and dedicated employees at these centers across the state, but the problems at the units must be addressed. The issues are complex and difficult, especially for those residents with more complicated mental deficiencies. 

However, the residents should be treated with dignity and compassion. They and their families deserve nothing less.”

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