Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Testimony: Don't Close Program for the Elderly

Full Version of Spoken Testimony
PWC Board of County Supervisors
June 3, 2008

Like everyone here, I’ve been observing the way the Board of County Supervisors has been spending our tax dollars, and like others here, I’ve been researching the Board’s responsibility to our county. In doing so, I visited your website and ran across a document called “Sovereign Immunity of Authorities and Local Officers and Employees.”

This is a very interesting document. It overviews some rights and responsibilities of public officials and whether or not they are being negligent.

Let me say here and now that I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to have extensive knowledge of the law or legalese. I am merely a citizen reading and thinking about how this Board operates. Here are some of the criteria used that could remove immunity:

1. Misappropriation of funds
2. Gross negligence
3. Acting outside the scope of a prescribed position (in other words, job description)

According to an expert in local history and government, one of the primary functions of the Board of County Supervisors is to look after the health and welfare of its citizens. This includes the mentally and physically disabled and the elderly, all of whom have been served through the Manassas Day Care Program for over fifteen years.

If you have read the newsletter from the Manassas Day Care Program, you will note the “Alzheimer’s Disease Patients’ Bill of Rights.” One right is the right to live in a “predictable environment.” Why? Because Alzheimer’s patients in particular struggle so much with memory loss that even the relocation of a simple object can cause them needless pain and suffering.

Imagine yourself struggling to remember where you put that pencil or how to tell time. Now imagine your panic when you are moved to a brand new environment and are expected to function there.

In hyper-focusing on the “immigration resolution” instead of practical, inexpensive neighborhood solutions, this Board has grossly neglected its most vulnerable people and opted to save a pittance by causing needless and additional suffering to the elderly, many of whom cannot speak for themselves.

I challenge this Board to get its priorities straight, to right its wrongs and to do its duty by the people of this county. This includes reversing your decision to shut down a program that provides stability and health to people who are more needy than you or me. It includes putting our tax dollars where they are needed and addressing problems wisely.

Thank you.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Bristow VA 20136
Brentsville District
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