End the waitlist failures
Waitlists for services for people with autism and intellectual disability must end. Waitlists create crisis. Waitlists are a false economy. Waitlists are planned failure.
School ends, but disabilities do not. Yet for more than a decade, the State of Maine has essentially treated young people with intellectual disabilities, autism, brain injury and other conditions as objects to be stored on a shelf. By the time services are funded, the youth of many has passed. Learning independence is easier when young. Waitlists waste this time.
Waitlists have negative ripple effects. Waitlists undercut work put in to build skills. Abilities wane without use. Depression sets in without integration into the community. Crisis hits. Crises cost money. Parents quit work to become caregivers. Maine’s workforce is diminished. Families are stressed. Individuals with disabilities need a higher level of support when services are finally funded. This costs more money.
When properly supported, people with intellectual disabilities learn to participate in society and contribute to society. My son, who is autistic, recently began delivering Meals on Wheels with staff support. He was proud to tell his grandparents, “I have a job delivering food.”
It is encouraging to hear that Gov. Janet Mills’ administration might clear the current waitlist for Section 29. But this isn’t enough. Waitlists must be done away with. Sustainable plans must be made for years ahead. The State of Maine needs to say to its citizens with intellectual disability what every Mainer wants to hear: “Welcome Home.”
A naive hope that Trump would change
Collins even went so far as to say that she hoped that President Trump was chastened by this experience and would act differently in the future. How naive is that? What was it in his behavior over the last 20 years that drove her to this erroneous assumption?
As matter of fact, shortly after her statement, Trump and his allies were active on Twitter. They wasted no time bashing Democrats, impugning Mitt Romney, and vowing to investigate Hunter Biden. It is clear to me that her many years in Washington have rendered Collins immune to real life behavior and morals outside the beltway.
Support changes to Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act
Mainers are proud of our state motto, “Dirigo” (Latin for “I lead.”), and the popular sayings it has inspired, such as “Maine leads the nation.” But there is an area in which Maine trails behind nearly every other state: the legal status imposed on the descendants of those who settled here thousands of years before Europeans arrived.
The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 settled centuries-old issues about land ownership, but imposed state authority over numerous activities on tribal lands. In almost every other state, federally recognized tribes are subject to federal Indian law, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. Here, disagreements over which regulations apply in certain areas have led to arguments and lawsuits that have soured state-tribal relations, and hindered economic development.
L.D. 2094, An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act, would eliminate the complexities of the 1980 law, and allow Maine’s four federally recognized tribes to maintain the same legal relationship to the federal government as that of other tribes around the country. Tell your legislators to support L.D. 2904, and put Maine back into a leading role.
David W. Brainerd