Archive for August 10th, 2005

Speak Mind Bethel Senior Center

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 10:17:40 -0900
http://www.deltadiscovery.com/speakyourmind/speakyourmind.html

Dear Newseditor,
I am the elected chair of the Bethel Senior Advisory Board. However, I am writing as a private citizen to inform the public about recent Senior Advisory Board issues.

The Senior Advisory Board (SAB) met for their regular meeting on March 9th 2004. Present were members Mary Gregory, Larry Howard, Sr., Julius Pleasant, Sr., David E. Trantham, Jr., Joan Hamilton, and myself as Chair. Also present was Louise Charles who works for the City of Bethel as Director of Senior Services and is therefore the ex officio (non-voting) member.

The Board was unable to take action at its last meeting. The SAB voted not to accept the Bethel City management’s agenda for the elder citizens of Bethel. The senior services director wrote an agenda that would not allow the SAB to discuss the senior discount for taxis, would not let the SAB discuss how to perform the grant review, and would not allow requested training from the City Clerk, Amanda Byington.

That evening, the City Council, in their regular meeting, revealed that the City has sought legal advice against the Senior Advisory Board from the City attorneys, Preston, Gates, Ellis, LLP.

The Senior Advisory Board is a volunteer citizen committee. Because the city receives funds for seniors under the Federal Older Americans Act, the City of Bethel is required to have citizen input. Members are appointed by the City Council to represent the concerns of older people to the City government and to meet the City’s grant responsibilities.

Despite this mandate, since May 2003, the City has not consulted with the Advisory Board about actions the City has taken, are taking, and will take that affect every person over 55 in Bethel (as well as those in the Delta who love them). As recently as January 21 and 22, 2004 Mayor Hugh Short and Vice-mayor Thor Williams left senior services out of their newspaper statement “Our government needs to be focusing on core services: public safety, water and sewer, roads, recreation, and economic development.”

Since October 2003, the City of Bethel senior services program director and city clerk have insisted that only the senior services director, and not the Senior Advisory Board, can decide what citizens may talk about at the SAB meetings. In addition, the SAB is the only citizen committee that has their meetings discussed in the management reports included in the public Council packets. The management reports are personal notes from the senior services director. The SAB minutes themselves are written by the senior services director. As of March 9, 2004 the December 2003 minutes have not been given to the SAB for review.

The SAB operates under the authority of the City Council according to their bylaws. The collective senior voice is an active and functioning part of the City of Bethel, with specific and defined responsibilities to older citizens that cannot be circumvented by action of the City Council and management.

Last Tuesday, acting in the interest of seniors and of all citizens of Bethel, the Senior Advisory Board stood up for the rights of older Americans, against this City government’s best efforts to dictate otherwise. I am urging everyone to participate whenever issues of elder citizens are discussed–Senior Advisory Board meetings, City Council and Task Group meetings, newspapers, talk lines, legislative teleconferences.

Let your government officials know that there are folks who believe that growing older isn’t a disease; that an active democracy isn’t a crime.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
M. Pamela Bumsted, Ph.D.

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Senior Advisory Board letter

Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 14:36:44 -0900

One year ago I volunteered for and was appointed to the senior advisory board, for what I thought was a chance to do something for my fellow seniors.

Instead I have wasted a year of my time trying to figure out how we were suppose to do anything.

The powers that be told us we couldn’t use the board rules that the City Council approved. We were supposed to go by municipal codes. Then we were told we don’t know how to hold a meeting.

A city parliamentarian attended our meetings but never corrected anyone. Once we didn’t have a quorum she tried to get our chair to let the ex-officio be given a vote so we could have a meeting. The two of them were upset because the chair wouldn’t do it, at the same time we decided to have a work session, and later were admonished for doing that. The ex-officio even called a member from his sickbed, 45 minutes after the meeting, to try to get their quorum.

Another senior and my self went to AC to have coffee; we met and talked to lots of different people. We were later accused along with two other board members that weren’t there, of violating the open meeting law.

Then another time, a different member and myself went to AC to meet and talk to seniors, that we don’t see at the senior center. We were admonished for open meeting violation, again with members that weren’t there. We were reported by a “reliable source” (maybe the source should get new glasses).

It is a sad day when a person or persons are so insecure and paranoid that they can’t do their job because their so busy spying on old folks, and filing false claims on the very people they are supposed to be looking after.

For a do nothing board with no power there was sure a lot of time wasted on trying to trip us up. And making sure we followed all their rules. Maybe they don’t like it because we speak our mind. If they can get rid of us one at a time they can get the people they want on the board and don’t need to have meetings. Most of the new appointees haven’t attended half the meetings since their appointment, some haven’t attended any. Some members, when they do attend they have their own agenda. They follow the posted agenda only if it fits their scheme of things and none of the “educated” people in attendance tried to correct them

How can a board perform its duties if they, “members”, can’t talk to seniors? Maybe I’m in the wrong country, I thought this was “AMERICA”, if I’m wrong please correct me.

I am tired of being spied on by city officials, who get paid to protect and defend my rights as I did for them some forty years ago. There four I am resigning my position on the board of director effective immediately and plan to publish my resignation in the press, by the time this can be written for your benefit there maybe other news worthy events taking place.

Larry Howard, member senior advisory board


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