Friday, October 22, 2010

Toledo Public Schools Discriminate?

I received the following press release in my inbox today. Normally I try to fact check such things, but with my wife in the hospital, and the time-sensitive nature of this topic, I've decided to post it "as is." If anyone has the time to check this out, please let me know what you find. If true, it's very disturbing, given TPS's recent plea for more money on the upcoming ballot. Thanks for reading. - Lawrence


 Scott Horen

WHAT:    Toledo Public Schools to hold Public Hearing
WHEN:    Saturday, October 23, 2010 - at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE:    Heatherdowns Public Library - Glanzman Road, Toledo

In lieu of TPS's request from taxpayers to approve a 7.8 mil levy request, it is important that the public be made aware of how TPS spends taxpayer money.  TPS has recently paid its attorneys MORE THAN A HALF MILLION DOLLARS to fight a family seeking educational service for their disabled daughter.  

A PRESS RELEASE accompanies this NOTICE.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

My name is Scott Horen and I am a life-long Toledoan.  As an alumni of Toledo Public Schools, something I am embarrassed to admit, I am deeply saddened and dismayed that the District treats children with disabilities in a neglectful manner. As a parent and consumer, I am shocked at the non-existent customer service the District extends to parents.  As a taxpayer, I am outraged the District spends our tax dollars paying attorneys hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight against the interests of children, like my daughter, instead of investing these dollars into their education. I thought educating children was the mission of TPS - I was wrong.  

In lieu of TPS's current attempts to get taxpayers to pass a 7.8 mil levy - I felt it was my duty to report how TPS spends your money.

My family filed an action against TPS after discovering that medical students were being provided access to study and examine our daughter without our knowledge.  TPS attorneys Randy Meyer, Lisa Pizza, Jim Silk, and Ted Rowan from the firm of Spengler Nathanson, began a series of retaliatory acts on behalf of TPS to discredit my family, to break us down, to force us to cease advocating on behalf of our child.  It won't work.  While my family has suffered tremendous personal and financial stress brought on by TPS's retaliation, its attorneys have billed the district hundreds of thousands of dollars - being paid by you, the taxpayer, to deny our daughter the right to an education.  

TPS has tossed our child out of the school, and permitted its attorneys to take part in filing at least FOUR legal claims against the Horens - we believe, to submit billable hours - lining their pockets off the back of our child.   We have documented more than half a million dollars of billings paid to Spengler Nathanson over only a two year period, while our requests for more recent invoices has been ignored.  Even the documents we were able to gather were deficient in providing an accurate accounting of the invoices TPS has paid to its attorneys, and it didn't include the hundreds of thousands of dollars of outstanding bills.

As I stand here today, TPS is gathering their attorneys, at a rate of $400 per hour, to take part in a scheduled hearing this morning, here at the Heatherdowns Branch library.  The basis of the claim - TPS argues they do not have to provide our daughter any educational services because we want to tape record meetings regarding her education.  According to Spengler Nathanson, TPS has spent more than four times the amount of money paying them, than TPS would have spent to provide our daughter an education up to the age of 22.  She is only 12.

At our request, the hearing will be open to the public.  You are invited to attend.  I will be available for additional comments and explanation afterwards.  While my wife and I will not stop advocating for our daughter, I would urge Toledo voters that if they find the levy request prudent, they should simply write a check straight to the firm of Spengler Nathanson.  If not, protect your wallets and get out and vote NO on ISSUE 5!

Thank you.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ability Center Turns 90!

For immediate release:

On Thursday, September 9th, from 5 until 9pm, The Ability Center will be celebrating its 90th birthday (Woo-Hoo!) with a casual, after-work gathering at The Pinnacle. We would love to have you join us! BRING YOUR FRIENDS!!

The evening will offer:
A cash bar (with specialty frozen drinks)
A lite Dinner provided from 6 to 8pm (with cake to follow)
Music by “The Trainwreckers”
Astrology readings by Sue Lovett
A lovely evening on the Pinnacle patio (rain or shine)
Cover charge of $10 per person
includes Food, Music and Donation (proceeds to ACT)
21 and over please.

Should you have questions, please call or email Amy Kerchevall, ACT Events Coordinator:
419.885.5733, 866.885.5733 (Toll-free) or

The Pinnacle is located at 1772 Indian Wood Circle in Maumee (in Arrowhead Park)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heard about HEAP?

Winters can be hard here in the Northwest. Temps can get very cold, the snow can get very deep, and the "holiday" season often seems to stretch on endlessly. But why am I posting about this now, while we're in the grip of the much shorter (but often just as extreme) summer season? Because now is the time to apply for HEAP - the Home Energy Assistance Program.

What follows is a verbatim press release issued recently concerning the programs (like HEAP) which are administered by the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo. Check it out, and see if you qualify for any of these programs.

For Immediate Release:

CONTACT:  Tomeka Rushing 
                         419-241-2213, or

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps eligible Ohio residents meet the rising cost of home heating.

With Summer temperatures rising, you might think that the charitable work of The Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo (E.O.P.A) HEAP Program is just about over. But the Home Energy Assistance Program is actively providing services to help people who are at risk with their utility needs. The services available to the community are listed below:

2010 Summer Crisis Energy an Air Conditioning program
July 1, 2010 through August 31, 2010

Poverty Income Guidelines are 0% to 200%

Customers can receive a grant award up to $175.00 towards their electric bill.
No disconnection is required.

Households can receive an Air Conditioner if documentation of a Health Condition can be provided. Proof of a Health Condition is not needed if the customer is sixty (60) years or age or older.

Toledo Edison/First Energy Ohio Fuel Fund

Poverty Income Guidelines are 0% to 200%

Customers can receive a grant award up to $300.00 towards their electric bill.
No disconnection is required.

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP)

Poverty Income Guidelines are 0% to 150%

Customer can enroll on a payment plan for regulated utility companies.
No disconnection notice required

TCO Columbia Gas Fuel Fund

Poverty Income Guidelines are 175% to 200%

Customer can receive up to $250.00 on Columbia Gas Bill Only
No disconnection notice required

Applications will be accepted at the following HEAP Sites:

EOPA HAMILTON BUILDING (Headquarters- Central City) (Open All Year Long)
(419) 255-7125
APPOINTMENT TIMES: 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday except all major holidays  

Please call 1-866-504-7392 to schedule an appointment.

At the time of your appointment you must have all the following:  

* 13 Weeks of current and documented income for all adults in the household.
* Picture Identification 
* Social Security numbers for all members of the household
* Both current regulated utility bills (gas, lights), in a household members name 
* Property Owners name, address, telephone number 
* Statement of Health Condition from a physician for Summer Crisis Program

The Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo, Inc. is the designated Community Action Agency for Lucas County. Founded in 1964, its mission is to develop and operate programs to advocate for low-income and moderate-income individuals and families to assist them in achieving self-sufficiency.  E.O.P.A. has always envisioned that economic emancipation is the greatest path to eradicate poverty. 

Head Start provides educational, health, and social services to low-income children and families.  To be eligible, families must receive public assistance or live below 150% of the federal poverty level, defined as an income of $33,075 or less for a family of four.

HEAP provides to income-qualified candidates, an annual grant to help with heating costs as well as an emergency program, which provides an emergency payment (once per heating season) for qualified low-income customers. 

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) is an extended payment arrangement that allows regulated gas and electric companies to accept payments based on a percentage of a customer's household income. Eligible customers have a household income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Beginnings

Today is January 1st, 2010. The beginning of a new year.

For many, the beginning of a new year marks a kind of milestone, or starting point. We see the first day of the new year as a chance to make changes for the better... to reinvent ourselves, if you will. We make resolutions (some actually kept) to live a healthier lifestyle, or to make a better life for those we love, or sometimes, to leave some kind of positive mark on the world.

As I look back over 55 years of "new beginnings" I am mostly pleased with my progress. I've made some spectacular blunders, to be sure... but I've also achieved some wonderful successes as well. This year, I plan to reinvent myself once again by returning to college to get my degree in Social Work. It will take a few years, yes, but I want it. I will succeed. That's my resolution.

I also plan to become more active in the area of advocacy for my fellow disabled this year. Whereas before I was content to simply write my blog and build an online community, I think this is the year I will ramp things up a bit. (Was that a play on words? {smile})

This is the year I will attend more local government meetings. This is the year I will meet with more of my fellow advocates and become a force for change in our community. We can do this, I am certain, because we have to. With the economy on everyone's mind, it will be easy for us to fall between the cracks. For our essential services to dwindle, or perhaps even vanish. We can not allow this to happen.

Late last year I attended an advocacy meeting hosted by The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. There was good food and music, of course, but there was also a presentation that opened my eyes a bit to the long road we've travelled so far, and the road that still lies ahead of us. At that meeting, I was greatly impressed with a speech given by one of the organizers of the event, Marianne Huff. In it she asks a very important question: Why Speak Up? I think I'll let her answer that question herself. Marianne? Take it away!

Why “Speak Up?”
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the Grass Roots Advocacy Kick Off event!  We are excited to have the opportunity to talk to you today about the importance of advocacy that begins at the grass roots — which means all of us.  We are examples of the common man and woman who are the building blocks of this society and we are the foundation upon which this Nation is built.  We call it grass roots because our power comes from the raising of our collective voices.  Nothing that has been built in this country was done by a single individual; all that has been accomplished and all that will ever be accomplished is rooted in the knowledge that all of us are inter-connected and that those things that matter, are accomplished collectively.
I remember seeing a film called “Marie: A True Story” about a woman named Marie Raggianti who was the first woman appointed to head the Parole Board for the state of Tennessee. In that film, which was about tremendous corruption in the state’s government and, Mrs. Raggianti, who was one of those who uncovered the corruption and spoke out -- I heard a quote from one of the characters in that  film -- that I will never forget which, I have since discovered, is a paraphrased statement from a well-known English statesman who was influential during the 1700’s named Edmund Burke; the quote went something like this:  “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” In all reality, it mattered much less to me “who” made this statement, but I have never forgotten these words as they have settled into my thinking and as they thumped loudly against my beliefs and against my values.
So I ask you today: Why speak up?  To risk the collective slings and arrows of those who rabidly seek to maintain that which is the status quo — it means — talking back to those who, believing in the infallibility of their own “power” — who believe that they are “legends”  — if even in their own minds — have forgotten that their ladder of authority is not sturdy — that they can be toppled by standing on an unstable foundation that is built upon the fragility of the human ego and not upon the bedrock of our common humanity.   
So why speak up?   Because evil and poor judgment based upon service to self DO flourish in the land.  Self-seeking and self-importance can infect and invade the nooks and crannies of the mortar of the consciousness of All when gone — unchallenged — Naysayers can often be soothsayers who are keen observers of the truth — and who risk sharing “what they see” — by asking questions such as “Why?” and “Why not?” 
So, why speak up?  When it is easier to look toward our own lives, to be concerned with our own positions — as lowly or as lofty as we may deem them to be — and set our gaze upon our stuff — and ignore the suffering of others — ignore the bad public policy decisions that will eventually effect us — ignore the injustice — the ugliness — until it happens to us.  Then we pay attention. Then we take notice.  By then we have become those whose plight we have ignored.  Then we are no longer ignorant — we are informed by our own experience. 
So why speak up?  Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams. Jean D’Arc; Ed Roberts; Judy Heumann; Justin Dart; Abraham Lincoln; Gandhi; Mitch Snyder.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  Queen Elizabeth the first.   
All of these ordinary folks and citizens, who did extraordinary things — who spoke up and who observed the wrong and attempted to make it right — by speaking up and by acknowledging that, sometimes, the Emperor has no clothes.  These folks are an example of many others throughout history who spoke out and declared “It is what it is”, without apology and without allowing the fear that they must have felt when doing the right thing to interfere with their actions.
They didn’t ignore it.
They didn’t hope IT would go away.
They didn’t hope that someone else would take care of it for them.
They stood up to it.
They took it on.
They stood alone, often times, and they said “No more”.
They spoke up in the immortal words of Popeye and declared:
It is alls I can stands ‘cuz I can’t stands no more.”
America would not be here today without the collective efforts of a grass roots group of bedraggled farmers, ministers, disillusioned statesmen, and business owners.  America would not be here today if this group had shrugged their collective shoulders and decided, “It’s okay if they tax us to death.”  “It’s okay if we have no voice in the tyranny to which our government has been inflicting upon us.”  “That is okay if they tell us how to worship our Creator.”  “That’s okay if they control us thereafter with martial law and taxes and the threat of treason and eventual death.”
Benjamin Franklin.  Paul Revere.  John Hancock.  George Washington. Alexander Hamilton.  Samuel Adams. And others, many others, including a group of farmers, mill wrights, stone masons, blacksmiths -- all spoke up together.  And acted — with deliberation — with intention — with deliberate intention — to affect change — in spite of the knowledge that Death would be nigh to them all — they spoke up anyway.   
“It’s better to light a candle then to curse the darkness.” Edna St. Vincent Millay.
So again, I ask you, “Why Speak up?”  When your voice may be the only voice of reason— the only voice of clarity — the only voice of dissent amid millions of those who may be assenting to an insane, immoral proposition.  
Why speak up?  Your words may be the only offering of a solution in a whirlwind of indecision and derision and turmoil.  Your way may be the only fire escape from a torrent of irrational acts and brutality.  Your wisdom may be the only enlightened vision that is left unclouded by the passionate, yet misdirected will of one who has corrupted the minds of many.  
So why speak up?  
Bang the drum.
Sound the alarm.
Shout it.
Scream it.
Quietly --  as the life you save may be your own.


Thank you, Marianne, for those powerful words!

And so, this year, I join my voice to the hundreds and thousands already out there, speaking out. I forget sometimes that the "A" in Advocacy stands for "Action" -- and today, at the beginning of a new year, I resolve, strongly, to take more action this year, and speak out for those who may not (as of yet) have found their own voice. Will you join me... no strike that... will you join US? Thank you, as always, for your support.


Marianne Huff is the Advocacy Event Coordinator for The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, and may be reached by contacting them directly. A link is provided to the left.