Friday, April 22, 2016

Today's the Day

Today is the last day that Laura Nuss is on the job at DDS.  Many of you are grieving, a few may be cheering, but all of us should feel a sober determination to move forward together to ensure DDS systems remain strong and the momentum for change continues. 

I heard Laura received a standing ovation at the Wednesday hearing on the Evans lawsuit – hailed by the judge and even by the plaintiffs’ attorneys for the progress D.C. has made.  It would be great to be able to say that the lawsuit is now closed, but from what I understand there are still some legal issues to work through and it’s going to be at least several more months before the page has turned.

Andy Reese will be acting director of DDS for a time, and I understand the mayor has launched a nationwide search for Laura’s successor.  I don’t know much about that process but have offered my opinion that there should be some significant local participation in the selection.  I certainly hope this will happen.

Best of luck to you, Laura, in your next chapter.  And now – shoulders to the wheel!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oh No You Don't!

Don’t just read this and not take action.

I know I have a lot of readers out there, and many of you tell me I speak for you.  But you need to speak for yourselves, and for those you care about – and not just when you want to complain about services.  The DDS budget is in trouble.  You need to help.

No one gets services without resources.  And remember, if you or someone you love is getting services now from DDS – DDA or RSA – you are the lucky ones.  Many, many people in our city don’t qualify for DDA supports at all under the current eligibility criteria.


I was the only family member testifying in person on Monday, and I know there are others who could have been there.  You still have time to send written testimony, anytime today until 5 p.m., to Malcolm Cameron at It doesn’t have to be as detailed as mine – 2 or 3 lines – The DDS budget isn’t enough!  The mayor needs to pay attention to people with disabilities in our city!  DDS matters to my family, to our city!

And if you don’t get to it today, you’re not off the hook.  Find your council member here: Then take five minutes sometime over the next two weeks to send him or her the same message. 

Numbers matter.  Let the council hear from you. Now.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

We Need to do this, Folks!

All of you know that Laura Nuss is about to leave and the future leadership of DDS is unclear.  What you may not realize is that the DDS budget for the 2017 fiscal year is as lean as can be this year.  The mayor’s focus on education, homelessness, housing and safety has the resources pointed elsewhere, in an overall city budget that’s already tight.  

I had hoped to have available for you the Power Point used to present the DDS budget at a session on April 13, but with the closure of DC offices for Emancipation Day it doesn’t look like it’s yet been posted to the DDS website. But you don’t need a lot of details in order to make the case for this budget.  Please, override your (legitimate) concerns about specific aspects of services, and send even brief testimony to the Health and Human Services committee, which will be considering the budget in a hearing on Monday.  You’ll have until Wednesday to submit testimony.  Send it to Malcolm Cameron at mcameron@DCCOUNCIL.US.  Also let your council member know that this is important to you!  Find your member at and send an email!  They need to hear our voices!

You know that I have long advocated to expand DDA services to people with developmental disabilities who do not also have an intellectual disability.  Well, the DDA budget is so tight that we’re close to needing a wait list just to serve those with ID who qualify under current criteria for the Medicaid waiver.  And without its budget request, RSA will be cannibalizing services for adults it serves in order to meet federal requirements for transition services to students.

Your voice must be heard.  Folks in the council are used to hearing from me – they need to know there are others out there.  Do it.  I mean it.  Do it before Wednesday.