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October 8, 1973
To All Board and Staff Members:
It is my belief that the CIL is in grave circumstances. I feel that the situation is of such a serious nature that the survival of the program is threatened. The signs are clear and have become familiar to most of us. The CIL is ridden with cliques and factions; professional elitism and ceremonial games have taken the place of people acting as people and for people; turf-thinking and self-interest have isolated us from the remaining disabled community and from the talent, interest and energy that is to be found there (this is to the extent that non-board and non-staff members have become labeled "groupies" and "outsiders").
The causes are not nearly as clear as the symptoms. Certainly, the lack ofadequate funds is an important factor. Ideals are fragile, and enduring rejection after rejection takes its toll. People have begun to question the relevancy of something that they have commited so much to. Apathy and stagnation are a natural development of this situation.
At the same time, the recognition we have recieved from professionals in rehab has led us into the trap of viewing ourselves as professionals and we have developed our own bureaucracy and the game rolls necessary to that kind of synthetic relationship between providers and consumers.
I don't pretend to have a corner on the "solutions' market", but I do have some thoughts that I want you to consider. I do not expect that everyone involved in CIL should share the same perspectives or ideas when it comes to the means of making CIL a success. In fact, the greater variety in creative thought, the better. I do expect board members, myself, and project/division managers to share the same goals for CIL. Further, I do not feel that we can afford to allow anyone who obstructs progress towards those goals to continue to do so. If this means keeping "conduct" ratings on staff members then I will do this and discharge people if their ratings drop too low. I would rather that people working within CIL take responsibility for their own behavior. If they do not have a clear idea of what our philosophy is, then they should ask for clarification from myself or the board. If someone does not agree with those goals, then they should take it upon themselves to withdraw or request a change in policy guidelines from the board. They should not act in such a manner as to encourage or invite political in-fighting or to interfere with the day-to-day business of the program. This kind of petty behavior will not be tolerated by me. If it comes down to a question of losing a good worker or continuing internal conflict, I will sacrafice the worker. The program will survive reduced services, it will not survive continual arguing, rumor-mongering and political maneauvering,
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The problems of professional elitism and exclusion of non-board and non-staff members within CIL can best be dealt with, I feel, by opening the board and staff to more participation by the community we represent. I urge the board to give an election vote to anyone who can get a sign-off by any four board members. Anyone with a genuine interest in the future of this program has the right to a voice. If they are denied that right, then I do not intend to continue putting my energy into a program that I cannot believe in.
I feel that this program will benefit from bringing in new people interested in doing volunteer work with us. I intend to place volunteers in all projects now underway to add to their effectiveness, to expand upon their services, to aid in the necessary clerical, phone and "leg-work". This is to increase the quality of CIL programming, not to threaten the effort and time committed to CIL by current employed staff. Volunteers will be under the direction and guidance of the respective project managers and will be held accountable for their participation under the established mode of administrative responsibility for all staff members. I do not believe in a seniority system. I believe that the quality of work and general conduct demonstrated by workers are the best critieria for determining whether or not to keep them or let them go. However, persons already receiving a salary from CIL will continue to do so as long as funds hold out and they meet the above mentioned critieria.
I also intend to conduct a vigorous outreach program to contact community-based groups and to contact individuals interested in meeting the needs and desires of the disabled. Again, this is to broaden our base within the general disabled community and those programs that serve the disabled.
I hope that this letter is taken in the spirit that it was written and that you will join with me in trying to salvage this CIL that we have worked so hard for. We must return to our roots and revitalize the philosophy upon which we are based: that disabled people have the right to take control of their own lives and that all agencies serving the disabled are directly responsible to those served.