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Free Press Article
ISCi Dissolution Raises Questions
For Warrensburg Free Press September 25, 2003
The Johnson County Board of Services has reclaimed control of the Sheltered Workshop. The changeover occurred on September 16th. ISCi proceeded toward its dissolution with a final thumbing of the nose at public accountability; their president objected to allowing a representative of the Free Press to view the walk-through and inventory at the transition. Prior to the transition, ISCi employees were observed carting away supplies such as storage boxes, which apparently were not part of the property transferred.
One of the more unfortunate results of this series of events is the anxiety caused both the developmentally disabled clients and the staff that works with them. Many of these people were given the impression that the JCBS intended to close the workshop, despite a clear indication at every JCBS meeting that the JCBS had no such intentions. While it is not clear that someone was explicitly telling these people that the workshop would be closed, it is obvious that such an impression was not discouraged. The staff was further led to believe that they would receive a large cash severance package from ISCiís dissolution, something that was disallowed by the Attorney Generalís office. The report that a condition of the severance package was that the staff member not apply to work for the new workshop operator, if correct, would verge on sabotage of the JCBS effort to keep the workshop operating.
The reasons for dissolution cited by ISCi were highly specious. Whether or not ISCi had a written contract offer in hand, the JCBS had made a firm commitment to extend the contract for the remainder of the calendar year. The fact that the contract for workshop operation was to be competed thereafter and a new contractor might have been selected next January was no reason to decide in July to immediately fold the company. That decision makes no sense whatsoever; itís also the one most inimical to the clients and staff since it caused an emergency transition rather than an orderly one. Hence, the lionís share of any blame for disruption in the lives of clients and staff must lie with the ISCi board.
As the JCBS takes control of its workshop, it must assure that it does not repeat the mistakes of the past. Contracts must include clear accountability and oversight provisions, including access to the workshop contractorís books. It must also be diligent in complying fully with the Sunshine Law, with disclosure of actions taken in closed meetings and providing notice of committee meetings. It must insure that it takes no more of the taxpayersí money than is necessary to perform its functions and that the money is spent in direct support of the developmentally disabled.