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MARCH 27, 2009 – FRIDAY

  The “Federal Trigger” Cuts


“We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure."

"We shall strike. We shall organize boycotts. We shall demonstrate and have political campaigns. We shall pursue the revolution we have proposed. We are sons and daughters of the farm workers' revolution, a revolution of the poor seeking bread and justice. "

"Until the chance for political participation is there, we who are poor will continue to attack the soft part of the American system - its economic structure…These attacks on the status quo will come, not because we hate, but because we know America can construct a humane society for all its citizens...."  - Cesar Chavez [photo left is copy of Time Magazine cover story on Chavez, 1969]]

  This coming Monday (March 30th) is California ’s observance of the birthday of an authentic American hero, Cesar Chavez.  It is perhaps fitting that we think of him, his work and legacy as we ponder how it is that California can allow terrible things to happen to its own people. 

  His legacy was about fighting for what was right and decent.  The struggle was a moral issue as much as it was a legal one in fighting for the rights of farmworkers and others who worked the fields.

  And the impact of that struggle sent a ripple of hope far beyond the boundaries of any field.  

  Yet at the time he began the struggle is was a politically lonely battle – with a goal that seemed unreachable.   Until you reach for it. 

  Si se puede. Yes we can.   It can be done.  If we try.  

  If there is a will and if there is an effort what follows will always be a struggle.

That is truly the harder choice to make and the harder choice to do.  No one would ever claim that the work of Cesar Chavez was easy.  Doing the right thing and reaching for something that seems unreachable never is. 

  Which brings us now to what California is doing to its own children, its elderly – its own people. 

  The recovery in the federal economic stimulus bills are not just for banks, for investment firms, for auto makers or for those who own homes.  It is not just for AIG, the Big 3 Automakers and other entities that somehow are seen as more deserving than others. 

  Our community is deserving too.  Children and adults with disabilities, mental health needs, people with traumatic brain and other injuries, people with MS and Alzheimer’s and other disorders, seniors and their families have a right to share in the recovery like any other Californian.  Our community should not be the ones targeted to pay for it. 

  Banks or other lending institution can force a family out of their cherished home due to foreclosure.  And the Governor and the Legislature through their actions in making harmful budget cuts can force a family out of their cherished home too – by cutting needed services, like Medi-Cal, and supports through regional centers, home health agencies, accessible transportation, In-Home Supportive Services, SSI/SSP. 

  The Governor and Legislature should find solutions that protect Californians from losing their homes in either instance – through foreclosure, or through bad budget decisions that lead to cuts or elimination of needed supports and services, or even cuts in support worker jobs. 

  If there is any lesson to be learned from any of this – it is simply that the lack of accountability, of oversight leads to bad decisions, and harmful acts against innocent people.  And one more lesson: that these harmful acts don’t just hurt one family or one individual.  It has a ripple effect that can bring down a national – and state – economy.  It harms every one.  It is also just wrong. 

  Helping people keep their jobs is not just for people who work in certain industries – it is also important to do for the hundreds of thousands of Californians who work hard each and every day as supported living, independent living, direct care and respite and other workers, as In-Home Supportive Services, in mental health and home health and other services and programs.  Our community has a right to recovery too. 

  People talk of hard choices that need to be made – or the mantra that everyone and everything needs to share in the budget solution.  What is missing from that talk is the bottom line that sometimes the hardest choice is doing what is right.   

  The Governor and Legislature need to restore these terrible cuts to In-Home Supportive Services, to Medi-Cal optional benefits, to SSI/SSP, to CalWORKS, to regional centers and make the recovery of California fair because it is the right thing to do and because it will never work unless it is. 

  Not doing so is forgetting a moral responsibility and a moral right.  It is forgetting the legacy and work of Cesar Chavez and so many other advocates and leaders. 

  But if they forget, we will remind them.  We will be there – as parents and others were there so many years ago at the State Capitol in fighting for the civil rights of people with developmental disabilities, who said “we are here to speak for justice”.

  Si se puede.    Yes we can. 

This is a periodic personal commentary and ACTION ALERTS by Marty Omoto , director/advocate of the California Disability Community Action Network (CDCAN). These commentaries represent the personal opinion of Marty Omoto only - and does not necessarily represent the viewpoints or opinions of anyone else. These commentaries are separate from the CDCAN Reports, which strive to be objective in getting information out to people with disabilities, mental health needs, seniors, their families, workers and others.

Address inquires to Marty Omoto , CDCAN at 1225 8th Street, Suite 480 , Sacramento , CA 985814 916/446-0013 or email Website:  to get the free non-partisan CDCAN Disability News Reports and to view archived copies. Omoto's sister Alana had developmental and other disabilities.

Since 2000, CDCAN Reports and commentaries go out to over 45,000 people with disabilities, seniors, families, Asian and Pacific Islanders disability groups, other minority advocacy groups, organizations, policymakers, media and others across California . It is okay to forward this - just provide attribution.

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