New Group Homes Denied

November 15, 2005 at 8:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City Council yesterday voted to deny a request by Developmental Services of Nebraska (DSN) to add a fourth resident to each of three homes, making the homes “group homes” for the purposes of Lincoln ordinance and thus subject to regulation by the city. As Cindy Lange-Kubick notes, it’s easy to not get too fired up since few of us have a positive emotional connection with “those people” who live in group homes, and most of us don’t live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed group homes.

The group homes’ supporters aren’t helping their case with their faulty logic:

People who work with the developmentally disabled said the comments by neighbors are hurtful and discriminatory. James Masten, a DSN executive assistant, said if you insert the word “black” for “developmentally disabled” and then make those kinds of comments, it would clearly be discriminatory.

Mr. Masten’s comparison to racism is awfully weak. You could substitute a lot of words and phrases for “developmentally disabled” and the comments would still evoke some hefty emotions. Mr. Masten’s plea strikes me as little more than an invocation of Gilliard’s Corollary To Goodwin’s Law.

According to the article, Roxanne Copp noted that “a lot of people would rather live next to a home full of extraterrestrials than a group home.” Well sure, but extraterrestrials are not stereotyped as violent pedophiles. Group home residents, unfortunately, are.

The article includes this bit at the end:

Councilman Jonathan Cook got personal, asking if it’s true DSN provides LeFevre with a Cadillac. LeFevre defended his Caddy, recalling his company’s beginnings when he was its entire staff and he earned nothing during its first year of operation “because I had to pay my staff.”

“I have put my life, my heart and my soul into DSN,” LeFevre said. “And I don’t believe I have to take a vow of poverty. I feel I’ve earned everything that I have.”

Cook said he wasn’t persuaded DSN needed the waivers, particularly when the company threatens to “put people out on the street” while “buying expensive cars for their” CEO. Only Councilman Ken Svoboda and Councilwoman Robin Eschliman voted to grant the waivers.

Does Mr. LeFevre need or deserve a Cadillac? I don’t have any idea. I only care to the extent that my tax dollars paid for any part of that car. I don’t know anything about the funding structure of Mr. LeFevre’s organization, so I will reserve judgement for now. If I paid for his chrome wheels, I’m pissed. Otherwise, I don’t give a hoot. His funders, and only his funders, should be concerned with how he uses their money.

But more importantly, did you see what Mr. Cook did here? He gave his political opponents some tremendous ammunition. Councilman Cook has said, in essence, that any non-essential use of funding is irresponsible and morally wrong. I wonder how much splurging of the taxpayer’s dime Mr. Cook has been responsible for in his career, and how much he will be responsible for in the future. Couldn’t he have had the hamburger, rather than the steak? Couldn’t that project have been completed more cheaply by making it simpler? A savvy political opponent would be wise to keep track of these things. Mr. Cook, it is very dangerous to allow yourself to be portrayed as a hypocrite. Speak carefully, sir.

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