Letter to the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff

Community Mental Health Board, Next Steps & Southside Together Organizing for Power

813 E. 63rd St – Chicago, IL 60637 – (773) 355-8222 – StopGentrification@gmail.com

September 3rd, 2009

Ms. Evelyn Diaz

Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor Richard M. Daley

121 N. LaSalle #507

Chicago, IL 60602

It has come to our attention that a “special meeting on the status of the City’s mental health services,” convened by Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Diaz, will be held on September 10, 2009.

We are very much concerned that there has been no attempt to consult with us on the development of the agenda for the meeting. Those most directly affected by this issue are conspicuously absent from the list of invitees. To exclude consumers of mental health services, front line providers of these services, and representatives from the communities where these centers are located is to repeat exactly the mistake that has led to this crisis in the first place. We are also concerned at the absence of other entities which have to deal with the failure to provide these services, such as the police department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), firemen, and Cook County officials. Additionally, representatives of Healthcare and Family Services, the Department of Corrections and the city of Chicago Family Support Services should be at the table because they are responsible for providing many of the human services that some consumers need.

We recognize this “special meeting” as the direct result of our efforts and our sacrifices. As you know, in response to the Department of Public Health announcing plans last December to close four mental health centers, we took the fight to keep the centers open all the way to city hall and obtained a commitment from the mayor’s Chief of Staff Paul Volpe that the centers would not be closed.

The commitment was not limited to keeping the centers open. As we stated in our letter to Mr. Volpe, our long term goal is that of ensuring the availability of publicly funded and administered quality community mental health services to the citizens of Chicago. It was in pursuit of this goal that we presented as one of our demands the formation of a task force including mental health consumers, community advocates, and workers at the clinics to move towards ensuring the sustainability of the city’s mental health services. Mr. Volpe agreed to this request.

We are writing to inform you that:

  1. Representatives from our coalition are eager to work with you in the formation of the agenda for the “special meeting”

  2. Representatives selected by our coalition will attend and expect to participate in the “special meeting”

  3. We believe this and other meetings concerning mental health should be public and fully transparent

These measures will be an important first step in restoring our confidence that the city will honor the commitment made to us in April at the meetings and in subsequent conversations with Mr. Volpe.

Sincerely,

Darryl Gumm
Badonna Reingold
N’Dana Carter
Fred Friedman

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