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Letters to the editor – Thursday (4-12-2012)

PBH has to balance client needs, funding
Our taxpayer-funded mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities agency, PBH, faces two conflicting objectives: providing the necessary level of care for its clients and doing this with a very limited and finite amount of taxpayer money. PBH has to constantly balance the needs of its clients with the funds available. I serve as one of Rowan County’s representatives on PBH’s Board of Directors, and our job is to make sure both of these conflicting objectives are met.
In the past, developmental disabilities have been treated on a rather subjective basis, based more on what clients’ families wanted than on clearly identified needs. A couple of years ago, PBH began addressing this by evaluating a measurement process called the Support Needs Matrix, or SNM. Last July PBH began field testing the SNM in Rowan and nearby counties, affecting approximately 700 clients. The results were surprising. Of the 700 clients, 130, or about 19 percent, were found to be receiving more services than they needed, while 470 clients, or 67 percent needed more services than they had asked for. The remaining 100, or about 14 percent, were right on target. The 470 clients who were being underserved have received increased funds as a result of the adaptation of the SNM, even though this caused an increase in the costs involved.
Disability Rights of North Carolina (DRNC) sued on behalf of five of the 130, asking to have the excess treatment funds restored. This is still in the courts, but Judge Flanagan did find that the decision and appeals process was not as well explained as they could have been. PBH has restored those funds and changed its notification process. These additional funds will have to come from the limited budget, but DRNC didn’t explain how to do this, or if the remaining 570 clients were to get the help they need. As your representative I find this inconsistent and basically indifferent both to the needs of the majority of clients and to the public who pay the bills.
— Jack Burke
Salisbury
Sides was doing his job
This feud between Jim Sides and supporters of Fire Marshal Tom Murphy is a distraction from other business. I know Jim to be a meticulous, methodical man who analyzes the facts at hand. If something in those facts, verbal or written, does not match the way they should, Commissioner Sides upholds his responsibilities to the taxpayers and calls for appropriate action.
In the case of Tom Murphy, resignation was deemed appropriate action. Perhaps Murphy got confused or simply misspoke. Whichever, he was asked to state information that should have been on the tip of his tongue and, according to Sides, that information did not match other available data.
Then there is the comment by Jon Barber: “I believe this board’s role is establishing policy for county government and not, in a public setting, requesting an employee to resign or be terminated.” That statement is not correct, and I am aware of at least one precedent.
In 1976 during a meeting of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, a motion was made by board member C.D. Spangler to terminate school superintendent Dr. Rolland Jones. Jones was an over-educated man with several graduate degrees and his head so far up in the clouds, he couldn’t hear the cries of dissatisfaction with his job performance. Virtually nobody liked him or his policies. The CMS school board voted 6 to 1 to fire Jones on an open-televised meeting, which I happened to be watching at home.
In another recent letter, Daniel Michael called for Jim Sides’ resignation and wrote, “It absolutely disgusts me the way some people love to bash those (who work) in emergency services … for a joke of a salary.” We live in a wonderful country, Mr. Michaels, with absolute freedom to look for another job at higher pay any time our dissatisfaction peaks.
— Bill Ward
Salisbury
An inspiring message
My date may be off a little, but my contents are exact. In 1993 when our troops were deployed in the act of Desert Shield and Desert Storm on their way to Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait, I was working for Fiber Industries (Hoechst Celanese). We had working at the company six military persons that were to be deployed. Elaine Howle was one of them. Being a war veteran myself, I wrote to all the servicemen and -women to show my support and share some words of encouragement.
I really didn’t expect to get an answer back from anyone, but I did. Elaine Howle sent me a message of thanks and gratitude for thinking of her and her comrades. Keep in mind, at this time she was at war and still found time to respond to someone she didn’t even know. I was trying to encourage her, but instead she inspired me.
— James E. Neely
East Spencer
Endorsement deadline
Letters endorsing candidates in the May 8 primary must be received in the Salisbury Post newsroom by 5 p.m., May 1.

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