Memo to BIANYS, TBISCC & DOH: Don’t get comfortable

I smiled this morning when I heard Occupy Wall Street protestors plan on marching in front of the homes of Wall Street bigwigs; it is, among other things, one of the very tactics the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition (KAC) is currently considering. Marching in front of the homes of those in this state whose claims to support the rights of Brain-Injured NYers are, more often than not, nothing more than lip services. Yet some of them make a good living off the backs of those of us who live with brain injuries.

Do not for one moment think KAC’s actions are entirely up to me; they are not. There is a membership and a leadership team and together the next steps will be defined and enacted. What is clear is this: direct action is needed.  We have given the state’s Brain Injury Association (BIANYS), Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council (TBISCC) and Department of Health every opportunity to do the right thing. It seems evident that the TBISCC’s biggest obstacle may well be its leadership: Michael Kaplen and Judith Avner, which is why the idea of protesting in front of their homes is being considered. Both BIANYS and TBISCC will not so much as utter a syllable if the utterance places them at odds with the DOH. God forbid.

This brings me to another tactic under consideration. Urging the state legislature and the governor to slash funding for BIANYS, meeting with the DOH and OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities), both state agencies provide large grants to BIANYS, and pressuring them to cut the grants unless BIANYS lives up to its stated purpose.

The Kaplen Avner crowd remind me of those who, left to their own devices for long periods of time, grow comfortable and begin to experience themselves as immoveable objects. Well, Kaplen and Avner should not get too comfortable. I would suggest that others like the DOH’s Maribeth Gnozzio, Mark Kissinger, Mary Ann Anglin and Commissioner Shah as well as BIANYS President Marie Cavallo not to get too comfortable either; we may be protesting in front of your homes too.


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