The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) congratulates Adam Bello on his election to Monroe County Executive. CDR has a long history of working with County Executive-elect Bello to improve the lives of disabled people in the county. As County Clerk, Mr. Bello demonstrated his support for the Disability Community by improving the accessibility of the Department of Motor Vehicles. CDR believes his strong support for the Disability Community will continue in his new role.
“There is much we can do working together to improve access to local government,” said Bruce Darling, CEO of the Center for Disability Rights. The Center has identified many opportunities for improved County relations with disabled people, such as improving emergency and non-emergency communications with Deaf people, increasing accessible housing, and improving accessible transportation throughout the area.
“Our Center has also developed an outstanding model for reintegrating people with disabilities back into the community from nursing facilities and other institutions. I’ve personally trained people from all over the country in this model. A CDR staff person is even going to Japan to train folks there in December. With the change in administration, we can work with Monroe County to be a model for other counties,” continued Darling.
CDR will also be seeking Mr. Bello’s support in establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with Monroe County so CDR can once again serve as a local fiscal intermediary for consumer directed personal assistance services (CDPAS).
“I’m particularly excited that Adam Bello won because that means I would be able to once again use CDR as my fiscal intermediary,” said Debra Bonomo, CDR’s Board Chair. “Cheryl Dinolfo continued to perpetuate the retaliation of her predecessor against CDR for our advocacy. That meant I continue to be denied the opportunity to use CDR for my personal assistance services – even though I am Chair of the Board!”
CDR had filed multiple complaints about Monroe County to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights concerning unwarranted institutionalization of people with disabilities and protested the lack of access to public services. In 2010, County Executive Maggie Brooks responded by ending CDR’s contract with the County to serve as a local fiscal intermediary. County Executive Dinolfo refused to reverse this decision despite misconduct by organizations with which the county contracted. Some contractors’ executives were sent to prison due to Medicaid fraud, and contractors were fined for failures to follow rules concerning private medical records.
Although Monroe County cancelled the contract with CDR, the organization continued to provide services throughout the region and continued to grow significantly. Under contract with Medicaid managed care organizations, CDR also serves some people locally.
“CDR is the only disability-led organization doing this work locally and – as an advocacy group – we were a key player in establishing CDPAS as a statewide program. We literally wrote the book on the subject,” said Ms. Bonomo. “It’s appalling and ableist that we have continued to be excluded. Adam Bello can correct this injustice.”