December 9, 2010

Maple Lane members swarm capitol to fight for juvenile rehab facility on the fast-track chopping block.

Some 50 Local 1926 members from Maple Lane School swarmed a pre-session legislative budget hearing Wednesday (Dec. 8) to urge rejection of the administration’s fast-track plan to close the juvenile rehabilitation facility in south Thurston County.

They picketed outside with “Save Maple Lane” signs before heading into the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich introduced them and had them stand to be recognized by the committee, noting that many had received “pink slips and layoff notices."

The union and a strong coalition of groups are fighting to the last breath to save Maple Lane – but in the short-term to stop the accelerated closure by the Department of Social and Health Services.

The agency now wants to ramp up the closure by two years to June 2011. That came because of the governor’s 6.3 percent across-the-board cuts.

But Brian McElfresh, a juvenile rehabilitation coordinator at Maple Lane, said the 6.3 percent cuts have been dumped on the school.

“As it stands, a fifth of the cuts in juvenile rehabilitation will be balanced on the back of Maple Lane,” McElfresh said.

“Maple Lane is a world class facility,” he said in urging a reversal of the overall closure decision.

But the sped-up closure plan is unwise and goes against the findings of the Legislature’s own study on facility closures, McElfresh said.

“We believe the Legislature should step in and put the brakes on the accelerated closure of Maple Lane brought on by the governor’s 6.3 percent across-the-board cuts,” he said. “It threatens youthful offenders and jeopardizes public safety….

“We think you should step in, defend the timetable you set last year and mitigate the harm that would be done by the sped-up closure of Maple Lane.”

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