Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Palin Sued by Autistic Teen Needing Services;

Lesbian Lawyer Speaks

I just got off the phone with Sonja D. Kerr, a disability attorney and a lesbian, in Anchorage, Alaska, who has a lawsuit pending in the courts against Gov. Sarah Palin. Kerr has sent me a copy of the 46-page filing, which you can read here.

Kerr represents Billy Olson, a 16-year-old with severe autism, whose parents are suing the governor and the state because Alaska lack 24-hour residential programs for severe-needs autistic children and adolescents. Billy Olson is currently living in an out-of-state residential facility, thousands of miles away from his family.

According to attorney Kerr, Palin was named in the lawsuit because of her official capacity role, as determined by federal inter-agency agreements.

The plaintiffs are seeking relief in the form of the state establishing and operating a 24-hour resident facility for Billy Olson and other young people with autism.

This case is interesting, of course, because it involves Palin, John McCain's pitiful choice to be his Veep running mate, and also because it may be one paper trail not followed by McCain's vetting team.

Kerr told me she's received two other calls besides mine about the lawsuit -- one from a reporter at the Seattle Times, and another from Duncan Osborne of Gay City News in Manhattan. No calls from other parties about the case have been received at Kerr's law office.

Not only that, but an additional curiosity to this matter is the fact, according to Kerr, that Palin has a nephew with autism. Kerr mentioned this in the context of she and others involved in the case expected Palin to not fight and not put Alaskan government resources into challenging the lawsuit, that Palin would instead move to have the state begin addressing the growing needs of kids with autism.

A Google search turned up this bit of info and link:

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the state of Alaska, do hereby proclaim April 2008 as:. Autism Awareness Month ...

However, if you click on the link, you find it is dead.

As you can see from the partial docket from the Alaskan court's web site, the case is far from being settled, and no effort by Palin is in the works to buidling 24-hour residential facilities to assist autistic people like Billy Olson and the governor's nephew.

Click here to read the online records of this lawsuit:

08/14/2008 Letter Filed/Lodged (8-15-08, Letter Memorandum and Notice Form sent) Attorney: Owens, Bradley D (7610122) 0.00 0.00

08/07/2008 Letter Filed Attorney: Kerr, Sonja D (0409051) Cindy Olson (Plaintiff); W O (Plaintiff); 0.00 0.00

07/29/2008 Letter Filed to Provide a Citation to Supplemental Authority Re Pending Motions to Dismiss Claims Attorney: Owens, Bradley D (7610122) Anchorage School Board (Defendant); 0.00 0.00

07/23/2008 Letter Filed to Provide a Citation to Supplemental Authority Re Pending Motions to Dismiss Claims Sonja D Kerr (Attorney) on behalf of Cindy Olson (Plaintiff) 0.00 0.00

-- SNIP --

07/23/2007 Case Flagged for Civil Rule 4(j) Tracking (3AN) Sarah Palin (Defendant); Roger Sampson (Defendant); Karleen Jackson (Defendant); Carol Comeau (Defendant); Anchorage School Board (Defendant); 0.00 0.00

07/23/2007 Summons and Notice to Both Parties of Judicial Assignment 0.00 0.00

07/23/2007 Complaint for Injunctive Relief 150.00 0.00


Anonymous said...

As a parent with a child with Down syndrome and with many friends with children with Autism (I work for a special needs parent-to-parent non profit). I can tell you without a doubt that every state has a long way to go to provide needed services. And its probably a fair statement that many have similar lawsuits. Check out this article for some recent info on Palin's record in Alaska. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-disabled8-2008sep08,0,5707481.story

Mark said...

Thanks for posting this. Read more about the candidates' positions on disabilties:

Mark said...

The link to the boilerplate proclamation now works. Note the accompanying photo of the military academy -- two-thirds of "special needs" funding goes to a boot camp program for high school dropouts.