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 Legion Calls Governor Daniels' Move 'A Real Slap in the Face'

February 18, 2009 - In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, the State Commander of the American Legion Department of Indiana criticized Gov. Mitch Daniels over plans to close the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home.

“At his (Daniels’) request to our Department Adjutant, the American Legion devoted its resources to identifying an alternative to simply shutting down the Home, and what do we get in return?” Department Commander Ralph Tolan was quoted as saying in the press release. “The same lame, ill-conceived explanation from the Indiana State Department of Health that we have received twice before, re-packaged and re-stated, but identical to their original position.”

“The Department of Health did not ask for alternatives – the Governor did,” Tolan went on in the release. “We did not expect to change their minds, but we certainly had reason to expect the governor to at least read our proposal. I seriously doubt that he did. He didn’t even favor us with an acknowledgement, let alone a response.

“That, to me, is a real slap in the face,” Tolan continued. “It appears to me that this decision was made a long time ago and no one ever seriously planned to consider alternatives.”

The press release says the Legion delivered a preliminary proposal to the Governor Feb. 10. The Legion says they outlined a plan that would restore funding for the Home to the 2009-2010 biennial state budget, authorize a professional and detailed study of the Home with recommendations for all aspects of the facility, and assign responsibility for the study to a joint commission of interested parties.

The Legion’s press release also says an ISDH response signed by State Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Monroe and Indiana Department of Child Services Director James Payne restates the original arguments for closing the Home. The Legion claims many of these arguments have been refuted or identified as misleading.

“In setting forth its alternatives to continuing to operate the home, Monroe and Payne have described a series of costly, time-consuming and continuing alternatives, without providing estimates of the total cost or comparing it to the cost of operating the Home -- or answering the critical questions posed by The American Legion,” Tolan says in the release. “How can returning at-risk youngsters to the environments, schools and communities that have already failed them benefit these youngsters? How will costly, tired social programs benefit youngsters whose service-member parents are deployed?” According to the press release, Tolan has vowed to continue to fight plans to close the Home.

“We have a position endorsed by more than 200,000 Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion members, which authorizes me to take all appropriate action,” Tolan said. “We have no option now but to proceed with our plans to fight this out in the General Assembly.”

The Banner contacted the office of Gov. Daniels Tuesday afternoon for comment on the Legion’s press release. As of The Banner’s deadline for this week’s issue, however, the governor’s office had not responded.


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