Thursday, May 8

Committee hears recommendations
for LDC reopening

[MAY 8, 2003]  The good ship LDC, they say, did sail the waters of Lincoln for well over a hundred years. She was a mammoth ship with a large, hale crew and was appreciated by all for her beauty, bounty and purpose. It was a tragedy when after all her years of service she had the misfortune of striking the Gov. George Ryan iceberg.

First the damage was merely a small hole and slow leak that all thought would be patched and she'd be good to go on as always. But serious structural damage occurred in the process as multiple attempts were made to fix her. The damages became irreparable. It was one of those shocking tragedies when something goes from bad to worse despite all the best efforts to fix it.

Eventually, to the dismay of thousands -- hundreds who called her home, hundreds who called her employment security and thousands who called her their history and a valued member of the community -- that mighty icon sank. The battle to save her had raged almost a full year when at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, 2002, it was all over.

As she went down, the optimists and pessimists played their roles.

Some said she might sail again. Others scoffed and called them dreamers, though they secretly hoped this might be so.

Powerful men said that if they were put in command, they would bring her back. Others said that even if they meant it, it couldn't or wouldn't be done.

Months passed, and one of those men who had made a promise was put in command. All waited and watched to see if he remembered and if he could or would actually keep his word. Some went to see him to remind him about her and say how much she was still missed and needed.

Then everyone waited.

The day came on April 9, 2003, when new Gov. Rod Blagojevich rolled out his state budget. Everyone listened, straining to hear what they most wanted. Despite listening hard to the detailed and lengthy plans, none heard any confirmation of the promise he had made so long ago. This was the last, best hope, dashed.

However, Gov. Blagojevich had sent written word to Sen. Larry Bomke that yes, he definitely remembered LDC, and yes, he had plans to reopen her.

This was the letter:





April 4, 2003

Senator Larry Bomke

105E Statehouse

Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Senator Bomke, 

Pursuant to our discussions today and on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, this letter is to inform you that included in the FY04 budget will be funds dedicated to and for the reopening of the Lincoln Developmental Center. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at your earliest convenience.


Alonzo Monk

Chief of Staff


[to top of second column in this article]

She didn't go down fast and she isn't coming back up fast, nor easily for that matter. It's one step at a time toward reopening of Lincoln Developmental Center. Rep. Lee Daniels called an informative meeting before the members of the Illinois Mental Health and Disabilities Committee in Springfield yesterday (Wednesday, May 7).

The goal of the hearing was to assess the history of LDC and look to its future use. Word spread by mouth to all the LDC supporters when a posting was seen two days earlier. Despite the short notice, people changed their plans and came to the meeting.

Attending in addition to members of the state committee were new staff and directors of the Department of Human Services, including Carol Adams; state Reps. Rich Brauer and Bill Mitchell and Sen. Larry Bomke, supporters of LDC; members of the former LDC parents group; and AFSCME representatives. Government leaders and families of the disabled will work with the Department of Human Services to figure out what the new LDC will be.


Representatives of the Illinois Council on the Developmentally Disabled who oppose the large, state-run facilities were also present to resist the reopening plans. The opponents advocate privately owned community-integrated group homes for the developmentally handicapped.

Right now it seems that those who want to call LDC home again will be able to do so on a newly renovated campus. The governor has allotted $10 million dollars for fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1. Half the money will go to renovate the campus and the other half for services to care for residents. It is intended at this time to welcome 50 residents and bring more than 100 jobs back.

LDN will bring you more on when, how and what will happen on the LDC campus as details become available.

[Jan Youngquist]


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