Washington State

Thursday in the News

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English: The top of the Space Needle in Seattl...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a new category that I thought you might get a kick out of.  Each Thursday I’ll write about a bizarre news story that took place in my local area (Washington State) and you counter that news with a story from your state!

Here’s a story that you just have to scratch your head and say, “Huh?”

A couple months ago, at approximately 11:30 pm, a Seattle area man woke up his six and four year old daughters, put them in the backseat of the car, and told them they were taking a trip to The Dollar Store for some toys.

Driving at a high rate of speed – and hopped up on meth – he proceeded to hit a few cars along the way on one of the main North/South freeways, I-5.  When his car finally came to a stop, having crashed into a barrier, other drivers pulled over to provide help.  Seeing that two young girls were in the back seat, those who came to the assist yelled at the driver to unlock the doors.  The driver initially refused.  When he finally allowed access to the vehicle, the girls were removed, and although they had several seat belt bruises across their torsos, they appeared to be okay.

When the Good Samaritans gained access to the driver’s side of the vehicle in an effort to help the methed out driver, they discovered he was wearing a woman’s blouse with prosthetic breasts strapped to his chest.  Oh, one other detail: he was naked from the waist down, and had a full bag of urine at his feet.

He is being held on $250,000 bail.  His arraignment hearing is scheduled for July 1st.

How about news in your neck of the woods?  Anything even half as unbelievable occur near you?  The news story you submit doesn’t have to be icky like the one I provided, it can be too stupid to believe as well – as a matter of fact, that’s preferred.

Right to Bear Arms vs Separation of Church and State.

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It’s happening again.  Churches are being encouraged to get involved in politics by using their worship space as the venue in which worshipers can sign petitions that speak out for, or against, certain governmental policies.

In April 2012, prior to November’s General Election, the Roman Catholic Church in Washington State, and other statewide mainline Christian denominations, held petition signings during their worship services in an attempt to shoot down Referendum 74 which was drafted to acknowledge marriage equality between men and women who chose to marry someone of their own gender.  Politics invaded that worship space, thus blurring or obliterating the line that separates spiritual church practices from government policy.

Roman Catholic Church in Gerse
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this week, a local Seattle area church capped off their worship service by offering Letters to the President for church members to sign supporting restrictions regarding gun control.  Today, President Obama announced the formation of a commission on gun control and encouraged the American people to help change the current gun laws in an effort to reign in gun violence, and to focus on improving access to mental health services.  You’ll hear no argument from me on that effort – I might sign any worthwhile and well-thought out petition that is not being promoted by any religious leader and not being made available in any church organization’s worship space.  In today’s statement, however, the President asked for the help of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, Pastors, and the like, to be a part of this effort because he can not do it by himself.  It is my hope, however, that these efforts will not be cloaked in the trappings of religious beliefs or precepts.  Standing at the pulpit trying to persuade church attendees to support more rigorous gun control measures – or to not support such measures – is an abuse of the pulpit.

Surely there are other non-pastoral men and women who can provide the same well-thought out petition signing opportunities centered around gun control and mental health issues in more public and civic settings.

English: Aberdeen High School, Aberdeen, Washi...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Retail locations, libraries, city and county government offices, and – dare I say it – school campuses – come to mind as more appropriate locations for such efforts.  Those close to me know that I am a well-read, spiritually sensitive, and globally aware human being.  I’m outspoken and painstakingly fair in what I believe and in what I support, but on this issue I can not back down: anything politically motivated must be separate from all that is housed within the walls of ones worship space.  You don’t have to believe as I do, that’s your right.  I am simply, yet passionately, proposing that any efforts such as were introduced today, not be cloaked in the vestments of religion.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 4

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Seniors for Sale, Part 4: Suspicious Deaths

It doesn’t get much worse than the video attached above.  Two suspicious deaths are the focus of this episode of the Seniors for Sale series.  The two cases discussed in this video occurred at the same Adult Family Home (AFH), Houghton Lakeview, located in a very swank area of Kirkland, Washington.  It goes without saying that this Adult Family Home was shut down.

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Family members whose loved ones died at the hands of these caregivers speak out about how the abuse was discovered, and how the State of Washington did, or did not, effectively respond.

One of the family members whose father died at the hands of the caregiver/owner of the Adult Family Home poignantly stated:

It’s unfathomable to realize that we were paying these people to abuse our loved one!

Conviction results (attached) of one of the suspicious deaths was reported by the same Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Berens, who wrote the series, Seniors for Sale.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 3

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What Needs to be Done?  is the subject matter of Part 3 of  Seniors for Sale.  In this episode, the viewer is encouraged to do research about a facility, Adult Family Home or otherwise, prior to considering a move to that senior housing alternative.  In my article, “Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting Senior Housing,” I provide helpful resources that everyone can use in order to find out:

  • if any complaints have been filed against a particular home;
  • if the State issued any citations, and the nature of those citations;
  • if the Long-Term Care Ombudsman office received particular complaints and the nature of those complaints.
The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No one has to go into this housing search blind.  Please view the very brief video provided in Part 3 of this Pulitzer Prize winning series by Michael Berens of the Seattle Times, then click on the attached article that I’ve provided for your assistance.  Although the links I provided relate to resources in the State of Washington, similar resources exist nation-wide.  Check with your State Ombudsman office or Department of Health and Social Services for your State’s equivalent.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 2

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I provide Part 2 of Seniors for Sale – Janice and Elaine.

The Great Seal of the State of Washington
The Great Seal of the State of Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The attached link connects you to Part 2 of 6 of this Pultizer Prize winning series written by Michael Berens of the Seattle Times.  Please don’t give up hope.  Once all 6 of these episodes have been provided – one per day – I will provide you with story outcomes and repercussions in the Adult Family Home industry in Washington State.  Keep in mind – as I indicated in my first submission –  although this horrific situation took place in the State of Washington, this type of abuse goes on in other states, and countries as well – whether in group homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or similar senior residential settings.

Are there stellar Adult Family Homes (AFHs) in Washington state?  Absolutely.  But of the 2,900 AFHs in the state, 446 of those were cited for major violations since 2010.  The industry certainly was not regulated well enough to avoid such violations.  That is changing.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 1

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My local newspaper ran an investigative report about the Adult Family Home (AFH) industry in Washington State.  Depending upon where you live, a similar  assisted living home may be called a Group Home.

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Washington State, no more than 6 residents can live in an Adult Family Home.  These “businesses” popped up all over Washington State over the past several years as entrepreneurs realized how much money they could make taking in residents and charging thousands for rent and resident care.  At this writing, there are close to 2,900 AFHs in the state.  Since 2010, 446 of those were cited for violations of health or safety standards.  Caveat: there are many Adult Family Homes that are doing an extraordinary job, but it’s the bad ones that make the Headlines and that’s the way it should be.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.  I thought it appropriate to provide Michael Berens’ series, “Seniors for Sale” in six parts this week, but I provide it with a warning that this Pulitzer Prize winning expose can be very difficult to read, and watch.  Nevertheless, awareness is key, so I hope all will benefit from his extensive work on this piece.  Whether you live in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or elsewhere globally, abuse occurs world-wide and it’s the vulnerable adults in this world who are its targets.

Seniors for Sale – I provide this link to Part 1 of the series – “Ann.”