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WJBD - Local News - Murray Parents Association Recaps Court Hearing

Murray Parents Association President Rita Winkeler addresses the crowd at their meeting on sunday.

Murray Parents Association Recaps Court Hearing

By Rob Sussman, WJBD News

Accusing the State of being driven by money and politics, the Murray Parents Association met on Sunday to debrief on last weeks federal court case in Chicago on whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction in order to keep the Murray Developmental Center open in Centralia. Murray Center President Rita Winkeler said she believes that presiding Judge Marvin Aspen was unconvinced by the arguments made by the State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Human Services, and that she remains optimistic that the injunction will be granted.

Winkeler said the States argument revolved around attacking the Murray Parents Association and it's witnesses and associated groups personally, calling them "liars" and questioning how the Murray Parents Association was funded. 

The state also claimed during proceedings that Murray Center residents would be better suited for Community Integrated Living Arrangements, or CILA homes, and that the Murray Parents Association has been actively blocking and resisting transition, making it difficult to adequately prepare and manage CILA homes. 

The Murray Parents Association responded by accusing the state of "shoehorning" Murray Residents into two to four bedroom CILA homes that are understaffed, undertrained, and underpaid, and giving parents little choice in the matter. The Murray Parents Association pointed out several conflicts of interest over the course of the trial, including one instance where an assessor for Community Resource Associates, the company contracted to assess Murray Residents prior to transfer, was also an owner of several CILA homes. Winkeler accused the state of being motivated by money.

"If they move a certain number of people out of institutions they'll receive around a 10% reward from the Federal Government that amounts to around $90 million

Several Parents Association Members also expressed concern and outrage over a slip of the tongue made by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Iopollo during the proceedings last week, where he apparently used the term "inmates" to describe Murray Center residents. The Murray Parents Association is considering pursuing sanctions against Iopollo for use of the demeaning term.

Judge Aspen is expected to make a final ruling on the preliminary injunction in early March. Until a decision is made, Murray Center will remain open in Centralia. The Center is home to 255 residents.

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