A dust-up between mental health providers in Cuyahoga County may not be as controversial as it first seemed. The squabble involves a provision in the new state budget that appears to favor one particular agency over others. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports.
The budget item allows groups of Cuyahoga county school systems to combine into regional districts for the purpose of saving money when floating ballot issues for special education and mental health services.
An initial report indicated 8 east side suburban districts were showing interest, which apparently caused uproar across the Greater Cleveland mental health community.
Leaders thought the proposed levy could conflict directly with other mental health issues on future ballots.
Adam Jacobs of Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau in Shaker Heights was a major proponent of the measure, and critics charge that his agency would unfairly benefit from the plan.
Jacobs says the confusion was largely his fault, for not explaining to mental health advocates that the proposal should not conflict with countywide plans, and would benefit more than just his agency.
JACOBS: This allows for the potential to bring more money into a system that is inadequately funded, to bring more services to children.
A spokesman for the county's Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board confirmed that there was conversation between Jacobs and his offices Monday afternoon, but since some recent changes were still unexplained, they couldn't comment further.
What Jacobs confirmed to 90.3 is that any proposed levy would need to be researched -- and is possibly years away -- not imminent, and not in conflict with funding the Mental Health Board will ask voters to approve in 2010.