Public Comment

Save Easy Does It!

Don Brownell
Tuesday September 14, 2010 - 12:51:00 PM

I am a Co-Secretary on the Board of Directors for Easy Does It Emergency Services. On Friday, August 13th , I took a half-day off work to be one of five representatives from Easy Does It to attend a preĀ¬scheduled two-hour negotiation/collaboration meeting with CIL representatives and Drew King from the City of Berkeley. We were surprised when right at the beginning of the meeting Yomi Wrong, the Executive Director at CIL, announced to the room that CIL was "walking away from the table," and that pursuing a slice of the Berkeley Emergency Services contract was costing CIL too much money and hurting their reputation in the community, that their only reason for pursuing part of the contract was in the interests of the community and not the funds, and that they had their funding for their repair shop and that the shop would go ahead, regardless. We were out of the meeting in 40 minutes and there was no discussion about a negotiation because it appeared that CIL was no longer interested in Measure E funds. In previous meetings, CIL continually stated that they wanted no part of the Emergency Attendant or Emergency Transportation elements of the program.  

The challenge of maintaining our funding was seemingly over, but the relief was sadly short-lived. EDI felt that we could once again focus entirely on our development as an agel:lcy with projects like enhancing our database and increasing our outreach to provide our excellent services to a broader community, but a few hours after we were approved by Drew King to announce the meeting's outcome, Mark Bums from CIL posted on the Berkeley Disabled Community list-serve that he misspoke. Mark said he misspoke when he said "that ClL was withdrawing from the RFP process," and went on to explain that, "We [CIL] have not done that. Our original proposal remains on the table and we'll respect whatever the end result may be."  

EDI had previously presented a lengthy list of in-kind collaborative proposals that did not involve any exchange of money, because sacrificing any part of our funding would result in the deterioration of EDI as an agency. We have offered for example a Community Training for Wheelchair Awareness by EDI at CIL; Training CIL staff to do assistive equipment repair; Free (to CIL) transportation and dispatch for community members needing to go to the new CIL shop; Access to loaner chairs (3); Access to EDI assistive equipment parts/inventory (listed in EDI proposal); and New equipment training (as new equipment becomes available). We simply do not want to sacrifice the integrity of the services we already provide by segregating or dissolving services so we offered these collaborative ideas.  

This entire controversy over the Measure Econtract comes at a time when EDI is at its strongest because of the long term efforts by the Board of Directors to make the agency a more professional organization. We recently achieved a milestone with the hiring of our Executive Director, .Bonnie MacFadyen, who has efficiently reorganized the administrative office and given our wonderful field staff a substantial and eamed wage increase. We are continuing to meet with our (largely volunteer) consultants in order to further train our Board to be the best it can be. We plan to conduct outreach and fundraising events and submit grant applications, but as long as we are embedded in the struggle to maintain Measure Efunds, we cannot move forward.  

In the weeks ahead, we will be attending meetings for the Commission on Disability and the Commission on Aging to plead our case and offer even more education on the necessity of our program in the community. We also have a meeting scheduled with the City Manager and a possible vote by the City Council may be held this month.  

If any of you feel, as I do, that EDI should continue to serve the Berkeley community, please attend the public meetings (times listed below) and write your City Councilpersons. Additionally, if you cannot attend the Commission on Disability meeting email Secretary Paul Church with your comments at If anyone has further questions or input to what I've written here, please write me and I will do my best to answer.  


Don Brownell on behalf of the EDI Board of Directors Co-Secretary and Communications Committee Chair Easy Does It Board of Directors
Commission Meetings and Information:
Commission on Aging Meeting September 15th, 1:30 pm South Berkeley Senior Center (corner of Ashby & Ellis St.)
Commission on Disability Meeting September 15th, 6:30 pm North Berkeley Senior Center (corner of MLK & Hearst)
Save Easy Does It!