Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 1, 2013

Forum: Parent supports ex-CMH employee

By Cheryl Karpinski-Strang

Recently, Jonathan Bennett was fired from his job as Recipient Rights Officer at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health. News of his firing hit me hard. As the step-mother of an autistic daughter, I have spent years trying to advocate for my child. The role of advocate has involved a steep learning curve and is not an activity I would have freely chosen.

My only contact with Mr. Bennett was when my husband and I filed a recipient rights complaint on behalf of our autistic daughter. We found Mr. Bennett to be a man of integrity. His willingness to listen and take our concerns seriously was welcomed in a very stressful situation. In the end, Mr. Bennett’s report was not in our favor on all issues in our complaint. After all, it is not his job to take sides.

Please keep in mind that Mr. Bennett’s impartiality applied not only to clients and their families but to the very institution that employed him. Therefore, recent quotes from CMH management alleging “conflict” between Jonathan Bennett and Northern Lakes staff left me dumbfounded. Claims that Mr. Bennett’s job performance was “compromising” the ability of CMH staff to do their jobs rang untrue.

It is not the job of the Recipient Rights Officer to win popularity contests. Nor was it Mr. Bennett’s job to appease his employer. If an air of “deep conflict” did exist, then it seems to me that the fault lies not with Mr. Bennett but with the way employees of CMH were taught to regard Mr. Bennett’s job responsibilities.

Instead of being penalized, Mr. Bennett should be rewarded for staying true to his job description and to his own sense of morality. A quick look at Northern Lake’s website finds the following quote: “Under the authority of the Mental Health Code, the Northern Lakes Office of Recipient Rights directly provides, coordinates, and advocates for the protection of the rights of individuals receiving mental health services.”

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment