State Representative Sara Gelser Nominated to Federal Post

Kristin Teigen

On Wednesday, President Obama nominated Oregon State Representative Sara Gelser (HD -16) to serve on the National Council on Disability. If confirmed by the Senate, Gelser would become one of fifteen members of the Council, which advises Congress, Obama and executive branch departments on policies and programs that ensure equality and inclusion for people with disabilities.

The post would allow Gelser to keep her position in the Legislature, where she is Assistant Majority Leader and Chair of the House Committee on Education. She filed for re-election in early December.

As many know, Representative Gelser has worked consistently for appropriate services and for the rights of people with disabilities. Among other pieces of legislation, she pushed for changes in Medicaid to allow families to keep children with disabilities at home rather than being forced to move them to a nursing home. She also sponsored legislation that provided individuals with disabilities with substantial protections from caregiver abuse, and that allowed testimonies in court of those individuals with disabilities who may have been the victims of abuse.

Before joining the Legislature, Gelser served as the Children with Disabilities and Family Support Coordinator for the Oregon State Department of Human Services and as founder of the FG Syndrome Family Alliance. Additionally, she was a member of the Corvallis School Board and is the mother of four children, including a teenage son with disabilities. Her work in Washington, DC, if confirmed, will no doubt reflect this diverse set of experiences.

At the end of a week of nebulous reports about Obama’s leadership – healthcare, Copenhagen, Bernanke – it’s great to have some news that is obviously worthy of our approval.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I'm glad Rep. Gelser will be in this position, and also hope she stays an Oregon State Representative as long as we can keep her. I'm curious, though, and hope it's not rude to ask: How does Article II, Section 10 of the Oregon Constitution not apply? I thought the only added exception was for school employees.

  • (Show?)

    Nice!

    I was a little distressed at how little representation the PNW had at the higher levels of Obama's administration. Great to see someone like Sara appointed to a post like this.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    This is good news for Sara, good news for Oregon, and especially good news for persons with disabilities to have such a smart and capable advocate.

    Good luck with the nomination Sara!

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Great news for people with disabilities. Great news for Oregon. Congratulations.

  • (Show?)

    according to an Oregon AG decision in 1997,

    So long as one of the public offices does not have any pay associated with the performance of its duties, it will not constitute a lucrative office.
    it would seem, on the face, that any compensation could be deemed lucrative, which would suck. i don't think the point of this part of the constitution was to keep state legislators from serving on advisory boards for the federal govt. in fact, it's hard not to believe that is not a good thing for Oregon: just as having Jane Lubchenco head up NOAA will help ensure issues regarding the Pacific NW won't be easily ignored, the issues regarding mental health and small, poor states like Oregon receive national consideration. if this does indeed turn out to be problematic, and perhaps just to avoid future problems, the Leg ought to consider drafting a constitutional amendment that allows this kind of dual service. i am sure that only under the strictest interpretation could whatever Sara gets for service on this board (if anything) be considered "lucrative". hell, serving in the Leg is anything but lucrative.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    Congrats, Sara! There couldn't be a better choice. Sara has been a champion on this issue for many years, long before she was a Rep. I saw her pack the Corvallis Library with disability activists/parents at a legislative town hall meeting in 1999.

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    T.A.:

    Although the AG opinion you cite is good guidance, it isn't exactly on point. However, your deduction is correct. "A lucrative office within the meaning of the Constitution is one whose pay is affixed to the performance of the duties of the office." Holman v. Lutz, 132 Or. 185, 216, 284 P. 825, 827 (1930).

    It seems at least two questions are proper: Can Sara accept the position if it is paid, but if she declines the pay? And, are travel and other reimbursements considered "pay" under the holding of Holman? There could be other issues, but those two jump out at me.

    Either way, someone would have to be a real jackass to take Sara to court to enforce this provision against her. And further, she's a very diligent person, so I am sure she has already sought the advice of legislative counsel on this question, and would not have put the Obama administration in the embarrassing position of handing her a nomination which she could not accept.

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    t.a.: I wouldn't have asked if I hadn't checked. Service on the National Council on Disability involves "compensation at a rate equal to the rate of pay for level 4 of the Senior Executive Service Schedule under section 5382 of title 5, United States Code, including travel time, for each day they are engaged in the performance of their duties as members of the National Council." That's more than token, but whether it's significant depends on the number of days involved.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Just saw this on the column of blog links on the side of the page:

    http://www.bcdems.net/node/1427

    Sara Gelser and Frank Morse at a forum on Measure 66 and 67. If it were closer I would go---that would be a very worthwhile event.

    Hope Sara or someone else fills us in on how it goes.

  • A Question (unverified)
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    Those of us who know Gelser know that her tenure can actually be described as one of rather selfish advocacy for her son and her family. In forums I've attended, (and I don't recall you being there Teigen), she was singularly uninformed health care issues, taxes, and woefully unable to articulate any well-formed set of political values when given the opportunity to in those forums. She struck me as an example of the what see in Oregon, the NW, and the US generally of dumbed down, self-interested leadership that only incidentally helps others who might be in her same situation.

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    Always nice to see such positive comments. There are always exceptions from the sour grapes group; viz: "she was singularly uninformed [about] health care issues, taxes, and woefully unable to articulate any well-formed set of political values ...." Pity.

  • LT (unverified)
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    My experience watching Sara Gelser in action (incl. in what may have been one of her first appearances as an appointed state rep. at a forum in Salem) is a very bright young woman and potential future leader.

    Not that I have agreed with everything she has done, but I agree with Lee about sour grapes.

  • Bad Nomination (unverified)
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    What about all the blind kids she forced out onto the street. She was the champion for closing the school for the blind, she said blind students would be better served in their "home districts".

    Wrong. The state of Oregon has agreed that blind students from the School for the Blind wouldn't get an appropriate education in their "home" districts after all. As a result, the state of Oregon is now paying to send those disabled kids to school in Vancouver.

    Gelser put these kids on the street and didn't give a damn. This is a bad nomination to say the least. I suspect we are soon going to hear from the parents of these blind students.......

  • Bradley (unverified)
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    Rep. Gelser is one of the good ones, and only good ones are able to tell friends news they don't want to hear. I don't know much about the school for blind children, but I don't think she and other Dems in the Capitol would have closed it just for kicks.

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    Whoa. Let's be clear: the school for the blind was not accredited and had not offered academic programs commensurate with a normal K-12 school for years. That is what was not acceptable - all students have a right to an academic education along with whatever supports are necessary to allow them to access and benefit from that education. No one was tossed out on to the street. Does that mean the situation is perfect? Of course not. It's fair to disagree with these decisions, but it is not fair to mischaracterize the actual impact of these decisions.

  • Bad Nomination (unverified)
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    The school for the Blind wasn't accredited anymore because the Legislature refused to provide the funding necessary to maintain the accreditation. Had the legislature adequately - just adequately! - funded the OSB there would have been no problems with the accreditation.

    And yes, those kids were put out on the street Mr. Collins. Get your facts right. When the Legislature voted to close and sell the school, those kids lost their home! Remember, OSB students lived at the facility. So when Gelser insisted on selling the school, those kids lost their home.

    And another thing, those kids each had IEPs that are mandated by federal law. Their IEPs all had the kids placed at the OSB. When Gelser championed closing the OSB, she took it upon herself to alter each of those kids IEPs unilaterally.

    As a result, the OSB kids are going to school in Vancouver at the expense of Oregon Taxpayers (by the way, it costs a little more than it was costing to house children at the OSB).

    What Gelser did is shameful, and hardly indicative of a person who gives a damn about disabled children. (I know, I know, she has a child with autism or ADHD or something like that, so she cares about her child and no one else's).

    Again, I suspect we are going to hear loudly from the parents of those children very soon.

  • Jiang Lee (unverified)
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    Classic Dem position. "We sometimes do something progressive... but don't dig too deep"!

    You should really consider running this as an approved response only commercial blog. You're really not prepared to go into detailed debate with posters like BN. I have seen specific allegation of illegal activity by DHS detailed here, and never once, has anyone responded with a serious discussion.

    That's fine, if you want to put out a piece and get a few "that's great" responses. It's not rocket science. There's only a gazillion examples. There really seems to be a belief at Mandate Media that this can run itself. It sure isn't managed. If so, ditch the Google ads! If not, and you're only going to acknowledge your a priori position, then close/moderate the comments. This, leave it open and see if they say the correct things bit, is getting to be rather abusive.

  • mlw (unverified)
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    Congratulations, Sara!

  • Scott (unverified)
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    BIG CONGRATS to Sara! It's a much deserved recognition, and she’ll do a fantastic job!

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Salem Hospital wants the land is why the School for the Blind had to go. Simple as that. They found someone to do the dirty work for them.

  • evden eve nakliyat (unverified)
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    thank you...

  • James M Earle III (unverified)
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    Posted by: George Anonymuncule Seldes | Dec 22, 2009 12:13:54 PM

    Salem Hospital wants the land is why the School for the Blind had to go. Simple as that. They found someone to do the dirty work for them.

    Jiang's right. Read the code. obviously worthy of our approval.

    Dissenting opinions not welcomed.

    Posted by: evden eve nakliyat | Dec 23, 2009 5:19:31 AM

    thank you...

    So, what's the ad. revenue go for if you can't find the time to delete link spam? How is it that one unPC statement gets immediate attention? Again, Jiang's right. That's abusive.

  • Willard Freeman (unverified)
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    It is hard to think of someone from Oregon that would be a worse pick than Gelser.

    Her unwillingness to listen to the voices of blind Oregonians and her general contempt for the idea that the disabled should have a say in their own lives ought to disqualify her for this position.

    Further, she promised that the money saved by closing the School for the Blind would be earmarked for blind students in the budget. She did NOTHING when the senate decided it would all go into the general education fund.

    Did the school need reform? Yes, and that's why two years prior an advisory committee was appointed to do just that. At the very least if closing the school was such a good idea, a firm alternative plan for educating those students should have been enacted. But no. Real estate deals come first.

    Yes, I know she has a disabled child. But that no more makes her an expert on disability issues,let alone blindness, than stating that one is a foreign policy expert because they can see Russia from their house.

    Wouldn't it be better to appoint someone who comes from an organization of disabled persons? Someone who actually represents that community?

    I have the utmost respect for President Obama. But this nomination needs to be defeated.

  • Ngan hang (unverified)
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    Congratulations, Sara! She is very good.

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