ENID, Okla. —
Anderson has been outspoken about his opposition to the closing. During the Nov. 1, 2012, meeting of the DHS Commission, the decision was made to shut down SORC by April 2014 and NORCE by August 2015 and place residents in community-based care.
Chairman Wes Lane did not allow Anderson to speak. Lane told Anderson to leave the room, and threatened to have him escorted from the meeting.
Email obtained through an open-records request by the Enid News & Eagle shows that Denise Northrup, Gov. Fallin’s chief of staff, forwarded a copy of the Oct. 31, 2012, Senate press release titled “Anderson: Governor directs DHS Commission to throw disabled out on street” to Lane.
In the press release, Anderson described how Fallin continued to postpone a decision by the DHS Commission, then scheduled a vote for Nov. 1.
“I assume you saw this,” Northrup wrote to DHS Commission Chairman Lane on Nov. 1.
Responding to Northrup’s forwarding of the Anderson release on the morning of Nov. 1, Lane wrote: “Indeed ... proof that the failure to spank a child can at times result in future problems as an adult.” Lane’s email was sent Nov. 1, before the afternoon vote.
Five days later, the commission was dissolved in a state question.
See PDF of Lane's email and Anderson's release on the bill HERE.
When Anderson learned of the email obtained by the News & Eagle, the senator responded that the comment reflects more on Lane’s character than his.
“I make no apologies for fighting for my district, the residents of NORCE and their families to the utmost of my ability,” Anderson said. “What I said turned out to be accurate, because Ed Lake, DHS (director), came to Enid and admitted it to 100 witnesses.”
When asked about his email regarding Anderson, a fellow Republican, Lane characterized the Enid senator’s comments as “immature” and offensive, claiming Anderson’s frightening “fear-mongering” was a disservice to citizens.
Lane, former Oklahoma County district attorney, noted that he was speaking as a conservative Republican himself.
“It’s reminiscent of what I’ve seen Democrats do on the national stage,” said Lane, referring to ads depicting Paul Ryan throwing an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman off a cliff.
“More of that came out of my profound disappointment at the lack of maturity, and I’m seeing that coming out of different folks at the Legislature. I don’t know Anderson from Adam, but it didn’t make any difference. Why is he scaring people like this?”
Lane said the easy choice would have been to keep NORCE open, but the harder decision was the right one.
“The most loving thing we could do for people with developmental disabilities and all that was to give them the opportunity to live out in the community, that came from both the literature and from parents who had gone through that,” Lane said.
Lane joked he would need a full tank of gas the next time he travels to Enid.