Memorial for Judy Cunio: June 30th in Salem

Long-time advocate and Salem resident, Judy Cunio, died June 17, 2011 from injuries sustained in her home the previous day. She was 59 years old.

A celebration of Judy’s life is scheduled for Thursday, June 30, at 3:00 pm at Salem Alliance Church, on Gaines and 5th in Salem.

Born with cerebral palsy on January 23, 1952, Judy was a pioneer of the self- advocacy movement for people with developmental disabilities. Barred from public education and institutionalized as a teen because of her disabilities, Judy fought for her independence and was determined to become a professional advocate for others in Oregon with developmental disabilities. In the early 1970s, she was a founding member of People First, now an international organization of individuals with developmental disabilities helping people learn to speak for themselves. After living in several state-funded facilities, Judy realized her dream of living independently in her own apartment, where she lived for the last 14 years.

For the past ten years, Judy served in a professional position as the Self Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. During her many presentations to other advocates and professional groups, Judy often said “This is the best job I’ve ever had.” She made it her personal mission to ensure that self-advocates like herself be actively included in all groups making decisions that affect the lives of people with developmental disabilities. At the time of her death, Judy was a regular and valued member of a variety of groups and organizations, including the Resource Connections of Oregon board of directors, the Oregon Disabilities Commission, the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition, the Home Care Commission, Fairview Housing Trust Fund, Self Advocates as Leaders, and the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force.

Judy Cunio was known, admired and loved by many throughout Oregon and the nation. She will be dearly missed and always remembered for her passion, her unique brand of humor, her many hair styles and colors, her generous spirit, and her profound impact on the quality of life of Oregonians with developmental disabilities.

Judy was deeply saddened by the recent loss of her mother, who died June 4, 2011. Judy is survived by her sisters Kim Cunio, Brandy Brockway and Millie Young all of Salem, Kelly Allen of Gillette, WY. and Susan Campbell of Sutherlin; as well as several nieces and nephews.   Memories and Stories are being shared on the Judy Cunio Memorial Website

Thanks to the DD Coalition for the information.

RIP: Judy Cunio | Oregon Loses One of Its Strongest Voices

Judy Cunio, one of Oregon’s most illuminating, involved and direct self-advocates for the developmental disability community has passed away from an injury resulting from a fall in her home. Ms. Cunio was not in pain and did not regain consciousness, per Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities Interim Director Kathryn Weit.

Our thoughts are with Judy’s family, friends and all who were lucky enough to know this incredible woman. Oregon’s DD system would not be what it is today without Judy’s voice.

Visit her memorial website at

About Judy, in her own words:

“My name is Judy Cunio. I have been the Self Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities for 11 years and I have seen many changes in the Self Advocacy Movement over the years. I have been involved in some kind of advocacy off and on for almost 40 years. I grew up with cerebral palsy at a time when there was no advocating for people with disabilities. In fact, I was not allowed to go to public school. So we really have come a long way even though at times it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes you may feel like giving up, but its more critical now than ever before to advocate for what we need and deserve. Because now more than ever we are in danger of losing many of the things we have worked so hard for. We have to keep up the good fight. We have had tough times before and we always get through them… It will take work! But anything worth having is worth fight for. And WE are worth it.”

Memorial information forthcoming.

Thanks to Kathryn Weit and Tim Kral for contributing information.

OREGONIAN: Senator Richard Devlin Accused of Trying to Silence Criticism of Union Drive

From  The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes:

SALEM — At the behest of Service Employees International Union, Oregon Senate budget chief Richard Devlin  sought to stifle criticism of an organizing drive that added more than 7,700 workers to the union’s membership and turned it into the largest in the state.

During a drive to organize workers who help care for developmentally disabled Oregonians, Tualatin Democrat wrote a letter to officials who help employ the workers, warning them not to say anything even “mildly” critical of unionization. He also suggested that a successful union drive would help boost legislative support for services for Oregonians with developmental disabilities. .

Several officials who received the letter said it appeared Devlin tried to tip the scales in favor of the union’s expansion. Devlin said that wasn’t his intent.

Nevertheless, Devlin’s letter illustrates how closely the powerful public employee unions and supportive politicians work with each other behind the scenes. In the end, SEIU won its organizing fight. As a result, the union has now passed the Oregon Education Association to become the largest union in the state, with 60,000 members.

SEIU financially backed Devlin’s reelection last year and has been a key supporter of the Democratic legislative leadership. The union continues to work with the Legislature to expand its membership. Union lobbyists are trying to push through legislation allowing them to organize an entirely new category of community health workers expected to be created this year as part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s drive to reduce health-care costs.

The organizing drive for workers who help care for the developmentally disabled was particularly sensitive — and unusual. Several brokerages, most of them nonprofits, help people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy or autism get the services they need to stay out of institutions and live as independently as possible. Most of the caregivers paid by the state through the brokerages are actually family members of the clients, who are technically the employers.

Devlin’s letter (reprinted below), which he sent to the brokerages, came as a surprise. While many officials said they had concerns about how unionization would affect their clients, they had not mounted any major campaign against it.

“When I read it, it sounded threatening,” said Barb Charette, executive director of the Southern Oregon Regional Brokerage. She said Devlin’s letter made it clear that he had a powerful position over the state budget and left the impression their funding could be affected if they weren’t careful about what they said about unionization.

As a result of the letter, “I’m much more cautious” in talking about the possible ramifications of unionization, said Zee Koza, board president of Eastern Oregon Support Services Brokerage. Several other people involved in the care of people with developmental disabilities said they did not want to speak on the record for fear of affecting legislative support for their programs.

In his letter, which was sent last December and obtained by The Oregonian this week, Devlin said it was a “misuse of public funds to participate in efforts meant to dissuade support service workers from exercising their collective bargaining rights. Even mildly worded communications against collective bargaining will carry disproportionate weight because of your role in providing services.”

Devlin referred to his budget position and added: “If support service workers choose to form a union, I believe they will be able to significantly strengthen our collective ability to preserve funding and enhance services.”

Devlin said he decided to send the letter after hearing that some workers were being told that joining a union “might diminish their opportunities for employment in the future” and that he didn’t want anyone “thwarting” a worker’s collective bargaining rights.

Devlin insists he wasn’t trying to tilt the playing field in favor of the union and that he wasn’t trying to gag the brokerages.

Margaret Theisen, who heads a Eugene brokerage and is president of a statewide association representing them, said she was not aware of any workers being told that unionization would threaten their employment. She said the big question was whether increased costs for a union workforce would reduce the services that could be provided to clients.

Read the entire article and see Senator Devlin’s letter to the brokerages here.


FACES: Focused Advocates for Choice and Empowering Solutions


Focused Advocates for Choice & Empowering Solutions is a grass roots group of advocates for people with developmental disabilites (DD).

Our mission is to promote self-determination for people with developmental disabilities by advocating for system change and flexibility at the local, state and federal levels.

FACES was formed to unite small grass roots groups throughout Oregon, all working toward similar goals, but all “going it alone”. We joined forces when we discovered several years ago the power of working together to effect change through the legislative process.  We provide a united front for people with developmental or “different” abilities.

FACES is a group of people who are civically engaged to empower people to organize and make changes for good within their local societal structure. One of our goals is to to create community awareness that people with developmental disabilities want to live self-directed, intentionally planned lives with the supports that they need to live safely and with maximum independence; that they deserve the same opportunities that all citizens of the United States expect – freedom to choose where they live, where they work, and who they interact with.

Persons with developmental disabilities want and need to live fulfilling lives within a framework that is new, not the same old entitlement system that serves few well.  FACES is dedicated to make systems improvement, to change the status quo.

Join Us

FACES is a public benefit nonprofit organized as a 501(c)(4) to be effective in the politics of DD issues in Oregon and the nation.  Our coalition of parent driven 501(c)(3) nonprofits in the Willamette Valley is a grassroots effort to improve the plight of persons with DD.  Contact a director for information and meeting dates.

Carol Taylor, 503-789-2921 or email 

Gordon Teifel, 503-267-2041 or email

PHAME Production: GREASE June 18th and 19th

Have you heard? The talented group at PHAME are putting on a full scale production of GREASE here in just a couple of weeks. The show runs Saturday June 18th at 7pm and again on Sunday the 19th at 2pm. Both performances will be held at the Mt. Hood Community College Mainstage Theatre. Details below. Get out there and support the disability and artistic communities of Portland. If you’ve never seen a PHAME production, this is your chance.

From the PHAME blog:

“Grease (school version)”
Everyone’s favorite hand-jiving rock’n’roll musical
Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Saturday, June 18, 7 pm
Sunday, June 19, 2 pm

PHAME’s “Grease (school version)” runs June 18-19 at MHCC, Gresham

Mt. Hood Community College Mainstage Theatre, 26000 SE Stark, Gresham

Jessica Dart, stage director
Ben Landsverk, music director
Korie Chung, choreographer

Starring an incredible 47-member cast of PHAME student performers!
Bethany Ide as Sandy – John Landsverk as Danny – Anne-Marie Plass as Rizzo – Lea Mulligan as Frenchy – Kim Forrer as Marty – Chad Bode as Vince Fontaine – Aaron Hobson as Doody – David Hutzler as Johnny Casino – Melissa Halstead as Jan – and many more!

Tickets on sale now!

Gold Circle reserved seats: $27 adults, $21 students/seniors
General admission: $19 adults, $13 students/seniors

Special thanks to our “Grease” (school version) production sponsors…

Premiere Sponsors
James R. Kuse Family Foundation, RedPine Systems and Tychon Development

Production Sponsors
Cinema 21, Ivey Performance Marketing, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Tom Dwyer Automotive Services and Work for Art

Production Friends
Benjamin Moore, Cupcake Jones and Ronald Atwood, PC