Saturday, January 30, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

History of a Scandal

"If anybody believes for the most part that there is not conspiracy at times, with the police department, not only here in this city, but across this nation, they're crazy."

Friday, January 29, 2010

White Noise: Alone at Home

Reality Bytes: The Roof is On Fire

Reality Bytes: The Roof is On Fire,9171,987539-9,00.html



 TIME How Cops Go Bad

For anyone who would like to know why I feel so strongly that any reform that does not address the issue of regulation, oversight and enforcement... perhaps my experience will serve as an example of how the judicial system fails to protect those who so desperately need help to fight injustice, inequity and corruption in the United States of America.

At twenty-two…

At 22 I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition. Yes, there are times when the pain is so terrible, I cannot lifet myself out pf ed or tie my shoes. But far worse is having the knowledge that the level of damage to my spinal cord could have been stopped had I received adequate health care.

Yes, I had insurance. But who was there to make them pay???

14 years later, I finally received surgical intervention, and I could feel my hands again. As a wanna-be writer, that alone had been a miraculous gift for almost 18 months.

Through the toughest times in my life, no one told me I was wasting my time and money on an education I would never be able to use.

I wanted a diversion. I wanted a purpose.  I wanted people to learn from my experience, so that they would not find themselves bankrupt in every sense of the word before the age of 25.

Even more disturbing than the damage to my spinal cord, is the realization that I missed mosre than 14 years of my life. So not only did I waste my time and money on an education I will never be able to use, I wasted a window of opportunity. A moment in time when I almost had a world the world at my fingertips.

MEMO From Law Offices of Marc Durant
Dear Elyssa,
Our Penna Blue Cross Shield will not [note double underscore] be applicable in the Tennessee Thus, please do not use the numbers for doctors drugs, etc.
Also, do not tell doctors to bill us for any reason.  Dad

At twenty-two…

I was 22.

The next four years would prove to be the closest one could become as i fell following a trail that that never squesks clean.  

I learn the most significant defining factor in my life.  My FBI facts were nothing but lies.  I must sign off my signal goes to blank but before I go learn from my transparency that these are the only thing that keeps me on the radar.  It may corrupt fbi snipers but someone for once may here me scream for Justice for All.  I am only #ONE  Just me. Spotty. Just a girl without a new plan.   [insert american girl when web feed works #TwitterShitter]

I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition. Yes, there are times when the pain is so terrible, I cannot lifet myself out pf ed or tie my shoes. But far worse is having the knowledge that the level of damage to my spinal cord could have been stopped had I received adequate health care.
Yes, I had insurance. But who was there to make them pay?
14 years later, I finally received surgical intervention, and I could feel my hands again. As a wanna-be writer, that alone had been a miraculous gift for almost 18 months.

Through the toughest times in my life, no one told me I was wasting my time and money on an education I would never be able to use.

I wanted a diversion. I wanted a purpose. I wanted people to learn from my experience, so that they would not find themselves bankrupt in every sense of the word before the age of 25.

Without any real place to go after college, I felt I had no other choice than to become a professional student of sorts—you know, the ones who stay in school forever to take advantage of cheap housing, health insurance, and student loans.


Unfortunately, I wandered aimlessly through the system acquiring useless knowledge and letters after my name that do not mean jack in the real world. But it distracted mye from the fact that my spinal cord continued to worsen my physical and emotional health.

So with no prosepects on the horizon-- and so thrilled thto feel my hands today, that the one thing I can do is write. So for now, I write, maybe tomorrow I'll read, but if there is any justice left in this world, maybe someday I will actually live.

Despite having four individual insurance policies including a major plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield for $1,000,000; I still wound up on Medicaid, and eventually welfare and social security with a total income of under $6,000 / year.

The insurance investigators ultimately ruled in my favor, however I was unable to collect any damages for two reasons: Although mandatory federal fines in the amount of $560,000 would require legal assistance and complicated civil litigation that would be timely, costly, and emotionally traumatic. Second, under federal law, grants immunity to ERISA plans: a type of group insurance that is totally untouchable due to federal preemption of state law that leaves the beneficiary without recourse or the ability to collect punitive damages under federal law. Corruption Scandal 

Unfortunately, this was a very complicated case that involved unscrupulous attorneys that involved tax and insurance fraud, and has yet to be resolved despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud and the favorable ruling from the insurance department. It should also be notes that no criminal charges were ever brought against any of the participants, which s even more disturbing if you knew the history of the parties involved, some were arrested for RICO conspiracy, Tax Evasion, Embezzlement, Extortion, and wire fraud. One man actually shot himself in the head one month after the Insurance Dept. opened the investigation. 

So one is dead, one got off on a technicality, one was acquitted, and several others were never prosecuted. I however, pay a price for their crimes every day of my life, I now live in a prison of sorts: a prison of poverty, and despair with no real expectation of change on the horizon.

So here are the facts

I recently learned that for the last 14 years, my parents have been using my social security number to claim as (1) an employee -- thus covered under an ERISA beneficiary plan that I have never been able to access and (2) was claimed as a dependent on my mother's NY State tax return for many years making impossible for me to file taxes or obtain insurance, disability benefits, or student financial aid since neither parent is willing to release a copy of their return.

I filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department in 1995, and received response six months after the policy had expired. Despite the considerable evidence I provided to the Insurance Dept. and Pennsylvania Blue Shield, I was told that despite the overwhelming evidence that I provided, the Insurance Dept. Did not have the authority to override the terms of the contract.

Since ERISA mandates that all beneficiaries (including insured dependents) be given a copy of the policy (among other forms of insurance identification, e.g., EOBs, Insurance ID C, and a copy of the policy, my requests for ERISA mandated materials were repeatedly denied until the Jason Manne from the Dept. of Public Welfare sent a letter to my insurance carrier to inform them that they in accordance with federal law, they must honor my request for a copy of the insurance policy.
The insurance Department came to the same conclusion: that my rights under federal law had been violated, but because this situation was unprecedented in the state of Pennsylvania, it took approximately 9 months before BCBS decided to send me the necessary documentation. In addition, my plan had expired, and BCBS refused to honor my request for COBRA continuation (which would have been extended from 18 months to 36 since I was disabled at the time of the qualifying event plan supporting my initial request for federally mandated information in accordance with ERISA 4236.
Blue Shield refused to honor my request for COBRA continuation and / or a reassignment of benefits so those providers could be reimbursed directly. According to their attorney, Tija Hilton-Phillips, they had no obligation to provide me with any information about COBRA continuation and shifted the burden of responsibility onto the plan administrator and/or fiduciary. In addition to having the terms of my policy falsified in writing, I was unable to identify the plan administrator of fiduciary. Since federal law requires that all plans be filed with the Dept. of Labor, I contacted them on multiple occasions and wrote several letters requesting a copy of claims made under the policy, the plan fiduciary, administrator, and the specific type of ERISA plan (e.g., self-insured) that was on filed in accordance with federal law. Again, my verbal requests were denied. I then sent a written request to the regional office in Philadelphia but again, received no response.

Washington requests in Washington in accordance with federal law, e.g., self-insured, their assistance in (with information Furthermore, the Dept. of Labor requesting this information were never answered. I never found out the name of the plan administrator or the fiduciary, and was never offered COBRA continuation, and then BCBS refused to let me continue under COBRA, claiming they were not obligated to offer it to... so who is ultimately held accountable in these situations.

When I first filed this complaint against BCBS, each agency denied responsibility despite the overwhelming evidence that I had provided. Although I was only 22 at the time, I spent my days and nights reading up on insurance, labor and employment law, and subsequently came to believe that aside from violating my natural rights, I had been denied due process protections and requested legal assistance from advocacy organizations in New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

I was unable to find anyone who would take my claims seriously, and could not find anyone to take my case pro-bono or on contingency. Eventually, I moved to Nashville, TN and tried to recover from the physical injuries and the new emotional scars that left me cynical and bitter about a judicial system that consistently fails to enforce natural and human rights. 
Today, the facts about the Philadelphia Police forces propensity for manufacturing evidence, planting contraband and perjuring themselves in court was finally the subject of a New York Times article.

Everyone I spoken to thus far reiterates the same statement-- practically verbatim, "I sympathize with your dilemma, yet, as you know, our office does not have the jurisdiction to assist you in this matter."

I sought the assistance of an attorney at Shnaeder Harrison years ago (regarding Pennsylvania Act 62) and Jason Manne in the Dept. of Public Welfare.
Although I may be biased, I believe this case has substantial social merit and long standing implications for children in the Pennsylvania  I am a reputable witness, with have 5 years of doctoral studies under my belt in the field of public policy. My motives are clear.  I want my life back.  I want a fucking apology and I want it now.  #yeahisaidit so sue me but get in line. 

I have been unsuccessful in my search for a competent litigator (unfortunately, this is an unprecedented case that touches on all the hot issues before the 3rd circuit including ERISA and the State's interest in Equal Educational Opportunity and due process protections for children (and adults) who are "victimized twice... first by their parents, and then, again by a judicial system who fails to protect them" (it's been a while, but I believe that is a paraphrase of the dissenting opinion from Justice Montemuro in Curtis v. Klein.

In many ways, I feel it is too late for me to recover what I lost due to a snag in the law and a few loopholes in the system. I have collected evidence for over 14 years because I used to believe that justice might prevail. 

if you are prepared to look bold into the bold into he face of the mos obvious yet unresolved example of poltical corruption, manioulation and the effects of chronic exporsure to being systematic ignored, marginalized, and eeventaully forced out of into a life of complete and total isolation... then you have clearly come to the right place.


Much to the embarrassment of my former feinds, colleagues, and family, for two reasons: 1. because share my story (and the documents) to be sure no other child in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania falls victim to such heinous crimes due to legal technicalities from an outdated piece of legislation. It has been 14 years since my case was “abandoned” by the state judicial system in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. 

With the support and inspiration, I received from some very kind and brilliant professors in sociology and social policy, plan to submit a book proposal to document the sequence of events that still astound me and curious onlookers who take a quick peek as they casually pass in and out of my life. You see, it is much like a traffic accident- people like to take comfort in seeing the tragedy of a broken man and his family demonstrating the social injustices and inequity resulting from a stratified society. 
The federal division of local, state and national police forces is being broken down ever since the law enforcement assitance administration in the Nixon years continuing with the crime bill, with the funding and the equipment coming from the federal government.

To show you how police manufacture proof, or evidence,

It is time to have these loop holes closed for good and ensure equal protection under the law for all children—not just those who are lucky enough to have a fair hearing or be heard before they reach the age of majority.

against criminals, against people who have been incarcerated for being criminals. Not fair! When you think of the lives of men have been ruined. Crime Line Exposed

Prison systems that punish only "violent" criminals but forgive those  who commit acts against humanity systematically all things we hold dear when they sold us school... they never told us what was real~ violating natural law rights; impeding emerging culture; drowing out dissent from voices like my own that scream in the dark of night calling for justice.  Constitution and federal law rights are consitsently twisted shedding new light for those searching endless to find that same fire exists somewhere anywhere outside the powers that beat me to a whisper and mumia and so many so MANYcountless voices.todays top news: 1/29/2010 IT'S BEEN TEN YEARS #noshit

Speak in any language you chose. I am listening and I need you. Tweet a sign that you see the spark in me that rages ever since that in May of the Philadelphia Fire.

Mrs. Patterson, a widow, who cleaned other people's floors and

clothes to keep her family together and now delivers newspapers

before dawn with her grandson, was framed by corrupt police officers and spent 3 years in prsison in the early 1990's after being falsely convicted of selling crack cocaine.
                                                      THEY WERE CALLED FIVE SQUAD BUT THERE WERE SIX
Mrs. Patterson and her church always knew whe was innocent, but only in the past couple of months has the rest of the city learned the truth.

And although Philadelphia has been rocked by one police scandal after another in recent years, the new charges reveal a group of officers so corrupt, so calloused to the rights and welfare of residents, that the details have shaken the city to its roots.
Mrs. Patterson is one of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of victims of a band of 5 renegade offciers who for at least 3 years haunted her predominantly poor and Black North Philadelphia neighborhood, beating, robbing, lying and planting phony evidence on the good and the bad, Federal and local prosecutors said.

"She went to jail for 3 years for something she was completely innocent of.," said Lynne Abraham, the Philadelphia District Attorney, "This whole thing has made me physically ill. This is the ultimate betrayal of the public trustm and it has some very destructive consequences. It justifies people's suspicions of the police."

Earlier this year, the officers pleaded guilty in Federal Court to being criminals in blue; nearly 50 cases were invovled in, including Mrs. Patterson's have been overturned by the courts and the District Attorney's office. Hundreds more could also be thrown out.

Scheduled for sentencing in October are Officer Hohn Baird, 40, Thomas BeGovanni, 44, Officer Steven Brown, 48, Officer James Ryan, 39, and former officer Thomas Ryan, 38, who is on disability. Most of them have apparently been cooperating with investigators.

A sixth officer, from the same district, was charged today in Federal District Court with conspiracy to violate civil rights. There are reports that even more officers will be charged, expanding the scandal and the city's potential liability.       

Others who have not been taken seriously by the judicial system or the public at large. Unaware of the consequences that arise from dual standards in the worst of academic snobbery and intellectual elitism- living a lifestyle they might otherwise envy. #namaste

My social security number and account are worth less than the paper they are pronted on. I lived in constant fear, and complete isolation. I dream of leaving the States so I can be free of this 24/7 full time "job" of restoring my soc just so that I can get a job and become more than a poor welfare receipient with a stich of hope for the future.

There is a good reason we call it "Idenity Theft."

None of us are really defined by a number. So when yor social secrity number threatens your security or conflicts with your personal idea of who yo are by sending you back to the sorce of the trauma, BLINK!

Identity Theft steals more than your tax id, bank and credit history, it steals your secuirty yor independence and a piece of the person i was becomong. BLINK!

A person with hope and  Choices. Free, Indepent. Self-reliant. Defiant!

#nofear #nosilence #truth is I hope together we can build #alliance together as #ONE an army of #ONE saying peace, not war, no #reliance on #violence

Sunrise is almost upon the us, I made it through another night trapped way deeper in the a Conspirary of Silence.

can you my whisper? now can i define it! i forgot #whoiam so i mst refine it!

Can I be free to can be me and may i just say goodnight my friends, all is good in my heart because distance know no boundaries when friends mean i am with WOman without a contry a community or a place to call #home peace out  to my friends without borders namaste.

with identity  that means either relocating to another country and/or having my name and social security number changed or restored, it is probably well worth the inconvenience if it means there is still hope for living a peaceful existence.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Phuck Phil!

October 30, 2009

Dear Elyssa:

Thank you for your message about reforming the process for determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. I appreciate hearing from you, and I certainly understand your interest in this matter.

This is an issue related to the federal government rather than state government. Unfortunately, as Governor, I do not have the ability to intervene in the operations of the federal government. Your comments would be more effectively addressed to your elected federal representatives: the President, one of our two United States Senators, or the Member of Congress who represents you in the United States House of Representatives. I am confident that they would welcome the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

I appreciate your willingness to bring this matter to my attention. As I continue to work for policies that are effective and beneficial to the people of Tennessee, I hope you will feel free to contact me whenever you have problems, suggestions or concerns related to state government.

Warmest regards,

Phil Bredesen





YES! Another Letter to Congress!

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
Cell: (615) 424-8810

RE: White House Healthcare Forum

February 12, 2009

Dear President Obama & Members of Congress:

There are widespread reports that Phil Bredesen, Governor of Tennessee is being considered for a position with the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC.

As someone who has lived and voted in the state of Tennessee since 1996, I have witnessed several shifts in policy, both on the local and federal levels. I am a recipient of TennCare, Social Security, and a member of the Daniels Class.

Governor Phil Bredesen has no place in Washington. Please remove his name from consideration for a cabinet position with HHS.

Order Setting Aside Daniels Daniels Court Doc

Governor Bredesen is currently "holding off on spending" until he learns what federal aid will become available to the residents of Tennessee. I am urging you to take immediate action. PLEASE do SOMETHING! Anything! Sign before it is too late.

Even under of the best of economic circumstances, the state has often been reluctant to release state monies until they are in physical receipt of all federal matching dollars. This delays program implementation and compromises the integrity of the research design. Consistency is a critical component of effective program development and design.

Governor Bredesen had decided to hold back state funds until the final details of the stimulus package worked out, were finalized. Anyone who has followed the healthcare crisis in Tennessee will tell you, Bredesen is not the champion of healthcare we once hoped he would be.

If we hold off on making decisions about the state budgets until the details of this enormous, comprehensive package are finalized, our current programs will suffer as a result.

We cannot wait for a determination regarding federal funding before we to determine our state budget while before we of the programs we already are suffering financially.

Let me assure you that when it comes to withholding critical items like food, housing, social services, it adds up exponentially. Withholding medical care simply because of procedure and bureaucratic red tape, is shameful and cruel. The money is there, but it seems there should be a certain level of oversight and accountability if we expect it to be used effectively without delay and without excessive administrative delay and costs.

How do I know this? Because I used to work for the state during the time when they not only made the as they were transitioning to during the transition from I used to work for TennCare,

We need to have some level of accountability to ensure the timely and proper disbursement of funds. In my experience, there is little recourse for person’s individuals who are caught up in the complicated payment arrangements, complicated language, and the systematic, procedural delay when it comes to the processing and payment of claims.

Let me personally assure you, that there is a very real human cost here as well... and unless there is immediate intervention, much more than just money will be lost.

Please sign the bill before any more jobs, homes, and future are ruined by because help did not fast enough. Please release the funds, because we are running out of time.

I am 36, and my spinal cord is damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment as I attempted to navigate a system that simply does not work. I owe the federal government $179,982.00 in student loans. When I am able to work, I make $10.46/hour as a substitute teacher in MNPS. That job comes with no security and no benefits.

I have an advanced master’s degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am eight credits shy of a Ph.D. in "Policy Development & Program Evaluation" aka: public policy. Despite having maintained a 3.83 grade point average while earning my masters and just over 3.2 during the three years I was enrolled full time in a doctoral program.

Despite having comparable coverage, the insurance company refused to give me COBRA and would not cover my pre-existing condition even through both Columbia and Vanderbilt Universities used the same underwriter for student medical insurance: Chickering US HealthScare.

I had no break in coverage and even purchased a private HMO (Oxford) plan that cost several hundred dollars each month just so I could prevent becoming uninsurable before my 23rd birthday.

Wrong. Not only did I continue to pay for all three policies, I also had to pay for treatment and STILL wound up on TennCare and Medicaid.

Despite doing all the "right" things, I was still unable to transfer benefits from one graduate school to the next.

When I was twenty-two years old I developed a medical condition, and it quickly became obvious to me that it would be a lifelong struggle to cope and adapt to having physical disability. I purchased three independent policies, however due to a terminal liability in am ERISA plan, with $1 million dollar major medical policy. As someone who also needed to turn to federal funds and intervention in a crisis, I know that if or when help does arrive, it usually too late.

I understand the how; I just don't understand why.

Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University and the Department of Education will realize it might just be cheaper to hire me that harass me. I need a real paying job now, but with the skyrocketing unemployment rate, it looks as though I will have a lot of competition.

Throughout the three year process of filing medical appeal after the next, I acquired over 1/4 million dollars in debt in unreimbursed medical care and student loans. I was fortunate enough be able t keep my TennCare that time—only because the state mandated a 30 hour work week, because at 32 hours, your benefits kick in.

Even while in the states employ, I witnessed a pattern of behavior that was reckless and harmful to the citizens of Tennessee. In fact, there were so many changes during short time I was there the time I was there that even my colleagues in the office of consumer affairs did not know about them until we were a formal complaint had been filed by a consumer in crisis.

There was so much chaos in the system because consumers and were not given sufficient information and the state was completely unprepared to respond to the large number of people who their benefits terminated, limited, or transferred. It took several months to update the medical database used to verify insurance coverage, and many more to get that information in sync with pharmacies and providers. Recipients were left in the dark, probably because it was easier that way.

State of Tennessee CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Although I doubt many people people outside of Tennessee are aware of the harsh policies enacted during the Bredesen administration. His endless assault on the state’s Medicaid & Medicare programs resulted in 271,000 people to be dropped off the roles. People who are uninsurable or cannot afford health insurance. He has requested multiple federal waiver to limit federal law rights under the Medicaid Act, and Social Security beneficiaries. Is not the kind of man we want to lead HHS into a new era of reform. He has demonstrated a wanton disregard for the welfare of his own constituents should not be rewarded with a cabinet position in the new administration. He has failed this state, and now it costing money. Where it will come from, I don't know. Perhaps he will turn to the feds.


Now, again, I face losing my healthcare coverage once again. Please do something, and do it quick. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy,

Unemployment rates in the state of Tennessee are at an all-time high, yet welfare roles have remained stable. This tells us that despite the financial crisis and sad state of the Tennessee economy, people are not able to access emergency aid that we would expect people to receive in times of economic hardship.

Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? What was the point of investing so much in a future that I can never enjoy? How can anyone justify spending so money much on an education that will never be used?

What will happen when the state begins the 140,000 members of the Daniels Class? DHS has not been able to process the applications already on file. As the unemployment rate continues to go up, we need to be sure that applications for emergency assistance are processed within a reasonable period.

I have no idea how they intend to handle the growing number of unemployed, uninsured, people in need of emergency assistance given that they are already overwhelmed by the number of applications already on file. Is it a really a good time to start the recertification of the 140,000 members of the Daniels Class?
Let us hope the state is not granted another federal waiver or we are all in trouble.

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, TN

Previously Posted as "we are so screwed. phil opts out of all options"

Making Ends Meet: A Day in the Life

We live in a society where no one accepts responsibility for their mistakes, no one is held accountable for their actions, and no one EVER says they are sorry.

Let me you a small glimpse inside the day in the of the un/underemployed:

I spend day after day after may doing the same thing without any result: I can only offer you a glimpse into day in the life because there io room left to sit in my car, and I believe my apartment may actually be a fire hazard... This was my daily update posted at 7:30am:

I have done everything humanly possible to clean up the slack, however, I feel I have no other choice than to file a formal complaint so that my entire case is reviewed. The number of mistakes are so overwhelming that I simply don't have enough time to documents each and every one with the respective agency.

I will try to be more specific later without going into too much detail, but unfortunately, that level of detail is required to file the necessary appeals. Ironic huh? This apartment is like my own little cage, and I am just pathetic enough to run around in circles, hoping to find the much like a hamster wheel, rodent chasing in circles hoping to found my way out my way out before I run out air. If only I had finished my damn PhD, I would do my own case study or reality show on how far we'll go to have nothing at all...

I have taken care of the subrogation claim, however, that does bot minimize my level of frustration because I am DROWNING in paperwork. I have contacted several agencies to assistance such as the Disability Law and Advocacy Center, however, I do not have the resources necessary to provide them with timely response. There is a very limited time allowed to Request Reconsideration, or file an appeal.

I also want to be clear that every time I have to call Social Security or DHS, it only compounds my cost of living expenses (40 cents per minute on the telephone -- a bill which is not even considered to be a justifiable expense) Most agencies do not include self-addressed stamped envelopes, and I can not afford the postage required to mail out all of the requested documentation (e.g., utility bills, medical bills, pay stubs, etc.)

Fortunately, a number of agencies will take online complaints. Unfortunately, my internet was interrupted for non-payment for several weeks and their is no funding resource or community agency that provides subsidized Internet access or free printer ink.

Transportation costs are ridiculous so going to the library is not an option. Neither is returning to work right now, since it would cost too much to get to the interview or provide official (expensive) copies of my graduate school transcirpts that were oh, such a good investment!

Set aside, I am not the most user friendly person right about now, so I have found it difficult to put on a happy face so I can work at McDonald's which pays more than Metro anyway.

The subrogation claim has been resolved but I just learned that my breast biopsy was not pre-authorized and I was told by my INSURANCE CSR (the person who answers the phone!!!) that I should not have the surgery that has already been scheduled at the Women's Hospital for 8/21/2008. AmeriChoice (United HealthCare) did they did not authorize the biopsy last month, and have not, as of yet, received a request prior authorization for the surgery next week...

This was a lovely 54 minute conversation because he would not mail me copies of my EOBs or confirm that what, if any, requests have been submitted for payment since my last inquiry and change of address. He finally told me to call the state (Tennessee) which I have already done several times, and they told me to call Social Security but it was already past business hours and I am not authorized to make changes to my file anyway.

I'll be in touch when I can. Unfortunately each agency has different deadlines, and it takes a lot of energy and time to scan in, copy, or respond to each inquiry in writing, so I find myself running out of time since I can't seem to get anything done unless I just do nothing at all.

And even though my life is a living hell, I have almost learned how to enjoy the sheer irony of it all... for someone with OCD and post-traumatic stress, this is truly a ridiculous little experiment.

I am becoming increasingly inspired to just burn every last document I own, throw away my keys and my cell phone and take Spotty some place where we can live off the land and ignore the fact that society has me chained to a computer screen that screen that does provide the basic necessities I need to live in this .

I have come this far, and I am becoming rather skilled and at expressing myself without needing an audience or the obsessive need to check every fact, throw, and typo for capitalization and perfection.

So for now... I write.

Maybe later, I'll read, but if there is any justice left in this world, someday, I'll actually live.

Good-bye for now. I need a break.

With love,Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
Cell: (615) 424-8810

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
"The paradox of education is precisely this-- that as one begins to
become educated, one begins to examine the society in which he [or
she] is being educated." - Baldwin

Nashville, Tennessee

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (cookie)
Posted: 11:34:17 pm on 9/3/2008 Modified: Never


I feel for you but am finding it hard to understand your situation where you can't afford money to print necessary forms or afford bus fair to a public library. Please understand that I am not doubting what you say, but rather that what you describe is a pretty desperate circumstance.

Have you tried asking for lawyer assistance pro bono? I checked for you. The Nashville bar offers a Pro Bono program for certain circumstances, and it would seem that you meet the criteria. Check out

They prefer an email but if that's too uncertain for you you could try them via phone or physical address:

315 Union Street, Suite 800 Nashville, TN 37201


Things may seem grim but don't drown yourself in a negative spiral. Keep your mind pinned on the positive.

Best of luck to you.


Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (FedUp)
Posted: 7:19:19 pm on 9/10/2008 Modified: Never

No offense, but that was my first thought: you can't afford bus fare, phone minutes or paper/ink, yet you still have internet access?

Are you still in your apartment?

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (Elyssa Durant)
Posted: 7:14:03 pm on 9/11/2008 Modified: Never

My first thought: You're kidding, right?

My second thought:
Poor thing just deosn't get it...
Take a look at "Good Fences" available online

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
Cell: (615) 424-8810

"The paradox of education is precisely this-- that as one begins to
become educated, one begins to examine the society in which he [or
she] is being educated." - Baldwin

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (MLCC)
Posted: 3:21:44 pm on 9/12/2008 Modified: Never

It's the government. Gather your paperwork, make an appointment, haul it down there for them to make a copy of whatever they need. Might be nice if you typed up an itemized summary of whatever they are most interested in gleaning from said paperwork so they might not copy the whole darn pile so trees and taxpayer monies can be saved.

While in need you trade time for assistance (money, food, healthcare) because you have 40-60 hours that most working adults do not have. Spend that 40-60 hours helping others to help you. I hardly think that is asking too much. No free lunches without something in trade.

What really boggles my mind is that there are people out there who cannot afford these simple things that refuse to get out there and take a couple of jobs, any job, doing anything just to get money in their pocket. The illegals manage despite lack of English competency, what is the matter with these people?

Just an ant that can't comprehend grasshopper attitudes.

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (paperpusher666)
Posted: 4:34:42 pm on 9/12/2008 Modified: 4:35:32 pm on 9/12/2008

Ever hear of Kitty Genovese? She was murdered in New York City about 50 years ago while at least a dozen of her neighbors watched, so the indifference of our neighbors is nothing new. NO ONE called the cops.

To a large extent, the rewards are on the side of being indifferent to our neighbors. Many people are petty enough to find ways to punish us for criticizing what they do, so we put up with noisy neighbors. In my building, I have learned that the annoying neighbors will be gone soon enough. Of the other three apartments on my floor, every one has turned over at least once in the year that i've been there. Part of the reason is that we have a lot of military families, but a larger reason is eviction. People are in a lot more debt than we think.

It's also hard to ask for help, particularly when you think that you should be doing better, given your education. From what I've read, the biggest help for someone with OCD is to have a structured environment. I'm at the start of helping a friend who has OCD de-hoard his house. It will take months, but the thing that really makes the process painful and slow is his inability to decide to throw something out. I'm a believer in cognitive behavioral therapy, but that takes time and effort that he is not willing to apply. If one can let bulk mail pile up for seven years, the odds are pretty good that most of it is out of date by now, but that's not how he sees it. The hard part will be his basement, six hundred square feet of crap, piled five feet high.

Making Ends Meet When You Can't the Paper? (Elyssa Durant)
Posted: 10:50:56 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: Never

Nashville Bar Association and / or Legal Aid have both reviewed my case, and though I meet the eligibility criteria to obtain services, I found them to be very diasorganized in the application process. And simply could not do anything I hadn't already tried...

Limits federal limits for financial and certainly qualify for servies under various ADA protected categories, but what people don't realize is this... All I need is a actual, LIVING-WAGE job.

Trust me, they are harder to find than you might think.

I am certainly far below the income threshold and meet all eligibility requirements for various programs, but all I really want is the opportunity to be judged on my merits-- not be forced to identify myself as a recipient of federal funds so that corporation can CLAIM the welfare to work reduction.

Thanks, but no. I do qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation but the state messed up records so badly that I have absoultely no idea what the status of my PASS application is.

Pro-bono and nonprofits community agencies simply are not set up to deal with such complicated inter-related and complex issues. Legal Aid and TPA have both reviwed and evaluated the status of my case.

Neither handle bankruptcy, student loan disputes, or ERISA disputes. The Disability Law and Advocacy Center did not show up to a scheduled negotiation. My designated representative succeeeded at doing one thing: consitently missing every single possible filing deadline regardless of the how many times I called, wrote, or complained for over three years.

That is negligence in my book.

Forgive me for saying so, but those are "advocates" I could do without. It would be nice if I could find someone who is professional enough to at least show up when THEY are being paid.

It would be so much easier if I could, in fact, find a real paying job, however despite my best efforts, I have found very few people who can be sensitive to my situation and allow reasonable accomodations that are my no means too, too disruptive or annoying.

Unfortuantely I will never meet the criteria of a rank and file employee, however I'm starting to think that maybe employers are not making the best of decisions when I look at how many of them are closing up shop. I need a job that pays, in full, on time, and does not mind my attentiomn (or obsession) to detail.

I even once got fired from Red Lobster the management felt I was "not Red Lobster Material." All in all, I guess that is not such a bad thing, because when I planned goals for myself, I cannot honestly say that being "Red Lobster Material" was not anywhere near the top of my list!

Unforutnately, good intent does not translate into the ability to pay salaries or related expenses such as INTERNET, telephone access or even basic transportation and realted expenses.

I am finding out that there are so many more people out there like myself who are "out-the-door ready and willing to go to work" were it not for the sinking economy and underwhelming job forecasts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I have tried looking at this from every angle, but the bottom line is this: I NEED A JOB!

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will no doubt be revisit your rsuggestions when I attempt to file my taxes again through the VITA program.

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, Tennessee

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (Elyssa Durant)
Posted: 10:58:37 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: 11:06:45 pm on 2/3/2009

How did I miss this refreshing post?

Thank you so much for not doubting my efforts and sincerity when I tell you I've tried.

I know exactly how much money I am costing society, but what I have not done is abuse the system any more than it has abused me.

Surely, we all know that it is easy to skate by in American on less than $600 a month. And trust me if you have ANY illness when you go into the system, you will be so far beyond normal by the time you are through. assuming that is, that you are one the privileged elite who can meet their criteria and be poor like me!

I must be pretty freakin dumb if I thought I could try.

Thank you.


Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (Elyssa Durant)
Posted: 11:06:03 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: Never

Do you still feel I am abusing the welfare system by paying for internet access? Because I would so love it you could donate some wifi access to anyoneother than myself so others can enjoy that elusive privilege of speaking loud. Surely someone can donate wifi to all us who should go without voice or recognition for using our words on the government's dime. Yeah, I guess you are right, I don't deserve internet access. It makes me angry to see comments like yours that insult my intelligeence and my sense of humor.

Whatever. If it makes you feel any better, I hope you feel just fine.

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (new_wave_princes)
Posted: 12:18:21 am on 4/14/2009 Modified: Never

So you are on welfare, can't afford paper, but can afford computer? No, I don't feel sorry for you. You probably just don't want to work.

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (hagofall)
Posted: 6:33:44 pm on 4/16/2009 Modified: Never

I wonder if "new wave..." checks up on whether he's been read? (I know I do.) I think your (nwp) response in "this" category is kind of reprehensible but in "others" you appear more reasonable--still very angry. So, you are the more newly kicked around and definitely feeling sorry for only your own ilk? Not to mention, we, none of us, want to look pathetic, pride is there and it, somtimes, makes it all the more complex, yes? no?....

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (new_wave_princes)
Posted: 9:58:29 pm on 4/16/2009 Modified: 9:59:37 pm on 4/16/2009

Hagofall, I have no idea what you are asking. I just think it's wrong that she manages to have internet on welfare but not paper. Her priorities are out of whack. Not one thing I've read about her mentions actually looking for any kind of job. I too have a MA, but I'll take what I can get, and not take welfare.

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (hagofall)
Posted: 8:56:33 am on 4/17/2009 Modified: Never

There are a lot of things going on here, for one, Bait and Switch might be a more appropriate forum for Elyssa. Not that it matters that much. People are just getting it off their chests. But the people Barbara Ehrenreich writes about in Nickeled and Dimed have always been poor and working. What I love greatly about BE's books is the writing and I am laughing through out. Irony keeps me going. But some people aren't like me in this and aren't we all so vastly different when you look at the details? When it comes to what we write via the internet, that is where we seem more alike--in our ideas. Ideas vs. realities.
Anyway, nobody is going to argue with the numbers. I'll venture to say that there have never been enough jobs for all the people who need them. And now? My local internet "help wanted" site showed 250 jobs with 18,000 job seekers. And this was before all hell broke loose. And don't forget there is competition for low wage jobs too.
I am fascinated with how people survive. As far as I am concerned nothing is a piece of cake when you're one us, us being the majority of human beings.
And New Wave Prince, I'll apologize , because I thought you were being mean but instead we just have different ideas.

Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (paperpusher666)
Posted: 2:17:36 pm on 4/23/2009 Modified: Never

Most libraries give you internet access for free. It might be limited to an hour or two a day, but you can get it for free.

There are currently 1339 members registered on Barbara Ehrenreich Forum.

Challenging the Commonplace: National Post: Not "mainstream"

Challenging the Commonplace: National Post: Not "mainstream" #namaste Thank you! I am listening! Follow @tidewaters on Twitter or Challenge The Commonplace

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ultimate Price: The Bottom Dollar in Healthcare Reform

The Ultimate Price: The Bottom Dollar in Healthcare Reform

The most recent victims of our states radical cuts from the state’s Medicaid Rolls, the –wheels are now in motion. Tennessee’s decision to eradicate yet another class of TennCare / Medicaid recipients of The Daniels Class, 140,000 social security recipients are currently in the process of being recertified to determine their eligibility for Medicaid. This waiver was requested and granted as a measure to limit the number of Medicaid recipients the state would be forced to cover under federal law.

As a result, 140,000 people like myself may the healthcare we fought so hard to obtain. The poor, the sick and the elderly. The disabled residents of Tennessee. We will now join the ranks of the other 47 million Americans without health insurance. More people that will be forced to rely upon the federal government because the individual states have failed them. Shifting the burden once again. But somebody has to pay.

So the discussion has gone round and round and round again just to find the right place to dump the costs. From private to public and then back again. Upon the shoulders our children and the conscience of a nation.

But we need to determine where and when we draw the line. We need to decide on the bottom line and just how much we are willing to gamble on our individual welfare and the health of our nation. How much is it worth. $1 Billion $7 Billion? $700 Billion? Do we value our healthcare more than our vehicles or our homes? Companies that profited by institutionalizing predatory lending bankrupting families, communities and the country as a result.

To be clear, WE ARE ALL PAYING!

I can assure you once you lose your ability to have faith in yourself to be faced with the brutal reality of the failing safety net we call Social “Security,” material belonging and personal property have lost all monetary value. And when that moment comes, you realize you have already paid far too much.

To be clear, YOU ARE ALL PAYING. Yes, all of us are paying some price.....

Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? What was the point spending so much on an education that will never be utilized? I understand the how; I just don't understand why.

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, Tennessee

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Urban Education: Planting Seeds of Trauma

NY Times: Multicultural Critical Theory. At B-School

Is Equal Opportunity Just a Myth?

America claims to be dedicated to equal opportunity, yet equality is not sufficient in urban communities. These kids need more. We need to think about equity, not equality. It is not enough to hide them away. These are visions we should never forget.

Link to full text: View more »

I remember thinking back to my days living in Manhattan, coincidentally around the same time Jonathan Kozol conducted his interviews in the South Bronx regarding the social inequalities that contribute to declining (or extinction) of the middle class in America. 

I lived in what is often thought of as “Liberal West Side,” as Harlem was undergoing rapid transformation and gentrification when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office.

Once Clinton moved his office to onto West 125th Street, the heart of Harlem. I can now say with near certainty, that the process is complete as America continues to push out the poor through gentrification, homelessness, and institutionalization.

I remember thinking back to my days living in Manhattan, coincidentally around the same time Kozol conducted his interviews in the South Bronx when writing  I lived in what Kozol refers to as Manhattan’s “Liberal West Side,” an area that was undergoing rapid transformation and gentrification at the time Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office.

In Amazing Grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation, Jonathan Kozol paints a vivid picture of the conditions in the poorest sections of New York City. During the early to mid 1990’s, Kozol made several visits to Mott Haven in the South Bronx. As he describes in Amazing Grace, the South Bronx is one of the most severely segregated and poorest Congressional Districts in the United States.

The members of this community have been segregated into a hell plagued with sickness, violence and despair. Kozol argues that this strategic placement serves to isolate the rich from the realities they have thrust upon their fellow man. New Yorkers do not stroll through the streets of Mott Haven, and taxicabs take no short cuts through Beekman Avenue. Many taxicabs will not even venture past East 96th Street. Out of sight is out of mind.

There is no excuse for the conditions in which these people must live. No person should be forced into an apartment that has a higher ratio of cockroaches and rats than human beings.

In 1995, the American Sociological Association (ASA) held its annual conference in New York City. Prior to that meeting, they sent out a fact sheet that may be of interest to ASA members. In this sheet, they too described the same social conditions and asked their members to take note of the changes that occur at 96th Street. I can assure you that the conditions Kozol describes in his book were not exaggerated.

These children are desperately in need of the best schools, yet we give them the worst. They have few libraries, few safe havens, few doctors, and few role models. They have every reason to believe that they are throwaway children and we have certainly not shown them anything else. The social services we have provided are a bureaucratic nightmare. People in need are treated as sub-human, and made to feel ashamed of being poor.

These are among the sickest children in the world. Americans claim to be dedicated to the children and fool ourselves into believing that we are doing them a favor by providing them with medical care, public education, and public housing. Yet, the quality of their neighborhoods speaks volumes of our sentiment and intentions.

Shortly after Amazing Grace was published, managed care rapidly moved onto the New York scene. Around the same time, the Mayor announced he would be closing some of the hospitals that served the poorest of the poor because of financial problems associated with payment and large trauma departments.

Kozol makes the point that people could attempt to gain admissions at a better hospital than Bronx-Lebanon; yet, the privatization of Medicaid has now made this completely impossible. Further restrictions on medical care are inevitable as the result of Medicaid managed care. The law is not designed to protect these people, and this was made obvious in a recent conversation I had with a friend who practices medicine in New York.

My friend John works as a board certified trauma physician at a private hospital on the Upper East Side. The last black patient he treated at Beth Israel was famed rock singer Michael Jackson. I asked him if he ever gets any asthma patients in his ER. He knew immediately of whom I was speaking. “You mean the kids from the South Bronx?” he asked. He told me that they know better than to show up at Beth Israel. “But if they do?” I asked, and he replied, “We ship them back.”

This is the reality. The best doctors treat the wealthiest patients rather than the sickest. Schools educate the best students rather than the neediest. It is no wonder that these children perform poorly in school. By every measure, these children are destined for failure. Their home life is less than enchanting, and they do not benefit from enriched environments and educated parents.

Certainly, there are many dedicated parents who care about their children, but is that enough? When I was in school, children frequently asked the teacher, how will this help later in life. In my class, there was an unequivocal reply, but it could be argued that what children in the South Bronx need to learn couldn’t be taught in the classroom.

There is no doubt that the prevalence of violence in urban neighborhoods affects the ability of children to perform well in school. There is a large body of empirical evidence that demonstrates the effects of chronic stress on memory and the learning process. Rather than taking the children out of these communities, we have constructed prison like buildings for them to attend school. They routinely have gunfire drills reminding them that danger is never far behind.

Children cannot learn in this environment. This constant stress triggers “hot-memory.” Hot memory can be thought of as learning with your heart and not your mind. It is no wonder children perform inadequately in this environment.

It is bad enough that children live in such conditions, must we educate in them too? If we want underprivileged children to learn and grow spiritually, we must create an environment that allows their cool memory systems to take over.

It is only under these conditions that children will permit themselves to learn and develop their intellectual strengths. We have failed to create a safe home environment for urban children, but we can give serious thought to creating a school environment outside of the community so they have fewer fear-driven hours each day.

Studies consistently report lower academic achievement in urban neighborhoods like Mott Haven in the South Bronx. Children growing up in urban neighborhoods have a much higher incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most researchers believe this to be the direct result of living in stressed communities plagued with street crime and violence. The potential impact of chronic stress on academic performance and achievement is not known, but reading scores in neighborhoods like Mott Haven certainly seem to indicate some type of causal relationship. There is virtually no research on looking at the long-term effects of this inflated incidence of PTSD among urban populations. It is important to develop an understanding of the effects of fear on the academic performance of urban adolescents so we can begin to dismantle the myths regarding school performance and minority children.

Under these conditions, it is not surprising to learn that students also report pervasive feelings of fear and do not feel secure despite the added presence of security personnel on school grounds. For these students, school is a mere extension of the violent communities in which they live.

Since urban communities have many different sources of stress, it is important to examine how school policies contribute to the learning environment in public schools. The quick response has been to install weapons detectors and hire school security for urban schools. The presence of school security certainly affects the climate of American public schools by establishing school environments that focus more on student behavior than student achievement. Together, the urban public school and the communities they serve are a constant reminder of the poor living conditions and social reality of urban America.

The secured environment is an indication of the roles students are expected to play later in life. This is a lesson they will not soon forget.

Kozol makes it quite clear that there are several exceptional children in this community. There are probably as many exceptional children here as every other community around the country, yet, so few of them will make it out of the South Bronx. Kozol is careful not to dwell on the exceptional cases of children who successfully navigate their way into the main stream of society. Kozol does this so we do not develop a false sense of hope. If we cling to a few exceptional cases, we may come to believe that what we are giving enough to children like Anthony or Anabelle. Clearly, we can do more. Failure should be the exception—not the rule. Success should be the norm, and until it is, we should not give up hope for these children.

America claims to be dedicated to equal opportunity, yet equality is not sufficient in a community like Mott Haven. These kids need more. We need to think about equity, not equality. It is not enough to hide them away. These are visions we should never forget.

Welcome to America. The Wealthiest Nation in the World.  Now leave.

Reference: Amazing Grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation. (by Jonathan Kozol)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Community Apathy: Public Safety Issue

Community Apathy: Public Safety Issue


Community apathy is what leaves me wondering why I am completely invisible to everyone within a 60 mile radius of my home. Not a single person seems to hear a word I am saying.

I know they hear me. I way too loud for anyone to pretend for second that they don't know who I am or why I am so sad and angry to be trapped in this big little city.

No one should be invisible, and it concerns to live in a community that has demonstrated a total lack of empathy and compassion. So yes, once again, my neighbors may hate me, blame me, or just plain pretend I don't exist. Unless, of course they need something... the simple that I don't have anything to give.

That type of desensitization is what allows people to look the other way and blame the victim. This creates a culture of silence, fear, and indifference.


Perhaps you made a profit of the publication of this article, just as the news story I sold for $1.00 a year ago made the publishes 47 times that amount.

But I need a job. I am invisible to everyone around me until they are confronted with their own crisis.

By implying the my "problems" getting the help that I was begging for, had anything to do with psychosis, or a mental health diagnosis, you have astly underestimated me and let the world know exactly how you deal with the people who put you where you are.  People like me. And you know who I who i am so form letters,just don't fucking cut it.

I am your neighbor, your fundraiser, your neighbors, constituents, and dare I say "friends" you have shown how muxh you value my "vote and my support."

Thanks, but no thanks. That just convinces me that you are no different from all the other mediawhores who use labels to exploit those who have already been marginalized by society.

It seems to me, that the perpetrator and the witness should have to answer for there actions rather than placing the blame on me.

Is there anything I could have done to invite such a violent and personal atack in my own home? Is there anything any woman, man, or child can do that justifies years of trauma, isolation an fear?

Perhaps you should have commented on what kind of illness allows a man to watch a man use such force to put a woman of 122 lbs against the wall, his hands on a women without even lifting a finger to call 911.

Have you ever heard of Kitty Genovese? She was murdered as 38 people watched. Not a single person called the police or did anything to help as she was brutally murdered in the city of New York. This is due to what we call "Bystander Apathy. "  People often look to others for cues when deciding how to respond to a crisis. Sad, but true. Are people that ridiculous?

Having been a both a witness and a victim, I decided that I would never look the other way. It would serve our communities well to adopt the same philosophy. Not only to create a more cohesive community, but a safer one as well.

When was the last last time you called the police or filed a police report? We have criminalized and marginalizesd too many members of society. So where does it end?

I made a decision a long time that it would end with me. But if you were to ask me today, I might have a different answer.

Blaming the victim not only further stigmatized vulnerable populations, prevents witnesses and victims from coming forward to prevent and report criminal activity. It contributes to bystander apathy and prevents people from reporting crimes.

We already have enough problems putting rape victims on he stand.

This is so far from over..

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.

Nashville, TN USA