OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - In the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice's report that the City of Ocean Springs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it denied a mental health facility the right to operate in 2011, Mayor Connie Moran is calling for one city official to step down from her post.
In a statement Moran released Saturday night, she says Lori Carter should step down from her position on the Planning Commission. Moran claims Carter "inflamed the situation by creating a flyer denouncing the clinic and its potential clients by comparing them to those depicted in the film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' and created hysteria and unfounded claims through a website 'Stop Psycamore.'"
Moran went on to say these are her personal views and they do not reflect the views of the city's board of aldermen.
In her statement, Moran says she welcomes the Department of Justice's penalties imposed on the city including the hiring of a full time ADA coordinator, sensitivity training for all city staff and the payment of compensatory damages to Psycamore, LLC and any other aggrieved person for injuries suffered as a result of the city's failure to comply with the ADA.
"I am a mother of a special needs child and have served on the Governor's Commission on Developmental Disabilities, and have long been an advocate for people with any physical disabilities or mental health issues," said Moran.
WLOX News was unable to contact Carter for comment on Saturday night.
You can read Moran's full statement here:
Just as with the courts, the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) likewise investigated whether Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization should be allowed under the City's definition of a Medical Clinic. I do not believe the Board intended to be discriminatory as there was already a psychiatric office in the immediate area. The Board acted on the premise that the facility was much more intensive than a clinic, but the City's definition of a Medical Clinic was broad enough to include partial hospitalization activities.
USDOJ has demanded that the City permit the Psycamore Clinic to do business at the commercially-zoned location on Iberville Drive, and compensate the property owner and clinic owner for associated out-of-pocket costs and lost profits. The City must also hire a full-time employee to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. I welcome this, since the Board had already determined to hire a person to assist with our continuing efforts to update and modify our zoning code.
The Board, Planning Commission and myself are ordered to undertake sensitivity training to be edified on rights of persons with disabilities. I am a mother of a special needs child and have served on the Governor's Commission on Developmental Disabilities, and have long been an advocate for people with any physical disabilities or mental health issues.
The City of Ocean Springs is a progressive community that respects concerns of all our residents. It is unfortunate that the actions of one of the Iberville Drive neighbors in particular, Lori Carter, inflamed the situation by creating a flyer denouncing the clinic and its potential clients by comparing them to those depicted in the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and created hysteria and unfounded claims through a website "Stop Psycamore." The views expressed therein do not reflect those of our Board or myself.
As such, I am personally calling for Lori Carter to step down from the Planning Commission. I do not speak for the Board, but I do feel her actions have placed the City in a negative light, and have contributed to the current circumstances.
The Board will meet in executive session with city attorneys on Tuesday night to determine the appropriate response. We are ready to move forward.