In January, 2009 MRDD Superintendent/CEO was asked to step down at the MRDD's January 22nd board meeting.
Only four months later, Miller yielded to this critics and announced he would be retiring as of January, 2010.
But will he and the Stark MRDD board, which - according to sources - does whatever Michael says, gut Stark MRDD operations in the meantime.
Recently, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report/SCPR) met with persons connected with Stark MRDD operations in one fashion or another. Ironically, the meeting was only one day before Miller's resignation announcment.
The Report's sources cited chapter and verse on how Miller and staffers under his direction have pretty much gutted the services the agency is supposed to deliver to Stark's mentally and developmentally disabled.
According to these sources, MRDD's workshop centers are mainly centers for clients to sit around and do next to nothing. In the pre-Michael Miller days, these centers were beehives of productive activities. So say his critics. However, Miller is not alone in absorbing criticism. The board members are painted as being "whatever Michael says" types.
The sources expressed their amazement that board member Roger Gines (who had a history of being "in your face" vis-a-vis Miller before being appointed to the board on 12/16/2008 by Stark County commissioners), has knuckled under to Miller and is, in the view of the critics, How is it that Miller has managed to shut up Gines, they ask among themselves.
These friends of MRDD tell about how Miller is undoing many of the contracts that MRDD has had with area business to provide MRDD clients doing such things as janitorial work, restaurant work, et cetera at a certain dollar amount.
How is that Miller has done this?
Here is an example.
MRDD let's say signs an agreement with XYZ Bank to provide five MRRD clients to do janitorial work at $10.00 per worker. The worker gets $7.80 per hour and MRDD pockets $2.20.
As explained to the SCPR, in ensuing years Miller (or a staff member at his direction) hikes the hourly rate, let's say to $11.00 per worker.
Maybe the business goes along with the hike a year or so. But as MRDD continues to raise the hourly rate contract year after contract year, the business start bailing out.
The result: able MRDD clients are left with nothing to do. There is the obvious loss of income and what may be even worse, a capable client just wiling away his/her time.
Undoubtedly, Miller's detractors are elated that he is stepping. Their concern has to be whether or not there will be anything left for a new superintendent pick up with. Thse folks are convinced that Miller came to Stark County as a designated "close down MRDD" to a mere administrative apparatus. Send the clients out to "private" providers and just manage the money.
Seven months appears to be plenty of time for Miller to do his thing; assuming that those watching him are correct in their assessments.
A new superintendent may be the answer. However, the critics suspect that Miller has only been doing what the Strickland administration has been demanding. If this is the case, a new superintendent is likely to be more of the same.
The only other alternative is for the Stark County commissioners, over time, to appoint persons who will ask questions, who will scrutinize and who are willing to differ with the superintendent and assume control of a superintendent.
Of course, commissioners thought they had done this with Roger Gines.
So the moral of this story is that the commissioners have to check and recheck an potential appointee as to his/her willingness to be someone who does not walk "in-lock-step" with the superintendent and each other.