It’s Not Illegal to be Crazy
Posted by thedarwinexception on October 26, 2007
Now, I am obsessed, and a little mad and quite confused. I don’t understand the way social services works, I guess, and I don’t understand the way services are provided – or not provided – to people who need them.
And now I am consumed with trying to find out, and find someone who can answer my questions. The odd part is that I don’t even CARE, really, it’s just that I don’t understand why no one seems to be able to address the problems and issues, and when I don’t understand something I see it as a challenge.
Let’s go back to the beginning and see how I’ve come to this point.
So the bizarre zombie lady is using a gas grill as her heat source. She also clearly has mental issues, since money does not seem to be the issue when it comes to the question of “gee, how come you don’t have any fucking lights or running water?” She is convinced that this is a vast conspiracy by National Grid to shut down her precocious and revolutionary invention which will power the village through the miracle of microwaves/solar rays which all have to do with the painter Vermeer.
My concern and the reason I am sticking my nose into this whole mess is that by the end of the winter one of two endings will be seen: either she will have asphyxiated herself or she will have blown up half the street with the fumes form the gas grill, which are quite apparent when I take the dogs out on a cold night and she is running the thing. Legitimate concern? Maybe, maybe not, but one I am pursuing since I can’t seem to get anyone to listen to me.
My first call was to a woman named Pam at Comlinks. This is a community service agency which helps with things like “I can’t pay my heating bill and my kids are going to freeze”. Or “They are going to shut my lights off and I have no source of income”. They also do things like provide new furnaces and weatherization to seniors and low income households. Great agency. And Pam was quite helpful, she listened to me, said that she wasn’t sure *what* could be done, and it didn’t help that I had only sketchy information and didn’t know zombie lady’s last name or how old she was. But Pam gave me the number for Adult Protective Services, and said I should call them and let them know what is going on. Maybe they could help. So I called, got an answering machine, and left a message. No one called me back, so I kind of just let it slide. Fuck it, you know, I had already told Comlinks my concerns, I had the woman’s name and the date I called, if my house blew up, well, at least I could say “it was on record that I had concerns about this – no one intervened, I shall sue you all.”
Then Lorraine left a comment on the blog that said “call code enforcement” and I thought “hmmmm…you know, I actually *know* the guy in the code enforcement office, maybe I should.:” When we installed our woodstove, we had to get a permit to do that. Cost us like $50 – that was so the code enforcement guys could come back and inspect the woodstove to ensure that it was installed safely and correctly – so that there wouldn’t be a fire hazard and wouldn’t be a health issue with fumes rolling back into the house – they needed to make sure the pipe was a certain distance from the eaves, that the pipe was appropriate and up to the job, and that little things like the hearth in front of the stove was the correct width and distance away from the front of the woodstove. These guys seemed like the perfect people to call – if they were so concerned with my woodstove which was installed by a licensed and competent person, surely they would be concerned and interested in someone who was circumventing the whole “health and safety” issues they worked to enforce by just plopping a gas grill down in her living room and calling it “heat”.
So I called the guy in the code enforcement office who had come by our house three or four times during the installation of our woodstove to do inspections. He said “Well, there really isn’t anything we can do – we can’t just walk into her house…” And this kind of pissed me off. I mean, they were right up our ass when we were installing the woodstove. And I don’t understand how they work – so if I *hadn’t* gotten a permit, there would have been nothing they could do? They couldn’t just walk into my house and say “we need to inspect this woodstove?” That seems like a loophole. One that would have saved me $50, too.
The guy was nice, and tried to be helpful, but it was kind of like his hands are tied. He said “Well, if you actually smell smoke, we can go in then…” And I said “well what about gas fumes?” But no, that doesn’t count. And, of course, if I have to wait until I smell smoke, well, I’m thinking it’s going to be too fucking late at that point. Although I suppose if she resorts to burning her curtain rod vines, I can call them then. But the guy from code enforcement did say that he could call the police and tell them my concerns and have them do a “safety check”. So there was that, anyway.
About two hours later, there was a knock on the door, and it was the code enforcement guy. He said that, unfortunately, he had called the police and they told him that there was nothing they could do. They had already been to her house last year when someone else called with similar concerns about the fact that she had no apparent heat source, and that she wouldn’t let the police in and that since she seemed to be in no apparent danger, there was nothing they could do, legally. Although the police *had* called Adult Protective Services last year, and they had made a visit and she had refused help.
Now, I didn’t realize that Adult Protective Services “help” was something that you could refuse. I asked the code enforcement guy “What do you mean ‘refused help’ – can she do that? She’s not in her right mind, how can they just let her ‘refuse help’?” And the code enforcement guy said “well, it’s not illegal to be crazy.” Which is all fine and dandy, she can be crazy all she wants to be – but damn, isn’t it illegal to put MY body and property in danger by building up flammable gas fumes in her house? Can she just have like a nuclear stockpile in the back yard or a case of fucking dynamite in her basement? Is that legal as long as she can answer the door and say either “You can’t come in unless you smell smoke” or “I am in no immediate danger?” Seems fucking fishy to me.
So I looked up “Adult Protective Services” to see what they were all about and what their scope and mission seemed to be – and sure as shit, they can’t do a whole fucking lot.
I found their “scope” statement, which includes the following:
In providing services to impaired adults, it is required for Protective Services for Adults to work with agencies dealing with aging, medical and mental health, legal issues, and law enforcement. Services available by Protective Services for Adults include:
- Investigation and assessment of the adult’s needs and risk of harm
- Counseling for the victimized adult and their family
- Advocacy and case management services including arranging for medical and mental health assessments, applying for benefits and assuring coordinated delivery services
- Finding alternative living arrangements, including providing emergency room and board for up to 30 days
- Financial management services, including serving as representative payee¨ Homemaker and housekeeper chore services, within specified limits
- Crisis interventions, such as securing access orders, involuntary protective service orders and orders of protection
- Long-term legal interventions, such as pursuing guardianship
I’m thinking that zombie lady should fall under their “Crisis interventions” – and that APS should secure an access order to gain access to her house and see the extent of her mental impairment on the way she is living – with no furniture, no running water and no electricity. And “involuntary protective service order” sounds really good.
They also had a FAQ on their site which included this information:
What if the elderly or impaired adult refuses help?
Competent adults have the right to exercise free choice in deciding whether to accept services. If an adult appears to be capable of understanding the risks and chooses to stay in an abusive or neglectful situation this can be a difficult decision for others to understand. PSA will offer services and try to convince the adult to accept help. If there are questions about the adult’s mental capacity, then a mental health evaluation will be pursued to determine if court-ordered interventions should be provided.
So, I’m thinking a mental evaluation is in order. Right? I don’t know why that wasn’t pursued last year, because clearly, it’s only gotten worse. But as long as she can seem clear and lucid for the amount of time she’s refusing help, I don’t think that APS is going to do anything further.
But, that’s where we stand – the police know she’s a fucking lunatic, but they can do nothing. Adult Protective Services say that she refused help, so that’s the end of what they can do, and code enforcement can’t go in and inspect her illegal and dangerous “heat source” unless and until there’s like smoke rolling out the vine covered windows.
And in the meantime, I’m still concerned that she’s going to either asphyxiate herself or blow up half the fucking street. And I’ve run out of agencies to call or someone who can do something about it.
Like the code enforcement guy said – It’s not illegal to be crazy. Just fucking irritating to the people who you blow up.