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Peabody Champions Senior Issues

POSTED October 20, 2009 4:03 p.m.

Activist, volunteer extraordinaire, and overall go-getter Mickey Peabody is Oakdale’s version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown and currently, she has her sights set on the Capitol to make positive change for senior citizens.

Peabody — affectionately nicknamed Mickey Busybody by her family —will be traveling to the state Capitol as a member of the California Senior Legislature (CSL) representing Stanislaus County as a senior senator. Peabody will attend the annual session of the CSL, held in Sacramento Oct. 26-29, in the hopes of successfully arguing her state legislative proposal with her senior assembly member Billie Taylor into one of the 10 that will be referred to State Legislators.

There are 49 state proposals and 17 federal proposals that will be argued during this special session.

Established by Statute, the CSL is made up of 40 senior senators and 80 senior assembly members, elected as non-partisan representatives of California’s 4.5 million seniors. Their primary purpose is to write both state and federal proposals benefiting California seniors and their families and present them to the State Legislature.

Peabody has studied all the proposed legislation and she feels her proposal — Powers of Attorney — Presence of Ombudsman or Patient Advocate — has an excellent chance at succeeding, as there is no fiscal impact to the state budget.

“Senior programming is always the first to get cut when there’s budget shortfalls,” she said. “But I believe in what we’re doing. This issue is a personal one. Nobody wants to be in a personal care facility but sometimes that’s what must be done.”

Peabody, passionate about senior rights, said that the elderly are often victims of the very people who are supposed to be looking out for them when they can no longer care for themselves. 

“We need to make sure that the person signing away their rights has a voice,” Peabody said of her proposal that will require a patient advocate or Ombudsman to be present in a skilled nursing facility when any Power of Attorney is signed. “It will help prevent fraud. I will argue this until my last breath because you’re so vulnerable at that stage in your life.”

Opening ceremonies will be held Tuesday, Oct. 27 in the Assembly Chambers starting at 9 a.m. Following an invocation, color guard and Pledge of Allegiance, the members will be sworn-in by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Lt. Governor John Garamendi will be the Keynote Speaker.

Peabody was voted into her four-year term in 2005 and she’s truly in her element as a love for politics has always been one of her passions.

“It’s exactly like the Legislature,” Peabody said of the process, her eyes alight. “We go there and take over the Senate and it’s really fun. You’re in the Capitol. How exciting is that? I don’t feel you have the right to complain unless you’ve done your level best to affect change.”

She went on to admit that she gets butterflies when she’s formally announced, saying, “You’re in the seat of power. It’s where everything happens — good or bad.”

The top 10 senior legislative proposals will be announced at a press conference Friday, Oct. 30. The Leader will do a follow-up with Peabody when she returns to share her experience and to find out if her proposal will become a law.

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