The State of Texas issues licenses for most kinds of professional businesses, especially if the provider has any kind of physical contact with clients. As a result, there are licenses for nurses, nursing assistants, tattoo artists and piercers.
Given that there are requirements to be met for many of these professional licenses, granting professional licenses cuts down on competition and protects the public. People usually like their physicians to have some medical education.
City dwellers are familiar with zoning laws. Again, the rules purport to protect the public. Zoning rules keep sex shops from opening next to elementary schools, or they should. People depend on planning and zoning commissions to protect the property values of their homes by protecting the integrity of their neighborhoods. Most times they can, unless of course it is to the benefit of the commissions to ignore their constituents.
For example, Bryan, Texas boasts a business called “The Rose Home.” In a private house in a residential neighborhood, this business “cares for” several elderly residents who are unable to care for themselves. At least that is what the operator claims.
Rose Rodriguez, owner of the Rose Home claims it is a single business operated in a single location. Rodriguez claims that she cares for only three patients in one house. These statements qualify her to run a business without obtaining a license. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) agrees that the facility does not need a license, as long as these statements are true.
Former employees and family members of former patients claim otherwise. These patients pay about $4,000 per month for their “care,” which seems not to include toilet paper, housekeeping or supplies. One former employee claimed to have worked in four different locations taking care of patients, all for Rose Rodriguez and her daughter. DADS does not say that facilities can spread their patients all over town to avoid licensure. In fact, if several facilities share (A) common ownership; (B) services, personnel, or equipment in any part of the facilities’ operations; and (C) any public appearance of joint operations or of a relationship between the facilities, DADS considers them to be part of the same business (TAC) . Check, check, check.
But it gets better. Neighbors complained to the Bryan City Council after the Planning and Zoning Commission granted a permit to the Rose Home to operate in a residential district. After careful consideration of the fact that this was a case of private citizens against a business, the City Council upheld the Zoning Commission’s decision. The business won.
Bryan City Councilman Art Hughes claims that it is not the business of the City Council to evaluate whether or not the business is well or poorly run. Apparently it is not the business of the city council to decide whether or not someone is lying to them. “You aren’t really selling pornography to the neighborhood kids? The kids are lying to us about that. Thanks for clearing that up! Glad you could come by. Permit granted.”
The business won because Rodriguez told the story the city council wanted to hear.
If the business were being run the way Rodriquez claims it is, there would be no cause for complaint. “If” is a little word with a big world of meaning. If Rodriquez only supervised the care of three people, if the standard of care were reasonable, if there were actually trained staff, if the people actually received the care for which the Rose Home was paid, then it might be a business that the city would want to encourage.
The families and former employees of these facilities tell a very different story. Rodriguez and several family members are running as many as eight of these homes. Family members complain that the facilities are understaffed; that staff is inadequately trained, and even that their loved ones do not have food. Some of the sites have as many as five residents. The neighbors worry that their neighborhoods will suffer, and with good reason.
The authorities are willing to look the other way in the name of job creation. Sometimes there are things more important than jobs. Too bad members of the Bryan City Council do not see that.