From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:
Legislators let us down
Chicago—I attended a “town hall” meeting to let our legislators know about people’s experiences and ideas with and about Medicaid, the minimum wage, disability rights and other topics. Senator Heather Steans and Representatives Kelly Cassidy and Greg Harris from Chicago attended.
One after another, people shared stories about their experiences with these programs and talked about the importance of seeing the human side of issues.
One disabled man clearly had a hard time communicating his thoughts, but slowly made it through and was cheered on by the crowd.
Caseworkers for the Department of Human Services talked about not being able to live on the money they were making. One woman had worked there for 20 years and had only gone from $20,000 a year to $25,000. Another had a caseload of 500 people, but after the cuts were made, it increased to 2,000.
At issue is the assembly-line way of giving services dictated by the Ford Foundation. There are no more caseworkers. If you have a question, you talk to whoever you get on the phone or is available when you get to the office. No one knows who is doing what in the offices. This is causing a lot of havoc and uncertainty with the people needing services.
There was a heavy union presence at the meeting, both AFCSME and SEIU, which had a lot to do with its direction. At the end of the presentations, the state senators and representatives were supposed to respond to what they heard. The only things they would say, however, was that “revenues were the problem” and that we had better think of ways to get more money or there would be more cuts.
This really made me angry. Their other responses were to just agree with what people had said or to push a bill that they had sponsored. The human side of these issues was lost on them.
It was clear that the crowd was relying on these representatives to solve the problems, which is not going to happen. A complete uprooting of this society is what is needed to begin to solve the problems of capitalism.
—Disability rights activist