Criticism of welfare reform cut from hearings, news
Harriet Ludwig
February 1997

Censorship by omission applies to both the press and our legislators when it comes to informing the public on what is really happening under both state and welfare "reform" (which some call welfare "repeal").

On Jan. 24 I attended a public hearing on legislative issues at the Kirkpatrick Police Academy out past the airport (a site not easily reached by folks without cars). The hearing was chaired by State Sen. George Kirkpatrick, on the panel were Reps. Bob Casey, Cynthia Chestnut and Janegale Boyd; and Sens. Betty Holzendorf and Charles Williams.

The agenda listed all the citizen voters who had requested time to speak; I was number 14. Scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., the hearing actually got underway closer to 4 p.m. Shortly before my turn came Chairman Kirkpatrick began skipping to people named later on the agenda.

Not until 10 p.m. was I called--after all of the press members had left. All of the panel had heard or read my strong views on the totally unrealistic and punitive welfare reform packages, and it became clear they really did not want to hear any more. Even then the chair interrupted me I before I could really spell out my concerns:

The United Ways of Florida are circulating statewide a petition entitled One Voice for Children. It says that even if the state "saves" what it thinks it may, even if they get what they think they may from the federal block grant, it will meet less than half of the child care needs.

The Gainesville Sun's news columns don't reflect the grim realities in Alachua County. Nor have they reported Florida United Ways' One Voice for Children, and there has been no coverage of the Florida Legal Services, Inc. statewide conference Jan. 24 in Tallahassee on WAGES. At that conference, they noted that Florida's plan does make some badly needed changes in the system--but the state is not implementing the supports needed to make the reform succeed.

The alternative papers like the Iguana, Moon and FACT have their work cut out for them if voters are ever to learn the vital information on just exactly what their government is doing to them.

A Coalition for Families, made up of representatives from 27 community groups plus interested individuals, will host a Value Meal for People Valuing Families Thursday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Student Center, 1730 W. University Ave. Ample parking at rear.

The menu will be based on the federal welfare reform bill's allotment for food stamps: 66 cents per person per meal. Fee will be 75 cents, at the door. Steve Reardon, area United Way director, will speak on "One Voice for Children." Karen Woodall of Tallahassee, chair of the state Health & Human Services Board, will talk on contacting legislators and issues for lobbying. Two mothers who are welfare recipients will speak on the hurdles to overcome to get off the system. Handouts will be available on legislators' addresses and committee assignments.

previous article next article