Welfare Information: Gettin’ It


What you want to know is how many people are receiving services and how much it costs.  I know this is what you want to know because you are flooding my blog with searches.  In the past week, there have been nearly a hundred searches—and that’s just this week.  A selection includes:

  • How many people get welfare?
  • Who is on welfare?
  • How many babies getting welfare?
  • How many women receive welfare?
  • What portion of American welfare recipients is disabled?
  • Average age of welfare recipients?
  • How many people are on welfare now versus past years?
  • How much does the average welfare recipient receive per year?
  • Lengths of time people remain on public assistance?
  • How many people on welfare get off welfare?
  • What percentage of people on welfare have never worked?
  • How many people on welfare have jobs 2011?

 The searches include some more specific requests for information, such as—

  • How much does the average black family on welfare cost taxpayers?
  • What is the average race that lives off welfare?

Let me repeat:  God does not love racists and Hell is a forever place.  And distant early reports suggest that about ten times as many white people as black people are on Welfare.  Stay tuned for more information.

But let’s talk about information dissemination.  Last August, I sent my list of questions to Stan Linhorst, managing editor of Syracuse’s Post-Standard newspaper.  He replied, “Thanks for your suggestion,” and that’s the last I heard of it.  Did you see any newspaper stories that answered the questions you’re asking?  No, I didn’t either.  Note to Stan:  Your newspaper might not be going bankrupt if you reported the news that the people want.  And what’s the reason why you’re not?  Who stands to gain by keeping the people in the dark?

 What about the Onondaga County legislators?  I’ve never heard any of them report statistics, and since Commissioner Sutkowy says the numbers are not readily available, then I’d guess no legislator has called for a report from DSS on who’s on Welfare and Medicaid.  Why’s that?  Aren’t the legislator’s listening to their constituents and realizing they want to know?  How can they vote the budget without asking for information? 

 CountyExecutiveJoanne Mahoney presented the 2011 budget.  She didn’t present it to us, the people; she presented it to the “Honorable Members of the CountyLegislature” and maybe she knew that she didn’t need to be forthright with them.  You see, the budget she presented doesn’t actually say how much each county department is getting.  All it does is list where the cuts are being made.  It doesn’t say, “DSS got exzillion dollars, and now we’re cutting here, here and here.”  Go to http://www.ongov.net/finance/documents/0Title-Intro.pdf and see for yourself.

 There is no breakdown of who’s getting what.  All there is to work with is Mahoney’s statement to the legislator’s in which she said, “The largest single cost in our budget is Medicaid, a mandated entitlement program that will cost us $100 million local dollars in 2011.”  And she said, “Altogether, we have budgeted $160.8 million local dollars to pay the costs of State mandated programs [all of which appear to be in the Dept. of Social Services].”  She also said, “In fact, the total cost of Medicaid forOnondagaCountyin 2008 was $603 million.”  Why is she backing a 2011 budget with 2008 figures?  Apparently she hasn’t got information either.

 What about David Sutkowy, commissioner of the Dept. of Social Services?  He says DSS has 70,000 people receiving services.  Why doesn’t he know who they are?  How can you effectively strategize if you don’t know the faces and circumstances of your customers?  How can you advocate for your own budget if you don’t know who you’re giving the money to?  How can you plan to get people off Welfare if you don’t know who’s on Welfare?

 I mean, I’m just asking, you know?

When last we met, I closed with the words “But I’m an activist, which means I find ways to get things done, like gathering information.  Check back real soon for another way to do this.”  Being an activist means getting up and doing something, not sitting passively by and doing nothing.  I’ve been doing this activist thing for a decade and I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  I know how to find out stuff.  I’ve got about five other ways to get this information for you, but here’s my best favorite:  call 435-1900.

My friend Adaturned me on to this number and now, whenever there’s something I don’t know, she chants “435-1900.”  It is the telephone number for the Reference Dept. of the Onondaga County Public Library:  Your tax dollars at work.  It is my experience that other people who work for OnondagaCountyfall into two categories:  those who don’t know and those who won’t say.  Your public reference librarian exists solely for the purpose of telling you stuff!  Her whole reason for being is to give you information.  Isn’t that awesome?!  You want to know the names of the seven dwarfs?  Call 435-1900.  You want to know the phone number of the assistant director of some agency?  Call 435-1900.  You want to know the land mass of the Philippines, how many civilians have died in Iraq, or what poet compared life to a spiral staircase?  Call 435-1900 if you need the information today; email “OCPL Reference” reference@onlib.org if you can wait until tomorrow to know.

Here’s the whole deal for these great people:

Central Library Reference Librarians

Onondaga County Public Library
reference@onlib.org
http://www.onlib.org
Telephone reference service available 315-435-1900
Mon-Fri 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM and Sat 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Use our text-a-librarian and
24/7 chat reference services:  Ask A Librarian http://www.onlib.org/web/ask/index.htm
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/hdRD6S

So I emailed the library Reference Dept. and asked them my questions.  Check back for the answers.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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