Social service programs coming to a tragic end….
Posted: 29 September 2013 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Manhattan used to be a caring community.  Through no fault of their own, our friends and neighbors can fall on hard times.  Our community has always been cognizant of those neighbors and done an excellent job of funding programs to assist.  The past couple of years, we have seen two far right commissioners critical of our social service program spending.  Without the votes on the Commission to cut funding to social services, they have had to turn to other means. 

One of the responsibilities of the Mayor is to name appointees to advisory boards.  In the case of the Social Service Advisory Board, that board recommends budgets for a large segment of Manhattan’s social service organizations.  A few months ago, the Mayor appointed a Tea Party conservative to the SSAB.  The other members of the City Commission sat there “fat, dumb, and happy” allowing such an appointment to happen with no discussion.  This coming Tuesday, the Mayor will appoint a leader of the Flint Hills Tea Party to the SSAB.  Will the rest of the commissioners sit there nodding their approval this time?

Mayor Matta serves until April 2014.  Matta will be replaced, in April, with Mayor Pro-Tem Butler… one of the most vocal critics of the social service budgeting process.  So, unless the other three commissioners “grow some”, we will see anti-government appointees loading the SSAB until they get their wish… cut funding for these necessary organizations. 

If you feel appointments to the Social Services Advisory Board should be political in nature and mirror the hard right idealogy of the local Tea Party… sit on your fannys and smile while it happens.  If you feel those entrusted with the responsibility of determining how well this community… YOUR community takes care of its own should be apolitical appointments call or e-mail your commissioners.  Three of our elected officials must stand up for the less fortunate… or nobody will.

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Posted: 30 September 2013 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Not quite, no tragic end insight.    Social Services ended up getting an increase of around 7%  -$23,480 this year.

History of SSAB Grants:
2011= $417,200
2012=  $373,600
2013 = $354,920
This year 2014 = $378,400

I was not for a 7.5% increase and voted against that concept.  I supported a 1.7% increase the COLA rate or $6,000.  That would have put SSAB funding at 360K.
 
The issue at hand is not support of Social Services, but how much support and which agencies.    As of 2014 only nine agencies are supported as UFM declined further participation.  I believe that was appropriate as the UFM grants were never in the same category as the Emergency Shelter.

How much tax support should the city give?  I believe it should be in the realm of 350 to 360K and should be targeted at only five agencies.  In other words increased funding for the vital few four or five agencies. 

I also believe that private giving should be a major component of the program.  Hence the zero load, no overhead, tax deductible SSAB donation system through water bill payments.  15,000 water meters are on the books so,  if everyone kicks in a dollar a month,  SSAB gets - $180,000 a year a nice chunk of change; but not everyone in the caring community has donated.    Those far right Tea Party anti SSAB people that you like to call out, tend to donate – they support SSAB, maybe they care?  Maybe they just do not want to see open ended no limit SSAB support through tax dollars?

Now to the topic of Board appointments, there does need to be diversity on the boards, some balance.  In the past the Mayors appointed well-meaning folks to the SSAB that believe in total tax support and do not believe in using donations or promoting fund raising efforts.  Those previous boards refused to follow the SSAB charter and provide a priority list for funding.  This year was the first year that SSAB actually provided a priority list. 

I agree that previous Commissions should have challenged the appointment of many of the SSAB board members so that they would have focused more on budget, priorities and enhancing private funding.

Some new faces on the SSAB will improve the process.  To sum up the issue, will SSAB funding be totally eliminated, no.  Should tax support of SSAB be constrained like the funding for Special Alcohol programs, yes.  Should SSAB agencies be limited to the essential few – Emergency Shelter, Crisis Center, CASA, Boys and Girls Club etc– yes.  Should we have a cross section of citizens on boards, to include Tea Party folks, absolutely.  Should the city look at other methods of support for SSAB, like taking the Community House and maybe making it into offices for SSAB agencies – Manhattan Legal Services and CASA come to mind – yes. 

It is not all gloom and doom for SSAB.  A middle of the road solution, some tax funding, some government buildings, private donations, and government support of private funding initiatives and all will be well.  And Larry notice I did not use the word you hate, but have to throw it in at the end, new board members =  Paradigm Shift. 

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Posted: 01 October 2013 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Wynn, we have seen/heard your rationale for funding of social service organizations in Manhattan.  We get it.  My point in initiating this thread was to simply make people aware of the “loading” of Tea Party members on the SSAB.  As far as your post…

1.)  “Those far right Tea Party anti SSAB people that you like to call out, tend to donate – they support SSAB, maybe they care?”  Are you insinuating that non-Tea Party folks don’t support social services through financial contributions?  Again, this has nothing to do with personal giving.  This has to do with what appears to be an attempt to “manufacture” a quorum of Tea Party members on the SSAB and control the City’s support of social services through political “gerrymandering”.
2.)  “Some new faces on the SSAB will improve the process.”  “A middle of the road solution…”  Just what “process”?  Is that process subject to your definition or the definition that might be heard by those falling on hard times? 

It will be an interesting and stressful couple of years for those organizations striving to assist our friends and neighbors in need.  Okay… I’ll bite and use your “paradigm shift”.  Typically, the Mayor appoints members to advisory boards and the rest of the commission simply rubber stamps those appointments.  It is time for one of your “paradigm shifts”... Not a shift whereby a political agenda can be “back doored” onto advisory boards, but a shift in the metal of commissioners where they are not fearful of retribution if they ‘rock the boat’ and question noticable political appointments.

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Posted: 01 October 2013 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Larry:  I am not you insinuating that the liberals do not donate, maybe they do.  On the water bill donation effort all but one of the previous commission members donated.  My point is that it should be clear that the Tea Party Patriots actually do donate and care.  Your posts seem to infer otherwise. 
The issue at hand has a lot do with personal giving.  Monetary support of SSAB needs to come from two sources, one is donations, the other is taxes.  The issue is to determine the balance.

The make-up of the SSAB board needs to be adjusted.  As you stated the gerrymandering and manufactured quorums created by previous mayors has provided a far left leaning group of boards.  A bit of a correction is in order and a few Tea Party Patriots may just help out a bit. 

The SSSAB process involves a review of applications, a review of budget, assessment of need, allocation of budget and establishment of priorities.  The process is a logical review of funds, needs and results.  The final product needs to be a data driven recommendation on why tax funds should be allocated.  The process in the past has been flawed.  Here are the specifics and some process improvement thoughts:

Resolution No. 110487-C established the current Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB) and procedures.  This resolution replaced Resolution No. 20589-A.  The current resolution retained a reference that the Social Services Advisory Board shall be a continuation of the Board previously established by the Governing Body in Resolution No. 120589-A.  The current Resolution (No. 110487-C) was signed on November 1997.

The 1997 Resolution contains several areas for review and clarification:

1.  The By Laws of the SSAB are established by the board and approved by the Commission. 
2. A definition of Social Services is not included in the Resolution. A separate definition is provided in city documents, but Social Services should be defined and listed in the current By Laws. 
3. The Resolution includes the statement that the Board shall consider the availability of City funds, the support of those social services from other sources, including the private sector, and alternative methods of providing social services with greater cost benefits.  The board does not appear to be supportive of private funding. In fact the board appears to be a Social Services Advocacy Board and not an Advisory Board.
4. The resolution contains a section on requests for funds that is not restricted.  Recent history indicates that only a handful of agencies actually take part in the process.  The request procedure should be limited to defined agencies.
5. The resolution includes the comment that the board complies with requests and guidelines as may be submitted to the Board by the Governing Body.  The Resolution also includes the statement that the Board will make recommendations as to the level of funding for each request, as well as the relative priorities of the request.  The board refused to provide a priority list during the 2012 and 2013budget discussion. 
6.  The Board is established as fifteen member board. 
As to board appointments – the process is that citizens can request to be on a board (forms on the website).  It is not like a great number of requests are received.  You might consider sending in a request to be a board member.  Requests are reviewed by the mayor and the major makes recommendations that are then approved by the Commission.  On occasion some recommendations have been challenged.  I did that on at least one occasion, I think it was an appointment made by Mayor Pepperd.  It is clear that the commission can challenge the appointments. I would think a balanced composition on all of the boards would be in order, some tea along with the wine. 

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Posted: 01 October 2013 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Wow!  Simply, Wow!!  Questions about the appointment.  Wynn gets on his soapbox saying there are many vacancies on the SSAB and encourages citizens to apply.  Commissioner Reddi says there have been applicants but, evidently, aren’t considered by the Mayor.  Mayor says he sometimes calls the applicants and sometimes calls folks who know the applicants.  Interpreted…. If you ain’t Tea Party connected, you ain’t gonna get appointed to the SSAB by this mayor.  And they wonder why more people don’t get involved.

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