Sometimes, we look at the actions of our local representatives and just have to say this:
“What the hell were you thinking?”
One of those instances came when we read in Thursday’s Daily Star that the Otsego County Board of Representatives has changed its weekday program for the needy elderly from delivery of hot meals to a once-a-week issuing of frozen dinners.
We almost don’t know where to begin to discuss how asinine an idea that is, what a betrayal of senior citizens by representatives who certainly should have known better.
Even assuming every recipient has the freezer space for the meals, some may have diminished mental capacity to prepare their own meals. A daily visitor might notice something awry and report a potentially dangerous situation to authorities.
Let’s also not downplay the person-to-person relationships that develop between human beings. Many of our citizens of advanced years have limited contact with others, and thus the delivery of a meal becomes an important event — a needed interruption of the loneliness that is sadly so much a daily burden.
And what is Otsego County saving by changing from five-days-a-week hot meals to one-day-delivery-a-week frozen ones?
A lousy $76,000 out of a yearly budget of $125 million!
That comes out to 0.0608 percent.
It’s even more galling when we consider that the budget included a raise totaling $159,000 for some county workers. We don’t begrudge the workers their raises, particularly in that they hadn’t had one for six years. But if the county could afford the raises, it can afford half the cost of them to treat senior citizens with respect.
“You threw the elderly people under the bus for $76,000,” Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Springfield, told his colleagues while discussing the measure.
But when the vote was taken, the board tally was 13-0 in approving the cut, with McCarty abstaining.
McCarty should have fought harder. He shouldn’t have abstained. He should have voted “no.” All of those representatives should have voted “no.”
The recommendation for the cut came from the county board’s Health and Education Committee, led by Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, who said he hadn’t thought the county could afford the raises to workers recommended by Treasurer Dan Crowell.
“We were all told to make cuts and so we did,” Lindberg said. “If we had known they were going to put raises in, we would have never done this. It’s sickening to do this to the elderly.”
You bet it is, Mr. Lindberg. Now it’s time for you and your colleagues to do something about it.
Don’t leave our senior citizens out in the cold. Fix this appalling situation. Fix it now.