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daredtowork

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Member since: Tue Aug 19, 2014, 11:02 PM
Number of posts: 3,732

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List of My "Political Representatives"

A month ago I started writing to my ostensible "political representatives" about the fact that working, and legally reporting it, while on welfare in Oakland, CA leads to extensive bureaucratic punishment, including undermining housing arrangements. That's not only a problem of great personal emergency importance, it's a policy matter with huge implications for poverty-saturated and crime-ridden Oakland. We don't want to be punishing people for work and undermining their housing here.

Details here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

Yet not a single one of these politicians replied to me, not even to offer sympathy for this problem. Several of them I've written repeatedly, notifying them that I've escalated the matter. I've tried copying journalists I thought might be interested. I've tried copying local nonprofits with an active interest in poverty issues. Still nothing.

So I'd like to make a list here of all my "political representatives" who aren't representing me at all.

Keith Carson, Alameda County Board of County Supervisors (to my understanding he's the one that actually works with Social Services policy, so I'll add his web site). http://www.acgov.org/board/district5/

Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland
Patricia Kerrigan, President of the City Council of the City of Oakland
Barbara Parker, City Attorney of the City of Oakland

Max Anderson, my district City Council member for the City of Berkeley

Loni Hancock, State Senator

Nancy Skinner, Assembly Member for Oakland
Joan Buchanan, Assembly Member for Oakland
Mary Hayashi, Assembly Member for Oakland

Barbara Lee, U.S. House of Representatives

Jerry Brown, Governor of California

Copied to President Obama and Vice President Biden, since they make it easy to do.

Didn't bother to copy Senators Feinstein or Boxer (though they are incorporated in the MoveOn.org petition) because all they ever do is send canned replies stating they "care" about issues currently in the headlines.

With the exception of the President and the Vice President, the higher you get up the political ladder, the harder it is to reach your political representatives via email. I understand spam has been a problem, but email communication is very important for people who have no direct income and thus have no money to allocate to print out letters and buy envelopes and stamps. Governor Jerry Brown seems to be especially ducking communication from below: the email form on his web site often errors out, and he has no toll free number!!! He should have a special communication box/line just for welfare recipients who have no other means of contacting him!

I'd like to call out all three California Assembly members for bouncing constituent emails they don't want to read.

I can see the problem is the screening method here is all wrong. The political representatives are getting too much mail so they are trying to screen it by making it harder to reach them. But by making it a little more costly and a little more difficult, this just screens out the people who most need to reach them, and who most need help in a timely manner. Perhaps new communications channels could be introduced instead?

In the meantime, I'd like an explanation as to why not ONE of the above politicians I contacted, some repeatedly, thinks that fact that trying to work while on welfare is punished by a threat to housing isn't even worth a reply of "I'm sorry about that..."

Shooter at Fort Lee: The "Spin" is Women are Disgruntled?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733878/Fort-Lee-lockdown-reports-active-shooter.html

I don't want to speculate about the causes of this situation, and I don't know enough about the military to critique their procedures when they have a shooter on their hands.

But their public relations spin on this bugs me.

Disgruntled?

That's the word corporations use when they want to turn a whistleblower who has just risked everything into a mere troublemaker and a whiner with a grudge.

Again, without speculating on the nature of the situation, I think we can at least assume there was a situation here. And it was likely this woman, even if mental illness is a factor, took steps to resolve it, before she got to the point of despair where she tried to kill herself. This is not like the teenage attention-getting drama of a few pills: when you point a gun to your head, you aren't planning to survive. I also don't see mention of hostages: unlike most male violence scenarios, it doesn't seem like she was planning to take a few innocents down with her. (Again, I realize the military may not have released all the information).

I see a woman in some sort of enormous pain who tried to kill herself over something.

And the military PR spin is she was "disgruntled"?

I haven't seen military PR this ham-handed since I read some random newspaper article explaining some military mistake that constantly referred to soldiers as abstract "resources" and "assets" - everything but "people".

Does Anyone Know if Google Code School for Women was a Real Thing? (Poverty Issue)

People on welfare are often castigated for "bad decisions". I often see comments to the effect of: "Why didn't this person go out and get training to better themselves and catch up with the current economy (instead of whining about being displaced from their housing by people with tech salaries and vandalizing the Google bus...).

I have a tech background that was disrupted by my disabilities. But I was an epic beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act, which just kicked in this January, and I've been able to entertain returning to the working world instead of spending my life on SSI, whereas I was pretty much doomed before. However, both my skills and on-the-job experience would instantly round-file my resume, so I've been looking at ways around my various obstacles.

One of my biggest obstacles is that technical training usually requires long commitment times. The Department of Rehabilitation would pay for me to get some basic refresher technical training (at the Community College level, but not, say a Masters degree). But I would have to commit to certain attendance goals, and I can't do that as long as I'm on General Assistance and my housing situation is being held hostage. If I were already on SSI, it would be no problem: my housing would be stable (though I'd probably have to rely on food banks since SSI=my real rent, and you can't get food stamps while on SSI), so I could survive long enough to take the classes and then exit SSI when I re-entered the mainstream workforce. But I'm still on unstable, inadequate General Assistance, so I've been living on the margin of homelessness for two years, and I can't commit to a training course.

But I can still think about bettering myself in a flexible way, which is why I can do online CodeAcademy and edifying YouTube videos. Thus, I was rather excited when I saw this announcement:

http://www.businessinsider.com/google-free-coding-lessons-to-women-2014-6

The first time I read the article, I somehow overlooked the part where they had already given out most of the vouchers through some back door. But even after that sunk in, I thought I'd have an excellent chance at this. I was a woman with a lot of tech background who could hit the ground running. I had experience with CodeAcademy and MOOC-style coursework. I had been incredibly disadvantaged, but I had also shown a lot of initiative in overcoming obstacles. Plus I lived in the Bay Area - I could go to face-to-face events, if offered! Perhaps Google was trying to make a real difference in the lives of women like me! The application was just a tiny text-box: I think I argued my case for at least a dozen paragraphs.

A couple weeks later I got a rejection letter from "Women Techmakers", and I figured that was that. They had given away most of the vouchers through agencies, and I just wasn't good enough (perhaps not young enough, either) for the remaining slots.

Then because of some of the changes in my health status, I got a new Department of Rehab counselor, and I was excited about a fresh start there. The first thing I asked about was these Google Code School vouchers. I explained I was interested in them because of the flexibility. The DOR counselor had never heard of it, but he wrote it down for research. He asked around, and no one had heard of it. Google apparently hadn't been offering any such vouchers to help the disadvantaged around it's own backyard in the Bay Area (at least not through the Dept. of Rehab).

Since this was a "global initiative", maybe these vouchers went to a group of "disadvantaged" female ITT grads in India who will make up Google's next generation of junior employees...?

Am I wrong to have that suspicion? Does anyone know where these supposed vouchers went? What disadvantaged and minority women they helped?

All I can say is things like that could go along way to help the training problem in Oakland, where the nature of General Assistance does make it impossible for people to complete "high level" types of training, i.e. most technical fields. The disadvantaged minority women are there, too.

Outraged Welfare Punishes Work and Saps Dignity From the Desperately Poor? Please Sign My Petition

This is Cross-posted from General Discussion - hope that's permissible. I came to Democratic Underground to request signatures for petition that pertains to General Assistance Welfare policy in California, and more specifically the Oakland area.

***

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

I'm on General Assistance welfare, which is the form of welfare people get if they are single, childless, and thus not eligible for all the "family-oriented" forms of the social safety net. I qualified for this because I was disabled but it was taking years for my SSI case to process. G.A. goes directly to my landlord, leaving me no cash to live on. I can pay for food with food stamps, but I have no means to pay for utility and phone bills, hygiene products, toilet paper, light bulbs, stamps and envelopes, bus and train tickets, over-the-counter medications, cleaning supplies, and a hundred other non-food items that people just need to get through their daily lives. Even Social Services, the creator of these rules, imposes demands that cost money for the "welfare recipient" who doesn't have a cash income"!

This leaves only 4 choices: begging on the corner, prostitution, petty theft, under the table work.

Now someone in the peanut gallery may be asking what happens if you try to do some casual work for necessities and legally report it, as Social Services requires you to do every quarter. What happens is Social Services punishes you by every means possible, puts you through time-consuming bureaucratic hell, tortures you with all sorts of stress, and, worst of all, undermines your housing situation because it takes back any money you earn out of the check to your landlord.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

I've been told that the General Assistance welfare rules are different for every County and every State, which is one of the reasons it's so difficult to get a unified voice on the subject and explain why people on welfare are treated worse than prisoners in Gitmo - and show how the health, psychological, and dignity outcomes are all logical consequences of exposure to crushing circumstances. But I'm sure the fundamental absurdity is pretty much the same all over, so I hope that even if you are not from California and not from the Oakland Bay Area, you will still sign my petition and help shine a light on this ridiculous Rube Goldberg machine.

Bringing the reality of welfare to light is also the first step to ending its use as a political football. Many conservatives use the obscurity surrounding welfare to imply it's some sort of secret cash machine or that people like me are living high off the hog at the tax payer's expense. I have no cash income, and I'm punished for working for toilet paper. Please help me do something about it by signing my petition.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

***

Ps. I have to apologize for a post-and-run: I have a number of appointments today, and I doubt I will be able to check back for questions until late this afternoon. The appointments and paperwork in my life are never done, despite being "too disable to work". I think that actually means the economy just wasn't willing to accept me as I am. Thus I get busywork and stress I am not paid for.

Outraged Welfare Punishes Work and Saps Dignity From the Desperately Poor? Please Sign My Petition!

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

I'm on General Assistance welfare, which is the form of welfare people get if they are single, childless, and thus not eligible for all the "family-oriented" forms of the social safety net. I qualified for this because I was disabled but it was taking years for my SSI case to process. G.A. goes directly to my landlord, leaving me no cash to live on. I can pay for food with food stamps, but I have no means to pay for utility and phone bills, hygiene products, toilet paper, light bulbs, stamps and envelopes, bus and train tickets, over-the-counter medications, cleaning supplies, and a hundred other non-food items that people just need to get through their daily lives. Even Social Services, the creator of these rules, imposes demands that cost money for the "welfare recipient" who doesn't have a cash income"!

This leaves only 4 choices: begging on the corner, prostitution, petty theft, under the table work.

Now someone in the peanut gallery may be asking what happens if you try to do some casual work for necessities and legally report it, as Social Services requires you to do every quarter. What happens is Social Services punishes you by every means possible, puts you through time-consuming bureaucratic hell, tortures you with all sorts of stress, and, worst of all, undermines your housing situation because it takes back any money you earn out of the check to your landlord.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

I've been told that the General Assistance welfare rules are different for every County and every State, which is one of the reasons it's so difficult to get a unified voice on the subject and explain why people on welfare are treated worse than prisoners in Gitmo - and show how the health, psychological, and dignity outcomes are all logical consequences of exposure to crushing circumstances. But I'm sure the fundamental absurdity is pretty much the same all over, so I hope that even if you are not from California and not from the Oakland Bay Area, you will still sign my petition and help shine a light on this ridiculous Rube Goldberg machine.

Bringing the reality of welfare to light is also the first step to ending its use as a political football. Many conservatives use the obscurity surrounding welfare to imply it's some sort of secret cash machine or that people like me are living high off the hog at the tax payer's expense. I have no cash income, and I'm punished for working for toilet paper. Please help me do something about it by signing my petition.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/work-while-on-welfare?source=c.em&r_by=11132229

UPDATE: I finally reached the goal of 50 signatures on my petition, so it can be forwarded to my political representatives. I believe the petition remains up for people to see this issue and still sign if they want, though. Please take a look - it's jaw-dropping if you think about it. Please point it out the next time a Republican says they want people on welfare to work.
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