|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
APRIL 6, 2009
WIC PROGRAM DESERVES COUNTY SUPPORT
I am not beating a dead horse, but I would like to say one more time that I think it is wrong for the County Executive to abandon Erie County's involvement in the WIC program. This governmental initiative has successfully served more than 16,000 women, infants and children for more than 30 years. The program won us acclaim and awards, and in my mind, it should remain a government function.
I have petitioned the New York State Health Commissioner, Richard F. Daines, M.D., to closely scrutinize our County Executive's decision not to apply for this grant. I asked the commissioner to intervene and oversee the transition and ensure that our population's most vulnerable citizens nutritional health needs will not be jeopardized.
The County of Erie will officially end this program as of September 30, 2009. That doesn't give the successful not-for-profit agency that happens to be awarded this $11 million federal grant a tremendous amount of time to set up shop, and to transition the delivery of services to those in need. Keep in mind that the County of Erie had 11 sites available in strategic locations throughout of county. I cannot imagine any organization taking on the responsibility of this magnitude to be able to transition these services in such a short period of time - especially at a time when two major charitable organizations in this area are having difficulty reaching their goal. Even the charitable organizations are facing tough decisions as to which services they may have to cut.
Yes, it is true that every dollar does count and that people in our community do depend on it. But when the dollars fail to trickle in like they used to, I think that's where government should play a stronger role. By no means am I opposed to change. For all I know, one of these charitable organizations may end up doing a better job than the county employees (even considering that some taxpayer dollars are being spent on Six Sigma initiatives to make government more run more effectively).
And the argument may be, well, a transition of this magnitude takes time. So for now, call me a man of little faith: I really don't think a smooth transition is going to happen. All I see is more pain and suffering and a lot more confusion, and very little assistance from those elected by our voters to intercede on their behalf. A charitable not-for-profit organization is another bundle of bureaucracy which I, as your elected public representative, will have little or limited ability to navigate. To me, it's not a matter of power; it's a matter of service. Not a pick and choose type of service, but an unconditional service to all.
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