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“Newburgh, N. Y., June 26 — Right wing activists in this small upstate community moved one step closer to criminalizing the welfare system by passing a 13-point plan which would begin welfare reform by forcing new applicants to undergo a police interrogation complete with fingerprinting. Hence forward, new applicants to welfare in this community will be treated ‘like immigrants.’ ” Is this a news item from the future of the “tea party” movement? It might sound like it. But actually it is a brief synopsis of a story that appeared in 1961. The “relief revolt” helped bring attention to the work of one local reporter who gained national fame for his analysis of the welfare “dilemma.” Fifty years ago, The Buffalo Evening News published the results of a six-month investigation of welfare in Erie County conducted by News reporter Edgar May. May worked undercover as a caseworker for the Erie County Department of Social Welfare in order to gather research for the 14-part series entitled, ”Our Costly Dilemma.” Five decades have passed since the Pulitzer Prize-winning series was published, and yet our “welfare dilemma” appears to be as costly — and divisive — as ever. The year of publication, 1960, seems to have been a high water mark for American optimism, in retrospect. The problem of welfare dependency seemed one that could be contained, if not entirely solved.
Buffalo Evening News 2010-06-13
VII-Von Solbrig Task Force: "Hospital Proves a Costly Haven for Alcoholics" - Task Force Report - Chicago Tribune
"For the alcoholic deperate for a cure, the hospital is a sham, the treatment a cruel joke. For the welfare loafer eager for a free ride, it is a $78-a-day hotel where a person can float for days on powerful tranquilizers. And for the taxpayer, Northeast Community Hospital is an expensive charade that squanders valuable Medicaid dollars. . ."
The Chicago Tribune 1975-09-10
IV-Von Solbrig Task Force: "Surgery done on assembly line" - von Solbrig Physician - Chicago Tribune
"The odds are astronomical, medical experts say, that several children in the same family would need their tonsils removed at once. But for $120 an operation, Dr. Edward J Mirmelli defies the odds, The Tribune Task Force found. Reporters discovered he regularly operates on three, four, and give children from the same welfare families in von Solbrig, 6500 Pulaski Rd., helping boost his welfare income to $60,000 last year, and $124,000 in 1973, according to federal government figures. . ."
The Chicago Tribune 1975-09-08
"From all over the city, private ambulance companies take public aid recipients, easily able to use other transportation on expensive rides to Northeast, a violation of public aid regulations. In some cases, ambulances carrying "emergency" cases bypass other hospitals to go to Northeast, another public aid violation. . ."
The Chicago Tribune 1975-09-09
As part of my assignment to live in slums for a month, I wanted the experience of trying to get on relief. My role was that of an unemployed and inexperienced actor who drifted here from Los Angeles.
New York World-Telegram and Sun 1959-06-29
The city administration admitted today it had failed to meet its slum problem successfully and that blighted areas were spreading faster than rehabilitation.In the wake of a series of articles portraying horrendous conditions in the city's slums, this newspaper assigned a team of reporters to ask city officials about what they intended to do about it.
New York World-Telegram and Sun 1959-07-02
In a city where Health Commissioner Leona Baumgartner says there are as many rats as people - eight million - there are only four Health Department inspectors assigned to investigate rat bites and vermin.
New York World-Telegram and Sun 1959-07-01
After a week of training lectures on the job of a caseworker, my supervisor offered me the first of several helpful hints: "The main thing is to get the aid out," he said. "You can always check things later if you have suspicions." But "later" - as it turned out - I had more and more cases and there was never any time. Within two months, in fact, I was the government assigned head of household for 160 families.
May I commend you for your series of articles on public welfare. The presentation to the public of the problems of public welfare is long overdue.May I also suggest that the article on the problems under the category of Aid to Dependent Children did not present strongly enough the viciousness of the out-of-wedlock situation.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-25
The idea of a higher welfare bill is implicit in all of the recommendations. Sometimes this is explicitly stated. But implied or spelled out in detail, the end product is certain - increased welfare costs measured in billions of dollars.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-24
Ever hear of the "Report of the Advisory Council on Public Assistance?"It's a comparatively unpublicized 137-page paper-bound document available in Washington. It contains 20 recommendations of such magnitude that it could alter the basic structure of welfare administration. It could also add billions of dollars to welfare costs and it could further entangle the Federal Government in the "welfare state."
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-23
Spend money to save money? In isolated experiments across the nation, the question has been answered. By spending welfare tax dollars you ultimately save them. For Erie County, saddled with a near $30,000,000 annual relief bill, many answers are available.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-22
"I'm wasting my time working. I'd be better off on welfare." The man holding the steaming cup of coffee could have been your neighbor, the worker at the next machine or the bus passenger sharing a seat. What he said is repeated often in the mounting public distress over high welfare costs. It is the echo of revelations of laxity, chiseling, laziness and dishonesty. It is also wrong. Because a man would be better off "on the welfare" only if he wanted to feed and clothe each of his children for less than a dollar a day.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-21
The Erie County Department of Social Welfare has fixed rent ceilings it is willing to pay for welfare recipients. However, because of housing shortages in Negro neighborhoods, exceptions frequently are made. A single caseload may have between 20 and 30 exceptions.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-20
Every day in Erie County there are scores of men, women and children sitting in doctors' waiting rooms. When they come out their bill will be sent to you - the taxpayer.Today, too, there are hundreds occupying public and private hospital beds. When they are discharged the statement will be sent to you - the taxpayer.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-18
If a man picked your pocket today, most likely he'd go to jail.But if he taps your wallet via the Welfare Department route, the chances are that he'll never see the inside of a cell.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-16
Tony has received public assistance almost all of his adult life. His son was on welfare in Erie, Pa. A daughter, living at home now, gets monthly Aid to Dependent Children checks for herself and Tony's grandson. Here are some excerpts from his relief history: 1932 - Victor found man had a car licensed in his grandmother's name. Victor knows that the man drives car and is out nights with it. Man doing window washing but denies it.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-15
Joey P. had been on welfare for a month. He filled out job applications at half-a-dozen Buffalo plants, hitched a ride to the Niagara Power Project and visited the N.Y. State Employment office regularly. What he told me, as a caseworker for the Erie County Department of Social Welfare, could almost be a recording of what other workers hear repeated day after day, week after week. In many cases its true. But when it comes from men who have a two or three-year relief ride, then it sounds as if the needle got stuck.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-14
In New York City, for example, ADC in 1958 supported 54,000 illegitimate children.On the other side of the coin the question is often put this way: What do you propose to do? Let these children starve because of the mistakes of their parents?
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-13
In Erie County today and in other New York counties, there are thousands of men and women who weekly deduct part of their take home pay and give it to a needy parent, an elderly aunt or children whose early marriage is being threatened by financial shoals.But there are others whose charity never began at home or anywhere else.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-11
As a group, many of the relief recipients have become a dependent society. During the three months I was a caseworker I gave your tax dollars to children who are fourth-generation welfare cases."Don't let them save you," was the advice I received when I first started. "Some of these people, you'll find, know more about welfare than all of us. They've got every angle."
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-09
In a gray filing cabinet in the office of the Erie County Welfare Department where I worked there are supplies of forms that include a list of 65 different ones most frequently used by caseworkers.Each, used in duplicate or triplicate, serves a particular function in the paper empire that has grown with the administration of public welfare.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-10
I-"Our Costly Dilemma: Inside Welfare: Close-up of a Staggering Problem" - Ed [Edgar] May - Buffalo Evening News
Every minute your clock ticks, New York State Welfare costs average $1075. Each day, the relief cash register totals about $1,547,945. And when the calendar reached Dec. 31, 1959, the bill for helping the needy in New York State stood at a single-year record of $565,000,000. For three months this writer spent some of that money as a caseworker for the Erie County Department of Social Welfare.
Buffalo Evening News 1960-06-07