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Advertise on the Tentacle

June 21, 2013

Public Support for the Poor

Roy Meachum

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president I remembered; he occupied the White House until I was a teen-ager. Under him, Social Security was brought into life. I received a card when I was selling the Saturday Evening Post, founded by Benjamin Franklin.


A quarter-page Frederick News-Post ad was run on Thursday protesting the sale proposed by the Board of County Commissioners of Montevue Assisted Living and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation centers. This was not a knee-jerk reaction by the board. For years, the facilities have been losing money, lots of it.


The ad quotes Commissioners’ President Blaine Young: “The commissioners took an oath to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars…”


A large part of me is torn.


The quarter-page ad cautions “Follow the Money…You’ll pay $10.75 million to Aurora (Health Management) to allow existing residents to remain at Montevue for ONLY FOUR YEARS – no hope for the elderly poor in the future.


·       “You’ll pay the $750,000 realtor fee to Marcus & Millichap.”


·       “You’ll pay several millions in additional debt interest for a building the county will no longer own.”


·       “7.5 acres of valuable, street front property with an approximate value of $6-7 M given away at no cost.”


·       “A state-of-art medical facility, constructed, equipped and furnished for approximately $37.7 M and sold for $30 M.”


The proposed sale flouts centuries-old tradition. In the 16th century, the Elizabethan Poor Law established three principles: local responsibility for the poor, the requirement that people provide support to their poor and the idea that towns were liable only for their own residents. Speaking of Mr. Franklin, he disagreed two hundred years later: “There is no country in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken and insolent…”


Jesus was quoted in two gospels: The poor will always remain among us. Religions older than Christianity took care of their less fortunate.


In an hour-long closed-to-the-public session last month, the all-GOP commissioners considered the Aurora offer. The ad ran in advance of decision day. Next Tuesday, June 25, there will be an open session in which all options are brought up.


As I said, I’m torn.


Frederick is the only Maryland county where taxpayers pay directly for their poor’s support. Still, the ad points out discrepancies. Where else has the public given up such valuable real estate and facilities? The current residents are guaranteed their places for four years only? At least Aurora agreed to maintain the staff, but for how long? Still, the company has agreed to put the property on the county tax list.


The News-Post paid-for space proclaims: “Frederick County residents are smarter than this!”


At least, next week there are questions to be answered.


Being brought up when FDR seemed the eternal president, at my age, I might be prejudiced. My thinking goes along the lines that any given society must take care of itself.


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