Rick Scott's never gonna give us up, Social Security's never gonna let us down, Linda Chapin's always gonna run around and deter us
Published: January 13, 2011
Every Friday we attend a random PowerPoint presentation to, you know, stay grounded. On Jan. 7 we finally happened upon one that didn’t tell us about updated company sexual harassment policy, but rather a program that would help disabled people get financial help and save the state some money without strangling public schools.
That day at the Center for Drug Free Living, employees of local social-services agencies were absorbing, at varying levels of passivity, a presentation about the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) technical assistance initiative. Though we don’t usually trust organizations that couch acronyms within acronyms, this one seemed legitimate enough, as they talked about how to help the mentally disabled get federal disability benefits. How? By helping them fill out their applications. Uncle Sam, as it turns out, is a perfectionist prick that likes to reject applicants based on undotted i’s and uncrossed t’s.
After the SOAR program was implemented in Miami, spokeswoman Cindy Schwartz says, the feds’ acceptance rate for disability-based aid applications jumped from 37 percent to 84 percent, and not only that, the average acceptance time fell from nine months to two.
Knowing that our calculating, heartless nature leaves us bored by stories of people merely having their lives transformed, Schwartz was quick to give us the news hook: “Now, they’re on the federal dollar instead of the state dollar.” She calculates that getting Uncle Sam to pony up rather than the Department of Children and Families has saved the state $6.9 million dollars since the program’s inception.
Schwartz for governor in 2014!
You might not believe it, but some people think we’re assholes. Most of the time we just let it roll off of our reptilian spines, cackling the crazy cackle inherent to self-possessed raconteurs dosed up on hyperbole. But sometimes, in a moment of weakness or awe, we pull down that imaginary mirror and stare into it and come to the conclusion that sometimes some people are right.
Such was the case on the afternoon of Jan. 4, when a buzz came in on the red phone followed by our receptionist’s quizzical voice: “A Linda Chapin is here to see you?”
Our first thoughts were along the lines of, “To what do we owe the honor?” mostly because we’ve bumped shoulder pads with Chapin at a number of political events over the years, and she’s always been rather complimentary about our institutional contrariness. Chapin’s a seasoned Central Florida personality – a former chairwoman (or mayor) of Orange County, an almost-winning Democrat for the District 8 U.S. House of Representatives seat a decade ago – and she continues to be everywhere that anybody who matters is on the region’s political landscape. Why the heck would she be driving down our part of Colonial Drive and coming up in our elevator?
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