The juxtaposition of the two articles in the Jan. 17 edition of this newspaper — “Eviction draws LePage’s wrath” and “LePage proposes spending, tax cuts” — brings up a subtle irony perhaps not clear to the casual reader.
The first article was about Gov. Paul LePage’s anger at the eviction of an elderly couple from their home in Albion. I won’t comment on the specifics of that case, except to say that it seems as if it was not handled well.
Then, toward the end of the article on LePage’s proposed budget, it was reported that 26 social workers in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Aging and Disability Services were recently given “preliminary layoff notices,” because their jobs would be cut.
If LePage is concerned about the well-being of senior citizens, perhaps he should reconsider whether these jobs should be cut. The office’s social workers are already overworked, handling heavy caseloads, and only get involved in the most egregious cases of elder abuse.
Another irony about the governor’s ire over this couple having lost their home for failure to pay property taxes is that he has not released a bond package to pay for affordable senior housing. On Oct. 13, this newspaper ran an editorial in support of the Legislature moving this bond without the governor’s approval. According to the editorial, “At stake is a $15 million bond package that would be used to provide … financing for … affordable housing units for seniors ….”
Gov. LePage expresses outrage at the eviction of one elderly couple, but he has so far stood in the way of this reasonable, modest step toward increasing the affordable housing stock available to Maine’s seniors. If you want this bond package released and the OADS social workers’ jobs saved, call or email your local legislators.
Daniel J. Eccher, Esq.