Protesters Rally Against Alameda County Budget Cuts

OAKLAND (KCBS) – The lunchtime crowd outside the Alameda County Social Services Building had to contend with the noisy chants of protesters who fear the elderly, poor and disabled may wind up homeless because of state and county budget cuts.

Several assistance programs took a beating from the budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week and Alameda County’s latest spending plan.

Lisa Wrestler, a single mother who depends on CalWorks to feed her two children, said her family’s monthly allotment went from $684 to less than $400 a month.

Even worse, she no longer has access to health insurance. “Us mothers need to stay healthy to take care of our children, so that’s a big huge cut that I’m going to be feeling.”

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

Critical gaps like that the insurance issue facing Wrestler could be destabilizing for people in precarious situations because of the economy, said Boona Cheema, executive director of Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, a non-profit that provides housing and job training programs.

“This needs to be a coordinated effort to really care for the poor people in our community and not just expect that somehow they’re going to make it. Many are not going to make it.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • genomega1

    Has Lisa Wrestler ever considered looking for a job or perhaps getting the father of her children to help out a little? This is the real deal folks the States and Country are broke.

    • Jim Bob Duggar

      and we’re broke because of folks like Lisa Wrestler! Imagine if she would use the same energy and effort spent protesting to find a job and actually support her family. Stop the handouts, they only enable laziness, idleness and a wrongful sense of entitlement, where the rest of us are left picking up the tab and the quality of our childrens education is threatened. You will only keep the welfare cycle alive and well by continuing to give it out. Simple concept, limit the welfare benefits, we do need to give a hand up to those in need, but not a hand out.

      • Darwin

        Create camps for the indigent. They are welcome to live there, actually they would be required to live there and they would have to do public work, like picking up trash along the freeways or painting public buildings, stuff like that. Their support should come with a cost to them, which would be that it is no longer free.

    • Wendy Peterson

      I’m a third generation Californian, and I remember when our state really was the golden state, with the best public education system in the nation, with innovative industry and a workforce that was smart and trained. There were supports in the community for elderly so they could age with dignity. You knew that if you had an accident there would be an emergency room to go to with the capacity to treat you. As a middle class person, I covet my own forms of “government handouts” in the form of mortgage interest deduction, schooling and college grants for my kids, and having the police and fire show up when I need them. And if, god forbid, I falter on my path to the American dream and find myself in the situation of the Mom in this article, I hope there will be some supports to help me get back on my feet. I think the taxes I pay are a good investment! They make my community a place I want to live in. Hats off to the people who speak up to tell us how bad policy decisions are hitting our community!

      By the Way, that Mom couldn’t get the assistance unless she was seeking work or going to school (both honorable things to do). Welfare isn’t the way it used to be, guys.

  • Nancy Berlin

    You need to check the facts before attacking low-income people, and look at who the real culprits are. Welfare benefits are already time-limited and the amount families get is lower than it was 20 years ago. With double-digit unemployment, not everyone is going to be able to find a job, no matter how much they look. California can’t just keep cutting programs – we’re well on our way to destroying our once stellar higher education system due to that strategy. We have to pay for what we need, and that means everyone has to pay their fair share, not just low-income people, who were the brunt of these cuts, but big corporations and banks too. Even the California Chamber of Commerce supports raising new revenues. Why? Because it’s good for business in California. We have to stop just thinking about ourselves and look more at the common good.

  • Rebeca Walker-Marquez

    Most people in Lisa’s situation have been looking for work to be able to support their children but cannot find it. When they do find jobs like cleaning the freeways or painting public buildings, or working at walmart, they get paid so little that they still need public assistance to keep a roof and feed their children. Everyone who receives CalWORKs either does 32 hours of supervised job search per week, works for very low wage jobs or works without pay which makes their “aid” a payment equivalent of much less than minimum wage. As long as this society continues to believe that poverty is the result of laziness and respond to low-income people’s real needs with contempt, the services to assure people’s basic rights to education, healthcare, food and shelter will continue to be taken away from everybody.

  • Ethel Long-Scott

    Here we go again! Under the banner of bi-partisanship, both major parties are vigorously dismantling what little is left of our social safety net. In the process blaming the poor for their poverty. Don’t buy believe the hype, California is still a very rich society. In two years, Californians will have added more than $100 billion to their personal income. And given that 20 percent of all income eanred in the U.S. goes to the top 1 percent of Americans. $20 billion of that new income will go to the very richest Californians. More than 60 percent of all income earned goes to the richest 20 percent, which would mean $60 billion in income to people who are already richer than four of five Californians.” Corporations don’t need a break either.  Despite our sluggish economy, corporate profits grew 36.8% in 2010, the biggest gain since 1950.[10]   But, corporate taxes are near-historic lows as a percentage of GDP.  And, some of the biggest corporations in American—like GE—didn’t pay any taxes at all in 2010 while making huge profits. Be honest California, along with many other states, is moving forward with the heartless gutting of safety net programs like Medicaid program that provides a last-resort medical lifeline for people who can’t afford the entry fee into our high-priced medical non-system.  Whatever happened to the idea that visionary public programs designed to benefit everyone were an essential part of the American Dream?  The cuts proposed by our major parties are leading us further down the not so rosy garden path of corporate oligarchy, where corporations buy politicians with campaign contributions, and insist on government policies that keep heady profits flowing to them and their executives at the expense of the common good. It is urgent that we fight forward, build a broad transformative movement for workers rights and women’s rights dedicated to providing economic security and justice for all people.

    • genomega1

      Europe has been doing it your way for years and you are now seeing the only possible end for such a system. When you run out of other peoples money riots in the streets begin. You mention corporations, who or what are they? They are millions of people that have stocks or have retirement accounts that pay taxes on there stock holdings generating billions of dollars in tax revenue. There is no such thing as corporate welfare all they have to work with is the tax code. GE and Obama well that’s a different story. By the way it cost business in this country $300 billion a year for tax compliance issues. The only way out of this mess is growth, taxes cannot even put a dent in it.


    As a lot of folks are saying, welfare is not like it use to be. People need to really do some research before that speak on something they no nothing about, You can only get welfare now for limited amounts of time. Everyone has to look for work, as they call it, job search or be going to school. Point blank ! Folks who do not know that have there heads in the sand, DO RESEARCH!!!!!

  • Diana Spatz

    There is no such thing as corporate welfare??? Corporate welfare is alive and well and if you believe otherwise you are sadly misinformed and mistaken. I am a middle class mom who paid more in taxes last year than GE, who made $14 billion in profits last year, and didn’t pay a dime in taxes – they got a REBATE from the IRS!

    LIkewise, Enron, Exxon and others don’t pay any taxes or contribute a cent to the collective costs of running our country – the corporate robber barons get to take advantage of the infrastructure that my tax dollars pay for – both physical and human capital – which enabled them to make all that money – while I paid nearly 1/3 of my paycheck in taxes. Republicans in Congress are fighting to save $4 billion/year in subsidies while the average American is gouged at the tank paying $4+ for a gallon of gas. And while our safety net is being shredded, people like Genomega, Darwin and JimBob blame the victims of this recession and economy, instead of looking at who is REALLY getting over on us all – the wealthy and corporations on Wall Street who created this mess, and continue to profit at our expense. Your misplaced anger is in part what allows this unjust system to continue. In fact, these corporate robber barons depend on our blaming each other to keep us distracted from who is really taking advantage of our system. And it is not welfare moms that are the problem, which I used to be, before getting the education that enabled me to make it to the middle class and get off welfare for good.

    Consider this: since the Recession began in 2007, the poverty rate reached its highest level in 17 years; welfare rolls are on the rise for the first time since welfare reform was passed in 1996; and the unemployment rate for single mothers has more doubled to a 25-year high. My agency has provided unpaid internships to moms like Lisa Wrestler, who had to work 32 hours/week in exchange for their welfare benefits of around $550/month, until they reached the new 48-month time limit on welfare passed in this year’s budget, and were cut off, permanently, even as they worked and played by the rules. Where is the sense of that? Where is the justice? What wil become of their families?

    Let’s just send them to indigent camps and their children and families be damned?

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