You may not be aware or think that it will affect you, but the Social Security office in Gadsden County closed April 1. Gadsden County senior citizens will no longer have a place to resolve problems or even ask questions about their benefits they worked for all their lives. Many of these citizens have no access to computers or are not familiar with them, and the small monthly checks they receive do not include "travel expenses" to go to facilities 30 miles away.
Since Social Security is a federal program, shouldn't our congressman in Washington be taking the lead on this? Congressman Steve Southerland, according to his newsletter, authored a letter March 18 to U.S. Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin "requesting a meeting" regarding the closure of the Social Security Administration office in Quincy. A letter requesting a meeting! Was that some kind of April fool's joke, or was it an intentional delay?
Even if Mrs. Colvin received the letter and responded, it sometimes takes two weeks for a letter to reach a congressman due to the intense scrutiny by law enforcement. The Social Security office in Washington is not hard to find. It is two blocks past K Street. Congressman Southerland should know where that is.
A short walk, an email, or a phone call could have facilitated a meeting as soon as he heard about the proposed closing. It is much harder to reverse something after it is done than to negotiate to stop it beforehand. Maybe that's one reason it closed; the letter may still be "in the mail."
I suppose the announcement of his "requesting a meeting" with the SS Administrator does look good in Congressman Southerland's newsletter since he faces a very strong opponent, Mrs. Gwen Graham, in the election this November.
To my knowledge, neither the occurrence nor the outcome of the meeting with Mrs. Colvin has been made public. It seems unlikely that a meeting with Congressman Southerland would be very productive anyway, since he follows the wishes of his Tea Party colleagues who have wanted to cut Social Security for years. It would certainly upset billionaire coal and gas magnates like the Koch brothers who have made tremendous donations to Southerland's campaign.
It was just announced by the Tampa Bay Times that in the next few weeks you will see yet another TV ad praising Southerland for his opposition to Obamacare. The ad, costing $150,000, is paid for by the billionaire Koch brother's funded AFP. They already spent $160,000 to air one in February, because Southerland is considered to be one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents in the nation. The ad says, "he puts us first, not special interests.” Ironically, the ad itself is paid for by special interests.
It is a good thing we have leaders on the local level like Gadsden County Commissioner Mrs. Brenda Holt, who is in the process of making Social Security services available at other locations and proposing other options on how the office can stay open and still save money.
I am on Social Security and I appreciate the good work Mrs. Holt is doing. If our present Washington politician lets this happen in Mrs. Holt's county it can happen in other counties throughout our district.