Thursday, May 17, 2007

In which I find out how hard the social workers are working for all of us.

(Sept. 6, 2007)

The WWO site calls me a "hero." Fsck that, I'm no hero. You want some heroes? Meet the LCSWs who work at City of Hope.

I am now a volunteer aide to one of them, a sweet lady from South Africa named Sizwe. Sizwe comes by her heroism genetically: her parents were ANC activists, and the healthy children of the family all have gone either into organizing or helping professions in South Africa. I say "healthy children" because two of her siblings are dead of AIDS, and her mother is HIV+. Her father died of AIDS-related complications a few years ago.

Sizwe, or Suzy as she tells those who are challenged by the non-English combination of phonemes in her Xhosa name to call her, was sent to the US on a full-ride scholarship to study at USC School of Social Work. She, like me, held a bachelors in Psychology before she received her MSW. "When this all ends I will see what I can do about getting you in at USC if you want it. I know a lot of people there." My uncle would have kittens...he's a UCLA grad and almost stopped speaking to one of my cousins when she followed Spielberg, Lucas, Landis and Coppola to USC School of Film. But he got over Wendie at USC and so would he me at USC. Particularly if I was there on a full-ride scholarship. I have another powerful advocate for my going there: Dr. LaVergne Rosow, who was my mentor at LA Valley College between 2003 and 2005.

Anyway, Sizwe means Spear. She's as tough and pugnacious, when she needs to be, as her name implies. She has been fighting the good fight to get those who qualify for State Disability on State Disability. Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been forced by the Legislature to open up more funds for MediCal and SDI in the current crisis, she has succeeded in getting Richie in, and about 200 other charity-care patients, in one swell foop. We got a box yesterday with almost 200 envelopes, to be distributed to encamped persons. One of those envelopes had Richie's name on them.

Richie is approved for MediCal and SDI. We can now go back to the hospital where Richie was diagnosed and tell 'em to get paid through them. We have money coming at just the right time to keep us tided over while the FDIC sorts out the WaMess, which is what the LA Daily News website called the bank failure. Our next checking account will be at a Credit Union. Not sure which one, but LA County Employees Credit Union is all over the place, and anyone who's a "stakeholder" in LA County (Live, work, own property) can bank there.

So now I am a volunteer at the City of Hope, albeit one whose hours are being carefully recorded so that perhaps they can count at some MSW program or another. I still want to go to Cal State Northridge when all this is over.

Oh yeah: KNBC and KMEX might have gone off-air but they are still broadcasting via Cable and Direct Broadcast Satellite. ABC TV's O&O stations will probably be next to turn the transmitters off. KCBS is stuck: they are designated as a "source of news and official information" according to the Emergency Alert System, and they must keep their transmitter running. However, since they are forced to keep the transmitter going they will be in the big line looking for federal subsidies, since the Emergency Alert System is mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. KCET is also similarly forced to keep the transmitter up and running, due to the fact they receive federal funds.

Affiliates of networks can choose whether or not to keep the transmitters going, unless they are designated as the official Emergency Alert TV station. I'm keeping in contact with Tom Reed in Orlando, and so far the ABC affil he works with is keeping the transmitter up.

In very ugly media news, there is now a new reality show on Fox that will be premiering in about a week. The show is called What Would YOU Do For A Meal? and is basically "Bumfights" on a bigger scale. They have the exclusive right, granted by the Feds, to find volunteers at FEMA relocation camps to participate in this new gameshow.

Here's an example of a stunt on the show: a pool is filled with raw sewage. Then, money starts being thrown into the pool. The first person to jump in gets to start picking out bills. The winner is the person who accumulates the most money.

Yes, it's THAT bad. There are several public interest groups that are threatening lawsuits if Fox airs the show. And some of the Democratic senators and congresspeople are introducing bills in both houses of Congress to specifically outlaw the show.

Funny thing: Fox hasn't turned off their transmitter. I think they are counting on their over-the-air signal to buy them favor.

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