Stop Closing the Doors on the Community

From the International Examiner | By Michael Yee

Michael Yee

The turnaround in our local economy that we all wished for in 2011 didn’t occur. If you’re like me, you’re apprehensive about 2012. Cuts to federal, state and city government budgets seem to continually loom over us, affecting our lives one way or another. Politicians and elected officials point fingers at each other and at no meaningful solutions.

I am tired of the droning rhetoric around taxes and eliminating services. But as tired as I am about it all, I know this is when I have to be more diligent. This is when I need to find time to write more. This is when our community needs to be more diligent about community issues by being better informed, working hard and demanding that our voices be heard.

What’s on my International District radar for 2012? Issues that I believe impact our community disproportionately.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to close neighborhood offices in the International District and Belltown this spring. A new SSA office would open on the 9th floor of the high-security Jackson Federal Building. The community has already raised strong objections about the barriers to service that would result from the closures.

I understand the needs for cuts at all levels of government. But I object to some of them, when they are made under the guise of efficiency and effectiveness. I’ll spare you my tirade on government waste and bureaucracy. What I will focus on will be preserving and providing equitable access to services. Closure of the ID SSA office will result in the most vulnerable populations suffering disproportionately. Prioritizing by the needs of the majority is not leadership or effective management.

I encourage you to be part of a public meeting about the ID SSA office, to be held on Friday, Jan. 13 at the Chinatown/International District Community Center, located at 719 8th Ave. S., in Seattle from 1:30 – 3 p.m.

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