In the past, Karen Koslowitz has supported tax incentives for seniors. Ideas like this are again in her sights.
"Seniors are just as important a focus as they were before (she left office in 2001)," says Koslowitz.
Citymeals on Wheels (Meals on Wheels, as we commonly refer to it) is the service that provides meals to the home-bound elderly. The program sometimes delivers frozen meals for seniors for them to then heat up. According to Koslowitz, the problem with this is that although you cut down the amount of person hours it takes to deliver these meals (figure they can drop off five frozen meals in one day), you then lose the personal contact between the elderly person and the delivery people.
"That personal contact is important because it might be the only contact many of the seniors have," Koslowitz explains. "You need an everyday service as a means to check up on them and deliver hot meals at the same time."
Add to that the fact that many seniors may not be in condition to heat meals up. The rate of drop-off for some people as they get older can happen fast. Recently I noticed this with my grandmother. In a matter of months, she slowed down dramatically. Now, I need to check in with her every day and get her dishes clean and see that she takes her medicine. This is not the job of a Meals on Wheels program, but human contact helps.
Asked if she would support some kind of legislation that might provide a cap on rates that senior citizens pay for public transportation, Koslowitz said that she would support something in that range if it came up in the council.
Transportation for outer-borough elderly residents is always an issue. We live too close to the city for convenient parking and too far from it to make public transportation easy. Koslowitz feels that Access-A-Ride, the program that helps people with disabilities get to adequate transportation, is not always meeting its goals.
"They changed Access-A-Ride this year," says Koslowitz. "They now skip stops on some busses. In Sunnyside, they actually skip the stop that is in front of the senior center. What do you do in the wintertime?"
Issues like this will be front and center in the next few decades. The population is getting older and public policy will have to follow that trend.
It is easy to second guess Washington when you are not in Washington. The president was asked last week what grade he would have given himself for his first year in office and he gave himself a B-plus.
"A good, solid B-plus," he said to Oprah Winfrey.
These are the sometimes small, but really unanswerable questions a leader gets. You might remember Ted Kennedy being asked by Roger Mudd why he wanted to be president. He had no set answer. Today all candidates have a packaged response for that, which may seem less genuine but certainly causes less embarrassment.
The president giving himself a B-plus is somewhat understandable. To him, he has been working non-stop since he got there, but all presidents put in those hours. What is interesting is that the president is a former law professor at the University of Chicago. That is a tough program. What kind of grader was Professor Obama? (Any graduates of U of C Law School at that time, please let us know.)
At least he gave an answer. Most of the press corps (usually his allies) thought this was a funny answer. He could have ducked and used one of his catch phrases by saying the question is “above his pay-grade.”
But he gave an answer, and he didn't particularly care what the media fallout would be. A tip of the hat to his predecessor perhaps?