The Macon-Bibb EOC expects to have at least $500,000 to distribute in about $300 increments this year after receiving $2 million last year. This is part of the LIHEAP program and it is meant to assist the elderly poor with their heating bills. But instead in Macon, GA due to mismanagement and bad decisions by the Macon-Bibb EOC (Economic Opportunity Council) it is instead rewarding people who need the help far less than the truly needy who cannot easily apply in person.
I find this outrageous and I hope this angers enough people to the point that there is a large outcry to change this application process to ensure those most deserving are selected as opposed to ones best able to stand in line.This is already a program ripe with fraud and abuse so it is essential to make sure those in Macon are truly deserving.
Lonnie Miley who heads the EOC said “It’s so disrespectful to people. We’re trying to serve our senior citizens first”
To that I would respectfully say bullshit. If Miley and the EOC were truly concerned about the elderly, infirmed, and the ones most desperately in need there would be no standing in line process period. Instead there would be an application process that could take place by phone or by mailing, faxing, or submitting copies of the forms digitally by e-mail or a website. The ones most desperately in need will not be able to stand in line!
So when Lonnie Miley attempts his feigned disgust at younger people trying to get assistance I suggest he direct that disgust at the man in the mirror that created this situation and not the gamers profiting from the Hunger Game scenario he created. Mr. Miley you created this situation that you now complain about so fix it.
To qualify for the LIHEAP program, applicants must have a yearly household income less than or equal to 60% of the state median income, as defined by the US Department of Health and Human Services. They take the first 200 applicants in line and the line can start up to two days prior which means the oldest, sickest, and poorest have no chance.
Local ABC news WGXA TV reported on a perfect example of someone desperately in need of heating assistance but thanks to the Hunger Games like atmosphere that Lonnie Miley has chosen to use, this couple will be likely be left out in the cold metaphorically and literally. They interviewed a lady who is bedridden and had her feet amputated from diabetes. Her husband also has health issues of his own and it would present an extreme difficulty for him to wait in line or even to go to St Paul’s church. It would not only be expensive to gain transportation there, but his wife would have to be left alone and he is not in shape to stand in line for hours or possibly days to get the heating assistance. He is blind in one eye and would need to pay for a taxi both ways.
It is important to note that St. Paul AME church is not a centralized location easily accessible to most of the population of Bibb county. It on Shurling Dr in the North East quadrant of the county without any bus route. This begs the question why was this place ever chosen in the first place?
I also personally know a 90 year old man that easily meets all the qualifications and could desperately use that heating assistance money as he he is barely scraping by. This man has a hard time even walking to the kitchen by himself. I would love to hear Lonnie Miley explain to this man how the EOC expects this 90 year old man to stand in line even 5 minutes let alone a few hours.
If Lonnie Miley and the EOC want to help the most needy in Bibb county then they need to completely do away with standing in line at a church in East Macon. Instead they need to allow a system where individuals can apply through a website that would allow you to scan and upload documents. They should also provide a paper application that can be completed and mailed along with photocopies of the forms along with an option to fax as well. Start the application process around two months before to allow people enough time to make sure everything has been received. Then choose the recipients based on actual need!
What a radical thought. This Hunger Games mentality of the current EOC has to stop as it is encouraging the gamers to profit and not the neediest. By gamers I mean the ones who know about every single assistance program whether local, state, federal, or private charities and abuse the system by using all these services even if they are young, healthy and able to work.
Last year Dave Oedel attended this EOC application. Here is what he observed.
I found the lot jammed with cars, and was immediately impressed by the large number of fine vehicles on hand for the funding frenzy: Accord V-6, Avalon, Avenger, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln Town Car, Ram Hemi, and on and on — many of them late-model editions. Apparently some applicants for heating assistance are already themselves rather successful at “coordinating available resources.”
A uniformed Macon police officer immediately approached me as I was writing down that list of vehicle types, saying I was on private property and causing concern among car owners that I was recording their tags. I assured the officer and a few nervous, testy applicants for government checks, that I was not writing down tag numbers. That didn’t seem to help.
I politely suggested that this was a public event paid for by taxpayers, that I had as much right as the next person to be there, and that I wanted to see what it took to qualify. Yet the officer, buoyed by the little chorus of vocal antagonists, continued to insist that I had no right to be there.
Appearances can be deceiving, but this group, numbering about 150-200, didn’t look poverty stricken in comparison with many Maconites I know and see daily who are far more obviously, desperately poor. But those folks apparently didn’t have rides, fancy or not, to EOC’s event on Shurling, which, incredibly, wasn’t even on a bus line.
If EOC intends to break Macon’s cycle of poverty, it might rethink its approach of steering handouts to select, sophisticated “low income” elites like some last week who buzzed over to Shurling to stake claims.
Low income elites is a very apt term. Unlike the woman in the video or the 90 year old man that I know that desperately need the heating assistance but is too old and frail to apply, the Low Income Elites or LIE for short, are certainly benefiting from the current system.
Just in case there are legal reasons why applications can not be mailed in, I would at least suggest they consider spreading the assistance to all parts of the county and not only in east Macon. Do they not think people in south and west Macon need help as well? How about a more central location(s) instead that has chairs and room for people to wait inside?
Miley said there is no reason why people should camp out under blankets or nap in cars with empty chairs holding their place. With extra funds during last year’s cold winter, the staff had to hit the streets looking for qualified applicants. That is strange since when I called last year to ask about aid for the 90 year old man they hung up the phone as soon as I said he was white and hung up on me a few more times when I called back. This brings up another issue. How many of the people receiving aid are white, Latino, or Asian. Certainly there are poor and elderly of other races also in desperate need of help. Are these people also being helped? Are a disproportionate number black and from also east Macon? How many people from other parts of Bibb county are also being helped?
I do not think Lonney Miley is necessarily a bad person and I think he is acutely aware of the deficiencies in the current program. Nor am I saying he is a good person either because I do not know the man. But what I certainly would argue is that he is not a good administrator of the program as it now stands. I also find this application process unfair and reprehensible since it is designed to be burdensome to those most in need of help.
Miley made the following comment to a Macon telegraph reporter “Ironically, the people who go to work everyday often need more help and you have people living on the system.”
But until Miley, as the head of the EOC, changes the application process to prioritize the people who are homebound, elderly, and truly poor instead of those simply able to stand in lines nothing will change. He is the one complaining of deficiencies and also the one with the power to improve the application process. Ultimately he is criticizing himself but seems oblivious to that fact.
He also needs to make sure the recipients represent all parts of the county and more than one ethnicity. As the leader of the EOC he has to take responsibility for this fiasco and make the necessary changes to ensure the neediest and most deserving receive the help and not the professional line standers he himself described. These are the very same ones likely to be in line on Black Friday for a TV. So Mr. Miley I agree with you that your system is broken. So fix it or fire yourself and let someone else take over!
OEDEL: Funding frenzy
Hundreds line up in east Macon for heating assistance
Heating Assistance Signup To Be Held In Bibb County Thursday
Thank you for having the courage to speak out for the needy and also tell the truth. Charles Richardson is the one that should be writing these type of articles and doesn’t. I really think they need to fire Richardson and hire you. You are a much better writer and far more intelligent. The way the EOC give out heating money is a shame and disgrace because so many that need help can’t stand in line. I hope this article gets read by a lot of people in Macon because this has to stop and you are the first person to call them out. The local media are all so scared or incompetent they never in a million years would write an article like this. I am in Atlanta but have family in Macon and they have complained about this for years as they know many elderly unable to wait in line. I thought this was some major national website I had no idea this was a Macon blog. You are very talented! Keep up the great work.
P.S. I just donated so you can buy more than a few cups of coffee 😉 Macon desperately needs websites like this and I hope this will inspire others to donate as well to keep your stories coming in the future. Macon could be a great town but needs the media to report on abuses. Since you are the only one covering these issues people need to support your site.
Dear Dr. Odunewu, thanks for your kind comments and especially for your donation. I don’t think many people understand the expense and difficulty of running a website like this. Not only the expense but the time it requires so donations are much appreciated.
I agree that Charles Richardson is the one that should be writing these type of articles. I write more in a week than Richardson has probably written in a year. I am not sure what he does with all that time to justify his salary since he produces only a few paragraphs a week of mostly trite pablum of no import. The way the LIHEAP is administered in Macon is simply disgraceful and I knew the Telegraph would remain neutral so someone needed to speak out.
I find it despicable and reprehensible that this is the way they choose to select the few for help. The link mentioned also said the church may not be close to a bus stop as well which means only those with a car can apply. How in the hell does that agency expect the sickest, oldest, and poorest who truly need the help to stand in line and the cold to get the help? That is crazy and inexcusable. Who chose this Lonnie Miley person to run this program is also a question I think needs to be asked. It appears he is either incompetent or corrupt or just dumb as dirt or a combination of all three. He needs to be replaced with someone more willing to seek out the ones that need help instead of rewarding the ones that don’t.
Don’t get me started on Charles “Lil Chuckie” Richardson. He was a talentless hack long before Dallemand and what little respect I had was gone once he sold his soul when his wife was hired at 6 figures by Dallemand and he became a PR person for papa doc. I cancelled my subscription then and there and told them so. I know a lot of people who cancelled because of Richardson but they seem clueless how much he is now despised in Macon. I agree with that other comment that if they hired you to replace lil chuckie I might renew. You tell it like it is which is very refreshing in Macon.
Outstanding article sir. You not only identified the problems but offered very sensible suggestions for a solution. The quality should shame the Macon telegraph since this is what they should have written but never do. You have a new follower and it looks like I have a lot of older articles of yours to go through as well.
Who decided on it being first in line instead of most in need? Whoever made that decision needs to be looked at.Lonnie Miley sounds like he wants it both ways. He complains about young and healthy trying to get aid but created a situation where the old and sick can’t go apply. I think he is doing exactly what he wants and giving aid to he wants and trying to talk out both sides of his mouth.
I thought the same thing when I saw this on the news last night. You were able to put it down in words far better than I ever could though so thank you. How many bed ridden elderly will be cold or hungry this winter because they are to sick to stand in line way across town I wonder.
Savvy analysis , I was enlightened by the facts – Does someone know where my business could get ahold of a blank OR Form 8.010.5 copy to fill out ?