Last year a listener to the Howie Carr show gave Howie a receipt showing a $7000 balance on an EBT card. Ever since, Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) has been trying to get a list of the highest EBT card balances. After the Patrick Administration wouldn't answer her as a representative she filed a public records request with the department.
That public records request went unanswered for longer than the period of time prescribed by law. O'Connell then went to the Secretary of State's office to force the Patrick administration to release the records. We learn today the Patrick administration now wants to charge $800 for the information. The Boston Herald has the story.
Shocked by a receipt showing one EBT user carrying a $7,000 balance, O'Connell in January first requested months worth of food stamp and cash benefit balances from the DTA.But after state officials repeatedly ignored her, she twice scaled back her request, including in an April letter asking for all balances from August, September and November 2012, and January through March of this year.On the heels of a Herald report last week that the DTA still hadn't responded, officials sent O'Connell a letter yesterday, saying it would process her request for $800. An estimate sent by the state's EBT vendor said it would take 10 hours, at $80 an hour, to find and produce EBT cards showing large balances.
What was that about the former Massachusetts Democratic Party Executive Director, Stacey Monahan, and a "commitment to change"?
According to his website, State Representative Josh Cutler is hosting the Commissioner of the Department of Transistional Assistance tonight in Pembroke. The event is open to the public.
Pembroke residents will have an opportunity to speak directly with the head of the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) as part of a listening tour designed to solicit feedback on state welfare programs.
At the request of Rep. Josh Cutler, Interim DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan will visit Pembroke Town Hall on Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m. The Department oversees the state's transitional assistance programs, including EBT cards, SNAP food assistance benefits, unemployment compensation and emergency shelter programs.
The session, which is open to all members of the public, will allow residents to share comments directly with Commissioner Monahan and DTA regional leaders. The session will also inform residents about the important changes happening at DTA to enhance program integrity and ensure that taxpayer resources are going to only those who are truly eligible.
"The listening tour will help the Department improve our policies and procedures to ensure that taxpayer resources are used appropriately and as intended," said Monahan, who was appointed Interim Commissioner earlier this year. "The feedback we have received during our listening sessions has been very informative and I am grateful for all who participated."
Rep. Cutler added, "I applaud Commissioner Monahan for initiating this tour. It's clear some changes needed to be made at DTA and Commissioner Monahan has already taken many significant steps. I encourage all residents to join us for this informative session to learn more and share your own views and experiences."
(A plea for accountability - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
We have been bombarded with anecdotal stories about waste, fraud and abuse in the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, including the use and misuse of EBT cards. Over the past year we have seen:
- 19,000 DTA recipients identified as being unable to be located by mailings. A number which miraculously grew to over 40,000 when someone actually decided to count to returned envelopes;
- Over $20 million in SNAP benefits paid out to recipients who should not have received them for which we may have to pay back the federal government;
- Repeated reports from the Massachusetts Auditor about waste, fraud and corruption in various state departments; and
- The big kick in the taxpayers' teeth, over $2 million in EBT benefits paid out to DEAD people.
The time has come for something serious to be done and beyond asking for recipients' photos to be placed on the EBT cards.
"The state's top welfare official has admitted his agency doesn't have the technology to prevent EBT cards from being used on booze, guns and porn, despite reform legislation passed last year prohibiting such expenditures."
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 27, 2012....Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday afternoon signed legislation restricting certain purchases by recipients of public cash assistance benefits and vetoed a bill that would require vehicle registration applicants to show proof of legal residency.
Though the governor signed the EBT reform bill banning the use of public benefits for things like alcohol, pornography and firearms and said he supported most of the bill, he warned lawmakers that his administration would not enforce the ban in establishments where the technology does not exist to differentiate between acceptable and prohibited purchases.
"I sign this bill with the understanding and on due notice that this administration will not enforce what cannot be enforces with respect to the use of EBT cards," Patrick wrote to the Legislature in his veto letter.
In response, Seth Gitell, a spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo said, "We applaud the governor for signing the EBT reform legislation into law and expect him to fully enforce it."