The Buffalo News reported last weekend that the Niagara County Legislature will approve a settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed against Niagara County in U.S. District Court last year on behalf of welfare recipients -- "but the welfare clients won’t see a penny."
The entire settlement of $108,827 will go to lawyers that filed the lawsuit, Tedde Tasheff, Laura Redman and Jenny Pelaez from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice in New York City, and Joseph Kelemen of the Western NY Law Center.
The lawyer-driven lawsuit charged that Niagara County Social Services did not process welfare applications fast enough and sought damages for county residents who applied for welfare or food stamps since July 9, 2010.
At the heart of the lawsuit was federal and state law which requires welfare cash to get into applicant’s hands within 30 - 45 days. In New York State food stamps have to be delivered in five-days.
Darrell McCoy of Niagara Falls was officially the plaintiff. He applied for welfare in March 2013 and by the time the lawsuit was filed, on July 9, 2013, he hadn’t received benefits.
He might have had to work in the meantime.
The lawsuit alleged it was more than McCoy; the county was late in acting on an average of 229 food stamp applications and 180 cash applications a month between August 2012 and January 2013.
Federal Court Judge Richard Arcara approved the settlement which includes a consent decree which requires Niagara County to process applications within legal time limits and provide plaintiffs with reports - until June 17, 2017 - so the New York City lawyers can monitor compliance and review cases of delay.
How much the monitoring will cost county taxpayers is anyone's guess.
It is the increasing number of welfare applicants - many coming from out of state to enjoy the lavishly stupid generosity of New York State - a generosity that is helping to bankrupt working people, who are fleeing the state in numbers almost as great as the loafers coming here, that caused the Niagara County Social Services to fall behind.
The county has more than 15,000 food stamp recipients, a figure that has doubled since 2008, and almost 3,100 welfare cases.
Social Services Commissioner Anthony J. Restaino said he moved some of his clerical workers into intake caseworkers so welfare applicants won't have to wait.
They won’t have to work either.
New York State Democrats created something called Safety Net, a program that requires working New Yorkers to continue to support welfare recipients after the five-year limit for federally funded welfare expires.
If you are thinking about coming from another state - where there is a five-year cap on welfare - to New York - where you can stay on welfare forever, you might also consider Niagara County.
If you never plan to work, or plan to work, but under the table, and collect welfare benefits, or perhaps if your spouse works and you don't need to tell that to social services, you will find collecting welfare is easy - and fast - in Niagara County.
In New York, especially in Niagara County, no one seems to realize that unearned money destroys the work ethic and ruins the character and habits of the recipients. Nevertheless, politicians demand more. Meanwhile the numbers of poor people grow and their pathologies worsen. Apropos of that, when you come here, be sure to pound your fist on the table and demand to get your welfare benefits pronto. If you don't, go see the lawyers at National Center for Law and Economic Justice in New York City.
They will gladly start a lawsuit for you and settle for their fees.