General Assistance Cuts, Part 2

General Assistance Cuts, Part 2 (1991)
Duration: 00:28:41

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Themes: Leadership | Urban Challenges | Poverty, Progress, and the Rise of African-American Businesses and Professionals |

Guests: Sam Chambers, City Councilman Keith Butler, State Rep. Morris Hood, State Rep. David Hollister, State Sen. David Holmes
Host : Cliff Russell
Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: This is the second of two DBJ programs broadcast in the fall of 1991 as cutbacks in Michigan's state budget were throwing 90,000 state residents off of the general assistance welfare rolls.

Cliff Russell, then the program's guest host, moderates a discussion that includes State Sen. David Holmes; State Rep. David Hollister; State Rep. Morris Hood; Detroit City Councilman Keith Butler; and Sam Chambers, staff director of Wayne County Social Services. The program begins with videotaped comments from a variety of Detroiters interviewed on the street, and several members of a studio audience also take part in the conversation.

The program is interesting on a number of levels. First, it is significant in its exploration of an important and controversial shift in state spending priorities that was occurring in the early 1990s. Second, the program features appearances by several prominent political leaders - Holmes, Hollister, Hood and Butler. And third, the videotaped person-on-the-street interviews and comments from some audience members help illustrate the human impact of the governmental decisions.

But the program also is interesting in the way it illuminates some of the difficulties of public affairs broadcasting. The panel, for example, is relatively large, including Detroit officials from each house of the state legislature, plus a representative from Lansing - Hollister - who chairs a committee involved with the issue, plus a Detroit city council member, plus an administrator charged with implementing the policy changes. And in addition to the taped interviews and audience comments, Russell spends several minutes explaining how legislation gets enacted. Near the end of the program, brief mention also is made of a couple of programs intended to help some of the people being cut off welfare.

The result is that in trying to cover so much ground, the program gives only surface attention to many of the points, and no one gets to say very much. Even the panelists get only a couple of opportunities to make comments, and some of that consists of partisan political exchanges between Hood and Butler.

Still, the program is a useful illustration of the complicated nature of important public issues and a valuable snapshot of the public debate over welfare in the early 1990s.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 4, File 17,GA (General Assistance)…Gone Forever? Pt. 2 – November 4, 1991 – Show # 2302