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PLATFORM : Fanning the Embers

June 29, 1992|GARY BLASI | GARY BLASI spent 20 years as a poverty lawyer and now teaches law at UCLA. He comments on the proposal to abolish the law establishing general relief. He told The Times:

Frank was my client at Legal Aid. He works on a freeway road gang, picking up trash for $4.25 an hour. The most he is allowed to earn is $346 a month. He lives in a garage with no bathroom in South-Central. Frank is on general relief, and like all able-bodied recipients, has to "work off" his monthly check.

Now, Gov. Pete Wilson and Sen. David A. Roberti are ready to sacrifice the entire general relief program in a back-room budget deal.

Frank has tried to find work; he came to general relief as a last resort. When asked what he would do if it didn't exist, he said: "I've tried all my life as a black man to do the right thing. But a man has to eat. I would do what I had to do."

Now, weeks after the conflagration in Los Angeles, Wilson and Roberti are set to pour gasoline on the embers. Wilson rejected an alternative (plan) because it would increase taxes on people making more than $500,000 a year. I think of Frank and the other 83,000 general relief recipients in Los Angeles County--and once again I can smell the smoke.

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