This year, CJE SeniorLife (formerly Council for Jewish Elderly) is celebrating its 45th anniversary as a health and human services agency that serves at-risk seniors throughout metropolitan Chicago. In the past four decades we have enhanced the lives of over 300,000 seniors and their family members. Our mission and values are fueled by the often-referenced wisdom of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “The test of a people is how it behaves toward the old.” Yet, this month, after extensive deliberation, CJE made the heart-wrenching decision to terminate the Managed Community Care Program contract with the Illinois Department on Aging that for 20-plus years has provided critical in-home services to the poor and frail elderly. This decision, as well as our decision a few months ago to terminate Community Care Program, a program that also served the neediest elderly, was taken in another attempt to mitigate our agency’s losses due to the State of Illinois’ troubling fiscal crisis.

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These community-based programs have been the cornerstone of CJE’s work for 45 years because research demonstrates that allowing seniors to age in place rather than be placed in residential care is better for them—economically, emotionally and physically. For decades, the State of Illinois has been an incredible partner by providing us with resources to advance the delivery of health and human services to our most vulnerable population. But since July 2016, CJE has been reimbursed less than 40 percent of what it is owed for these life-sustaining services.

Our decision to terminate MCCP means that almost 300 low-income and at-risk CJE clients will be transferred to new providers in a service network that is shrinking daily as more providers cancel state contracts due to lack of payment. Additionally, dozens of caring, compassionate in-home workers representing more than 611 years of service to CJE have been let go by CJE.

CJE will still provide several services for low-to-moderate income seniors, such as adult day services, independent housing, benefits counseling, short-term rehabilitation and assisted living, but that is only because CJE also has a long and deep relationship with Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, support from foundations and corporations, and generous donations from individuals who are dedicated to ensuring the health and well-being of vulnerable seniors. Other organizations are not as fortunate.

It is time for Gov. Bruce Rauner and our leaders in the Illinois General Assembly to think of the people who are truly being impacted by this stalemate. Yes, CJE is hurting. But we are hurting because we have a 45-year-old enduring mission that we have, until this year, been able to fulfill with honor. In the meantime, the elderly in our community are losing access to home-delivered meals, personal care, chore housekeeping and transportation. All they want to do is age at home with dignity and respect.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and the elderly who are hungry, home-bound and often forgotten except by mission-driven organizations like CJE, we implore you to do what you have been elected to do: Pass a budget and pay your bills.

Judy L. Smith, board chair,
Mark D. Weiner, president & CEO,
CJE SeniorLife

Lies to get votes

It is now becoming obvious to all but most rabid Donald Trump supporters, that all those misleading campaign promises were no more than an apprentice bloviating for a right-wing audience to get elected (along with the Russians’ assistance). None of the promises were true; they are finally being seen for what they are: lies to get votes from ill-informed voters.

Trump has failed on Obamacare, immigration, China currency manipulation and returning jobs, a reset with his Russian pals, nothing has changed in Syria after 1 useless missile strike, reversed “obsolete” stand on NATO, if the wall is built Americans will pay for it, no $Trillion infrastructure plan, if tax reform happens at all it will be a giveaway to his rich pals not the middle-class voters and he’s now admitting via his incompetent press secretary that he’ll never release his tax returns.

So, as the House, Senate and FBI investigation continues to press forward uncovering various connections between his representatives his family and the Russians to help elect him President (perhaps leading to impeachable offenses) I hope his fans think about being totally bamboozled by our liar and chief.

I also hope Trump does fumble his way into war through incompetent and bluster while dealing with the madman in North Korea. Perhaps he’ll re-hire some experts at the State Department instead of relying on Twitter outbursts!

Tom Minnerick, Elgin

Term limits

There have been numerous calls for term limits for our elected officials but they seem to have never gained much traction. Apparently our politicians like their jobs so much they just don’t want to leave. It’s nice to like your job.

However in so many businesses and industries there is mandatory retirement. Many jobs require that you must retire from these positions after so many years, it’s inevitable and natural.

Race car drivers and airline pilots and professional sports players and so many people in so many different jobs all know there will come a day when you’re a little slower, a little more tired or maybe you’re just ready to do something else.

Except in politics where so many in elected office simply go on and on as long as they keep winning elections.

Today, Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for 38 of the last 46 years is celebrating his 75th birthday.

If there was ever a case for term limits, it would include Speaker Madigan as well as Sen. Dick Durbin. The current state of Illinois’ finances leads us to this conclusion.

But in Mike Madigan’s case mandatory retirement should have happened years ago.

Mike Simon, Glen Ellyn