Local group speaks out against SEATS cuts

BY NICK HASSETT | MAY 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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Johnson County residents against cuts to transit services have made their voices heard in council chambers across the county. But one local group sees the potential cuts as a symptom of a larger problem.

The Movement for Socialism met Sunday in the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., to “organize to defeat the cuts,” including those in the Johnson County SEATS paratransit service and UIHC Patient Transport Services.

“Patient transport, SEATS — these things are life or death for people,” Iowa City resident Christopher Clark said. “They might cut door-to-door service now, but what will it be five years from now? We have to draw a line in the sand.”

SEATS provides door-to-door rides to individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and other people in need of assistance accessing medical clinics, grocery stores, and other destinations.

David Arthur Smithers, who previously ran as the Green Party nominee for Iowa House District 89, said the services provided by the county were looked at in the wrong way.

“It’s not welfare when we create the wealth,” he said. “It’s about what’s proper to do; it’s proper to fund SEATS and make it better. The lives of the most vulnerable people are bastardized inch by inch.”

The group plans on sending a statement against the cuts to various city councils in Johnson County as well as the county Board of Supervisors.

“It’s a blanket statement, and a call to action,” group member Marlin Pierre-Antoine said. “It talks about the faulty logic of austerity and our alternative.”

And though the group didn’t think much progress would happen through the electoral system as it stands, Smithers said the organization would work to change the discourse.

“We need to stop the politics of fear that make people accept cuts,” he said. “We need to generate politics against austerity and cuts and spend on our needs rather than just hold in the bank.”

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