I’ve been writing about Bethel New Lie the past two weeks. In an era where many of us have become callous, the mistreatment of seniors galls me no end. At age 56, my road to senior citizenship is my future. I hope to not ever have to live in a senior building, but should it happen, I want to know that I will still have rights and am able to make decisions about how I live. Sadly, the seniors at Bethel’s facilities for both the independent living and assisted living aren’t being treated as such.

For months now, those living in the independent living building at 4950 W. Thomas have been infested with bedbugs. Yup, those same yucky critters from the “goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” nursery rhyme have taken over the building. The exterminator hired by Bethel has ordered the seniors to “toss out” their furniture and mattresses as the first step in addressing the issue. But in speaking with famed West Side exterminator Garfield Major, he tells me only a lazy exterminator makes people throw out their furniture. There are methods that can be used to kill the bugs while saving people’s possessions.

I thought of that when I learned several seniors with little to no money were forced to purchase new mattresses and furniture after being told to throw out their possessions. When they went to Bethel New Life for assistance in paying for that sudden expenditure, they were told no financial help was available. Many of those seniors had lived there for years without bedbugs but now found themselves inundated with them. The current and most effective method for killing bedbugs without having to throw everything out is to heat the area between 135 and 150 degrees for several hours. Every critter has a heat tolerance limit and then it dies. Bethel is now using this method. But prior to the heat method which doesn’t require furniture to be tossed, those who did lose their furniture have had little to no recourse in recovering the money they spent while already living on a limited and fixed income.

I understand that Bethel has opted not to respond to what I’ve written. That is their right. However, no response is a response. Plus it would be interesting to hear why they don’t live up to all those Christian principles they espouse. Seniors at both complexes say they are being subjected to subtle threats. If they speak out, they are afraid they’ll be labeled troublemakers and their ability to stay in the complex will be put at risk. My voice can only go so far. Those of you who have grandparents, family members and friends living at Bethel need to speak up and stand up for the residents.

Staying on the theme of standing and speaking up, I want to congratulate 8th District state Representative LaShawn K Ford for having introduced SB-3531. That bill is called the African American Employment Act. In an era where far too many black elected officials do little to truly help the plight of black people, his bill is an attempt to make sure that black people get fair treatment in employment with the state.

The act is designed to:

1) improve the delivery of state services to Illinois’ African Americans;

2) increase the number of African Americans who are employed and promoted throughout state government;

3) assist state agencies in meeting goals established by the African American Employment Plan; and

4) establish an African American Employment Plan Advisory Council.

The bill requires the Department of Central Management Services to develop and implement plans to increase the number of African Americans employed by state government, including those at supervisory, technical, professional, and managerial levels; prepare a state African American Employment Plan; annually report to the General Assembly about each state agency’s activities to implement the plan; and assist state agencies with training programs to meet their affirmative action and equal employment opportunity goals.

This state already has a similar bill for Hispanics, signed into law by ex-governor Blagojevich in 2005. Yet the similar bill for black folks is languishing on Gov. Quinn’s desk. It was sent to Quinn on June 4 and once signed would be effective immediately. I placed a call to Quinn’s office, asking if perhaps he needed a pen, but was given myriad reasons why Quinn hadn’t signed the bill yet.

I strongly urge people to call Quinn’s office and ask why he hasn’t signed the bill. His number is 312-814-2121. Election time is coming. I believe he is playing politics by not signing the bill and waiting until he can get the biggest bang for his buck. In the meantime, black folks are suffering. Everyone should remember that come Nov. 2, 2010 when we go to the polls. The mistreatment of black people should never be ignored.