By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Issues come and go, but the outrageous mismanagement of the state’s food stamp – or EBT – program is the toxic gift that keeps on giving. And it’s time for Gov. Patrick and his allies in the legislature who’ve been investing so much energy in stalling and debunking EBT reform efforts to drop the bad attitude and start treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves.

Tuesday, thanks to an investigation by the state auditor’s office, we learned that during a nearly two-year period leading up to April of last year, next to nothing was being done about the problems with EBT, including millions of dollars in benefits being grabbed by criminals using the social security numbers of dead people.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

State officials say they’re doing everything they can to try to clean up this mess, but the auditor’s report found that similar reassurances during the time frame in question were, in essence, lies.

When I asked Gov. Patrick about all this in an interview last winter as he was making the rounds to explain why we should all pay higher taxes, he insisted with a straight face that everything that could be done was being done, and touted the fact that the director of the state agency overseeing EBT had been forced out in the wake of reports of widespread fraud.

The new director deserves a chance to fix all this, but the clock is ticking. We should be receiving weekly updates from her and the governor on their progress.

And in the meantime, please, no more condescending lectures about how anger over this amounts to beating up on poor people.

It’s poor people who are the victims of this fraud, not to mention all the taxpayers who’ve had enough of this administration’s buck-passing and foot-dragging.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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