They came to celebrate, but found door locked


Constituents headed to Rep. Doug LaMalfa’s office to hand deliver cupcakes and a giant card for the anniversary of social programs but found themselves locked out of the office. They headed back an hour later and found the rest of the staff gone.
Amber Sandhu

Activists headed to Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office Friday afternoon to deliver a batch of cupcakes and a giant birthday card to celebrate the anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but were met with a locked door to the congressman’s Redding office.

“Cupcakes!” said Ron Stone, 65, pointing the cupcakes at the locked door.

“We’ve got goodies!” said Margaret Earnest, 84. She and her 87-year-old sister Elaine Clanton drove up from Cottonwood to greet LaMalfa’s office staff.

“Is there nobody in there at all?” Clanton asked.

“Oh, they’re in there,” Earnest replied.

“Well, call them and tell them we have cupcakes,” Clanton said.

Before trying to open the door, Ron Lute, 64, said he noticed three people leaving LaMalfa’s office. Erin Ryan, LaMalfa’s district representative, was at the door letting the visitors out. The door was locked afterward. 

The group lingered for a few minutes, and Lute decided he would return an hour later to try to deliver the goods.

When he returned to the office around 1:15 p.m., most of LaMalfa’s staff members were gone, but Sam Dorsey, the office administrative assistant, was on hand to greet them. He said the door was locked earlier due to a meeting.

“We wanted to remind him that a large percentage of constituents in his district up here depend on these programs,” Lute said. “Putting the programs on vouchers or cutting back, it’ll hurt us up here.”

In addition to the card and two dozen cupcakes, Lute handed over a letter for LaMalfa to read and requested he meet with his group, California Alliance for Retired Americans.

Dorsey said LaMalfa has no intention to cut the services. He also added that the amount of contact their office has had with constituents has increased since the election, some months by “3,000 percent.”

Lute, Clanton, Earnest and Stone had come directly from a meeting at Redding City Hall where more than a dozen people discussed the popularity of the three programs and what impact cuts would have on them and for generations to come.

Social Security was established in August 1935, and Medicaid and Medicare in July 1965. At Friday’s meeting, everyone signed a giant birthday card and sang a song about the programs to the tune of “God Bless America.” They also wore birthday hats while enjoying cupcakes.


About a dozen people were at Redding City Hall celebrating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They also signed a giant card and later headed to Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office.
Amber Sandhu

People shared stories on what these programs have meant to them over the years and how they’ve helped them maintain a living without losing everything they’ve worked for in their life.

Forest Harlan, 66, of the Disability Action Center in Chico, said he and his wife were delivered a “double whammy” when he sustained an injury and his wife received a cancer diagnosis. The money for medical bills poured out of their pockets when they were in their 50s, nearly bankrupting them and putting them on the verge of homelessness. Harlan said he’s never recovered financially since, but having Medicare and Social Security helped keep them afloat.

“It’s about maintaining a decent human living that we’re all entitled to as Americans,” he said. “I wouldn’t be alive without it. I’d be homeless or dead.”

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