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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The county council's shameful handout to Planned Parenthood

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

If Planned Parenthood genuinely "needs" the $4,500 they got from Monroe County government last week, why can't they ask the national PP office to give them a little bit of the $11,700,000 budget surplus it reported in its most recent fiscal report? That way, the local abortion "clinic" can get the money it "needs" while the Monroe County Council can distribute that $4,500 to one of the organizations denied funding - a total of $75,000 in funds that were denied.

But see, this is not and has never been about funding a need. This is PP seeking a political endorsement from county government. Planned Parenthood already gets funded by the Bloomington City Council every June, but fleecing city taxpayers every summer is not enough. They need to fleece county taxpayers too, while truly local organizations that could actually use funding are left out in the cold. The idea that PP's request was more worthy than any of the organizations that were denied is laughable - unless your goal is to make a pro-abortion political statement.

This is shameful.

Even worse, both the city and county social services funds are designed to help charitable organizations get funding for a one-time expense such as a refrigeration unit or a delivery truck. But Planned Parenthood is not acting under that pretense any more. PP wants (and gets) money to subsidize its operating budget, and they got that money from both the city and county councils this year. They will be back to fleece the taxpayers at both the city and county levels again next year, and will continue to come back until our elected leaders say "no."

As usual, I spoke at the meeting opposing the grant. My speech started off poorly - I knew what I was going to say and I had notes but I stumbled over my words. I said I was in the fourth city council district, but I meant to say I was in the fourth county council district. (You can listen to my remarks on YouTube.)

Fortunately, corporate welfare for the local abortion "clinic" did not pass unanimously, as the two Republicans on the county council voted against it. That is a better outcome than we have gotten from the city council the last two years.

I like the fact that the council votes individually on each grant application, rather than taking one vote on the whole package. This way, if there is disagreement on specific grants, councilors can vote "no" on one grant while supporting most of the others. This also prevents dishonest hacks like 2007 city council candidate Jillian Kinzie from falsely characterizing a councilor's opposition to one grant as opposition to all grants.

But the county social services funding process needs to be more open. With the city, the process is predictable. The dates are all set months in advance and the vote always takes place in June. The applications are all posted to the city website, so voters can download and read them. County government could take lessons from the city. None of the applications were on the county website, and the date of the final vote was not posted either. It was on the council's agenda, but unless you check every month's agenda (or call and ask, as I did) you will not know.

I suspect this is because the county council wants to blunt public opposition. They demonstrated this a couple years ago, when they voted on the Planned Parenthood funding two days after Christmas and the day after a blizzard snarled Bloomington. What are they afraid of? Are they really this upset that the people who pay for their salary and health care benefits will disagree with them using county tax money to make a pro-abortion political statement?

Voters need to demand that the process be open, with all of the relevant details on the social service funding committee website, like it is with city government. Nothing less than full and complete transparency should be accepted.

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