By Scott Tibbs, March 1, 2007
On Tuesday, I criticized the President's faith-based charities program. There are two much lower-profile programs that the city of Bloomington uses to give money to various social service agencies. Last night, the City Council voted on the Community Development Block Grant program. Following is a list of organizations that got funding from city government.
|Community Kitchen –
Free Meals Program
|Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard
– Food Pantry
|Hoosier Hills Food Bank – Food Bank
|Middle Way House –
|Big Brothers Big Sisters –
One to One Mentoring
|Boys and Girls Club -
|Options for Better Living – Acquisition of Rental Units||$50,000||$100,000|
|Middle Way House – Facility Rehabilitation at 318 S.
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Subject: The 2007 CDBG funding process
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 19:31:02 -0800 (PST)
I watched the televised broadcast of your meeting and wanted to express my opinions regarding the Community Development Block Grant program. I've been a regular at your meetings for the last eight years as you have voted to give Bloomington's abortion clinic a taxpayer subsidy, and I am pleased to see that there are no such controversial agencies getting funding from this year's CDBG funds.
Nonetheless, I think it is inappropriate for city government to make the decision for the citizens of Bloomington which social service agencies we will support. While many of these organizations (especially Middle Way House) do a spectacular job of meeting the needs of this community, I would prefer that their funding be completely private.
It has been well established that "with government money comes government strings." Two years ago, some social service agencies expressed concern about the impact of your "living wage ordinance" on their ability to provide services and were bitterly and personally attacked for it by some of your more radical supporters.
One concern at the national level with the President's program to give money to faith-based charities is whether or not this violates the principle of separation of church and state. Liberal groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation have sued because of it. City government has given money to faith-based charities in the past, with little fanfare. What do you think of the objections against the federal program, and how would those objections apply to city government?
There has been some dissatisfaction with the way you chose to distribute funds from the CDBG this year. Middle Way House director Toby Strout complained about what she considered to be inadequate funding this year. I think this highlights a problem with the CDBG funding process. While those who review the funding applications may attempt to use the most objective criteria possible, a budgetary decision by elected officials is inherently political. Is this truly the best way to help those in need?
I do not think so, and I have faith that the people of Bloomington will step up and replace any funding these agencies "lose" if you were to take the unexpected step of eliminating these programs.
Resident of City Council District II