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Countdown to the showdown

By Scott Tibbs, May 26th, 2005

On June 15, the Bloomington City Council will vote on a social services funding package. Planned Parenthood has requested $3000 of this money, but the number to remember is $35,200,000. That is the profit Planned Parenthood (the national organization and all affiliate organizations) earned nationwide for the 2004 fiscal year.

Surely a tiny portion of that profit (0.0085%, or less than one one-hundredth of one percent) can be redirected to the Bloomington Planned Parenthood for their new security cameras.

Another question is this: why can't Planned Parenthood of Indiana cover this $3000 grant request? According to their 2004 fiscal report, PPIN took in $24,541,000 and spent $23,083,000 for a profit of $1,458,000 over an adjusted 18 month fiscal year.

Again, surely a tiny portion of that profit (0.206%, or two tenths of one percent) can be redirected to the Bloomington Planned Parenthood for their new security cameras.

With so much money available, taxpayers have to ask themselves a simple question: Why is Planned Parenthood asking for another handout from city government? The answer is clear. This is not about the "need" for $3000 from the John Hopkins Fund. Planned Parenthood is seeking a political endorsement from city government.

Three years ago, Democratic City Councilman Jeffrey Willsey offered to donate his own money to Planned Parenthood if they would withdraw their application for a government grant. Planned Parenthood refused, and the vote went ahead. It passed 6-1, with Jason Banach casting the lone dissenting vote. Willsey was unable to make it to the meeting due to illness.

If Planned Parenthood were truly concerned about the good of the community, why did it refuse Willsey's offer? PP had an opportunity to fund their project through a private grant, which would free up the money earmarked for them so that money could go to another organization that needed it.

Five years ago, the City Council gave Planned Parenthood $2,000 for "teen education". This money was used to train "peer educators" in the local schools. These "peer educators" disseminate information from Planned Parenthood on sexuality issues. MCCSC has come under fire recently for a controversial sex survey, drawing the attention of Advance America. Yet Planned Parenthood's "peer educators" operate right under our collective nose.

This marks the seventh year in a row that Planned Parenthood has come to city government for a handout. Each of the previous six years, Republican City Councilman David Sabbagh has voted for the funding package that has included the Planned Parenthood funds. Despite pressure from his fellow Republicans, Sabbagh has not wavered in votes to give corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood. While I expect such votes from Democrats, Sabbagh's votes are especially frustrating.

Sabbagh represents a party that is, for the most part, pro-life. Last year, "values voters" (which includes pro-life voters) played a large part in sending President Bush back to the White House for four more years. Not only are Sabbagh's "pro-choice" views out of step with the majority of Republican voters, he thumbs his nose at those voters by voting to give a taxpayer subsidy to America's #1 abortion provider.

It should come as no surprise, then, what happened when Sabbagh ran for higher office in 2002. Pro-life Libertarian candidate Jim Billingsley got nearly 5% of the vote (a large chunk for a party that usually struggles for one or two percent) and Sabbagh got only 37% of the vote in the race for State Representative in District 60. It should be noted that District 60 is a Republican district. Furthermore, 2002 was a very strong year for Monroe County Republicans, who won three of four County Council races and ousted Democratic County Commissioner Brian O'Neill. The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez, lost his home county. The message was clear: Sabbagh's own party rejected him.

The City Council is faced with tough decisions every year in how to allocate scarce resources to local charitable organizations. By giving money to Planned Parenthood, the City Council is stealing from other organizations that actually need help. It is time for the Bloomington City Council to stop casting their votes based on politics and start voting based on what is best for the community. What is best for the community is to cut Planned Parenthood out of the funding package.