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Community Development Block Grants to be distributed tonight

By Scott Tibbs, March 2, 2011

Tonight, the Bloomington City Council will distribute a little over $900,000 in community development block grant monies from the federal government. The money will be distributed as follows:

Community KitchenSocial Service Programs Funding$15,608
Hoosier Hills Food BankSocial Service Programs Funding$15,507
Mother Hubbard's CupboardSocial Service Programs Funding$15,255
Stepping StonesSocial Service Programs Funding$15,204
Middle Way House Emergency ServicesSocial Service Programs Funding$14,750
Martha's HouseSocial Service Programs Funding$14,548
Big Brothers Big SistersSocial Service Programs Funding$14,194
MCUM Child CareSocial Service Programs Funding$14,043
Boys & Girls ClubSocial Service Programs Funding$13,891
Abilities Unlimited/HANDHome Modification for Accessible Living$75,000
Bloomington Housing AuthorityCrestmont Exterior Renovations$110,000
HANDEmergency Home Repair$59,000
HANDDown Payment & Closing Cost$20,000
Community KitchenFacility Improvement New Facility Renovations$48,000
Shalom Community CenterFacility improvements$32,000
Public WorksCrescent Road & Vernal intersection improvements$211,000
HANDCurb & Sidewalks $45,000

On top of this, there is $177,333 for the administration of the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department.

The obvious good news is that the criminals at Planned Parenthood are not included in the list of agencies getting a grant from city government. Of the 11 times city government has given money to PP, the money has come from the CDBG funds only once. That was a $2000 grant for "teen education" in 2000.

The larger question is whether government should be giving grants to social service agencies at all. I do not believe that it is appropriate for city government to be deciding for the citizens of Bloomington what charities we will support. Even though the CDBG funds come from the federal government and not local property taxes, city council members should be no less vigilant in spending the funds as wisely as possible. The city council should allow us to choose for ourselves which social service agencies we will support.

This is especially true at a time of record federal deficits. Our federal government is running a deficit of well over $1 trillion dollars. That is not the size of the national debt, folks. That is the amount of debt we will add to the already staggering national debt in just one single year. We do not have the money to do what we are doing. While the CDBG funds are insignificant to the overall deficit, we have to cut somewhere. The Bloomington City Council could show leadership in sending the money back to the federal treasury rather than distribute it to local charities.

Furthermore, when it is elected officials who are deciding how to appropriate money to social service agencies, these decisions are inherently political. Even if it were true that city government is attempting to use the most objective criteria possible, the reality is that politicians make political decisions. And, quite frankly, I do not trust the Bloomington City Council to be fair and objective in distributing these funds without political influences. This is because the John Hopkins social service program has been corrupted by politics, with the councilors giving Planned Parenthood money that they clearly do not need in order to make a political endorsement of the organization.

If I were on the Bloomington City Council, I would vote "no" tonight for these reasons.