Sunday, February 04, 2007

Metro Council's Latest Public Earmarks Still Lean Private, But With Exceptions

Tuesday's council meeting agenda includes the following earmarks for "infrastructure" funds:
It appears that council members are finally moving to spend money on public infrastructure and programs that directly affect public services. Funding police cameras qualify exactly as infrastructure support. The records system will go to a private healthcare provider that claims not to turn any citizen away based on inability to pay, which is good for nearby public housing residents. That has a broader community impact. The spending on the transit authority's BusLink program also serves a greater public purpose. Both the Homework Hotline and the Adult Literacy programs seem to be non-profit partners with and promoted by Metro Public Schools.

However, other resolutions may need second thoughts. Is sending $40,000 to a church's AIDs clinic the best medical earmark of those funds? Is that church providing care that other, more public institutions do not or cannot give? I've already raised questions about the Hadley Park Junior Tennis Program. Finally, what public purpose is served by sending a mere nine public students to a conference? Could we not get more bang for a greater number of at-risk students by spending $3,000 in another way?

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