So it was kind of a weird week in Memphis. That’s not unusual I guess, but the way things worked out leaves a couple of bad tastes in my mouth…so, I’ve taken to writing aging for now.
Open carry is one of those things the NRA and groups like it have been pushing just about everywhere in the South.
I’m not a fan of open carry laws because I just don’t think its necessary, and when you remove the requirement that people get proper training to carry a firearm in public, you endanger public safety and the safety of the person carrying the firearm.
On the other hand, I’ve always found the argument by the “conceal-carry” set that a concealed firearm is somehow a “crime deterrent” disingenuous. If its concealed, its more likely you will have it stolen when someone with a gun in their hand gets the jump on you. If its concealed its less likely to give a potential armed criminal pause. If its out there in the open, it may cause someone to think a little before they act…or just kill you first and take your gun to continue whatever violence they intend to commit.
In any case, the bill passed the State Senate, but according to the linked report, will die in the State House because:
“Every gang-banger in Memphis will end up packing. Can you imagine?” – Rep. Steve McDanielMcDaniel lives in a little town on I-40 over 100 miles from the nearest “Memphis gang banger”, but apparently there’s enough fear of such a thing in tiny Parker’s Crossroads, TN, that it would stop him for falling in line with the Tennessee Firearms Assn..
It probably helps that the filing deadline has passed and there’s no time to primary him they way they did Debra Maggart.
Betsy brought up the problem with that logic, though I’m not really sure what her point is…
But my buddy Cardell Orrin wins the day with this response to the specter of an “Open Carry Tennessee”…
I have no idea if this will pass the State House, but I hope it doesn’t.
All this proposal will do is lead to more accidental shootings and other mishaps, of which there are already plenty in this country.
Its budget season, which is one of my favorite times of year…because you get to see policy both in action and inaction (see what I did there).
The State rubber stamped Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget down to the dollar…leaving out promised money for teacher raises, tuition freezes, and other critical stuff. A proposed additional $2m dollars for rape kit funding was also struck down, because…Memphis. State lawmakers just hate us for some reason.
Shelby County Government Budget
Shelby County Government also released a proposed budget which was praised for lowering taxes and providing raises for County employees.
Looking into the guts of the proposal, it seems that while overall revenue is down by about $53m (due primarily to fewer federal government transfers) property tax collections are projected to increase by just under $2m (which accounts for the penny).
470 employees will be lost, most of them (440) due to the end of the Shelby Co. Head Start program. I haven’t seen news about who, if anyone, has received the federal funds for that program.
This is an election year, so a tax cut, even a small one, is a political instrument as much as anything else. After last year’s hike, any cut will be trumpeted to the hills.
In reality, this budget is a continuation budget. There’s no new great vision or direction to be seen. There’s no great look at what the County Administration wants the County to look like going forward other than “the same”. And with all the structural problems the County has (that they largely ignore) its hard to feel really good about this budget…unless all you care about is the political viability of using a tiny tax cut as a means to garner votes.
Shelby County Schools Budget
The County Schools also released their initial budget proposal to the County Commission to accolades from the body. The budget includes a reported 2316 real job losses and 2380 jobs that move to the six municipal schools.
The real way to look at this budget, is not against last year, but the last year of MCS, since the remaining SCS schools are primarily former MCS schools. Here’s a top level breakdown:
|12-13 MCS||14-15 SCS|
|Pupils per employee||8.04||9.14|
|Per student expenditure||$8602.58||$8205.43|
It should be noted, these numbers represent a “top level” funding and employee count, rather than an actual representation of where and how the money will be spent. So while the “per pupil” and “per employee” numbers seem to be going in the wrong direction, the reality of that will be determined by how the real budget works out…and some deeper digging into the guts of the numbers.
This represents the lion’s share of education funding for the County, but a true picture of education funding won’t be available until the six municipalities present their budgets to the County Commission. How those six seek to claim the remaining 20.6% of county money could possibly be an interesting fight.
University of Memphis
One budget I haven’t paid that much attention to in previous years is the U of M budget. But its an important one, that represents nearly $500m in spending in the area.
This year’s budget represents the first full year of re-prioritizing the University in the image of interim President Brad Martin…whom one must assume is acting on behalf of his friend and former employee, Gov. Bill Haslam.
What’s not certain is if the faculty will endorse the proposal, or if tenured members of the faculty will use their relative safety to fight back against these budget cuts and other proposed changes to the University.
Of course, tenure or not, a certain level of caution should be exercised, as the State government has shown a great deal of disdain for tenure generally (particularly in public education) and probably wouldn’t hesitate to change the rules to suit their desire to quash anything that challenges their supermajority status.
This will be a new area for me this year, but I think its as important as anything. The future of the U of M will play a big role in the future of the County.
The City of Memphis is set to release its budget proposal on Tuesday, so nothing to report there right now. Also, if this year follows previous years, the proposal itself won’t look much like the final budget, as priorities and funds are shifted.
A Commercial Appeal article published after Thursday’s Democratic Mayoral Debate, quotes District Attorney candidate Judge Joe Brown as saying he’s something akin to a political boss. Brown was answering a question about the value of his endorsement in the upcoming May primary.
Here’s the actual quote:
If you’re a candidate, is there some value in having Joe Brown on your side? Are you hearing that a lot?
“Yes. In other words, who’s going to make the tough decisions? Alright, you want to do this, you want to do that. You can either work it out yourselves or if you can’t, I pick who I’m going to support. When I support you, that is important to your candidacy. … I’m not going to endorse in every race, but when there’s a big knock-down, drag-out, I’m trying to” — he was interrupted here by a well-wisher.
“So in other words, I smooth it out,” he said, returning to the conversation. “It’s called being boss.”
You view yourself in that role?
“No, that’s what they want,” he said.
Who? Bryan Carson?
“Sorta, kinda,” he said. Then, he characterized how the party talked him into running for district attorney, and his reasons for seeing opportunity there against incumbent Republican Amy Weirich. – via the Commercial Appeal
There’s no question that DA candidate Joe Brown could play a major role in the outcome of the August election. But some things are far less certain:
1. Brown’s influence on a May primary in which he has no competition. The May primary election has historically had incredibly low turnout.
2. The balance between Brown’s influence and the organizing efforts of the three Mayoral candidates (along with the other candidates in the primary contests).
3. Brown’s actual role as a boss.
Shelby County Democratic Party Chair Bryan Carson had this to say about the latter:
“He doesn’t have a role,” Carson said, adding a few moments later, “he has no influence on the Shelby County Democratic Party.”
So, not a boss?
“That was his characterization,” Carson said. “What I did, we needed a candidate for the top of the ticket.” – via the Commercial Appeal
I have a big problem with the characterization of anyone as a “boss”.
First of all, the bosses of old had patronage jobs to toss around. While this is still the case (to some degree) the depth of that influence has diminished in a world of greater scrutiny and dwindling budgets.
Secondly, Brown not only has no such jobs to dole out, but also hasn’t really been involved in local politics in any measurable way until recently.
Finally, the notion of a boss is a rally point for the opposing party. August is set to be a sleeper…except for local races, and for Brown to give the County GOP anything to rally on other than their slate of candidates isn’t particularly helpful.
But there’s another reason…the idea of a “boss” gives the perception of corruption…because of all of the things I listed above. That’s something we really don’t need.
We don’t need a return to the era of “bosses”, despite what some seem to think. The “boss” era in Memphis politics may be looked back on as a golden age, but it also set up all kinds of trouble that we’re still dealing with. More than I care to get into at this point.
Truth be told, there is no one in elective office in Shelby County, with the possible exception of State Sen. Mark Norris that has the political power to be called a “boss”. The political power structure is too diffuse to sustain such a person.
Further, I would argue that no elected official is seeking or could in any way lay claim to the title. There’s too much dissent, and not enough carrots or sticks being used to execute such power.
So while the notion of a “boss” and the perceived power and stability that title might hold for some may seem attractive, it just isn’t likely to happen here again. That’s something that presents both a challenge for the future, and a net positive for those who are willing to forge alliances to get needed things done in the community.
Unfortunately, there remains a “boss mentality” in the area…something that will take a long time for us to get over. The kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” that many feel for the era of bosses, and the new era of the unspoken “bosses” that play a large role in anointing political leaders in the area, is a bigger problem to deal with.
That’s another post for another time. But suffice it to say, we don’t need another boss, and Brown, even if he may think of himself as one…isn’t one.
Update: Magistrate Hal Horne has issued recommendations regarding the contempt charges. He says “…Mr. Brown was attempting to provoke a riot in the courtroom which was filled with over 70 citizens….”.
First of all, Brown is a retired Judge. Maybe we should use his title. Secondly, listen to the audio again, and tell me if you hear the makings of a riot. I don’t.The events of Monday that began with District Attorney Candidate Joe Brown “inciting a riot” by one account, and pulling a “stunt” by another are in the books.
Public opinion about the event itself appears to be mostly set based on people’s opinions of Brown and their level of support for him or his opponent in the election.
If what Judge Brown did was a premeditated “stunt”, I would be disappointed that real people with real problems were being used as political props. But after talking to him, I don’t think it was.
There are many people here in Memphis that see the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court (MSCJC) as an institution that distributes unequal justice…something that’s not exactly without foundation.
While the focus has been on theatrics, a client has been largely forgotten by the media. That client has had problems with MSCJC according to Brown, and those problems are the foundation upon which he objected his way into a contempt charge.
The events of Monday pique my interest in understanding why things went down the way they did, and if the authority (in this case the Juvenile Court) engaged in any of the charges Brown has raised.
There are three things that we know about the situation and the individual parties involved:
1. Joe Brown was dismissive of the Magistrate’s authority after that Magistrate ruled to continue a case that has been ongoing for 8 years.
2. The Shelby County Juvenile Court is under Federal oversight for failing to provide due process to children, racial disparities in the administration of justice, and unsafe confinement procedures. Incidentally, a quick listen to the audio released by the court shows that the due process problem is the exact thing Brown was complaining about.
3. Outside of this, we know Brown for his public persona. Many people have pointed to Brown’s comments at a Shelby County Democratic Party function in the fall as a way to judge his actions based on some the mean, inappropriate, and ignorant things he said at the event. I won’t link the two together, though those comments are and were unsettling.
Any or all three of these things may influence your opinion of what happened and why. But it is the immediate messaging to the media after the contempt that also raises questions for me.
30 minutes after the first news of Brown’s arrest broke, a media outlet tweeted that “some people” thought this was a publicity stunt. No word on who those people were.
Around the same time, a reporter from another outlet tweeted that the Chief Magistrate from the Juvenile Court said, Brown “nearly started a riot” in the courtroom. There are reasons to question this characterization, which I will get into later.
Two hours after the first report, Amy Weirich’s campaign called the affair a stunt.
30 minutes later, the Chief Magistrate released audio of Brown’s comments, but not the entirety of the proceedings.
By this point, the “stunt” and “riot” message had been firmly implanted in the words of media outlets, and its hard to discern which how much of it was pure repetition or group message adoption.
This timeline is reflected in a storify post at the bottom of this post. Not all the tweets from yesterday are used, just the first ones in my timeline on each topic.
I listened to the audio released by the court itself several times Monday night.
I found myself wondering what happened before the whole contempt thing even became an issue. The audio is not a complete accounting of the proceedings. Because of this, we have no context as to why Brown chose to openly question the authority of the Magistrate in his court.
Brown’s account of what he was doing at the court which can be seen here.
In this second clip, Brown is calmer, and concisely lays out what happened in the court and what led to the outburst.
Neither the court audio, nor Brown’s description sound like the “riot” the Chief Magistrate of the MSCJC described.
I spoke with Judge Brown on the phone about the case against his client, and he confirmed the details he laid out in that second clip. He also noted that his concerns mirror DOJ charges.
What’s lost in this Monday Morning Quarterbacking is what happened and had been happening with the client…who will have to come back to court on another day to have her case heard. This delay isn’t the result of what Brown did, it was the thing that set Brown off.
Brown asked for the case to be dismissed. According to Brown, the defendant in this case, a female has been summoned to Juvenile Court multiple times over the past eight years on a child support claim. The plaintiff, however, does not live here, has not provided the name of a child to test paternity, nor a date of birth, or any proof of a child at all.
Note, the woman Brown was representing isn’t asking for a paternity test on this unknown child, nor child support.
It was on those grounds, as well as due process claims, that Brown asked for a dismissal. The Magistrate continued the case, which is within a few seconds of the “riot” that the Chief Magistrate reported to the media.
The statistical analysis shows that Black children in Shelby County are less likely to receive the benefits of more lenient judicial and non-judicial options.
The case data showed that a Black child was more than twice as likely to be detained as a White child. This number remained unchanged after accounting for other legal and social factors.
…Black children in JCMSC have a greater odds ratio (2.07) of being considered for transfer to the criminal court and have a substantially higher chance of having their case actually transferred to the criminal court.
DOJ Investigation of the Shelby County Juvenile Court – Summary of findings
In the nearly 19 months since the DOJ findings, and 15 months since the consent order was signed, there has been no public accounting of progress at MSCJC.
In that time, its not as if politics have been absent from the halls of the MSCJC. Earlier this year, Odell Horton Jr. wrote an opinion at the request of the County attorney that says Judge Person’s exclusion of community monitors, per the consent decree, could be subject to scrutiny under the Code of Judicial Conduct.
In that article, MSCJC CAO Larry Scroggs is cited as saying, “Brooks’s public criticism of Person, her votes on the commission against funding certain requests by the court and her candidacy for Juvenile Court clerk as reasons for denying the community monitor program.”
It makes me wonder if Brown’s candidacy had any bearing on what happened in his case.
Either way, based on the comment from Scroggs, it seems clear that political considerations play a large role at what happens at the MSCJC.
You don’t have to like Judge Brown, his tactics, his personality, or anything else, but you also shouldn’t just assume this was a stunt based on your opinion of him. There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
I can say, without question that I find many things about Judge Brown’s public statements from last year troubling. But my distaste for those things doesn’t blind me to the possibility that there may have been a real injustice going on at the MSCJC on Monday.
That potential injustice was the cause of the conflict, right or wrong. That should be the focus of future coverage, but it won’t be. That story is too hard a get and doesn’t sparkle with the same kind of conflict, intrigue, or mug shots.
As noted in this post, the number of people seeking out Title X services has dropped dramatically in the two years since the contract was awarded to Christ Community Health Services.
Friday, I received a mailer asking people to call and email in support of this resolution.
I can’t tell you how important this is.
So while it may be the weekend, you can send emails, call the County Commission on Monday, or plan to attend the 1:30 meeting.
Here is the number to call: 901-222-1000
Ask the staff to take your name and address and ask Commissioners to support Steve Mulroy’s resolution to re-bid the Title (X) 10 contract now.
Ask them to give the message to all 13 Commissioners.
Email a message to: Tamisha.Draper@shelbycountytn.gov and ask that it be forwarded to all 13 Commissioners. Make sure to include the message: “Please support Commissioner Mulroy’s resolution to rebid the Title X (10) contract” with your personal message, name and address.
The meeting begins at 1:30. They often start a few minutes late, but get there early to ensure you get a good seat.
The Title X resolution can be read here.
Attending the meeting is a good way to make a show of support. Go with a group of people. Wear the same color to show the Commissioners you’re part of a larger organizing effort.
Not everyone is comfortable speaking at public meetings, but it is important that some people, other than the usual suspects do. This ensures there is a record of support for the resolution.
Here’s a quick primer on how to do it.
When you get to the meeting, go up front and see the deputy for a speakers card. Fill it out, and turn it in.
The Title X resolution is the 17th item on the agenda. It could get deferred to another meeting or delayed to a later time in the meeting.
DO NOT LET DELAY TACTICS KEEP YOU FROM SPEAKING OUT. If the issue is delayed or deferred to another meeting and they don’t hear from the public, go back up and let the deputy know you still want to address the committee during the public statements portion of the meeting.
Sometimes with delays they will still hear from the public, especially if there are a lot of people there to speak on an issue, but that is entirely up the the Commission.
If you do speak, be respectful. No one will listen to a person being rude of impolite. Take notes, or a prepared statement. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point (there’s usually a 2 minute limit).
I know there are a lot of people still stinging from the last Title X vote nearly two years ago. Don’t let old feelings stop you from taking the opportunity to be a part of righting the situation.
This issue is bigger than any one individual.
Please consider taking a little (or a lot) of time and work to pass this resolution.
Peabody Place has been vacant for the better part of four years, though it didn’t officially close down until 2011. The lack of activity at the site is a sad reminder of just how isolated downtown is for the vast majority of Memphians, despite the huge population growth in the past 15 years or so.
Who could have imagined…in 2001 when it opened, that people’s buying habits would change so swiftly, or that the folks who by and large moved downtown would be on the bleeding edge of that change. The mall wasn’t a bad idea for its time, but it couldn’t withstand the 1-2 punch of a deep and wide recession, along with changes in the way people buy things.
Since its closing there have been rumors that the building would be re-developed by Belz Enterprises into a combination of suites and convention space. But with demand for downtown hotel rooms flat, and a local convention business that’s anything but robust, no solid plans have been announced.
There’s no question the site SHOULD be developed into something. The question is what?
Mayor Wharton thinks the answer is…a convention center.
Is that a good idea? Lets start from what the city wants/needs first and work backwards.
There are several schools of thought as to what the city’s convention business needs. Spend a little time in the Cook Convention Center and your first instinct will be…a modern convention center.
But that modern space need not be something along the lines of the $650 million dollar Music City Center in Nashville. In fact, we don’t have the hotel space downtown, or just about anywhere else to utilize a space that big. Increasing the number of rooms in the downtown area will take some time, and a track record of low vacancy rates isn’t helping. Last time I looked, occupancy downtown was around 60% which is a little below the national average, but the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was only about 74% of the national average. So until there’s a consistently a higher occupancy rate, causing an increase in the ADR, developers aren’t exactly going to flock to downtown Memphis.
What we have here is the classic “chicken/egg” scenario that is more frequently used as a rationale for inaction in this city than any other place I’ve lived.
Truth is, hotels aren’t going to flock to downtown unless there’s a good bunch of somethings (attractions) that are going to inspire confidence…and ladies and gentlemen, the Cook ain’t it.
But all is not lost. Any of the three options under discussion: revamping the Cook, building a new Convention Center, or turing Peabody Place into a convention space could crack the egg and pluck the chicken. But if the goal is increasing hotel capacity, the Peabody Place proposal has some competitive disadvantages for developers.
I’m not one of those that’s 100% against the idea of a public-private partnership as a general statement. They can sometimes work out. The public gets what they need (an amenity or service) and the private business gets what they long for (a revenue center).
That said, if the idea of expanding the amount of convention space is part of a long-term plan to also increase tourism in the city, and, in the process, increase the number of rooms, occupancy rates, and ADR, then building your space on land that is controlled by a large hotel operator may not be what you want to do.
The problem is, it creates a competitive advantage for the hotel. Since they’re right there and they can bundle services, it means other hotels are left in the lurch.
I’m not a hotel developer, but I wouldn’t want to go up against that.
And the Peabody has a history of using its current competitive advantage as a blunt object.
If you want to do a meeting at the current Peabody facilities, and use an outside vendor for A/V and all sorts of other things, the Peabody will try to add a 10% surcharge. They have an in-house vendor…A/V powerhouse PSAV.
I’m not dogging on PSAV. They’re a fine company, and I’ve worked with them (as a client-side production coordinator) on several occasions.
But there are local A/V vendors as well, and if the public is going to lend its dollars to a venture such as this, local companies that hire local people should have a fair shake…without the threat of additional cost to their clients.
My memory if the inside of Peabody Place is a bit hazy, but the ceiling is mostly glass, and there’s a huge atrium area, that’s uneven, and concrete, which means it will have to be leveled.
These aren’t deal breakers, but there are structural concerns that have to be dealt with for a Convention space, that a atrium centered mall doesn’t have to worry about.
More and more conventions are increasing production…even for small events, which means how much weight a structure can hold, and how large of a distance between the beams is really important. Again, this is not “unfixable” but something to consider before you get too excited.
Then there’s this quote from Mayor Wharton about some kind of “niche market” he envisions:
Most of your traffic when it comes to conventions and meetings they’re not the 15 to 20 thousand people, its the 300, 400, 500…that would be a niche market for us…
Now it’s true, the 10k+ convention market is small and competitive. Its also true that most conferences are less than 1000 people. But there are some real problems with Mayor Wharton’s premise.
First, no one plans to focus on the small market. They make contingencies…like air walls, and other separations, much like the Grand Ballroom at the Cook, which I’ve seen used for as few as 150 to as many as 1500+ people.
Second, any space should represent growth from the Cook. Peabody place is 300,000 sq. ft. The Cook is 350,000. There’s no question that adding Peabody would add much needed space, but it doesn’t build on what we lack. If anything it would merely add to what we’re already not utilizing.
Finally, Peabody Place is land locked. There’s no room to grow in the future to accomodate new meetings, and the growing size of meetings that we currently host.
The AutoZone meeting that happens each year uses every usable square inch of the Cook…and then some. Adding space for more 300-500 person meetings isn’t going to help that convention, or others like it that have outgrown Memphis in the past several years, at all.
As I wrote back in October, any work to expand our convention business in the city should focus on bringing spaces together that can work in tandem.
There’s no shame in building something in the 600,000 sq. ft. range, or even expanding the Cook to that size (so long as it includes more ways to get into the exhibit halls without an elevator).
And if we did build a new building in that 600k range, we should make sure we have the space to expand…just in case.
Because, at the end of the day, we need to work to bring more hotel rooms to Memphis so we can compete for other things, like an NBA All-Star game, or a political convention or whatever the next opportunity holds.
As for Peabody Place, if Belz wants to re-develop it into something like Mayor Wharton’s vision, they should go for it. Its not like they weren’t thinking about it already.
The reality is, there’s a reason Belz Enterprises hasn’t already turned Peabody Place into the very thing Mayor Wharton is proposing…and that’s because its just not feasible for them at this time…and that doesn’t make it look any more attractive as a public project either.
Well, that’s not exactly what he said on Fox13 News at 10pm on Friday…his actual words don’t fit into the headline, so I paraphrased.
What does Title X funding do? Here’s a synopsis from a previous post:
Title X family planning funds seek to help women and men make the right choices to not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also slow the rate of STD infection, which is unacceptably high, and rising as more and more teens engage in unprotected sex.
If you managed to forget the details of the Title X case, you should go back and read these four posts:
If you don’t want to read 8,000 words on the topic, here’s a brief rundown of what happened:
• Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly sought to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds under the rationale that ANY funding to Planned Parenthood somehow supports abortion. This is, of course, not the case, and has been a conservative trojan horse for all sorts of bad policy.
• A technicality kept that specific language from appearing in the bill (also, the language was constitutionally suspect), so the Governor sought to exert pressure on Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell…to find another provider other than Planned Parenthood.
• The County put the Title X contract out for bid. Three organizations responded: Planned Parenthood, CCHS and Memphis Health Center. PPGMR received the second highest score on their bid, even though they already had the staff in place and had a proven track record of service (CCHS had neither). The number of locations CCHS had was the rationale for scoring them higher, even though they had NO TRACK RECORD of serving individuals for this kind of care and have a specific policy that DISCOURAGES some kinds of contraception (an issue that could put them at odds with Federal law that governs Title X funds).
• After a deeply politicized debate, led primarily by Health and Hospitals Chair Heidi Shafer, and that included asking candidates for the appointment to an open County Commission seat how they would vote on the issue, the Commission voted 9-4 for the CCHS contract. Democrats supporting the CCHS bid: Justin Ford, James Harvey and Steve Mulroy.
The Title X issue was one that I covered extensively. In fact, I think I still have all the documentation I cited sitting on a table upstairs…nearly three years later (which may say as much about my housekeeping skills as my passion for the subject).
The outcome of that vote, was one of the primary motivating factors in my decision to run for County Commission in 2012.
What we haven’t had in the time since that fateful October day, is an accounting of numbers released in any public manner. Now, it seems, Commissioner Mulroy is ready to make good on a promise to oversee the care provided by CCHS, which is a good thing, especially since the contract is due to be renewed in July of this year…BEFORE county elections (though it could just as easily be pushed back by Mayor Luttrell, like it was in 2011).
Now, with public statements that confirm the greatest fears of advocates, like myself, that awarding the contract to a inexperienced, and on some level…unwilling provider (unwilling to fulfill all the conditions of Title X funds on site. CCHS said they would use contractors for the stuff that made them feel queasy) would lead to detrimental outcomes.
At least 4800 women a year, for the last two years, have not received the services they would have when Planned Parenthood was running the Title X program. Because Title X is a fee for service grant (you don’t get the money if the service isn’t provided) this means we’ve been leaving millions of dollars that could be put to good use on the table.
While Title X never covered enough women, that the funds are covering even fewer now should be of great concern. Even with the advent of Obamacare, many poor women are not covered by TennCare because Gov. Haslam refuses to expand it, and the system for signing people up for TennCare is more about saving pennies than healthy outcomes for people in tough circumstances.
Its an election year, and its very hard to believe that this issue won’t be part of the discussion going forward. What advocates of adequate reproductive health care services can’t allow to happen is let Mayor Luttrell, or more likely his CAO Harvey Kennedy whitewash these outcomes as no big deal or present them as growing pains. This is a huge deal for this community. Mayor Luttrell caved on this issue at the expense of women’s reproductive health, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t again.
It will be up to the voters, and the Shelby County Commission to hold his feet to the fire as the contract comes back up for a vote.
On this issue, both the Commission and the Mayor Luttrell have failed the citizens of Shelby County. Its our job to let them know that, and demand better.