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County cancels Life Perspectives grant

September 2, 2010 - 5:22 pm

San Diego County has cancelled a $20,000 grant to a local non-profit after finding that the money would have supported religious programs.

The grant, which was proposed by Supervisor Bill Horn, would have underwritten Life Walk, an annual fundraiser to support Life Perspectives, a group that produces pro-life lesson plans for K-12 schools.  A CityBeat investigative report published in late July revealed that the “Whole Life Curriculum” was religious in nature, which led the county to put a hold on the grant pending investigation.

The investigation concluded today with County Counsel John Sansone’s determination that Life Perspectives’ education program “includes religious messages and content.”

Sansone writes in a determination letter he provided via e-mail:

Because the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grants, which are public funds, cannot be used for religious purposes or be used to raise funds to support religious purposes, and because the County and Life Perspectives never reached the point of entering into a Grant Agreement with respect to the grant, the Chief Administrative Officer has cancelled the processing of the $20,000 NRP grant for Life Perspectives.

Over the last several years, Life Perspectives has received more than $80,000 in county grants. It is unclear whether Life Perspectives will need to return the money.

“[T]he County continues to evaluate what action, if any, can be taken regarding the past grants and will need to advise the Board of Supervisors on this,” Sansone writes.

CityBeat has sent Horn an e-mail asking for his reaction; the supervisor has not directly responded to any previous inquiries on the matter.

Before Life Perspectives even received the grant, the group began listing Horn as a sponsor for the Life Walk event. In previous years, his name has been promoted as a sponsor on Life Walk materials, including posters and flyers; only within the last two weeks has Life Perspectives started using the proper language to identify that the money comes from the county and not directly from Horn.

When we first reported this story, Horn wrote in a statement to the television media:

City Beat’s accusations are entirely based on the inaccurate assumption that the county is sponsoring a curriculum that is designed to be used in private, religious schools, but not a single penny of taxpayer funds can or will go toward that use.

We won’t hold our breath for an apology.

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