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Cox to vote against Life Perspectives grant, backs new reforms

September 13, 2010 - 11:05 am

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox will vote against giving $20,000 to Life Perspectives, a pro-life group who previously used county money for fundraisers for religious literature.

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn had originally earmarked Neighborhood Reinvestment Program money for the La Mesa-based organization’s annual Life Walk fundraiser. The grant was cancelled after details emerged that the event funded the group’s scripture-based Whole Life Curriculum program. Currently, County Counsel is evaluating whether any action may be taken regarding two grants for $30,000 that the group received in 2008 and 2009 for the same purpose.

Horn has since asked for the 2010 grant to be amended to that the money would fund Life Perspectives’ pro-life agenda through the group’s “Abortion Changes You” program.

On Monday, Cox became the first supervisor to publicly state his position on the grant, which is set for a vote during tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Cox also announced that he and Supervisors Dianne Jacob are sponsoring an amendment to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program policy that would place tight restrictions on how money can be appropriated.

“This program has great public benefit, but we intend to ensure the accountability and integrity of the program,” Cox said in an e-mailed statement. “This program was meant to support neighborhood projects, not causes and ideologies.”

The new proposal will be heard at the board’s Sept. 28 meeting. Among the reforms:

– Neighborhood Reinvestment grants would never be used for “food, beverage, galas, fundraisers, transportation, parking, hotel expenses, personnel costs or anything other than the one-time purchase of equipment, materials, goods, supplies or contracted professional services that increase the quality of life in neighborhoods.”

– The policy would strengthen the current requirement that grant money that is not used or accounted for according to the terms of the grant agreement must be returned.

– The county would post online the names of any grant recipient who is more than 60 days delinquent in filing its required documentation.

– The policy must clearly state that “grants allocated to organizations are investments in particular items and projects that will benefit neighborhoods and communities. They are not, and should not be interpreted as charitable contributions.”

Download the board letter here and the proposed amended policy here.

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