Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 29, 2012

County officials block Planned Parenthood grant request

Board votes to forward $3M in other grant requests to GT Band


TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County Commissioners killed Planned Parenthood's application for a tribal-generated $12,000 grant to pay for abstinence-based sex education in area schools.

Commissioner Jason Gillman rallied other commissioners against the grant application. Gillman said he couldn't support providing any type of aid to Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan, regardless of the program.

"The organization is designed to kill babies," Gillman said. "The nicer side of it is only there to mask its evil intent. That is to kill babies."

The board voted to forward over $3 million in grant applications to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Twice a year the tribe distributes 2 percent of its electronic gaming revenue to local governments and nonprofits, but the nonprofit grants must come from a governmental agency for consideration.

County departments or affiliated agencies accounted for almost $2.7 million of the grant requests.

Planned Parenthood officials called it a "non-story" for them and said in a statement that Traverse City officials agreed to pass on its grant application.

The county has passed through Planned Parenthood applications since at least 2009. This year the board decided to begin passing on any nonprofit application that it's legal counsel determined qualified as a legitimate county service.

Planned Parenthood's application qualified, board Chairman Larry Inman said. But following its poor reception at a committee meeting this month, he advised Planned Parenthood to find a new sponsor.

"Because it's an organization that supports abortions, so we didn't want to support them," Inman said. "I just think it might be better for them to avoid the whole thing and send it through the city commission."

A motion by Commissioner Ross Richardson at the board's Dec. 26 meeting to restore the Planned Parenthood grant application received no support.

"Just to attack it with no reason or justification as to why, just because it's Planned Parenthood," Richardson said. "But then what do you expect from this board of commissioners."

City Commissioner Jim Carruthers, a volunteer for Planned Parenthood who attended the county meeting, called the process "frustrating" because Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan doesn't provide abortion services.

The Planned Parenthood application has not come before the city commission and Carruthers said he believes the city manager's office will approve the application.