This Is What’s Wrong With Discretionary Funding

 

Sussex County      The recent controversy involving two of Sussex County’s County Council members, Sam Wilson, and Vance Phillips over comments made during the grant and aid segment of the regular weekly meeting, in regards to a grant request from the   Lower Sussex Branch NAACP Youth Council, has drawn attention to not only the views of the two councilmen, but also to discretionary spending in general.

Of course the real controversy centers around whether or not the statements and view of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillips were racist in nature. The two decided to not give money to the Lower Sussex Branch NAACP Youth Council from their discretionary funds based on the fact that the “CP” in NAACP stands for “colored people”, and in their view made the organization a racist organization, since in their view, the NAACP only attended to the needs of colored people.

The fact that both have granted money to this organization in the past begs the question, why now?
The Sussex County Council has also in the past given to other Afro-centric groups, such as the Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival, of course it is possible that Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillips may have thought that AFRAM stood for “American Farmers Riding Antique Machines”.

This is but one of the reasons that discretionary spending is not a good idea, it leaves the spending of tax payers’ money up to the individual’s whim.

A larger reason discretionary spending is a bad idea, is because of  the things  the money gets spent on. Many times the money is collected by the county only to be given back to towns and municipalities. Much the same  way  the federal government takes money from the states and then sends it back with strings attached.

And if that is not bad enough, the numerous private organizations and charities, that the council inflates its own ego with,  by donating tax dollars, is beyond counting.

The following are but a few that caught my eye, check out the records of the County Council,  I am sure you will also find some to make you laugh, and make you angry. It may be time to end all discretionary spending at all levels of government. It may be time to insist that all spending be subject to the legislative process.

Jan. 4, 2011  A Motion was made by Mr. Cole, seconded by Mrs. Deaver, to give $1,000.00 ($200.00 from each Community Grant Account) to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Organization for celebration events. 
Motion Adopted: 5 Yeas. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Yea;  Mr. Vincent, Yea 

Jan. 4, 2011 A Motion was made by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Cole, to give $500.00 from Mr. Wilson’s Community Grant Account to the Bridgeville Community Action Agency for food baskets for needy families. 
Motion Adopted: 5 Yeas. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Yea;  Mr. Vincent, Yea 

Jan. 4, 2011  A Motion was made by Mrs. Deaver, seconded by Mr. Cole, to give $500.00 ($300.00 from Mr. Cole’s Community Grant Account, $100.00 from Mr. Vincent’s Community Grant Account, and $100.00 from Mrs. Deaver’s Community Grant Account) to the Delaware Blue Hens 16U Baseball Team for tournament costs.   
Motion Adopted: 5 Yeas. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Yea;  Mr. Vincent, Yea

Aug. 12, 2012 A Motion was made by Mr. Phillips, seconded by Mr. Cole, to give $1,000.00 from Mr. Phillips’ Community Grant Account to the Millsboro Little League for travel expenses. 
Motion Adopted: 5 Yeas. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Yea;  Mr. Vincent, Yea 

Aug. 12, 2012 A Motion was made by Mr. Cole, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to give $1,000.00 from Mr. Cole’s Community Grant Account to the City of Rehoboth Beach for expenses associated with the Delaware State Marching Band performance. Motion Adopted: 5 Yeas. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Yea;  Mr. Vincent, Yea

I found the following list in the minute of Nov. 13, 2012 under the heading of “Proposed Human Services Grant”, I have to say it boggles the mind,

Alzheimer’s Association $   500.00 
American Diabetes Association $ 500.00 
The Arc of Delaware  $1,000.00 
Best Buddies Delaware       500.00 
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Delaware, Inc. $1,000.00 
Booker Street Church of God $   500.00 
Bridgeville Community Action $1,000.00

Cancer Support Community $   500.00 
Can-Do Playground at Milford $   500.00 
Cape Henlopen Food Basket $   500.00 
CASA San Francisco  $1,000.00 
CHEER, Inc. – Meal Program $2,500.00 
CHEER, Inc. – Home Services $1,000.00 
CHEER Centers A.  Georgetown   $5,000.00 B.  Greenwood   $5,000.00 C.  Harbour Lights (Lewes) $5,000.00 D.  Milton    $5,000.00 E.  Roxana   $5,000.00 F.  Coastal Leisure Center  $5,000.00  G.  Long Neck (Pelican Cove) $5,000.00  
Church of God and Saints of Christ $  900.00 
Contact Lifeline    $1,000.00 
Coverdale Crossroads Community Council, Inc. $   500.00 
Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club $1,500.00 
Dagsboro Church of God  $1,000.00 
Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc.  $1,000.00 
Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, Inc. $   500.00 
Delaware Crime Stoppers  $   500.00 
Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with   Cognitive Disabilities  $2,500.00 
Delaware Guidance Services    for Children & Youth   $2,000.00 
Delaware Housing Coalition $2,000.00 
Delaware Lions Foundation $   500.00 
Delaware Nature Society  $1,000.00

Delmarva Clergy United in Social Action Foundation $1,000.00 
Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center $1,000.00 
El Centro Cultural, Inc.  $1,000.00  
Everlasting Hope Ministries $1,000.00 
Families in Crisis Conference $   500.00 
Family Outreach Multipurpose Community Center $   500.00 
First Steps Primeros Pasos  $   500.00 
Food Bank of Delaware  $   500.00 
Georgetown Boys & Girls Club $1,500.00 
Girls State of Delaware  $   500.00 
Good Samaritan Aid Organization $1,000.00 
Kent-Sussex Industries, Inc. $1,000.00 
Kiwanis Foundation of Coastal Delaware $1,000.00 
La Esperanza   $1,500.00 
La Red Health Center  $   500.00 
Laurel Boys & Girls Club  $1,500.00 
Laurel Community Foundation $1,000.00 
Laurel Lions Club   $1,000.00 
Lewes Historical Society  $1,000.00 
Meals on Wheels of Lewes & Rehoboth, Inc. $6,000.00 
Mt. Zion Church   $   500.00 
National Multiple Sclerosis Society $1,000.00 
New Coverdale Outreach Mission $1,000.00 
New Hope Recreation & Development Center $   500.00  

Oak Orchard/Riverdale Boys & Girls Club $1,500.00 
Open Arms Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry $   500.00 
People’s Place    $2,000.00 
Read-Aloud Delaware  $1,000.00 
Reading ASSIST Institute  $   500.00 
Rehoboth Beach Boys & Girls Club $1,500.00 
The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware $1,000.00 
Seaford Historical Society, Inc. $1,000.00 
Shechinah Empowerment Center $   500.00 
Sussex County Senior Centers A.  Bridgeville   $5,000.00 B.  Cape Henlopen   $5,000.00 C.  Indian River   $5,000.00 D.  Laurel   $5,000.00 E.  Lewes   $5,000.00 F.  Milford   $5,000.00 G.  Nanticoke   $5,000.00 
Sussex Community Crisis Housing Services, Inc. $2,000.00 
Sussex County Habitat for Humanity $1,000.00 
Sussex County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Committee $   500.00 
Sussex Family YMCA  $1,000.00 
Sussex Pregnancy Care Center $1,000.00 
Teens in Perspective, Inc.  $   500.00 
UCOUNT, Inc.   $   500.00 
The Way Home Program  $1,000.00 
Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club  $1,500.00 
YWCA Delaware    $   500.00 
Total     $141,400.00

A Motion was made by Mrs. Deaver, seconded by Mr. Cole, that the Sussex County Council approves the disbursement of Human Service Grants for Fiscal Year 2013, as submitted. 
Motion Adopted: 4 Yeas, 1 Absent. 
Vote by Roll Call: Mrs. Deaver, Yea; Mr. Cole, Yea;  Mr. Phillips, Yea; Mr. Wilson, Absent;  Mr. Vincent, Yea

This from a council that is always talking about its fiscal conservative nature. One has to ask, how much money could the citizens of Sussex County keep in their own pockets, to give to charities and organization, if the council wasn’t so interested in looking like Father Christmas? Well in 2013 it would have been at least $141,400.00 .  This is money that is taken out of the county economy, money that could be used by small businesses to create new jobs.

And what is up with all of the contributions to Churches? Isn’t their tax exempt status enough, must tax payers be a party to forced charitable giving against their will, and in some cases against their own beliefs? I have to tell you that all of the religious organizations seem to have a Christian-centric nature.

I believe that this type of spending is the worst type of big government conservatism, the type that believes that they know best how to spend your money, and on which charities to spend it. I say do away with all discretionary spending and let the people decide how to spend their money, that is true conservatism.

17 Comments on "This Is What’s Wrong With Discretionary Funding"

  1. Arachibutyrophobia says:

    there are three things I hate,
    not being able to count and irony.

  2. delacrat says:

    Frank,

    What’s wrong with discretionary spending is that it’s peanuts.

    The $141,000 divided over the year 2012 estimated 203,390 residents of Sussex county amounts to 70 cents per person.

    Don’t sweat your 70 cents.

  3. itcouldbeworse says:

    I know the Sussex County Council is not the Federal Government….but the Preamble of the US Constitution states, among other things, indicates that one of the reasons for the Constitution, the rulebook for our government, was to promote the general welfare. In my small and narrow mind..this would seem like things like these relatively minor community grants are doing exactly that…..promoting the general welfare of the community. I would rather have this type of welfare than the huge tax guzzlers we see that do more than just promote the general welfare…they provide it. At least least the county council votes on each individual expenditure…..unlike the general assembly and the re-elect me fund that allows state elected officials to spend hundreds of thousands on road projects in their districts with no other oversight
    .

  4. Frank Knotts says:

    Delacrat, the $141,400 is only one segment of the grants the council hands out in a year, and when I speak of the pockets of the citizens I mean the collective pockets. Why must elected officials hand out money to little league teams and churches? And when they do, like all government spending, they first must tax us.
    Itcouldbeworse, you are correct, it could be, but is that a reason to turn a blind eye to the problem we have?
    The county is responsible for ditches and sewers and land use, leave charity at home where it belongs.

  5. Mike Protack says:

    Delaware politicians do two things.
    1. Get s state job for themselves or a family member.
    2. Handout taxpayer money to make friends and assure re election.

    Delaware Politicians fail to:
    1. Reduce the high per capita cost of Delaware Government
    2. Fix the Transportation Trust Fund
    3. Streamline school districts and put more reading specialists in the class room
    4. Vote for term limits
    5. Vote for an Inspector General
    6. Stop the wanton killing in Wilmington

  6. delacrat says:

    Frank,

    There are people who attend “little league teams and churches” and the other organizations listed who also pay taxes that fund organizations that you may one day avail yourself of, but they may not. It’s called the “general welfare” in the Constitution. It may not be perfect, but you should be happy it exists.

  7. Honi Soit says:

    Thank you Frank for assembling data to help inform conclusions.

  8. Frank Knotts says:

    Delacrat , I am not one who has ever seen the promoting the general welfare clause as an excuse for government to tax the citizens unnecessarily. While you may believe that taxing and spending are the only way to promote the general welfare of the county. state, and nation, others like myself believe that it can be done by government allowing the people to decided how best to spend their money in order for their welfare to be promoted.
    Your statement about my using some of the organizations that receive these grants is most likely true, however, this does not make it right. If I go to a Little League game and they pass the bucket, I tend to put it more than my “70 cents”, when people go to church they pass the plate and people donate.
    it is a symptom of our current society and political landscape that these groups have found a way to feed from the public teat, after benefitting from a tax exempt status. These groups come begging from the state or county to receive money from a tax base they did not help create.
    The elected officials use these discretionary funds to build their own personal goodwill by seeming to be charitable, the funds are too often little more than quasi campaign funds supported by tax payers.
    The groups benefit by receiving the money, tax free by the way, and the officials benefit from the favorable PR of donating to these groups, but truly the majority of the citizens who have paid these tax dollars benefit very little.

  9. delacrat says:

    Frank,

    If these meager expenditures by your county council are the worst you can come up with, you are well and truly blessed.

  10. Frank Knotts says:

    Delacrat, I am concerned with the practice as much or more than the amount. You see history shows us that government over reach and spending tends to begin small, and if the people allow it, then government tends to grow those practices.
    So while you may see the amounts as small now, if the practice is allowed to grow, and if new people are elected the amounts could become an even larger problem.

  11. delacrat says:

    Frank,

    Your argument relies on the Slippery Slope Fallacy.

    It does not necessarily follow that what begins small, grows to extreme hypotheticals.
    It could just as well grow to a middle ground, stay where it is, or disappear.

  12. Frank Knotts says:

    Delacrat, I am surprised you have time to comment here, it must require a lot of time and attentions buying those bridges.

  13. Larry Calhoun says:

    Kudows Frank! I’ve said for years all these grants are nothing more than vote buying. I addressed the council a couple of years ago about this because of their granting money to a church for an Easter egg hunt they were conducting.
    I told them our church also had an Easter egg hunt for the community kids here in Laurel, but it never crossed our minds to hold out our tin cup to Caesar for a donation and I got sort of blown off for my comments.

  14. FLYLADY says:

    Agreed, Larry! The true motiviation for these grants is largely self-serving for the council members, whether they realize it or not (and I suspect they do). I’ve watched the minutes of CC meetings regularly for some time, and is extremely rare for any member to question or vote anything but “yea” for a request, regardless of its origin. I realize that it has been done this way for some time, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Frank has provided an informative summary of the types of grants approved. While some are certainly worthy of support, churches are questionable for a variety of reasons and others are truly a joke. Allowing the people to privately assist those groups that they feel merit support vs.having any government group decide for them is the only way to ensure that the “system” works as the framers intended. Frank has nailed it on the head with his statement:

    “I believe that this type of spending is the worst type of big government conservatism, the type that believes that they know best how to spend your money, and on which charities to spend it. I say do away with all discretionary spending and let the people decide how to spend their money, that is true conservatism.”

    Well said, Frank.

  15. delacrat says:

    “Frank Knotts
    May 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Delacrat, I am surprised you have time to comment here, it must require a lot of time and attentions buying those bridges.”

    Frank,

    Argumentum ad hominem does not prove the Slippery Slope Fallacy.

    Anyway, It would appear that the only people “buying those bridges” in your mind are your 4 – 1 GOP majority Sussex County Council !

  16. Rick says:

    …the Preamble of the US Constitution states, among other things, indicates that one of the reasons for the Constitution, the rulebook for our government, was to promote the general welfare.

    But the ‘general welfare’ was to be promoted, in the eyes of Madison, through the clearly delineated powers articulated in Article I., Section 8;

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

    To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

    To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

    To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;…

    …and so on.

    In Federalist # 41 Madison addressed the concerns of those who felt that the term ‘general welfare’ amounted to Congressional carte blanche, that future Congresses could do whatever they wanted to do, without limit.

    From Madison’s Federalist # 41:

    Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

    Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.”

    But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter…

    PUBLIUS

    Of course, Congress and the ‘liberal’ judiciary (those who usurp) have long-ago abandoned Madison, the Founders and the US Constitution- and thus, we have an unlimited, unregulated behemoth of a government that is spending us toward bankruptcy with great rapidity.

  17. Discretionary funding needs to go. One of Sam Wilson’s claim over the recent NAACP flap has been he was concerned about money leaving the county, yet look at the list of his past support to national organizations that may or may not have kept all of the money in the county.

    Scrapping the grant program in favor of private, voluntary funding, as Mr. Knotts suggests, amounts to a popularity contest and Sussex County would stand to lose a lot of its cultural and historical heritage in favor of what is popular at the time. Scrapping the grant system is as bad an idea as keeping the current discretionary system.

    The current discretionary spending needs to be replaced with a strict, objective, grant submission process that takes arbitrary human judgment out of the equation. A detailed spending sheet should be included with each request that shows exactly how much money stays in Sussex County and should show spending to third party vendors and administrators outside of Sussex County to meet the organization’s objectives. For example, if the symphony wants $500 for “promotion and printing tickets”, how much of that $500 is going to be spent with local promoters and printers, local being locally owned and operated companies in Sussex County (not national chains like Staples or marketing firms headquartered on the Western Shore).

    That’s our two-cents worth provided free from outside of Sussex County. :)

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