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South Carolina, Charleston

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:56 pm

The Post & Courier wrote:FRIDAY, JUNE 02, 2006 12:00 AM


Council delays set-asides
Members say they need policy for giving to nonprofits


BY ROBERT BEHRE
The Post and Courier


Nonprofit agencies, churches and other groups hoping for some $315,000 that Charleston County Council has set aside for them will have to wait a few months before knowing whether they get a slice.

The delay came after at least two council members said they were concerned the county had no policy about what sort of groups qualified for the donations.

Councilman Curtis Bostic proposed delaying the decisions for a few months so council could develop a more specific policy - "rails for us to run on, so to speak" - about giving. The delay also will affect groups seeking some of the county's accommodations tax money.

Last month, council members said all groups must be nonpolitical nonprofits or quasi-governmental, but when council members submitted their proposed donation lists this week, several planned to give to political groups, churches and neighborhood associations without that status.

Councilman Henry Darby wondered whether the council was letting The Post and Courier guide them. The newspaper has editorialized against the county's planned donations.

"I think council needs to stand up and defend its own actions," he said.

Darby then defended his proposed contribution of $1,000 to South Carolinians for Drug Law Reform, a group that lobbies to ease laws about illegal drugs.

He recounted his experience as a 17-year-old caring for his mother after her breast cancer surgery. "If I could have got my mother to smoke marijuana, I would have done that for the sake of her pain," he said.

Chairman Leon Stavrinakis, who wasn't present Thursday, had said he was appalled by Darby's $500 donation to the Drug Reform group last year, a donation the group ultimately returned.

Councilwoman Colleen Condon said she had more general unease about some gifts.

"I'm concerned about what purpose it will be used for. I'm concerned about the geographic limitations. I'm concerned about the religious connections," she said, not citing any particular groups.

The drug reform group is not the only lobbying group council members proposed supporting. Darby and Councilman Curtis Inabinett proposed giving $6,000 to the S.C. Coalition for Black Voter Participation, and Inabinett proposed giving $3,000 to the Edisto Island Community Association, another 501(c)(4) group, a nonprofit that does significant lobbying and candidate work. (A 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit that is largely nonpolitical or nonpartisan.)

Meanwhile, council members proposed giving more than $20,000 to churches, which can receive money for social service work but not for religious services.

Councilman Ed Fava, who recommended that his $35,000 share be diverted to council's contingency, said agencies that need the county's support earlier than the few months' delay can ask to be put on the agenda.

Bostic, who said he would rather give nothing to the agencies because the county's $164.1 million budget is tight, recommended $20,000 for the Harvest Free Medical Clinic, $5,000 for Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy and $10,000 for the Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Reach Robert Behre at rbehre@postandcourier.com or 937-5771.



<center>This article was printed via the web on 6/12/2006 8:52:27 PM . This article
appeared in The Post and Courier and updated online at Charleston.net on Friday, June 02, 2006.
</center>
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