Another day, another right wing witch hunt. Courtesy of the Tolbert Report:
The Tolbert Report obtained a copy of the grant applicationlate Friday which reveals startling details. A non-profit organization called “Brotha’s and Sistah’s Inc.” (B&S) applied for and received a $50,000 grant as part of an overall $340,419 in grant awarded by the AMHC for HIV/AIDS prevention. The targeted population listed in the application is “Arkansas’ Black LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community’s MSM (Men having Sex with Men).”
The B&S grant funded the organization’s operation inside a gay nightclub called Club Good Times on 3910 Asher Avenue in Little Rock that according to the application “caters to the Black SGL (Same Gender Loving) population in Arkansas.” In fact, B&S lists their address as the same address as Club Good Times on their application. The funding was requested mainly for the salaries of three individuals, for the distribution of materials inside the club such as condoms and lubricants, and for renting space from Club Good Times.
You can read the full 19-page grant application here and here and evaluate it yourself but this was the subject of the audit presented the committee. The audit reportfound that many issues with the grant including the fact that about half of the funds were distributed in advance of the project beginning and that $7,952.83 went to unallowed or undocumented expenditures.
Legislators questioned executive director of the AMHC Idonia Trotter extensively during the committee meeting with many of the questions coming from Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison).
You know, I really don’t know where to begin with this one. First off, as Max Brantley said this morning, there could, COULD, be a legitimate complaint here:
But auditors have questioned whether $7,000 went to unauthorized expenditures. The organization applying for the money had the same address as the club where the program operated. The money paid for the salaries of three people. It also paid to rent space from the club. More than half of the money was spent before a single condom was distributed. All of these things give off the odor of a sweetheart deal for someone with good political connections. It’s fair game for inspection, particularly if the Republicans can keep sex out of it. Fat chance.
However, as an Arkansas Blog reader points out in the comments section:
It’s not just about passing out condoms. The application indicates that they will provide testing, which definitely requires space and trained staff members. Additionally, the approach of using social networks to reach those most at risk is a proven way of maximizing the reach of the ever-shrinking resources allocated to such activities. They have made some mistakes, but $50,000 could be a real bargain for taxpayers.
But again, the money isn’t really at issue here. Check out Tolbert’s headline:
State Grant for Distributing Condoms at Gay Bar Stirs Controversy in Committee
I’d say that’s a dog whistle, but it’s more like an air horn. If this was about the money, Tolbert wouldn’t need such a sensationalist headline and the Republicans wouldn’t be making a peep. In a sane world, this program wouldn’t be controversial. Condoms help in preventing the spread of STDs like HIV, and its important that the state provide public health services targeted at at risk groups. But there will always be a segment that still lives in the dark ages and would like to take us all back to that time period. But seriously, Republican legislators targeting a program designed to protect people at risk for the spread of STDs on trumped up charges and then a right wing blogger using a gay baiting headline? That’s low. Very low.
Update: Oh and if you look around the web, on Tolbert’s thread and on the Arkansas Blog thread, you’ll see a few Republicans up in arms that Joyce Elliott is listed as the state senator for the district where the club was located. Give me a fucking break.