Dear Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, Bloggers, and other White-Hatted Ones [and this goes for you journalists too]:
If you're going to do opposition research, do this much --
- get the facts
- don't tell lies
Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms
By Paul Kane
ST. PAUL -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.
and the news travels over the pond to the UK:
Sarah Palin: Is she the worst running mate in history?
By Anton Antonowicz In St Paul, Minnesota 4/09/2008
RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE 2008: First she reveals teenage daughter is pregnant, then McCain confesses he's only met her once, now she's exposed for cutting teen mum aid
She's been branded the worst running mate in history - and things are threatening to blow out of control for "hurricane Sarah" Palin.
The Republican vice-presidential hopeful has come under fire since it was revealed her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.
But now it has emerged Palin has SLASHED funding for organisations which help teenage mothers.
Palin's five-months' pregnant daughter Bristol was with her mum at the Republican Convention in Minnesota last night.
But other expectant teenagers in her situation will be badly affected by legislation passed by the Alaskan governor back in April.
Despite becoming a surprise grandmother herself, Palin agreed to reduce funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 per cent, from $5million to $3.9m.
And the New York Times, in their blog The Caucus starts off just like the rest of them:
Palin’s Budget Cuts Affect Teenage Mothers
By Catrin Einhorn
“Our house is full, help us build a new home,” proclaims the Web site for Covenant House Alaska, a program that helps younger people, including teenage mothers. The Alaska legislature decided to allocate $5 million in building funds, but Gov. Sarah Palin cut that to $3.9 million with a line-item veto in June.
And off around the blogs it went -- Sarah Barracuda, Mom Of A Pregnant Teen, Slashes Funding For Everyone Else's Pregnant Teens !1!eleventy-one!1!1!!
What Really Happened
Covenant House is a faith-based organization that started in New York City and, in spite of a scandal involving its founder, has been the organization taking care of runaways and homeless teenagers for 40 years now, and doing a darn good job of it too, from all accounts. There's even a book about it [apologies for not providing an MCB Sunday Morning Review!].
Covenant House Alaska runs four facilities in Anchorage --
- Passage House, a transitional living program ... [that] provides young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives
- Rites of Passage, a transitional living program that offers a unique opportunity for homeless youth (ages 18 to 20) to address the issues and responsibilities of adulthood while receiving residential support and the guidance of Covenant House Alaska staff and volunteer mentors
- a Community Service Center, that provides a whole host of services such as counseling, tutoring, job assistance, health care, a legal clinic...
- and a Crisis Center, whose doors are open 24/7/365 to provide immediate short-term shelter [average length of stay in 2007 = 15 days] for kids who are in immediate need and have nowhere else to go.
It's the last facility on that list, the Crisis Center, the immediate short-term shelter, that Covenant House Alaska wants to expand, so they applied for a grant from the state of Alaska, asking for $10 million to help build a new, larger facility in a more central part of Anchorage. The state legislature, in an overall appropriations bill, voted to give them $5 million in fiscal year 2009 towards the project, and Governor Palin used her powers of line item veto to cut that amount to $3.9 million. Alaska, for all its corruption alleged and actual, posts much of its business online. You can read the final [massive] appropriations bill for fiscal year 2009 here, and even find the justifications for each and every line item veto here [item 318, on page 21].
-- Just as an aside, I'd like to point out that this kind of transparency is one of the many benefits of socializing such things as health insurance. You won't get anything like that kind or amount of information from the for-profit insurance industry. --
For a bit of perspective, Covenant House Alaska helped a total of 3165 kids, 1334 of whom utilized the to-be-expanded Crisis Center [nb: 24,625 meals served] and 12 of whom were teen moms or moms-to-be living in the not-going-to-be-defunded Passage House.
So, all this could just as easily [and much more accurately] have been labeled Governor Palin Awards $3.9 Million To Help Alaska's At-Risk Youth !1!eleventy-one!!!1!
I haven't found a corroborating source for this yet, but apparently Covenant House Alaska has issued a press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2008
Contact: Deirdre A. Cronin
“Covenant House Alaska is a multi-service agency serving homeless and runaway youth, including teen mothers. The majority of the agency’s annual operating budget is privately raised, with no more than 10 to 15 percent of funds coming from state grants in any given year. We are grateful for the support we have received from Governor Sarah Palin, the Alaska legislature and our Congressional delegation over the years.
Despite some press reports to the contrary, our operating budget was not reduced. Our $3.9 million appropriation is directed toward a multi-year capital project and it is our understanding that the state simply opted to phase in its support for this project over several years, rather than all at once in the current budget year.
I wonder if that will show up in any media outlets or blogs.
Finally, to give credit where credit is due, and to encourage the casting of aspersions where they're due, I'll note that the NYT blog post I quoted above does have this paragraph, down near the end of the post [emphasis added] --
While teen pregnancy has dropped across the country, its decrease is even more dramatic in Alaska. According to the most recent figures from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the pregnancy rate for girls 15 to 19 in Alaska showed a 33 percent change from 1992 to 2000, the third largest drop in the country. Stephanie Birch, maternal and child health director with the state department of health, attributed the drop to increased access to birth control and guidance from health care providers through an expansion of rural and community clinics and public health centers.
What Democrats, liberals, progressives, bloggers, and other white-hatted ones really need to be doing is dethroning the Dominionists and demolishing their War On Women. It would help if journalists who get paid to do this stuff would write about it too, but don't expect that to happen.