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MoCo Minority Communities Protest Proposed Budget Cuts

You can tell that the Montgomery County Council is getting close to making final budget decisions from the intensity of pressure that various constituencies are putting on elected officials this week in Rockville.

Two dozen leaders from the Latino, Asian and African American communities gathered at the council building this afternoon to protest a proposed 10 percent reduction to minority health programs. The group said the recommendation by the council's Health and Human Services Committee would affect 16,000 people who receive services for diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV, in addition to anti-gang initiatives and a program that lends breast pumps to low-income women.

Community leaders said they were shocked to learn of the proposal, backed by all three committee members - George Leventhal, Roger Berliner and Duchy Trachtenberg.

Berliner said the committee only had "difficult choices" and was looking for money to help the hundreds of people turned away from a county clinic each month who need treatment and screening for sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis.

"This was not something we did lightly, but it was something we felt we needed to put on the table to serve these very communities in what we believe to be a more effective way," Berliner said.

Leventhal showed up before the press conference started to tell the crowd that the proposal was not a "final decision." His aide, Patty Vitale, stuck around to take tough questions about whether the committee understood the consequences of its recommendation.

She thanked the group for putting a human face on the issue and said council members were looking for alternatives to the proposed cuts.

"When we are this deep in numbers, sometimes it's easy to lose track of the faces," she said.

The full council is set to take up the issue on Monday morning.

By Ann Marimow  |  May 7, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow , Montgomery County  
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Meanwhile, just around the corner, Superintendent Weast has a slush fund of funds from outside sources that he doesn't make public and refuses to bring to the Council for appropriation.

Posted by: jzsartucci | May 7, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Loaned breast pumps? When my spouse had her baby, we bought one for $14 bucks at CVS.

First of all, if you can't afford to have a baby, don't have one!

I'm personally aware of several cases, where green card holders, working in collusion with illegal aliens alike, conceal the identity if their fathers so they can tap into Montgomery County's subsidized pre-natal program. Completely without shame.

This fraud is absolutely sickening.

Mark D. Fennel

Posted by: mfennel1 | May 11, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

There is plenty of money. The BOE oversees billions and the council approves it all. Berliner and Trachtenberg have difficult choices? When they lose to Jane DeWinter in the primary next year the choices won't be so difficult.

And where are the 'dozens' of "leaders from the Latino, Asian, and African American communities" when our money goes up in smoke at the BOE? I haven't seen them around. Your choice, 'leaders.' You decided to spend all the money on MCPS, for tech toys, fancy trips to Las Vegas, and dinners at Il Pizzico and Addies instead of on low-income and ill members of our community. You made your choice.

When your ill constituents die because they can't get medicine, or basic medical care, why not join Frieda Lacey at Addie's for her bi-monthly 'business lunch?'

Posted by: freestategal | May 11, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

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