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Minorities lose out in grant process

January 06, 2007

To the editor:

After enjoying the period of time we had sharing articles and photos from our "Speak Up" publication, I trusted that any reports by The Herald-Mail involving Brothers United Who Dare To Care would be "fair and balanced." I would have appreciated it if your paper had used the information it requested in the story written about our protest against the Washington County Health Department.

Your paper asked me for information that should have been included in the story to counter the remarks form Washington County Health Department public information officer Rod MacRae.

The story reported that MacRae said the local health department only had $43,000 in funding for the community proposals. I sent your paper the proposal application, which said that the Washington County Health Department has a total of $154,605 for the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program's community projects.

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The local health department announced this amount in a back-page advertisement in your newspaper. So why was that omitted from the story? I had also submitted a copy of the letter denying one of our requests for funding from the local health department. One of our requests netted $6,000 of the $8,000 requested, without an explanation for the reduction. The letter we received for the other proposal that was denied listed the reason for the denial was that the amount for personnel exceeded the 20 percent guideline - not that the application did not score high enough, as MacRae said.

I know how to write grant applications. My mentor, Dr. Richard William, was a grant reader for the federal government and he taught me well. The local health department grant reviewers rejected several applications from minority organizations associated with Brothers United Who Dare To Care and the reviewers did so without notice and reason, other than exceeding the 20 percent amount for personnel.

The application does not state a request would be denied for exceeding the 20 percent guideline. We deliberately ignored the guideline because the Washington County Health Department did not obey the guideline when it used community funds to do a $9,000 chicken dinner last summer in the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Your paper was given this information at the protest rally. The Washington County Health Department paid a speaker more than $4,000 for a 15-minute talk that I have been giving to the community for the past five years - for free! No disrespect to their speaker but the payment to the speaker by the Washington County Health Department well exceeds a 20 percent guideline for paying personnel.

Our minority organizations felt we should be able to pay personnel, such as a lab instructor, a $2,400 stipend for 24 weeks of work at $10 an hour for 10 hours a week. That amounted to a $100 a week stipend from an $8,000 funding request to work in our "existing" computer training center. (The story by your paper leads one to believe we need to build a computer lab. We could use an upgrade, but we do have a computer training center). We believe a trained computer person, listed in our proposal, is worth exceeding 20 percent of $8,000 request since the Washington County Health Department paid a speaker a rate of $16,000 an hour.

Excuse the rant, but it works for your columnist, Tim Rowland, whom I respect.

Your paper has both copies of the proposals submitted to the Washington County Health Department by our organization. The proposals are well- written and had been funded by the local health department in the past. It was not until they had their funding increased to improve the health of nonwhites (minorities) that they were able to attract other organizations to which they decided to award most of the $154,605 in funding.

Bottom line is, nonwhites such as those in in our organization will not sit by and be unfairly denied. Everyone in this country deserves to be treated equally. We should all appeal to higher levels of government demanding to be treated fair and right. Or we need to get new leaders.

We have had enough of the "Willie Lynch" process and those shackles will not work on us.

Change is going to come!

Andy Smith

www.blackmenwhocare.org

Hagerstown

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