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Jan 31, 201307:29 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Madison city officials discriminate against pro-life social services ... so much for ‘pro-choice’

Madison city officials discriminate against pro-life social services ... so much for ‘pro-choice’

(page 1 of 2)

You are a young woman, pregnant, afraid, and alone. Powerful forces in the society at large and in Madison in particular encourage you to terminate your pregnancy. Powerful forces, like the Madison Common Council.

A well-established Madison organization called Care Net Pregnancy Center of Dane County sought a low-interest loan of $550,000 from the city’s federally funded affordable housing trust fund to help build a 36-unit apartment building on MacArthur Road on the city’s east side. The proposed $5.5 million Eagle Harbor Apartments would help financially indigent young mothers transition to independent living. The housing would also be available to other low-income families in Madison and Dane County.

Care Net, operating for 28 years in Madison, helps distressed women who choose to bring their babies to term to live happy and successful lives. Yes, the organization is pro-life, and yes, it is faith-based.

That is a no-go in the People’s Republic of Madison. Blasphemy. It deviates from the government-sponsored religion of the taxpayer-financed, conception-to-partial birth sacrament of Abortion on Demand.

Viewpoint bias is clearly the reason that the City of Madison Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Committee defeated the proposal by a 5-2 vote on Jan. 17. A gaggle of politically correct alders led the crusade to abort human services for lower-income Madisonians who choose life.

“We’re disappointed the decision was made not on the merits but on ideology,” Care Net Center Director Julie Bennett told me.

Madison city government has applied what amounts to a faith-based religious test, in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. It is religious discrimination. This decision is simply appalling. Even the Madison city attorney says so, although in more muted language.

Among the five voting no on the CDBG committee were its three aldermen: Lauren Cnare, Matt Phair, and Tim Bruer. To ensure that the corpse stays dead, those three withdrew their original sponsorship of the proposal before this Monday’s Board of Estimates meeting, meaning that the full Common Council will never see it.

They did so despite the support of the civil servants in city government and despite a written tongue-lashing earlier Monday from legal counsel Michael May.

Attorney May reminded city decision-makers that “federal regulations provide that religious or faith-based organizations are eligible to receive [these] funds like any other entity and bar the city from discriminating against such organizations.”

“I must state it is difficult to determine the basis on which the CDBG committee determined not to support the application.” (Attorney May’s Jan. 28 letter.)

It may have been difficult to determine the legal basis for denial, but it is easy to determine the political basis.

Ald. Lisa Subeck, in particular, spewed unsubstantiated charges that pregnancy counseling centers in general – and by inference, Care Net Pregnancy of Dane County in particular – engaged in what amounts to a bait and switch, gulling unsuspecting abortion customers into having unwanted babies.

At one time, Subeck earned her paycheck from NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. Her crusade against Care Net is ironic for one who professes to be pro-choice.

In a Jan. 22 letter to Mayor Soglin, Care Net Board President Larry DeWerd said, “Ms. Subeck, as [former] director of NARAL ... had a very different agenda than discussing affordable workforce housing. ... She used vague references to unidentified pregnancy resource centers to discredit the work and the name of Care Net.”

Care Net’s president asserts that “all medical information used in the clinic has been verified by our local medical director, Dr. Michael Wilson.”

May the record show (as it does) that Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff also fought the affordable housing proposal on religious grounds. She and Ald. Joe Clausius made the motion at Monday’s Board of Estimates to deep-six it. (The alders named here were asked to comment but had not as of this writing.)

If you don’t think the fix was in, DeWerd writes that Care Net was “expressly denied the opportunity to respond to (Subeck’s) allegations.”

Old to new | New to old
Jan 31, 2013 08:07 am
 Posted by  John

Paraphrasing Michael May: "You're just asking to be sued for blatant viewpoint discrimination, which has no place in city gov't."

Paraphrasing Ald. Lisa Stubeck: "Sue us! We're happy to be martyrs (and by martyrs, I mean frivolously wasters of taxpayer money) for our cause of eliminating humane alternatives to abortion."

Jan 31, 2013 11:57 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Wow, just wow. Care Net should a)take these bigots to the cleaners; they can enlist the aid of the Thomas More legal foundation or similar Christian entities; and, b)publicize this travesty; believe me, there are LOTS of people who would gladly help them make up the financial shortfall this causes. Where do I send my check?

Jan 31, 2013 12:16 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

This just in, a response from Ald. Joe Clausius, wherein he admits that aldermen simply blew off their legal counsel's admonition:

Dear Mr. Blaska,

Your email inquiry of January 30, 2013 is acknowledged.

As you are aware, Madison City Ordinances require any resolution before the city council to have at least one sponsor to advance. In this particular situation the four sponsoring alders including myself, all withdrew sponsorship of the Care Net resolution prior to the BOE [Board of Estimates] Meeting. BOE then unanimously voted to place the resolution on file. City Attorney Michael May's letter of January 28, 2013, never even came into discussion during the meeting.

Hopefully, I've clarified my position regarding this issue.


Joe Clausius
District 17 Alder

Feb 4, 2013 07:03 am
 Posted by  uwbiz96

Wait, the Common Council is encouraging women to have an abortion? Are you aware that women can't actually get an abortion in Madison?

Feb 4, 2013 08:57 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

All the more reason for Care Net Pregnancy Center's services. But then, you didn't mean to leave the impression that Madison women cannot get an abortion anywhere, did you. Or did you? (Is it that difficult to approach a policy debate with honesty?)

Feb 4, 2013 02:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


As stated in the Isthmus article on 1/14/13 titled: "Madison city staff recommend funding for Care Net crisis pregnancy center housing."

'The Community Development Block Grant committee is due to review the staff recommendation (PDF) on Wednesday, Jan. 17. " It then gave the link to those recomendations.
When I checked the link to the city web site on 2/2/13 it said: "The City of Madison Legislative Information Center says that this record no longer exists. It might have been deleted."

This article also stated that;"Care Net submitted a letter (PDF) to the city in response to staff questions about the agency's status as a faith-based organization." Again the link was given to the city web site. Again, the city web site said: "This letter is no longer on the City Legislative Center web site."

Why were those documents no longer availble or deleted? Is the City trying to hide something?

Ald. Joe Clausius seemed to have quite a change of mind. First he was quoted in the Isthmus article on 1/14/13 as saying: "To me Care Net is above reproach," he says. "They want to expand their mission and part of it is affordable housing." He went on to say that he was not bothered by the "organization's operations or its faith focus."

Then in an article from the Isthmus on the 18th titled, "Madison CDBG committee rejects funding for Care Net affordable housing project"

Joe Clausis is quoted as saying: "I'm a lifelong pro-choice person," he said. Clausius noted that he supported the conditional use permit for the site -- which was approved by the Plan Commission Monday night -- but said that he had recently become aware of the "tactics" used by Care Net and that it would be wrong for taxpayers to support the project."

Who got to Joe?

Why did Care Net have to ask the Mayor to include their rebuttal that was never heard in the meeting? Why wern't they given the chance of rebuttal to NARAL's unsubstantiated aligations against Care Net?

Feb 5, 2013 04:42 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Sounds like a Walker move against planned parenthood. I'm sure the state under the Walker administration can find some hidden cash to fund this. Go ask GG. He'll be happy to sponsor a bill.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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