I sit on the Community Resources and Development Committee for the City Council in Macon.
A few weeks ago, one of the members of Council mentioned that she’d gone to see some friends’ child play in a little league game at one of the city parks. It was in the Vine-Ingle league here in town.
She commented that there were no black children on either team and she was concerned about that. Her concerns stem not so much from race, but from poverty issues — are the affluent areas excluding poorer children or not making available scholarships, etc.
The city has a voucher program funded with Community Development Block Grant money that allows tax dollars to subsidize or cover in full the costs of a membership fee, etc. for disadvantaged youths. It turns out that several little league programs in town, and other organized activities for kids in town, don’t participate in the voucher program.
From talking to these folks, they all tell me that generally they have their own program, the vouchers aren’t really applicable because of league rules, or they don’t participate in the voucher program because of the bureaucratic paperwork hassles.
In any event, the member of Council has now proposed a resolution which would require:
that all recreation programs that are using City of Macon facilities or parks and are eligible for participation in the voucher program are hereby required to participate and become program providers in the youth voucher program offered by the Macon Bibb County Recreation Department and to offer said vouchers to all eligible candidates.
I’m just wondering if this is constitutional. We are, in effect, requiring recreational programs (not for profit, at that) to use a government voucher program to have access to public lands.
By and large it is probably a moot point because all of the programs I’ve talked to, including Vine-Ingle, actually say they do offer the vouchers. However, they all choose instead to fund disadvantaged youths through other, less bureaucratic means. About the only ones I can seem to find who refuse to use the voucher program are those in less affluent areas of town who don’t want to go through the compliance hassles, etc.
I suspect we would be, in fact, hurting the very people we’re trying to help with this resolution.
You can, by the way, see the resolution in full here.