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VOL. 129 | NO. 57 | Monday, March 24, 2014

Commission Takes Up Family Planning Contract

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County commissioners Monday, March 24, take up an attempt to end the county’s contract for federally funded family planning and related health services with Christ Community Health Services.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy’s resolution to put the contract back out to bid for the fiscal year that begins July 1 reopens a debate the commission put to an uneasy rest in October 2011. The 9-4 vote in 2011 has already become an issue in the Democratic primary for Shelby County mayor.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

Follow the meeting at @tdnpols, twitter.com/tdnpols.

Mulroy was among the majority who voted for a one-year contract with Christ Community Health Services, with the option to renew it up to three times. The commission picked the provider over Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, the longtime provider of the services through the Title X federal funding that comes through the state to Shelby County.

Dr. Richard Donlon is a co-founding doctor and chief operating officer for Christ Community Health Services. The Shelby County Commission will consider ending the county’s contract for federally funded family planning services with the organization.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

And Mulroy has been criticized for the vote by rival mayoral contender and former County Commissioner Deidre Malone, who went off the commission in September 2011, before the vote.

Mulroy has said his vote for the contract included providing for annual reports on services provided by Christ Community and the ability to choose whether to renew the contract.

In his resolution, Mulroy contends “legitimate concerns were raised that the selection process had been politicized, in part because of political pressure from state officials in Nashville.”

He also cites a drop in the number of clinic visits covered in the contract – dropping from 700 to 800 a month to 200 to 300 a month. Because Shelby County Health Department clinics have not seen a corresponding increase in visits for the same services, Mulroy says there is a “fair inference that fewer low-income women in Shelby County are receiving Title X services than had been the case when (Planned Parenthood) managed the contract.”

Up for third and final reading Monday is the proposed referendum ordinance by Commissioner Terry Roland that would change the county charter to do away with any residency requirements for county government employees and Shelby County Schools employees.

If approved, the proposal would go to Shelby County voters on the Aug. 7 ballot.

The measure failed on the first two readings but advances to the third reading under rules the commission has operated under since September 2012.

Commissioners also will appoint Monday a new Shelby County historian to succeed Ed Williams, who died in September. The six applicants for the unpaid position are:

– Lauren Beaupre of Bartlett, a teacher at Faith Christian Academy who, as a graduate research assistant at Middle Tennessee State University, worked as an assistant to state historian Carroll Van West at the Center of Historic Preservation and served as a fellow at the center.

Charles Crawford, University of Memphis history professor and author of numerous books on Memphis and Shelby County history.

Elmer Lewis of Germantown, publisher of Key Magazine of Memphis.

– Paul A. Matthews of Memphis, an attorney and member of Bourland, Heflin, Alvarez, Minor & Matthews PLC who coauthored the recently published “Early Families of the Memphis Area.”

– Lee Millar, a Shelby County sheriff’s deputy and former chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, who has been a vocal opponent of the city’s renaming of three Confederate-themed parks. Millar was among those instrumental in placing a marker in the former Forrest Park honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest that sparked the controversy.

Jimmy Ogle, general manager of Beale Street Landing and the Riverfront Development Corp., current chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission and a former executive director of the Memphis Park Commission.

The commission will also appoint the new historian for a term of six years after some preliminary discussion about imposing a term for the first time. State law does not set a term for county historians. The new historian also serves as an ex-officio member of the county public records commission. Whoever is selected will be the third person to hold the position.

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