Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Real Issue in Cumberland County

County's choice of teen pregnancy program raises questions

By By LINDA FORBES • August 20, 2008

Last week, Cumberland County Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu garnered attention by his public finger-pointing tirade (now on YouTube) accusing Millville resident and Democratic stalwart Mark Krull of being a Republican spy.

The next day, Lou's behavior was even more bizarre. He accepted an award for his response to the county's teen pregnancy crisis. The odd thing is, Lou has done nothing on behalf of teen pregnancy prevention other than promising the agency that gave him the award (Community Health Care Inc.) $100,000 in no-bid funding from the county for a teen pregnancy program.

The proposed award raises a number of questions.

  • Why is the county planning to give $100,000 for pregnancy prevention to this particular agency instead of offering funds on a proposal basis to other effective nonprofit agencies that could have conducted the same or similar programs? Unlike these other agencies, Community Health Care has not been prominent in the county's collaborative teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
  • What happened to Freeholder Doug Rainear's Children First Initiative, which also was going to address teen pregnancy? Kicked off over a year ago with much press, the Children First Initiative was supposed to respond to the county's dismal Kids Count statistics. Now, well over a year later, that effort seems to have fizzled, despite investment of considerable county staff time and other resources. Notwithstanding the hard work of dozens of volunteers who met and planned, the county has yet to fund any proposals coming from this effort.
  • How is the program that the county is funding, "My Daughter's Keeper," going to respond to the county's teen pregnancy epidemic? Cumberland County has twice as many teen pregnancies as the second highest-ranking county in the state. The situation is deplorable and merits a coordinated crisis response by state, county and local authorities.

    The freeholders' response is to fund a program that is going to help mothers communicate with their daughters and offer services to improve girls' self-esteem. It offers workshops that include "role playing, theatrical skits, and dinner-date package incentives and giveaways." Who is going to hold Community Health Care accountable for this program's effectiveness in preventing teen pregnancies, and how will effectiveness be measured?

    And, once again, why is Community Health Care uniquely equipped to conduct this social services program, when its primary mission is health services delivery?

  • More than half of our county's teen births are to Hispanics. Will My Daughter's Keeper be culturally relevant for these girls? How will this program serve the Hispanic population?

    I put these questions out in public because I believe the county's taxpayers deserve answers.

    But even with satisfactory answers to these questions, Lou Magazzu's acceptance of an award recognizing all he has done to prevent teen pregnancy is especially ironic, given his apparent lack of interest in a report on teen pregnancy in Cumberland County presented to the freeholders earlier this year.

    The icy reception and two-minute time period Magazzu, who was then freeholder director, granted for presentation of the report spoke volumes.

    Linda Forbes is a Millville resident.

  • In your voice

    Read reactions to this story
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    wolff wrote:
    Maybe it's another reason why some refer to him as Lou Maggot.
    8/20/2008 6:26:39 AM
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    NSSherlocks wrote:
    Looks like the Krull's have been relegated to riding in the back of the bus. Didn't his wife recently lose her position downtown ? Lou finds it easier to attack his own.
    Oh well, that's why the hard working honest folks want no part of these creatures.

    8/20/2008 6:09:33 AM
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    DivisionByZero said...

    Teen pregnancy prevention: free condoms and instructions in the use of condoms in health class. Easily accessible, affordable birth control pills. instruction as to why having children young is stupid and why it makes your life hard. Instruction on ecology and the human populations impact on planetary ecology and why having kids is stupid, especially in america where the most resources and net primary productivity of the biosphere is consumed per capita. Easily accessible, affordable abortions. Or infanticide. Pretty simple.

    DivisionByZero said...

    Of course all the republicans and libertarians and many of the more moderate democrats with reactionary tendencies would oppose each of these proposals on the grounds that they involve the state sticking it's hands into people's personal lives. The countries in africa where AIDS (and thus unprotected sex) have actually been managed are the ones where the government took an active proactive approach into birth control aside from telling people not to fuck until marriage which is the retarded solution that is ineffectual.

    mkrull said...

    Thanks for writing. Too many "leaders" are putting their head in the sand. Our Freeholder Board is just one example