Walter Pierce

NGO funding debate rages

by Walter Pierce

With the vote on whether Lafayette Consolditated Government should fund non-governmental organizations fast approaching, debate over the merits of public support for social service and culture providers has been spirited at “Robispierre” got the chattering going within minutes of the story being posted on-line with a shot across the bow: “It’s time the NGOs stand on their own.” But, we’re happy to report, among the nearly 2,800 words posted on the topic, those in favor of public funding for groups like Festival International and 232-HELP outnumber the NG-NOs by an almost 3-to-1 margin. The posts include a 1,017-word comment by Dist. 7 Councilman Don Bertrand. We know what you were doing last night, Don.

Best of all is the simple fact that public discussion on this important topic is happening, discussion that must be advanced beyond Tuesday’s vote by the council. Overall, Lafayette seems to be of the mind that non-profits — both social service and cultural service — provide a critical component of our quality of life and that it is in our best interest to ensure that they receive financial support from government. Most of us, regardless of our views on the topic, agree that this annual bickering needs to stop.

Our tally of council members finds a 6-3 tilt against the ordinance, but two councilmen struck us as on the proverbial fence and a third apparently changed his mind over the last few weeks, moving from pro-funding to anti-funding. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, please keep the vigorous and civil debate going in the comment section for this week’s cover story, “The NGOs.” Log on and chime in.