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Anaheim : City Denial of Funds for Sickle-Cell Aid Criticized

Representatives of the Orange County Sickle Cell Program charged Anaheim City Council members with discrimination Tuesday after the council did not provide funds for the group’s education, testing and counseling program.

“It’s pure racism,” Joe Gatlin, executive director of the nonprofit group, said after the meeting.

At the recommendation of the Community Services Board, which said the group would duplicate services offered by the county and UCI Medical Center, the council denied a request for $26,500.

During Tuesday’s public hearing, two officials of the sickle-cell program said the board gave the council incorrect information and said neither UCI Medical Center nor the county provides the same services. The council, during discussion about appeals from groups not slated for money, did not discuss the sickle-cell program.

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“Common courtesy dictates a response,” program consultant Roland Holmes said angrily to the council following the vote.

Addressing the issue for the first time, after the decision on which groups would get money, Mayor Don Roth told Holmes that prejudice wasn’t a factor. Holmes walked away from the chamber as Roth was speaking.

“They talked about everything else (other groups’ appeals), but they ignored” the sickle-cell program, Gatlin said. “I’m embarrassed for the black people in the City of Anaheim that the council is not meeting their needs.”

Gatlin said one out of every 10 blacks suffers from sickle-cell anemia. Anaheim’s black population was listed as 2,719 in the 1980 U.S. Census. Santa Ana, which has the largest concentration of blacks in Orange County, does provide money for the program, according to Gatlin.

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The Orange County Sickle Cell Program was one of five organizations passed over in the Community Services Agency’s proposal on distribution of $130,956 to community groups.

Council members heard appeals from four of the five groups and amended the agency’s recommendation to include an additional $5,000 for two of them, the Anaheim City School District and the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program. The city officials also included an additional $5,000 for the Hotline Help Center, at the recommendation of Jackie Terrell, the board chairwoman.


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