Commissioner Accuses Steve Mulroy of Playing Politics

(Memphis) Two Shelby County commissioners are squaring off about funding for family planning.

Commissioner Chris Thomas is accusing Steve Mulroy of changing his mind about a vote he made two years ago because he’s now running for county mayor.

Mulroy, however, says he’s not playing politics, just looking at the numbers.

Commissioner Mulroy voted to take Title X funding away from Planned Parenthood in 2011, but he’s now saying the move was a bad idea.

Commissioner Thomas says Mulroy changed his mind to win Democrats back before an election in May, while Mulroy says his change of heart isn’t anything new.

“It’s just dirty politics and this is all about Commissioner Mulroy running for mayor,” said Thomas.

Thomas says Mulroy is trying to smooth things over and erase a vote he made more than two years ago.

“All of a sudden he knows he’s got some trouble with the female vote.”

“So, it has nothing to do with you running for mayor?” asked reporter Sabrina Hall.

“No, it has nothing to do with me running for mayor because my conduct has been consistent throughout,” said Mulroy.

The debate all has to do with Title X funding, federal funds given to the county to help women with family planning.

In the past, the money always went to Planned Parenthood, but in 2011, the Commission voted to hand it over to Christ Community Health Services, an organization that doesn’t do abortions.   

At the time, Mulroy, a Democrat, voted for the change.

“He wasn’t like gung-ho like, ‘Yay! Yay! Yay!’ but he did say it was the right thing to do,” said Thomas.  “So, fast forward two years, and now he is out here running for mayor and all of a sudden he is saying that we need to change it and urge the mayor to rebid the contract.”

“I made a deal to support it in exchange for tight compliance monitoring,” said Mulroy.

Mulroy says he’s been monitoring the switch and has seen a big drop in the number of low-income women being see in clinics. He expressed this concern in the Memphis Flyer back in August 2012.

“The Health Department’s own numbers show that Planned Parenthood saw more patients and did more clinic visits in less time for one-fourth the money,” said Mulroy.

Mulroy says he’s asking the Commission and mayor to cancel Christ Community Health Service’s contract, not because he’s running for mayor, but because he says thousands of women aren’t getting the services they need.

The County Commission is voting Monday afternoon on Mulroy’s resolution asking the mayor to open-up the Title X contract for rebidding.