The Cure Violence program has been on the Greensboro City Council’s radar screen for over a year and it appears that, at the meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15, the council will agree to spend $500,000 to fund a Cure Violence program in Greensboro.
Cure Violence is a program that treats violent crime like it is an epidemic and attempts to stop it at its source. Cure Violence makes a point of not cooperating with police departments. It works in the community to find people likely to commit violent crimes and convince them not to do so. The program is headquartered in Chicago where it started.
This year city councilmembers held secret meetings with Guilford County commissioners to work out the details of a jointly funded Cure Violence program. Those discussions resulted in rare joint meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council on May 7 to, for the first time, discuss publicly what they had been discussing for months in secret meetings behind closed doors. The Guilford County commissioners declined to vote on spending $250,000 to fund Cure Violence. Not voting had the same result as voting no.
But in those secret meetings it was determined that One Step Further, the nonprofit headed by City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, would be the best choice to run the $500,000 program. Johnson explained to commissioners and her fellow city councilmembers why One Step Further, where she is the executive director, should get the contract and how she would run the program.
Johnson has said that she will not vote on awarding the contract to One Step Further because it would be a conflict of interest. However, normally when a councilmember has a conflict of interest they are recused before the discussion, not after they have lobbied for their organization to get the contract. It is highly unusual if not unprecedented to have a councilmember freely discuss awarding a contract to an organization where they are employed and then ask to be recused from the vote because of a conflict of interest.
But reportedly that is what will happen Tuesday night.
The majority of the City Council appeared to be in favor of spending $250,000 on Cure Violence and had originally included $250,000 for Cure Violence in the budget. But when the City Council decided not to raise bus fares and a $1 million deficit in the proposed budget had to be made up, the $250,000 for Cure Violence was moved over to the Greensboro Transit Agency.
So when City Manager David Parrish was told to find the money to fund Cure Violence, he had to find the full $500,000 the program will cost the city.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that with the recent increase in murders in Greensboro that the City Council decided it needed to act, and she said that she believed the majority on City Council would vote with her, to fund the Cure Violence program.