The Interactive Resource Center (IRC) received its seventh surplus vehicle from the City of Greensboro by an 8-0 vote of the City Council on Tuesday, April 6.
City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy, the executive director of the IRC, was recused from the vote, but not from the discussion. This is following in the footsteps of City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, who participated in all the discussions about awarding the contract for Cure Violence to One Step Further where she is the executive director. Like Kennedy, Johnson was recused from voting on the $500,000 Cure Violence contract, but she fully participated in the discussions.
Kennedy asked to be recused from the vote on donating a 2005 Dodge Caravan to the IRC and the City Council voted unanimously to recuse her, but then when a question was asked about the donation, Kennedy went into an explanation about how the donation of this particular surplus vehicle would benefit the city. The IRC operates a facility for the homeless population from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Kennedy said that the IRC needed the 2005 Dodge Caravan to transport homeless people. She did not explain why the IRC could not transport homeless people in the 2007 Toyota 4Runner, the 2009 Ford Escape, or the 2008 Chevrolet Impala that the City Council donated to the IRC in 2019 or the 2004 Ford E150 van that the city donated to the IRC in 2015.
In 2019, the city also donated two John Deere Gators to the IRC, but these would not fit the bill to transport people.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower raised the ire of some of her fellow councilmembers by asking if there was a specific process to go through if another nonprofit wanted to request a surplus vehicle from the city.
Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson said, “A specific process, no.”
Wilson said that when the city had a contractual agreement with a nonprofit that the request would be considered in light of that agreement.
City Councilmember Goldie Wells, who is on the IRC board of directors, said, “I’ve been involved with the IRC since its inception. This is way of helping some of our citizens.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I think this is money well spent in regards to helping them help us.”
The City Council has in the past two years donated six vehicles to the IRC and none to any other nonprofit, whether that nonprofit had a contract with the city or not.