The Greensboro City Council is scheduled to hand over another $400,000 to a fellow councilmember at the Tuesday, Jan. 18 meeting.
This $400,000 will be in addition to the nearly $900,000 the City Council has already paid for the Cure Violence program run by City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson in her role as executive director of One Step Further.
The North Carolina legislature passed a bill in 2021 that in the future will make Johnson’s actions in acquiring this lucrative contract illegal. However, at the time there was no law in North Carolina that prevented elected officials from lobbying the elected body where they served to hand over a contract to the nonprofit where they worked.
Johnson was recused from the vote on the Cure Violence contract. Other councilmembers who are recused from an item because of a conflict of interest don’t participate in the discussion. Sometimes the recused councilmember will leave the dais during the discussion. Johnson, however, fully participated in the discussions and was only recused from the final vote to award the contract.
For some reason the Cure Violence program is not in the budget with the other allocations to nonprofits but is handled separately midway through the city’s fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
In December, the City Council heard a lengthy report on the Cure Violence program done by a group from UNCG. According to that report this $400,000 a year program had 31 participants and, of those, 16 filled out surveys with enough information to be used in the report. The report uses percentages to indicate the success of the program, such as 87 percent strongly agree with the statement that Cure Violence has had a positive impact on their lives, which sounds much better than 14 people strongly agreed with that statement.
At that meeting it was also reported by a Cure Violence employee that there were three vacancies in the seven-member Cure Violence staff.
Since a large percentage of the $400,000 allocation from the city is for staff salaries, it would be interesting to know how the money that was budgeted for those salaries was being spent.
But after that report the Greensboro City Council had no substantive questions about the lack of success of the Cure Violence program that was noted in the presentation.