At a Thursday, April 4 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, County Manager Marty Lawing gave the board an update on the progress of the talks to bring Cure Violence to Guilford County, and the program’s biggest advocate on the board – Commissioner Skip Alston – told county staff to light a fire under those efforts.
Alston, who’s been pushing loudly for months for the program that’s meant to reduce inner-city violence, told Lawing and Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne at the meeting that the talks between the county and the City of Greensboro were going too slow.
Cure Violence is a program that originated in Chicago with the goal of bringing down murder rates in cities. In some cases, the program employs ex-felons to go into the inner cities and attempt to diffuse violence.
The proposal now on the table calls for Greensboro and Guilford County to contribute about $300,000 each to establish the program under the Greensboro non-profit One Step Further Inc. Alston has said for months that it’s a no-brainer that the county should move forward on Cure Violence; he has said many times that it’s an effective program that’s badly needed to reduce shootings and violent crime in the county.
However, other commissioners – most notably most of the five Republicans who control the board – have expressed concerns about the program’s effectiveness, the county’s potential liability and the cost. So it’s by no means clear that the votes are there on the Board of Commissioners to approve the move.
The Greensboro City Council is, on the other hand, expected to vote in favor of funding Cure Violence.
At the meeting, Lawing told the board that county and city staff have been working to develop two contracts – one with “a non-profit” (read: One Step Further) to administer the program as well as an agreement with Cure Violence.
Lawing said that city and county legal staff were meeting on Friday, April 5 to discuss the details of the two contracts.
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne told the board that the contracts were “fairly close to done,” but he added that a few more drafts would likely need to be passed between the city and the county before final contracts were drawn up.
Alston said it was time to have something in writing on the table that the commissioners could address at a work session or a meeting.
Payne said, “Some of this is dependent on the City of Greensboro.”
Alston shot back, “The City of Greensboro is putting it on us – they say it’s our fault.”
Alston said he wanted to see something in writing by next week.
“It’s been what – two months that you have been working on this?” Alston said.
Payne reiterated that the contracts were “very close to done” and indicated that the county would do its part to move the process along swiftly.