It looks like Greensboro is going to get a Cure Violence program after all.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said at the town hall meeting that the City Council held on Wednesday, Sept. 11, “one of the items that came up was the Cure Violence program that we have been discussing for almost the past two years.”
City Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “It became really evident that we really need to do something. While this is not the sole answer for the shootings and the homicides, it is certainly a beginning.”
The motion to have a contract between the City of Greensboro and One Step Further for the delivery of the Cure Violence program placed on the agenda for the next City Council meeting passed by an 8-0 vote.
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was recused from the vote because she is the executive director of One Step Further. What makes that unusual is that up until that recusal, Johnson had participated in the discussions by the City Council and in the secret joint committee meetings with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners on having One Step Further run the Cure Violence program. At that time, the plan was to have the program funded jointly by Greensboro and Guilford County. However, Guilford County did not vote to fund the program.
The normal practice when a councilmember is recused because of a conflict of interest is for that councilmember to be recused from the discussions as well as the vote. If it is going to be a long discussion the councilmember usually leaves the dais, as Johnson did on Tuesday night.
What is highly unusual is for a councilmember to participate in the discussions, lobby for their own business – whether it is for profit or nonprofit – and then step off the dais only when the actual vote is being taken.
No dollar amount was given for this contract between One Step Further and the City of Greensboro, but when the program was to be jointly funded with Guilford County, the amount being considered was a total of about $500,000.
An issue that has been pointed out in previous discussions by Councilmember Justin Outling is that the city has not investigated other programs. Some community organizers brought the Cure Violence program to the attention of the City Council, and since then the discussion has all been about whether to fund a Cure Violence program or not.
In Durham, the only city in North Carolina to have a Cure Violence program, the program is run by the Durham County Department of Public Health, not the City of Durham. It is also worth noting that despite having an active Cure Violence program, the homicide rate in Durham increased in 2018, and so far in 2019 is up over 27 percent from 2018.