In a major shift, at the Tuesday, Jan. 18 City Council meeting, Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was recused from the discussion as well as the vote on funding One Step Further with an additional $400,000 to oversee the Cure Violence program in Greensboro.
In the past, Johnson has participated in the discussions, very effectively lobbying for One Step Further, where she is the executive director, to be funded, and was only recused from the vote on the allocation. However, a law passed by the North Carolina legislature last year made such actions by an elected official on behalf of a nonprofit where they were employed illegal.
At the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, Johnson asked to be recused as soon as the agenda item was called, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of One Step Further, former Mayor Robbie Perkins, gave the presentation. After Perkin’s presentation the City Council voted 8-0 to allocate $400,000 to One Step Further for the Cure Violence program, which operates in Greensboro under the name Gate City Coalition.
The presentation also differed from past presentations, where it has been claimed that the Gate City Coalition was having a positive impact on reducing crime in the two small areas of Greensboro where it operates.
Perkins said that the report by a group from UNCG had noted that Gate City Coalition really needs three years to show results.
Perkins said, “The work that is being done by the coalition is very difficult work.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I know that when we first did this that we would have to make a long-term commitment.”
She said, “It’s very difficult to quantify something that doesn’t happen.”
The goal of the Gate City Coalition is to prevent violent crimes from happening by working with those likely to commit violent crimes and convincing them that there are better solutions.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “Cure violence has had some growing pains but I think it is going in a positive direction.”
Councilmember Tammi Thurm asked if the City Council was underfunding the Gate City Coalition.
Perkins noted that $363,000 covered direct expenses of the Gate City Coalition and that $36,000 went to One Step Further for administrative costs.
The report to the City Council on the Gate City Coalition in December noted that Cure Violence had not provided the necessary training for Gate City Coalition at the beginning of the program.
When the program was first funded in 2019, Cure Violence was paid $100,000 by the City of Greensboro to provide training for the Gate City Coalition team.