One of the most interesting things that happened at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners work session on Monday, June 17, didn’t happen at the work session – it happened right afterward when Commissioners Jeff Phillips and Skip Alston sat locked in intense conversation and asked the media to step away so that reporters could not hear what the two men were talking about.
The mystery discussion was a last minute appeal from the Democrat Alston to the Republican Phillips to get Phillips to vote in favor of roughly $250,000 in county funding to establish a proposed Cure Violence program in Greensboro.
For months, advocates for Cure Violence have been encouraging both the Greensboro City Council and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to fund the program that uses ex-felons and others with criminal records to attempt to reduce murders and violent crimes in cities.
The plan on the table calls for Cure Violence to be placed under the Greensboro-based non-profit One Step Further Inc. and for the City of Greensboro and Guilford County to each fund half of the roughly $500,000 cost for the first year of a program in two high-crime sections of Greensboro. Those plans seemed to hit a brick wall last month when it became clear that there weren’t enough yes votes on the Board of Commissioners to approve the plans and therefore the Greensboro City Council repurposed money it had planned to use to pay for the program.
However, if Cure Violence is dead, no one has told Alston: On Monday Alston was working hard to get Phillips on board. As the votes are thought to stand now, a single vote swayed toward Cure Violence funding could swing the board, and it’s commonly believed that, if Guilford County does approve funding, the city would gladly vote to approve as well.
Alston said after the discussion that he was not sure if Phillips was convinced yet of the wisdom of funding the program but he added that he was still working the Republican commissioners.
The Guilford County commissioners are expected to adopt the county’s 2019-2020 budget on Thursday, June 20, and that would be the logical time for the county to approve the funding if it’s going to happen this year. The Republicans would like to see a unanimous vote on the budget – or at least a bipartisan one – and they could likely pick up some of those votes if Cure Violence is funded in the budget.
So far, the five Republicans on the Board of Commissioners haven’t seemed to budge on Cure Violence, and, after the meeting, Republican Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said he didn’t believe at the current time that there were five votes on the board to support it.