Thursday, April 29, 2010

Latest Peacoholics Drama

Housing Complex has an interesting piece today about the latest in what seems to be a neverending drama about the Peacoholics.  It involves their building a 13-unit transitional living facility for at-risk youth, apparently with funds stemming from the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development in Ward 8's Congress Heights. 

The story is the same we've heard again and again about Peacoholics.  It's not that people object to their mission - in fact, they'd find a lot of support from just about everyone.  It's not even NIMBYism.  Rather, the issues with Peacoholics come down to this every single time:

Confrontational approach.  Peacoholics and its leaders seem to take an adversarial, confrontational, and defensive approach to addresssing the community.  Although any other group involved in a development project would come before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and explain the project to residents, and seek their support at the get-go (the project across the street from theirs indeed did so), Peacoholics addressed the community only after controversy erupted and was summoned by the ANC.  As described in the article, they sat in the back of the ANC meeting, didn't introduce themselves, then lashed out when questioned about their finances.  Ultimately, they accused an ANC Commissioner of seeking bribes from them and sued her for defamation.  I've witnessed a similar meeting in Shaw.

Lack of transparency and accountability.  Peacoholics seem to receive a lot of government funds (fire engine transfer to the DR aside) [UPDATE: Wow, Congress Heights on the Rise has posted documents residents received in response to a FOIA request.  They show that Peacoholics received $1.3 million from the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services in FY 2008-2009, $4.5 million from the Housing Production Trust Fund in FY 2007-2009, $300k from the Public Safety and Justice budget in FY 2007-2008, and $50k from the Department of Human Services in FY 2008.]  Even after the Council cut off millions in earmarks, here it is again receiving public money.  But even that is not a problem in itself.  While the group declares matter of factly that they have stopped killings in [insert your neighborhood], it will not produce any reports, statistics, etc. that provide a description of precisely what it does, how many youth it serves and in what capacity, a budget/financial statement showing how it spends its money, its accomplishments... results.  The lack of accountability, particularly when public money is at issue, raises concern.

It's really a shame.  Providing support in the form of mentoring and job placement is important for at-risk youths, as is showing them there are alternatives to the cycle of gang violence and retaliation.  Nonprofit groups such as Peacoholics have a role to play that may not be adequately filled by MPD in enforcing the law and government agencies in providing social services.  But the approach, the management, the seeming contempt for anyone who asks questions undermines this organization's effectiveness.

10 comments:

ChristopherHawthorne said...

Christopher Hawthorne- I do not understand how the District Government allowed millions to be provided to the Peaceaholics when all the departmental budgets that fall under DC government seem to have a deficit and many of its employees are targeted with layoffs or RIFs. It would seem obvious to place this money into one of those deficient budgets to help save a city resident's job.

si said...

well said Cary, that's really it in a nutshell. & reminds me of another rude individual who claims to have shut down 50 crackhouses singlehandedly.

ChristopherHawthorne said...

Christopher Hawthorne,

It appears to me that the Fenty administration needs to be investigated for misconduct in many natures; (1) a false budget submitted by Chancellor Rhee in a manner to lay off hundreds of DC Teachers, (2) A frivolous layoff at the DDOT agency that left several individuals unemployed, however; the Agency re-advertised the positions of these unemployed workers after the workers were removed, (3) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act in which the DC Police Department and DDOT Agency changed the work schedule of its employees to prevent paying "overtime" hours, (4) the current issuing of funds worth millions of dollars to the Peaceaholics when the issues of 1-3 are pending in litigation and the city has a earmarked deficit in many of its agencies to serve the general public.

Cary Silverman said...

Just a clarification -- Peacoholics did not receive an earmark in 2010. It did receive $1 million in 2009 and $500k in 2008. A list of earmarks is available here: http://theother35percent.blogspot.com/2009/08/your-neighborhood-earmarks.html. The nature of the public money awarded to Peacoholics for the Congress Heights development -- i.e., was it a loan or grant, how much, and under what terms -- is unclear from today's CityPaper blog.

The Advoc8te said...

You can go to my blog and see what we got in response to the FOIA request for the Peaceoholics finances. They actaully got 5million dollars in a loan/grant situation that we are still trying to understand. BTW it was a no-bid contract.

Makes you wonder!
www.congressheightsontherise.com

Tonette Sivells said...

Hi, I live in CH where the battle is brewing. What happened with the Peaceoholics project in the Shaw neighborhood?

Cary Silverman said...

Tonette - Peacoholics did not have a development project in Shaw. They participated in a crime forum about 2 years ago that occurred during a period of gang violence (seems to be never-ending). It also coincided with the disclosure that Peacoholics received a $1 million earmark. CM Evans had several groups, including Peacoholics, on a panel to discuss what they do. Representatives of the group made many of the same types of statements reported in the CityPaper on the Congress Heights meeting. The group claimed to have ended feuds in Shaw, which were clearly ongoing. When questioned about how the organization spends its money and the specifics of what it does and results achieved, the reps responded in precisely the same way. It was quite an uncomfortable meeting.

Lisa Rowan said...

Hi Cary,
Is there an e-mail address where I can contact you? Drop me a line via e-mail if you get a chance: lrowan@tbd.com.
Thanks,
Lisa Rowan

si said...

remember that crime forum. Moten was so infuriated that anyone would dare question him in any manner, immediately jumping to defensive hostility. He made all these claims but living with years of snap crackle pop gunfire make me think its all bull and he never did anything in Shaw.

Tonette Sivells said...

http://www.petitiononline.com/1300Cong/petition-sign.html