Crime prevention grants go back before Council

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 2, 2013 

A week after Columbus Council balked at approving 10 crime prevention grants worth a total of almost $700,000, Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown will be back in front of Council today to try again.

Councilor Gary Allen moved that the grant requests be postponed until Brown could get a list of political contributions made by members of the organizations' boards of directors to local elected officials.

Brown said Monday that he had gathered the information and turned it over to City Attorney Clifton Fay, who would disseminate it to the councilors.

There were five political contributions from members of the boards of four of the nonprofits seeking grants, according to a document released by City Attorney Clifton Fay.

Two members of the FAST board contributed to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's campaign. Mike Ussery gave $1,000 and Carl Brown gave $250. Sam Mitchell of SAMARC also gave Tomlinson's campaign $1,000. And Sally Lasseter of the Literacy Alliance gave the mayor's campaign $250.

The only donation to a city councilor was from Becca Wiggins, who is on the Jail Ministry board and gave $500 to Councilor Judy Thomas' campaign.

Fay said receiving campaign contributions is allowed by city charter and state law and does not in itself create a conflict of interest.

"It kind of shocked me how little there was," Brown said about the political contributions.

The programs seeking the grants and their requested amounts are:

• Education is the Answer Inc., $45,000.

• SAMARC Inc., $50,000.

• Boxwood Recreation Project, $80,000.

• Columbus Technical College Non-violent Felon Employment Program, $80,000.

• Family Center of Columbus F.A.S.T. program, $87,000.

• Adult Drug Court, $75,000.

• Mental Health Court, $75,000.

• Chattahoochee Valley Jail Ministry Inc., $41,500.

• Literacy Alliance of Columbus, $105,000.

• Neighborhood Focused on African American Youth Inc., $55,000.

Council will meet today at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Citizens Service Center off Macon Road.

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