East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore on Wednesday said that the BRAVE contracts recently suspended by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome did not go through the program's core committee and that he hopes the mayor has stepped in early enough to prevent any future damage to the program.
In an interview on Talk 107.3 FM, Moore, who sits on a core committee for BRAVE, addressed the controversy surrounding the contracts, the message that it sends for any future grants, and where he hopes the program will go in the future.
Below is an edited transcript of an excerpt of the interview. To listen to the full interview on Talk 107.3, click here.
Talk 107.3: Were all of the contracts recently suspended by Broome approved by the core committee?
Hillar Moore: …Generally what happens is any idea or program or issues are discussed in the core meeting, which we have every month. If we believe we see a problem…we talk about it there and find out whether we can address that through grant dollars, or a program, or can we hire someone, should there be an RFP, what is the amount, does it go through the council, is it one that doesn’t have to go through … that’s normally how we address those issues, and then when we have that, we present it to the mayor’s office and contracts are let out or they go through the City Council. In this occasion, these six that are in the news, at least, did not come through the core committee.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's office confirmed Tuesday she is suspending all contra…
Talk 107.3: Of the six contracts making the most headlines, are they in the spirit of the program?
HM: To tell you the truth, I have not seen any one of the six contracts. I know of one which was proposed to be a street outreach contract, but that was not what was proposed. It turned into a police mentor. And I’ve heard a little bit about and seen some of the transportation contract. Transportation has been a huge issue for us all along. We desperately need transportation of kids – whether it’s this contract under this means to this person, that’s a whole different question. But we have had to buy bicycles for the kids that are in our program because they can’t get from place to place. So transportation is huge across the country.
Talk 107.3: Why is that contract $1 under the amount where it would need to be approved by the council, if there is a need for this type of contract?
HM: I guess that’s why we’re all here. I don’t know why it’s that amount. But on the street outreach worker, that proposal that we had made actually was supposed to go before a grants review committee first, then be presented to the City Council…and then for public open debate on a following date. Our proposal was to go through that process.
Talk 107.3: Do you think it’s normal for someone inside the chief executive officer’s office to let these contracts below the public scrutiny level without the mayor’s knowledge?
HM: Surely I’ve seen contracts let for less than the amount that would go to a council. It just depends what we’re looking at, what are the deliverables. And one takes a lot longer than the other. So sometimes you need things quickly, and there could be a need for that. I have no idea what the mayor knew or didn’t know about any of these grants or contracts or these people.
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Talk 107.3: This controversy started with the Arthur Reed contract. But if you’re trying to reach troubled youth, isn’t that the kind of person you want talking to them?
HM: That type of person, like him, he has delivered a message. I’ve seen him on all different types of levels: as a defendant, as a father of a kid that’s struggling, when his brother was killed earlier this year in February, at all the different homicide scenes, and then I heard and saw what he said at council, which was just outrageous ... But look, if I walk through the neighborhood and ask these kids to put their guns down, I would either get shot or get run out of the neighborhood. They don’t listen to me, they don’t listen to the chief ... but they would listen to someone who’s been around, been a gang member, went to jail, came out, but they have to have the right message. The message has to be respect, put the guns down, don’t wind up like I was...and change your ways. So yeah, those people are effective but they’re dangerous because they are in that position. Oftentimes, someone will go around the police’s back and say bad things, and others will get arrested again. So they are dangerous.
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Talk 107.3: After these contracts were let and now withheld, what kind of message does that send for the future of BRAVE and any future grants you may want to get?
HM: That’s the troubling part. That’s why we’re concerned. Surely we’re glad that the contracts were held back at this point and no money has been spent and no effort expended, but for future grants we surely would be worried about that. If there’s money that’s left over, we’re still trying to find ways that we could keep it and put it into BRAVE. We always knew BRAVE would end in September, from day one. That’s why we’ve begun, a year or so ago, and we set up the BRAVE 501(c) nonprofit that (former police chief) Jeff LeDuff is the president of. This hurts us now because we’re going to have to go out and raise money to take over the governmental-run BRAVE and make it a privately run BRAVE program… But this has been the best program in the nation for group violence. They fly us all around the country to talk about BRAVE and what we’ve done, how we’ve done it. People come here, we go there. It’s a very effective program. This has hurt the name, but we are going to come back.
Talk 107.3: A listener asked if there were any contracts under $10,000 “snuck in” by the Kip Holden administration?
HM: Not that I know of. Generally at our core meetings we had numbers and items that were on the agenda….but not to my knowledge. But again, I’m not the administrator. I would never actually see a contract because I don’t sign contracts, I’m not the administrator. So not to my knowledge, but again, this is a big program.
Talk 107.3: Do you think the mayor’s office has intervened early enough?
HM: That sure is our hope, that that’s happened. And hopefully the mayor will come out again and say that she is behind BRAVE and maybe find some funds to take over the part that will be missing from the grant. We’ve also started that crime strategies unit….Someone will take over the data collection part that LSU has, and we also hope that LSU continues on their data collection without the funds. But we are worried about future grants and how this could affect us. But we have a lot of other grants that are run very well here in Baton Rouge, so we’re going to continue writing grants.
Talk 107.3: Where would you hope to see BRAVE one year from now?
HM: The 501(c) running it or we can somehow get that money back. You know what’s happening right now with our murders in Baton Rouge. We need to do something about this. We’re having a very bad year. We need to step in and get something done.