Saturday, June 11, 2005

Federal Reduction in Pittsburgh Weed & Seed

The Trib actually has a pretty good and timely article on the proposed reductions to the Federal Weed & Seed Funds to Pittsburgh. For those of you who do not know what the Weed and Seed Program is, details are found here. In summary, though, the Weed and Seed Office makes available large grants to cities for crime prevention strategies, which can include increasing actual police presence to community building programs. The goal is to "weed" out the bad elements and "seed" in good elements.

Pittsburgh is losing it's chance to compete for $225,000 in Federal money because, according to the Justice Department (who oversees the program), because the East Liberty Area still has a balance of funds greater than $200,000 left in its program. The City counters that it has committed all but $18,000 and has requested a review of the DoJ ruling.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg for the story.

A large contingent of community groups in Pittsburgh are pretty pissed off about the proposed cut in funding. For over 10 years now, the Pittsburgh Weed and Seed Initiative has been held up as one of the model Weed and Seed Initiatives across the country. Weed and Seed is a vital collaborator with many Pittsburgh community organizations looking to stabilize their neighborhoods. Much of the crime prevention and enforcement work is not done in Pittsburgh! Unfortunately, the spirit of collaboration between Pittsburgh and the new Weed and Seed federal staff (led by Denise Viera, Deputy Director of the Community Capacity Office) has gone south. All this while police force numbers are down, illicit drugs use is on the rise, gang reemergence is a real possibility again, and violence is expected this summer.

But there's more.

From the Democratic Policy Committee in the Senate:

The President's budget cuts support to state and local law enforcement by $1.7 billion, or 42 percent, from Fiscal Year 2002 levels [for fiscal 2004]. These cuts include the State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance grants, Weed and Seed grants, COPS grants, and Juvenile Justice programs. These four programs were funded at more than $4 billion in Fiscal Year 2002, compared with the Fiscal Year 2004 request of $2.3 billion.

And more...

If rumors are to be believed, Pittsburgh is not the only city to see cuts in its Weed & Seed programs. New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, according to my contacts, are also seeing funding reduced for what is perceived as "techincal disqualifications." Further speculation is that these and other cities are being punished by the administration for "not voting correctly."

If I was the City, I would sue the Feds for these cuts... I mean, what do they have to lose?

There is a great disturbance in the force.

No comments: