By Daniel Heimpel
The other day, City Hall's Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) task force chief, Rev. Jeff Carr, revealed to L.A. Weekly that the process for awarding $24 million in “anti-gang” contracts is drenched in secrecy — even though the program controlled by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa relies entirely on taxpayer money.
When I tried to learn the names of the people chosen to decide which contractors would get the $24 million, Carr vaguely described the anonymous people deciding on the contract awards as experts in law enforcement or education, or agencies that deal with gangs — or just everyday citizens.
Going for it: Mayor Villaraigosa
(Photo Ted Soqui)
Asked for specific names, Carr only replied that the identities of the 50 to 60 people secretly named to choose the new gang contracts are known only to Villaraigosa, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and himself (the newly minted gang czar), because of feared “retaliation” against those involved in the contract selection process.
The Reverend claims the shroud of secrecy was the brainchild of Richard Bobb, a recently deceased deputy Los Angeles city attorney. Carr could not name any other American city whose anti-gang programs award millions in public funds using unnamed private citizens as the deciders.
Neither could the federal Department of Justice.
“I haven't heard of that before,” said Kara McCarthy of DOJ's Office of Justice Programs, adding she would research the matter.
Arizona State University Professor Scott Decker, a national criminology expert who helped create GYRD's methodology, did not return phone queries about GRYD's selection process or gang prevention methods in general.
“I am not an appropriate person to speak about this,” Decker would only say by email.
If you readers know of a similarly secret contracting system to award public money to civilian anti-gang programs, please let us know in Comments. And yes, this $24 million is being spent despite voter rejection on Nov. 4 of a new property tax to fund Villaraigosa's GRYD program. That rejected tax would have doubled the size of the program to about $50 million.