Interrupters’ contractor asks for his own deal with the city

Contractor who runs violence interrupters asks city for funding

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Fallout from a contentious budget hearing regarding, in part, Louisville’s Violence Interrupters program, continued Thursday with a letter to Metro Council members.

The men in charge of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods were grilled by the Metro Council on Wednesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The men in charge of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods were grilled by the Metro Council on Wednesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

On Wednesday, the council put the program, which pays people with criminal pasts to steer others away from violence, under the microscope.

Thursday, one of the vendors that hires and manages some of the interrupters struck back, asking for his own contract with the city.

“We’re the ones who stand between the gun and public, we’re the ones who stand between and share the information with individuals who can do something about it,” Dr. Eddie Woods, CEO of No More Red Dots (NMRD), said during the hearing Wednesday.

“Now we have to hope for an opportunity to tell the real story … the truth,” Woods wrote in the letter Thursday.

Woods doesn’t believe the program, as it was being run through the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods (OSHN), was working.

"Violence interruption has to be done by the people who know how to do it," he told the council.

The problem, Woods stated in the letter, is that his employees were limited to working in specific neighborhoods to fit into the Cure Violence model, but that shooters often come from other parts of the city.

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OSHN, meanwhile, has suspended payments to Woods’ non-profit for what they said was a lack of financial documentation, like missing receipts, unapproved spending and transfers.

“There were also a couple of unauthorized purchases,” Joshua Watkins, of OSHN, testified.

No More Red Dots tries to interrupt violence in Louisville by reaching people on the streets. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
No More Red Dots tries to interrupt violence in Louisville by reaching people on the streets. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The total amount in question $5,753.

The mayor’s office told WAVE 3 News they believe in the Cure Violence interrupter model and that the city is in the early stages of creating Cure Violence sites.

“In the case of NMRD, we are working with a vendor that has, for years, done incredible work in a very difficult field but without the type of structure that we need in place to ensure responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” Jean Porter, the Director of Communications for the Mayor’s Office, said. “OSHN continues working to bring them into compliance with the rules so they can focus on the important work they are doing to help us continue reducing violence in this community.”

Woods says all the financial information has been rectified.

“Fitting our seasoned program into a startup initiative is what lead to what OSHN felt was fiscal non-compliance issues,” Woods wrote. “All of what was in error was corrected days ago.”

However, Porter confirmed Thursday No More Red Dots is still under suspension and that there are still some undocumented expenditures that have not been accounted for.

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During the budget hearing Wednesday evening, councilmembers had a series of questions about how No More Red Dots was being paid.

The interrupter contract with No More Red Dots is actually executed under the name of Life Hope Center, Inc, a Kentucky non-profit, according to the contract with OSHN. It’s signed by Woods.

Councilwoman Marilyn Parker had issues with the organization.

"It does not seem like Life Hope is registered with the IRS, and it's had several years of non-compliance and bad standing with the Secretary of State," Parker said.

Councilman Kevin Kramer asked why the city’s checks were made out to Eddie Woods directly, doing business as Life Hope Center. He also questioned why the city is paying a non-profit using Wood’s social security number instead of a tax ID.

“The fact that we are paying such a large contract on a social security number instead of to a non-profit organization, all of that says to me there’s a reason... there’s something going on here,” Kramer said.

Porter told WAVE 3 News the city pays their vendors according to their federal W-9 form. She said about 30 percent of vendors list their socials versus their tax IDs.

Woods told WAVE 3 News the social security payments were set up that way years ago, but that they do have a pending 1023 application with the IRS. He said they’ve always had 501c3 non-profit status.

However, Life Institute, a former organization run by Woods, remains on another list of non-compliance with the city for a balance of $7,500 since 2014. Porter said Life Institute has not provided backup documentation for that spending.

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