WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome for further details on how federal tax dollars addressed violence among juveniles in Baton Rouge’s most crime-ridden zip codes. His letter was in response to a report that the mayor-president released on the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program.
“Only 63 youths in Baton Rouge appear to have benefitted from $2 million in BRAVE expenditures between 2012 and 2016, according to media reports,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We could have bought each kid a car with that much money. Where did the money go? How was each kid’s life improved? These are serious questions that need to be addressed, especially considering that part of the money was spent on a public relations consultant and a cosmetology expert.”
Text of the letter:
August 9, 2017
The Honorable Sharon Weston Broome
East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President
222 Saint Louis St.
Baton Rouge, LA. 70802
Dear Mayor-President Broome:
I recently wrote to you about the expenditure of federal taxpayer money in the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program. After reading the report you just released, I remain concerned.
BRAVE funds are supposed to be used to address violent juvenile crime in the 70805 and 70802 zip codes of Baton Rouge. Only 63 youths in Baton Rouge appear to have benefitted from $2 million in BRAVE expenditures between 2012 and 2016, according to media reports.
By my math, that’s more than $30,000 per youth. Please explain in detail how this money was spent, how the City-Parish is measuring the degree to which these kids were helped and the status of each juvenile today.
I also continue to have concerns about the “expedited” contracts entered into in order to hurriedly spend some of the remaining grant money. I believe there needs to be a complete accounting. Who selected these consultants? What process did your administration use to select them? Were other competing proposals and consultants considered? Did you use a competitive selection process? How was each consulting contract amount determined? What formal process is in place to measure the results of these consultants? What metrics were part of that process? Why does the program need a public relations consultant? Why does the program need a cosmetology expert given the short amount of time remaining before the grant expired?
Crime is an ever-growing problem in Baton Rouge, and our young people are caught in the crosshairs of it. Our law enforcement need every resource we can give them to fight crime and to help our young people. Our community officials and our taxpayers deserve answers on how the $2 million of BRAVE money was spent while helping only 63 of our kids.
Thank you in advance for your prompt response.